6 Mistakes That Transform Salads from Healthy to Harmful

Salads are the go-to meal for most health conscious individuals, or for those trying to impress a potential partner on a first date. In general, salads are quite healthy. The greens are good for the body and mind and provide us with energy, antioxidants, and a full stomach, However, when we get the chance to make our own salad, we sabotage ourselves. How? Here are  few ways that we transform our salads from healthy to harmful.

Too many croutons.

For many salad lovers, croutons are a must. However, salad lovers hoping to use their love of salad to aid in weight loss, should steer clear of these crunchy favorites. Croutons are fried, making them extra fatty and full of empty calories that, if anything, should come in the form of extra fruit or nuts.

Extra servings of fruit.

Fruit, both dried and fresh, are ideal salad toppings as they provide a hint of sweetness. Fruit should always be measured and used with restraint, as it harbors excess sugars. Despite these sugars being natural, they are sugar nonetheless and can be damaging to your waistline. If you’re following a weight loss routine that keeps track of servings of fruit, fruit salad toppings should be kept in mind and counted towards the daily allowance of fruit.

Your salad lacks vegetables.

Majority of salads only contain lettuce and a variety of toppings. A successful, healthy salad, should contain much more than just lettuce. Not only will adding other vegetables make your salad look more appealing, but it will also help to fill you up. Try adding carrots, radish, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, or zucchini.

You add too much cheese.

Cheese is a popular salad topping, and many people who liberally use cheese on their salads think nothing of covering the entirety of their salad with it. Maybe they should, however, as cheese is known for its high fat content. Yes, it is healthy in moderation, but two salads a day, each smothered in cheese, is bound to add inches to the waistline. If you must have cheese, opt for feta as it is lower in fat and has a ton more flavor than other cheeses, meaning it can be used lightly and still provide your salad with great flavor and fun. Or, make a serious change and use cheese on every second salad you consume.

Dressings packed full of fat.

Very few people like plain salads without dressing, and most dressing lovers buy store bought dressing from the grocery store because it is convenient and tastes good. If you’re trying to watch your calorie intake, however, these dressings should be avoided as they contain a host of unnecessary fat, sugar, sodium, and calories. Try making your own dressing- there are hundreds of tasty dressing recipes online! If you’re looking for a simple dressing solution that can be whipped up in a matter of seconds, a light drizzle of olive oil can go a long way.

9 Foods That Fight Aging

Aging is a natural process and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, in today’s society, there is a focus around slowing down the aging process. This is commonly done using chemicals, injections, and surgeries, but it can also be done through the intake of certain foods. Which foods? Here are 9 foods that fight aging.

Blueberries

Rich in vitamins A and C as well as an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, blueberries are thought to fight aging. Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the skin from sun damage, pollution, and the effects of stress, leaving it to appear younger for a longer time.

Broccoli

This vibrant green vegetable is a powerhouse full of anti-aging properties. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which is the necessary ingredient for the building and elasticity of collagen (the main protein in the skin). It’s also a good anti-inflammatory.

Nuts

Recognized for their healthy fat content, nuts are also great for warding off aging. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E which is essential to repair skin tissue, retain moisture levels, and protect the skin from the sun. Walnuts, in particular are good, as they even contain omega-3 fatty acids that keep the skin glowing and radiant.

Sweet potatoes

The rich orange color of sweet potatoes come from beta-carotene- an antioxidant found within the vegetable. Beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A which is then used to promote healthy and youthful looking skin.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate lovers will be over the moon to find out that their favorite dark chocolate bar could be slowing the rate at which their skin ages. Dark chocolate is full of flavanols that are said to increase blood flow to the skin, giving it a radiant appearance. Flavanols also absorb the radiation from UV light, protecting the skin from sun related damage.

Pineapple

Ideal for tropical smoothies and summer fruit salads, pineapple is also great for combating aging. Pineapple is chalked full of manganese that activates enzymes in the body that are responsible for providing amino acid. Amino acid is essential for the production of healthy collagen that keeps the skin looking bright, smooth, and elastic.

Watermelon

Treating yourself to a slice of watermelon before bad is never a bad idea. Watermelon contains lycopene, a substance that acts as a sunblock for your skin and protects it from sunspots, dark spots, and appearing withered. The high water content in watermelon also aids in keeping your skin hydrated and clean.

Carrots

A carrot a day keeps the sagging skin away, according to many nutritionists. Carrots contain tons of vitamin A, which is helpful for the regeneration of damaged skin cells and improved elasticity. As an added bonus, carrots can also be used to fight various forms of cancer.

