6 Reasons To Start Eating Asparagus Today

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Asparagus Image Design 1 - 6 Reasons To Start Eating Asparagus TodayWhen it comes to trying out new vegetables, there are certain ones that are better than others. Asparagus is one that’s often overlooked, but it’s one of the best for the whole body. It offers far more benefits than downsides, supporting every part of your body.

This should be reason enough, but I know you want details. After all, we always want to know the exact ways we benefit our bodies by choosing specific vegetables or ingredients in our meals.

It’s not always about health either. We want to know about the ease of adding the vegetables in and fun reasons to start eating something new. Here’s a look at six reasons you need to start eating asparagus today.

It’s Packed with Fibre to Keep You Regular

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If you’re struggling to pass stools, you’ll want to consider how foods affect your digestive system. Loose and hard stools both require fiber to make it better. While beans are often touted as the best option for keeping your bowel movements regular, asparagus is also at the top of the list.

There is plenty of fiber in the vegetable. In fact, this is what makes up most of the actual vegetable. Your digestive system will work effectively, helping you to absorb all necessary nutrients and push the waste through your system, but that’s not the only reason you need asparagus.

It’s also packed with asparagine, an amino acid that works as a diuretic. It works completely naturally in your body.

Not only are your stools regular, but your urination is more regular. Yes, it can make your urine smell stronger, but there is nothing unhealthy about this. It’s just the amino acid getting to work. By urinating more, you can get rid of excess salt in your body, keeping your organs free from harm. It won’t get rid of too many salts unless you only consume asparagus daily!

If you ever feel like you’re bloated from water retention or fluid retention, look at adding more asparagus into your meals for a few days. You’ll soon get rid of it, along with anything else causing problems for your digestive system.

A major benefit of getting rid of the excess water is to prevent urinary tract infections. Cranberry juice is often recommended, but this is full of natural sugars. Asparagus is better on the sugar level and still just as effective and helpful. You’ll be able to get rid of the toxins that are causing the infection.

It’s an Excellent Addition for Weight Loss

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Losing weight is hard. You’ll hear all the time about how you just need to eat fewer calories, and you’ll start burning the fat. That is far easier said than done, right?

What if you could eat ingredients that encourage more weight loss? Some of the reason people weigh more is due to water retention. Remember the first benefit: you’ll get rid of the fluid that is causing the skewy numbers on the scales. However, that’s not the only benefit.

Asparagus spears contain just three calories each. They’re filling and satisfying. When you’ve finished a meal with them, you won’t want to eat another bite. In fact, you may decide you can’t finish the food you’ve made; they’re that good! This satisfaction comes from the fiberthat’s the vegetable. It will break down slowly throughout the day, which helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

By consuming foods that are low in calories but filling, you will find it easier to create a calorie deficit. You won’t notice that you’re not eating as many calories as you used to, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. This helps you remain happy with your new diet, so you’re more likely to stick with it.

Asparagus isn’t just an excellent addition to your main meals. It makes an excellent snack option. You don’t have to feel guilty for snacking throughout the day considering how few calories you’re eating. You’ll get the same satisfaction as you would from a banana at a fraction of the cost in calories.

Many can’t deny the fact that asparagus tastes good, which means you’re more likely to add it to your meals. Of course, taste is subjective, but most people look forward to asparagus on their plate. When you like something, you’ll find it much easier to stick to your diet without feeling like you’re missing out.

You Don’t Need to Worry About Organic

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If you’re looking at organic and worried about the extra costs, you’ll be happy to hear that asparagus is naturally organic. That means you can buy it straight from anywhere in the grocery store without worrying about pesticides and other chemicals added to them. While some pesticides are used, asparagus doesn’t absorb the chemicals. They are part of the Clean 15 list of foods.

A major benefit comes from the time of year that asparagus grows. It’s a spring vegetable and grows extremely fast. There’s not enough time for pests to cause a problem for the crops.

This is extremely beneficial when you want to put your family’s health first without worrying about the cost. Organic is good, but the extra costs soon add up. You can find you’re making a choice between different types of fruits and vegetables instead of being able to enjoy everything you want. You don’t have to worry about this when it comes to asparagus.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to buy organic if you want to. There’s no guilt if you don’t, but if you prefer to support the organic farmers then certainly go ahead and buy. You will get rid of all the pesticides completely.

