How many calories should you eat in a day
For some, calorie counting can be an effective way to reach fitness and weight goals, but it can be tricky to know what’s right for you. Our latest post can help.
A comprehensive guide to calorie count calculations
For people starting a health journey, counting calories is a common place to begin. Calorie counting can be an effective way to reach fitness and weight loss goals, and it can also help you take better control over your health. Yet many aren’t fully aware of what calories are and how they should calculate them.
If you’ve been asking, “How many calories should I eat in a day?” then this guide is for you.
Calories are the units of energy that come from the foods and beverages you eat and drink. The body uses calories to perform all of its functions, from moving and exercising to circulating the blood and digesting food. If you consume more calories than you use, the extra calories get converted into fat, which the body can use later if it has a calorie deficit.
Controlling caloric intake, and consuming fewer calories than you burn through exercise and daily activity, can be an effective weight control method. To do this, you must understand the calorie count in your favorite foods and how many calories you need in a day.
Some foods, like fatty meats, high carbohydrate foods, or fried foods, have high calorie counts. For example, a hamburger patty with no toppings or bun has around 200 calories. Add all of the toppings and a bun, and you can easily have 1,000 calories in just the burger.
Other foods, usually fruits and vegetables, have lower calorie counts. One cup of fresh cucumber slices has just 16 calories, and one cup of strawberries has 49 calories.
For many people, calorie counting can be a good, healthy way to start taking back their health. Yet many myths circulate about how many calories someone needs to eat a day and how to calculate them. These myths can make achieving your health goals more challenging. Also, there are potential drawbacks to calorie counting. Before you start monitoring your calorie intake or focusing on weight loss or gain, always talk to your doctor. A thorough health assessment from a qualified healthcare practitioner is vital to ensuring you’re doing what’s best for your health with all of your health conditions taken into consideration.
Here’s the truth about caloric intake and how to effectively calculate the right number of calories for your body, activity level, and age. Keep in mind, each individual is unique, and some health conditions, medications, and other factors not mentioned here can impact your caloric needs. Before you start a journey toward health by changing your diet, always talk to your doctor to ensure you account for all of these potential factors.
Calorie counting depends on multiple factors
Counting calories isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Many factors impact how many calories you need to eat, including health conditions, age, biological sex, activity level, and your fitness goals. Your body shape also impacts your caloric needs. To accurately calculate your caloric needs, you’ll need to consider all of these.
Certain health conditions can impact the metabolism, which increases or decreases caloric need. These include:
- Metabolic disorders, like thyroid disorders or Cushing’s syndrome
- Wilson disease
- Mitochondrial diseases
- Hormonal disorders
If you have one of these or a different chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before working on caloric intake.
Body mass and muscle density change as you age, which changes caloric intake.
A child needs a different level of calories than an adult. Most healthy children don’t need to count calories, but rather should learn to eat when hungry and choose healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Children should also focus on regular physical activity as a way to encourage a healthy body mass.
Counting calories too early can lead to body image and eating issues, unless a parent is working with a doctor for this. That said, Healthline recommends the following ranges for children and teenagers:
- 5-8 years old: 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day
- 9-13 years old: 1,600 to 2,600 calories a day
- 14-18 years old: 1,800 to 3,200 calories a day
Adults also have different calorie needs as they age. Young adults need more calories than older adults, often due to the higher activity levels for these age groups as well as the overall changes your body’s going through as you get older. Here is a general breakdown of calorie ranges for adults:
- 19-30 years old: 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day
- 31-59 years old: 1,800 to 3,000 calories a day
- 60 years old and older: 1,600 to 2,600 calories a day
These ranges are based on a person’s basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This number is the number of calories a person uses for basic daily life functions, such as breathing, digesting or circulating the blood. For all age groups, the range is quite large. That’s because there are other factors at play that impact your ideal calorie count.
In addition, you should consider average calories per day, as some days you’ll be hungrier or more active than others. Keep your average within your recommended range to keep yourself at a healthy weight.
A person’s biological sex also impacts caloric needs. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center indicates women have a lower BMR than men. In other words, a woman’s daily bodily functions, including breathing and digesting food, take fewer calories than the daily bodily functions of a man. Thus, someone who was born female needs fewer calories than someone who was born male, even if they have similar daily activity levels.
On the recommended calorie intake ranges listed above, women tend to need calorie counts towards the lower end, while men tend to need the counts at the higher end. Recent recommendations from the USDA recommend 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day for adult men, according to USA Today.
Those who identify as a gender other than their biological sex should talk to their doctor about how hormone therapy or gender-affirmation surgery affects their caloric needs, as this is an area that’s still under research. Unless the BMR changes, the recommendations typically still remain with the person’s biological sex at birth.
The more active you are, the more calories you need to fuel those activities. An elite athlete needs more calories a day than the average person, and may even need numbers higher than the recommended average calories per day on heavy workout days. Conversely, if you live a sedentary lifestyle or have a desk job with little exercise, you may need fewer calories. Your body isn’t working as hard, and thus it doesn’t need as much fuel.
Your health goals also impact the amount of calories you need. If you want to gain weight, adding more calories that are high in nutritional value may help.
If you want to lose weight, consuming fewer calories than you burn through your regular activities may help you reach that goal. Cutting calories too low can create health issues, though. You won’t get all of your nutrients if you cut calories below your recommended range, and you may put your body into starvation mode, which triggers fat-storage hormones.
A few additional factors that impact your caloric intake needs include:
- Physical health conditions – If you’re fighting illness, you may need to change your caloric intake to accommodate. Thyroid and other hormone imbalances can also affect your metabolism, changing your caloric intake needs. Similarly, people who are pregnant need more calories than those who are not.
- Medications – Some medications can speed up or slow down your metabolism, and you may need to adjust your caloric intake accordingly.
- Body size – Even if you’re trying to lose weight, your body size impacts how many calories you need. Someone who weighs 200 pounds needs more calories for daily functions than someone who weighs 150 pounds. This also means your caloric intake needs will change as you achieve fitness goals and lose weight. Thus, learning to calculate calories by weight is important.
These factors may require the input of your doctor or nutritionist, but it’s worth noting that there are these additional factors at play when determining how many calories you need to eat.
The bottom line – calorie counts are personal
With all of the factors that impact your daily caloric need, learning how to calculate caloric intake is a highly personal process. To help you discover how many calories you need, the right tools can help.
How to calculate caloric intake
One popular method to calculate caloric intake is the Harris-Benedict Equation, which can help you estimate your daily caloric needs. It gives you a person’s BMR, or the number of calories they burn at rest. The BMR is a good starting point for calculating daily caloric needs. Here is a breakdown of the equation:
- Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (5.677 x age in years)
- Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 X weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years)
BMR does not account for activity levels. If you’re regularly active, you’ll need to multiply the BMR by an activity factor:
- Sedentary: BMR x 1.2
- Lightly Active: BMR x 1.375
- Moderately Active: BMR x 1.55
- Very Active: BMR x 1.725
- Extra Active, such as a physically demanding job: BMR x 1.9
Use a calculator to help
Calorie counting calculators are tools that let you calculate calorie intake by weight, body size, activity level, and age, so you can have a target daily calorie goal to reach. This takes the guesswork out of the process and gives you the tools to consider all of the factors impacting your calorie needs.
Evidation partners with over 20 health and fitness apps, and many offer calorie calculators. Consider these:
- Samsung Health
- Apple Health
Once you know your daily calorie range, you can use Evidation to track your food and earn points and rewards, while also calculating your caloric intake for the day. You can also connect your fitness tracker to Evidation to get a better picture of how active or sedentary you are, which in turn will help you use a calorie calculator more effectively.
The potential drawbacks of calorie counting
Calorie counting can be a helpful tool as you work toward your weight loss or weight gain goals. However, it can have potential drawbacks.
