Health in a Minute: Summer 2018

For Her

Let’s Talk Turmeric

The health world is a tad turmeric obsessed, and for good reason. Here’s what you need to know about this potent golden spice.

What It Is: A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a spice often found in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Southeast Asian cuisine. Turmeric is easily recognized by its bright yellow hue.

What It Does: Curcumin, turmeric’s main active ingredient, has anti-inflammatory effects and powerful antioxidant properties, and the research linking it to the treatment of many Western diseases is compelling. In addition to easing joint pain, turmeric is believed to reduce pain and inflammation related to arthritis. Turmeric intake has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, and studies have identified its role in preventing cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

How to Use It: The curcumin in turmeric isn’t easily absorbed into the bloodstream on its own. To reap the most benefits from this ingredient, you’ll want to incorporate black pepper when consuming turmeric – the piperine in pepper helps to boost curcumin absorption.

Turmeric is a flavorful addition to soups, curries, roasted vegetables, and marinades. For a healthy drink chock-full of benefits, try golden milk! To make your own, simmer coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper on the stovetop. Optional add-ins include cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a sweetener, like honey or maple syrup.

Applying Anti-Aging Creams: How Soon Is Too Soon?

If you’ve ever wondered when to begin an anti-aging skin routine, you’re not alone. It seems that cosmetic companies start pushing serums and creams on women just shy of their teen years, claiming that it’s never too early to reverse your skin’s aging clock! 

But for younger skin, these products may do more harm than good.

Anti-aging formulas contain intensive moisturizing ingredients meant to combat dry skin, which becomes more common as you age. So when young women, especially those with oily complexions, use these heavy creams, they can actually clog skin and cause breakouts. Also, many anti-aging products consist of harsh ingredients that increase the metabolism of already-active skin in younger women – leading to more breakouts.

To prevent aging skin in your twenties and beyond:

Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen 365 days a year. Lifelong sun exposure is responsible for as much as 90% of visible aging, including wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging. Wearing sunscreen every day is the most important step you can take toward aging prevention.

Find a skin care regimen that matches your skin type. Your routine should always include sunscreen and a moisturizer.

Quit smoking. Smoking accelerates the aging process, resulting in premature wrinkles.

Get your antioxidants. Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, like berries, spinach, and tomatoes.

For New Moms

A Handy Hospital Bag Checklist (for Mom)

After eagerly anticipating meeting your new baby for months, the time has almost arrived. But is your hospital bag packed? Experts suggest being packed and hospital-ready around the eighth month of pregnancy. While you’ll need a separate bag for your baby, check out our list of essentials to keep you sane throughout your hospital stay.

1. Important Documents. These include a photo ID, insurance information, and hospital registration forms. If you have a written birth plan, bring that along to share with your doctor and nurses.

2. Comfy Clothes. As glamorous as hospital gowns can be, you’ll feel more comfortable in your own robe and fuzzy socks. Flip-flops or slippers are great to have if your feet swell. After your baby arrives, you’ll need a nursing bra, cotton underwear, and an outfit to wear home.

3. Toiletries. Don’t forget the basics like a hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, and moisturizer! Pack cosmetics if you want them for photos.

4. Electronics. Document your baby’s first moments with your cellphone or camera. Remember to throw the chargers in your bag before you walk out the door!

5. Miscellaneous Must-Haves. Bring along a favorite pillow for extra comfort. Nonperishable snacks, like granola bars and dried fruit, can be lifesavers after labor. You’ll also want an extra bag for all the goodies you’ll bring home (both from well-wishers and the hospital staff).

Reacting to the Rash

Identifying rashes is an inevitable part of parenting. Here are five of the most common among babies, and what you can do to treat them.

Cradle Cap A totally painless condition, cradle cap causes yellow, crusty patches to appear on your baby’s scalp. Cradle cap typically manifests in newborns, and mild cases clear up on their own in about six to 12 months. Washing your baby’s scalp with a mild shampoo helps loosen and remove the scales, but make sure you do not scratch your baby’s scalp. If cradle cap worsens or spreads to your baby’s face or body, your doctor may recommend a medicated shampoo, lotion, or other treatment.

Milia Recognized as the tiny white bumps that appear on your newborn’s nose and face, milia results from blocked oil glands. This condition will heal on its own (as your baby’s pores enlarge) in a matter of weeks.

Diaper Rash You can identify diaper rash by the red splotches and warm, puffy skin around your baby’s bottom, caused by friction from the diaper or irritants such as feces or urine. Diaper rash is easily treated through more frequent, thorough diaper changes and over-the-counter diaper paste and barrier cream.

Eczema Red, dry, itchy patches are a sign of eczema, which most commonly appears on a baby’s face or joints of the arms and legs. Heredity plays a factor in the development of eczema, and it can also be triggered by irritants like soaps or detergent. Try eliminating any possible irritants first when treating this condition; your doctor may then recommend topical treatments, such as hydrocortisone cream.

Heat Rash Heat rash occurs when your baby overheats, whether from too much clothing or hot, humid conditions. Eradicate those little red bumps, usually seen on the neck, armpits, or diaper area, by cooling your baby off with a bath or a change in outfit.

Remember, rashes are common for your baby’s first few months of life. However, if any rash worsens after treatment or is accompanied with other symptoms (like a cough or fever), see your doctor as soon as possible.

For Him

Grilling Safety

Firing up the grill is a summer rite of passage. Nothing tastes quite as satisfying as that first bite of burger, or as sweet as a juicy grilled peach. But before throwing your inaugural barbecue, it’s important to brush up on basic grilling safety tips!

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are several guidelines that every grill master should follow. First, the grill should be kept a safe distance from the home and never left unattended when in use. 

