What are free radicals and how to counter them with antioxidants?

Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron
Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron, causing it to become a free radical

Many of us have often heard about the negative effects of free radicals on human health. However, very few of us know what free radicals are and how they work against the human body to inflict harm.

In this informational piece, we will discuss how free radicals affect our health and how we can alleviate their harmful effects with the help of antioxidants.

What are free radicals?

Free radical is the name given to any molecule, atom or ion that possesses an unpaired electron. Electrons, when not paired in their atomic orbits are highly unstable and reactive. To achieve stability, free radicals try to pair their unpaired electron through the process of oxidation.

In oxidation, free radicals try to attract or rather steal electrons from other stable atoms and molecules. If they are successful in this attempt, it sets off an oxidative chain reaction which can affect hundreds of millions of molecules and atoms.

Let’s see how free radicals operate in the environment of the human body.

Reactions of free radicals in our body

When free radicals are formed or enter into our body, they try to get electrons from different molecules, be it proteins, fats, cell membranes or genetic molecules; in other words, they try to steal electrons from the atoms of the nutrients that work to keep us healthy. The removal of an electron from any such molecule within the body changes its basic structure and triggers an oxidative chain reaction. This phenomenon caused by free radicals is also known as the oxidative stress.

What is the free radical theory of aging?

According to the free radical theory of aging, organisms age because their biological cells accumulates oxidative damage of free radicals over time. Even though the debate on the authenticity of this theory is still ongoing,  research studies have agreed on the fact that the oxidative stress can lead to much degeneration. For instance arthritis, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and many other health complications can be caused by the prevalence of free radicals.

According to the free radical theory of aging, if oxidative destruction caused by free radicals can be capped, then it can provide longevity to any living being.

Have we found the fountain of youth?  Most likely not, but have we found a way to keep us healthy to the point that we may live longer? Absolutely.

Sources of Free Radicals

To counter the effects of free radicals, it is imperative to know the sources of free radicals. Either they are produced within the body or we get exposed to them from external sources. Whatever the case, knowing where they come from, holds the key to getting rid of them.

Internal sources of free radicals

  • The human body needs the energy to survive and grow. This energy comes from breaking down the food that we eat into ATP molecules with the help of oxygen. This chemical reaction also produces free radicals as a byproduct.
  • Apart from metabolic byproduct, free radicals are also produced when the body undergoes severe stress levels or inflammation.

External sources of free radicals

There are lots of harmful environmental resources that can expose the human body to free radicals.

  • Industrial pollution (including chemicals and smoke)
  • Radiation
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic Metals
  • Cigarette Smoke

It is practically impossible to get rid of external free radicals altogether since they are all around us, in the air we breathe and in the food and water we consume. The best practice is to try and minimize their levels in your body.

How to do this? Read on for more information.

Antioxidants: Crusaders against free radicals

As the name suggests, antioxidants are substances that inhibit the process of oxidation. Introducing antioxidants in the body means that you can stop the process of oxidative stress triggered by free radicals.

Antioxidants usually stop free radicals from inflicting damage to biological molecules by donating the electron they are looking for.

Like free radicals, some antioxidants are produced within the body, while others can be consumed through dietary products and supplements. Usually, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of some very effective antioxidants.

There are three main antioxidants that are synthesized in different organs of the body and have different reactions.

  • Glutathione
  • Uric acid
  • Ubiquinol

There are several other antioxidants, which although not as vital as the above three, are also necessary for combating the negative effects of free radicals.

  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Anthocyanins
  • Selenium
  • Polyphenols
  • Curcuminoids

What Foods Contain the Highest Amounts of Antioxidants?

Coffee has been known to contain high levels of antioxidants. As far as food is concerned, you can’t go wrong with any types of fruits and vegetables, but the ones with the highest amounts of antioxidants are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Artichokes
  • Elderberries
  • Kidney beans
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cilantro (Chinese parsley)

Making Sense of it All

In general, you can make sure that your body has access to antioxidants by adjusting your dietary habits around fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods are one of the richest sources of micronutrients and antioxidants, and both of these substances are necessary to rid the body of free radicals.

Bottom Line: Keep free-radicals at bay by consuming foods and drinks rich in antioxidants daily.

 

Improving Your Quality of Life With the Help of Meditation

Meditation can calm the mind and body
Woman in seawater at sunset meditating

Stress and anxiety have become a norm of the modern-day lifestyle. Unfortunately, for a very long time, people didn’t consider these psychological problems as worthy of attention. We were more focused on keeping our bodies physically healthy, and lost focus on the importance of mental hygiene and keeping a healthy mind. However, over time, the perception of various mental issues have changed. Now more people strive to find the solutions for these problems, because they are aware of the fact that without the healthy state of mind it will be difficult to achieve the improved quality of life.  