First, calculating calories can be time-consuming. Doing it manually leaves room for human error, and using a calculator requires you to log every bite you take. Some people may find this takes too much time if they live a busy lifestyle.
Second, calorie counting may not be appropriate for everyone. Healthline warns that people who have a history of eating disorders could find their symptoms worsening if they focus on calorie counting. One 2018 study indicated that counting calories combined with frequent self-weighing increased the severity of eating disorders among college-age participants. If calorie counting causes you to feel guilt, shame, or anxiety, then this may not be the right tool for you to reach your health goals.
Choosing smart calories
Counting calories is an important part of taking charge of your health, but you also need to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients in the calories you consume. Consuming all of your calories through sugary drinks or foods could leave you void of vital nutrients, and you’ll struggle to achieve wellness. These tips will help you choose the right foods to get your calorie count for the day.
Avoid cutting calories too drastically
First, make sure you’re not cutting calories too drastically. Most people need at least 1,600 calories a day, and you never want to go lower than 1,200 calories a day without a doctor's oversight. Doing so puts you at risk for nutrient deficits and metabolism problems, according to US News. You’ll also trigger stress hormones, which can cause weight problems. Stay within the recommended ranges for your age, sex, body type, and overall activity level, but aim for the lower end of the range.
Avoid empty calories
Empty calories are calories that add no nutrients to your body. Specifically, the University of Michigan defines empty calories that come from unhealthy fats or added sugars in foods, as these ingredients do not have nutritional value.
Empty calories are usually found in processed foods with high sugar and saturated fat content. Examples include:
- Ice cream
- Processed meats, like sausages or hot dogs
- Sodas, non-juice fruit drinks, and many sports drinks
- Cakes, donuts, and similar baked goods
- Fried foods, like french fries and chips
These foods have little nutritional value because they lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re great for occasional snacks and treats, but they aren’t a great choice for your daily nutrition. Sugary beverages are a huge source of empty calories because they don’t even stop hunger.
Choose nutrient-rich foods
Instead of foods with empty calories, choose foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber but low in calories. These are known as nutrient-rich foods. Most fruits and vegetables fall into this category. The American Heart Association indicates nutrient-rich foods are those that have high vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient content, without added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. These foods often contain more fiber, too, which helps with feelings of fullness. Specifically, fruits, whole-grains, and vegetables are nutrient rich. Lean proteins, most seafood, and low-fat dairy foods also fall into this category, as do nuts and legumes.
Sometimes, making this switch means choosing healthier options for the same food. For example, if you need a piece of bread, you could choose a whole-grain slice or a non whole-grain. If you read the packaging, you may find that the whole-grain version has more fiber, higher vitamin content, and even more protein than the white bread, but with around the same number of calories per slice. The best choice for nutrient density would be the whole-grain option.
Applesauce also shows the contrast between nutrient-rich foods and empty calorie foods. Applesauce comes from fruit and thus has a high amount of vitamin E content. However, sweetened applesauce adds sugars, which add empty calories. You could choose unsweetened applesauce or applesauce blended with another fruit instead, and avoid taking in the empty calories from the unnecessary sugar.
Even if your goal is to gain weight, not lose it, the nutrients in the foods you eat are important for your health. Thus, you still need to avoid empty calories. Instead, choose healthy carbohydrates and fats to add the calories you need for weight gain.
Choose healthy carbs
Simple carbohydrates can also be a source of empty calories. These foods digest quickly and cause blood sugar spikes, according to the American Heart Association. Both of these issues may derail your fitness and health goals. This doesn’t mean all carbs are bad, though. You need complex carbs to provide energy and keep you feeling full for a long time. Complex carbs are carbs paired with high levels of fiber. Choose vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains to give you the complex carbs you need.
Opt for lean proteins
Protein is also important when building a healthy diet. It builds muscles, which you need if you’re adding exercise to your routine. More muscle density also could raise your BMR. The American Heart Association recommends between 46 and 56 grams of protein a day, which is 10 to 35% of your daily caloric intake. You need protein, but the proteins you choose are important when considering your health goals and calorie needs.
To optimize your calorie counts, consider lean proteins, like poultry and lean cuts of red meat. These will provide the protein you need without unnecessary calories from fat.
Look at eating plans
Another option to help you get enough nutrition while staying within a calorie range is to choose an eating plan, such as the Mediterranean diet or the paleo diet. If these diets work with your eating and health goals, they can give you good boundaries to stay within a calorie range, avoid empty calories, and focus on complex carbs with lean proteins.
Take charge of your health
If you’re ready to take charge of your health, download the Evidation app. Start earning rewards while tracking the steps you're taking to improve your health.
17 Easy healthy breakfast ideas
Eating a healthy breakfast every day is a long-term investment in your health. With these easy recipes, you can enjoy variety and flavor that fits into your busy schedule.
Breakfast has long been called the most important meal of the day, and while experts can argue that point, the fact remains that your day's first meal can have a significant impact on how the rest of your day plays out.
Let's dive in and learn more about why eating a healthy breakfast is important. Then, we'll explore some delicious easy healthy breakfast ideas and recipes.
The importance of eating a healthy breakfast
There’s a long list of benefits of eating a healthy breakfast.
- Energy: Breakfast gives your brain and body energy, which is what keeps you going throughout the day.
- Boosted brain power: Studies suggest that children perform better in school if they have a solid breakfast. These children have increased alertness, memory, problem-solving ability, concentration, test scores, and mood. The same strategy works for adults.
- Essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals: Breakfast plays a big role in your day's total intake of nutrients. People who eat breakfast have an increased chance of meeting their daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals.
- Weight control: Research is ongoing, but people who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to be obese or overweight.
How to make a healthy breakfast
Breakfast foods to eat
Studies show that eating a high-protein breakfast keeps you feeling full throughout the day, so you’ll be less inclined to reach for unhealthy snacks. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a nutritionally balanced breakfast consists of:
- A protein source
- A vegetable or fruit
- A whole grain
- A healthy fat (optional)
The key is to be sure you're maximizing fullness by eating protein and fiber at breakfast. Don't become stuffed, though, or it can impact your productivity because of the time it takes a heavy breakfast to digest.
Breakfast foods to avoid
Researchers who conducted an NIH study comparing the effects of a high-sugar breakfast with the effects of a balanced breakfast of whole grains, fruit, and protein suggest steering clear of heavy-carb meals or treats for breakfast. This includes baked goods such as muffins (unless they're like the ones we've listed below), donuts, and most scones.
Another problem with starting the day with something sweet is that you may crave sweets more often throughout the day.
High-protein breakfast foods
For a breakfast that incorporates protein, vegetables, and whole grains, try some of these breakfast ideas.
- Avocado toast with egg
- High-fiber toast with peanut butter
- Scrambled eggs with vegetables
- Greek yogurt with nuts and berries
- Cottage cheese with sliced tomatoes, olive oil, olives, fresh basil, and bruschetta
- Protein smoothie made with milk (or non-dairy milk), frozen fruit, frozen kale or spinach, and low-sugar protein powder
Keep in mind that traditional breakfast meats such as bacon and sausage add a lot of fat to your daily food intake. If you enjoy breakfast meats, look for turkey or chicken versions.
17 healthy breakfast recipes
1. Breadless eggs benedict
Eggs benedict is one of our favorite healthy breakfast recipes, but the traditional version can be fatty and high in calories. Our version of this breakfast classic is much lighter. Instead of bread, we use tomatoes to make this recipe lower in carbohydrates and gluten-free.
Besides being loaded with flavor, this recipe is also full of protein and vegetables, such as fresh spinach and avocado. This lighter version of our hollandaise sauce is made with low-fat Greek yogurt instead of butter, so you're getting more protein to replace the fat.
2. Healthy breakfast burrito
These breakfast burritos are filling enough to power you through the toughest mornings. The protein comes from eggs and chicken sausage, and the burritos are also full of fresh veggies, including onion, fresh spinach, and bell peppers. Toppings can bring in more protein with cheese and some healthy fat from diced avocado.