Yogurt

Rich in calcium, yogurt is a great aid for battling the effects of aging. Yogurt’s high calcium content helps skin cells turn over and grow, allowing them to stay looking young for a longer period of time.

The Amazing Health Benefits of Spending Time Outside

As a kid you were probably told that spending time outside was good for you. You probably also thought that your parents were making excuses to get you to go outside and play instead of making a mess in the house…this could be true, however, being outside IS good for you. It has a number of benefits to your health.

A clear mind.

The stress of everyday life – to-do lists, work, school- is enough to render even the sharpest of brains in a state of perpetual fog. According to research, however, interacting with nature for as little as one hour a day can improve our focus and short-term memory. This even includes looking at photos of nature scenes online!

Inflammation relief.

Scientific studies have shown that walking barefoot on the grass can reduce inflammation throughout the body. This is known as “earthing” and can be done on grass, sand, or soil as well. People across the world participate in earthing during the early morning or late afternoon hours.

Better sleep.

Spending time outside has been known to improve the quality and duration of ones sleep. This is what makes camping great for sleep- sleeping outside in a tent puts you close to nature and helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which, in turn, promotes a healthy sleep schedule.

Easier exercise.

Instead of hopping on the treadmill, take a trip outside and go for a run in the park or around the block. A study was conducted on a group of runners who went on a 45 minute run outside. Their results were compared to those who ran 45 minutes on a treadmill, and it was found that the runners who went outside felt less fatigued, more awake, and attentive. They also achieved personal bests.

Vitamin D absorption. 

Vitamin D deficiencies are particularly common among city-dwellers, as those we live in the city are generally less exposed to the sun, which provides  our bodies with the motivation to synthesize this essential vitamin. A lack of vitamin D can contribute to seasonal affective disorder, fatigue, and brain fog. To remedy these unpleasant symptoms, you can spend as few as 10 minutes outside- even in the cold, dark, winter months.

Cancer prevention.

In an interesting study, it was discovered that time spent outdoors may have a correlation to the prevention of certain types of cancers. Spending time outside- in large forests especially- seems to have a link to an increase in the body’s ability to produce cancer fighting proteins.  The increased levels are thought to last up to 7 days after the exposure to nature.

Reduces stress.

Spending time with nature has been known to lower stress within the body. How? Spending time outside lowers blood pressure, brings your heart rate to a calming level, and reduces the amount of the stress causing hormone- cortisol- that is released into your bloodstream. Stress prevention and reduction is important for everyone, but is particularly important for seniors and people with heart problems.

What is Your Acne Telling You About Your Health?

Everybody has had an acne breakout at some point in their life. Many believe that these breakouts are due to hormones and topical facial products, both of which are true. However, acne that is in certain, contained locations tend to have meaningful symbolization. In fact, the location of your acne is telling of the health conditions of other parts of your body.

In between the eyebrows.

Acne flare ups between the eyebrows are indicative of a liver that is working overtime and unable to keep up with the foods being digested. This is usually due to the over consumption of fatty, greasy food or alcohol, so if you find yourself breaking out after a night of partying, this could be why.

Cheeks.

If you think there might be a correlation between the air quality in your city and the acne appearing on your cheeks, you might be onto something. Cheek acne usually means that you’ve been in contact with polluted air. The acne in this area could also be caused by allergies or by bacteria such as the millions of bacteria that are found on your cell phone.

Chin

Chin acne usually comes about with the changing of the body’s hormones. This is why acne on the chin is so common among women when it’s time for their menstrual cycle, however, it can appear on a person of any gender.

Nose

Nose acne is generally caused by the production of excess oil on the face. This happens because the nose contains an abundance of oil glands in comparison to other parts of the face and body.

Forehead

An acne problem in the forehead area could mean that you’re sleep deprived and/or having issues with your digestive system. Pimples here are an indication that the body is having a hard time breaking down foods. Consistent breakouts in this are are worth a talk with your doctor.

Stomach

Very uncommon, but still a possibility, stomach acne correlates to blood sugar levels. A blood sugar that is too high can cause acne in this area, making it an important factor for diabetics to monitor when they suffer from high blood sugar.

Thighs and upper legs.

Covered with extremely sensitive skin, the thighs and upper areas of the legs are prone to acne that results from allergic reactions and irritation. Usually, the irritation here is cause by shower gels or soap. If you get frequent thigh acne, consider trying a different shower gel.

