National Blood Donor Month—Easing Your Fears to Earn Your Donation

January is Blood Drive Month

Few of us get an opportunity to be a genuine hero. While police officers, doctors, and firefighters regularly earn the title “savior,” most of us, fortunately, don’t find ourselves in positions where life and death are on the line. However, there is one easy way to become a hero and to save not just one life, but as many as three, and to do it over and over, multiplying the impact of your generous actions—and all it takes is one pint of blood.

January is National Blood Donation Month, a time for all those who can to resolve at the start of the new year to become a regular blood donor. If you’ve thought about donating blood in the past, but have found yourself stacking reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t give blood, we’ve compiled answers to your questions and solutions to your concerns so that this January, you can become a hero too.

I Don’t Like Needles.

It would be rare to hear someone say that they enjoy the temporary discomfort that comes with a needle stick. Understand that the minor sting and discomfort that you will feel when the needle is inserted is minimal compared to the pain of someone who needs regular blood transfusions due to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, liver disease, or sickle cell anemia. Even if you have Trypanophobia, a severe fear of needles that affects 20 percent of people, a blood draw staff member can make the experience as comfortable and reassuring for you as possible if you are honest and upfront about your concerns.

My One Donation Won’t Make an Impact.

Every single pint of donated blood makes a difference. Every three seconds, someone needs blood. As a result, 32,000 pints of blood are used daily in the U.S. alone. Since whole blood only has a shelf-life of 42 days, and platelets only have a shelf-life of five days, the constant need to bolster our blood banks is ongoing.

Donating Blood Will Put Me at Risk of Contracting a Deadly Infection or Disease, like HIV.

Donating blood with a reputable service provider such as the Amerian Red Cross is safe. New, sterile, disposable equipment is used for each donor, eliminating the risk of contamination and of contracting a disease such as HIV.

I’ll Pass Out.

Every precaution is taken during blood donations to minimize discomfort and adverse side effects for donors. As part of the donor screening process, your blood iron levels will be checked, and you will be asked to verify that you meet height and weight requirements. Donors who do feel light-headed during or after a donation are cared for closely by donation staff. Typically, a few extra minutes of laying down and rehydrating is enough to end any feelings of lightheadedness. Keep in mind that the average person has ten pints of blood in their body, and a whole blood donation only takes one, which most people replenish within a few hours.

Final Words of Encouragement

More than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and many will need blood—possibly daily—during chemotherapy treatments. The simple act of donating blood takes less than an hour, involves minimal discomfort, and can save as many as three lives, turning everyday good samaritans into genuine heroes. To make a blood donation appointment with the American Red Cross today, click here.

New Year, New You. Three Health-Related New Year’s Resolutions to Make in 2020

There’s something magical about the New Year, isn’t there? Something about seeing the calendar flip over gives us an immediate feeling of the promise of new opportunities and fresh starts. January 1 is the perfect time to recommit to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution that is good for you emotionally, mentally, and physically, we’ve got three wellness-related resolutions for your consideration. Each is easy to commit to and offers the possibility of a significant impact on your overall wellness in 2020.

  1. Walk for 30 Minutes Every Day (Cumulatively)

Walking is one of the easiest physical commitments you can make that will have a significant impact on your cardiovascular health. If the idea of finding 30 minutes within your already jam-packed schedule seems like an impossibility, know that you can carve out small chunks of time throughout the day that will give you thirty minutes total.

For example, walk your dog down the street and back when you get home from work instead of letting him out in the backyard. Park at the back of the grocery store parking lot and walk to the front door. Walk to pick your child up from the bus stop instead of driving to the end of your block. These small choices will quickly add up to 30 minutes throughout your day.

Commitment Tip: There are a variety of smartwatches and fitness trackers across cost ranges to help you track your walking minutes, which will make it easy to hold yourself accountable.

  1. Cut Back on Your Alcohol Consumption

You don’t need to entirely give up enjoying a glass of red wine with your pasta, or having mimosas with your friends during Sunday brunch. However, if you are consuming more than three alcoholic beverages per day, if you’re a woman, or four if you are a man, then it’s time to cut back. Too much alcohol consumption can lead to such health risks as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, and liver complications. 

