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Your Health
February 28, 2024

Can high blood pressure cause headaches?

5 minutes

Mild to moderate hypertension isn't correlated with headaches, however, a hypertension headache can be a sign of a medical emergency.

If your healthcare provider has notified you that you have high blood pressure, or you've taken several self-readings with a blood pressure above the ideal pressure of 120/80 mm Hg, you may begin to realize that some health issues--such as headaches--may be influenced by your blood pressure.

Here, we'll demystify high blood pressure, explore the connection between high blood pressure and headaches, and discuss what you can do to relieve blood pressure related headaches.

Understanding high blood pressure

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure means that the force of the blood being pushed against the walls of your arteries is too high. High blood pressure means that your heart is working unusually hard to pump blood throughout your body.

The American College of Cardiology offers four distinct categories for blood pressure readings:

  • Normal: Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG (or lower).
  • Elevated: In this category, the top number can reach up to 129 mm Hg while the bottom number is 80 mm Hg or less.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: The first stage of high blood pressure is classified as a top number between 130 and 139 mm Hg and a bottom number between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: The second stage of hypertension is classified as a top number of 140 mm Hg or above, and a bottom number of 80 mm Hg or above.

There are many risk factors that can contribute to a person's development of high blood pressure, including:

  • Age (men develop high blood pressure earlier in life, while women typically develop the condition after age 65)
  • Race/ethnicity (Black people are more susceptible to high blood pressure than people of other races)
  • Family history
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Eating too much salt
  • Being obese or overweight
  • A high-stress lifestyle
  • Pregnancy
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Hypertension and headaches: What's the connection?

Research shows that people who have mild to moderate hypertension are not more likely to experience headaches than people who have healthy blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure, however, may experience headaches related to hypertension. Headaches that are related directly to high blood pressure are known as primary headaches. Secondary headaches, however, are related to other conditions that also cause blood pressure to spike. Conditions that can cause high blood pressure and headaches include pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, hypertensive encephalopathy, and pheochromocytoma.

If you're aware that you have high blood pressure, and you experience a severe headache, unlike any headache or migraine pain you've ever had before, it's important that you go straight to the emergency room. You may be experiencing a hypertensive emergency. In addition to an extremely severe headache, you may experience dizziness, an altered mental status, shortness of breath, vomiting, chest pain, and/or changes in your vision.

Managing high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure and are experiencing headaches, it's important that you work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure that you're not suffering from a secondary condition. Here, we'll take a look at the steps that you can take to alleviate high blood pressure that is not caused by another health issue.

Quit smoking

There are many reasons to quit smoking, and lowering your blood pressure is one of them. Smoking makes your heart work harder, and quitting can help improve your overall health, including lowering your blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes

There are many lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your blood pressure. For many people, blood pressure is positively correlated with weight gain. Typically, blood pressure can be expected to go down about 1 mm Hg for every 2.2 pounds of body weight lost.

Talking with your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a licensed personal trainer can help you learn what weight goal is healthiest for your body. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly (more on that in a moment!), and maintaining a waist measurement of less than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men can all help to keep your blood pressure down.

Stress management

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but chronic stress can take a serious toll on your health. While more research is needed to understand exactly how stress levels affect blood pressure, taking steps to lower stress can benefit your health in many ways.

Some tips to lower your daily stress levels include:

  • Take control of your to-do list. Learning how to say no to others and being realistic about the number of tasks you can handle can help you prioritize your health.
  • Chat with a licensed therapist. There's nothing wrong with asking for help, and talking with a licensed professional about mental health can help you develop personalized coping strategies that can help you feel your best.
  • Prioritize self-care. Taking time for yourself to exercise, meditate, and spend time with loved ones can all help you lower your stress levels.

Prioritize rest

Getting high quality sleep can contribute to lower blood pressure. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, it's important to talk with your doctor to rule out underlying conditions. Generally, going to bed and waking up at the same time each night can help you get the most out of sleep. Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening can help you improve your sleep quality as well.

Dietary changes

Making small changes to your diet can go a long way when it comes to achieving healthy blood pressure. Steps that you can take to lower your blood pressure include:

  • Limit salt in your diet. Cook at home more often, and don't add salt to your food when you cook.
  • Enjoy foods lower in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Increase the amount of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit in your diet.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Talk with your doctor

In some cases, medications are necessary to keep you safe while you implement lifestyle changes that can help you lower your blood pressure. Talk with your doctor about the best path forward after you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Start tracking your health with Evidation today.

If you're ready to take control of your health, our team is here to support you! With Evidation, you'll be able to get insights and support that you need to achieve your health goals. Download the app today to start getting rewarded for treating your body right.

Healthy Eating
February 23, 2024

How much collagen should you take per day?

5 minutes

Can you take too much collagen? Is there a best time to take it? Find out the answers to common questions about collagen.

A healthy lifestyle starts with understanding what your body needs to achieve wellness. This goes beyond simply eating the right number of calories or restricting food groups. It also involves looking at what’s in your food and how it impacts your body.

Collagen is one of the things your body needs to feel healthy and well, and it’s something you can easily get from your food or through supplements. Here’s a closer look at how collagen impacts your wellness and what you can do to increase your intake of it while focusing on building healthy lifestyle patterns.

Understanding collagen basics

Collagen is a primary protein in the human body. It’s the primary building block for skin, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and blood vessels. It’s also part of the eyes and teeth. In addition, it plays a role in helping wounds heal, supporting your nervous system, and triggering the blood clotting response.

