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Megan // Author

Author based archive
04 Apr

BLOG 261 NAIL INDUSTRY

There are so many nail salons on every corner, how do they deal with all the competition? In 2017, there were 56,300 nail salons in operation, with many locations that come and go all the time. The most common services offered are a simple nail polish and pedicures. This industry employs nearly 440,000 people. California leads the way with 100,000 workers and 7,900 locations. Texas comes close behind. The nail polish industry itself is nearly $605 million. With so many locations, there becomes a complexity of price point and what services to offer. Some locations have expanded to offer facials and waxing, luring customers in the door and creating a one-stop shop. Interestingly, only 16% of nail salons use a computer system to make appointments and schedule employees. It is a fast-paced demanding profession, and the average income of a nail tech is about $24,000. About 96% of this workforce is female and 64% are minorities.

There are some possible health affects for those who work in this industry. These mainly involve respiratory concerns. Nail technicians are exposed to hundreds of chemicals such solvents, acrylates, and biocides in the form of dust and vapors. New York led the way in bringing attention to this matter and addressing healthier work conditions. Good general room ventilation is important. Wearing a protective mask can help.
As with most things in life, there are side effects for those who get fake nails. Gel and acrylic nails are the popular selections. What woman doesn’t want long, beautiful, colorful, nails? The chemicals used for acrylic nails have resins and formaldehyde. These can cause cancer. These nails are strongly bonded to the nail bed. If there is a gap or space, this moist environment can grow bacteria and fungi. Natural oils are dried out which over time causes loss of the natural nail. This is why some professions such as an in a hospital setting don’t allow their employees to wear artificial nails because of the increased risk for infections.

The nail market continues to boom with different art, different colors, and so many designs. Women return every two to three weeks to get their “fill”. The average price for a manicure is about $20. The average cost of a pedicure can be about $30. When added up, if a woman attends every two weeks, that’s about $1,300 yearly cost. The cost can add up quickly, but many enjoy treating themselves. There is something nice about the service that keeps them coming back, and as in most cases, doing it ourselves doesn’t have the same look or quality. Life is better in color and this can be true for nails too. Do what makes you happy and support a local salon. Customer appreciation is always rewarded.

28 Mar

BLOG 260 HUNGER HORMONES

Having a heathy appetite, one that says “I’m hungry”, then “I’m full”, is part of a cat and mouse game we play daily. The majority of us have no problem wanting to eat, but stopping is whole other event. The hunger hormones in the body are called leptin and ghrelin. Both play a role in body weight. Leptin is in charge of decreasing one’s appetite while ghrelin increases appetite. They have a tug of war relationship; one that we fully sense and feel.

Leptin is made by our fat cells. It is the all-ruling appetite suppressor. Leptin levels are lower in persons who are thin and are higher in overweight people. Leptin communicates with the brain that the body has enough energy (body fat) and doesn’t need more fuel. Obese people have hire levels of leptin, but the body seems to miscommunicate and misinterpret these hunger signals. The more fat in the body, the more leptin in the blood. For overweight people the body appears to be resistant to leptin.

Ghrelin is the hormone that increases appetite. Its action involves releasing signals in the stomach to the brain that cue hunger. This hormone is produced in the gut and travels through the blood stream to the brain to tell the body to get food quickly. The body is smart because research has shown that in people who have eating disorders or who under-eat, ghrelin levels increase. In people who are obese, this hormone reduces. Ghrelin levels naturally rise when the stomach is empty because you are actually hungry. The body is trying to protect itself from starvation. Dieting causes ghrelin levels to increase. That is part of the fight when trying to lose weight.

The mind and body and do have an interesting relationship, one that we would love to have better control of. Foods that are especially high in fat cause major disruption to this communicating relationship between the body and the hunger hormones. There are some self-care tips to balance these hormones. A diet full of healthy carbohydrates and lean protein suppresses ghrelin versus a high fat diet. Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher levels of ghrelin too. Dieting is hard when ghrelin tries to use its power. Having more muscle mass is associated with lower levels of ghrelin, so start lifting those weights. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding extremes will help keep these hormones in check. Hormones are a tricky situation for us all. Poor choices to our eating will eventually catch up, and the hormones like to take advantage of this. Eating poorly only makes you want to eat more. Food is a drug, but be sure not to self-inflict more damage by making impulsive eating decisions. Your body will love you back when you love it.