Commit to cutting back how much you consume. Save your drinking for special occasions, or enjoy only a beer or two while watching sports over the weekend. By drinking in moderation, you’ll sleep better, feel more alert, and give yourself a lower risk of developing a serious health complication later in life.

Commitment Tip: Ask your spouse or friends to resolve to cut back with you. Together, you can find non-alcohol related activities that you enjoy, such as taking a yoga class or running your first 5K.

  1. Make an Annual Primary Care Appointment

If you haven’t seen your primary care physician since 2008, you are long overdue for some critical wellness screenings. Healthy adults should have a primary care visit with their physician annually. During this time, your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure, check your abdomen, thyroid glands, and lymph nodes, and check your hearing and vision. He or she will also address any other needs you may have or screenings that may be in your best interest based on your personal and family history, age, and other health factors.

Your annual visit to see your physician is also your time to ask any health-related questions that you may have—including all those things you’ve been Googling and then drawing conclusions about, potentially incorrectly.

If what keeps you from making an annual wellness appointment is the hassle of taking time off from work, the potential cost, or a general dislike of doctor’s offices, then be sure to find a clinic that is conveniently located to your home or office, that participates with your insurance plan, and that makes you feel comfortable during your visit.

Commitment Tip: At Nova Health, many providers across our 14 clinics are accepting new patients. Click here to find a conveniently located clinic near you and book an appointment.

This Near Year’s, resolve to lead a healthier lifestyle so that you can enjoy countless years to come. By making some simple lifestyle changes, you’ll welcome significant changes in your life. Now that’s something to celebrate.

Seven Safe Holiday Travel Tips

seven safe holiday travel tips
The holidays are a time to be with friends, family, and loved ones—not in an emergency room. During winter months, all of our popular forms of transportation become more hazardous, including planes, trains, and automobiles. This holiday, get to your destination safely, even if more slowly, so that you can take full advantage of all that the season has to offer. Before you hit the road, review these seven holiday safety travel trips.

1. Prepare Your Car for a Winter Road Trip

If you are driving through the Pacific Northwest to your holiday travel destination, you may experience snow, rain, sleet, or ice on the roads. Ensure your vehicle is in proper working order before you begin your journey. Have your car inspected, ensure your tires are properly inflated, check your windshield wiper fluid, and gas up. Also, keep an emergency road kit in your vehicle that includes a flashlight, bottled water, blanket, and kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck in mud or snow and need to create traction under your tires.

2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 25 adults report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reports that drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in 2017 alone. Be well rested before you begin your road trip. Instead of starting your drive after a long day of work and traveling through the night, get a good night’s sleep and drive feeling refreshed the next morning. Your family certainly wants to see you as soon as possible, but they’d rather have you arrive safely.

3. Hide Your Valuables

Unfortunately, some people aim to take advantage of holiday travelers. Hide your suitcases, laptops, and electronic equipment in your trunk or out of sight whenever you leave your vehicle, and keep your doors locked at all times.

4. Follow Flight Attendant Instructions

While the odds of a plane crash are extremely rare, there are occasions where flights are delayed, need to be rerouted, or passengers are asked to deplane while crews address an unexpected maintenance issue. Listen to the instructions of the flight attendants and airline personnel, and do your best to keep your frustrations in check. If your plane does experience an emergency event and passengers are instructed to evacuate quickly, leave your bags behind. They aren’t worth your safety. 

5. Bring Emergency supplies on Your Train

If traveling by train, you, too, should be prepared for an unexpected delay or an emergency event. Bring an emergency kit with you that includes a spare cell phone charger, flashlight, bottled water, snacks, and a blanket.

6. Always Carry a Cell Phone and Spare Charger

No matter how you are traveling, being able to contact emergency personnel at any time is critical. Always carry your cell phone on you and ensure you have a  spare battery or charger in your possession.