Different types of collagen

As of today, scientists have identified 28 different types of collagen, but the first five are the most common in humans. These are:

  • Type I: Found in skin, bones, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Type II: Makes flexible cartilage that supports joints and movement.
  • Type III: Located in the internal organs, blood vessels, and muscles.
  • Type IV: Found in the skin.
  • Type V: Found in the skin and hair as well as the corneas

The collagen found in supplements is typically one of the following types:

  • Hydrolyzed collagen: This collagen comes from meat and poultry sources and is easy for the body to absorb. It’s the most common supplemental form of collagen.
  • Undenatured collagen: Pulled from chicken cartilage, this form of collagen may support joint health.
  • Gelatin: Also from animal sources, this form of collagen is used for cooking more so than in supplements, for the most part.

Collagen and aging: why it matters for women over 40

The human body is capable of creating the collagen it needs if a person eats a balanced diet. However, natural collagen production decreases as a person ages. For women and those who were female at birth, the slowing production of collagen can lead to elasticity loss in the skin, which can also contribute to wrinkling. Lowering collagen levels can also cause changes in the hair, such as hair loss. Stiffening of the joints also occurs when collagen production decreases.

Another concern for women, specifically after age 40, is bone density loss. In a 2018 study from the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that taking a collagen supplement for one year greatly increased the bone density in female patients in both the neck and spine, which reduces the risk of bone loss and fractures. Age-related bone loss in women can start in the mid-30s, but it increases rapidly as estrogen decreases during menopause. While men can also have bone loss, it happens at a much lower rate for males. Thus, using collagen to support healthy bones after the age of 40 is quite beneficial for many females.

Collagen for men: supporting vitality and well-being

Like women, men produce less collagen as they age, but the impact of the collagen drops may not be as strong. Still, collagen can support overall health and well-being for males as well as females.

Men and those who were born male also experience improvements in skin, joints, and hair with collagen supplementation, but men are less likely to suffer from extreme bone loss. However, men who take collagen may notice faster recovery after workouts. They may also build muscle more quickly.

In other words, collagen supports vitality and well-being for men. Whether through supplementation or through diet, increasing collagen intake has few risks and many potential benefits for men.

How much collagen per day? Determining your collagen needs

The benefits of collagen supplementation are still being researched. As such, no official health authorities have stated recommended guidelines for dosage. Instead of looking for an official recommended dosage, you’ll want to check with the manufacturer of the collagen you’re taking, as well as your doctor, to determine a good dosage option.

Can you take too much collagen? The good news is that it’s hard to take too much collagen, and it doesn’t have any toxic side effects. However, some people report stomach discomfort if they take more than the manufacturer’s recommended amount.

Hydrolyzed collagen doses

As you analyze how much collagen per day, you’ll need to factor in the type of collagen you’re taking. For hydrolyzed collagen supplements, which are easier to absorb than other forms, most people take between 2.5 and 15 grams without noticing any side effects. A smaller dose focuses on skin and joint health, while a dose of around 5 grams can impact bone density. The larger dose works best for those looking to improve muscle mass and overall body composition.

Undenatured collagen

A dose of 10 to 40 mg of undenatured collagen appears to be safe for humans. This supplement could support improved joint health.

Gelatin

For gelatin, which is a food and not a supplement, add the recommended serving size to the food you’re preparing. You can use it in smoothies, sauces, and soups for added collagen in your everyday diet, but there’s no specific recommended amount.

Collagen-rich foods and supplements

It’s possible to get all the collagen you need from your diet if you’re careful about the foods you choose. Thankfully, foods rich in collagen are also great options for a balanced diet. Some foods that are rich in collagen include:

  • Bone broths
  • Chicken with its skin
  • Sardines
  • Organ meats

In addition, eating foods rich in vitamin C may help your body make more of its own collagen, which could boost your collagen levels, according to WebMD. These foods include:

  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Legumes
  • Peppers
  • Leafy greens
  • Citrus fruits

Try adding more of these to your diet to improve your collagen levels.

If you feel you could benefit from additional collagen, a supplement may be a good choice. These come in powders that you mix into coffee or other beverages, or they’re available as capsules. You may also find pre-made collagen drinks and liquid supplements to try. To choose the best supplement, consider the source and the type of collagen. If you prefer a plant-based diet, you can find vegan options.

Are you interested in tracking your food so you can make informed, healthy choices about your diet? Evidation can help! Start tracking your health and earning rewards with Evidation today.

Your Health
February 21, 2024

Recovery strategies: How to get over the flu fast

5 minutes

When you get the flu, the first question is "When does the flu go away?" Here is a guide to how to get better fast.

Cold and flu season is here in full force. When you get hit hard with the flu, balancing your health becomes even more challenging. It’s important to find ways to recover as quickly as possible while maintaining your energy. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to get past the flu as quickly as possible and get back to enjoying your life.

What is the flu?

“The flu” is a term that’s used by many to describe everything from gastrointestinal viruses to the common cold. But it’s actually a shortened name for influenza, a viral illness that can come on quickly and last for about a week. 

Some common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Respiratory concerns, including cough, runny nose and sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle aches

In contrast, a cold typically doesn’t have a fever and extreme weakness, though it can cause similar respiratory symptoms.

How to get over the flu fast

How long do flu symptoms last? This depends on the person, but the typical time frame for the flu is four to seven days. If you want to ease your symptoms fast, consider these tactics:

1. Rest up

Allowing yourself to rest is a key part of how to treat the flu. If you keep pushing yourself to work and take care of family responsibilities rather than taking time to rest, you might find that your symptoms linger far longer than they should.