What is quality of life?

The term ‘quality of life’ is outlined by a set of different parameters like physical health, financial stability, education, family and religious beliefs of an individual. All of these parameters, which determine the quality of life, are strongly associated with one’s mental health. It is safe to assume that no matter how well you are doing with all the mentioned aspects, if you don’t have mental peace then you can’t able to appreciate the quality of life.

If mental problems persist for long, it can negatively affect all those characteristics necessary to attain the improved quality of life.

What is the solution?

In the previous section, it has become quite clear that how important mental health is to lead a happy life. So how one can get rid of all those mental ailments that make it difficult for us to cherish our lives? The answer lies in the mental exercises carried out by humans being for thousands of years. According to ancient Hindu scripts, meditation was nearly started 5000 years ago.

Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware. It is also known as the exercise in which person observes his train of thought without judging and interrupting them. The mindfulness achieved through meditation helps you to focus on the present moment instead of getting distracted by the ever-persisting clutter of thoughts.

There are several benefits of meditation to the mental health that can help you to improve the quality of life.

Meditation: The stress killer

Reducing stress through meditation is the best gift you can give to yourself. Our modern day lives are crammed with so much stressor that our mind gets overwhelmed by all that negativity of the stress. Different stressors basically fires up neurons, the constant stimulation of nerve cells results in agitation. You can tackle this mental agitation by practicing meditation.

Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps you to shape up the responses of your brain to the incoming stressors. When you are more in control of your brain, it is less likely that brain will go haywire all of a sudden by releasing the stress hormone cortisol. It has been reported that mediators takes less toll of the stressful conditions as compared to other people. Shedding considerable amount of stress from your everyday life automatically contributes to improve the quality of it.

Meditation gives you a less distractive mind

We are living in an era where we have been distracted by a plethora of things in every given moment of the day, thanks to the technological innovations. Our concentration levels and attention spans are greatly affected by those distractions. Loss of attention and concentration contributes to the poor grades for students and less productivity of the working professionals. Quality of life is strongly connected to good education and professional success.

Since meditation is about ‘focusing’ on the present, it helps in increasing the capability of mind to focus and concentrate which assist person in different life affairs.

Meditation makes you more self-aware

Meditation also increases the level of self-awareness in a person which helps him in becoming less harmful to himself. Simply put, highly self-aware person tries to adopt healthy lifestyle. People start to eat healthy and many people quit smoking and excessive drinking after regular practice of meditation.

Meditation helps in accepting oneself

Accepting one’s self is the hardest thing many people come across with. Meditation helps you to accept yourself with all the faults and shortcomings. People can’t able to experience the feel of present moment just because they don’t want to accept their present self and they keep continue to chase the illusion of perfection. Meditation helps people to accept themselves with ifs and buts and that helps them to experience and feel the happiness of the given instant.

It is given that all the discussed benefits of mediation can certainly increase the quality of your life and also of the people around you.

A Short Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Checking WaistlineObesity has become a worldwide concern due to the multiple health complications associated with it. People living in the developed countries are especially affected by the problem of weight gain. To address the issue of obesity, nutritionists have introduced many different diets and eating patterns. There are experts advocating to adopt the eating habits of the Stone Age in the form of paleo diet. Then there are some who are in favor of fat-based diets to curb the malevolence of obesity.

The one common denominator with all these eating plans is to eat healthily. Among all these diet programs, intermittent fasting* has gained much popularity among the weight loss aspirants. However, it seems as if many people still don’t know exactly what intermittent fasting is and therefore, they hold certain reservations and misconceptions about the concept.

What is intermittent fasting?

Simply, it is an eating model in which an individual goes through alternative cycles of eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat, rather it’s concerned with when to eat. There are several sub-categories of intermittent fasting, all of which depend on the duration of fasting and eating periods.

Misconceptions regarding intermittent fasting

Misconceptions often hold us back from adopting the right habits. Here are some of the widespread misconceptions about the functioning of intermittent fasting.

You are allowed to binge eat during the eating period

Many people think that intermittent fasting is all about going extreme with your eating routine i.e. for a period you have to starve and then for a time slot you are entitled to non-stop eating. That’s not the case at all; otherwise, you won’t be able to get any benefits from this eating pattern.  