It Promotes a Healthy Gut

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Let’s look at some of the health benefits of asparagus. One of the benefits is for the levels of bacteria.

Not all bacteria are bad. There are some that are needed in the gut to help with the absorption rate of other nutrients.  Good bacteria will get rid of the bad stuff, improve the digestive system’s actions, and boost the immune system. You can get more good bacteria by eating probiotics, but what if you don’t eat dairy? Well, asparagus is your next option.

Asparagus has a carbohydrate called Inulin. This helps to promote and support the growth of good bacteria in the digestive system. It doesn’t quite create good bacteria from scratch, but it will help to promote the growth of whatever is there. The bad bacteria can’t overpower the good when you get enough Inulin in the body.

At the same time, the Inulin will help to encourage more activity from the good bacteria. It helps to push the good to take over the bad and improve the overall gut health. You’ll get far more active and feel better because of it. When your gut is healthy, the whole body feels better. Your immune system works more effectively, there is less inflammation, and your hormonal balance is better.

It’s Full of Nutrients for Overall Health

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It’s not just your gut that benefits. Sure, when your gut benefits, so do the rest of your health. However, asparagus will also offer the nutrients your whole-body needs. Asparagus is packed with vitamins like A, C, and K. It’s full of chromium and folate. You need to add all these to make sure every part of your body works as it should.

Chromium is an essential mineral that most people haven’t even heard of. It improves the insulin’s power, so glucose is removed from all cells within the body. Everyone can benefit from this, but it’s important for diabetics who struggle with insulin resistance and high blood sugar issues.

At the same time, the nervous system is supported by the extra folate. This mineral helps to boost the connections within the brain, support brain development in all. It is especially beneficial for apregnant woman, as it helps with the fetal brain development.

All the vitamins help to ensure the body’s immune system and overall health is protected. The skin looks healthier, the eyesight is supported, and even the liver is protected. Vitamin K helps to support natural clotting of the blood, while vitamins C and E support the immune system and make sure it fights against the viruses and diseases within the body. Vitamin A helps to avoid macular degeneration disease while supporting the growth and development of tissues within the body.

Then there is the glutathione, which is known as anti-cancer benefits. This agent helps to get rid of the carcinogens within the body, preventing them from damaging healthy cells and preventing cancerous cells forming. Meanwhile, the antioxidants also help to fight against free radicals, further offering anti-cancer benefits and preventing signs of aging. There is also research that suggests antioxidants can prevent dementia and other disorders and conditions.

It’s a Natural Aphrodisiac

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If you find your sex drive is slow or non-existent, you’ll likely consider the aphrodisiacs on the market. There are lots of ideas out there, but did you know asparagus is one of them? This is an ingredient that has been used for centuries around the world to help improve the sex drive.

More research in this area is required. That doesn’t mean asparagus isn’t that great for you, but that the area hasn’t been tested as much as others.

Some aphrodisiacs tend only to help males or females. Asparagus is one of those that help both genders. It’s especially beneficial for women, though. It can help to boost the libido during pregnancy and during menopause naturally. These are two times in life that the sex drive can slip because of the change to the hormones.

On top of this, asparagus has also been used in the past to increase the chances of getting pregnant. It’s unclear whether this is due to the balanced hormones, increased libido, or another reason. Again, research is needed to check the full benefits when it comes to this part of the benefits of asparagus.

Studies have shown that the vegetable can help to treat some of the symptoms of menopause, likely due to the hormonal link. The vegetable helps to boost the lubrication of the vagina, making it more comfortable before and during sex.

Adding Asparagus to Your Meals

This could be a reason within itself: asparagus is extremely easy to add to your diet. It’s one of the easiest vegetables to cook and prepare, without losing all the excellent nutrients.

One of the most common ways is through steaming the vegetable. You can then serve it as a bed for fish or chicken. It’s also commonly boiled or grilled. Try different seasonings to bring out a range of tastes and uses for the vegetable. If you want to keep the crunch to your asparagus, place it in a basket over water and allow it to steam that way. You won’t soak in as much water into the vegetable.