2. Drink up

Drinking plenty of fluids can help your immune and respiratory symptoms do their jobs so you get well faster. In addition to water, which is a great choice, consider electrolyte sports drinks and bone-broth-based soups. These also add nutrients along with hydration.

3. Treat symptoms

For the flu, the best line of defense is often to treat your symptoms. If your body aches and fever are intense, consider taking OTC medications. However, if the fever doesn’t bring body aches and isn’t very high, you can let it do its job, which is getting the virus out of your body.

In addition to the fever, you may want to treat your cough and congestion. Decongestants can loosen the mucus so your body can get rid of it. An expectorant can help you clear mucus out of your lungs so you don’t develop complications such as pneumonia.

4. Talk to your doctor

If you have the flu and are at high risk for complications, your doctor may be able to prescribe an antiviral medication. While these don’t stop the flu, they can shorten it or reduce the chances of developing complications. If you have any additional symptoms beyond the typical flu symptoms, such as wheezing, ear pain, shortness of breath, or an extremely high temperature, it’s a good idea to get your doctor on board.

Nutrition for recovery

During your recovery, nutrition can help speed things up. You may not feel like eating, but you’ll want to keep your body nourished as best you can. Some foods that may speed up your recovery while providing important nutrients include:

  • Bone broth soups with antioxidant-rich vegetables
  • Fresh fruits, specifically berries
  • Lean protein from fish and poultry
  • Smoothies made from fruits and vegetables with almond milk

Eat as much as you can, even if you’re not feeling hungry, and choose these healthier options to fuel your body’s recovery.

Hydration strategies

Staying hydrated can be challenging when you don’t have an appetite. One option to try is to put yourself on a schedule to keep pushing water through. Also, if water tastes unappealing while you’re sick, don’t be afraid of clear sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks. These can all help hydrate you and give you some calories while you’re recovering and not eating as much. You might also want to use broths and soups to add both nutrition and hydration to your recovery journey.

Rest and sleep

You’ll need to rest while you’re sick, but you may find it hard to sleep. One strategy to use to help you sleep is to treat your fever and body aches before it's time to go to bed. The relief you get may let you sleep.

When you can’t sleep, do less. This is a great time to curl up with a blanket and a favorite movie or to listen to a podcast or some favorite music. The less you do, the more your body can rest, and the faster you’ll get better.

Stress reduction techniques

Being sick is a stressful situation. Not only does your body have the stress that comes with fighting illness, but you may feel stressed because you’re missing work or other responsibilities. Using stress reduction techniques won’t change these situations, but it may improve your ability to rest even while facing them.

While you have the flu, some stress reduction techniques aren’t going to apply. Heavy exercise, for example, isn't a great idea when you're fighting the flu. However, you might find that mindfulness and meditation exercises are beneficial during this time, and they might help you reduce your stress levels.

Building resilience: Long-term habits to boost the immune system and prevent future illness

When it comes to the flu, prevention is the best strategy. Once you have the flu, you can speed up your recovery somewhat, but it does have to run its course. Some strategies that can help you prevent future illness include:

  • Supporting your immune system with balanced nutrition
  • Adding immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin D and vitamin C
  • Drinking the right amount of water
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Increasing physical activity to improve strength and endurance

In addition, consider taking the annual flu vaccine. It will protect against the most recent variation of flu, giving your immune system the information it needs to fight the flu better when you’re exposed.

Tracking your health can also help you stay on track with your wellness goals. While it may not keep you from catching the flu, making healthier choices may improve your immune system’s ability to fight it. 

Evidation can help by rewarding you for healthier choices. We’re also working on an innovative flu monitoring program called FluSmart. This program allows members to connect their health-tracking devices and record their symptoms, so we can track flu cases and help members pick up on their symptoms early, sometimes even before they realize they’re getting sick. Learn more about FluSmart and how it’s helping track and monitor the flu.

Whether you’re hoping to speed up your recovery from the flu or prevent it in the first place, tracking your health can be beneficial. Use Evidation to track your health and earn rewards for healthy choices along the way.

Healthy Eating
February 16, 2024

Are protein bars healthy?

4 minutes

You should consider sugar content, total calories, and protein source when deciding whether a protein bar is a good fit for your health.

Getting enough protein in your diet is key for optimal health--but it can be tricky to figure out if protein bars are the right option for you. Some people use protein bars as a convenient snack or meal replacement. While this can be a great option when you're on the go, it's important to understand the nutritional content of your protein bar to ensure that it meets your unique nutritional needs.

Here, we'll take a look at how to read the nutrition label of your protein bar, how to gauge the quality of the ingredients in your bar, and some special considerations to think about if you're trying to lose weight.

Let's dig in.

Decoding nutritional labels

Reading nutrition labels can help you understand whether a particular protein bar is a good choice for your body. You'll want to consider several factors as you read over the nutrition label of protein bars.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Take a look at the total sugar content in your protein bar. Sugar is sugar--and whether it's coming from a healthy-sounding source like brown rice syrup or a more nefarious-sounding option, your body sees it the same. Many protein bars have a high sugar content--equal or more than that of candy bars. While a high-sugar bar can be a treat that also provides nutritional benefits, it's usually not the best choice to fuel a workout. You'll also want to keep an eye out for artificial sweeteners. While they can keep sugar grams low, many have adverse effects on the body and can cause headaches, bloating, and gastrointestinal distress.
  • You'll also want to take a look at the total calories in your protein bar. There's no upper limit for how many calories you should have in a bar, but you'll want to make sure that your bar fits into your total caloric needs for the day. If you're considering using a high-calorie bar to replace a meal, pay attention to whether you feel satisfied afterward to guide your choices in the future. If you feel full and satisfied with what you ate, fantastic! If you're left feeling like you didn't have a meal, it might be a better idea to choose a bar that more easily fits into your nutrition plan next time.
  • Finally, be sure to take a look at the protein content of your bar. If you're trying to hit a certain number of protein grams per day, be sure that your bar is keeping you moving in the right direction--not just adding to your sugar total for the day.

