Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ensure Cyber Safety

The internet has become the first place we go when we want to communicate, do research, or even conduct business. For most of us, our time in cyberspace is increasing each day. But with breaches of information becoming more common, have you even wondered just how safe your information is online? What can you do to ensure cyber safety for you and your family members?

How can you keep your family members safe online?

Educate family members about appropriate online activity.
Monitor and stay involved in online activity.
Recognize the need for different strategies for a variety of age groups.

Why is cyber safety important?

The information you make available online may be subject to hacking and exposure to the public. Safety is crucial due to privacy issues and overall security, and prevents issues like cyberbullying.


When should you start talking with your kids about cyber safety?

It’s never too early to start discussing cyber safety. Make it an issue that’s brought up often in your household. Don’t forget that cyber safety doesn’t just apply to your children. Adults of any age, especially older adults, need to be aware of cyber safety.

Latest news regarding cyber safety:

According to a recent report, your internet searches and the health information you provide online may put you at risk of medical-related discrimination. Check out this Science Daily article for more details.
Parents are often guilty of providing too much information about their children online.  When parents put too much information about their children online, it may lead to safety and privacy risks for their children, both now and in the future. Read this article on "sharenting" to get the full picture.
Your online information may be most vulnerable when you’re traveling. From laptops left behind in hotel rooms to connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, cyber safety can be an issue once you’ve left your home.  Be aware of these issues when traveling to help ensure your safety and privacy.

Keeping your passwords secure:

Ensure the strength of your passwords by making them a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Change your passwords on occasion.
Always log out of your computer and any sites you visit, especially when using a public computer.

Where can you learn more about staying safe online?

Visit sites such as iKeepSafe for valuable information on keeping your family safe online.

Do you have any suggestions for ensuring cyber safety, or any stories to share? If so, please feel free to leave a comment!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Can Your Diet Make You Happier?

Experts are recognizing that what you eat and other important health and wellness practices may contribute to your level of happiness. Which eating habits can you adopt that will help you and your family members obtain maximum happiness?


How can your diet make you happier?

Research supports the idea that what you eat may help or hinder your mood, sense of wellbeing, and overall happiness. Consuming a balanced diet is essential to good health. Consult with your doctor or healthcare provider regarding the use of supplements.

What are the building blocks of eating for happiness?

Amino acids are essential for wellbeing. Animal-based sources of amino acids include meats, fish, milk, and eggs. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can get these acids from plant sources including soy, beans, legumes, and some grains. Too much caffeine in your diet, excessive exercise, stress, and your genes may deplete your amino acids.
Serotonin is essential for balancing your mood. Lack of serotonin may cause anxiety, panic, anger, and pessimism. Experts suggest that consuming tryptophan-rich foods like milk can help you obtain necessary amounts of this important building block.
 Catecholamines are hormones made by your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. They support alertness, energy, concentration, and drive.
Gaba is a brain chemical related to a sense of calm and relaxation. Prolonged stress or a diet lacking in nutrients may cause a gaba deficiency. If you need more gaba in your life, consume more shrimp, oolong tea, cherry tomatoes, and kefir probiotic drink.
Endorphins may be affected by genetics, chronic stress, and physical pain. You can build your endorphins with spicy foods, chocolate, herbal teas, and energy drinks.
Omega-3s are the key to building healthy brain cells. Get your omega-3 acids by eating fatty fish, pastured meat, dairy products, walnuts, and flax seeds.
Zinc/B6 are important nutrients for brain function. Chicken, pork, and beans contain zinc; tuna, turkey, beef, and eggs are all high in vitamin B6.

Check out the government's Medline Plus website for more information on amino acids.

How do you ensure you have all the building blocks in your diet?

In some cases, your body may produce a building block, and you need to be aware that you don't deplete it. In other instances, consuming the right foods might be the answer. In some cases, it may be necessary to take supplements. You should always check with your doctor or healthcare provider for guidance.

What are other considerations?

Digestion is a key component of the happiness lifestyle. Properly digesting food is essential to maximizing the nutrients you take in from the food you eat. Factors such as diet, medications, stress, disease, and alcoholism can alter or impair your body’s digestion.

Stable blood sugar is key to balance, wellbeing, and a positive mood. Consuming protein is essential to achieving blood sugar stabilization. Too much sugar or caffeine in your diet can have a negative effect on your blood sugar.

How do lifestyle factors play a role in happiness?

Sleep remains an important ingredient of a happy life.
Exercise is key. Regular exercise, even for a few minutes a day, is a must for a well-balanced lifestyle.
Find ways to manage stress or remove stressors from your life. Excessive stress can have a negative impact on your wellbeing.
Drinking adequate water throughout a day is important to preventing dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Don’t forget the fun! Participate in sports, activities, or hobbies that make you feel good, challenge you, and have a positive effect on your sense of self-worth.