It is best to chop off the ends of asparagus. They tend to be chewy and difficult for the body to digest. However, you can eat the rest of the stalks and the tips if you’d like.

Most people can add asparagus to their diet without a problem. If you are on a very strict diet, you will want to discuss adding the vegetable with your doctor or dietician first. This will depend on the reason for your strict diet. You will also need to watch the amount that you eat in most of cases.

Now is the time to add asparagus to your diet. It’s one of the healthiest and cleanest vegetables on the market. Even if you don’t want to opt for organic, you can highly benefit from the addition of this vegetable into your diet. Don’t waste time reading anymore about the benefits. They’re certainly not all for your physical health, but also for your mental health.

How Does Gum Disease Start And What Are The Signs?

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gum disease signs 300x224 - How Does Gum Disease Start And What Are The Signs?Gum disease is a fairly common condition that has many different facets and degrees. The beginning stage of gum disease – typically gingivitis – results in red or swollen gums. This usually happens when the health of your gums are not kept in good condition. Oral health is the most crucial part of preventing your gums from becoming vulnerable to outside forces and pesky bacteria. Here are some common things you should look out for that may indicate you are suffering from gum disease.

Red Gums

If you notice that your gums are redder or brighter than usual, you should definitely keep an eye on them as this is an early sign of gum disease. Keep your mouth clean by steady brushing, flossing and rinsing. These three things cannot be substituted by other measures. They are essential and will vastly improve the state and health of your gums.

Sore Gums

If you notice soreness in your mouth that seems to be coming from your gums, do not just ignore it or take it lightly. Those signs are there for a reason and they are likely telling you something about your mouth and the health of it. If you notice soreness or discomfort in your gums, the first thing you’ll need to do is check the area for plaque build-up, redness or any other abnormality that you aren’t used to seeing. One thing that gum disease does do is give you signs. Pay attention to your mouth and when completing your oral hygiene practices, make sure you are mindful of any discomfort in your gums.

Bleeding Gums

It’s perfectly normal to see a little pink in the sink after you brush your teeth. But if it becomes more than that, you need to be paying close attention to your gums. Gums that bleed are a major sign of gum disease. The reason for the blood is because the health of the gum is compromised. This often happens because the build-up of plaque causes the gums to be irritated, weak and become more susceptible to gingivitis or other types of gum disease. You may be suffering from gum disease if your gums are bleeding.

Receding Gums

This is a clear indication of gum disease and must be dealt with right away. If you start to experience your gums pulling away from your teeth or shrinking in any way, this could mean that you are suffering from some form of gum disease. When plaque is not properly removed, it can cause build-up that will push the gums further away from the tooth. This is often noticeable to the naked eye. If this isn’t properly treated it can lead to further damage that can cause tooth decay or even tooth loss.

It’s so important to listen to your mouth and all the ways it tells you what type of job you’re doing when you clean it. Upkeep is exceedingly important and should not be shirked. Keep your dental hygiene intact and you lessen the likelihood of suffering from gum disease.

Try the all-natural liquid toothpaste with a handcrafted blend of 100% pure cold pressed botanical almond, spearmint and carefully-aged peppermint oils. It naturally helps clean your teeth and gums by eliminating bacteria-causing germs and plaque while leaving you with fresh breath. Click here

 

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gum disease signs - How Does Gum Disease Start And What Are The Signs?

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How Does Gum Disease Start And What Are The Signs?

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Here are some common things you should look out for that may indicate you are suffering from gum disease.

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serene hitchcock

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10 Reasons to Start to Include Cassava Flour in Your Baking

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Cassava Image Design 1 1024x562 - 10 Reasons to Start to Include Cassava Flour in Your BakingWhether you want to change your flour choices for your health or you need to for your change in lifestyle, cassava flour is one of the options to consider. It is one of the most beneficial types of flours, especially if you’re considering the paleo diet or need something for a low carb/gluten free option.

It’s common to start second guessing options at first.This is especially the case when it involves spending more money on something, when you don’t really know if it tastes that great.

That’s why I’m here. I’m going through the many benefits of cassava flour. So, if you’re not too certain about your options, here are 10 reasons to start including cassava flour in your baking.