When convenience meets nutrition

Protein bars are a great standby to have in a pinch, like if you're caught working late and need something to keep you from hitting the break room vending machine. While it's a good idea to get the majority of your protein from natural food sources, the occasional protein bar isn't going to throw you off track.

Quality of ingredients

When you look at the ingredients of your protein bar, it can seem like you're trying to read a foreign language. Here, we'll take a look at a few factors to consider when determining whether the ingredients in your protein bar are giving your overall health a boost.

You'll want to see high-quality protein as the first ingredient in your protein bar. It can take some time to learn what type of protein feels best for your body. Some people, for example, find that whey (dairy) protein causes digestive issues, and fare better with a plant-based option, like pea protein or brown rice protein.

No matter what type of protein your bar contains, you'll want to shoot for the least processed version possible. That means you'll want to look for ingredients like whey protein instead of whey protein isolate, which is a more processed version of the protein.

Considerations for weight management

If you're working to get to a healthy weight, it makes sense that you're looking to increase your protein intake. Protein is essential for helping your body feel satisfied, and can support a healthy exercise plan. Getting enough protein can also help to ensure that your body's hunger hormones are functioning properly.

While a plate of grilled chicken or an egg white omelet can be delicious, sometimes, it's more convenient to grab a protein bar when you need to get out the door--fast. Protein bars can be a part of your weight loss plan, but it's important that you consider a few factors when you're choosing the right bar for you.

Protein bars can also be used to gain weight, if that's a goal you're working toward to optimize your health. Many protein bars pack 400 calories, making them a fast and convenient way to get the protein you need to gain weight in a healthy way.

Potential pitfalls

Like any processed food, there are some pitfalls when it comes to adding protein bars to your diet. You may find that getting such a high amount of protein from a processed source makes you feel sluggish or nauseous. You may also find that the artificial sweeteners and/or sugar alcohols found in many protein bars cause unpleasant side effects, like headaches.

Conclusion

Protein bars can be a part of a healthy nutrition plan, but it's important to read labels carefully to ensure that you know what's going into your body. If you're trying a new protein bar, pay attention to how you feel over the next few hours, keeping an eye out for any adverse effects (like digestive issues).

If you're struggling to find a great protein bar that makes sense for your needs, making your own can be a great option that allows you to customize your bars to your goals and caloric needs.

Evidation: Helping you take steps toward your goals, one day at a time.

If you're ready to learn more about how to fuel your body and get personalized tips and information that will help you meet your goals, we're glad you're here. At Evidation, we're working to make your health data work for you. Download the app today and get started with moving toward a healthier you.

Healthy Eating
February 14, 2024

Your essential weight loss grocery list

5 minutes

A healthy grocery list consists of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and minimal processed foods.

When you're working to help your body achieve healthy weight loss, nutrition is key. While exercise is vital for physical health, it's tough and unhealthy--if not impossible--to try to out-exercise a diet that isn't giving your body what it needs. While it's important to eat fewer calories than you burn in order to lose weight, it's also important to provide your body with the macro- and micro-nutrients it needs in order to thrive--and make your weight-loss stick over time.

When you develop a healthy grocery list, you'll find that you have plenty of options to keep your nutrition exciting, try new foods, and provide your body with the fuel it needs to achieve your goals.

Building a foundation -- essential nutrients for weight loss

When you're working toward weight loss, the goal isn't to eat as little as possible--the goal is to enjoy healthy foods that support your body, keep you energized, and meet your caloric needs.

Understanding the nutrients that support healthy weight loss can help you find the foods that will help you on your weight-loss journey.

Let's take a look at some of the essential nutrients you'll need to include in your nutrition plan to help you lose fat and stay energized.

Protein

Protein is a macronutrient, meaning it makes up a part of your total caloric intake each day. Getting plenty of protein in your diet can help regulate your body's hunger hormones, boost your metabolism, and reduce your appetite.

Iron

Iron is a vital nutrient that helps your blood carry oxygen to your hard-working muscles, which can help your body burn fat. Some signs of low iron include low energy levels, weakness, and fatigue. If you think you may have low iron, talk with your doctor about getting tested.

B Vitamins

There are a number of B vitamins, including folate (B-9), riboflavin (B-2), thiamine (B-1), and niacin (B-3). B vitamins support a healthy metabolism and can help your body convert food to energy.

Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for many vital processes in the body, including regulating blood pressure, controlling blood sugar, strengthening bones, and helping the nervous system function properly.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for a healthy immune system, and a 2011 study showed that people who were overweight and took vitamin D supplements lost a greater amount of abdominal fat than people who did not take the supplements. The jury is still out on exactly why vitamin D may help with weight loss.

Smart shopping strategies

Don't go to the grocery store hungry. When we're ravenous, it's easy to load up the cart with snacks that are designed to be hyper-palatable. Hitting the grocery store after you've had a healthy, satisfying meal can make it easier to stay on track when it comes to making choices that support your goals.