Only water is allowed during the fasting period

This is another false fact associated with intermittent fasting that you are only allowed to drink water during the fasted phase. You can consume caffeine products (green, black tea and coffee) during the fasting period. Supplements and other drinks with zero calories can also be used during the non-eating phase.

Longer fasting periods are better

No, this is not true. Fasting for more than 20 hours can become counterproductive. Remember that a fasting phase doesn’t entail starving yourself.

Feeling hungry is bad for health

There isn’t any substantial body of research behind this claim that feeling hungry is harmful to your health. So don’t get worried that a mere feeling of starvation will result in the loss of vital mass (muscles) of the body, no such thing happens during the fasting period.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

Now let’s’ delve into some of the proven benefits of perfectly carried out intermittent fasting.

Losing abdominal fat

Losing abdominal fat in order to reduce weight and to get back into shape is the primary reason many start intermittent fasting. There are certain characteristics of intermittent fasting that helps in losing excessive fat:

  • Overall, you consume fewer calories during the complete cycle of fasting. Fewer calories mean there will be less amount of residual fats produced from the excessive calories.
  • Fasting helps in enhancing different beneficial hormone functions of the body resulting in revved-up metabolic rate which also helps in burning more calories.

It means intermittent fasting is a two-pronged method of reducing weight. It limits the average calorie intake of an individual while simultaneously increasing the metabolic rate.

Preventing and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes

In recent years, type 2 diabetes has become one of the most prevalent diseases all around the world. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where blood sugar or glucose levels exceed their normal limits in the bloodstream due to lower insulin levels in the blood. A research study indicates that intermittent fasting can improve insulin resistance which helps in reducing blood sugar levels.

Health concerns related to intermittent fasting

While with its benefits for the people facing obesity and type 2 diabetes, there are certain downsides of intermittent fasting as well that can affect certain individuals.

Dehydration

In some instances, the fasted phase can result in dehydration. It usually occurs because people practicing intermittent fasting are not getting the fluid portion of the solid food items.

High-stress levels and headaches

During the initial phase of intermittent fasting, one can experience increased stress levels resulting from disturbed sleep pattern and headache.

If carried out properly, intermittent fasting can provide you with its benefits. However, it is always better to consult a nutritionist before adopting a new eating pattern.  

* Note: You should always confer with a health professional prior to beginning any weight loss program!

Why are Whole Grains Preferred Over Refined Ones?

Man Eating Biscut
Maintain a healthier lifestyle by being vigilant as to what are processed foods and what is not.

With a prevalence of obesity in this country, where complications of diabetes and other health ailments occur as a result, people look for ways to control their dietary habits. People are more inclined to now focus on dietary items that are raw and less refined. Among these natural healthy food options, whole grain top the list in terms of popularity. However, many experts suggest that there is still a long way to go.

A worrying statistic indicates that nearly 60% of calorie consumption is from ultra-processed food; that is, extra ingredients that are placed into the food in order to make it taste better and sometimes “to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product,” as per a study by Carlos Augusto Monteiro, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.  These foods contain high amounts of sugars, saturated fat and sodium, which can present such medical dangers as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

Health risks of refined grain

Wheat Grain in a FieldMany of us have become overly reliant on ready-made food items, such as products that are processed with refined wheat, rice and barley. Flour, for example, is crushed into fine powders, which then form the basis for many types of bread and a large variety of processed foods, from cereals, crackers and pizza dough to cookies and cakes.

Apart from having less nutritional value, refined grains also pose significant health risks to the people consuming them on a daily basis.

Following is a list of just some of the health hazards that can be acquired when eating refined products.

Accumulation of abdominal fat leading to heart problems

Refined grain, as the main source of getting nutritional values in your diet, accumulates layers of adipose tissues (fat) around your organs. It results into inflated waste along with complications of heart health.

Development of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the condition in which artery walls get thickened. Thick arteries can result into hypertension and in worse conditions culminates into heart attacks. It has been found out that consumption of refined grains for a long time can lead to this ailment. 

Diabetic conditions

Due to its lack of fiber, minerals and other micronutrients, refined grains can make the human body more vulnerable in acquiring diabetes, especially in people with a genetic history of the disease.

How Do We Know Which Foods are Ultra-Processed?

Boxes_of_cereal_in_a_supermarket
The decision to buy non-processed foods can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for
Whole Grain Stamp
Foods with the whole grain stamp label on its packaging indicate that the bran, germ and endosperm are still present in the grain.