Once you have the basic recipe down, you can customize it with different meats and fillings. This recipe has make-ahead instructions, too, so you can have a healthy and filling breakfast prepared before you go to bed the night before.
Try using whole grain or vegetable-based tortillas (like cauliflower or jicama) instead of traditional flour tortillas to make this dish even healthier!
3. Peanut butter overnight oats
Overnight oats make breakfast easy and nutritious. You can make almost a week's worth of overnight oats because they keep well for up to five days. This recipe is made with old-fashioned rolled oats, vanilla almond milk, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, pure vanilla extract, and chia seeds. For sweetness, you can add maple syrup or honey.
Combine all of the ingredients in a container and stir well to combine. Then, seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid and allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. When you're ready for breakfast in the morning, simply pull the container from the refrigerator, stir well, and enjoy. Before eating your oats, add desired toppings, such as chopped peanuts or berries.
4. Breakfast veggie scramble
Eggs are one of the most popular breakfast food choices, and there are so many ways to cook them. Scrambled eggs are easy to cook, and you can make a full meal by stirring in some vegetables with your eggs.
This veggie scramble is made with bell pepper, fresh spinach, and grape tomatoes. Serve with sliced avocado, and add a dollop of hummus for even more protein.
5. Healthy breakfast sandwich
When you can make a quick and easy breakfast sandwich at home, you won't be tempted to opt for the drive-through versions. These hearty sandwiches are made with eggs, vegetables, turkey slices, and cheddar cheese. If you want a lighter sandwich, you can omit the cheese.
The veggies on this sandwich include onion, chopped broccoli, sliced mushrooms, garlic, and fresh spinach.
6. Chocolate peanut butter protein bites
There are days when you need a quick grab-and-go breakfast, and that's when these delicious protein energy balls will save your morning. These protein-packed nuggets taste like a chocolate peanut butter cup, but they're vegan and gluten-free.
To make these protein bites, use Medjool dates, peanut butter, vegan chocolate chips, chia seeds, and cocoa powder.
7. Make-ahead fruit and yogurt protein parfait
If you want a quick and healthy breakfast that's a kid-pleaser, you can't go wrong with a yogurt parfait. This is a recipe that can be prepared in advance, so breakfast is ready to go when you are.
With Greek yogurt, raw pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and chia seeds, this parfait is loaded with protein and nutrients. Flavor comes from cinnamon, ground cloves, and vanilla extract, and mixed berries add color and explosive flavor.
8. Banana chocolate chip muffins
Chocolate chip muffins for breakfast may sound like an indulgent sugary treat, but that's not the case with this recipe. These muffins are made without refined sugar and butter. The protein comes from Greek yogurt, and you can use antioxidant-rich dark chocolate chips for even more nutritional value.
By using melted coconut oil or olive oil to make these muffins, you have healthier fat, and whole-wheat flour adds more fiber. The sweetness comes from honey.
9. Cottage cheese pancakes
We're all guilty of loving pancakes as a special treat, but there's nothing guilty about these cottage cheese pancakes. They get protein not just from the eggs but also from the cottage cheese. Old-fashioned oats add all the fiber you could want, and there's no added sugar in this recipe.
Serve these pancakes with a little maple syrup for sweetness, or opt for fresh berries and whipped topping for a low-sugar treat.
10. Vegetarian crustless quiche
Most quiche recipes are healthy enough, but if you're eliminating gluten and reducing carbs, making quiche without the crust delivers an even healthier breakfast or brunch meal. This recipe has a secret ingredient that makes the flavor pop: nutmeg.
Because this quiche is made with eggs and cheese, it has a lot of protein. However, this recipe also has vegetables galore, including cremini mushrooms, red onion, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes.
11. Protein breakfast smoothie
While some smoothies made with fruit and vegetables are lighter, this smoothie is loaded with protein thanks to protein powder, almond milk, and peanut butter. The rolled oatmeal adds fiber, which makes you feel full for longer.
For fruit, you can use whatever you like, and the recipe calls for frozen bananas and strawberries.
12. Smoked salmon toast
Bagels with lox and cream cheese are a breakfast classic, but this lightened-up version is just as delicious with much less fat and carbs. Instead of a bagel, you can use whole-grain sourdough bread. The recipe calls for regular cream cheese, but a substitution of lower-fat cream cheese is also flavorful.
Thin slices of smoked salmon top the toast, and fresh lemon juice, capers, fresh chives, fresh dill, and red onion add plenty of flavor.
13. Homemade pecan and walnut chocolate energy bars
Granola bars and other types of bars are popular as a quick breakfast item, but the problem with store bought bars is that they're often laden with ingredients you don't have control over. When you make homemade energy bars with foods from your pantry, you know exactly what you're eating.
These tasty bars have two types of nuts—walnuts and pecans—and peanuts, which are actually a legume. Chia seeds and Medjool dates add even more wholesome goodness. For the chocolate flavor, use 60% dark chocolate and cocoa powder. The sweetness comes from natural agave.
14. Classic French omelette
The difference between a French omelette and an American omelet is all about the technique and the fillings. With a French omelette, the recipe is much simpler. The only ingredients are eggs, butter, salt, and fresh herbs.
With an American omelet, some browning of the eggs is okay, and you can stuff it to your heart's content with delicious lean meats and veggies.
15. Instant Pot steel-cut oats
Small kitchen appliances such as the Instant Pot have changed the way we cook dinner, but these handy tools are also ideal for preparing breakfast. With your pressure cooker, you've got a bowl of steaming steel-cut oatmeal prepared and ready to eat in less than half an hour. Best of all, it's easy hands-off cooking.
Optional toppings can include fresh or frozen fruits, nut butter, seeds and nuts, cacao nibs, and dairy-free milk.
16. Avocado toast with egg (4 ways)
Avocado toast has become a breakfast favorite that’s also easy to enjoy at any other time of day. This recipe shows you how to make delicious egg and avocado toast in four different ways: scrambled, fried, poached, and boiled.
However you like your eggs, there's an avocado toast recipe for you and your way of eating. The only seasonings you need for all four of these recipes are sea salt and cracked black pepper.
17. Breakfast cookies
Cookies for breakfast? We're in when they're this healthy. These little gems are made with rolled oats, walnuts, shredded coconut, cranberries, natural peanut butter, and bananas. Roll in some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate chunks and honey, and you've got some seriously healthy cookies.
You can use dairy milk for these cookies, or you can also substitute oat milk or almond milk. Cinnamon and vanilla add the earthy flavors.
Reach your health goals
Eating a healthy breakfast every day is a long-term commitment and investment in your health. With these easy recipes, you can enjoy variety and flavor that fits into your busy schedule. To track and earn rewards for your healthy habits, download our app to learn more.
Endometriosis Awareness Month: understanding endometriosis
Discover the symptoms, risk factors, and how disparities in diagnosis and care for people of color affect those with endometriosis. Connect with supportive communities and organizations, and become an advocate for better healthcare.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about this common yet often misunderstood condition. Endometriosis is a common condition, affecting more than 5 million people in the US, and yet it often takes years to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain and inflammation. This tissue can grow on organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder, and can cause painful periods, pain during sex, and chronic pelvic pain. In some cases, endometriosis can also lead to infertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis
Endometriosis can cause a range of symptoms, which can vary in severity from person to person. Some individuals with endometriosis may experience no symptoms at all, while others may have debilitating pain. Some common symptoms of endometriosis include:
Painful periods: This is one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis. The pain may be severe and may last throughout the entire menstrual cycle.
Pain during sex: Pain during sex, or dyspareunia, is another common symptom of endometriosis. The pain may be deep and may last for several hours after sex.
Chronic pelvic pain: This is pain that lasts for six months or longer and is located in the pelvic region.
Painful bowel movements or urination: Endometriosis tissue can grow on the bladder or intestines, causing pain during bowel movements or urination.