Adopt these building blocks and lifestyle factors, and you and your family will enjoy reaping the benefits of living a happier life!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Health Benefits of Mango Seed

The mango is a favorite summertime fruit, but are you missing out on health benefits if you stop at the mango’s flesh? A recent spate of weight loss products espouse mango seeds as an effective weight loss tool. Do they work? Are there other health benefits? What about risks? Let’s investigate!

And yes, we are talking about something that big “pit” or seed in the middle of a mango, which you would normally gnaw around and then throw away. In recent years, extracts from the African mango seed have been used in diet supplements or made available as a liquid extract or powder, which you can use as an additive in drinks, smoothies, or other dishes.

Before you dig down to the pit, you’ll be happy to know
that the fleshy part of the fruit that you are used to consuming is already full of nutrients. It’s rich in flavonoids (specifically, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin), essential minerals like copper and potassium, and vitamins A, C, B6, and E. It is also a fiber-rich fruit, which can potentially help manage your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar level.

The seed is often used as an ingredient in weight management products. In other cultures, the seed or seed extract is used to treat a myriad of ailments, including tooth pain and diarrhea.

What the mango seed research shows


There is not enough independent scientific research on the health benefits of African mango seeds to give them a definitive thumbs up. But here are some of the more interesting study results:
  • Mango seeds in diabetes support: A 1986 study testing mango seed supplementation in diabetic patients successfully reduced blood glucose levels.  A 1990 study showed that it is effective in treating type II diabetes, decreasing bad cholesterol and increasing good HDL cholesterol.
  • Mango seeds in weight loss: A 2005 study showed that African mango oil lowered abdominal fat and HDLs in rats. And a 2008 study showed that mango seed extract inhibited the conversion of sugars into fat. In a 2009 study, mango seed extract reduced weight and improved metabolism in overweight humans in 10 weeks. Another human study showed similar results.
  • Other mango seed studies showed it or its extract to be effective as an antioxidant.


How to eat mango seed


If you are interested in enjoying the benefits of the mango seed in its most natural form, rather than in a powder form or tablet, have at it. Believe it or, that big seed in the middle of the mango fruit is edible, with one caveat: go green. If you’ve eaten a ripe mango, you know that the seed seems impenetrably hard and fibrous. They are often also bitter. But try the mango seed of a green mango, not yet ripened, and you'll find that it is downright soft and easily sliced with a sharp knife.

Mango seed recipes


Looking for a way to add mango seeds to your diet? Try these recipes:

African mango seed health risks


Unless you have a known allergy to mangoes, there is little evidence of health risks in consuming African mango seeds or extracted forms of it, and no known adverse side effects. That said, you should consult with your doctor before consuming African mango seed or any other supplements.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Often Should You Get An Eye Exam?

Eye exams for young children

By age 3, your child should get his or her first eye exam, according to the University of Utah Health Care. An eye doctor can begin checking for signs of early problems like crossed eyes or lazy eye. 

A comprehensive eye exam is usually recommended between ages 3 and 5. However, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends earlier and more frequent eye exams if your child has a family history of eye disease, strabismus (eyes that are turned or crossed), had a low birth weight or was born prematurely, has any developmental delays, already wears eyeglasses, or if the child’s mother had an infection while pregnant.

Aging and its effect on eye exam frequency

The Glaucoma Research Foundation emphasizes that it’s important to have your eyes examined regularly. Their recommended schedule for getting your eyes checked is every 2-to-4 years until you turn 40.

After age 40, the recommended eye exam schedule accelerates to once every 1-to-3 years, and then bumps up again after age 55 to every year or two. 


Vision considerations for the elderly


Because aging vision can degenerate quickly, Glaucoma.org recommends getting a full eye exam
every 6-to-12 months – not years – after age 65.  This is especially important if you are still driving, as impaired vision can not only make it hard to read signs, it can put your life and the lives of others at risk.

If you’re caring for an elderly parent or relative, make sure that they know about this increased frequency, as it may come as a surprise to them that a year should not pass without them getting an eye exam.

Medical factors and eye exam frequency


Beyond the normal patterns of aging that affect how often you should have your eyes examined, there are medical conditions that can shake up the equation.  Many of the diseases that threaten vision can be cured, prevented, or at least delayed if the condition is detected early enough. 

Glaucoma

A condition that results in the gradual loss of your vision, glaucoma is an increased pressure in the eyeball. Glaucoma can be detected early as part of a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection is the best way to protect your vision from glaucoma-related damage, according to Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Risk factors for glaucoma include being African-American, Asian, being over age 60, having a family history of glaucoma, or being a steroid user. See a full list of glaucoma risk factors here.

Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you may be at greater risk for cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and other eye diseases.  Those with diabetes are advised to have eye examinations every year.

Signs of eye trouble


Even if it’s not time for your regularly scheduled eye exam, do not wait if you or one of your children are blinking or rubbing eyes, getting headaches, or squinting to read things. These can be signs of an eye issue worth immediate attention.

A comprehensive eye exam


A comprehensive eye examination differs a bit depending on age, but usually includes a personal and family history eye health review, an eye chart check of near and far vision, testing for astigmatism or presbyopia, checking eye coordination, glaucoma testing, and analyzing the insides of the eye to check for cataracts or macular degeneration.

Your eyes are important, and deserve the care and attention they need to function properly. By getting your regular exam and keeping a close watch for any potential problems, you can keep them healthy, and working at their best.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What You Need to Know About Bladder Cancer: Causes and Risk Factors

What causes bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder grow in an abnormal way, eventually forming a tumor. The reasons are not always clear. According to the Mayo Clinic, bladder cancer has been linked to causes like smoking, parasitic infection, radiation, and chemical exposure.

What are the types of bladder cancer?

1. Transitional cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of bladder cancer in the U.S. Transitional cell carcinoma occurs in the cells that line the bladder wall.
2. Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma is a rare form of bladder cancer in the U.S.  Squamous cells are the result of infection or irritation; over time, they can turn cancerous.
3. Adenocarcinoma: Like squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma is rare in the U.S. It occurs in the glands that secrete mucous.

What are the risk factors for bladder cancer?

Smoking: Exposure to harmful toxins in the smoke from cigarettes and cigars may put you at greater risk of developing bladder cancer.
Age: Bladder cancer is rarely found in individuals under the age of 40. The risk of this type of cancer increases with age.
Gender: Males are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
Race: Caucasians are at greater risk of bladder cancer than other races.
Chemical exposure: Exposure to arsenic and the chemicals used to manufacture dyes, rubbers, leather, textiles and paints may put you at greater risk of bladder cancer. Individuals such as painters, machinists, printers, hairdressers and truck drivers may be at a higher risk due to their exposure to these chemicals.
Previous cancer treatment: Taking Cytoxan (an anti-cancer drug) puts you at greater risk. Also, those who have had pelvic radiation treatments have a higher risk, too.
Certain diabetes medications: Taking medications used to treat diabetes, specifically Actos, Actoplus Met, or Duetact may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer.
• Herbal supplements: Certain supplements, such as aristolochic acid, have been linked to bladder cancer.
Chronic bladder inflammation: Frequent urinary infections or cystitis may increase your risk of bladder cancer.
Family history: A family history of cancer increases the likelihood that you will develop it as well.
Low fluid intake: Those who drink plenty of fluids are at lower risk of developing bladder cancer, possibly because they empty their bladder often, discouraging chemicals from lingering in the body.

Can you reduce your risk of bladder cancer?

When it comes to lifestyle choices like smoking or fluid intake, you can take steps to reduce your risk of bladder cancer. Other factors, such as hereditary, age, race or gender, can’t be controlled. However, experts recommend that you should always do what you can to lower your risk of bladder cancer, no matter your risk level. In addition, if you know you are at higher risk, it's important to get tested early.

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

Blood in your urine: Blood, or any other discoloration – dark yellow, bright red or brownish – should raise concern.
Changes in urination: If you notice either greater frequency and/or pain with urination, you should take note.
Pain: Either back or pelvic pain could be a sign of bladder cancer.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.

Learning everything you need to know about bladder cancer can help you do what you can to reduce your risk, get tested early if you’re at higher risk, and get treatment, if necessary. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and risk factors, you can best prepare yourself

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Raising Socially Conscious Kids

From increasing their awareness of issues like poverty and homelessness, to recognizing the importance of treating animals humanely and behaving in an ethical way, raising socially conscious children is a complex process. How can you make sure you are raising your children to treat others well? While there is no cookie-cutter recipe, there are a few things that you can keep in mind.

Why is there so much focus on social responsibility?

Critics are quick to often label the current generation of children as self-centered “me” thinkers. Raising their social consciousness helps to change those individuals to “we” thinkers, which is helpful to themselves as well as society as a whole.

What helps children learn socially conscious behavior?

Often, the way children are treated has a direct connection to how they treat others and think of society as a whole. Lead by example by showing them compassion, giving them encouragement, and being a generally attentive and active parent.

When should you start raising social awareness in your children?