Read the label. If it says the food contains artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, there is not much doubt they are processed with ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

Conversely, foods that still contain the bran, germ and endosperm, and subsequently, the nutrients that accompany them will have a label on its packaging indicating that the food within contains whole grains.

Those foods that have been processed organically will have a clear label indicating this.

What are whole grains?

Simply put, whole grains are natural grains present in their untreated form. They are edible plant seeds usually known as the term ‘kernel’. The grain kernel consists of three distinctive edible parts that are enclosed in a shell, a natural protection for grains from excessive sunlight, insects and crop diseases.  Let’s break down the three individual parts of whole grains to understand the nutrients within them.

Bran

Bran is the outermost layer of kernel consisting of many layers.
Nutritional Benefit: It is full of fibers, vitamins B and vital antioxidants.

Germ

Germ is the nucleus of the kernel and acts as the plant’s embryo.  Nutritional Benefit: Germ of the whole grain is loaded with proteins, healthy fats and micronutrients in the form of minerals and vitamins.

Endosperm

Endosperm is the area of kernel surrounding the germ. It provides the plant’s energy through its abundance of nutrients.
Nutritional Benefit: Endosperm contains almost all of the carbohydrates of the kernel, with a portion of proteins and some micronutrients.

Whole grain is more nutritious because the germ and bran, which is part of the kernel are not destroyed and excluded in the process refinement. To get yourself more acquainted with the usefulness of whole grains, the following are some of its advantages:

Improved digestion

We all know that how much of our adult population is bugged with digestive issues. The rich fiber content present in whole grains improves the bowel movement which means you don’t have to rely on laxatives. The presence of lactic acid in whole grains helps the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine. Presence of good bacteria in the intestine helps in rapid nutrient absorptions and strengthened immune system.

Instills the feeling of satiation

Whole grains are famous to keep your appetite low with their satiating effect. It takes longer for the digestive system to digest whole grains which means your brain will not signal you for untimely eating. This innate quality of whole grain can help people who are striving to lose weight.  

Blood sugar regulator

Whole grain helps in controlling the spiked up levels of blood sugar. With its low glycemic index as compared to refined grains, less glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, helping in maintaining the blood glucose levels.

Whole grains are also proved to be beneficial in reducing the inflammation within in the body. Medical sciences tell us that inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases. Antioxidants present in whole grains can also reduce the risk of different types of cancers. In general, increasing the quantity of whole grain in our daily diet can ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Dealing with Stress

Stressed businessman
Both internal and external circumstances can cause stress

Some people have or will have experienced stress and anxiety at least once in their lifetime. For others, it may be a frequent occurrence, due to ongoing issues or because you are more subject to it due to your internal metabolism. The quick pace of modern times has also made this psychological problem a more prevalent one. More people than ever are now victims of stress and its consequences. Here, we will try to help you with a small yet effective guide on how to deal with stress.

How to deal with workplace stress

According to a survey, eight out of ten Americans have anxiety in the workplace. Overwhelming responsibilities, disruptive employees, demanding supervisor, personal relationships while on the job all can play a hand in developing stress. In addition, the hardship of trying to keep up with demanding commitments in order to meet impending deadlines can bring you unwanted anxiety.

Issues like these are sufficient to cause discomfort to you and it is more likely you will become inhibited from your ability to concentrate on your work. Consequently, you become error-prone and then you are subjected to reprimands and possible termination, which no doubt will increase your anxiety ten-fold.  

Share it with your supervisor

If something is irritating you in the workplace and it’s not in your control,  it may be best to let your supervisor know what you are up against since keeping him or her in the dark would only lead to speculation that could take them down the wrong path. In addition, discussing your concerns and work-related problems with your higher-ups can help you to release the stress.  

If the problem is more personal and you feel that it may not be productive to discuss with your boss, you might want to consider taking some days off and discussing the problem with family or close friends, as it is not recommended to keep it to yourself.

Avoid Multitasking

If you are already feeling stressed and anxious, then getting involved in multitasking can become a catalyst for the already worsened condition. Try to focus on one task at a time, but make sure you are kept best busy. Make a list of to-dos and check each one off as you complete the task. This will keep your mind off of your worries and also gives you a sense of accomplishment. 

Don’t Over Think

Stress is very much related to the state of mind and over thinking is one of the things that can aggravate the situation. Getting consumed with worries will only take a toll on your mental health. 

People tend to exaggerate problems they are having. This is common. They fear the worst. It is important to maintain a good perspective on the situation and consider that it may not be as bad as you perceive it to be.

If the problem is as real as you practically believe it is, try telling yourself that this is only a temporary situation and the problem will tend to correct itself in due time.