Infertility: In some cases, endometriosis can lead to infertility. It’s estimated that up to 50% of individuals with endometriosis may experience infertility.
These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it's important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider to discuss your options for diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing endometriosis can be challenging, as the symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The gold standard for diagnosis is laparoscopic surgery, in which a small camera is inserted into the abdomen to look for endometrial tissue. However, there are also non-invasive imaging tests, such as ultrasounds or MRI, that can help identify endometriosis.
Treatment for endometriosis can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and the desire for future fertility. Treatment options may include pain medication, hormonal therapies, or surgery to remove endometrial tissue. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be necessary.
Risk Factors and Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, but there are several factors that may increase the risk of developing the condition. These include:
Hormones: Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent condition, meaning it’s influenced by levels of estrogen in the body. Higher levels of estrogen may increase the risk of developing endometriosis.
Genetics: Endometriosis may run in families, suggesting a genetic component to the condition.
Retrograde menstruation: This occurs when menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity, where it can implant and grow outside of the uterus.
Immune system dysfunction: A weakened immune system may be less able to recognize and eliminate endometrial cells that have grown outside of the uterus.
Other potential risk factors for endometriosis include a low body mass index (BMI), early onset of menstruation, and frequent periods with a short menstrual cycle.
While there are several risk factors associated with endometriosis, it's important to note that anyone with a uterus can develop the condition, regardless of their risk factors. If you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis, speak with your healthcare provider to discuss your options for diagnosis and treatment.
How Endometriosis Can Affect Quality of Life
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. The pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis can interfere with daily activities, work, and relationships. Some of the common ways that endometriosis can affect a person's life include:
Pain: The pain associated with endometriosis can be severe and debilitating, making it difficult to engage in everyday activities and tasks.
Fatigue: Endometriosis can cause fatigue and exhaustion, making it difficult to complete daily tasks and activities.
Infertility: Endometriosis can sometimes lead to infertility, which can be emotionally challenging for those who want to have children and possibly impact a person's relationships and plans for the future.
Mental health: Inadequate and/or discriminatory treatment of chronic pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Work and school: These environments may not understand the accommodations needed to manage endometriosis, and managing endometriosis can make it difficult to attend work or school regularly, impacting a person's performance and potentially leading to missed opportunities.
It's important for individuals with endometriosis to seek support and resources to manage the impact of the condition on their daily life. This can include medical treatments, therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes. Speaking with a healthcare provider or mental health professional can be a helpful first step in managing the impact of endometriosis on daily life.
Support for Endometriosis
Living with endometriosis can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. It's important for individuals with endometriosis to have access to support and resources. Here are a few organizations that offer support for those living with endometriosis:
Endometriosis Association - this organization offers support groups, educational resources, and advocacy for those with endometriosis.
EndoFound - EndoFound provides support and resources for individuals with endometriosis, as well as funding for research to improve diagnosis and treatment.
EndoBlack - EndoBlack is an organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for Black people with endometriosis. They provide resources, support, and community for Black individuals who are living with endometriosis, and they work to raise awareness about the unique challenges and experiences that Black people face in accessing care and treatment.
The Black Women's Health Imperative - The Black Women's Health Imperative is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing health equity for Black women. They provide resources and information on a range of health issues, including endometriosis.
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice - The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice is a national organization that focuses on reproductive health and justice for Latinas. They provide resources and information on a range of reproductive health issues, including endometriosis.
The Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum - The Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum is a national health justice organization focused on improving the health and well-being of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. They provide resources and information on a range of health issues, including endometriosis.
The Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center - The Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and information on a range of health issues affecting Native American women, including endometriosis. They also offer a range of services, including educational materials, advocacy, and support groups.
Disparities in Diagnosis and Care
Studies have shown that individuals of color, particularly Black individuals, face disparities in the diagnosis and care of endometriosis.
Black individuals with endometriosis are more likely to experience pain and have a longer time to diagnosis compared to white individuals with endometriosis. They are less likely to receive minimally invasive surgery and more likely to undergo hysterectomy.
Additionally, Black individuals with endometriosis are more likely to have a delayed diagnosis and be misdiagnosed with other conditions such as fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease. These disparities may be due to a lack of awareness among healthcare providers, bias, discrimination, and systemic racism within the healthcare system.
These statistics highlight the disparities in diagnosis and care for endometriosis in Black individuals, and underscore the need for increased awareness, advocacy, and access to quality care. It’s crucial to address these disparities and ensure that all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity, receive the same level of care and support for endometriosis.
Here are some resources that address these disparities:
The Endometriosis Foundation of America - The EFA has a page on their website dedicated to addressing disparities in endometriosis care for individuals of color. They provide information on why these disparities exist and what can be done to address them.
Black Women's Health Imperative - The Black Women's Health Imperative is an organization dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Black individuals. They provide resources and advocacy for a range of health issues, including endometriosis.
The Endometriosis Coalition - The Endometriosis Coalition is an organization that provides support and education for individuals with endometriosis, as well as advocacy for better diagnosis and care. They have a focus on addressing disparities in care for individuals of color.
Endometriosis Awareness Month is an important opportunity to increase understanding of this painful and often debilitating condition.
It's important to raise awareness about endometriosis not only to promote early diagnosis and treatment, but also to advocate for better healthcare and support for those struggling with this condition. This includes addressing disparities in diagnosis and care for people of color, who may face additional barriers to accessing quality healthcare and accommodations to what can be a debilitating condition. It's also important to connect with supportive communities and organizations, which can provide valuable resources, education, and advocacy.
By raising awareness, advocating for better care, and connecting with supportive communities, we can work to improve the lives of those who are affected by endometriosis. We encourage everyone to take the time to learn about this condition, support those who are affected by it, and take action to promote greater understanding and awareness.
Allergies: symptoms, causes, and treatment options
Allergies are a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. Luckily, there are several options for those struggling with the effects of allergies.
Allergies are a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. Symptoms occur when the immune system overreacts to certain substances such as pollen, dust, animal dander, or certain foods.
Like other chronic health conditions, allergies can significantly impact quality of life, and have a big impact on our ability to perform at work and school. In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, allergies and allergic rhinitis impact work productivity more than hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.
Luckily, there are several options for those struggling with the effects of allergies. In this post, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
The symptoms of seasonal allergies can vary depending on the person, but the most common symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Scratchy or sore throat
The symptoms can range from mild to severe and can greatly impact a person's quality of life. It’s essential to identify the triggers that cause these symptoms to manage them effectively.
If you’re struggling with allergies and aren’t sure what’s triggering them, talk to your doctor. It might be time to see an immunologist. They can perform tests like blood tests or skin prick tests to help determine what you’re reacting to.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are caused by allergens that are present during specific times of the year. The most common allergens that cause seasonal allergies are pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
When these allergens enter the body, the immune system reacts by producing antibodies. These antibodies trigger the release of histamine, which causes the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
It’s important to note that not all allergies are seasonal. Some people have allergies to food, pets, and other things that affect them year round, all the time. In some cases, these allergies are severe enough to cause anaphylaxis — a life threatening condition.
If you have a severe allergic reaction, it’s important to get emergency medical attention right away, and talk to your doctor about a prescription for epinephrine.
Treatment Options for Seasonal Allergies
There are several treatment options available to manage seasonal allergies. The most common treatment options include:
- Antihistamines - These are medications that block the release of histamine, reducing symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Decongestants - These are medications that help reduce swelling in the nasal passages, making it easier to breathe.
- Nasal corticosteroids - These are nasal sprays that reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, reducing symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Immunotherapy - This treatment involves exposing the body to small amounts of allergens over time, which can help reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.
In addition to medication, there are also several lifestyle changes that can help manage seasonal allergies. These include:
- Avoiding allergens by staying indoors when pollen counts are high
- Using air filters in the home to reduce the amount of allergens in the air
- Washing bedding and clothing frequently to remove allergens
- Using saline nasal sprays to help rinse allergens from the nasal passages
Seasonal allergies can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition to live with, but there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms. It’s essential to identify the triggers that cause your allergies and work with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to manage seasonal allergies and improve quality of life.