Like many other good habits, it’s usually never too early to start. Remember that kids want to help. Like everyone else, children are social creatures. Acting compassionately creates a connection between them and others, which leads to an increased sense of responsibility. What's more, the idea that they're a part of a bigger picture and making a difference is exciting for someone so young.

As a parent, you are a major influence on your child's life, but you're not the only one. Grandparents, neighbors, teachers, and even siblings can help demonstrate the importance of proper social awareness.

For more information and guidance on this, read The We Generation, by Michael Ungar.

Where does social consciousness begin?

Experts believe social awareness begins at home. Connections at school and within the community are important as well. You might be surprised at the significance of the small, simple things that make a big difference in children's development:

1. Recognize the importance of showing affection to children. Hugging your kids is critical to their development as socially responsible individuals.
2. Kindness is a learned behavior. When you show kindness to others, your children and those you have an impact on are more inclined to observe your actions and follow.
3. Make time to listen to your children. Make contact and really connect with what they’re saying.
4. Teach responsibility.

What are some ways of raising social consciousness?

Discuss topics relating to social consciousness. Poverty, homelessness, and the humane treatment of animals are all places to start. These conversations can be tailored to fit the ages of your children.
Start small. Help an elderly neighbor with yard work or adopt a pet from a shelter. Teach your children that being socially responsible doesn’t only have to be done on a large scale. Every little bit helps.
Pick a cause. Whether it’s animal welfare or helping the homeless, focus on a particular cause (or two).
Get involved as a family. When you become involved in socially responsible causes as a family, all family members are more likely to stay involved and have the activity remain part of their lifestyle.

Where can you learn more?

Check out specific organizations associated with causes that are of particular interest to you and your family members. Visit peacefirst.org for more information and ideas.

Raising social consciousness begins at home, but it’s a lesson that can last a lifetime. Not only is social awareness an important aspect of being a well-adjusted individual, but it goes far to help society as a whole, too.

Live Healthy. Live Smart
-FamilyWize

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why Is Zinc so Important?

Its importance to growth and development is often overlooked. However, zinc is crucial to your health, and a lack of it can lead to numerous harmful symptoms. Read on to discover the role zinc plays in the proper growth and functioning of the human body.

What is zinc?

Zinc is an essential trace metal that's vital to many of the body's biological functions. Zinc plays a crucial role in more than 300 enzymes in the body.

What does zinc do?

Zinc plays an important role in your organs, tissues, bones, fluids, and cells. Systems particularly affected by zinc include:

  • The immune system: Low levels of zinc lead to reduced and weakened T-cells. An increase in zinc can help fight pneumonia, diarrhea, infections, and colds.
  • Skin, hair, and nails: Zinc activates renewal of skin cells. Creams containing zinc are used for skin irritations, wounds, and acne.
  • The reproductive system: Zinc plays a crucial role in reproductive health for both men and women. A zinc deficiency can contribute to infertility.
  • The cardiovascular system:  Zinc is reportedly involved in the regulation of arterial blood pressure.
  • Overall growth and development: Zinc ensures proper growth of the fetus during pregnancy, and is essential in the growth and development processes of infants, children, and teens.
From what food sources can you get zinc?

According to the National Institutes of Health, sources of zinc include:

1. Red meat
2. Poultry
3. Lamb
4. Fish and seafood
5. Whole cereals
6. Daily products
7. Beans
8. Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashews
9. Zinc supplements or a daily multivitamin (for those who don’t get enough zinc in their normal diet)

Want to view how much zinc is in the foods you eat? Check out this chart. 

Who is at risk of developing a zinc deficiency?

According to a study by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), nearly half of the world’s population is at risk for inadequate zinc intake. It’s especially concerning in the geriatric population as well as in undeveloped countries where food sources may not be zinc rich.

Low blood levels of zinc have been found in individuals with:

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Liver cirrhosis.
Delayed wound healing.
Diabetes-associated conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, and elevated levels of triglycerides.

What are the signs of zinc deficiency?

Rough and dry skin
Dull hair
Brittle finger nails
White spots on nails
Reduced taste and smell
Loss of appetite
Mood swings
Frequent skin infections

How can you sneak more zinc into your family’s diet?

1. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or cashews as a topping on yogurt, ice cream, salads, or soups.
2. Include poultry and red meat in your family’s diet.
3. Choose breakfast cereals that are high in zinc.
4. If following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, check with your healthcare provider to see if a zinc supplement might be necessary.

By incorporating these easy ideas, you can rest assured that your family’s diet will be rich in a necessary mineral that keeps their bodies growing and functioning properly. Zinc may sometimes be overlooked, but that doesn't make it any less important to your health.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize