How to Tell if You’re Dehydrated

Staying hydrated is a basic but essential part of a healthy, functioning body. When we’re hungry, the body is usually not shy about reminding us to eat (sometimes with loud, grumbling noises that flare up during the quietest moment of a meeting). But the body is much more subtle when it comes to letting us know we’re short on fluids.

Dehydration can cause fatigue and affect cognitive abilities, which can lead to serious problems. In order to prevent this, look out for these signs that you should reach for a water bottle:

You feel dizzy when you stand up too fast. Blood pressure drops when you’re dehydrated, which can leave you feeling dizzy and give you a rush of lightheadedness when you get up too quickly.

Your lips and hands are cracking. Dehydration often makes its way to your skin, which can result in cracks forming on your lips and knuckles. This can be itchy and painful.

You have headaches. While a headache can signify a hundred different things, one of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration. When the brain is dehydrated it can actually shrink, just like a sponge due to lost fluid.

Your limbs are cramping. Dehydration is responsible for cramps, because it alters your body’s balance of electrolytes, which are responsible for keeping your muscles functional.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the right amount of water per day is 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men. Of course, this fluctuates with body type and health levels, but in general it’s a good baseline to shoot for.

 

Three Dairy-Free Ice Creams

Lactose intolerance means your body has a hard time digesting and breaking down lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It can sure seem like a social injustice for a number of reasons, not the least of which includes hindering one’s ability to eat ice cream! As a child, I remember being flabbergasted and barely able to believe that some of my friends had to stay away from the sweet, unrivaled treat that is ice cream.

Then I discovered an entire grocery freezer shelf stocked with alternate options, some that are even tastier than their counterparts! Not all is lost, after all, for those who cannot tolerate lactose. Here are three delicious ice cream brands for those looking to avoid dairy:

NadaMoo: NadaMoo’s ice cream is made with a coconut cream base, which gives it a delectable airy, whipped texture. Unlike other coconut-based ice creams, NadaMoo’s pints don’t contain an overly-present coconut flavor. I suggest the Rocky Road.

Ben and Jerry’s: The classic ice cream duo recently came out with a line of non-dairy pints, and it makes me love those two even more. These creations are made with almond milk and come in seven different flavors. You can’t go wrong with their big seller: Cherry Garcia!

Talenti: Talenti’s Peanut Butter Fudge pint is a knockout. Unlike the other dairy-free options on the market, this one is made not with soy, cashew, coconut or almond–but with real peanut butter! It’s like digging your spoon into a big tub of frozen peanut butter and dairy-free fudge swirl. You can’t go wrong.

 

Pros and Cons of a Standing Desk

It seems like every week there is another doctor proclaiming the deadly dangers of too much sitting. “Too much time spent sitting can lead to an early death!” they say. Here’s how it affects your health: when slumped in a chair, your body’s calorie-burning slows to a third of the rate it is while walking. Metabolism drops. Your risk of developing diabetes and becoming obese grows.

Are you considering a standing workplace station yet? To help with that decision, here are some pros and cons to standing desks:

THE PROS:

Calories. You burn more calories. Standing burns anywhere from 20-100% (depending on the study) more calories than sitting.

Less lower back pain. If your standing desk is set up ergonomically correct, it’s likely that it will improve lower back pain.

More energy. While this might sound counterintuitive, it’s actually a rebound effect of standing. If you spend an extra bit of energy standing, your body rebounds, giving you a bit more energy.

THE CONS:

Foot pain. If you go from sitting eight hours a day to standing eight hours a day, you will definitely feel it in your feet. To pull off a standing desk, you’ll need very comfortable shoes.

Decreased concentration. While this varies on the person, studies show that workers requiring lots of analytical concentration have better luck sitting down.

Coworkers. If you are at the only standing desk in the office, your coworkers may not be excited about a person looming over them. In a workplace, it’s always important to be considerate of those around you.

 

Tips for Healthy Tailgating

If you are like many Americans and revel in the time-honored customs of football season, you’re familiar with the food that often accompanies tailgating. You also know that game day snacks are typically heavy, cheesy, fill-up-your-belly-until-it-might-burst foods. While it’s true that bottomless plates of nachos provide the important energy required for shouting at blind referees, the truth is that there are plenty of healthy (and tasty!) alternatives to greasy tailgating foods. Here are my tips for healthier tailgating:

B.Y.O.S.: Bring Your Own Snacks! The best way to steer clear of the beckoning buffalo chicken wings is to bring your own lighter alternative. Some tasty ideas include veggies with hummus, lightly salted popcorn, or buffalo cauliflower bites with ranch dressing.