Hairline

Acne along the hairline is commonly related to pore-clogging makeup, friction from hats, and poor hair hygiene. Hairline acne isn’t as common as other types of acne, but is important to deal with when it comes up, as it can become a nuisance.

Pelvis

Pelvis acne- also known as crotch acne- is commonly associated with STDs. It can also be caused by underwear that is too tight, not breathable, or lack of general hygiene, but is generally indicative of an untreated STD. Pelvic acne should not go untreated.

Are You Insured for an Emergency

Are You Insured for an Emergency?

There is an ongoing drive to send patients to urgent care clinics or your doctor’s office rather than then emergency room.  It can save both you and your insurance company money.  There are exceptions to the rule of course, if you are referred to the emergency department by your doctor for an x-ray or other non-emergency services.  The exceptions also include situations where the nearest clinic is too far away, it is the weekend or if you are bringing your child.  When an actual emergency happens very few consider whether they are covered they are more concerned with getting to the doctor.  But the question remains, are you insured for an emergency?

Going to the ER

There is a lot of grey area when it comes to defining what an emergency is.  The ACA defines it as “a prudent layperson, possessing an average knowledge of medicine and health”.  That doesn’t help much, since you need to see a doctor first before they can determine if this is a real emergency or not.  You as the patient or parent of a patient has to decide if your illness is worth an ER visit and whether you can afford it.  Here are some situations where your visit may not be covered.

A Genuine Emergency

There are times that are genuine emergencies such as accidents or coronary events and you need to get to the ER now.  But if you ever look around the waiting room of an ER there are plenty of people there with headaches, colds and sore throats which can be treated at a clinic or at a pharmacy.  If you are unsure, then before you head to the ER let’s look at some alternative options.

  • Try a virtual doctor, you can speak with a healthcare professional online and determine if you need the ER or not. This is a new tool for the healthcare industry and lots of insurance companies will cover this option for you.
  • Visit a nurse at a drug store, many of them will be open for consultations outside of business hours to see you.
  • Use a Medical Cost Sharing program, often these are organized through your church where the participants support each other’s costs.

Read the Fine Print

Always read your insurance policy to understand what and how emergency care is covered.  You need to understand how your insurance company defines an emergency and what they are going to cover.  The cost of healthcare is rising, with less coverage and higher out of pocket expenses and the onus is on you to understand your policy.

If the emergency is not one that is covered and you have a bill from the ER then check with the hospital to see if you meet the guidelines for financial assistance.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming these programs are just for the uninsured or low income families.  There are programs for patients that have their own insurance so check to see if you qualify.

3 Essential Tips for Buying Health Insurance

3 Essential Tips for Buying Health Insurance

If you don’t have health insurance through your employer and have to buy it individually it can get complicated and expensive.  The number of health plans that are online is overwhelming and you probably aren’t sure what you need.  Health insurance for most people is one of the more expensive items in the monthly budget so you want to get it right.  Here are 3 essential tips for buying health insurance that will help you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

Get Advice from an Expert

Everyone will have opinions on which plans you should choose, that doesn’t mean they are qualified to give you an opinion.  Don’t take advice from friends or relatives even those that work in the healthcare fields but rather talk to an impartial insurance expert.  Insurance specialists know the ins and outs of the policies and can help you make an informed decision that works for you and your family.  These specialists are compensated by the insurance companies and not you so their advice is usually free.  These people are experts, use them.

Figure Out What You Actually Need

This is again where a specialist can help you, but to determine what you actually need ask yourself how often you need to see a doctor.  Are you healthy and only go for annual checkups or do you have a condition that needs continuous monitoring?  Have you been in the hospital in the past few years?  Do you need regular medication?  A specialist can help you find a plan that will give you the maximum coverage where you need it the most, be that prescription drug coverage or hospital coverage.  Insurance agents also have access to plans that aren’t necessarily advertised on healthcare.gov so take advantage of that.

Don’t Overinsure

There are plenty of people with individual health insurance plans who actually have too much coverage.  You are probably thinking that’s not possible so here is an explanation.  If you are young and relatively healthy and don’t need ongoing doctor visits but you have preventative care coverage at 100%.  Sounds good, but you can enroll in a plan that instead has a lower premium and opt for a $10 copay you can potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars each year.  Also you should note that some of these plans with maximum coverage won’t cover everything, pregnancy is one example.  This is why you should talk with an expert, you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

Health insurance is confusing, you want to have insurance in the event that you do get sick or injured and at the same time not pay for things you will never need.  Speaking to an expert can help make this much less confusing and help you get the right coverage.