Monthly Archives: July 2015

Water Consumption

Each summer, as we deal with increasing temperatures and occasional droughts, water becomes more and more appealing to us. Although many people consume water as a way to remain cool and hydrated, water also aids in removing bacteria from our systems and carrying nutrients to different parts of our bodies.

So maybe that’s why we’ve always been told to consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But what if there’s no scientific evidence for this claim? Could we drink fewer glasses of water on a daily basis and still have a positive effect on our health?

According to CBS News, an article published in the Harvard Health Letter concluded that 30-50 ounces of fluid per day is ideal, equaling four to six glasses a day. More importantly, the “fluid” consumed is not strictly limited to water. Fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and watermelon all add to the water intake to keep our bodies healthy.

So, keep in mind that water consumption should be an ongoing activity, not something that happens all at once, and remember that you have options when trying to keep your body replenished and hydrated in an effective manner.

Those Maddening Mosquito Bites

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Mosquitos are a common annoyance during warm weather. As you’ve certainly experienced firsthand, their bites can cause irritation, swelling and redness. For most of us, the bump and the pain of the bite can be tolerated, but the incessant itch is nearly unbearable.

After being feasted on basically every evening during summer, many people begin to wonder: why do mosquito bites itch in the first place?

First of all, it’s important to note that not all mosquitos are bad! Male mosquitos only feast on water and nectar from plants, rendering them basically harmless to humans.

On the other hand, female mosquitos are out for blood. Females are constantly searching for blood vessels on humans and animals. When they find one, they suck out some blood, leaving behind a little saliva, which serves as an anticoagulant and allows them to feast more efficiently.

Our body then produces histamines as a natural immune response to the foreign mosquito saliva, which creates the itch we know all too well.

The good news for some people is that it is possible to develop an immunity to the itch. There are some people who have been bitten so often, they develop a tolerance for the itchy bites.

However, for the rest of us mosquito magnets, there are alternative solutions for itch relief! Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream are both anti-histamines that provide relief from itching. Healthline.com recommends using an ice pack, ice cubes, or a cool bath without soap to help relieve itchy symptoms as well.

Doctors Know Best

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Technology is all around us – in our homes, at our workplace and everywhere in between. From computers to tablets to cell phones, these instruments quickly connect us with others and allow us to pose or review questions and answers concerning our everyday activities.

As technology continues to expand, more and more websites and apps are being developed to cater to specific needs. Focusing specifically on the health industry, it was found that over 100 million symptom searches were conducted last year.

For me, that figure is hardly a surprise — I probably accounted for 100 of those myself. But it is important to remember that when receiving a diagnosis, technology does not take the place of physicians.

According to CNN, a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School reviewed 23 sites including WebMD and DocResponse, finding only one-third listed the correct diagnosis as the first option for patients. Meanwhile the diagnosis accuracy rate for physicians is 85-90 percent. This discrepancy points to the reliability of physicians. Instead of fully trusting these web services, we should use them as an informational tool to gain some background on health issues that would allow us to ask better questions, ultimately helping our physicians in their diagnosis.

So don’t forego those yearly check-ups, and remember – doctors know best!

Get a Grip!

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Scientists are constantly finding ways to measure your health, but this one is definitely unusual!

According to a large study of 140,000 adults in 17 different countries, the strength of your grip can be used to measure your cardiac health—including risk for heart disease, stroke, and early death. In fact, this method has been found to be a better predictor of these health conditions than taking your blood pressure.

In this study, scientists used a hand-grip dynanometer to measure participants’ strength. Their measurements found that with every 11-pound drop in grip strength, the person’s risk of dying from a heart attack increased by 17 percent. Researchers also saw that people with a weaker grip were 7 percent more likely to have a non-life-threatening heart attack and 9 percent more likely to have a stroke, compared with those who had a stronger grip.

Dr. Darryl Leong, the study’s author and an assistant professor of medicine at Ontario’s McMaster University, told Yahoo Health he was “surprised by how strong the correlation was, given that it applied to people from many different countries and backgrounds.”

So, what does this mean for us?

According to the study, the stronger you are, the stronger your heart is. Traditionally, experts suggest cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming for maintaining a healthy heart, but more studies indicate that resistance training (or weightlifting) can pack just as many health benefits. So do your heart a favor and trade in those running shoes for a couple of barbells every once in a while!

