Health in a Minute



A Hot Topic

Ready to turn up the heat? If you haven’t been frequenting your local sauna, it may be time to start. According to researchers, spending time in this hot, dry environment a couple times per week has serious mind and body benefits. First, it’s been suggested that saunas lower rates of cardiovascular disease, improve respiratory function, and boost the immune system. What’s more, this relaxing habit has been linked to reduced stress and improved mood.

If you’ve never been in a sauna, here’s what you need to know: A traditional sauna maintains a temperature ranging from 150° to 212° Fahrenheit. These sweltering temps get the blood pumping while raising your heart rate, similar to exercise. Saunas additionally stimulate heavy sweating as the body’s surface temperature rises to as high as 104° F. Although there are risks for individuals with health issues, saunas have proven safe for healthy individuals to use. Talk to your doctor first to see if you have any potential health risks. Good sauna practices include:

  •  Allot no more than 15-20 minutes for your sauna session.
  • When finished, allow the body to cool down gradually.
  • Drink plenty of water after your visit.
  • Avoid alcohol before and after your sauna.

Did You Know?

There are an estimated two million saunas in Finland, where “taking saunas” is a popular pastime!



Got NEAT?

Chances are, you’re already participating in NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT accounts for the energy you expend on everything that’s not eating, sleeping, or planned physical activity (like sports and exercise). Common NEAT activities include yard work, cleaning, cooking, typing, and even fidgeting!

The good news is, all that activity starts to add up – so even when you aren’t at the gym, you’re naturally burning calories and contributing to your overall wellness. Making a conscious effort to increase your NEAT throughout the day will only help in your weight loss efforts. And studies show that NEAT benefits more than your waistline; it also reduces sedentary time, a strong predictor of both cardiovascular disease risk and mortality.

To get more NEAT in your daily routine, try a few of these easy tips!

  • Stand more often.
  • Park at the back of the lot.
  • Pace when talking on the phone.
  • Play outside with your kids.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Wash all of your dishes by hand.
  • Dance while you clean.
  • Carry your groceries (or use a basket) instead of a shopping cart.

Tummy-Time Tips

Babies sleep on their backs for safety, but they also require a daily dose of tummy time. Not only does tummy time strengthen your baby’s neck muscles, it also keeps their motor development on track, including major milestones like lifting the head, rolling over, and crawling. So, when and how should you introduce tummy-time sessions?

Tummy time is designed for newborns. In fact, a healthy, full-term baby can start as soon as they come home from the hospital. Begin tummy time when your newborn is awake and alert (and not directly after a feeding); place your baby on their tummy on the floor, preferably on a soft space like a blanket. At first, tummy time should last for a couple of minutes, two to three times a day. As your baby grows stronger, you’ll eventually work up to 20-30 minutes a day.

If met with resistance, don’t give up! Some babies are simply unenthusiastic about tummy time, but consistency is key. Try keeping your baby on the floor for at least a minute and increase their time gradually. Toys, mirrors, and even getting on the floor with your baby are methods you can use to make tummy time a fun experience for all!



Babes Who Bite

It’s the fear of every nursing mother – a biting baby. Here, we list three reasons why your little one could be biting, and how to prevent it.

1. Teething
Most babies begin teething between 4 and 7 months old, and it can be a painful process. If your baby is using your breast to relieve pain (instead of feeding), a teething toy could do the trick. Alternatively, try massaging your baby’s gums prior to each feeding.

2. Demanding Attention
Babies can be seeking attention when they bite. If this is the case, try maintaining eye contact with your baby while breastfeeding. When you see that your baby has finished actively nursing, remove them from your breast immediately.

3.  Boredom
Toward the end of a nursing session, babies can get bored and/or distracted, and then decide to bite. If you notice a pattern, vigilantly watch your baby for signs of boredom, and stop breastfeeding at the first hint. Nursing in a quiet, darkened room can help keep your baby from getting distracted.

Biting – while frustrating – is a temporary habit that your baby will soon learn to stop. In the meantime, stay calm and use positive reinforcement when your baby has a bite-free feed!