Dealing with Stress in the Home

DepressionThe home is the place to be yourself and to get the relaxation you look forward to every day. Unfortunately, in many practical situations, there are certain problems people face at home that may make it difficult to relax. 

The Father Knows Best lifestyle is fake news. Just about every family has some type of stress in their lives at one time or another. This reality can be attributed to non-behaving children or teenagers, a bad or difficult marriage or financial woes just to name a few.

People may lose their cool when dealing with anxiety prone conditions at home. Remember, it will only increase the stress levels of the whole family and there are no chances that the problem will go away with aggressive and irrational behavior.

Finances are also one of the main reasons that induce domestic stress. In such circumstances where you are facing a financial challenge, it is better to deal with it through cooperation among all family members. A shared responsibility from all family members will help you face the issue at hand, and will also lower the levels of stress at home.

Many times, domestic stress gets aggravated because of minor nuisances. You can save yourself this unnecessary anxiety by keeping your demeanor as amenable as possible. Be cool and take deep breaths.  

Meditation Helps in Any Situation

Young asian man meditatingOne woman explained how she was able to feel calmer by just going into a quiet room, sit down and close her eyes. She would clear her mind and just relax. A most natural remedy to relieve the tension that builds up during the day. This is meditation and it is a common method many people use to simply unwind. Some people may go a step further and put on some soft music. Whatever meditation technique you use, your mind and body will thank you!

Deal with Stress Through Dietary Means

Apart from acting on all the above-mentioned tips, there are certain food items that can help you relieve your stress levels. Make them a part of your dietary lifestyle to feel happy and stress-free.

Cashew Nuts

Zinc deficiency in the body can bring several psychiatric disorders, and stress is one of them. You can maintain the appropriate levels of zinc by adding cashew nuts to your diet. Cashew nuts can be used in different recipes. They can also be consumed exclusively as a snack.

Dark Chocolate

According to a research conducted by the University of Bern in Switzerland, the use of dark chocolate can alleviate the effects of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that are associated with anxiety prone conditions.

Dark chocolate also has antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals – the elements that may be responsible for heart disease, cancer and other diseases. It contains a variety of minerals, but this chocolate with less than 70% cocoa contains dairy and sugar. An excessive use of it might lead to weight gain.

Asparagus

This spring vegetable is high in folic acid, which is considered good for cognitive health and stress conditions. Use steamed asparagus in salads. You can also roast asparagus stalks for a crispier texture.

Garlic

If you are experiencing a stressful situation for a long time, then your immune system will also bear the brunt of it. When using different food items to relieve the consequences of stress, garlic can come handy in by boosting your immune system, since it is packed with many antioxidants. Garlic is an all-season vegetable and can become a part of nearly every meal.  

Medical Assistance

Seeking the advice and console of a medical professional is commonplace for people with depression and is highly recommended for those who are frequently affected by anxiety as well. In addition, there is a correlation between anxiety and depression.

Therapy

Probably one of the most common ailments that would cause someone to go to therapy is stress and the related problems that are associated with it. A counselor can help you manage your anxiety better than you are probably doing yourself.

If you find yourself in constant anxiety, don’t go through it alone. A therapist would be highly recommended.

Medication

Pills on a table
Always seek the advise of a medicial professional before taking ANY medication

Now we come to a path that many, many people pursue and for good reason!

Prescription drugs can be a major benefactor in managing your anxiety, as well as the subsequent negative effects it has on your body, but caution is highly recommended!

A doctor or certified practitioner are the only ones who can prescribe the appropriate medication for you!

There are so many drugs on the market, it is very important for a physician to determine what would be best for you and you may be surprised how much better you could feel with the proper medication and respective dosage.

Case in point: A 45-year-old man lost his father to heart failure. For eleven months, the man was blaming himself with the notion that he could have done things better while his father was in ailing condition, not realizing that guilt is a common issue for someone to feel when they lose a loved one; however, most of the time, it is completely unwarranted. “Why didn’t I do it this way” or “I could have done this differently” are common thoughts a guilty person may encounter. For many people who suffer guilt after a loss, the fact is that nothing would have been any different, and as they say “It is all in your head”. But in the mind of the person suffering from it, it is die-hard real.

The ongoing guilt and the grief was causing this man to have episodes of depression and when not in depression, he would suffer from serious anxiety attacks. It wasn’t until he sought medical help that a prescription plan was provided to him and after a few weeks, his guilt began to dissipate to the point that one morning when he woke up and he felt entirely free of this guilty feeling.

