Category Archives: health

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.

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!

How to Kick that Summer Cold

 There are few things more frustrating than being bed-bound due to the fatigue, hacking and throbbing that accompany a cold, when all you want is to be out enjoying the summer sun. To make matters worse, it’s proven that summer colds tend to last longer than the ones you catch in the winter, and they have a higher chance of recurring.

Although there isn’t a certifiable cure for the common cold, these tried-and-true tips should have you feeling better in no time:

Up Your Vitamin C

Vitamin C isn’t proven to actually prevent colds, but it has been shown to boost your immunity and potentially shorten the longevity of your cold. If you’re not big into taking supplements, try incorporating these foods into your diet that are loaded with vitamin C.

Get Plenty of Rest

We all know that summer is the time of endless outdoor activities with friends whether it’s a backyard get-together, a meet-up at the trendiest rooftop bar for happy hour or even a walk in your local park. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, but in the long run, you’re better off skipping out on plans with friends to get better. Overexerting yourself is only going to ultimately prolong your sniffly condition. Try to get as much rest as possible to bolster your immune system.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

All of the sneezing and blowing your nose that comes as a result of a cold can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to counteract that by continually drinking water. Besides the obvious need of fueling your body with water to keep hydrated, consistently downing fluids will help to keep your throat and nasal passages open and lubricated. Hot liquids especially, like tea or broth, relieve nasal congestion and can soothe inflamed tissue that lines your passages.

As always, consult your doctor if your symptoms or conditions worsen or continue to persist longer than two weeks. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below to let me know if you have any remedies for treating a summer cold.

Flying the Skies Like a Pro

I spend a lot of time in the air. And whether you’re an occasional traveler or a true frequent flier, we all know that airplanes and airports can sometimes be hectic and stress-inducing. In order to avoid airline angst, try out these tips next time you take to the skies.

Pre-Flight

  • There has been a lot of debate over when the best time to book a flight is, but according to the experts, it seems like Sunday is the best day to book your flight, especially if you’re booking more than three weeks in advance. When it comes to booking flights, it’s really about how much risk you’re willing to have when waiting for flights to drop in price. I suggest using sites like TripAdvisor or Expedia to compare different airlines for your given travel days and needs. Also, if your travel dates are flexible, I recommend looking at specific airlines’ low fare calendars, like Southwest’s, so you can see an overview of the cheapest days to fly.
  • When it comes to packing there are a few standard rules I tend to stand by. First, if at all possible try to pack in a carry-on bags; you’ll thank yourself in the long run when you’re not waiting for 30 minutes at your final destination for bags that may or may not arrive. Additionally, for said carry-on, opt for a duffel bag or some other soft material bag because it will be easier to store in the overhead bin and less likely to be taken away from you if they have to check bags at the gate.
  • If you’re a frequent flier, a TSA PreCheck membership quickly pays for itself in terms of time saved bypassing security lines. If you don’t fly as frequently, I would make sure to get to the airport about two hours before a domestic flight to ensure enough time to check a bag if you need to, get through security and find your gate. This is especially important if you’re flying during a busy time.

In-Flight

  • Now that you’ve made it past security and finally boarded your plane, it’s time to get settled in for your flight.
  • Air travel is known for is varied microclimates, from the sweat-inducing line in the jet bridge waiting to board your plane to the ice box cabins of your aircraft. It’s important to layer your outfit to be prepared for any temperature thrown your way. Maintain in-flight comfort by wearing breathable fabrics and comfortable shoes that meet both your comfort and functional needs. Just because you’re dressing comfortable doesn’t mean you have to throw all style out the door. (In fact, it’s important to look sharp because it seems like being a well-dressed flier could land you an upgrade!)

 

Let me know your travel tips and tricks in the comment section below. Happy flying!

Health Fads vs. Health Facts

Every day, the Internet provides some new trend or article about how to be a healthier you. Take a shot of this vinegar or eat this “superfood” eighteen times a day. A recent American Heart Association report, however, debunked the unsupported theory that coconut oil is a health conscience food choice. So, how do we know which health tips are legit? Here are a few recommendations on how to see through the fake (health) news:

1.       Check the Source

Always be sure to check the source of whatever article you’re reading. If the information is coming from a registered dietitian or a doctor, it’s more likely to be valid than if the article is just a columnist with no background in health.

2.       Recognize the Dietary Restrictions

Any diet that’s telling you to completely cut out any one part of your diet—sugars, carbs, etc.—is a no-go. Depriving our bodies of any one food group will ultimately lead to a binge. You’re better off eating smaller portions of well-rounded meals to keep you full, healthy and content. 

3.       Be Wary of the “Quick Fix”

If any product or diet promises “immediate results” or a quick cure, it’s probably not going to work. The only way to achieve your health goals is to eat a well-rounded, balanced diet and pair that with daily activity. It’s a process of transformation, but it’s a lifestyle development that will pay off in the long run. 

Regardless of the validity behind any new health craze, you should always consult with your doctor before making any significant dietary change. For more information, check out the FDA’s rundown of how to spot health fraud. And feel free to leave a comment in the section below to let me know about any of the fads you’ve tried — what worked, what didn’t, and what to be on the lookout for!

Healthy, Yummy, Summertime Foods

With summer (somehow) already in full swing, this time of year is not only a peak for high temperatures, but also the height of the season for some of the most delicious foods! Known as the season of fresh fruits and vegetables, summer does not disappoint in its offerings of delicious, healthy snacks. In addition to being delicious, many of the foods in summer’s bounty are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – plus, many naturally help you stay hydrated!

Some of my favorite healthy summer foods include:

1.      Berries — strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries (you get the picture)

2.      Avocado

3.      Watermelon

4.      Tomatoes

5.      Cucumber

6.      Zucchini

Click here for a full list of foods in season this summer.

The best way to find the freshest food near you is to head to your closest farmers’ market. There, you can often talk with the people who grow the foods you’re eating and get the inside scoop on what’s best when. An added bonus is buying this farm-fresh food also supports the local economy. Talk about a win-win!