This past Sunday, May 5 was the World Health Organization’s national Save Lives: Clean Your Hands campaign. Given that there are hundreds of communities across the globe that still suffer from little to no access to clean water, it is not surprising that hand washing in other parts of the world is not second nature. What is surprising is that, in countries like America and Canada, hand washing is still not always second nature and is still falling behind when it comes to preventing the spread of bacteria and infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand washing is the best way to prevent infection and illness. Hands come in contact with bacteria and other contaminants constantly. Regardless of where we live, in New York City or Timbuktu, we come across bacteria when using the restroom, touching common surfaces, in the kitchen, or by a simple handshake.
When we fail to wash our hands, we leave our immune systems open to a bacterial attack and pose a threat to others.
Being from a developed country, many often think, “Thank goodness that doesn’t happen where I’m from.” However, as we maneuver through our days and come in contact with thousands of people who have touched thousands of surfaces, and hundreds of foods – we’re counting on each and every one of them to have practiced safe hand washing procedures. Not only that, we’re counting on every person they’ve come in contact with.
I’m not sharing this information to turn you into a germaphobe, but simply to help educate and encourage you to spread awareness of this importance issue. Washing your hands may seem like a small thing and not crucial if you forget but it could mean the difference between you or somebody else from staying healthy or getting (sometimes dangerously) ill.
Here are some of the dangers associated with not washing your hands frequently:
Salmonella can be found in uncooked eggs or raw poultry and spread to other foods through contaminated hands. Handling raw chicken, for instance and then tearing lettuce without washing in between allows the bacteria to transfer from hand to vegetables. For this reason, it is always important to thoroughly wash your hands after handling any uncooked eggs or raw poultry. Salmonella poisoning can result in extreme stomach pains, diarrhea,
nausea and vomiting. In elderly people, or those with a weakened immune system, it can be even more dangerous.
Influenza (or the flu) has several debilitating signs and symptoms such as chills, fever, exhaustion, runny nose, aching muscles, dehydration and diarrhea. When left untreated, influenza could also lead to pneumonia, which is can have very severe consequences on ones personal health and well-being. While the flu is spread through the air, germs are also transferred through hand-to-hand contact. For instance, if a person were to cough into his or her hands, decide not to wash, and then touch someone else’s hands, the germs will spread from one person to the next. This could easily be avoided through frequent hand washing – especially when someone is experiencing symptoms attached to an illness or condition has been labeled as contagious.
E. coli Poisoning
E. coli is a bacterium that is spread from contaminated stool. Sound like an unappealing way to find yourself in contact with bacteria? It is. When a person uses the washroom, and neglects proper hand washing procedures afterwards, he or she can pass along E. coli through food, surfaces, or hand-to-hand contact. Ingesting E. coli bacteria will cause severe diarrhea for approximately a week. This will also result in dehydration, which is a great cause of concern in many less fortunate countries and communities.
It’s not being dramatic to say that improper hand washing can actually have fatal consequences. In certain circumstances (usually to do with health care facilities, long term care centers, or in situations that involve medical procedures) bacteria may be introduced from unwashed hands into the bloodstream, causing a severe systemic infection that could be fatal. Washing hands really does save lives.
Holistic health isn’t a complicated matter, but it does require common sense. If we’re making well-balanced, nutritional choices, exercising regularly, ensuring optimal vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid intake – and then choosing not to practice proper hand washing procedures – then we’re still miss an important step in achieving optimal health and well-being. Take the time to wash your hands thoroughly and encourage others to do the same. Don’t be shy in encouraging health care practitioners, food handlers, the children in your life – or anyone for that matter – to wash their hands and protect not only themselves, but those around them.
It is not hard to find advice and suggestions (both welcome and unwelcome) as to how you should be taking better care of yourself. Whether you get it from the internet, a television program, an article, or your doctor, sometimes we aren’t sure what information we’re supposed to trust. What are we actually missing in our search for our personal health and well-being?
Before turning to what appears to be the easy way out, and stocking your shelves in hundreds of different forms of supplementation for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it must be said that eating healthy is the best defense against health conditions, illness and disease. Vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids are natural substances that your body needs to develop, function and fight off illness. Natural food sources for the nutrients your body needs are everywhere.
There’s no way around the benefits of a healthy diet. Period. Before you turn to supplementation, take a long, hard look at your daily nutritional intake and investigate what changes you could make to up the ante on your vitamin, mineral and nutrient intake.
While our bodies best absorb nutrients from natural sources, supplements and vitamins are an option for getting the nutrients you might not be getting from your diet for a variety of reasons. For example, you may not be getting enough vitamin D during a change in the season. Pregnancy is an occurrence where supplementation is often recommended. Strict vegetarian, vegan or low-calorie diets may also tend to be lower in key nutrients. In these situations, it is best to seek out supplementation to ensure you are getting everything you need to be your healthiest.