21 Mar

BLOG 259 TYPES OF LETTUCE

Lettuce is used for multiple dishes in our diets. From burger toppings to salads, this green vegetable also comes in many different varieties. There are multiple health benefits to this green substance. Some of these include lowering inflammation, it’s full of antioxidants, it can help lower cholesterol, and can help control cancer. The minerals found in lettuce include calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins B6, A, E, C, and K. Lettuce originated from the Egyptians who used the seeds to make oil and considered the vegetable to be sacred. Lettuce is scientifically known as Lactuca sativa. Sub-species and cross-pollination lead to the many different types.

There are 14 types of lettuce:
1. Frisee – this is yellow, green, and bitter in taste.
2. Arugala – originated from the Mediterranean.
3. Mizuna – this is deep read and purple.
4. Baby beet greens – these have purple veins.
5. Tatsoi – these have a mustard flavor and come from Asia.
6. Butterhead – the leaves are smooth like butter.
7. Endive – this has an oval shape and tastes bitter.
8. Radicchio – these are deep red and purple with a round shape.
9. Escarole – this is mildly bitter and crisp.
10. Cress – this has a peppery taste.
11. Romain – known for being stiffer than other types.
12. Mache – the leaves are very tiny and often still have soil on them when sold.
13. Looseleaf – this has a mild flavor and ruffled surface.
14. Oakleaf – the leaves look similar to those off an oak tree.

One cup of lettuce, for most varieties, remarkably only contains about 5 calories. One cup has no fat and maybe one carbohydrate. There is no sugar. No wonder it is recommended to have a lettuce wrap versus a traditional hamburger bun. Lettuce is usually a “free for all” when on a diet or when counting calories. It can start off a meal right by filling space in the stomach with good calories so that you don’t eat more later. There are many types, many uses, and many reasons why lettuce should be part of one’s diet. On a side note, It is very important to wash lettuce.

The key is what you have with the lettuce. After all, dousing it in ranch dressing will negate whatever positive intention there was to make a healthy choice. Lettuce is a great tool to find a way to feel full and load the tank with nutrients. Pick your type, have as much as you want, and be sure to wash before consuming.

13 Mar

BLOG 258 IRON Iron is found in every single cell in our body. This essential mineral’s primary role is to create hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Our muscles need hemoglobin in order to store and use oxygen. Iron is also an enzyme in our body that helps us digests food. We get iron from meat, poultry, and fish. Iron from these meats is absorbed 2-3 more than from a plant-based protein. This can be of concern to vegetarians. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption while taking antacids can impede absorption.

Low iron
If you body is low in iron, you might develop anemia. Causes of iron deficiency include poor diet, or not being able to absorb iron from nutrients, or having experienced an adequate amount of blood loss. Having too little iron is actually the most common type of nutrient deficiency. Symptoms of having low iron includes low body temperature, fatigue, low immunity, a swollen tongue, slow cognitive functioning, and difficulty performing tasks. A blood test would determine the low status. Sometimes the body just needs extra iron. This is especially true for children who are growing and might need more iron than they are able to get from their diet. Losing a lot of blood from donating or having a heavy menstrual cycle means that this blood needs to be replenished.

Too much iron
Taking far too many iron supplements can lead to iron poisoning. Having to much iron also causes fatigue. Skin might become discolored with a gray or brown tone. Abdominal pain might occur. Joint aches, low sex drive, mood swings, hair loss, and irregular heart rhythm might also be symptoms. Iron supplements can be misleading because toxicity doesn’t always match the milligrams. For example, a pill with 200 mg actually contains 65 mg of iron, not 200 mg. An excess of 20 mg in the body can cause toxicity. It is important to stay within the healthy range of 8-18 mg of iron per day.

Treatment
If a hemoglobin or hematocrit (red blood cell count) test determines you are iron deficient, a doctor might prescribe supplements or adjust your diet.
How much iron do you need??
1. Infants 0-6 months: 0.27 mg per day
2. 7-12 months: 11 mg per day
3. 1 – 3 years: 7 mg per day
4. 4-8 years: 10 mg per day
5. Males: 8 mg per day except during puberty years ages 14-18 they need 11 mg per day
6. Females: need 8 mg per day, ages 14-18 need 15 mg per day, and ages 19-50 need 18 mg per day
7. Pregnant women: need about 27 mg per day

Food sources
Clams actually contain the highest amount of iron found in food, having 23.8 mg per ounce. Cereals, beef, lentils, and spinach have about 3 mg per serving. Food rich in vitamin C help with absorption.
We need iron in our body. We need protein to thrive for our blood health. When any of the symptoms pertaining to iron deficiency might surface, be sure to contact your doctor. When we eat the proper nutrient, our body absorbs and uses what it needs. However, sometimes we need a little assistance with supplementation. Be iron strong and keep your blood oxygenated for your health.