This happened because he was initially lacking the chemical serotonin in his brain, which caused him to think irrationally and once the proper medication was provided to him, his serotonin level increased to the point that his anxiety and depression was totally gone.

Referring to a popular metaphor, we can say that the man went from feeling that the glass was half-empty to the glass was half-full. In reality, this meant that he went from thinking that he could have done things better when aiding his father to instead, thinking about all the great things he did for his dad.

If you plan to see a doctor, you can visit your family physician who would be able to recommend some limited amounts of prescription drugs that could help you cope with a bad situation, but for the long term, it would best to seek the help of a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists are medical professionals whose specialty is your mental health as opposed to your physical health. They will be able to diagnose your condition and prescribe the appropriate medications that could you help you.

Many people seek the help of both a therapist and psychiatrist together.

To go any deeper at this point would be beyond the scope of this article, but we hope that you have gained some important insight while you were here.

How a Pregnant Mother’s Diet Affects the Baby’s Health

What a mother eats during pregnancy directly affects the child’s immune system. According to the findings of scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC) the diet of the mother during of pregnancy can permanently change the gene function of the child. The mother’s’ nutrition can affect the child’s cancer risks and immunity against other diseases.

Various other studies have proved that the food that the mother eats during the nine months of pregnancy will impact the baby’s health. This raises the question: what should expectant mothers eat during pregnancy?

Here are five nutrition tips that can have a beneficial effect on the child’s health.

1. Get Adequate Amount of Folic Acid

Studies have shown that getting enough amount of folic acid during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of premature delivery. Also, an adequate amount of folic acid, particularly during the first few months of the gestation period, will decrease the risk of neural-tube defects by up to 70 percents. You should consider eating about 600 mg of folic acid daily when the pregnancy is confirmed. After delivery, the amount of folic acid should be reduced to 400 mg.  

2. Eat Seafood

Seafood contains ample amount of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Eating seafood can have an extremely beneficial effect on the health of the child. DHA is omega-3 fatty acid that can boost mental development of the child. It can also lead to improved memory, vision, motor skills, and comprehension of the language during early childhood.  Consider eating about 12 ounces of seafood in a week. If this is not possible, you should consider taking DHA supplement after consulting with your general physician.  

3. Avoid Intake of Alcohol

Alcohol is poison for a pregnant mother and her baby. Consuming the drink during pregnancy can negatively affect the baby’s health. No amount is safe for the pregnant mother. Consuming even small amount of alcohol during the pregnancy can result in causing cognitive dysfunctions, such as learning problems, behavior problem, attention deficit disorder, aggressive behavior, and hyperactivity in children.

4. Adequate Intake of Iron

Iron is essential for every woman. The mineral is particularly important for pregnant women as it plays a crucial role in healthy blood and transport of oxygen throughout the body. The baby will benefit from the extra amount of iron in the blood. You should intake about 30 mg of iron every day during pregnancy. After conception, the daily dose should be reduced to 15 mg.

5. Avoid Eating Unpasteurized Milk and Cheese

Unpasteurized milk and cheese harbor bacteria. The food items can contain Salmonella, Listeria, and E.Coli . Consuming them during pregnancy can result in premature delivery or miscarriage. So, in order to be on the safe side, you should avoid eating this food item during pregnancy. Other food items that you should avoid eating include poultry, undercooked meat, and eggs. Also, dump leftover food that is left on the table for more than two hours.   

The above food items when consumed during pregnancy can have a beneficial effect on the child. An important thing to keep in mind is that you should not eat too much. Some women ‘eat for two’ and gain a lot of weight. However, overeating won’t help in ensuring a healthy child delivery. Instead, it could increase the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and delivery of a premature baby. So keep the above five tips in mind and eat healthy!  

 

Three Different Types of At-Home Senior Care

For seniors that don’t require the medical care and attention of a nursing home or assisted living, there are options that cater to seniors that still live at home and only need care to come to them. It is important to have an idea about the type of care you or your loved one will need now and in the future, as well as becoming acquainted with the terminology.

Skilled and Custodial Care

Depending of the location in which care is provided, there are two types of care of the highest level known as skilled care and custodial care. Skilled care is a service that can be given only by licensed or skilled medical staff. This includes help with wound care, injections, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and other medical needs.

Custodial care, which is also called non-skilled care, helps with activities of daily living, also called ADL’s, a healthcare term that refers to people’s daily self care including eating, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, walking, and continence. Custodial care is typically provided for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Both skilled and custodial care can be provided at home, in adult day care or in a residential care setting such as a nursing home, assisted living community or adult foster care home. 