7. Bring Contact Information for Your Medical Team

One study found that airplane passengers are 100 percent more likely to get sick than non-airplane passengers. With 51 million people traveling during the holidays, that’s a lot of germs flying across the country and arriving in people’s homes. Make sure you have the phone numbers for all your physicians and physician offices in your phone. If you or your child gets sick while you’re away from home for any reason, you may want the advice of your regular physician or pediatrician. If you experience a true medical emergency while traveling, call 911. From all of us at Nova Health, we wish you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season. As always, we’re here if you need us.

What is Kombucha, and is it Really Healthy?

Is Kombucha Healthy.

It seemed, at first, that kombucha was only popping up at farmers’ markets and natural food stores. Now, it’s established on the shelves of big brand grocers and chain restaurant menus. What is this new, trendy wellness drink, and is it just one more here-today-gone-tomorrow health trend, or is it a genuinely healthy beverage that you should incorporate into your weekly meal planning? We’ve got the answers.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea, and it’s anything other than new. In fact, kombucha has been around for thousands of years, dating back to, researchers believe, ancient China or Japan.

How is Kombucha Made?

To make kombucha, specific bacteria strains, sugar, and yeast are added to green or black tea and allowed to ferment for at least one week. During the fermentation process, the yeast and bacteria form a balloon-like film on the tea’s surface. The film becomes a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). By setting aside a sample of the film, producers can use it to create further batches of kombucha.

What are the Health Benefits of Kombucha?

Kombucha offers all the same health benefits as tea, plus a whole lot more.

  • Bioactive Compounds – Green tea includes polyphenols and other bioactive compounds. Studies have found that regular consumption of green tea offers such health benefits as controlled blood sugar, improved cholesterol, reduced belly fat, and improved calorie burn.
  • Probiotics – Kombucha is rich in probiotics, the same good-for-your-tummy bacteria, and yeast that you find in yogurt. Such bacteria may offer such health benefits as weight loss, reduced inflammation, and improved digestion.
  • Antioxidants – Kombucha is packed with antioxidants (like superfood blueberries) and can kill harmful bacteria, which helps it serve as part of your body’s immunity support team. Thanks to these powerful substances, studies have found that regularly drinking kombucha can reduce liver toxicity by at least 70 percent.
  • Acetic Acid – Kombucha’s fermentation process creates acetic acid, a substance also found in vinegar. The acetic acid is what gives kombucha its mild carbonation, and these acids can also help kill potentially harmful microorganisms, particularly infection-causing bacteria and candida yeast, which can cause fungal infections.
  • A Healthy Heart – Kombucha may help to reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to improve two heart disease markers, Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) known as “bad cholesterol,” and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as “good cholesterol.”
  • Reduced Blood Sugar – Regular consumption of kombucha may help to regulate blood sugar, which is critical for those living with Type 2 Diabetes. Studies have found that kombucha may slow carbohydrate digestion, which reduces blood sugar levels and improves kidney and liver function.

It is essential to recognize that while kombucha has been around for centuries, and that preliminary studies are revealing potentially significant health benefits, the studies are just that—preliminary. Much still needs to be assessed about the health benefits of kombucha in longer-term research. As with any significant modification to your diet, before you make any changes, talk to your doctor. He or she can guide you toward the food and exercise lifestyle adjustments that will have the most significant impact on your overall health.

Three Ways to Stress Less on Gift-Giving This Holiday Season

Stress Free Holiday List

No matter the size of your family, whether you travel or host the season’s events, and splurge or save on gifts, overspending during the holidays can feel unavoidable. The month of December is inevitably filled with parties, gift exchanges, volunteer and donation drives, travel needs, and even local holiday festivals and festivities. While all these elements make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year, they also make the time between Thanksgiving and December one of the most expensive times of the year. One of the biggest budget breakers for most families is gift-giving. This season, don’t break the bank just to show your loved ones how much you care. Follow our budget-saving tips below to maximize your holiday joy without suffering buyer’s remorse in January.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Driven by feelings of altruism, many Americans splurge on gifts for their friends and family—relying on the payment procrastination offered by credit cards. Retailers and department stores also boost their line of credit sales goals at the end of the year. As a result, they dangle tempting offers in front of shoppers that promise to reduce their purchase price by opening a line of credit.