05 Mar

BLOG 257 CITRUS

Eating citrus is a great way to meet the 5 to 9 recommended servings of fruit. Think of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines and so on. There are many advantages to your health from this sweet treat. There are different types of citrus with different nutrients that provide these healthy benefits. Some of these benefits include assisting the prevention of cardiovascular disease, skin damage and cancer from the sun. Additionally they’re packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, folate, and fiber. We always hear about having citrus when a cold or the flu hits to boost immunity.

Citrus is great for your heart. This type of fruit contains flavonoids which helps lower the LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Flavonoids give citrus its color and flavor. They help eliminate carcinogens form the body and kill cancer cells. Eating fruit versus drinking fruit juice provides 5 times more the flavonoid power because the membranes and white pith of the fruits contain this nutrient. Flavonoids reduce inflammation through their antioxidant power. Yes, fruit has sugar, but citrus is low on the glycemic index. This means it won’t spike your blood sugar. The glucose that fruit does contain is released slowly into the bloodstream. Energy is boosted without the crash later.

This type of fruit is popular for its Vitamin C contents. This type of vitamin helps produce collagen which is beneficial to the skin and tendons. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for men is 90 milligrams and for women 75 milligrams per day. A small orange contains 53 milligrams of vitamin C while ½ grapefruit contains 34 milligrams. Vitamin C has been linked to lowering the risk for heart disease. Vitamin C has the ability to neutralize free radicals that try to damage healthy cells. In doing so, inflammation is avoided and the risk for chronic diseases is reduced. Vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, but it can reduce its duration and severity. Vitamin C will help reduce sickly symptoms.

Citrus is also loaded with fiber. This fruit contains about 60-70% soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels stable. The other 30% or so is insoluble fiber which helps with digestion and constipation prevention. Even a small orange contains 2.4 grams of fiber out of the recommended 25 grams of fiber we should consume per day.

Other benefits include the fact that citrus is loaded in water which means they help with hydration. Oranges are 87% water while grapefruits are 88% water. Their water filled nature means they are low in calories too. Citrus is diet friendly. A 100 gram size orange contains just about 50 calories. Citrus also contains plenty of potassium which can help the body flush out sodium. Citrus is a great choice to add healthy flavor to many options. A healthy community and YOU tops a salad, eats citrus as a snack, with a sandwich, squeezed over fresh fish, or uses it as a dressing. There are many ways citrus can perk up, sweeten up, and add pizzazz to common dishes. Just remember, eat the whole fruit for best nutrient results. Your body and taste buds will thank you.

27 Feb

BLOG 256 FIBROMYALGIA

Chronic pain, tender to the touch on the body, fatigue, and sleep problems, are all symptoms of fibromyalgia. This syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue of the body. The trouble with this condition is that there is no lab test for diagnosis, rather, the culmination of symptoms lead to the fibromyalgia conclusion for sufferers. This condition is frequently undetected and misdiagnosed for this reason. However, for people living in pain, they want a solution to their problem. More of the symptoms include headaches, depression, anxiety, memory loss called “fibro fog”, numbness and tingling in the extremities, irritable bowel syndrome, and feeling body aches all over. This is no way to live. The difference between fibromyalgia and other conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis, is that the pain is not located in one area…. it is chronic and all over the body. A lot of this pain can even be at the surface of the skin, simply triggered by touch.

Persons with fibro just feel exhausted all the time. Even with quality sleep, the body is still tired. This is disruptive to one’s lifestyle including lack of energy to attend work, exercise, and or even just going to the grocery store. These activities take too much energy. Imagine being too tired to even fold laundry. This is frustrating and mentally exhausting as a person is feeling pressured to be part of daily life, but physically too tired to do so. Waking up in the morning is when the body just feels stiff. What sleep a person with fibro does get, is easily disrupted. Brain activity continues as if the person were awake. This in turn, affects one’s mood. A person becomes worried they won’t be able to keep up with daily activities, and this reality leads to depression and anxiety. Relationships can become affected. Short term memory also starts to suffer. Paresthesia (tingling and numbing feeling in the hands and feet) can stop a person in their tracks. All of these factors seem like walls in the way of being able to do things.