Home Care and Home Health Care

Home care and home health care are terms used interchangeably, but there is an important difference between the two. Both of these types of care are provided in a senior’s home. Home care usually means that custodial or unskilled care is being provided. This includes help with bathing and dressing, as well as help with laundry, cooking and accompanying them to doctors’ appointments.

Home health care is a higher level of care which requires medical training. This includes assisting with artificial limbs and other medical equipment like a ventilator and also checking an elderly person’s vitals and respiration. It’s not that unusual for home health care providers to also provide custodial care during their visits to an elderly person’s home. 

Adult Day Social Care vs. Adult Day Health Care

Adult day care and adult day health care are terms that are used interchangeably. Adult day social care provides seniors with supervision and care in a structured setting during daytime hours usually only on weekdays. This enables seniors to continue living at home with their families while allowing family members or caregivers the time to go to work or relieve stress from caregiving. Activities such as art therapy, exercise class, hair and beauty services, oxygen therapy and counseling are usually provided as well as meals.

Adult day health care usually provides everything social care does but it also includes medical services similar to those found in a nursing home and can include rehabilitation services and medication management. This sounds like an ideal alternative to a nursing home, however, there are only a few hundred of these facilities per state compared to thousands of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Elderly At Highest Risk Ever For Dental Problems

A few decades ago, losing your teeth and getting dentures was the norm. Today, with better hygiene and fluoridated toothpaste and water, older people have more teeth to preserve than ever before. Unfortunately, most Americans that retire or leave the workforce find themselves losing their employer dental insurance. 

Medicare covers dental care except for specific conditions. Medicaid varies by state and usually only pays for limited procedures. More elderly patients are going longer without seeing a dentist, leaving many vulnerable for periodontal disease. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 20 percent of Americans over 65 have untreated cavities. Among Americans over 75, 25 percent have lost all their teeth. 

Dental care gets more complicated as one gets older. Older people produce less saliva, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay. Receding gums also expose teeth to more decay and bone loss makes teeth less stable. Over 500 medications taken by the elderly, such as those for asthma, allergies, blood pressure, cholesterol, Parkinson’s or Alzheimers, produce the side effect of dry mouth. Dry mouth leads to an increase of cavities, mouth sores, and infections.

The best way to protect your oral health as you age is to plan for your dental expenses before you retire. Organizations like AARP offer supplemental dental insurance plans for their members. Discount dental plans are another option and they usually have lower monthly fees than traditional dental insurance. The best way to prevent dental disease is with preventative care. Having your teeth checked and cleaned twice a year has shown to lower costs in the long run, according to researchers at University of Maryland Dental School.

If caring for a disabled or elderly loved one, it is important to help them keep their mouth clean and remind them to brush and floss daily, as well as making sure they get to a dentist regularly. Nursing home residents that need dental care and are enrolled in Medicaid have access to a regulation called Incurred Medical Expense, that can help pay for medically necessary care as determined by a dentist.

Lifestyle and diet changes are also important for the elderly when it comes to their oral health. For those suffering from dry mouth due to medication, drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum can increase flow of saliva. Using an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash won’t dry out the mouth and can also help. It is also important to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, which dry out the mouth.

Skinny Jeans are a Health Hazard, says Medical Experts

Are tight jeans a health risk?
Photo by marylooo – yayimages.com

The ubiquitous skinny jeans have been the legwear of choice among both men and women for years. However, it appears that the habit of wearing skin tight jeans can result in a host of health problems such as bladder weakness, twisted testicles, and urinary tract infections.

In this article, we will look at the recent studies that have criticized skinny jeans and deemed them a big health hazard. The fashionable denim may look appealing on a person as it accentuates the bulges and curves. But once you know about the health hazards of wearing jeans, you will think twice before wearing them.  

The Health Risks of Wearing Skinny Jeans

Most people admit that they wear jeans to look good sacrificing comfort for style. But now studies have warned that these clothes can cause serious damage to the muscles and nerves. According to a study published by TENA – a company that sells clothes designed to stay in control of urine leakage – one in 10 men surveyed had reported unpleasant effects of wearing tight jeans.   

The study found that wearing skinny jeans restricts the movement of the testicles. As a result, the spermatic cord that holds the testicles can twist leading to testicular torsion. This can cut off the blood supply to the region that may require immediate surgery – or even removal of the testicle.  

According to medical experts, people should leave adequate room around the groin area. The trousers should not feel tight or restrict movement of the testicles in any way.  