  • Shop the perimeter first. When you do a lap of the perimeter of the grocery store, you'll get to choose your produce, protein, and dairy products before you venture into the aisles for pantry staples. Loading up on the good stuff can help you stick to more non-processed items.
  • Make a list. Planning out your menu for the week can work wonders when it comes to boosting the nutrition levels of your grocery cart--and the balance of your bank account. Make a plan, make a list, and stick to it.
  • Read labels. If you're working to lower your intake of added sugars, be sure to keep an eye out for sneaky sugar code names that may sound healthy, like agave nectar, barley malt, cane juice, fruit juice, and fruit juice concentrate.

Proteins -- fueling your weight loss journey

Research shows that a daily protein intake equal to about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight can support healthy weight loss.

Healthy protein options to keep on hand to support your weight-loss journey include:

  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Lean beef
  • Low-fat dairy, especially cottage and ricotta cheese, as well as low-fat, unsweetened yogurt
  • Seafood (canned options like tuna can be especially convenient when you're on the go)
  • Turkey

Veggies and fruits -- nature's weight loss allies

Veggies and fruits give your body the fiber, sugars, and micronutrients that you need to feel your best. You may find that loading up on fruits and veggies helps you feel more satisfied throughout the day.

Some of the best produce items to include in your meals for weight loss include:

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Kiwis
  • Leafy greens
  • Pomegranates
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

If you're venturing into the world of produce for the first time in a while, it's OK to take it slow. Start with a few tried-and-true favorites and work to incorporate something new into your meal plan each week.

Planning your meals

Keeping variety in your nutrition plan can help you stay on track over time. Two days enjoying foods from your weight-loss grocery list may look like:

Day One

  • Breakfast: Yogurt with berries and peanut butter
  • Lunch: Broiled fish with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli
  • Dinner: Ground chicken tacos topped with homemade pico de gallo

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Omelette with lean turkey and a sprinkle of cheese
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken salad topped with olive oil and lemon juice
  • Dinner: Sliced turkey breast with roasted vegetables and a side salad topped with cucumbers and tomatoes

Processed foods & frozen foods

Many people are surprised to learn that frozen fruits and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh! Be sure to read labels, however, as some frozen options are loaded with preservatives, sugar, and sodium. Stick with options like mixed berries, mixed veggies (without butter), broccoli, peas, and cauliflower.

Let's be clear: losing weight does not mean that you have to cut out foods that you love. Enjoying processed foods sometimes is not going to derail you from your goal, especially if you make a point to give these foods a supporting role in your meals, rather than making them the star of the show.

Evidation: supporting your weight loss journey

Understanding your health-related behaviors is key when it comes to making strides toward your goals. At Evidation, our team is here to provide you with the personalized articles and insights you need to keep moving forward. Download the app today and start making your health data work for you.

Your Health
February 9, 2024

What triggers migraines? 7 triggers to track

5 minutes

Common migraine triggers include certain foods, alcohol, dehydration, changes in sleeping patterns, and high stress levels.

Migraine pain can make it impossible to carry on with your day-to-day activities. In addition to throbbing headache pain, many people who experience migraines also experience nausea and a painfully heightened sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for days.

Thankfully, identifying your migraine triggers can help you enjoy more pain-free days. Here, we'll take a look at how the medical community defines migraines, common migraine triggers, and how you can manage your triggers to reduce the frequency of your migraines.

What are migraines?

A migraine is a severe throbbing or pulsing headache. Often, migraines are only felt on one side of the head. Some people experience a condition known as aura before they begin to feel the headache pain of a migraine. Symptoms of an aura can include tingling in the face, arm, or leg, difficulty speaking normally, visual disturbances like blind spots in the vision, and more. Some people experience an aura without migraine pain--this is known as a silent migraine.

Common migraine triggers

People who experience migraines typically have triggers that can bring on a migraine attack. It's important to understand your triggers so that you're able to lower the number of migraines you experience. Triggers can differ from person to person, and your triggers may change with age.

1. Unhealthy amount of sleep

Many people know that a lack of sleep can cause headache and migraine pain, but a recent study showed that getting too much sleep can do the same. If changes in your sleeping pattern trigger migraines, it's a good idea to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

If you struggle to sleep and notice that it affects your day-to-day well-being, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to learn more about participating in a sleep study. This can provide you and your healthcare provider with valuable insights on how to improve your sleep, as well as reduce the number of days that you experience migraines.

2. Stress

Lowering your stress levels isn't just good for your blood pressure--it can also help to reduce how often you get migraines as well. Stress is a known trigger of migraine pain, especially in kids and young adults.

Taking steps to lower your daily stress benefits your health in many ways. If stress is a migraine trigger for you, it's especially important that you evaluate where your stress is coming from, and create an action plan to move forward.

Some changes you can make to reduce the amount of stress in your life include participating in meditation or yoga, practicing breathing exercises, journaling a few times each week, getting regular exercise, and talking with a licensed therapist if you need support in lowering your stress levels.

3. Dietary influences

Many people who experience migraines notice that their pain is often tied to food triggers. While exact triggers differ from person to person, many people have the same food-related migraine attack triggers.

Common dietary migraine triggers include:

  • Smoked fish
  • Aged cheese
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Yeast extract
  • Alcohol
  • Cured meats

Many people find that when they have another risk factor for migraine--such as a high stress level--their dietary triggers are more likely to cause an attack. Keeping a food log can help you learn more about what foods trigger migraines for you.

4. Hormones

Many women find that migraines tend to occur at the same time in their menstrual cycle. Changes in estrogen are related to migraine pain. You may find that you experience migraines just before your period, when estrogen drops.

