Healthy Living – Three Important Health Tests

November 20, 2017

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Constant assessment of your health is a must if you want to live a long and disease free life. Sadly, many people are not taking the time to have the assessments carried before they run into serious health problems: full-blown health issues that could have been avoided.

Fortunately, by educating yourself on the health tests you should be taking, you can have a better idea of which tests to get done to optimize your well-being. Let us go over three such tests so you can ask your doctor about them at your next check-up…

1. EKG or ECG. Chances are, you have heard of an EKG or ECG. This test is often associated with those people who are experiencing serious medical emergencies or are having a heart health scare. An EKG will reveal if there are any problems with your heart’s electrical system. But, an EKG can also be used for preventative purposes as well.

In this test, the heart’s activity is represented as a line tracing on graph paper. The spikes and dips in the tracings are divided into sections and show how your heart is working. Your results will be compared to a normal heart graph and any abnormal rhythms showing poor blood flow will be revealed and then be able to be treated.

Get tested now so you know if you are at risk and can then start taking steps to help negate the risk.

2. Colorectal Cancer Screening. Cancer is a devastating disease and sadly, one that impacts many. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading forms of cancer affecting many people and often comes without any obvious signs or symptoms. Although alternating diarrhea and constipation and abdominal pain are some of the signs, along with blood in the feces, they are brushed off as being a part of living.

It is often fatal in 90% of cases, so not one you want to come down with. Early screening is going to be key as if polyps are found early, they can be removed before developing into full-blown cancer.

3. Lipid Profile. Finally, make sure you schedule a routine blood test at least every 12 months to get your lipids checked. From these results, you can determine your risk for the metabolic syndrome, which is a condition characterized by…

obesity,
elevated blood pressure readings,
high cholesterol levels, as well as
insulin resistance.

If you are diagnosed with the metabolic syndrome, you will be at a higher risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes if you are not suffering from these already.

Health Tips for Kids in Winters

November 20, 2017

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With winters come flue, cough, fever, and all those nasty diseases. All the winter fun is ruined when your kids are sick. There are multiple reasons why children are more vulnerable to get ill quicker than adults and one of those is their weak immune system. Children, especially toddlers and pre-school aged are sensitive and need additional care. Here, in this post, I am going to tell you five ways to protect your kids in winters.

1. Give them Enough Sleep
When winters come, kids get excited and become hyperactive. They just want to go out and play in the snow or with school playground equipment. Just like other seasons, your little ones need the right amount of sleep in winters as well in order to stay healthy.

What is more, our bodies inevitably need more sleep when days become shorter and nights get longer. However, children need it more than adults, so make them sleep enough during winters.

2. Keep them Hydrated
Kids usually don’t feel thirsty during winters, but their bodies need enough amount of water to keep hydrated and function properly. Children almost forget to drink water the entire day and this makes them sick really quickly. Keep a 1.5 bottle for each kid and ask them to finish it during the day. Make it a challenge for them and promise chocolates or their favorite snacks for the one who finishes earlier.

3. Seasonal Foods
Nature provides us with foods according to seasonal demands. These fruits are given to us by nature according to the seasonal requirements. With cold breeze outside in winters, we need to stay warm inside and these foods perform that function for us. All the foods should be cooked prior to eating to get the best taste and intake nutrition. Your little ones will be healthy and remain warm and their energy stores will be filled if you feed them seasonal foods.

4. Additional Vitamins
Even though vitamins are needed throughout the year, they are required in larger amount during winters when diseases are likely to attract because immune systems function at a slow pace. Vitamins, especially vitamin D helps to make kids’ immune system stronger, which, in turn, aids in fighting diseases. Give them either enough exposure to sunlight or vitamin D3 supplements to fulfill deficiency. Moreover, vitamin C is also needed to strengthen the immune system, so make sure you give them food rich with vitamins in winters.

5. Wash Hands
It’s not just for winters but for every time of the year. However, you should be stricter in winters because of cold and flu around and your kids are likely to attract infections. Make it their habit and do not allow them to come to the dining table if they do not wash their hands, especially if they were messing around in playground structures. When you teach them to wash hands, also tell them the reason and importance of doing so.