 


Manage Mealtime Allergens

Managing your child’s food allergy is no easy task. The consequences of contact with a trigger food are scary, if not life-threatening. With these tips, you can avoid hidden threats and create a “new normal” for your child.

1. Be prepared.
Make a plan with your child’s doctor in the case of an allergic reaction, and then share the plan with family, teachers, and other adults responsible for your child. Some children will require an epinephrine auto-injector. Keep the injector with the child, and be ready to use it at the first sign of reaction.

2. Read every food label.
It’s a simple, yet effective rule of thumb. Remember that common food allergens will sometimes be listed in different places on the label; check the parentheses, as well as separate statements that might claim, “Contains: milk, soy.”

3. Ask questions.
Asking direct, thorough questions is the best way to protect your child from allergens when away from home. At restaurants, talk to your waiter about the kitchen’s food preparation and cleaning methods. And before enrolling your child in school or summer camp, ask the supervisors about snack policies and cafeteria practices.



Beat the Breakouts

Pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and more – acne is the bane of any teen’s existence. In fact, an estimated 85% of teenagers will develop acne in some form or another. So how can you best keep breakouts under control while building your teen’s self-esteem?

First, encourage your teen to maintain a proper skin care routine. Experts recommend washing the face twice daily with warm water and a mild soap. Wash gently, as excessive scrubbing can cause acne to worsen.

If your teen starts to develop breakouts, seek treatment. You may want to consider over-the-counter medications that contain benzoyl peroxide, which reduces oil production, or salicylic acid, which helps unclog pores. Not only can treating acne early prevent future breakouts, it can also help prevent scarring. When beginning an acne treatment, talk through expectations and remind your teen to be patient; depending on the medication, it can take a few months to see results.

In the case of more severe acne, make an appointment with a dermatologist. They may prescribe stronger medication, antibiotics, or other treatments. Above all, remember that acne affects your teen’s confidence as well as their physical appearance. Offer them support and reassurance, and be involved throughout the treatment process.



Drink to Good Health

Embrace the changing temperatures with a warm cup of your favorite brew – and reap the benefits!

Green Tea
High in antioxidants, green tea has been linked to improved brain function, lower cholesterol, and boosted immunity. When brewing your own, be mindful of how long you let it steep; if steeped too long, tea can have a bitter taste.

Black Tea
Black tea is also recognized for its antioxidant content, and research suggests that it may reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. Forgo unnecessary additives, like cream and sugar, to get the most benefits from this low-calorie, non-sweetened drink – or try adding lemon for a flavor boost.

Coffee
A cup of Joe may lengthen your lifespan while reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and some forms of cancer. Just don’t go overboard, allowing it to negatively affect your digestion and your sleep. Three to four eight-ounce cups a day is the sweet spot!

Hot Chocolate
With the right ingredients, a homemade cup of hot chocolate is a surprisingly healthy treat. Keep it simple with raw cacao powder, milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Cacao is high in magnesium, iron, and flavonoids (plant substances packed with antioxidants), while the milk provides a splash of protein.



Common Grooming Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

Steer clear of these four grooming gaffes for a healthier, well-kept appearance!

1. You’re under (or over) trimming your nose hair.
Nose hair is distracting at best, and should be trimmed periodically. The goal is to reduce the amount of hair – not remove every last strand. These tiny hairs serve as the first line of defense against dust and other allergens.

2. You’re shaving with an old razor.
Not only do old, dull blades cause razor burn, nicks, and scrapes, they also harbor bacteria. A healthy, fresh blade will glide along the face, so when it begins to drag, it’s time to be replaced.

3. You aren’t prepping your face for a shave.
The best time to shave is after a shower, as the warm water softens the skin and makes your hair easier to cut. If you don’t have time for a shower, try soaking your face with a towel doused in warm water for at least one minute.

4. You aren’t moisturizing daily.
Moisturizing is an important step in any good grooming regimen. Soothe your skin daily with a fragrance-free, alcohol-free moisturizer. You’ll get bonus points if it contains SPF, which protects skin from the sun’s UV rays.