If you notice that your migraines are related to your hormones, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your migraines. Your doctor may recommend birth control to make changes to your estrogen levels, or may recommend migraine medication.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine is tricky when it comes to migraines, as the compound can both relieve and trigger attacks. When the body is dependent on caffeine, withdrawal from coffee or other caffeine-containing substances can cause the blood vessels to enlarge (normally, caffeine shrinks the blood vessels). A person who is not dependent on caffeine may be able to drink caffeine during a migraine to shrink the blood vessels.

6. Dehydration

Not getting enough water is a migraine trigger for many people. In addition to drinking plenty of water each day, it's also important to pay attention to how much fluid you lose through physical activity. If you're spending a lot of time outdoors, or you're exercising heavily, it's easy to forget that you're losing water through sweat. Drinking plenty of water can help you avoid a dehydration headache after exercise or hot weather.

If you find that you're extremely dehydrated and drinking water isn't helping you feel better, it's a good idea to go to your local emergency room so that you can get IV fluids to rehydrate quickly.

7. Alcohol

About 33% of people who experience migraines find that drinking alcohol can make them more likely to experience an attack. Researchers are unsure of exactly how alcohol is related to migraines. It's possible that the dehydrating effect of alcohol contributes to the development of a migraine after drinking.

If you find that drinking alcohol is a migraine trigger, it's a good idea to give it up in favor of mocktails. If you choose to drink, have a glass of water between each drink, and be sure to get plenty of sleep to avoid a migraine attack in the morning.

Managing migraine triggers

Once you understand your migraine triggers, it can be helpful to keep a journal of your daily migraine symptoms. Every few weeks, look back at your journal to learn more about your triggers.

Migraines can be hard to decipher, and it can be tough to figure out exactly why you're getting migraines so often. Focusing on (and confirming or eliminating) one potential trigger at a time can help you get to the root cause of your pain.

Evidation: Here to support you through every step of your health journey

If you're dealing with migraines, you know how important it is to keep track of your health data so that you can have more pain-free days. At Evidation, we believe in the importance of tracking--and putting health data to good use. We're excited to provide you with personalized insights, guidelines, and articles to help you feel your best, day after day. Download the Evidation app today to get started.

Your Health
February 7, 2024

How to get diagnosed with ADHD as a woman

5 minutes

Understanding your ADHD symptoms and finding the right mental health care professional are key to getting an ADHD diagnosis as a woman.

Even as children, boys who have ADHD are more likely to get a diagnosis than girls who have ADHD. 13% of boys with ADHD receive a childhood diagnosis, compared to just 6% of girls. This problem persists into adulthood. Many of the commonly known signs of ADHD--such as hyperactive behavior--tend to be more prevalent in boys.

Here, we'll take a look at how to get diagnosed with ADHD as a woman, with tips including how to choose the right professional and how to recognize whether you're showing signs of ADHD.

Barriers to diagnosis

As we mentioned, many women with ADHD struggle to get diagnosed with the condition. Boys are three times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. Even in childhood, it takes longer for the girls who do get diagnosed to get the help they need, as the average age of ADHD diagnosis for girls is around 12 (most boys are diagnosed around the age of 7).

Often, professionals and patients alike think of a person with ADHD as a young boy who struggles to sit still. While this is one way the condition can be expressed, girls and women often show different symptoms. People with ADHD may show symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or both. Girls are most likely to have inattentive-type ADHD, which is often dismissed as a tendency to daydream. Since the girls who have this type of behavior are often thought of as underachievers, their condition often goes unnoticed until they reach adulthood and begin to seek out help for their ADHD symptoms.

Recognizing ADHD symptoms in women

Many adult women who have ADHD do not get an accurate diagnosis until their 30s or 40s. Typically, these women have been experiencing the symptoms of ADHD throughout their entire lives. In childhood, many of these symptoms are missed by teachers and other care professionals, as they aren't typically as obvious as ADHD symptoms in boys.

ADHD can be experienced differently, and your symptoms may ebb and flow depending on your stress levels, medication, life circumstances, and more.

Common signs of ADHD in adult women include:

  • Money management problems
  • Time management problems
  • A constant struggle to stay organized
  • Feeling overwhelmed often
  • Chronic overeating
  • Chronic lack of sleep
  • Problems with alcohol consumption

Many women who are diagnosed with ADHD as adults have a history of anxiety and depression, and studies indicate that these conditions tend to occur together with ADHD. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with ADHD, it's more likely that you'll develop the condition. 

Many women who have ADHD find that they notice their symptoms more easily when a friend or family member is diagnosed with the condition and their symptoms begin to dissipate with therapy and medication.

Choosing the right professional

If you're showing symptoms of ADHD, it's important to choose a mental health professional who is well-versed in the condition and how it affects adult women. Your regular doctor may be able to diagnose your condition, or you may need a referral to a mental health provider who specializes in ADHD.

Treatment options after diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis of ADHD can feel like a relief for many adult women, as you have a renewed sense of hope for feeling like your healthiest, happiest self. While there is no cure for ADHD, treatment can help you manage your symptoms. It can take some time to find the right combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes that help you manage your symptoms. It's important that you work closely with your healthcare provider to determine what types of treatment are the best fit for managing your ADHD.

In children, most medical professionals recommend trying therapy to learn ADHD coping skills before moving to medication. This isn't the case for adults. While therapy can be helpful, your care provider will likely prescribe medication along with therapy.

Medications prescribed for ADHD fall into the category of psychostimulants. These medications work to help control your attention, focus, and behavior symptoms associated with ADHD.

The two most common ADHD medications are methylphenidate (brand names include Concerta, Daytrana, Focalin, Focalin XR, and Metadate) and amphetamines (brand names include Adderall and Vyvanse). As mentioned, it may take some time for your doctor to find the right medication and dosage that works to control your symptoms.