Healthy Snack Ideas For 2-Year-Old Babies

November 20, 2017

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By the age of two years, the kid should be eating three healthy meals a day along with snacks. Offer food with different flavors and textures to your child. Offer finger food to your child as at this age kids love to eat on their own. A child continues to develop his or her feeding skills, encourage new foods and flavor combinations. Here are a few healthy snack ideas which can be added to daily meal of a Kid:

• Wheat Fruit Pancakes

Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

Ingredients: Wheat Flour, milk, seasonal fruits, sugar (optional), butter/ghee, honey

Method: Chop all dry fruits into small pieces. Mix Ragi powder, milk, and sugar in a bowl and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Brush the pan with butter and pour half a ladle of batter on the pan. Cook it properly from both the sides. Set aside to cool it down. Layer it with banana slices and drizzle honey on the pancake.

Note: Make sure your kid is not allergic to any dry fruits. You may use the dry fruit powder in it instead of pieces. You can add other fruits of your baby’s choice as well.

• Besan Chilla

Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Ingredient: Chickpea flour, salt, beans, capsicum, carrot, onion, butter

Method: Wash and dry all veggies. Chop them into small pieces. Mix chickpea flour, veggies, salt, pepper and water in a bowl. Prepare a batter of similar consistency. Heat the pan and brush it with butter. Pour half a ladle of batter into the pan. Cook it properly from both the sides and let it cool down before offering it to the child.

Note: You can opt for veggies as per the preference of your child. Make sure the veggies are chopped into small pieces and cooked properly.

• Colorful sandwiches

Time required: 15 to 20 minutes

Ingredient required: Brown bread, Tomato, Onion, Cucumber, salt, butter, ketchup, mayonnaise

Method: Wash and clean all the vegetable. Cut veggies into small pieces and set aside. Put a little butter on a pan and toast bread. Mix mayonnaise and veggies in a bowl. Spread it evenly on the bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Use a cookie cutter to give shapes to these sandwiches.

Note: Select the veggies as per your baby’s liking. Use ketchup to make a smiley face on a sandwich to make it more appealing to your child.

Calcium Needs At All Life Stages

November 20, 2017

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It is the most abundant mineral in the body, present mainly in the bones and teeth. From the start, toddlers have an increased need for dietary calcium to support bone growth and skeletal development that takes place rapidly in the early years of life. This development and its need – continues into the teenage years and is particularly crucial for adolescent girls who need to stock their calcium supplies to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Adequate intake at this stage is needed to support ongoing bone growth and to achieve peak bone mass. It is an essential dietary element required in optimal amounts for good bone health, efficient nerve and muscle function, and overall cardiovascular health. Without enough of it throughout life, a person’s bones can begin to weaken over time. That can make it more difficult to stay active while also creating a higher risk of fractures and osteoporosis. A person’s bone density will generally reach its peak at roughly age 30, and then begin to fade after that. Adequate daily intake can help maintain proper bone density and help prevent osteoporosis – which creates porous and fragile bones. It makes up about three percent of the earth’s crust and is a basic component of most animals and plants. Eating a diet rich in calcium helps to restore it to the bones; supplements can help as well.

Why is calcium necessary?

It is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system. It plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating blood clotting. It is also associated with relieving mood swings, food cravings, and decreasing the pain, tenderness and bloating associated with premenstrual syndrome.

What are the deficiency signs?

Deficiency symptoms (also known as hypocalcemia) range from minor – numbness or tingling of the fingers, muscle cramps, lethargy and poor appetite – to more severe, including mental confusion, skeletal malformations, dermatitis, and in infants, delayed development. Illnesses such as osteoporosis (brittle, thin, porous bones that easily break) and rickets are also associated with a deficiency.

How much, and what kind, does an adult need?

If vitamin D levels are optimal, most adults should be able to meet their daily calcium needs via a varied diet. When individuals are unable to get enough of it through a diet or for those who may need more than the recommended daily allowance, supplements can help. Doctors recommends women supplement with 500 to 700 mg of calcium citrate in two divided doses taken with meals for a total of 1,000-1,200 mg a day from all sources. Supplementing with its citrate form, which is more easily absorbed than other forms, taken with half the dosage amount of magnesium.

How much does a child need?

The normal daily recommended intake for children is as follows: infants through three years of age is 400-800 mg; children between 4 and 10 years of age is 800 mg; adolescent males is 800-1,200 mg; and adolescent females is 800-1,200 mg daily.
How do you get enough from foods?

An abundant source of this mineral in the American diet is dairy products – two glasses of milk per day provide 1,000-1,200 mg. If you choose to get via dairy products – and this is not essential, as there are many other calcium-rich foods – make sure you use only hormone-free, organic dairy products to reduce your exposure to the antibiotics and hormones found in many dairy products. Non-dairy foods include: greens such as collards, mustard, kale, and bok choy; canned salmon (with bones) and sardines; tofu, soy milk, fruit juice and cereals; blackstrap molasses; and broccoli.

Are there any risks associated with too much?

Its supplements can be constipating, and should be balanced with magnesium as discussed above. Excessive amounts in the blood may have negative effects, including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and increased urination. More serious complications include kidney toxicity, confusion, and irregular heart rhythm. Studies indicate that men who take too much may have an increased risk of prostate cancer, and should limit their dietary intake to 500-600 mg daily from all sources.

Who should we take it as supplements?

It is an important mineral for the human body. It helps build and protect your teeth and bones. Getting enough of it over your lifetime can help prevent osteoporosis. Most people get it through their normal diet. Dairy foods and leafy green vegetables have high levels of calcium. Your health care provider will tell you if you need to take extra dose id required.

TYPES OF CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS

Forms of calcium include:
Calcium Type
Pros
Calcium citrate (21% calcium)
Most easily absorbed
Calcium carbonate
Least expensive; has more elemental calcium

Calcium carbonate. Over-the-counter (OTC) antacid products contain it and these sources of it do not cost much. Each pill or chew provides 200 mg or more of calcium.

Calcium citrate. This is a more expensive form of calcium. It is absorbed well on an empty or full stomach. People with low levels of stomach acid (a condition that is more common in people over age 50) absorb this better than other forms.

HOW TO TAKE HIGHER DOSE

Increase the dose of your supplement slowly. Your provider may suggest that you start with 500 mg a day for a week, and then add more over time.Try to spread the extra dose you take over the day. DO NOT take more than 500 mg at a time. Taking it throughout the day will:

Allow more calcium to be absorbed

Cut down on side effects such as gas, bloating, and constipation
The total amount adults need every day from food and supplements:
19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg/day
51 to 70 years: Men – 1,000 mg/day; Women – 1,200 mg/day
71 years and over: 1,200 mg/day

SIDE EFFECTS AND SAFETY

DO NOT take more than the recommended amount of it. Try the following if you have side effects from taking extra calcium:

Drink more fluids.

Eat high-fiber foods

Switch to another form of calcium if the diet changes do not help.

Always tell your provider and pharmacist if you are taking extra dose. Its supplements may change the way your body absorbs some medicines. These include certain types of antibiotics and iron pills.

Are there any other special considerations?

Vitamin D is key to absorbing and so make sure to get adequate intake of vitamin D. Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” is actually a fat-soluble hormone that the body can synthesize naturally. There are several forms, including two that are important to humans: D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is synthesized by plants, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is synthesized by humans when skin is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from sunlight. The active form of the vitamin is calcitriol, synthesized from either D2 or D3 in the kidneys. Vitamin D helps to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.

Vitamin K2 is a beneficial form of Vitamin K for bones. Unlike Vitamin K1 which is used to activate blood clotting proteins, Vitamin K2 is beneficial for activating proteins which help bind calcium to bones. Vitamin K2 is found in food but not in anywhere near the concentration found in Osteo-K. Taking Osteo-K helps boost daily intake of vitamin K2 to support bone health. Older people may need to take it in extra larger doses because they do not absorb it as well as younger people.

If you take oral vitamin D,you also need to take vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 helps to move calcium to proper areas where its needed and removes it from sites where it shouldn’t be present like arteries and soft tissues. When you take vitamin D, your body creates more of these vitamin K2-dependent proteins, the proteins that will move it around. They have a lot of potential health benefits. But until the K2 comes in to activate those proteins, those benefits aren’t realized. So, really, if you’re taking vitamin D, you’re creating an increased demand for K2. Vitamin K2 deficiency is one of the reason why people suffer from vitamin D toxicity symptoms which includes improper calcification leading to hardening of arteries. And vitamin D and K2 work together to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.

It seems likely that 150 to 200 mgs of vitamin k2 is enough to activate your K2 dependent proteins to shuttle calcium to proper areas.

How can you tell that you are deficit of vitamin k2?

There is no specific tests for finding it. By assessing the lifestyle and diet you eat,one can find whether he is lacking the critical nutrients needed for the body. If you face following health conditions then you are likely deficient in vitamin K2.

How Do Strong Social and Community Ties Impact Your Health?