To help you avoid the lure of relying on plastic this season, check your credit score before you begin your holiday shopping. Credit utilization is the second highest factor in your credit score. If your credit score is lower than you’d like, then you may be better served not opening up additional lines of credit or maxing out your existing cards this season. Knowing where you stand financially will help you set your budget and keep from overspending.

2. Agree Collectively on Your Spending Strategy

For some, the reason why the overspend is out of a pressure to give as extravagant gifts as those around them. If you have one sibling who spoils all the cousins with expensive electronics, you may find yourself making purchases outside of your budget to try to compete with your sibling’s generosity. Have a candid conversation with your family to set agreed-upon guardrails around family spending. If appropriate, replicate the discussion with your group of friends, co-workers, neighbors, or fellow parents.

3. Create a List. Check it Twice.

Before you make your first-holiday purchase, create your gift recipient list. Some shoppers break their budget on the last few days before the holiday when they realize they forgot to buy someone (or someones). Under pressure to make the holiday deadline, they settle on spending outside their budget. Start your holiday shopping by identifying form whom you will be buying gifts.

Also, be strategic as to whether your gift-giving will be wide or deep. If you have a large family and network of friends and co-workers, then consider spending less per person. If you have a small family or only purchase gifts for your children, you can afford to spend more per person. White Elephant or Secret Santa exchanges are cost-saving options for people who want to go deep but have a large family.

Remember that while financial stress can negatively impact your health, spending time with your loved ones can be one of the best medicines for your mind, heart, and soul. Make this holiday not about what you buy, but who you’re with, and focus on what matters most.

Don’t Overstress this Holiday Season—Five Stress-Less Tips

The holiday season is the happiest time of the year, right? Unfortunately, for too many people, it’s fraught with anxiety, worry, and stress of every kind: financial, emotional, work, and time. According to a survey by Think Finance, forty-five percent of people would prefer to skip Christmas entirely. In addition, nearly twenty-five percent of Americans report feeling extreme stress levels when the end-of-year holidays approach, with 69 percent feeling stressed by lack of time, 69 percent feeling stressed by lack of money, and 51 percent feeling stressed by the pressure to give or receive gifts. Such feelings are certainly not aligned with the reason for the season.

Over time, stress can cause such serious health complications as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety, and the holiday season can exacerbate risk factors. Research from Sweden identified that the odds of a heart attack increased by nearly 40 percent on Christmas Eve.

This season, don’t let the holidays—or your health—be ruined by stressing over the big or little seasonal details. We’ve got five tips to help you prioritize and recontextualize your seasonal commitments so that you can truly enjoy the last month of the year and your time with friends and family.

  1. Create and Stick to a Budget. For many families, the cost of holiday gift-giving, travel, and hosting puts an uncomfortable pressure on their finances at year’s end. Create a holiday budget and stick to it. Include how much money you will spend on gifts for all your friends and family. If you’re part of a large family with lots of little ones, consider a white elephant or Secret Santa exchange to limit how much everyone spends on one another. The goal of the holidays should be to spend time together—not to spend money on each other. 
  1. Learn When to Say, No. If it hasn’t already, your calendar is about to blow up with holiday commitments. There are parties, shopping trips, cookie-baking, gift-wrapping, caroling, eight-days of menorah lighting, school concerts, volunteering and, simply, not enough time. Accept that you can’t be everywhere and you don’t have to RSVP yes to every invitation. Set boundaries with your friends and family and make sure you’re not putting too much stress on your calendar and spreading yourself too thin. You won’t enjoy any event in which you’re feeling overly stressed and run-down. 
  1. Stick to Your Routine. When your schedule gets full, it’s even more important to take time for yourself. Don’t give up you healthy routine during the month of December. Make sure you are exercising regularly, eating healthfully (extra cookie or two excluded), getting enough sleep at night, and making time for mindfulness practices, yoga, or meditation—whatever helps you to relax. 
  1. Scale Down. If your holiday stress comes from trying to do too much, sit down and prioritize where you most enjoy spending your time. Maybe bake three dozen cookies this year instead of five, or send holiday cards from an online stationery service rather than hand-writing them individually. No one can make everything from scratch and personalize every holiday detail­—not even Mrs. Claus. Be realistic and cut back where you can.
  1. Get Out and Get Some Sun. The days may be shorter, but you still need to get in your Vitamin D during the winter, especially during stressful holiday months. Weather-permitting, get outside daily, even if only for ten minutes. Walk your dog, take a short hike, or take a mid-day stroll around your business complex with your co-workers. Exposure to natural sunlight boosts the production of feel-good serotonin, helping you to ward-off holiday blues.