It's likely that your doctor will give you a low dose of a new medication. Over the course of about a week, you'll keep track of your symptoms to see whether the medication works well for you. Your doctor will work with you to determine which medication is the best fit. They'll also consider any other health conditions that you have to ensure that the medication prescribed for you is safe and effective.

Lifestyle strategies for managing ADHD

While medication is the first line of defense for adult women who are diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor may also encourage you to try therapy and other lifestyle changes that can help you learn how to manage your symptoms. Many adult women who have ADHD have success with life coaching. Working with a life coach certified to help adult women with ADHD can teach you valuable strategies for boosting your self-esteem, improving your time management, and developing coping skills for dealing with your ADHD symptoms.

In addition to working with a licensed therapist or life coach for adult women with ADHD, you may find success with using other stress management techniques, including yoga, exercise, meditation, and spending time outdoors.

Using other types of coaching and counseling services related to your unique life situations can also be helpful. Women with ADHD who are mothers may benefit from working with a parenting coach who can help you learn how to manage busy schedules, behavioral issues, and other issues that come along with parenting. If you find that you're having trouble reaching your potential in your career, working with a licensed career counselor who is well-versed in the needs of professionals with ADHD can help you develop your strengths and work on opportunities for improvement.

Evidation: Taking your health to the next level

If you're a woman living with ADHD, it can be helpful to have tracking tools in place that help you make the most of your health data. At Evidation, we've got you covered. Download the Evidation app today and get started with making your health data work for you.

Your Health
February 2, 2024

National Cancer Prevention Month

5 minutes

There are many ways to lower the risk of cancer, including quitting smoking, eating less red meat and processed meat, and seeing your doctor regularly.

According to the American Cancer Society, there were 1,918,030 new cancer cases and 609,360 cancer-related deaths in 2022. The vast majority of people in the United States have been affected by cancer, whether through their own diagnosis or that of a loved one.

Thankfully, cancer research grows every day, and scientists around the world are working to find a cure. In the meantime, taking preventive measures to lessen the likelihood of developing the disease is a smart place to start.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and it's the perfect time to learn about the preventive measures you can take to support your health. Whether you've recently been diagnosed with a medical condition and are interested in taking steps to boost your health, or you're generally healthy and simply want to make sure you're doing all you can to prevent cancer, we've got you covered.

Taking steps to prevent cancer will benefit your overall health and well-being. Let's take a look at some of the steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of developing cancer.

Understanding cancer risk factors

In order to take action against cancer, it's important to evaluate your risk. Some risk factors are genetic and therefore unavoidable, but other risk factors can be avoided with lifestyle changes.

Non-genetic factors that are associated with increased cancer risk include:

  • Smoking: Smoking has long been known to cause cancer, as it causes damage to almost every part of the body. Smoking has been proven to cause lung, colon, cervical, rectal, bladder, liver, pancreatic, kidney, throat, oral, larynx, and esophageal cancers. Vaping is not a safe alternative, as e-cigarettes are not regulated and typically contain substances (including nicotine) that are known to cause cancer.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation: Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from tanning beds. Getting a sunburn increases the risk of developing skin cancer. It's important to regularly apply SPF when you're outside, and to try to stay out of the sun from 11 am until 3 pm in spring, summer, and early fall.
  • Viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections: There are several types of infections that are associated with cancer, including human papilloma virus (HPV), hepatitis B and C, and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Vaccination against HPV and hepatitis are important to lower the risk of these conditions. H. pylori causes stomach ulcers that can increase the risk of stomach cancer. Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV can also increase the risk of certain infections.

Healthy habits for cancer prevention

Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to help lower your cancer risk, including:

  • If you smoke, quit. If you're not sure how to quit or are having a hard time, talk with your doctor for help.
  • Cut down on alcohol, or stop drinking it.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and try to get at least two and a half hours of physical activity per week.
  • Stay out of strong sunlight, and don't use tanning beds.
  • Get vaccinated against preventable diseases that are more likely to cause cancer, including HPV and hepatitis.
  • See your doctor regularly for check-ups and recommended screenings

We get it--going to the doctor can be nerve-wracking, especially if you're worried about an aspect of your health. Doing so, however, can be life-saving. Getting yearly check-ups from your primary care provider allows your doctor to form a baseline for your health, making it easier to notice when something has gone wrong.

Your care provider will talk with you about when you'll need to be screened for certain types of cancer. If you have a family history of certain types of cancer, your doctor may recommend that you get screened sooner than called for by general guidelines.

In addition to providing physical screenings for health issues, your doctor can also talk with you about preventive measures you can take against cancer and other conditions, hazards in your workplace that could contribute to disease, and more.

If you feel like something is off with your health, or you've noticed changes in your health that you can't explain, you don't need to wait until your next yearly physical to get help. Knowledge is power, and it's only possible to fight a health condition once you know it exists. Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment to take control of your health.

Nutritional strategies for cancer prevention

What you choose to eat can make a major difference when it comes to lowering your cancer risk.

According to the Harvard Public School of Health, some simple steps you can take to prevent cancer include:

  • Limit red meat, such as beef and lamb.
  • Cut down on or eliminate processed meat, like hot dogs. Recent research showed that the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 12% for every 100g/day of red meat intake and increased by 16% for every 50g/day of processed meat intake.
  • Eat plenty of whole, unprocessed grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These foods have high amounts of dietary fiber. Research suggests eating foods high in fiber can protect against colorectal cancer.
  • Limit fast food--aim to cook at home instead. Research shows that it's likely that people who get a high percentage of their total calories from fast foods may have an increased risk of cancer.
  • Follow a nutrition plan that helps you maintain a healthy weight--sustainably. People who are overweight or have obesity are at a higher risk for some types of cancers.

