Fresh vs Frozen or Canned

Many people wonder if frozen and canned vegetables are as nutritious as fresh vegetables. The answer to this question depends on both the time between the harvesting of the vegetable and the canning and freezing process. Generally, vegetables are canned or frozen immediately upon harvest when their nutrient content is at its peak.

The way vegetables are prepared at home can also affect the nutrient content. Vegetables of any type (fresh, frozen, or canned) that are boiled in large amounts of water for long periods of time lose much of their nutritional content compared with vegetables that are lightly steamed.

Vegetables fresh from the farm or just picked are more nutritious than their frozen or canned counterparts, but frozen and canned vegetables are an acceptable nutritional alternative. Just be mindful of the amount of salt added to canned vegetables; try to buy those without added salt. And, don’t overcook any vegetables.

10 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

There are hundreds of diets, workouts, and ideas floating around on how to prevent heart disease.  Switching from an unhealthy lifestyle is tough, but adding years onto your life could be well worth the turmoil you go through.  Here are 10 tested and proven methods to preventing heart disease:

  1. Eat more vegetables and fruit: vegetables and fruits have a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are low in calories.  Switching out high fat foods for vegetables and fruits will increase your health as well as making you feel full longer.
  2. Whole Grains: whole grain is a great source of fiber which makes you feel fuller when you eat.  Whole grains is the easiest substitution in a heart-healthy diet.  There are some great whole-grain products like bread, flour, cereal, rice, and pasta.
  3. Limit Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease.  Fatty deposits within your arteries reduce the flow of blood and oxygen that your heart needs to survive.  Limiting your cholesterol intake is a big key to preventing heart disease.
  4. Reduce Sodium Intake: Eating a lot of sodium is a key contributor to high blood pressure.  Reducing sodium is a vital step in improving heart health.
  5. Exercise: An inactive lifestyle is a top risk factor for heart disease.  Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve heart failure symptoms, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and much more!
  6. Manage Stress: There is a strong correlation between high amounts of stress and heart disease.  Stress can make your heart work harder, causing problems.  Breathing techniques, working out, and yoga are great starting points.
  7. Don’t Smoke/Use Tobacco: Smoking or using tobacco products greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease.  Chemicals found in these products can damage your heart and narrow your arteries.
  8. Consume Omega-3 acids: Usually found in fish, omega-3 acids lower inflammation in the body and can lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and boost immunity.  If you aren’t a fan of fish try out fish oil pills, I recommend the chewables!
  9. Limit Sugary Drinks: Soda and sugary drinks are usually on-par with an addiction like cigarettes.  Daily sodas, energy drinks, and juice can be a significant health risk.
  10. Increase Your Fiber Intake: Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet contribute to a lower risk of heart disease.  Opting for whole grains is a great start, other options are oats, beans, and citrus fruits.

5 Reasons You Should Visit a Dermatologist

Dermatologists are commonly mistaken as skin doctors, when they’re actually specialized in skin, hair, nails all diseases related to them. Dermatologists are unique as the therapies offered can be cosmetic, medical, or even surgical. Here are some of the most common reasons to visit a dermatologist:

  1.  Acne: Many people try to diagnose acne themselves and treat it with over-the-counter products. Acne can cause horrible scarring if not treated correctly and a dermatologist can be the perfect option before it gets out of control or if usual treatments stop working.
  2. Skin Cancer: Early detection of skin cancer is incredibly important and can prevent a lot of unnecessary problems. Some common symptoms for skin cancer are reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal, pimple that won’t clear, flesh-colored lumps, sore that bleeds, moles that are growing or bleed, dark spot on the skin that looks like a mole but grows quickly. If any of these symptoms arise please visit a dermatologist!
  3. Treatment of skin conditions: There are multiple skin conditions that dermatologists can work on surgically or medically. Some of these skin conditions include cysts, acne, hives, eczema, skin cancer, and rashes.
  4. Cosmetic Services: Dermatologists can perform surgical or medical procedures that help with one’s appearance. Make sure your insurance covers these procedures or have a plan to pay as most providers do not cover these. Some examples are botox, laser treatments, mini-facials, spider vein treatment, spray tanning, juvederm, and disport.
  5. Advice: Like many doctors and other specialists, dermatologists can you help you prepare for future problems, help understand your skin type, and give you information on how to best treat your hair, skin, and nails.