Remember, most importantly, that the holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, reflecting on what makes you feel grateful, and planning ahead for a new year. By making time for yourself, maintaining your healthy practices, and not overbooking your schedule, you can enjoy the very best of the holidays, without the stress. Cheers to that.

How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Overindulging in Seven Steps

tips to enjoy thanksgiving

The turkey. The stuffing. The mashed and sweet potatoes. And. The. Pies. Thanksgiving is designed to be enjoyed with family, friends, and a full plate of once-a-year-favorite foods. However, before you write off the day as a diet loss and give yourself free rein to stuff yourself full, consider that the average person consumes around 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. For some perspective, the average athlete would need to jog for four hours to burn only 2,400 calories. This Thanksgiving, enjoy your time with family and friends—and your favorite holiday foods—but do so responsibly. Here are some tips to help keep you from overindulging this Thanksgiving.

  1. Don’t Skip Meals. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that skipping breakfast and lunch will allot you extra calories for an oversized dinner. Skipping meals will only leave you feeling starving come big mealtime, and you’re likely to overeat more than you would have if you had eaten healthily earlier in the day. Have a small breakfast high in protein (think eggs or Greek yogurt) and a reasonable, healthy lunch instead so that you can feel satiated before dinner.
  2. Be Mindful. Research shows that the first three bites of food are the most pleasurable. Keep this in mind when portioning out your favorite side dishes. You may love your Nana’s sweet yams that she only prepares once a year, but you don’t need to consume a jumbo-smoothie-sized portion. Serve yourself a healthy amount instead, and mindfully enjoy every bite.
  3. Take Smaller Portions. Thanksgiving Day meals tend to include more sides than an average meal. Consider a Thanksgiving Day portion as three to four bites in size, particularly if your side dish options consist of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, broccoli casserole, cranberries, and sweetbreads—and you intend to try them all.
  4. Eat Earlier in the Day. If you can control the day’s schedule, move up mealtime. Research shows that if you eat a large meal close to the time that you go to bed, your body may be more likely to store the calories as fat. Move up to a 1 p.m. start time. That way, everyone can focus on the evening’s football games after dinner.
  5. Skip the Carbs. When you eat carbohydrates at the start of a meal, your body releases hunger-stimulating hormones that may cause you to overeat. If you must eat bread, start your meal with lean turkey instead, but consider skipping it altogether. Do so, and you’ll have more room for pie.
  6. Slow Your Roll. Wait twenty minutes before going back for seconds. During this time, if you’re full (and you likely will be), your body will send that signal to your brain, and with that information, you can make a conscientious choice to take extra helpings home for the next day’s lunch instead of eating them then and there.
  7. Use Smaller Tableware. The average dinner plate has increased in size by over 20 percent over the decades. Consider serving your dinner on petite china or smaller seasonal tableware to keep from piling your plate too full with too much food.

Above all, remember Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Be thankful for your friends, family, and your health. Make decisions that will keep you on the path to optimal wellness and allow you to enjoy many more seasonal celebrations for years to come.