Maintaining positive mental health in the workplace
Mental health is critical to overall health and wellbeing. But it’s also important to our success at work and the success of our employers. Check out these tips for maintaining positive mental health at work.
The average person spends around 90,000 hours or one third of their life at work, so it’s important to ensure we’re in a healthy mindspace while there.
Maintaining positive mental health is critical to health and wellbeing. But it’s also important to our success at work and the success of our employers.
Many of us are aware that individuals struggling with mental health issues are at greater risk for a variety of health conditions. But did you know they're also at greater risk for disability, unemployment, and underemployment. In fact, according to the CDC:
Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect:
- Job performance and productivity
- Engagement with one’s work
- Communication with coworkers
- Physical capability and daily functioning
But sometimes it can be difficult to focus on mental wellbeing at work because we’re focused on other things like daily tasks, conversations, and goals to hit. On the other hand, sometimes it’s difficult to focus on work if we're not making mental health a priority.
The following tips can help you learn more about what benefits your company may offer, how you can make work more enjoyable, and how to move forward from an unhealthy work environment.
Maintaining good mental health can be tough to navigate, but with these small tips, you could improve your happiness in the workplace.
Educate Yourself on Workplace Benefits
When you first join a new company, there’s usually a short window for you to choose your benefits—things like health insurance, disability insurance and retirement contributions. Not all employers offer the same benefits, so make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s available to you. If you are unsure or have any questions, reach out to your Human Resources Department for guidance. You don’t have to go through this process alone.
If you miss the initial enrollment period, typically thirty to sixty days, don’t worry — there is a recurring open enrollment period once a year. Take advantage of the time you have between enrollment periods to educate yourself on the benefits your employer offers as it may be overwhelming to make those decisions initially.
After considering your employee benefits, start thinking about what else your company may offer. Things such as a work from home stipend, bonuses, or possibly paid meals. These are things your employer may provide that aren’t required, but can help increase your job satisfaction.
Make Work More Enjoyable
A big part of what determines your happiness in the workplace is how your coworkers and employers treat you as an individual.
A great workplace is one that’s encouraging and motivating, whether you’re doing a great job or struggling and need some support. Having peers you feel comfortable talking to can make or break your mental health.
Come up with some new ways to help you better connect with your coworkers. Consider taking the initiative to start something new. Maybe you don’t have any hangouts outside of scheduled meetings, and you feel it would help you grow your connections. Don’t be afraid to be the change you want to see in your place of work.
Along with having good relationships with coworkers, consider the other parts of your work that you find enjoyable. It all ties together, so if you love the work you do, but you just can’t connect with your peers, it could lead to you being unhappy. Maybe you really enjoy going to happy hours and hangouts with your coworkers, but you don’t truly love the work you do. Consider all the components that make up your work day and push yourself to weed out what might be making you unhappy and consider making a change.
If you find yourself struggling at work, but you’re not sure why, try reaching out to a coworker, manager, or HR for support. Sometimes talking your struggles out with someone is the best way to boost your mental health. More often than not, you might come to realize that others have been in your position before and can provide some guidance.
There are many ways to make work an enjoyable experience. You can positively change your mental health outside of work as well. Just as work can affect your personal life, your personal life can affect the way you work. Consider including more time for self-care into your routine.
Healing From An Unhealthy Workplace
If you’ve experienced an unhealthy work environment, then you know what kind of toll it can take on your mental health.
Working a job you don’t love can lead to long, uneventful days and feelings of unfulfillment. If you can, try to find something about your job you enjoy. Sometimes, just shifting your perspective can make a huge difference.
But other times, the situation you’re in may not be so easy to control. A toxic work environment, for example, can lead to serious mental health concerns and affects entire teams or companies.
Once you realize you’re in an unhealthy work environment, reach out to any support options you may have, like a supportive manager or your HR department. If that doesn’t work, start taking steps to make a significant change.
If you decide to look for a new job, focus on a list of things you want out of a new role. It’s also a good idea to research a company before applying. You can even search for a career from some of the top rated best places to work.
Try to remember, not all companies are alike. When you move from one company to another, take what you learned from your previous role and apply it to your new position and company. If your past work made you unhappy due to the lack of communication, allow yourself in your new position to open up more about how you’re feeling with your manager. Most managers appreciate the transparency in order to better support you. You might even consider some at home therapy sessions to boost your confidence going forward.
Continue To Focus On Your Mental Health
Taking time to better understand what things in your work environment are affecting your mental health is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing. Also, consider looking into things you can to help you increase your happiness within the workplace.
Keep in mind that not all companies follow the same guidelines nor do they offer the same benefits. Find a place that best suits you, your needs, and your personality. Never settle for a place that continues to make you unhappy.
If you came from an unhealthy environment, learn what could help you reach a point of growth for the future. After all, you don't want to allow work to consume your mental health to a point that it starts affecting your personal life. Continue to put your mental health first in all aspects of your job - from the work itself to growing your connections with your fellow employees. Your mental health matters and should be prioritized in your place of work and at home.
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: How to have a healthy relationship with food
Eating disorders affect nearly 30 million Americans, yet receive less funding and attention than many other mental health disorders, making getting support challenging. Find out how to recognize signs of an eating disorder and how to get help in our latest post.
February 27 through March 5, 2023 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week,
“an annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders and to provide hope, support, and visibility to individuals and families affected by eating disorders.”
Almost 30 million people in America struggle with eating disorders. And though eating disorders are common, they receive less funding and attention than many other mental health disorders, making support options hard to come by.
Eating disorder awareness is important so that individuals who are affected by them can get help. Eating disorders tend to get worse over time, and sometimes cause long-term health problems, but early identification of an eating disorder can mitigate long-term risks.
Read on to learn how you can develop a healthy relationship with food and determine if you or someone you know may need help overcoming an eating disorder.
How do you know if you have an eating disorder?
Food is nourishment for all the complex processes your body needs to carry out. It provides energy, gives your brain fuel to think and dream, you even need food in the form of calories when you sit still and do nothing. But not everyone has a healthy relationship with food and recognizing an eating disorder can be challenging. If you find that you eat too much or too little, feel guilty when you eat, or struggle with any of the following symptoms, you should consider reaching out for help.
- Self-induced vomiting
- Taking laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills other than as prescribed by your doctor
- Chewing food then spitting it out in the trash or a napkin
- Obsessing about your food’s cleanliness
- Feeling overweight even when you lose weight or are at a healthy weight
- Obsessing about your body image
- Having low body weight
- Having impulsive or irregular eating habits such as a desire to eat only one type of food
- Misusing insulin normally prescribed for diabetics, even if you are diabetic
- Feeling depressed, anxious, guilty, or disgusted with yourself when you eat food
- Talking excessively about food
- Cooking food but then won’t eat it
- Are always low energy
- Recently suffered an emotional trauma and can’t eat because of it
- Don’t want to talk about what you eat, or don’t eat with others
If you or anyone you know is struggling with any of the above symptoms, or if you’d like more information on how to recognize an eating disorder, there are several free online tools available.
Mental Health America has a free online screening tool here. And The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has a free screening tool here for anyone ages 13 and up.
For support, resources, or treatment options for yourself or a loved one who’s struggling with an eating disorder, you can contact the NEDA Helpline by calling or texting (800) 931-2237. You can also use their live chat option here.
Here’s how you can have a healthy relationship with food
Eating disorders are serious medical and mental health issues which can lead to long-term health problems. That’s why it’s important to speak up and spread awareness, but it’s also important to provide resources and support.
And it’s important to talk about developing a healthy relationship with food to help prevent eating disorders from developing and to help those currently struggling.
