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Health and Wellness | 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...

The Health Benefits of Volunteering

The Health Benefits of Volunteering Volunteering can be a great way to help the community, share your talents, and provide service to those around you. Did you know it can also benefit your personal health? More and more studies are showing that volunteering reduces depression, provides a sense of purpose, and increases physical activity. Any one of these factors leads to reduced stress and improved physical health. Reducing Depression: Volunteer work reduces depression by increasing physical activity and introducing the volunteer to others with similar beliefs and interests. By volunteering for your favorite local charity or providing community service for neighbors you increase the likelihood of developing friendships and creating a network of supportive individuals around you. This reduces depression by improving your social environment while simultaneously providing physical stimulation. Increasing Sense of Purpose: Many people look at the world and wonder what things could be like. The happiest of people step forward and begin to make a difference. They seek to change the world into what they want, rather than waiting to see what it becomes. This develops a sense of purpose, which increases as you continue to work towards goals. Looking to increase your sense of purpose? Sign up with a charity organization you believe in and become the good you want to see. Physical Activity: Science has long told us that physical exertion releases endorphins. Endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain, act as a natural painkiller and improve sleep quality. Many types of volunteer work require physical exertion, whether it is building a house, ladling soup, or running supplies from one table to the next....

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,...

The Allergies of Spring – Natural Remedies

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (2017), nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States each year. That is as many as 30 percent of adults, and 40 percent of children. They have also determined that asthma is the fifth leading chronic disease in the US in people of all ages. Seem like a lot? It absolutely is, and numbers are on the rise. In 2010 alone, Americans spent an estimated $17.5 billion dollars on treating allergy symptoms and allergy related infections.   So what can we do to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of every day allergens? While there is no cure for common allergies, there are steps that we can take to decrease allergy sensitivity and improve our overall health.   Suggested methods include:   Herbal Supplements Many over the counter herbal supplements have natural allergy fighting effects. Licorice root, for example, will help build up your bodies naturally produced steroids. This gives your body an extra boost in knocking out the allergen, while also loosening mucus for easier breathing. Green tea, another common household herbal remedy, is a natural antihistamine and can help to avoid congestion. Make sure you speak with a doctor before testing out herbal treatments, particularly if you are taking other medications or are pregnant.   Change What You Eat Food can have a huge impact on allergies, on not just from peanuts or other common food reactions. Melons, cucumbers, bananas, sunflower seeds, and chamomile can make weed pollen allergies even more severe according to Kathyrn Bolig (Web MD 2015), a family medicine specialist at Mercy...

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...