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It’s Extremely Easy to Find

While all-purpose or plain flour is the most common option in the stores, cassava flour is one of the alternatives that is extremely easy to find. There’s no need to go to specialist stores or spend hours going between your preferred grocery shops to find the ingredient.

And you’re not just going to get a small tub of it for your money. There are larger packets available because this is a type of flour that is readily available around the world. It’s mostly from Nigeria, so keep a look out in some of the world food aisles if you do struggle to find it in the smaller stores.

Other alternative flours aren’t as easy to find. And when you do find them, you need to pay an extortionate amount for the small packets. That’s because they tend to be harder to make or source.

It’s Excellent as a Wheat Flour Alternative

Most alternative flours out there are replacements for the white flour. While they tend to be healthier than the white flour options, there is a space in the market for those looking for wheat flour alternatives. After all, how many of us prefer wheat options in our baking? Wheat is healthier compared to white any day of the week.

Cassava flour is the perfect option for replacing wheat flour completely. There’s no need to add a little of the traditional stuff just to get a slight taste or texture of it.

The taste of cassava flour is completely neutral, so you’ll never realise that you’re trying something different in your baking. Your kids will never know that they have something healthier within your cooking, which tends to be the main reason for them turning their nose up at things!

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The Texture Works Perfectly for All Types of Baking Needs

How often have you looked for a flour that will work for cookies, cakes, sauces, and even patties? One of the only options we tend to find is the all-purpose flour, which isn’t suitable for all. Well, that was until cassava flour became a major import.

This alternative flour is excellent for all your baking needs. It can create light and fluffy cakes but also thicken up sauces just right. The texture isn’t too thick, and the taste is indistinguishable from all the other wheat-based flours.

There’s no sour taste or smell, which can happen with grain flours when they have sprouted. There is no odd flavouring, which comes from the likes of almond or coconut flour due to the ingredients used to create them.

You don’t even need to replace your wheat flour with cassava completely. Replacing a portion of it is a possibility due to the texture similarities. If you want, replacing completely is an option, but you can do a little at a time to really test the differences.

It’s Gluten Free and Nut Free

Are you looking for a flour alternative that is perfect for all your allergy needs? Well, cassava flour is perfect for all the allergies out there.

Let’s start with the most common need for finding a flour alternative: the gluten issue. If you have a gluten allergy or you just want to remove gluten from your diet for lifestyle benefits, you can opt for cassava flour as an alternative. It is a gluten-free ingredient so you may find the flour in the gluten free aisles for you shopping needs.

Some cassava flours are certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group. Look out for these to make sure they haven’t had hidden ingredients included in them. Some alternatives have hidden bits of gluten without any warning because they are cheaper to make!

The problem with gluten alternatives is that they can use nut flours. If you have a nut allergy as well as a gluten one, you can feel like the whole world is against you. Well, cassava flour is the option for you. This flour isn’t made from any type of nut.

Do read the packaging. Some of the flours will be made in a factory that handles some nut flours or other nut products. If you want to be completely safe from nut options, look out for products that are made in a nut free factory. You’ll find a label on the packaging that offers this.

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It’s Much Easier to Digest

There have been studies into the different flour alternatives available. Cassava flour is one of the least known but has the most benefits when it comes to digestibility. It’s the easiest for the body to handle compared to all the other alternatives, including coconut flour, tapioca, and more.

Cassava flour is made from the whole root. This helps to create the light texture that will help to thicken soups and sauces. The whole root also means that it has more fibre without all the gluten.

If you do have some digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome or even Crohn’s disease, you should consider cassava flour. The fibre helps to line the digestive tract to protect it from anything else while pushing through the toxins in the body that are causing pain and discomfort.

You’ll find that you have fewer problems after eating some sweet treats.

This is one of those foods that people with an autoimmune disorder are encouraged to eat. It’s something that won’t affect other systems within the body.

It’s Paleo Friendly

How long have you been searching for a type of flour that is suitable for your paleo lifestyle? This is one of the flours that you want to add to your diet.