A doctor can prescribe medication to help with the pain, and the key is remembering to consistently take these medications. There are also alternative methods such as acupuncture, message, and physical therapy. Exercise, especially walking, can help increase blood flow and decrease pain. Balance and resistance training exercises will also help the body. Keeping the mind active is also important. A person with fibro should pace themselves as they learn to adapt to their energy demands. Trying not to become overwhelmed or easily discouraged is important. Making sure to eat a nutrient filled diet is also critical, especially with vitamin D. Caffeine should be avoided because the sleep cycle of person with fibro is easily disturbed. Although caffeine might feel like an energy booster, drinking caffeine has been associated with increased fibro pain.

Communication is important with relationships and with employers. Lack of energy can be perceived as lack of effort, but when a person with fibro expresses their medical concerns with others, one can aim to find a balance to life’s demands. Fibromyalgia needs more medical research to help sufferers and alleviate such pain. Living a life through struggle is no way to live at all.

19 Feb

BLOG 255 CALLUSES & CORNS

Calluses and corns are the result of your body forming protective skin around a sensitive area. They might be unattractive or bothersome, but they serve a purpose.

Calluses form on the outermost layer of the skin and don’t cause any pain. They are found in places where friction occurs such as the hands or feet. This means a lot of rubbing has taken place on that location. A callus found on the foot is called a plantar callus.

Corns are found where there are pressure points. They mainly occur on the bottom of the feet or on the side of the toes. These can be painful. Corns can turn hard because this is a small patch of dead skin. Corns can also be soft, especially those that occur between the toes. Seed corns are the type you can barely see but are painful to pressure or weight bearing. They could be caused plugged sweat ducts.

Often times, calluses and corns are the result of the type of shoe a person is wearing. High heels are the worst, but any poorly fitting shoes and improper walking form can lead to either of these skin mishaps. Due to high heels, women are four times more likely to develop calluses or corns. Wearing shoes without socks can also cause additional friction.

The problem is that our feet our breeding grounds for bacteria because they are mostly enclosed and moist from sweat. Therefore, if a corn or callus bleeds because the skin has broken, possible infection can occur. Corns that discharge clear pus, means that it is infected and needs to be treated by a doctor. This is especially true for diabetics who have poor circulatory problems.

A doctor can examine the area to determine if you have a callus or corn. A callus, when scraped off, will not bleed. On the other hand, you could have a wart and when scraped off it will bleed. Warts are viral and spread, whereas calluses and corns do not. Most calluses and corns can be treated just by changing shoes or trimming them. The key is avoiding the friction or pressure. Mole skin pads can be placed on the area to alleviate pressure. Infected corns need to be treated and antibiotics are used to clear up the infection. There are moisturizing creams that can help soften the skin and remove calluses. A pumice stone or soft brush can be used to remove calluses as well. Sometimes a doctor will perform surgery to remove a planter callus. However, the callus can return. A podiatrist can recommend shoe inserts to help prevent friction as well. Wearing protective gloves when using the hands a lot can also help.

Even the skin doesn’t like pressure and friction. Keep your skin soft and smooth and the less rub the better. Don’t sacrifice cute shoes for painful dead skin later. Our hands and feet need a little attention too, especially since they do so much for us.

10 Feb

BLOG 254 CHIA SEEDS

Cha-cha-cha-chia…. you remember the Chia Pet?? Now, health food stores are making claims that these tiny seeds are packed with nutrients and can help curb hunger. Chia is a type of seed that come from the Mexican desert plant called Salvia hispanica. “Chia” actually means strength. The ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures ate these seeds for energy because they contain carbohydrates, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. A single ounce, which is about 2 tablespoons, contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, as well as other vitamins and minerals that can be absorbed by the body.

Most people consume chia seeds with other foods or in beverages. They have a mild, nutty taste. When mixed with water, they make a gel. Popular uses include on top of yogurt or cereal, with vegetables, in baked goods, or with rice.

The most appealing benefit of chia seeds is the claim that they aid with weight loss. These seeds are supposed to expand the belly upon consumption, which in turn makes a person fuller, meaning they will eat let, and thus weight loss will result. The evidence validating this is limited. Therefore, realistically, it is not the miracle weight loss aid. However, the USDA does claim that chia seeds contain no cholesterol, are a good source of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. They also contain vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin A, sodium, and zinc. They also contain the following antioxidants which help fight free radicals in the body: flavanol glycosides, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, and linolenic acid. Chia seeds have also been linked to raising good HDL levels and are a heart healthy food containing omega-3 fatty acids which help lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. They contain more than salmon or flax seeds. These seeds also contain fiber which help with the digestive system. Once the seeds enter the stomach, they become a gel that acts like a probiotic. Chia seeds can also help lower blood sugar levels which is great news for diabetics. The carbohydrates in these seeds are slowly released so they do not cause an insulin spike.