Although this is only 5 reasons to visit a dermatologist there are many other procedures that can be done at your local office. Skin care is very important and some of the most advanced procedures are available to treat or prevent damage to your skin, nails and hair. For a highly rated dermatologist in the Bloomington, IL area visit Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute.

Types of Life Insurance and Why It’s Important to You

Life insurance has become a big topic of conversation in the months leading up to the New Year. With the Affordable Care Act going into effect, enrollment must be done by December 23rd to receive coverage starting as soon as January 1st. This brings up a lot of indecision and questions from the general public on what life insurance brings and how it affects your life. Different plans meet different needs, and everyone may be different. Here is a small list of options:

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) and Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO’s):

According to, HMOs and EPOs limit coverage to providers inside their networks. Generally, HMO members select a primary care physician and must get referrals to use a specialist. One of the fall backs for an HMO plan is if you use a doctor that isn’t located in the HMO network you may have to pay full price for any services. The main benefit for an HMO plan is out of pocket costs are usually reduced.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s) and Point-of-Service plans (POS):

PPO and POS plans are very flexible, you receive the choice of receiving care within or outside of the network provided. If you choose to use an out of network provider or facility, you will have to pay more than if you used an in-network one. Also, with a PPO plan, you can visit any doctor without a referral. Some benefits are that you do not need to select a primary care physician and the freedom to choose any doctor.

High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP):

Typically, these plans offer lower premiums and higher deductibles. If you have an HDHP, you can use a health savings account to help pay for out-of-pocket costs. This can lower taxes that you owe over the year. You are most likely going to benefit from this plan if you are in good health or have a very high prescription drug cost. With less doctor visits yearly, you will be paying less premiums and less out-of-pocket costs.

If you have further questions about life insurance or the Affordable Care Act contact Miller Insurance Agency in Bloomington, IL. They will be able to walk you through the changes, give you options that fit your lifestyle, and best yet save you money.

Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common problems people have. About 60 – 80% of the adult U.S. population has low back pain, and it is the second most common reason people go to the doctor. Low back problems affect the spine’s flexibility, stability, and strength, which can cause pain, discomfort, and stiffness.

Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. Each year 13 million people go to the doctor for chronic back pain. The condition leaves about 2.4 million Americans chronically disabled and another 2.4 million temporarily disabled.

Most back pain can be prevented by keeping your back muscles strong and making sure you practice good mechanics (like lifting heavy objects in a way that won’t strain your back).

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of low back pain may include:

  • Tenderness, pain, and stiffness in the lower back
  • Pain that spreads into the buttocks or legs
  • Having a hard time standing up or standing in one position for a long time
  • Discomfort while sitting
  • Weakness and tired legs while walking

What Causes It?

Low back pain is usually caused by and injury — strain from lifting, twisting, or bending. However, in rare cases low back pain can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as an infection, a rheumatic or arthritic condition, or a tumor.

A ruptured or bulging disk — the strong, spongy, gel-filled cushions that lie between each vertebra — and compression fractures of the vertebra, caused by osteoporosis, can also cause low back pain. Arthritis can cause the space around the spinal cord to narrows (called spinal stenosis), leading to pain.

Risk factors for back pain include age, smoking, being overweight, being female, being anxious or depressed, and either doing physical work or sedentary work.

What to Expect at Your Provider’s Office

Often your doctor will be able to diagnose your back pain with a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you to stand, sit, and move. Your doctor will check your reflexes and perhaps your response to touch, slight heat, or a pinprick. Depending on what your doctor finds, other tests may include an X-ray, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a bone scan, and computed tomography (CT) scan.