It’s one of the most affordable types of flour alternatives on the market, making it a new favourite for people on the paleo diet. It’s completely natural, and you can even make it in your own home if you really want. Therefore, it is so suitable for the diet.

The flour is created from the starchy inner tubes from plants mostly found in Asia and Africa. It has been extracted purposely for the creation of bread and pastries. It’s mostly made from the root of the yuca plant.

You can use the flour for any of your normal baking recipes. Just replace the amount of wheat/normal flour for the exact same amount of cassava flour.

It’s Diabetic Friendly

Unlike so many other flours and alternatives out there, cassava flour is one of those options that a diabetic can help. It’s also useful for starving off diabetes in those who have been diagnosed pre-diabetic and is suitable for avoiding the condition altogether, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with anything.

The flour is low in sugar. The carbohydrates are indigestible, complex forms. They don’t break down quickly, causing a rise in your blood sugar levels. There’s no need for the insulin response by your body.

In fact, the indigestible carbs will help with your overall health. They work with the fibre to push toxins out of your body and keep your digestive system working. You’ll also feel fuller so you won’t eat as many sweet treats that you make.

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It’s Friendly for Those Losing Weight

When it comes to weight loss, you’ll usually be told to avoid all baked goods. They’re full of refined sugars and not good for you.

The good news is that you don’t have to avoid them completely. When they’re made in the right way, and they’re eaten in moderation, you can enjoy them without gaining lots of weight. Cassava flour is one of those options that will help with your weight loss ventures.

Let’s start with the fact that this is a whole food flour. It’s made from the roots of a plant, so there are very few calories in your cassava flour. You’re instantly taking in fewer calories than you would if you ate normal flour.

Now let’s remember the above benefit of no sugar. When your blood sugar rises, your body stores the calories you eat for later because it needs to deal with the sugar first. You end up not using those calories, so you gain weight. With cassava flour, you don’t have the insulin response so the body can focus on using the calories.

And then there’s the benefit of feeling fuller. This is a high fibre and high indigestible carb ingredient. You’ll feel fuller sooner, so you don’t feel the need to eat as much. You’re not just taking in fewer calories in the ingredient but fewer calories overall.

It Helps to Support Your Energy Levels

Like other flours and alternatives, this is an ingredient that is high in carbohydrates. They’re the right type of carbs that will keep weight loss down, but they are there to help support your energy levels.

Yes, our bodies do need carbs. The carbs help to fuel the energy so the other food groups can support other bodily functions. You’ll be able to get through the day without the need to stock up on something with a quick boost of energy.

The downside is that this flour isn’t the best for a low-carb diet. You will need to think about other types of flours or think carefully about other foods that have carbs in them. If this is the only carby ingredient you use, then you shouldn’t have a major problem with eating it.

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You Can Grow and Make It Yourself

What about getting something that you can make yourself? You could save so much money if you didn’t have to keep buying items from the store.

Well, cassava flour is one of those ingredients. The plant is something that you can grow in your own backyard. There’s no need for specialist products to help support it. You can then grind your own flour and use it in your own baking.

Not only will this save you money, but it can help promote healthy eating to the kids. They will love to see where the food comes from and how to use it from the basics. They will really enjoy helping you make the flour and then using it in their ingredients. There’s this feeling of accomplishment when they have done something for themselves.

The plant is one of those that’s sustainable in all temperatures. This makes it so easy to grow!

It’s Time to Make a Change to Cassava Flour

Now it’s completely up to you. Making a change to cassava flour is quick, easy, and beneficial. You’ll support your body’s functions while keeping any allergy risks to a minimum. You just need to find the flour that has been manufactured in a facility that works for your allergies.

You can make your own cassava flour relatively easily if you do want to save money. However, this isn’t going to be a flour that you pay over the odds for normally.

If you don’t want to make an instant change to cassava flour, why not do it a little at a time? Instead of using wheat flour for a whole dish, opt for half wheat and half cassava. You’ll be able to test if there is a taste difference and see just how well it works for your needs. Then you can make the full change to cassava only in your baking.

10 Reasons To Start Adding Cayenne Pepper To Your Meals

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Cayenne Image Design 1 - 10 Reasons To Start Adding Cayenne Pepper To Your MealsCayenne pepper is regularly included in lists of goods that will help improve your health. But it’s one of those often overlooked at the same time. We know that it can be good for us, but isn’t regular black pepper good enough?