 


Soap vs. Sanitizer: Which Reigns Supreme?

Peek into a lady’s purse, and you’ll likely find a trusty bottle of hand sanitizer. For the past few decades, sanitizer has made its way into offices, grocery stores, and classrooms everywhere. But how does this powerful liquid stack up against the golden standard of hand washing – water and soap?

Hand sanitizer is a quick, convenient, and effective method of eliminating harmful bacteria on the hands. However, it has two major drawbacks: it can’t kill all types of germs, and it’s not effective at removing dirt, grease, and other grime. It’s best to use when a reliable water source can’t be found, such as while camping or traveling in a foreign country. When choosing hand sanitizer, look for a brand that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub the sanitizer over the full surface of your hands, and allow it to dry before moving on to your next activity.

Traditional soap-and-water hand washing, on the other hand, will always reign supreme. It’s especially important to wash your hands after handling raw meat, using the bathroom, and interacting with a sick person. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and dry with a clean towel! 



Three Common Microwave Myths: Debunked

Should your family be cooking with this convenient household staple?

1. Microwaved foods lose their nutrients. The truth is, any type of cooking will change your food’s chemical composition, and microwave ovens are no different. But did you know that microwaving can be a more nutritious heating method than other forms, such as boiling? That’s because it heats food quickly, in the shortest amount of time, with as little liquid as possible – that way, your vitamins and minerals stay intact!

2. Microwaves cause cancer. Microwave ovens do not “damage” your food, consequently giving you cancer. And you aren’t in danger by standing next to a microwave either! With its door closed when running, microwave ovens are designed to contain the microwaves (a very low, nonharmful form of radiation) that heat your food. In contrast, X-rays and gamma rays are high energy forms of radiation that are accurately linked to cancer (and probably cause the confusion).

3. Plastic containers should never be microwaved. While glass and ceramic containers are widely considered the best options for microwaving, the FDA’s position is clear: If the plastic is labeled “microwave safe,” then it has passed inspection and is safe to microwave. However, if you own older plastic containers that have been cracked or scratched, throw them out.


 


Sharp as a Tack

It’s no secret that aging takes a toll on your brain. And while cognitive decline and memory lapses may seem inevitable, there are ways to slow the progression. Here’s how:

Channel your inner social butterfly.
Social interaction not only boosts your mood, but it can also preserve mental function and memory. Make a point to visit with family and friends in order to stay connected – even a phone call can make a difference. Joining a club or community organization can help with fostering new, meaningful relationships.

Stay mentally active.
Researchers believe that mental stimulation can lessen the effects of aging on your memory and mind. Engage your brain often by participating in activities such as reading, crossword puzzles, games of chess, and playing an instrument. You can further challenge yourself by taking classes on a new subject at your local college, or by picking up a new hobby or skill.

Eat, sleep, and exercise.
It’s been said that what benefits the body benefits the brain. And brain health has long been linked to regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a good night’s sleep. Incorporate “brain food” like walnuts, berries, salmon, and dark chocolate into your meal rotation, and aim to walk 30 minutes every day.



Six Simple Steps for Preventing Falls

According to the CDC, more than one in four older adults experience falls every year. Fortunately, simple adjustments in the home can eliminate common fall hazards and allow you to maintain your independence. Here are a few to consider:

1. Increase lighting.
Purchase night lights for the bedroom and bathroom, and place a lamp in reach of the bed. The stairs should also be well-lit, with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.

2. Install stair rails.
If rails aren’t already there, make sure to install secure rails on every set of stairs in the home.

3. Secure the shower.
Add slip-resistant grab bars to your shower or tub. You may choose to further modify your shower by installing a shower seat.

4. Clean up clutter.
Put away any scattered shoes, bags, boxes, toys, and other miscellaneous items. It’s especially important to clear all walkways and heavily trafficked areas.

5. Remove loose rugs.
Alternatively, you can secure any rugs with double-faced tape or a slip-resistant backing.

6. Organize the necessities.
Place frequently used items, such as medications, keys, and clothing, within easy reach. This will prevent overreaching or the need for a stepstool.

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