In many cases back pain will get better with self-care. You should see your doctor if you pain doesn’t get better within 72 hours. You can lower your risk of back problems by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and practicing good posture. Learning to bend and lift properly, sleeping on a firm mattress, sitting in supportive chairs, and wearing low-heeled shoes are other important factors. Although you may need to rest your back for a little while, staying in bed for several days tends to make back pain worse.

For long-term back pain, your doctor may recommend stronger medications, physical therapy, or surgery. Most people will not need surgery for back pain.

Medications used to treat low back pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol (Soma), and steroids such as prednisone. Your doctor may prescribe opiates such as hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin) for short-term use. An injection of a corticosteroid (cortisone shot) may also help decrease inflammation.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies can help ease muscle tension, correct posture, relieve pain, and prevent long-term back problems by improving muscle strength and joint stability. Many people find pain relief by using hot and cold packs on the sore area. Special exercises, such as ones designed for your specific problem by a physical therapist, can help strengthen your core abdominal muscles and your back muscles, reducing pain and making your back stronger.

Nutrition and Dietary Supplements

There is no special diet for back pain, but you can help keep your body in good shape by eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and sugar. Drink plenty of water.

Foods that are high in antioxidants (such as green leafy vegetables and berries) may help fight inflammation.

Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.

Exercise moderately at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week. Get your health care provider to okay you for exercise before starting a regimen.

These supplements may help fight inflammation and pain:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed and fish oils, 1 – 2 capsules or 1 tablespoonful oil daily, to help decrease inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of bleeding and potentially interfere with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) and aspirin.
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin, 500 – 1,500 mg daily. In some studies, glucosamine and chondroitin have helped relieve arthritis pain. It has not been studied specifically for low back pain. People with allergies to shellfish should not use glucosamine. There are some concerns that chondroitin may worsen asthma symptoms. Glucosamine and chondroitin may interact with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) and aspirin.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), 3,000 mg twice a day, to help prevent joint and connective tissue breakdown. In some studies, MSM has been shown to help relieve arthritis pain.
  • Bromelain, 250 mg twice a day. This enzyme that comes from pineapples reduces inflammation. Bromelain may increase the risk of bleeding, so people who take anticoagulants (blood thinners) should not take bromelain without first talking to their health care provider. People with peptic ulcers should avoid bromelain. Turmeric is sometimes combined with bromelain, because it makes the effects of bromelain stronger. Bromelain may interact with some antibiotic medications.


Herbs are generally available as standardized, dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures/liquid extracts (alcohol extraction, unless otherwise noted). Mix liquid extracts with favorite beverage. Dose for teas is 1 – 2 heaping teaspoonfuls/cup water steeped for 10 – 15 minutes (roots need longer).

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) standardized extract, 300 mg three times a day, for pain and inflammation. Turmeric is sometimes combined with bromelain because it makes the effects of bromelain stronger. Turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding, especially for people who take blood-thinning medication. Ask your doctor before taking turmeric.
  • Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) standardized extract, 100 – 200 mg one to two times daily. Devil’s claw has been used traditionally to relieve pain. One study found that more than 50% of people with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip or low back pain who took devil’s claw reported less pain and better mobility after 8 weeks. Devil’s claw may increase the risk of bleeding and interact with diabetes medications, so tell your health care provider before taking it if you also take blood-thinning medication or if you have diabetes. Devil’s claw can affect the heart and may not be right for people with certain heart problems. It can also potentially be problematic for people with gallstones.
  • Willow bark (Salix alba) standardized extract, 500 mg up to three times daily, to relieve pain. Willow acts similar to aspirin. Do not take white willow if you are also taking aspirin or blood-thinning medications. Check with your health care provider if you are allergic to aspirin or salicylates before taking white willow. Do not give Willow should to children under the age of 18.
  • Capsaicin (Capsicum frutescens) cream, applied to the skin (topically). Capsaicin is the main component in hot chili peppers (also known as cayenne). Applied to the skin, it is believed to temporarily reduce amounts of “substance P,” a chemical that contributes to inflammation and pain. One found a topical capsaicin cream relieved pain better than placebo in 320 people with low back pain. Pain reduction generally starts 3 – 7 days after applying the capsaicin cream to the skin.