Since the first Nobel Prize for medicine was given for the discovery of vitamins in 1929, the supplement business has become a massive industry. Only now, because it is a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s more important than ever to do research when it comes to choosing a product that will become a part of our daily life. This is after all, your health we’re talking about.
Speak With Your Doctor
It’s always important to have your health care practitioner on board and fully in the know regarding any changes you are looking to make in your health care regime. Your family physician will help you assess any potential drug interactions, side effects, or dosage recommendations based on your personal health.
It is important to keep a written document of all prescription or non- prescription medications, vitamins, supplements or minerals you are taking. Update your family doctor on any changes that have occurred since your last visit. Bring this list with you if, for any reason, you are admitted to a hospital, so that the health care staff are also informed as to the details of your daily regime. For this reason, we also recommend that you simply carry this with list you at all times, in case of emergency.
Supplements and multivitamins can come in liquid, capsules, capliques, regular tablets and chewable tablets. Certain supplements are in pill form because they become ineffective, or even dangerous, if exposed to stomach acids. Some people need to take a liquid if they have difficulty absorbing vitamins or supplements from pill form, or even if they have difficulty swallowing capsules or pills. More often than not, it will be recommended that a serving is taken daily for optimal health benefits. Follow the direction on labels, unless your health care practitioner advises otherwise.
While you are searching for the vitamins or supplements that best meet the needs of your body, these are some good questions to keep in mind:
- Are there any clinical studies or research pieces that verify the use of this vitamin or supplement?
- What are the specific health benefits that this product offers me?
- What is the recommended dose for this product?
- How much of this vitamin or supplement do I have to take to reach the recommended serving?
- Which is more appropriate to my needs: a pill, capsule or liquid?
- How long do I need or intend on taking this vitamin or supplement?
- Are there any known side effects?
- Does this supplement or vitamin have interactions with any specific medications or foods?
- What are the best brands or manufacturers when it comes to quality, safety, proven effectiveness and concentration?
- 10. Will I need to stop taking this product prior to a surgery?
Do your homework
Some vitamin or supplement suppliers will sneak pharmaceutical ingredients into their formulas in an effort to boost greater results. This practice is dangerous as some pharmaceutical ingredients can have major adverse effects depending on your personal health. Pharmaceutical ingredients can also have serious drug interactions with other medications you may be taking. When shopping for a vitamin or supplement to work alongside your healthy lifestyle choices, make sure that you read through the listed formula, and that you also research and understand every ingredient included. Also, you should never invest in a vitamin or supplement that fails to provide full transparency regarding the ingredients and dosage information of its formula.
You can also check with the FDA regarding any supplement or vitamin you are considering as a viable addition to your health care regime, to see whether it has been subject to warnings, alerts, or voluntary recalls. If you suspect you’re having a bad reaction to a supplement, tell your doctor. You can also report your problem to the FDA at 800-332-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
The most important thing to remember is that vitamins, minerals and supplements are not replacements for a healthy lifestyle, but rather, accompaniments. There is no easy way out when it comes to achieving a long, healthy, dynamic life. Speak with your family, community, and health care practitioner about how you can continue to build and live – the optimal life!
If you are one of millions of Americans struggling with low energy levels, a lack of focus, weight gain, a lowered libido or a weakened immune system – the bad news is, you’re not alone – but the good news is, there are ways to turn things around and steer yourself back towards a long, dynamic, healthy life!
Antioxidants Made Simple
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Essentially, antioxidants work to protect and promote our cellular health. Many experts believe damage caused by free radicals plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries, cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system. Fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong and healthy, making you better able to ward off illness, conditions and disease.
Antioxidants provide enhanced healthy aging, neutralization of free radicals, increased energy levels and enhanced stamina; optimal cellular health, reduced waste and toxins within the body, detoxification of the liver, a powerful boost to the immune system, cognitive function and the delivery of vitamins and minerals to your cells.
You can reap the benefits of antioxidants simply from what you eat. Many foods are rich in antioxidants; berries (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries), spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli are a few examples. Proteins and foods rich in omega-3s are also consider antioxidants.
We’ve mentioned free radicals, but what exactly are they? Free radicals are basically unstable molecules; their electron count is out of balance. These molecules then ‘steal’ electrons from other molecules, causing a chain reaction of free radical damage. This in turn, leads to oxidative stress, which brings on inflammation, the ‘secret cause’ of so many points of illness and disease. Sounds technical right? It’s not, really.
Think of free radicals as cat burglars breaking into your home, eating your food, tossing your belongings around and leaving with your most prized possession: your health. Now imagine them doing this on a daily basis. You might consider this a good time to protect your assets!