HYDRATE: Keep drinking water throughout the day. Oftentimes people confuse thirst with hunger and needlessly fill up their plates for another round. Additionally, it’s all too easy to reach for another alcoholic beverage–but just make sure you’re getting enough plain old H20 as well.

GET MOVING: Toss the football, play some cornhole, run around with the little ones, play fetch with the dog or take a walk with your friends. Tailgating is about watching the game, but it’s also about socializing with friends and enjoying the fall weather!

With just a little planning, you can be a healthy person and still an awesome tailgater.

Weekend road trips for peak foliage viewing

Autumn is arguably the most beautiful season, notable for cooling weather and dazzling changes of scenery. One of my favorite autumn activities is a lazy afternoon drive spent ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the vibrant colors. There are many places throughout the country to view peak foliage, but here are my suggestions for short, northeastern road trips:

New York’s Finger Lakes

The Adirondack region is often praised for its fall colors, and for good reason. The Finger Lakes area boasts unrivaled fall foliage and country scenes worthy of calendars. Start in Lake Placid and drive the Olympic Trail Scenic Byway, which runs for 170 miles of amazing views.

Northwest Connecticut

This stunning 100-mile loop in Northwestern Connecticut is perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Start in the Town of Falls Village, which looks straight out of a 1800s movie set, and continue to meander through covered bridges, horse farms and state parks full of hiking trails.

Vermont Green Mountain Byway

This 220-mile trip deserves a full weekend. Start in Waitsfield and relish one-lane highways weaving through mountains, valleys and pastures. When you need to stretch your legs, hop out and climb Mount Mansfield to see views from the state’s highest peak.

I suggest getting started early, with a cup of coffee and a tank full of gas. Happy foliage hunting!

Battle of the Leafy Greens: Spinach vs. Kale

Leafy greens are perhaps the superstars of the vegetable family: they contain myriad health benefits, they’re tasty, and they’re versatile. Those of us who grew up watching Popeye are familiar with the merits of spinach, but in the last few years a new leafy green has taken over the limelight: kale. The two look similar, taste similar, and are often used in similar ways. So, just how similar are they?

Calories: While the number of calories should never be a concern while munching veggies, a cup of kale has double the calories that a cup of spinach does.

Magnesium: Magnesium contributes to strong bones, and spinach contains a quarter of your daily magnesium. This might be why Popeye was such a tough guy!

Vitamin C: Kale takes the lead here. Kale has four times the amount of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, than spinach.

Calcium: While it’s a close call, kale edges out spinach in its amount of calcium.

Protein: Kale has 15 percent more protein than spinach. (Maybe Popeye should have switched!)

The bottom line is that, with either kale or spinach, you can’t go wrong! In terms of benefits, spinach may be the better option for pregnant women because of its rich amounts of the nutrients folate and iron, whereas vegans may choose kale in order to get a calcium and protein fix. Happy munching!

Puerto Rico Needs Our Help

By now, you have seen the heartbreaking images from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. This event touches particularly close to home for the more than 2,000 MMM and MSO of Puerto Rico employees who help us meet the healthcare needs of the island. Over 80 employees lost their homes and possessions and many are still living without basic essentials like food, electricity and water. Hundreds more had family members impacted by the category 5 storm. Despite these hardships, more than 90 percent of MMM and MSO employees are reporting to work to help our beneficiaries get the care they need.

In partnership with our sister company, Care-One, we are undertaking an ambitious fundraising effort to show our commitment to these employees, their communities and the more than 450,000 Puerto Rican beneficiaries who turn to us to keep them well. We’re calling it “Caminamos Juntos” which means “We Walk Together.”

As part of this effort, we are hosting a fundraiser in New York City on Thursday, October 19. We hope you can attend. Detailed information, including ticket purchase and sponsorship information, can be found at www.innovacarehealth.com/puertorico. Please click this link to learn more about how you can help make a difference.