7 tips for developing healthy eating habits
- Don’t binge eat and then diet. Do eat healthy meals, consistently, several times a day at the same time every day. Not only does binge eating wreak havoc on your hormones, excessive dieting following a binge can sometimes cause you to develop an eating disorder.
While scientists are still learning to understand what exactly causes eating disorders, it's clear that people who struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders have different brain chemistry than people who don’t, and that a binge-diet cycle can harm brain chemistry.
- Make sure you're eating enough healthy calories. If you suffer from anorexia or bulimia, you could possibly have an unrealistic viewpoint of your body. This can cause you to refuse food or eat too little. For an accurate estimate of how many calories you should consume daily to stay healthy depending on your age, height, and activity levels, check this calorie counting tool.
- Eat mindfully. Develop healthy eating habits one day and one food at a time. Do you tend to sit in front of the television with a gallon of ice cream and all of a sudden you look down and it’s gone? Don’t lambast yourself for binging, just decide to eat more mindfully, taking time to savor what you eat, without watching TV, texting, or doing anything but savoring your food. Check in with your body after each bite, and ask yourself, “Have I had enough?” We tend to eat more when we’re distracted, so you can make sure you’re not binging by paying attention to the act of eating itself.
- Choose snacks wisely. Depending on your activity levels, you may need a snack to keep your blood sugar levels from dropping. Smaller meals throughout the day are sometimes essential for athletes, people with physically demanding jobs, or people who have larger caloric needs, such as when they're breastfeeding or pregnant. Harvard suggests a healthy snack if you anticipate going several hours without food and your blood sugar levels tend to fluctuate. If you get hungry in the evening, try eating complex carbohydrates or healthy fats rather than sugary snacks. Sugary snacks can spike your blood sugar, causing cortisol levels to increase. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It can cause a “wake up” signal to travel through the brain which disrupts your circadian rhythms, or natural sleep-wake cycles, making it impossible for your body to know when to sleep.
- Get healthy sleep. A lack of sleep can cause disruptions in the creation of two important hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin. One regulates when you feel full, and the other regulates your appetite. Without these hormones in balance, you’re more likely to overeat. There are also links between lack of sleep and obesity. Lack of sleep can also cause elevated stress levels, and some people react to stress by not eating enough.
- Write down your feelings instead of eating them. Food is a quick go-to for many people because it can relieve stress and provide relief from anxiety. When you eat sugary or starchy foods, it causes an instant serotonin and dopamine reward in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood, and dopamine is a similar chemical hormone that “rewards” us for certain actions we take. While you can get a quick fix from eating, it’s possible to become addicted to the fast dump of these neurochemicals without realizing that what you eat may cause a subsequent cascade of less than desirable stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Instead of getting your serotonin and dopamine from a binge session, try other positive habits that also regulate your mood and reward you with dopamine like expressing gratitude or doing light aerobic exercise.
- Journal your food intake. Try keeping a log of what you eat in a week so that you have a realistic view of how much or little food you eat. If you write down the times you eat as well as what you eat, you’ll also sometimes notice patterns, like eating out of boredom at certain times in the day, or when you feel stressed. Once you’ve written down what you eat and when, sit with the information and determine if you might be eating too much or too little. If you tend to overeat, contemplate ways to do something to assuage your boredom that’s healthy instead, like spending time in nature, or talking to a good friend that makes you laugh. If you tend to eat too little, write down why you might be depriving yourself of life-giving food. Is there an underlying emotion that needs to surface?
How to get help for an eating disorder
If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, you can get help. Reach out to a medical or mental health provider near you.
If that isn’t an option for you, or it isn’t the right option, The National Eating Disorder Association has resources, support, and live help options.
There is hope
You can develop a healthy relationship with food even if you currently have an eating disorder. Be sure to reach out for help and try to slow down, eat mindfully, and give yourself time to process deeper emotions like sadness and grief by writing them in a journal. It can also help to keep a log of what and when you eat for a week, so you can have a realistic picture of your relationship with food and eating. If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, get help. You’re not alone.
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The science of heart health: tips for keeping your heart healthy this American Heart Month
American Heart Month is recognized in February to bring awareness to the risk factors that cause heart disease - the leading cause of death in the U.S. But in many cases, it’s preventable. Check out these tips for what you can do to keep this vital organ going strong.
American Heart Month is recognized every February to bring awareness to the risk factors that cause heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. but in many cases, it’s preventable.
Learn more about heart disease and what you can do to keep this vital organ going strong below.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease refers to a group of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. The most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) which affects blood flow to the heart and can lead to heart attack.
Top 7 causes of heart disease
Health means something different to each of us because we’re all unique, but knowing what factors lead to heart disease can help us make choices that help decrease our risk of developing a heart condition.
Some of the most common risk factors for developing heart disease are:
- Smoking or tobacco use can cause coronary heart disease and irreparable damage to the heart. Second-hand smoke is also a concern. Smoking can cause plaque to develop within your blood vessels, making them narrower, and impeding the free flow of blood. Chemicals in cigarettes can also thicken arteries and cause clots in your veins.
- High blood pressure or hypertension strains the heart and can lead to cardiovascular complications. Diet, lack of exercise, and stress are the number one causes of high blood pressure.
- The consumption of too many lipoproteins, a type of soluble protein that combines with fat or other lipids in your blood plasma, can lead to heart disease. Trans fats are the most unhealthy and cause damage to the cardiovascular system.
- Lack of exercise is a great contributor to heart disease. The movement of your body helps to move blood through your veins and keep your heart healthy.
- Diabetes is a risk-factor for heart disease. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and the nerves that support the heart.
- Thrombosis leads to heart disease. This is a condition when blood clots develop in the veins or arteries.
- Stress is a great contributor to lagging heart health. Irritability, depression, anxiety, rumination, and a lack of quality sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.
Signs of a heart attack
Don’t ignore cardiovascular symptoms. This includes heart attack symptoms like these:
- Pain, pressure, or squeezing in the chest, particularly the left side
- Pain in the upper body such as the shoulders, neck, upper stomach, arms, or even jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling sick to your stomach or nausea
- Stomach ache or heartburn
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling unusually tired
- Breaking out into a cold sweat
If you feel any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.
Follow these 5 heart health tips to improve your heart health
Now that you know what causes heart disease and the symptoms of acute cardiovascular failure, here are 5 tips to improve the health and vibrancy of your beautiful heart:
- Practice good dental hygiene. Bacteria in your mouth can cause gum disease and can move into your bloodstream, causing an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease by increasing C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in blood vessels. Floss and brush every day, and also use a mouthwash to dislodge small food particles from the gums and teeth. Eating leafy greens and fiber, as well as whole fruits and vegetables can also contribute to better oral hygiene and improved heart health.
- Increase your daily exercise and don’t sit for too long. If you work at a computer, or have a sedentary job, research shows that even if you exercise regularly, sitting too long is connected to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, possibly causing deep vein thrombosis. Take frequent breaks, walk around, stretch, or even better, take a brief jaunt outside. Spending time in nature can reduce stress. As few as 20 minutes in a park can lower cortisol levels and improve your heart health. Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s linked to higher incidence of inflammation in your body. Also, just increasing moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise to at least 20 minutes daily can protect your heart.
- Quit smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke. Your risk of developing heart disease increases 25 to 30 percent if you are exposed to second-hand smoke. The risk is even higher for children. Nonsmokers who are exposed to smoke that have high blood pressure or high cholesterol are at greater risk of developing heart disease. The chemicals you inhale from second-hand smoke cause plaque buildup in your arteries, so stay away from second-hand smoke no matter what. If you smoke, you’re 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers. Try to get help quitting the habit, or replace it with a heart-healthy habit like walking on your lunch break. BeTobaccoFree.gov offers great tips on quitting smoking including smoke-free apps and expert advice.