The tricky part is that it’s actually impossible to get away from free radicals and the havoc they wreak on our bodies. Free radicals arise from sources both inside and outside our bodies. Oxidants that develop from processes within our bodies form as a result of normal respiration, metabolism, and inflammation. Free radicals also arrive through environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, X-rays, smoking and alcohol. Our antioxidant systems are not perfect, so as we age, cell parts damaged by oxidation accumulate.
Antioxidants are the protein molecules that defend the body, and in turn, attack free radicals. Antioxidants sacrifice their own electrons in order to neutralize free radicals. This battle will often neutralize most antioxidants, rendering them ineffective, which is why it’s important to continually replenish your body’s antioxidant power!
Here’s another example for you. Have you ever noticed the way the flesh of an apple will turn brown when you leave it to sit in the open air? This metamorphosis is the direct result of free radical damage. Now imagine the damage free radicals are doing to your holistic health! If you apply lemon juice to the flesh of that very same apple, this deterioration will not occur. The antioxidants in the lemon juice protect the apple, and protect any potential damage. In fact, if applied, antioxidants will protect the whole orchard. Or, put more simply, antioxidants will work to protect your health – on every level.
Astaxanthin as an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant from the carotenoid family. You can spot astaxanthin as it brings out vibrant colors in natural food sources like apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, salmon, krill, algae, crab, lobster and so many more.
Infamous in its ability to help reduce inflammation within the body, Astaxanthin addresses one of the major concerns behind many physical conditions, illnesses and diseases. By reducing inflammation you will be improving your cellular, cardiovascular and joint health.
Astaxanthin is also very important when it comes to promoting cellular health and protecting it from free radical damage. Considering our bodies are comprised of trillions of cells, it’s easy to wrap your mind around the importance of cellular health on a holistic level.
What’s incredible about Krill Oil as opposed to leading fish oil brands is that it contains astaxanthin. This means that on top of the numerous health benefits associated with choosing a superior omega-3 supplement, you are getting 54x more antioxidant power than leading fish oil brands – in every daily serving. That’s protecting and promoting optimal health from the ground up.
The benefits behind choosing a superior omega-3 supplement for optimal omega-3 intake are boundless. The benefits behind boosting your bodies’ antioxidant power are also extensive.
With Krill Oil, it’s really a win/win.
April is coming to a close and with it, Cancer Awareness Month. With cancer gripping the lives of millions of individuals and their family members, chances are that you’re aware of the debilitating impact it has on personal health and well-being nationally. Currently, America ranks seventh highest in the world for diagnosed Cancer citizens. In 2012, nearly 600,000 Americans died because of cancer and/or cancer related complications, amounting to nearly 1,500 people a day. There isn’t an American today that doesn’t know somebody who has been directly affected by the disease. While most of us are well aware of the hold cancer has on the country, many of us are not fully aware of what exactly ‘cancer’ is.
What is cancer?
According to the dictionary, cancer can be characterized as:
a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites. Cancer is also defined as any disease characterized by such growths.
Essentially, cancer is actually a group of diseases that are characterized by
the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. When the spread of these abnormal cells goes uncontrolled, it can result in a long list of devastating physical consequences, one of which is death.
Cancer can be caused by both external and internal factors. Some of these factors may include, but are not limited to; tobacco, infectious organisms, radiation, chemicals and genetic mutations, hormones or immune conditions. All of these factors (and many more) may act together, or in sequence to promote the growth of abn
What can we do?ormal cells. Often, up to ten years or longer pass between the affectation from internal and external sources, and diagnosis. The extensive span of time between affectation and diagnosis is frequently reported as one of the major influences as to whether or not a person is able to successfully pull through treatment. Treatment for cancer can include; surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy (ie: a specific location or area of the body) and biological therapy.
There is no one preventative measure or point of action that we can take to guarantee ourselves immunity from cancer. Every day, new reports leave us with a vague road map as to the preventative steps we can take. Eat more broccoli, drink coffee, don’t drink coffee, choose organic, etc. The truth is, we don’t have the answers yet. That’s not to say some of our country’s greatest researchers aren’t working around the clock to find preventative options, less invasive treatments, easier means of diagnosis and a cure.
Our brightest minds in science, medicine and technology are doing everything they can to help us lead long, healthy, dynamic lives. While we wait for more lights to turn on in the dark recesses of the disease, we to, must do everything we can to do our part in promoting holistic health and well being, both within our communities, and our day to day lives.
Researchers estimate up to one-third of the most common cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being more physically active and making wise nutritional choices. Studies show that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life can prevent more than 100,000 incidences of cancer.