Kidney Stone Risk Factors and Treatment Options

kidney heart stone

It starts as a dull ache, maybe in your back, or perhaps beneath your rib cage. Suddenly it escalates to severe cramping and then to a piercing pain that leaves you in agony as it radiates into your lower abdomen. If left untreated, kidney stones can lead to an infection, which can evolve into sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection complication. Understand the risk factors that can lead to Kidney stones and how to minimize your risk of developing this painful and dangerous condition.

What are Kidney Stones?

When dissolved minerals buildup on the inner lining of the kidneys, the result can be kidney stones. The collection often consists of calcium oxalate or other components. If the stones remain small, they can pass undetected and unbothersome through the urinary tract. Kidney stones can grow to be as large as a golf ball with sharp, jagged edges. When the stones become large, the process of the stones traveling out of the system can cause extreme pain.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones form when urine contains higher levels of calcium, oxalate, and uric acid than can be diluted by urine fluid. Urine that lacks naturally occurring substances that prevent crystal formation further leads to an increased risk of kidney stone development. There are four types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium Stones: The most common type of kidney stones. Calcium stones are typically comprised of calcium oxalate, a naturally occurring substance found in food, particularly nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables, and created by the liver. A diet high in Vitamin D, some metabolic disorders, and intestinal bypass surgery can increase the presence of calcium or oxalate in the urine.
  • Uric Acid Stones – Uric acid stones are most common among people who fail to drink enough regular fluids or eat a high-protein diet. They can also occur in people who have gout, a disease caused by a reduced ability to metabolize uric acid that results in painful arthritis that is often felt in the feet or that causes chalkstone deposits.
  • Struvite Stones – This variety of kidney stones often forms in response to an infection, particularly a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Cystine Stones – These kidney stones most commonly form in response to a hereditary disorder that results in the kidneys excreting too high levels of the amino acid cystinuria.

How to Treat Kidney Stones

If you have any of the above risk factors and believe you may be suffering pain caused by kidney stones, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to identify the cause and variety of your kidney stones and can help you devise a treatment plan and long-term strategy to avoid kidney stone recurrence.

Most kidney stones are small and will eventually pass through your urinary tract. To expedite the process as painlessly as possible, you can:

  • Drink water. Ideally, drink two to three quarts daily to help flush your urinary tract.
  • Take a pain reliever. Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen can help mitigate the pain and discomfort that kidney stones cause.
  • An alpha-blocker. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to relax the muscles in your ureter to help you pass the kidney stone quickly and less painfully.

Large stones that cannot pass on their own or may cause kidney or urinary tract damage or infection, or internal bleeding, may require medical intervention. In these cases, a doctor may recommend:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) – A process that uses sound waves to break up kidney stones into small pieces so that they can pass through the urinary tract.
  • Surgery  – A surgeon may remove large stones using a procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy in which he or she will use a small telescope and instruments inserted through a small incision in the lower back.
  • A Scope. A doctor can remove smaller stones by inserting a ureteroscope with a camera through your urethra and bladder into your ureter. 
  • Parathyroid gland surgery. An overactive parathyroid gland is the cause of some kidney stones. Overproduction of parathyroid hormone may be the result of a benign tumor developing on one of the parathyroid glands. Surgery to remove the tumor can help to stop the hormone overproduction.

If you believe you may be suffering from kidney stone pain, don’t wait. Make an appointment with your doctor or walk into an urgent care clinic and get a medical assessment right away. Once you understand the cause of your kidney stone and any complications you may face due to its size, you and your doctor can determine a plan to help you rid your body of the painful stone while minimizing your discomfort.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes.

For the 30.3 million Americans living with Diabetes, November is more than a time for awareness. It is a time for hope—hope that researchers will one day find a cure to this painful and dangerous condition. This month, take the time to better understand the signs and symptoms of this chronic disease and your risk factors. With proper lifestyle choices, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, is a disease that occurs when one has too much blood glucose (blood sugar) in the body. We obtain blood glucose from the foods we eat and use it as our primary source of energy. In a healthy body, insulin made by the pancreas helps with this energy transformation process. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, glucose remains in the blood, never reaching cells or being converted into energy. When too much glucose stays in the blood, it can cause health complications.