November 20, 2017

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I called my friend, also named Lisa, who lives in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s devastation had not only hit Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, but many communities in the Gulf Coast region. According to my friend, who lives on the north side of Houston where they got no flooding except for those who were near a river or large body of water, the worst of the rain is over. People are leaving shelters scattered thought-out Harris County, where Houston is located.

Out of the 6.5 million people in the greater Houston area only about 1.5 million lost power and most all the water is drinkable. No need for ice, a valuable commodity, for many of us here in Charleston who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Hugo. Unlike Houston, Hurricane Hugo, also a category 4 storm, was a direct hit and as a result we not only got the flooding but also high winds. But no one can deny that the Houston area experienced the worst flooding in its history, with some areas getting as much as 50 inches of rain. And because Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was so widespread, it will take years for the region to recover from this natural disaster.

My friend, Lisa, who is originally from Charleston, knows about hurricanes and the emotional roller coaster they bring; the anxiety before the storm of not knowing exactly what is going to happen, the storm itself, the flooding and aftermath once the storm has passed. No doubt, you too, no matter where you call home, are aware of the horrific situation the residents of the Gulf Coast region, north of Brownsville, Texas, are now experiencing. Lives have been lost, people displaced and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. It is one thing to watch the news again and again and be reminded of the destruction and the anguish. But to just absorb the information without acting when we can help can be paralyzing and emotionally harmful.

Animals as well need help and assistance. Donate to the Houston Humane Society, which is helping animals affected by the storm. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, is another charity. You may also want to check out Charity Navigator to further ensure your donations are helping those in need.

By helping those in need, you too can benefit. Studies have shown that people with strong social and community ties tend to live longer, are less likely to report being depressed, and have a stronger a sense of belonging, purpose and self worth.

Brain Food Connection We Need to Understand

November 20, 2017

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Our brain acts as the central processing unit of the human body. It is not just thinking but also letting us take care of all the functions in it. For example, it takes care of overseeing heartbeat, breathing, and body movements.

There are many things responsible for maintaining its health. However, food plays an essential role in ensuring optimum performance of our cognitive abilities. Consider your mind as an expensive car that runs on fuel. Now, the quality of the fuel that you use will depend on its performance, longevity, and healthy functioning.

However, like that vehicle you own, if you start putting in low-quality fuel, it will begin to damaging its engine. Similarly, if you start eating things that are not good for your brain, it would not do any good for it.

What Should We Eat to Improve Our Learning, Memory and Thinking Abilities?

Here are some things we must consider eating that enable us to improve our overall brain functions.

Nuts and Seeds

Vitamin E is an essential ingredient for improving our overall thinking ability. They help fight illnesses that can impact our memory with age. Thus, as we get old, we can fight these diseases. Typical nuts and seeds that we should include in our daily staple peanut butter, sunflower seeds, filberts, cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, and non-hydrogenated butter. You can take them in raw or roasted form. However, unless necessary, avoid the ones with salt as they can increase your blood pressure.

Wild Salmon

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals recommend eating deep-water fish. Salmon is one such fish that you need to include in your diet. It contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids for healthy mental functions. Wild salmon is recommended because of its cleanliness and supply available in abundance. The omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, these ingredients significantly contribute to improving and maintaining optimum mental health.

Avocados

Avocados are a gift of nature to anyone who wants to improve their brain functioning. It is an ingredient-rich fatty fruit containing unsaturated fats. Thus, these unsaturated fats play a vital role in regulating blood flow throughout the body. Therefore, the increase in blood flow to the mind also contributes to better mental alertness. Avocados also much help in overcoming dangerous illnesses like hypertension. The lowering of blood pressure also helps promote mind’s wellbeing.

Blueberries

The oxidative stress is one thing that we should avoid. However, very few types of foods contain properties which can protect us against it. Blueberries help us overcome such illnesses relating to age, such as dementia and Alzheimer. Doctors recommend eating blueberries because they help improve motor skills, and our ability to learn.

4 Pre-Emptive Strikes for Optimal Health

November 20, 2017

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What would people do if they thought they were going to be attacked by aliens? Build shelters underground? Go into hiding? Good ideas! Your body reacts in much the same way you would to naturally protect you from aliens. In this case, the aliens are pollution, infections of various kinds, and other adverse environmental conditions.

The “protective shelters” in the body are chemical reactions that fight the “alien” attackers, good thing! But an overabundance of these good chemicals can cause inflammation in the body which can lead to familiar conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Asthma, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Type 2 Diabetes, IBS, Heart Disease, Strokes, and more.