The list of benefits continues. Chia seeds contain more calcium than skimmed milk and boron which helps metabolize calcium. This is important for bone health and can even help your teeth. Chia seeds are known for their energy boosting power, which many athletes utilize for performance improvement. These seeds also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which helps reduce inflammation in the joints and arteries. Chia seeds also are great for pregnant women because they aid in the baby’s brain development.

Quite the list of benefits for such teeny tiny little seeds. Super foods have the power to benefit the body in so many ways. A little goes a long way. Whole food nutrition is absorbed and utilized by the body to improve functions and help a person perform at their best.

06 Feb

BLOG 253 THREADING

Not everyone desires facial hair, especially the female population. Genetics and hormones can cause this unwanted hair to make its presence on cheeks, chin, and upper lip. There are a number of ways to remove body hair from anywhere, but when it comes to the face, one tends to pay more particular attention to what could happen after. Facial skin is also very sensitive and can range from oily to dry, have many or few pores, and then there is of course acne to consider. Eyebrow threading has become a popular hair removal process. Many people swear by this Middle Eastern method to remove their hair. Before making an appointment, there might be some factors to consider to see if this method is right for you.

Threading is a very precise process. It is considered the most sanitary hair removal method because no chemicals are involved at all. Over time, if a person is consistent with their upkeep, hair follicles can actually stop producing hair. Those who are not a fan of this method complain that this is a timely appointment. It takes longer than other methods. It is also restricted to the face only so not everyone thing can be addressed in one false swoop. Some say it is more painful than waxing. Sensitivity is of course a matter of opinion and a case by case basis. Some feel a pinching sensation. The process involves using cotton threads that are twisted to pull the hair from the root.

PROS:
1. Hair grows back thinner.
2. No heat or chemicals.
3. Cheaper.
4. Precise.
5. Redness disappears quickly.
6. Sanitary.
7. Can remove large areas of hair.
8. Safe for people taking medications.

CONS
1. Sensitive skin types might experience tenderness.
2. If the person is not properly trained, irritation can occur.
3. All makeup must be removed.

Because threading is very precise, people often use it for their eyebrows specially. A more desirable arch can be obtained. This method does have to be done by a professional, so there is not an at home option. The worst problem that can happen is getting a threat cut, but that is highly unlikely. The process sounds complicated but that is why going to a trained professional, laying back, and then standing up hair free is the way to go. Other options will always exist including plucking, shaving, waxing, and creams. Sometimes it just boils down to a matter of personal preference.

30 Jan

BLOG 252 MAYONNAISE

Mayonnaise, “mayo”, is a popular condiment used around the world. It is the combination of egg yolk, oil, acid, and either lemon juice or vinegar. This recipe might be tasty, but it is full of trans fat and saturated fat. The heart does not appreciate this. The list of negatives continues with this condiment being high in calories, high in cholesterol, and high in sodium. Mayo is mostly oil. Regardless, people love to use it on sandwiches, in salad dressings, and tarter sauce. Others just use it standing alone to dip foods in. Not paying attention to the portion quickly leads to high amounts of calories and fat in one false swoop. Think of potato salad, deviled eggs, and dressings… portion distortion is rampant.

Mayonnaise is the product of an interesting process called emulsification. Lemon juice or vinegar and egg yolk combine to turn a liquid into a solid. In the U.S., most commercial mayo is made with soy oil which is high in omega 6 fatty acids. There are 57 calories and 4 grams of fat in 1 tablespoon. For an item that isn’t necessary to have, it is more for flavor and your preference, mayonnaise could be opted out. There are reduced fat and lower calorie options, but these tend to be loaded with sugar. There are also a lot of artificial ingredients and preservatives in mayo.

In order to avoid some of the poor points about mayo, making a homemade version is a good idea. Using avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, or olive oil can help lower the amount of omega 6. There are different ways to add flavor so that this healthier version is still tasty. This might include adding hot sauce, curry powder, garlic, or pesto.
Having 4.5% of your daily calories from 1 tablespoon of mayo seems pretty high for such a small quantity. When having macaroni salad, potato salad, or different dressings, it is highly unlikely that just this portion is being consumed. Regular mayo eaters might experience weight gain. Yes, the body needs some fat and some sodium to operate, but we always have to consider the source. It is small daily choices that add of overtime and make a difference. For someone who tops their daily lunchtime sandwich with mayo, this accumulates over time. It can be avoided. Condiments are add-ons that are not necessary. If concerned, prepare at home and maybe that sandwich at lunch can have some of your own version to keep the flavor the way like it.