What is the Difference Between Type I and Type II Diabetes?

A person with Type I Diabetes does not produce any insulin. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells, destroying insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, which prohibits the body from producing insulin.

A person why Type II Diabetes does not produce enough insulin and is unable to use it effectively, a condition that is known as being insulin resistant. Lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of Type II Diabetes, including excessive weight gain and inactivity.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of both Types I and II Diabetes include:

  • Feeling excessively thirsty, resulting in significant water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Sores or cuts that are slow to heal

Also, patients with Type I Diabetes may experience rapid mood changes, irritability, and weight loss, while patients with Type II Diabetes may experience sensations of numbness and tingling in their extremities.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

You can mitigate your chances of developing Type II Diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices, including the following:

  • Manage Your Weight. Individuals who carry excess body fat, especially if stored in the midsection, are at risk of developing insulin resistance.
  • Balance Your Diet. Part of managing your weight should include eating a balanced diet full of healthy grains, lean proteins, hearty vegetables, and fruits. Also, reduce your intake of sodium by lowering your consumption of fried or processed foods and not adding excess salt to your meals.
  • Exercise Regularly. Aim for at least 30-minutes of activity that raises your heart rate at least three times per week. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen. 
  • Quit Smoking. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop Diabetes as non-smokers.
  • Moderate Alcohol Intake. Too much alcohol can result in weight gain, which could boost your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should not exceed two drinks in a day, and women should not exceed one. 
  • Talk to Your Doctor. Make sure you are visiting your primary care physician as appropriate based on your age and other health factors. Be honest with him or her about your lifestyle habits, and if anyone in your immediate family has Type I or Type II Diabetes. If your physician determines that you may be at risk, together, you can create a sustainable plan to address risky lifestyle factors and help you prevent the development of this chronic, complex disease.

What’s the Deal with Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting

One of the latest get-healthy-and-fit trends generating buzz is intermittent fasting. As with all things trendy, it promises to offer a definitive cure to all your health needs. You may even be hearing about it first-hand from friends, family, and followers. What’s the deal with this health trend? Is it truly something we should all do to optimize our health, or is it yet another overpromise that we can expect to be here today and gone tomorrow?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting utilizes a repeating cycle of fasting and eating in an attempt to achieve health benefits. There are a variety of approaches and theories about intermittent fasting, but all of them break up the day or week into defined periods of fasting and eating.

Possibly the most straightforward intermittent fasting strategy involves lengthening the period between dinner and the following day’s breakfast—since you’re likely to sleep through most of it. With this model, you may eat your last meal of the day at 8 p.m., and then not eat again until noon the next day, although you can consume non-caloric beverages, including water, black coffee, or tea. In this way, you fast for 16 hours.

What are the Promised Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Those who advocate for intermittent fasting tout such health benefits as weight loss, improved metabolism, a reduced chance of developing cancer and other diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, and longevity.

When we experience a prolonged period without food, our bodies’ processes change to protect us until our next meal. Those process changes include hormone regulation, cellular repair, and even genetic reactions. During a fast, we also experience a reduction in insulin and blood sugar levels and an increase in human growth hormone. 

 Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that while studies of periodic calorie restrictions in animals have been shown to increase lifespan and improve reactions to metabolic stress, there have been less definitively conclusive results from human studies. One risk of intermittent fasting is that a participant will overeat during non-fasting periods to compensate after a period of feeling hungry. If a primary goal of the fast is weightloss, such behavior can result in cumulatively higher calorie consumption, thus impeding the intended weight loss.

How Can I Tell if I Should Try Intermittent Fasting?

As with all diet and exercise routines, do not attempt to make any changes without first consulting your doctor. He or she will explain to you what your specific benefits and potential risks may be of intermittent fasting. Whether your goals are weight loss, longevity, or mitigating the risk of developing a catastrophic condition, your doctor will work with you to put a safe and effective health and wellness plan in place that you can execute together.