Clean your grill regularly to avoid grease and fat buildup, which creates extra fuel for potential fires. Children and pets should not be allowed near the grill.

If you own a propane grill, check for gas leaks before your first cookout. To do that, apply a soap and water-based solution to the gas tank hose using a spray bottle or brush. Turn the propane tank on and watch for bubbles along the hose – if you see bubbles, call a professional to have your grill serviced.

To prevent burn injuries, use long-handled tools and a heavy-duty oven mitt when grilling and opt for tighter-fitting, short sleeved clothing. Keep a fire extinguisher close by in case of an emergency. If a minor burn does occur, run cool water over the burn site and apply a sterile, non-adhesive bandage.

Stretch It Out

After an intense cardio session, the last thing you want to do is spend more time at the gym stretching. Although post-workout stretches are often an afterthought, they’re actually the best way to cool down and build a healthier body. Benefits include:

Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion Stretching helps to maintain an optimal range of motion around your joints, which in turn allows muscles to work more effectively. These benefits can also lead to improved athletic performance.

Injury Prevention Tight muscles are a sure-fire path to injury. As your flexibility increases with stretching, your risk of injury decreases, including injury in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Boosted Blood Circulation Stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles. Research suggests that better circulation may reduce post-workout soreness, as well as shorten recovery time after exercise.

Since the best time to stretch is after moderate-to-vigorous activity, when muscles are warm, plan to take advantage of those few minutes! Practice a variety of stretches that target major muscle groups, or focus on the muscles you’ve just been training. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds while breathing normally, and remember – if you feel pain, you’ve stretched too far!

For Moms

A Pain in the Neck

It’s a truth we can’t deny: Teenagers spend much, dare we say too much, time staring down at their smartphones. And as more and more young people stream into doctors’ offices with complaints of pain, primarily in the neck, shoulders, and back, the medical community is recognizing the seriousness of “text neck.”

Dubbed the modern spine ailment, text neck refers to the unnecessary strain put on the neck when compulsively viewing hand-held technology; when sustained for several hours every day, this posture could lead to chronic pain, premature spinal degeneration, and possibly even surgery. 

While text neck poses a concern for anyone on a wireless device, research suggests that teens, with their notorious technology habits, may be most at risk.

To combat text neck, try talking to your teen and offering the following suggestions:

  • Bring smartphones and tablets to eye level when viewing.
  • Limit screen time as much as possible. This includes taking frequent breaks, setting technology aside during meal times, and creating a nightly smartphone curfew.
  • Perform stretches to help relieve symptoms of text neck, such as simple head and shoulder rotations, and participate in regular physical activity.

Stranger Danger?

Explaining the concept of a stranger to a young child can be tricky. Children should understand the importance of safety, but stressing “stranger danger” may leave them fearful of anyone they don’t know (which isn’t very practical in an emergency). Here, we provide our best tips for talking with your child about strangers.   

Point out the “good” strangers. When in public places with your child, indicate good strangers, or those who can help when things go wrong; this includes store employees, teachers, nurses, and police officers. Explain that these adults can be trusted and are safe.

Identify suspicious behavior. When it comes to a shady stranger, the tell-tale sign will often be behavior – not appearance. If a stranger asks your child for help or wants to be alone with them, that’s a red flag. Encourage your child to trust their instincts. If an adult is making them feel uncomfortable, they can always say “no” and even yell and run away.

Role play. Give your child the opportunity to practice different scenarios through role playing. Calmly discuss answers to any “what if” questions, like, “What if an adult asks me to keep a secret?” The goal is to prepare your child for the unknown – not frighten or provide them with a false sense of helplessness. 

For the Whole Family

In Favor of Family Vacations

Think back to some of your happiest childhood memories, and what comes to mind? For many, it’s fond recollections of building sandcastles on the beach, hiking at a national park, or exploring a new city with loved ones. Turns out, family vacations are a very, very good thing for the health and happiness of the whole family!

Family vacations contribute to kids’ happiness in that they feel loved, supported, and safe. Vacations encourage quality time with their siblings and parents – free of distractions – which increases communication and feelings of solidarity among the family as a whole. 

Traveling and the new experiences that come with it can also be beneficial to children’s brain development, even translating to more success, both academically and financially, later in life.

Parents could also use the break from the daily grind. Taking a family trip is recognized to reduce stress, boost creativity, and increase productivity at work. A host of studies have linked vacation time to cardiovascular disease, finding that those who participate in an annual holiday have a lower risk of developing heart problems. Vacations also improve your overall mental health, inspiring positive emotions and lessening feelings of negativity and depression.

But don’t take our word for it – book your next family vacation and reap all the healthy benefits!

How to: Meatless Monday

It’s certainly not a new concept, but “going vegetarian” one or more nights a week positively impacts both your health and your budget. When meat isn’t the main attraction, more nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans can be used to fill your plate. These plant-based foods contribute to better skin and vision, aid in digestion, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to name just a few of their benefits.

Looking to switch up your family’s weekly meal plan? Start by planning your meals around lentils or beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Including dairy, such as cheese and Greek yogurt, provides an extra punch of protein. You can also experiment with meat substitutes, like mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, and jackfruit.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, try turning your family’s favorite entrees into meatless masterpieces. Love Mexican food? Whip up some black bean quesadillas. A fan of lasagna? Replace the beef with a different filling, like spinach. Homemade pizza, stir-fry, and chili are other weeknight staples that can easily be turned meatless.

Even when dining out, your family can still practice Meatless Monday. The majority of restaurants offer vegetarian options on the menu, or can customize a meal to make it meatless. And with the rise in popularity of plant-based meals, you’ll likely find a variety of tasty, nutritious selections.

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