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Education and Learning | Hands for Life

How to Stay Hydrated the Right Way

Have you ever heard the theory that you need to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to avoid dehydration? How about the theory that only water can hydrate you, and that other fluids don’t count towards that 8 glasses? Well, those water myths have gone belly up in recent years. The CDC has done away with that 8 glasses of water myth and now recommends drinking water when thirsty to avoid dehydration. Additionally, they have determined that any fluid or food that is high in water content adds to hydration. This means that you no longer need to drink large quantities of water, but can instead focus on listening to your body’s signals and drinking when it tells you to drink.   If one of the traditional, long standing arguments for water consumption has been debunked, does that mean other former facts may be considered myths as well? The answer is yes, but also no. Let’s go through some of the more common myths on drinking water to determine fact from myth.   Common Water Concepts: Eight glasses of water a day False! Doctors now recommend drinking when thirsty and count any food or beverage with a high liquid content towards hydration. If you are involved in strenuous activity, especially in hot weather, it doesn’t hurt to drink more often. A sister-myth, that by the time you are thirsty you are already dehydrated, has also been proven false. When thirsty, it’s time to get a drink, but you aren’t already into the stages of dehydration. Water  flushes toxins from the body True! The kidneys use water...

What do fireworks and medicine have in common?

Fireworks and medicine have more in common than you may think. As we celebrate American independence, take a moment to think about the variety of ways humanity has learned to use the chemicals and substances around us. We’re pretty innovative, and also fairly certain we haven’t even come close to discovering everything this world has to offer us. Check out the chemicals and substances that give fireworks their color, and how they compare in the medical world: Red Fireworks: A red firework gets its color from either Lithium or Strontium. Lithium gives the medium red tones, while Strontium produces a stronger, more intense red. Lithium, in the medical world is primarily used as a psychiatric medication and is used to treat major depressive disorders like Bipolar Disorder. Strontium, on the other hand, is used in advanced cases of prostate cancer and bone cancer. Blue Fireworks: Blue fireworks get their color from Copper. Powdered copper is placed inside the firework shell and, when it ignites, we see beautiful blue colors. In medicine, doctors are studying the use of copper to target and destroy cancer cells. Green Fireworks: A green firework comes from Barium, which is also used to coath the throat, esophagus, stomach, and intestines so that they more clearly show in CT scans and other X-rays. Yellow Fireworks: Yellow fireworks come from sodium, also known as… Salt. Sodium bicarbonate, in particular, is used to treat hearburn, indigestion, and upset stomach. It’s fantastic for toning down stomach juices! White Fireworks: White fireworks get their color from Aluminum and Magnesium. Aluminum hydroxide reduces phosphate levels in certain kidney conditions. Magnesium is...

Essential Oils as Insect Repellents

How do they work? Plants have been used as natural insect repellants since ancient times, often grown strategically to deter harmful or pesky insects from entering human habitations. The mutually beneficial relationship between plants and humans has been extremely important, particularly in areas where mosquitoes and other biting insects can carry devastating diseases. Beyond planting some lavender, or growing basil, studies have shown that crushing or burning certain plants increase their insect repelling properties. This is where essential oils come in. Essential oils concentrate the oils in the plant, creating a more potent and active form of the natural substances found in the plant. Before we dig too much deeper, the first step in understanding essential oils as insect repellants is to understand how they work. Contrary to popular belief, not all of these plants push bugs away. Some of the more common oils have a potent scent, which hides other smells and confuses mosquitoes and biting pests. While the oils are not directly driving mosquitoes away, they are making it much harder for the mosquito to find and bite you. Other plants actively repel the insects, producing smells that drive them away. These plants tend to react when damaged by an insects bite, or when brushed against, so are typically more useful when used in an oil or smoke form. Finally, certain plants contain chemicals that are toxic to insects. This is where the ever popular citronella fits in, repelling and killing simultaneously.   How to use them? As mentioned above, having live plants in strategic locations can offer limited protection as an insect deterrent. Most plants that...