To maximize the speed and impact of your donation, the proceeds will be directed by the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Charitable Fund to the recovery and rebuilding of Puerto Rico. This will ensure 100 percent of the proceeds are distributed effectively and without delay.

For those who are unable to attend but would still like to contribute, please click on the tickets/donation button here. Please “walk together” with us now by showing the generosity that Puerto Rico so badly needs.

How to Keep Jet Lag in Check

Whether you think traveling via airplane is terrifying or astonishing (or simply mundane, at this point), it is hard to imagine life without it. But no matter how many mini packets of pretzels we are given, some of us are always left with a dreadful case of jet lag. What is it, anyway, and what makes some cases worse than others?

Jet lag is a physiological condition that disrupts our circadian rhythms. “Circadian rhythms” is a technical term for what is basically the body’s “clock.” Our circadian rhythms are set by external factors like the lightness of day and the darkness of night, and they regulate many of our daily activities. When you rapidly cross times zones, as people do when they travel on airplanes, your sleep-wake patterns are disturbed, and you may get jet lag.

Typical symptoms include headaches, fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite and/or slight confusion.

Factors that may lead to more severe case of jet lag:

Travelling eastward. If you are moving east, your symptoms may be more severe because the day will seem longer.

Age. Sometimes it takes older people a longer time to reset their body clocks.

Alcohol: Drinking too much during a long flight can worsen the effects of jet lag.

Frequent travel: Flight staff or business travelers may have more symptoms if they are constantly changing time zones.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

October is upon us! Along with chilly temperatures and colorful trees, this month brings an abundance of a particular orange squash: the pumpkin!

Often seen piled in heaps at grocery stores and arranged vibrantly at roadside stands, pumpkins are popping up everywhere this month. While we are all familiar with the time-old tradition of jack-o-lantern carving, there are many who end the project there. However, those slimy handfuls that you pull out of your jack-o-lantern are actually rich in nutrients and should be turned into a yummy snack: ravioli, bread, pancakes — and yes, pie. Here are a few health benefits to be had in October’s signature squash:

1.   Pumpkins could reduce the risk of cancer.

Pumpkins, like their orange ally the sweet potato, are chock full of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention. And, the National Cancer Institute says that food sources of beta-carotene are even more helpful than a supplement!

2.   Pumpkins are great post-workout.

We’ve all heard that you should reach for a banana to get a surge in potassium after a hard workout, but did you know that a cup of pumpkin has even more potassium than a banana? Eating pumpkin after a workout can help restore your electrolytes and keep your muscles functioning at their best.

3.   Pumpkins are good for your vision.

The radiant orange color of a pumpkin comes from its supply of Vitamin A, which is essential for your eye health. In fact, one single cup of pumpkin holds more than 200% of most people’s recommended daily intake of Vitamin A.

So go ahead–have that second piece of pumpkin pie. It’s good for your health!

Breathing Easy: Tips for Autumn Allergy Relief

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 40 million Americans suffer from autumn allergies, making it one of the worst times of the year for those of us who deal with seasonal allergies. The biggest villain is ragweed, a plant that covers the southeast part of the country. Another is pollen, which is sent into the air as the weather cools and foliage changes. These allergens can cause itchy eyes, runny noses, excessive sneezing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, hives, and dry skin. Symptoms that really affect your quality of life!

However, there are a few tricks to manage even the most severe of allergies. Try these out and enjoy autumn instead of sneezing your way through it.

  1. Find out exactly what you’re allergic to. An allergist can run a quick skin-prick text to figure this out. Once you identify the culprit, customize your treatment to what will work best to fight your specific allergy.
  2. Buy a dehumidifier. Not only can this help with breathing, but it can also help if you are sensitive to mold or dust, allergens that flourish in humid environments.
  3. Check pollen levels. If pollen is really aggravating you, you can check pollen levels in your area at Pollen.com. If you’re in a high pollen zone, try to avoid spending a lot of time outdoors.
  4. Take an antihistamine. This is one of the easiest steps you can take, and most over-the-counter allergy drugs now are non-drowsy!
  5. Shower. Washing your body and clothes right after spending time outside will prevent pollen from following you around inside and transferring to your furniture.

If these don’t help a bit and your allergies seem to be getting worse, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor to make sure something else isn’t amiss in your immune system! No one wants to spend their autumn sneezing.