It’s time to start using it in more of your meals. There are many ways that you can easily add it in, whether you’re looking to spruce up your lunches, dinners, or even snacks.

Here’s a look at 10 reasons why you need to start adding cayenne pepper to your meals. Just start one meal at a time and build your way to using it more frequently if you’d like to get used to the taste! It’s just important for your health that you use it.

Helps Improve Weight Loss Efforts by Reducing Hunger Pangs

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Do you constantly get the feeling of hunger? You had just finished your breakfast an hour ago, and you’re already grazing. This has a knock-on effect to your weight loss efforts. You start to eat more calories than you burn, causing yourself to gain weight. Even if you balance out the calories or eat fewer than you burn, you’re not creating enough of a calorie deficit actually to lose weight.

Hunger pangs also put us on our diet. We don’t feel satisfied, which means we’re not happy. The human body has a very normal and understandable fear of hunger. We don’t like the feeling, and our minds focus on it until we find something that will satisfy our hunger pangs.

The more you push yourself away from the snacks, the more you want them. Rather than keep telling yourself no, you want to find a way to handle the hunger feelings throughout the day. You need to find a way to keep yourself satisfied for longer after each meal.

Cayenne pepper has shown some positive results for this. It’s full of capsaicin, which has been linked to appetite suppression. When you suppress the appetite, you won’t feel the need to eat as much throughout the day. There is still more research needed, as scientists don’t quite understand why capsaicin works so well. All we know is that studies have shown the body doesn’t produce as much ghrelin, the hunger hormone when you have good levels of capsaicin in the body.

And you can get the benefits by eating or drinking your pepper. In fact, drinking something that contains capsaicin makes you 16% less likely to eat more compared to the 10% less like if you ate it! This is likely because drinking the nutrient helps it absorb quicker, so it can be used more effectively.

Not only will you find it easier to eat fewer calories throughout the day, but you’ll also find it easier to stick to your diet. It becomes a way of life instead of a crash diet forced onto you.

Your Weight Loss Efforts Are Supported with a Better Metabolism

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The weight loss benefits don’t just stop with the appetite suppression. Cayenne pepper also supports the metabolism. So not only will you eat fewer calories but you’ll burn more throughout the day. You get a bigger calorie deficit to help you lose the excess weight.

How does this work? The pepper increases the heat within your body. When your temperature goes up, your body has to burn off more calories throughout the day. You can get this benefit from any spicy food, but cayenne pepper is one of the easiest to add throughout the day.

The process is known as diet-induced thermogenesis. It is highly popular and recommended by doctors since it is a natural way to boost your metabolic rate. Studies have shown that it’s possible to burn more than 50% more calories during a meal that contains cayenne pepper—or anything with capsaicin—compared to those who didn’t bother adding it in.

However, the bad news is that the effects are small. You’ll burn 10 more calories with 1g of cayenne pepper. It’s still more, but you will still need to make sure that you follow a healthy and balanced diet. Regardless, it works, but it’s not a miracle cure. If it were, we’d all be using it, right?

It is possible for the body to build up a tolerance. The good news is that studies don’t show the appetite suppressant element is something your body builds up a tolerance to, so you still get that weight loss benefit.

Improve Your Digestive Health Overall

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It’s not just about weight loss. Cayenne pepper offers other health benefits, especially within the digestive system. It doesn’t just work

 

to keep you feeling full, but can help to boost your defenses within the stomach and intestines.

This is where 80% of your immune system lives, so you want it to be as strong as possible. When the immune system in your gut plays up, it causes inflammation, bloating, gas, and stool problems. With the help of cayenne pepper, you’ll find that digesting fluids and food aren’t as difficult. There is less pain felt throughout the day, which means you don’t feel sluggish or upset after eating.

There are beliefs that spicy food leads to ulcers. This hasn’t been proven in studies when it comes to the use of cayenne peppers. The capsaicin (yes, that again) helps to support the nerves within the stomach. They are stimulated to protect against injuries, including stomach ulcers. You can ward them off!