Eating less red meat and more whole grains and vegetables, which are rich in fiber and a lot of antioxidants, can help maintain a healthy weight.
Avoiding tobacco smoke and sunburns could also help reduce cancer rates, she says.
Avoid tobacco, in every way and shape possible. Exposure to tobacco, whether directly or indirectly (ie: second hand smoke) puts you on a direct collision course with Cancer. Don’t smoke. Don’t chew tobacco. Avoid second hand smoke as much as possible. If you are an active smoker, please, for your own health, and the lives of the people who love you; quit now. Avoiding tobacco is one of the most important health decisions you can make.
Omega-3’s are amazing when it comes to promoting overall personal health and well being. One of the incredible health benefits associated with optimal omega-3 intake, omega-3’s ability to reduce inflammation in the body (inflammation is a pre-cursor to cancer).
We recommend you speak with your health care practitioner regarding other measures you can take to promote your own personal health and well being. Creating a customized health care plan with your family physician will provide the tools you need to lead a long, healthy, happy life. We also recommend that you spread awareness within your family and community – awareness is can lead to healthier changes and, hopefully,
We also recommend talking about healthier living. While there is a lot of information about cancer, it is still important to continue to spread awareness. Positive information on healthy living could be the game changer in someone’s life that helps them avoid getting cancer in the future.
Three weeks ago was the sixth annual Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2013. Though millions of Americans have heard the word ‘autism’, very few have an actual grasp on what autism actually is, or how it affects individuals and their families.
What is autism?
The official name of autism is actually ‘autism spectrum disorders’. This is because doctors include autism in a group of problems that affects children, such as Asperger syndrome. Autism spectrum disorders happen when a child’s brain develops differently and has difficulty making sense of their surroundings. Each day, our brains interpret the things we see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and experience. When a person’s brain has trouble interpreting these things, it can be difficult to talk, listen, understand, play, and learn.
Presently, there isn’t a specific medical test that can diagnose autism. Specially trained psychologists, pediatricians, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists and physicians develop and administer autism specific behavioral evaluations.
Parents are often the first to notice when their child is showing unusual or strange behavioral patterns such as failing to respond to his or her name, doing things in repetitive ways or not making eye contact. Because parents know their children deeply and instinctually, it is recommended that they follow their instincts and seek the advice and attention of a healthcare professional. It is also recommended that children are seen frequently up until the age of three to monitor developmental milestones.
Sometimes an autism disorder is diagnosed later in life because of learning, social or emotional difficulties. Diagnosis for adolescents and adults will often come as a relief to those struggling, and the families who support and love them. Understanding the source of personal difficulties will shed light on positive treatments and create opportunity for an improved quality of life.
While autism has a strong genetic basis, a lot of research is still ahead of us in order to completely understand the complexity of the disorder(s). Today, approximately 20 out of every 1,000 Americans are diagnosed with autism. The number of people diagnosed with autism has been increasing since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and government-subsidized financial incentives for named diagnoses. Whether or not there are actually more people with autism than there was 30 years ago, is a question that remains unresolved.
A healthy lifestyle for quality of life
It is certainly recommended that people dealing with autism spectrum disorders, and their families, work closely with their health care teams to develop a customized health care plan that promotes a dynamic, healthy, quality life.
Naturally, leading a healthy lifestyle is crucial to holistic health for all Americans. For those coping with complex disorders such as autism, it is important to promote optimal health. Implementing healthy nutritional choices can be difficult as people with autism will often have strong reactions to food of specific flavors, colors, textures, and so forth. Exercise is also essential, as autism can encourage seclusion, and therefore a sedentary lifestyle.
It is also important to stay on top of vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid intake. Omega-3’s for instance, are incredible when it comes to promoting cognitive function, feelings of personal well-being and self value and memory capabilities. There have also been various claims made regarding the positive impact omega-3’s can have on individuals with autism. We have provided a few examples regarding clinical research and studies that address the relationship between omega-3’s and autism.
- Amminger et al. (2007) reported that omega-3 fatty acids reduced hyperactivity and stereotypy (in 13 5-17 year olds with ASDs and severe tantrums, aggression or self injurious behavior using 840mg EPA and 700mg DHA for 8 weeks)
- Bell et al (2004) reported improvements in overall health, cognition, sleep patterns, social interactions and eye contact (in 18 children with autism given 372-744mg EPA and 116-332mg DHA for 6 months)
- Johnson and Hollander (2003) reported the elimination of anxiety about everyday events (in one 10 year old given 540mg EPA for 4 weeks)
Autism spectrum disorders are extremely complex, and can’t be summed up in a single article. For those people reading this who are not directly affected by the disorders, we encourage awareness. Take some time to learn more about autism, as you never know when someone with autism could come and light up your life.