Doing our part: Research at Evidation

At Evidation, we're working to contribute to medical research responsibly using data to move medicine forward. We know that cancer and other diseases are devastating, and we want to contribute to a healthier world. Every time a member of Evidation consents to share their health data with us for research purposes, we're able to use that information to make a difference.

Our recent contributions to research include:

Evidation: Using health data for good.

At Evidation, we believe in putting you in the driver's seat of your health. Your health data allows you to earn rewards, get personalized content--including articles and health tips--catered to your needs based on your health patterns, and participate in health research, potentially helping people around the globe. Download the app today so we can begin a partnership that works toward a healthier you--and a healthier world.

Your Health
January 31, 2024

What causes migraine auras?

4 minutes

Migraines with auras affect 1 in 3 migraine sufferers. Learn answers to common questions like "what causes migraine auras'' and "how long do auras last?"

If you’re someone who has migraines, you know that a migraine is more than “just a headache.” There are a wide range of neurological symptoms associated with this condition, and auras are one of them. About one in three people who have migraines also have auras with them.

What are migraine auras?

A migraine aura is a visual and sensory disturbance that occurs with a migraine. Many of the disturbances are visual, such as flashes of light or the development of blind spots. However, these symptoms can also be neurological, such as tingling in the hands or face. Typically, auras occur before the headache, within the hour before the discomfort starts, but they can also happen without head pain. Auras are a symptom of migraine, even if there isn’t a headache.

For many people who experience a migraine aura for the first time, the symptoms are frightening. Thankfully, they don’t cause any damage and aren’t harmful in the long term. Shedding light on this common symptom of migraines and how to best manage them is helpful in assisting people in managing their migraine condition.

Symptoms of migraines with auras

Migraine auras are highly personal to the individual, and as such, there are many different migraine aura types. According to Mayo Clinic, some of the visual disturbances that you may experience include:

  • Blind spots, sometimes with an outline
  • Floating zig zag lines
  • Shimmering or seeing stars
  • Loss of vision
  • Changes in vision
  • Light flashes

In addition to these visual disturbances, you may experience:

  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Numbness or tingling in the face or hands, usually one side only

These symptoms can be startling, and they can make you feel as though something even more serious than a migraine is happening. Knowing that auras are a normal part of migraine headaches for some people can be helpful. That said, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor if you have concerning neurological symptoms just to ensure it’s not something more serious. Cleveland Clinic also recommends an eye exam to ensure that the aura symptoms aren’t due to changes in your vision.

Treatment for migraine auras

Migraine auras are a part of the migraine for some people, so the treatment is the same as the treatment for migraines. Pain relievers and triptans are the most common lines of defense against migraine, but doctors are researching additional medications. With any medication, always follow your doctor’s guidelines and take it as prescribed.

What causes migraine auras?

Doctors are still researching what causes a migraine aura, but the current research indicates it may be due to electrical or chemical waves that move across the brain during a migraine. Your symptoms are connected to the area of the brain that has this electrical or chemical wave. This wave doesn’t harm the brain or the nerves, but it does trigger the aura.

Migraine aura triggers

Like migraines, auras can have many triggers. Each person has their own set of triggers, and a key to managing migraines is learning what yours are. Some common triggers include:

  • Hormonal changes, such as during menstruation
  • Not getting the right amount of sleep
  • Reactions to certain foods
  • Reactions to medications
  • Bright lights
  • Overall stress

Once you identify your triggers, you may be able to reduce the number of migraine aura events you experience through lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes to reduce migraine auras

While medications for migraine can help with migraine auras, lifestyle changes to help avoid triggers can also be beneficial. These lifestyle changes might help:

Supplements

Some research has shown that CoQ10, magnesium, and riboflavin can reduce migraine frequencies. Always check with your doctor before starting new supplements, especially if you are on medications that could interact, but these might provide some help.

Stress reduction

Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques, increased sleep and even counseling, may help you with your migraine. Stress increases the risk of migraines, so reducing stress may reduce the number you have. While you can’t avoid all stress in life, managing it where you can may reduce your migraine and aura frequency.

Trigger avoidance

While it’s not always possible to avoid migraine aura triggers, sometimes you can. For instance, if you’ve determined a certain food triggers a migraine, then try to avoid that food. Environmental triggers, like strong perfumes or bright lights, may not be avoidable.

In order to avoid triggers, you must first identify them. Some people find keeping a migraine journal to be helpful. This journal helps them track their migraines and what they’re doing when one hits. Over time, it can give a snapshot of what might be triggering migraines, so the person can try to avoid those triggers. Of course, sometimes migraines happen with no trigger, but if you can pinpoint a trigger, then you can take steps to avoid it.

Setting a routine

Having a routine for when you sleep and eat is a good idea when dealing with migraines. Getting too much or too little sleep can increase your risk, and drops in blood sugar may spark a migraine as well. Eating and sleeping at the same time every day could help.

Drinking water

Drinking more water rarely hurts anyone, and this is true for people with migraines. Mild dehydration may be a trigger for some people. You might be able to help your symptoms by striving to get the right amount of water for your body and activity level.

Track your health and triggers

If you’re focused on migraine prevention through lifestyle changes, then tracking your health may help. You can use tracking devices and programs to record food intake, water intake and exercise, and then use that along with your migraine journal to track symptoms and triggers. While you’re tracking these things, connect with Evidation to reward yourself for the healthy lifestyle changes you’re making. Download the app today!

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