Of course, when your stomach and digestive system are in good working order, you feel like you can do more!

Lower the Risk of Cancer

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We are all still looking for the causes of cancer and how it develops. Researchers are also still looking for ways to permanently kill it. We’ve come a long way in the last few decades, but the research continues.

One thing that researchers have found is that capsaicin can be good for cancer risk reduction. We know that antioxidants can help to fight off free radicals, but capsaicin can help to fight off the cancer cell growth. It attacks the pathways that cancer uses to grow and spread. There are studies that show it is possible to reverse some types of cancer, especially skin and pancreatic cancer.

It’s worth pointing out that the research continues in this. While it helps, there’s no guarantee that it will work. Cayenne pepper can be used in conjunction with normal medical options to help reduce the risk of cancer developing or starting in the first place. Don’t just stop all medicinal treatment in favor of this herbal remedy.

There are also studies needed to see just how effective the cayenne pepper is in humans. While animal’s studies have shown somewhat beneficial, there is a lot that we don’t yet know.

It Can Lower the Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure is a silent killer. You won’t know you have it until it’s too late. Well, it’s time to find a way to keep your blood pressure down and not just through stress release techniques!

It turns out that your diet can help. More importantly, it turns out that the capsaicin can help. Animal tests using cayenne pepper have currently proven beneficial, but there are still studies that need to be done.

The studies show that the element in cayenne pepper helps to relax the blood vessels. This means that the blood doesn’t have to fight as much to pass through, so the blood pressure is lowered. Boosting the metabolism and raising the body temperature may also help, as it forces more blood to flow through the system.

Like some of the other benefits, we don’t have all the facts yet. The studies haven’t been conducted on humans just yet. What we do know is that there are few reasons not to eat cayenne pepper, so any hope for lowering blood pressure with it is positive.

Improve Aching Joints, Muscles, and Chronic Pain

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If you’re a fibromyalgia sufferer, you may want to turn to cayenne pepper for some relief. Studies show that this pepper can help to reduce the feeling of pain throughout the body, especially in the joints and muscles. This is again thanks to the capsaicin within the cayenne pepper.

Most over the counter pain medications include capsaicin as an active ingredient. It’s effective for treating muscle pain, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. The benefit is that it prevents the transfer of pain signals from the nerve endings to the brain, so your body doesn’t recognize the feeling.

This can be gained by adding cayenne pepper to the diet, but it is also useful as a topical treatment. Studies have shown that it can be applied directly to the skin. While it burns at first, this is the skin getting used to the capsaicin within the cayenne pepper. Make sure you add it to olive oil to make it easier to spread across your body.

Some doctors recommend using cayenne pepper after surgery to help relieve some pain. It can also be effective for those with phantom pain syndrome after an amputation, while also reducing pain felt from diabetes and osteoarthritis.

Like with other conditions, there is still some more research needed. You may want to use other pain medications at first. Or you may want to try the cayenne pepper alone to see the effects and add in over the counter medications when and where necessary.

Reduce Your Flu Symptoms and Fight Common Colds

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There is no treatment for common colds. While medications can reduce the symptoms, there is nothing that will help to get rid of the virus. That is except cayenne pepper.

Again, it’s capsaicin to the rescue. This element helps to decongest the body and removes mucus from your respiratory system. It opens up the airways and will help to give the immune system a boost. Not only do you protect against the symptoms, but you’ll have an active ingredient against the viral infection.

Cayenne pepper is also full of beta-carotene, which helps to support your immune system. This antioxidant breaks up the mucus and forces it out of the body. It will also increase your body temperature, improving the chances of sweating the virus out of your system.

You’ll want to add this to your list of ingredients to use when you’re ill, especially within the first few hours. It is possible to beat colds within a 24 hour period, so you don’t have to put up with feeling sluggish and congested while you’re at work!

Reduce Migraine Pain Naturally

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We’ve already looked at how cayenne pepper can help to reduce chronic pain. It also works, in the same way, to get rid of migraines. Researchers have found that the benefits work slightly differently to other pain relief.

The spice helps to stimulate pain elsewhere. The body is so focused on that pain that it can’t focus on the pain you experience in your head. This can seem counterproductive since you’ll end up with pain somewhere else instead.