- Reduce trans-fat. Fat isn’t the enemy of your heart, trans fats are. Both saturated and unsaturated fats are important for your health. Fats help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamins A, D, and E. You don't require trans-fats. These are highly processed fats that clog your arteries and raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while lowering good cholesterol (HDL). Trans fats are most often in processed foods like baked goods, snack foods, margarine, and fried foods. Avoid them and replace them with healthy fats found in foods like nuts, coconut, olive oil, and avocado.
- Sleep better. Without ample sleep, your body cannot “clean house.” When you sleep, your body does important cleaning work, and reduces your overall stress burden, lowering stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. A lack of sufficient sleep causes increased inflammation and other hormonal imbalances in the body that contribute to cardiovascular disease and other diseases too. People who sleep fewer than 6 to 8 hours a night are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who get ample sleep. For better sleep, turn off your cell phone and computer at least 2 hours prior to going to bed to prevent blue-light exposure, make your room slightly cooler, and hang black-out curtains to make your room as dark as possible. Also, try to go to sleep at the same time every night to develop good sleep hygiene. These good habits help regulate your circadian cycle and sleep-wake hormones. Your heart will thank you for better sleep.
While heart disease is the biggest killer in the US, there are actions you can take to reduce your risk today. Eat healthily, exercise, sleep better, reduce stress, and stop smoking to see vast improvements in your heart’s health.
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February is Low Vision Awareness Month – What you should know about low vision and treatment
The National Eye Institute predicts that by 2050 the number of people living with vision impairment or blindness will double. Learn more about low vision and available resources in our latest post.
February is recognized as Low Vision Awareness Month to spread the word about resources available for people living with low vision.
The National Eye Institute predicts that by 2050 the number of people living with vision impairment or blindness will double. Another 16.4 million Americans are predicted to live with corrective eye problems like short or far-sightedness, which can be corrected using glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.
Yet statistics show that more than half of Americans don’t seek eye care, citing lack of awareness and cost of services as the main reasons for not seeking help.
This highlights the importance of initiatives like Low Vision Awareness Month, where we can all do our part to share information with those who can benefit from it.
What is low vision?
Low vision is a degenerative condition where a person’s eyesight fades until they find it difficult to cope with everyday activities like reading price labels when shopping, recognizing people’s faces, and seeing television or computer screens clearly. There is no cure for low vision, but people can keep their sight for longer by using corrective devices like magnifying glasses, specialized computer software, and sometimes surgery if a reversible eye disease like glaucoma or cataract is the cause of low vision.
Whether you develop a low vision problem depends on many factors. One of them is genetics. If your parents wore glasses and experienced vision loss during their twilight years, chances are that you might also need glasses one day.
National Health Institute has identified four types of low vision resulting from various eye diseases or conditions.
- Peripheral vision loss. When you cannot see out of the corners of your eyes.
- Central vision loss. When you cannot see things in the center of your eye, objects and people’s faces seem like blurry blobs in the middle with clearer details on the outside.
- Night blindness. When you cannot see well in twilight or low-light conditions, driving a car at night can be difficult or impossible because you cannot see the lane markings.
- Blurry or hazy vision. When you cannot distinguish details of objects or read print, the words appear blurry or hazy, and you cannot make out letters (especially small print).
Causes of low vision
People of any age can be diagnosed with low vision because it can arise from various conditions and injuries. Low vision may result from eye or brain injury during an accident, but it’s more common in adults over the age of 45 and most common in adults over the age of 75.
The main causes of low vision are age-related conditions like:
- Diabetes-related retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
- Acute and Chronic Glaucoma
Risk factors for developing eye disease
Risk factors for developing problems with vision increase with age. If you’re already over 75, you may be at increased risk. But age isn’t the only risk factor for developing low vision.
Other factors that can put you at higher risk for developing vision impairments are:
- Family history of eye health issues
- Chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- African American, Hispanic, or Native American descent
Even if none of the above factors apply to you, it’s still a good idea to get your eyes examined, especially if you’re over 45. That way you can be on the lookout for any deterioration that may be happening unnoticed.
Keep your eyes healthy and protect your vision
It’s important to get your eyes examined by a qualified medical professional at least once every two years. Keeping tabs on your eye health will help you get better, more effective treatment in case any eye problems are discovered during the exam. It’s especially important to have your eyes checked out because many eye diseases don’t have any warning signs until it’s too late and the eye structure has been damaged. Starting treatment early in the disease process has a far greater success rate.
Schedule a full dilated eye examination
Just like you go to a doctor for a yearly physical, you can book an appointment for an eye examination with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The exam is painless, and it’s the only sure way to discover if there are any problems with your eyes or vision. Early diagnosis equals better treatment outcomes. So make a routine eye exam part of your yearly checkup.
Simple tips to protect your eye heath
Even though you may not be able to prevent developing a low vision condition, according to the National Health Institute, taking care of your eyes every day will preserve your sight for as long as possible.
- Wear sunglasses. When going outside, wear sunglasses. Even if the weather is cloudy, the sun still penetrates the clouds, and the UV rays can cause damage to your eyes.
- Wear protective eyewear. Use protective eyewear if you’re doing activities that may cause injury to your eyes—especially during welding, construction work, or home repairs. Pleasure activities like skiing, motorbiking, or diving can easily result in eye damage if you don’t use protective eyewear. Also, don’t forget to protect children’s eyes during sporting activities. Protect their eyes while they’re young so they can keep their vision for longer as they age.
- Prevent eye strain. When you’re working at a computer screen for long hours, remember to take breaks and let your eyes rest throughout the day. Also, you may want to invest in protective glasses that reduce screen glare.
- Keep contact lenses clean. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long a contact lens should be worn. Make sure your hands are clean before removing or inserting contact lenses, and use the prescribed contact lens solution to make sure you don’t introduce any germs into your eyes. Repeated infections may cause damage to your vision.
Best place to find help when your eyesight is fading
If you notice changes in your vision, visit an eye specialist to be examined and, if need be, directed to a vision rehabilitation service.
Vision rehabilitation can be a lifesaver for those living with vision loss. These services help you keep your independence despite deteriorating eyesight and help you choose the correct assistive devices so you can keep the vision you have left for longer.
Living with low vision
Millions of people in the US live with a visual impairment which can make it hard to do everyday activities like driving, reading, or cooking. Unlike some visual disturbances like near or far-sightedness, visual impairments can’t be corrected with glasses, contacts, or surgery.
The good news is there are resources available, like vision rehabilitation services, that can help people with a visual impairment make the most of the vision they have so they can keep doing the things they love.
Take some time this Low Vision Awareness Month to spread the word about vision rehabilitation and be sure to sign up for Evidation today to get more health tips and resources.
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Preventing the flu: What you need to know
Did you know flu season in the US peaks in February? Check out these flu prevention tips to help protect yourself and your loved ones and help stop the spread of flu.
Flu season typically peaks in February. If you spend time around other people, like working in close proximity to others or riding on crowded buses, chances are you’re likely to get it. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu.
Here are some tips to help prevent catching the flu.
Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is a viral respiratory infection that causes mild to severe symptoms. When you have the flu, you can expect headaches, sore throat, runny nose, and generalized body aches. Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover within a week. But for some, especially those who are very young, older, or with underlying conditions that put them at higher risk, flu can be very dangerous.
Get Vaccinated To Prevent Catching The Flu
Vaccines are a controversial topic for many people, especially after the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the drive to get COVID vaccines marred by anti-vaccine protests. But there’s a substantial amount of research on the safety of flu vaccines. And research indicates getting vaccinated is the safest and most reliable preventive measure you can take against getting the flu.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most people should be vaccinated yearly, especially those at a greater risk of developing complications from the flu. If you’re over 65 years or suffer from chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or cardiovascular illness, getting vaccinated should be a priority for you.
Avoid Large Crowds If You Can And Practice Good Hygiene
It may be unavoidable to avoid crowds. You have to work to survive, which means getting out and about among people. The flu spreads easily in crowded spaces like public transport, confined offices, schools, and even shopping malls. Try to limit the time you spend in those crowded spaces as much as possible during the peak months (from December to February) to avoid catching the flu.