Solutions:

1. Eat to prevent – Anti-inflammatory foods – See below, including cooking ideas

2. Exercise Regularly, yes, that’s regularly – Make a date with yourself three times a week for at least an hour to get the minimal benefit. If you don’t see that happening soon, start imagining it. The more you visualize yourself having fun exercising, the sooner you’ll find time to do it.

3. Take Proteolytic Enzymes – Early a.m., before eating by about one-half hour, and late p.m., well after eating. This will clean up the blood in your system, according to many health and digestion experts, including any undigested proteins, many viruses, many bacteria, some chemicals, pollutants, etc.

4. Avoid (just keep the population down) red meats, cow-milk products, wheat, refined sugars, caffeine, processed foods, gluten when possible.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods include:

A. Healthy fats in place of trans-fats. For example, choose olive oil and omega-3 oils like fish oil and refrigerated flaxseed oil. Also Chia-seed oil and Macadamia Nut Oil if you want to get more exotic!

B. Fruits and Veggies – Yes, you’ve heard it all before ad-infinitum. Your goal is eight to ten servings a day. Secret: Kale Chips! Spinach and other green leafy veggies when cooked look like less, but still count for the one-half-cup serving if you are looking at them in their raw state. Use fruit sauce instead of maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, or unsweetened jams and preserves (health section of grocers or health store).

C. High Fiber – another chant you keep hearing… and yup, it’s true. The fruits and veggies will take care of this, too.

Recipe Ideas:

Think veggie-strips, such as zucchini, colorful bell peppers, onions, in place of pasta. Add mushrooms, olives, Italian sausage of choice or whatever you like! Mac and Cheese can be made fun with the same kinds of veggies to cut down on the starch. Think fruit in place of sugars for baking, or making sauces. Think almond meal for flour (health section or store) with just a bit of your other favorite flour thrown in to help it all hold together better. There are some cookbooks available to help you, labeled either gluten-free and low-glycemic or paleo or ketogenic that will give you lots of yummy ideas!

How Do Strong Social and Community Ties Impact Your Health?

November 19, 2017

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I called my friend, also named Lisa, who lives in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s devastation had not only hit Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, but many communities in the Gulf Coast region. According to my friend, who lives on the north side of Houston where they got no flooding except for those who were near a river or large body of water, the worst of the rain is over. People are leaving shelters scattered thought-out Harris County, where Houston is located.

Out of the 6.5 million people in the greater Houston area only about 1.5 million lost power and most all the water is drinkable. No need for ice, a valuable commodity, for many of us here in Charleston who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Hugo. Unlike Houston, Hurricane Hugo, also a category 4 storm, was a direct hit and as a result we not only got the flooding but also high winds. But no one can deny that the Houston area experienced the worst flooding in its history, with some areas getting as much as 50 inches of rain. And because Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was so widespread, it will take years for the region to recover from this natural disaster.

My friend, Lisa, who is originally from Charleston, knows about hurricanes and the emotional roller coaster they bring; the anxiety before the storm of not knowing exactly what is going to happen, the storm itself, the flooding and aftermath once the storm has passed. No doubt, you too, no matter where you call home, are aware of the horrific situation the residents of the Gulf Coast region, north of Brownsville, Texas, are now experiencing. Lives have been lost, people displaced and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. It is one thing to watch the news again and again and be reminded of the destruction and the anguish. But to just absorb the information without acting when we can help can be paralyzing and emotionally harmful.

Animals as well need help and assistance. Donate to the Houston Humane Society, which is helping animals affected by the storm. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, is another charity. You may also want to check out Charity Navigator to further ensure your donations are helping those in need.

How to Safeguard Your Immune System

November 19, 2017

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The immune system of a human body is a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend the body against the attacks by the ‘foreign’ invaders. The term ‘foreign invader’ is used for the bacteria, parasites, fungi and other viruses that can lead to illness through infections. It is the job of an immune system to keep these infectious organisms out and destroy them.