Apart from damaging the testicles in men, wearing skinny jeans might also be bad for the back. This statement was made by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).  

Tim Hutchful, BCA chiropractor, most people don’t know that clothing and certain accessories can badly affect their posture and back health. Many people tend to decide their outfit choice based on fashion instead of comfort. However, popular and trendy clothing can have hidden impact on health.

Skinny jeans are known to restrict movement in areas such as knees and hips. The clothing prevents blood from flowing properly to these areas. As a result, the person may develop painful joint conditions.

In the End

It’s not the skinny jeans that increase the risks of painful health conditions. Any clothing or items such as heavy jewelry, oversized sleeves, large hoods, asymmetric hemlines, and others that restrict the movements in any way can have a negative impact on your back, neck, and posture. Large hoods make you strain the neck to clearly see ahead, while tight-fitting asymmetric hemlines restrict your movement.  

In order to avoid the health risks, individuals are advised to prefer comfort over style. Trying to look trendy and chic by wearing tight-fitting clothes can make you crippled in the long run. Sacrificing comfort just for the looks is not worth it in the end.  

The Benefits of Daily One-Mile Walks

The benefits of walking are similar to the apple. Walking at least a mile a day can keep the doctor away. From destressing to helping you lower blood pressure and reduce weight, walking can help you in many ways.

Regular walks is in fact one of the easiest thing that you can do for your health, according to the author of The Doctor on Demand Diet, Melina B. Jampolis, MD. Walking requires nothing more than a pair of tennis shoes. However, the activity provides tremendous physical and mental health benefits.

A 2015 study by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60. The results were impressive. Those who participated in this study partook in daily walking or a similar exercise, as well as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Researchers said that there were signs of anti-aging benefits and that could add an additional three to seven years to their lives.

Here are some of the benefits that you can enjoy by walking just a mile a day every day.

1. Strengthens the Heart

Walking, especially brisk walking is a great cardio exercise that strengthens the heart muscles. Probably the most prominent benefit of walking is the potential reduction of blood pressure and stroke which may reduce the risk by 20% to 40%. According to the Stroke Association, just walking half an hour every day can control blood pressure, and reduce the risk of stroke by about 27 percent. 

Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that post-menopausal women who walked just one to two miles a day, lowered blood pressure by nearly 11 points. And at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, a study concluded that women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent and by 40 percent when they increased their speed.

What’s more, this nominal exercise can help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol from the body. Stable levels of cholesterol in the body further reduce the risk of heart complications.

2. Burn Calories

Walking just a mile of 15 minutes at a speed of two miles per hour can help you burn around 37 calories. Increasing your speed to three miles per hour will help you cut about 50 calories in the same time, while at four miles per hour, you will burn 75 calories. While walking in itself is not enough to drastically reduce the weight, when performed in combination to other exercise routines, it can provide a significant contribution.   

3. Lowers Risk of Deadly Diseases

Regular walking also reduces the risk of diabetes by as much as 60 percent. The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for the disease. Also, due to the activity of walking, you will be about 20 percent less likely to develop womb, breast or colon cancer. In addition, walking can help in reducing the risk of memory related illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

4. Boost Vitamin D

We all need Vitamin D for an improved immune system and bone health. Daily walking helps you get the required vitamin D from exposure to the sun. This will reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis or other diseases such as the flu that can develop due to a weak immune system.

5. You’ll Get More “regular”

There are benefits to your digestive system. Walking at regular intervals   can greatly improve gastric mobility, says Tara Alaichamy, DPT, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Dr. Alaichamy states that “One of the very first things an abdominal surgery patient is required to do is to walk, because it utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system,”.

6. Makes you Happy

Walking is a true mood booster. Various studies have shown that the simple activity of walking is as effective as antidepressant medications that are used to treat mild cases of depression. The activity releases the feel-good endorphins and reduces anxiety and stress. So, if you want to ensure a mental well being, consider making a one-mile walk your daily habit. 

In conclusion, walking will allow you to improve both your mental and physical health. It can add years to your life and improve your quality of life as well. Consider walking in the morning or during the afternoon an hour or two before the sunset or if you life in or near a city, make a day out of if and walk from one attraction to another. One family makes it a point almost every weekend to go to the city (New York in this case) and walk from the downtown area to midtown, as well as other locations in New York.

Going on a vacation? Don’t just sit at the beach. Take a long stroll along the boardwalk or walk a distance in the sand. Whatever it is you do, make sure you get that heart pumping! The more you walk, the more your body will thank you in the later part of your life.