What Causes a Sunburn?

What is a sunburn? Sunburns occur when bare skin is exposed to UV rays, most commonly from direct sunlight or spending too long on a tanning bed. These rays cause the skin to respond by making melanin, a natural protective substance that gives us suntans and is responsible for the variety of skin tones across the globe. When the melanin defense system becomes overwhelmed, a burn occurs. You may have noticed that those with darker skin tones do not burn quite as easily as those with lighter tones. This is due to the quantity of melanin in the skin, and is determined genetically. Those with darker skin are naturally able to produce more melanin, while those with fairer skin have less melanin to work with and burn easier as a consequence. How do we protect ourselves? Sunburns can occur on sunny days, overcast days, snowy days, and even while swimming. Studies have shown that up to 80% of UV rays will pass through clouds and that snow, ice, water, and other reflective services can actually magnify the effect of the UV. This means that only going outside when it’s cold or cloudy won’t protect us. Wearing protective clothing that covers the skin is one of the surest ways to prevent sunburn. Be it a hat, long sleeved shirt, sunglasses, or long pants, covering the body protects us from exposure. This may not always be a practical solution, however, especially when temperatures peak and a nice dip in the swimming pool is needed. In these situations, the best preventative is a good sunscreen. Sunscreen comes in a variety of forms,...

Text Neck: Remedies and Prevention

“Sit up straight!” How many times have we heard these words? How many memes do we see circling the internet about our cell phone heavy population staring at their screens, necks cricked at impossible angles so that they can button-jam the latest mobile game or hit that Like button over and over again? And how many of you, dear readers, just sat up a little straighter while reading this? According to the Text-Neck Institute (2017), there are over 4 billion mobile phones in the world. Americans alone spend an average of 2.7 hours per day communicating and socializing on their phones. That is over 985 hours spent staring at a cell phone screen each year, often with the neck held at an uncomfortable angle for best screen visibility. The impact of hours spent at awkward angles is beginning to show in our society, leading to an increase in young people visiting doctors and chiropractors with complaints of neck pain, migraines, and headaches. The diagnosis? Text Neck. Text Neck is a new diagnosis, coming hot on the heels of the digital age. As individuals stare at their cell phones, tablets, handheld gaming systems, and other devices they flex the neck forward, looking down into their hands. This range of motion can lead to spinal degeneration, muscle damage, nerve damage, arthritis, spinal misalignment, and flattening of the spinal curve. In short, Text Neck leads to pain and long lasting complications, particularly if left untreated.   How to Avoid Text Neck Good posture is the primary means of avoiding Text Neck and many other posture related illnesses. Posture, in and of itself,...

Vegetables? Yuck!

“Vegetables? Yuck!”   We’ve all heard this around the dinner table, and not always from the children. What is it about vegetables that makes our taste buds rebel and our hands reach for sugary sweets over nutrient filled veggies? It all comes down to taste. There are five flavors that we taste in foods: Salty, savory, sweet, sour, and bitter. Salty and sweet are, by far, the most commons flavors to love with savory a close third. Sour seems to be an acquired taste, loved by some and hated by others, but wonderful when paired with sweetness in drinks like lemonade.   Bitter, though? Most people do not care for the bitter taste. In nature, bitterness is most often associated with substances that are harmful to us. As such, we have a natural aversion to the bitter flavor commonly found in vegetables. While they are not toxic, are generally good for us, and have a lot to offer in the way of vitamins and minerals – vegetables tend to have a bitter taste. This helps them avoid getting eaten in the wild.   Children, in particular, pick up on this taste and have an aversion to vegetables as a result. As we age and our taste buds become less sensitive, vegetables begin to taste better. While some of us may never learn to truly love the roots, legumes, leafy greens, and sprouts of the world at least now we know why. And knowing why means we can tackle the problem and make our vegetables taste better.   Here are some ideas, courtesy of Healthy Options, for improving the taste...