Some Vacation APPreciation

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If you’re an avid traveler like me, you know how tedious it can be figuring logistics. Stressing too much over where you’re staying, how you’re getting there, and what to do can put a damper on the entire experience.

However, U.S. News Travel recently came out with a list of the top ten best travel apps, so I put them to the test! Here are my top three favorite apps for making the most out of your summer vacation:

  1. Like your very own travel agent, TripIt helps you plan every detail of your trip—from car rental to lodging to restaurants. You can also forward the email confirmations of your rental car, flight, or hotel to plans[at]tripit.com and let TripIt construct your itinerary for you!
  2. When I’m in a new city, of course I want to see all of the major landmarks. However, when I need to get away from the tourist scene, I turn to Goby. Goby pinpoints the local hot spots around you, including restaurants, recreational activities, and shopping. This app also comes in handy when looking for events. I constantly discover concerts, plays and festivals just around the corner.
  3. With this app, you can share your experience with others…the old-fashioned way! Postagram lets you bring the postcard tradition to the digital age by sending personalized photos from your trip to your friends and family back home. The best part: these personalized cards are only $0.99. Who says snail mail is obsolete?

Wherever your travels take you this summer, be sure to include these apps to make the most of your leisure time!

The Importance of Being Physical

Many Americans treat physical well-being and mental well-bring completely separately, when in fact, the brain and the body work simultaneously to keep the other stable.

Keeping your body healthy is vital to making sure your brain stays smart. As people age, they often play brain teasers such as Sudoku to keep their brain active, figuring if they don’t use it, they’ll lose it. While this theory is certainly correct, a healthy body is another key component to having a healthy mind.

According to an article from HealthDay News, keeping your heart and circulatory system in check is a key factor in protecting your mental abilities.

With an estimated 47 million people worldwide currently living with dementia, it’s now more important than ever to make healthy lifestyle changes, and thus promote mental well-being. Luckily, the Alzheimer’s Association has provided us with some key tips to make this happen:

  • Multiple studies have shown that exercise promotes brain health.
  • Get enough sleep. Health experts agree that problems with memory and cognition typically worsen after a restless night.
  • Play it safe. Protect your head from injury. Even a mild concussion can contribute to decline in brain activity as we age.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Momma was right! Eating your fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cognitive instabilities.

However you decide to promote your brain’s health, be sure to keep challenging your brain and always stay curious!

Swimming in Crypto-what?

 

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I don’t know about you, but the heat during this time of the year always makes the pool seem much more attractive. The glistening of the clear water, coupled with the relaxation it provides makes it a pool one popular addition to anybody’s home. However, even pools come with health concerns individuals should be aware of – especially public pools.

According to ABC News, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked a resilient parasite called Cryptosporidium to 90 outbreaks between 2011-2012, resulting in 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death. The parasite causes acute gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and even has the ability to live in treated water for up to 10 days. So how can we prevent this parasite from entering our pools?

  1. Take a shower before entering the pool to remove bacteria and germs from your body.
  2. Have your pool inspected by the local health department.
  3. Buy your own chlorine test to see if your pool is properly treated.

And, most importantly, continue to stay safe this summer!

The Benefits of More Chocolate

Chocolate

We’ve all had chocolate cravings. Maybe you walked past a candy shop and smelled the sweet aroma of melted chocolate. Or maybe you were on the checkout line at a supermarket and noticed the wide assortment of chocolate bars next to the register. Or maybe you were just sitting at your desk, working. Some give in while others mull over its health implications and decide against it.

But can a snack filled with sugar and calories really be beneficial to your overall health? According to an article by NPR, eating chocolate on a daily basis (up to 100 grams) can lower your risk of heart disease.

Ignoring the milk and sugar added to chocolate, compounds found in cocoa beans known as “polyphenols” can improve the health of blood vessels. This is according to a study published in the journal, Heart, which tracked over 20,000 adults in England over a 12-year period and found only 12% of those in the top tier of chocolate consumption had died from cardiovascular disease, compared to 17.4% of those who did not eat chocolate.

Of course this study doesn’t mean we should overconsume chocolate. But it does create a situation where chocolate could become part of a healthy diet. So next time you come to that tempting fork in the road, do your heart a favor and eat some chocolate!