The flu virus spreads person to person.
You can get infected by being in close contact with an infected person, like hugging or spending time with them. The virus spreads through droplets the infected person breathes out during coughing, sneezing, or talking and lingers in the air you breathe before falling to the ground or the nearest horizontal surface. It can also spread through infectious particles that land on inanimate objects and surfaces in your environment. If you touch a contaminated surface, the virus can transfer to your hands, and if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, the virus can enter your body.
To prevent getting infected by the flu virus lurking in your environment, wash or sanitize your hands often, and avoid touching your face.
Always sanitize your hands after touching surfaces in public areas like door handles, handrails, and counters or after using public transport. COVID-19 has taught us to always carry a small bottle of sanitizer with us whenever we leave the house, and it can now be used to help prevent flu.
Wash your hands often throughout the day to reduce the number of flu and other pathogens present on your skin. Good hand hygiene practices go a long way to preventing flu and other diseases. Always wash your hands after using the toilet, before preparing or eating food, and after blowing your nose.
How To Prevent The Flu With A Strong Immune System
A strong immune system helps you fight illness-causing germs before they invade your body cells and multiply, triggering symptoms to develop.
To ensure that your immune system can fight off the flu virus and turn your body into a flu-prevention machine, try to follow a healthy lifestyle to ensure your body is as strong as it can be.
A healthy lifestyle includes things like:
- Getting enough sleep. A great night’s sleep makes you feel better and helps your body fight off infections. General guidelines recommend that adults should sleep 7-9 hours each night.
- Eating a well-balanced diet. A diet that includes multiple healthy food groups, like lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, is extremely beneficial to building a strong immune system. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. For healthy individuals, the recommendation is at least 8 glasses of water a day to help your kidneys flush out all toxins and keep you healthy. If you have kidney disease or other health factors that limit how much water you’re able to drink each day, talk to your healthcare provider to help you determine how much water is right for you.
- Taking time to exercise. Exercise helps reduce weight, keep your muscles strong, and increases your resistance to infections. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes at least three times a week or do any other brisk activity that raises your heart rate. As always, seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or increasing your exercise routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
- Relaxing. Reducing stress is super important to maintaining a healthy immune system. You can use meditation and deep breathing to get rid of stress. Or take up a hobby that makes you feel happy when you’re doing it. Even a relaxing bath after getting home from work can be sufficient to relax and unwind. High-stress levels can lead to a weakened immune system and a higher likelihood of contracting flu virus.
- Take vitamin supplements. Taking supplements is not a replacement for following a healthy diet but can offer an additional boost to your immune system. You can take supplements containing zinc, Vit D, and Vit C to help protect yourself from the flu. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist first if you’re on prescription medications to make sure there are no contraindications before starting any new supplements.
Include More Fiber In Your Diet For Flu Prevention
As weird as it may sound, adding more insoluble fiber to your diet may help protect you from severe flu complications this year.
Dietary fiber has been known to protect against allergic airway inflammation. Since the virus often attacks human airways, and one of the most serious complications of flu is pneumonia, it may be possible that adding insoluble fiber to your diet, especially during the flu season, may add some protection against some of the severe complications of the flu.
A study done on mice at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2018 has shown a clear link. According to the study’s findings, eating more insoluble fiber produces a potential protective effect against flu pathology. In the study, two sets of mice were observed after exposure to the Influenza A virus. One set of mice was fed a low-fiber diet, while the others received a high-fiber diet. The mice who received the high-fiber diet exhibited milder flu symptoms and better lung function. Researchers concluded that the high-fiber-fed mice were better protected against influenza-induced tissue destruction and lethality.
Try adding more high-fiber foods like cauliflower, beans, and nuts to your diet this flu season. Another small diet change you could consider is swapping that white flour bagel for a slice of whole wheat toast.
You can protect yourself and others by actively taking flu prevention measures. By getting vaccinated, staying home more often during the height of the flu season, following a healthy lifestyle to support your immune system, and remembering to wash your hands regularly, you can help stop the spread of flu.
FluSmart on Evidation
For more tips on staying healthy this flu season, and to stay up to date on flu rates in your area, download the Evidation app and join the FluSmart program.
More about FluSmart:
- FluSmart is a program that looks for changes in your activity data from wearable devices and alerts you when a change suggests you may be feeling under the weather.
- The goal is to understand whether changes in activity patterns can identify symptoms of influenza-like illness, but you can also report symptoms even if you don’t have a wearable device.
- You may also be eligible to participate in health research. You can opt out of the program at any time.
Data Privacy Day: How to protect your data
Did you know that there are easy steps you can take to protect your privacy in today’s digital world? Check out these tips to help keep your data safe.
Let's shine the light on privacy in celebration of International Data Privacy Day!
Data Privacy Day has been celebrated in Europe on January 28th since 2006, when it was established to commemorate the January 28, 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with individual privacy and data protection. The U.S. and Canada started celebrating the day in 2008.
More recently, and given the prevalence of data in our increasingly digital world, Privacy Day has been extended to a full week. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has set the theme for Data Privacy Week 2023 to be part of its global online safety, security, and privacy campaign called ‘STOP. THINK. CONNECT.’ You can learn more about the NCSA's Data Privacy Week initiative here.
Evidation's commitment to data privacy is a cornerstone of our business and reputation. As part of that commitment, we will not share your health information without your permission. We also make sure you have the tools you need to exercise control over your data. Our Privacy Notice can give you more insight into our privacy principles and how we collect, handle, and protect your personal information and data.
Recently, a number of states have enacted new consumer privacy laws intended to ensure that individuals are able to protect their privacy and the data they share with companies. These laws require companies to (among other things) inform individuals about the personal data they collect, why they collect it, how and with whom they share the data, and to enable certain rights for individuals with respect to their own information.
While these laws can help to ensure that individuals have control over their data, the protection and privacy of your information is actually a partnership between you and the companies to which you entrust your personal information.
What you can do to keep your data and identity safe
We’re honored to be a partner on your health and wellness journey and are committed to protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your information. But it's important to recognize that, as individuals, we owe ourselves a similar commitment to our own privacy and personal information. Just like the new year is an opportunity for many folks to make changes to improve their lifestyle and health choices, Data Privacy Day can be the inspiration we each need to prioritize understanding (and exercising control over) who has our data and why, and ensuring our personal information is secure. So, be sure to take some time for yourself on this year's Data Privacy Day.
4 tips to protect your identity and data:
- Know. You are likely giving your personal data to every app, online account, platform, etc. that you join, even if it's not needed. Know what data you're allowing to be accessed, by who, and why, and consider either limiting the access or not using the app. Does your recipe app really need your geolocation? Does your music app really need access to your contacts? Likely not. If you're not sure what data you've permissioned, try looking in your settings or, if you're able, submit an access request to the company.
- Get cleaning. Get rid of apps and accounts that you're not using or no longer need. This can include reward programs (like at grocery or retail stores). As part of this clean up, (if you're able) submit a deletion request.
- Control. Check and update your privacy and security settings. Most apps and accounts allow you to do this in “settings” either in the app or on your device. And be sure to check your internet browser and "cookie" settings as well. You can find additional information about managing cookies here.
- Secure it. Here's how you can better secure your information:
- Use strong, unique passwords and consider a password manager.
- Turn on multi-factor / two-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Don't be hooked - be able to spot and avoid phishing attempts (including via text or phone).
- Freeze or put blocks on your credit (as well as those of your dependents), and consider credit monitoring services.
- Manage your "cookies" on your internet browsers and on webpages.
- Know what other tools your mobile devices or other services offer that can provide additional privacy or security options (e.g., on iOS, gmail and others you can "hide" your name and email address)
And remember to celebrate your favorite privacy professionals and enthusiasts on January 28th.