Though unseen, the immune system cells are constantly gobbling up with the bacteria and blocking viruses from invading your cells. Similar to your heartbeat and indigestion, the immune response is a system that functions on its own and you don’t control them. But, there are a lot of practices that can work as your helping hand. Some of such practices are:

  • Good hygiene- The first step to begin with the defence is to keep all prospective germs at bay. How can it be done? By following good personal hygiene habits. Stop infection as it begins and before it begins. Make sure you avoid spreading your infections to others with these simple measures:
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap or use sanitizers 5-6 times a day. Always prepare or eat food after washing your hands and every time you use the restroom.
    • Whenever you sneeze or cough, make sure you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue in order to avoid its germs infect others.
    • Always bandage all your cuts because if left open, it can become septic and harm your immune system. If you have any serious cut or wound anywhere on your body, get is examined by the doctor within due course of time.
    • Do not touch your healing wounds and do not squeeze pimples because doing so allows germs to enter your body.
  • Vaccination or Immunisation- A number of serious infections can be prevented by immunisation. Whereas vaccination is used to cure a sore arm or low fever. The vaccination is generally safe and effective in curing such diseases. And when it comes to the infections, consult your doctor for the immunisation status. A number of health care providers and centres provide immunisation services. Generally:
    • Children should be given all necessary immunisations and vaccinations as and when recommended by the doctors.
    • All adults should make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.
    • Travellers should get additional immunisations before their date of journey.
  • Food safety- Mark yourself safe from the causes of food-poisoning not because they are life-threatening but they can lead to serious medical conditions sometimes. For this, you have to prepare and store your food safely. Take necessary precautions to kill germs or to prevent them entering your immune system:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after each time you handle a raw food.
    • Rinse all meat, poultry, and fish under running water before cooking. Rinse all fruits and vegetables under running water before cooking or serving them.
    • Separate raw foods and cooked foods, and never use the same utensils or cutting boards with cooked meat that were used with raw meat.
  • Healthy travel- If you’re planning a trip, make sure you consult your doctor once, for, if your body needs some immunisations and vaccines before you make any travel. Consult your doctor at least 3 months or as early as possible about your journey and ask him about the precautions you have to take during your visit to the place.

6 Healthy Packaged Foods That Save You Time And Money


When choosing packaged foods, it’s important to read the labels. This can be time consuming but worth it. To save time, try focusing specifically on foods low in sugar, low in salt and high in protein. Stay away from anything containing high fructose corn syrup which is an unnecessary sugar additive. Why do we even need sugar in bread? Foods with the fewest ingredients are best. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, chances are it’s not good for you.

Marketing techniques labeling foods as Lite, gluten free, healthy or wheat may not always be the healthiest choice. As an educated consumer you should know the difference. Many so called “wheat” products may not be whole grain or made from whole wheat. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour. Wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour, multigrain, enriched, and stone-ground wheat flour are alternative ways of saying “refined white flour.”

To save you some time in the grocery store, I’ve compiled a list of packaged healthy foods that can also save you money. Here are 6 packaged foods that I recommend:

1. Canned beans. Opt for the low salt version if you can. Always rinse the beans thoroughly to wash away any unnecessary salt. Try to avoid beans with sauce or refried beans that tend to be high in sodium.

2. vegetables. Plain vegetables without sauces and added salt are a healthy and delicious addition to any meal. Steamables are a great choice when you’re in a hurry or just too tired to cook. They are quick and easy and leave you with little clean up. They can be more expensive, so stock up when they’re on sale. I’ve found them on sale for as little or close to $1 a bag.

3. Frozen berries. Not only are they delicious, but can really save you money. Especially in the winter when berries are out of season and more expensive. Try mixing them in plain Greek yogurt. Or serving them with pancakes or French toast. It makes a natural sweet sauce. Sometimes we thaw them in the microwave, making them a little warm to pour over our pancakes. Try topping them with a dollop of Greek yogurt too. It gives it a taste that’s almost like a crepe.

4. Nut butter. If the ingredient says almonds, you have a winner. It takes some time to stir, but if you store it in the refrigerator, you shouldn’t have to stir it again.

5. Low sugar cereals. Ideally cereals should have less than 6 grams of sugar. Opt for whole grain cereal such as toasted oats and muesli. Unsweetened instant oatmeal can be thrown in the microwave for a quick & healthy breakfast.

6. Canned Tuna fish. Packed in water. This is a quick and inexpensive source of protein. I pack my tuna salad with lots of vegetables like onions, celery, carrots, vinegar, pepper and olive oil mayonnaise (it tastes just like the real thing without adding as much fat and calories).

When choosing pre-packaged foods just remember, marketing can be deceptive. The fewer ingredients, the more natural the product. Look for whole wheat flour as a first ingredient when selecting whole grain foods. Try to stay away from processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar or contain high fructose corn syrup.