However, the other pain that you experience won’t be as bad as your migraine. You’ll get rid of the ache in your eyes, and you’ll stop feeling as sick. You may find that you can get up and get on with your day as normal, without that need to be in a dark room all the time. After all, a migraine is more than just a headache!

At the same time, the capsaicin helps to put a limit on the amount of pain that you will feel elsewhere. While the mind is focused on it, it won’t stop you in your day to day processes.

Detox Your Whole Body

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We’ve looked at how cayenne pepper can help improve your digestive system, but did you know it can also help with detoxifying your body? It helps to boost your circulation to eliminate more acid from your system. Yes, this helps to improve your digestion, but it also helps to improve your overall health.

The cayenne pepper will open up your capillaries. Your blood sugar is regulated, so your body can work on the toxins working around your system. The liver can release the right chemicals to fight against the toxins and draw them out of your system. Of course, a good working digestive system is also good for this.

A boost to the metabolism is also highly effective for removing the toxins. Your body works faster at getting rid of everything, so the toxins do less damage.

Treat Skin Conditions Like Psoriasis

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If you have psoriasis and other similar skin conditions, you’ll want to add more cayenne pepper to your diet. Psoriasis occurs when the skin cells replicate as a faster than needed rate. You’ll get swollen patches under your skin, which looks like white scales over the top.

In short, your skin will be inflamed in some areas, causing a problem for your overall health. The skin will be irritated and sore. There are very few treatments for psoriasis, but cayenne pepper is showing to be one of the most beneficial herbal remedies.

You only need a little capsaicin to slow down the skin cell production. The element helps to reduce the inflammation while supporting the cell health, so you’re doing two jobs at the same time. Studies have shown positive results in human testing on severe psoriasis.

It is worth pointing out that the treatments have used a cream that has added capsaicin. You don’t need to choose an over the counter remedy but can opt for a homemade paste with some cayenne pepper and olive oil.

While working on the condition, the cayenne pepper will also reduce some of the common symptoms. There are also studies that show it is useful for reducing allergies and other skin conditions.

Add More Cayenne Pepper to Your Diet

Cayenne pepper is one of the easiest ingredients to add to your diet. You just need to sprinkle it onto your food or add a teaspoon of it to water to drink. Replace your regular black pepper with it if you’re worried about too much spice or heat being added to your meals.

Yes, this is an ingredient that you can add to every meal of the day. You’ll certainly benefit from it, with no adverse side effects noted.

5 Tips for Starting a Healthy Lifestyle and Having a Healthy Start to the Day

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Browse anywhere, healthy diet and healthy lifestyle forms part of good health tips. While you may know vague ideas like eating breakfast, sleeping early, being physically active; we are enlisting all the qualities that make up for a healthy lifestyle.

For a healthy diet, crafted specifically according to your metabolism, you can have a FREE CONSULTATION with a Truweight Nutritionist!

How do you Live a Healthy Lifestyle?

Simple, by following these 5 expert-backed tips for starting a healthy lifestyle which will ensure that you start the morning right!

  1. Start your day with a glass of water
  2. Consume your breakfast within an hour of waking up. Ensure it is high in protein.
  3. Make time for a morning exercise routine
  4. Never skip any food group. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  5. Eat healthy snacks every 2-3 hours a day.

Why is it Important to Have a Healthy Lifestyle?

Concerted efforts to inculcate healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent life-long lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments among many. A healthy lifestyle can help manage an already existing condition well too! So inculcating a few healthy lifestyle tips can go a long way in improving your overall health and mental well-being.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips to Start your Day for Good Health

Healthy Lifestyle Tip no. 1: Start the day with a glass of water.

Start the day with a glass of water - 5 Tips for Starting a Healthy Lifestyle and Having a Healthy Start to the Day
Drink water as part of a healthy morning routine

This should be a default morning routine for a healthy lifestyle. Water gives you a healthy start because it helps in proper circulation of nutrients in the body. Water serves as the body’s transportation system.

Helps in weight loss

Let us tell you that water doesn’t have some magical property that kills fat (sorry!), but it can help you with your weight loss efforts (hooray!). First off, by staying hydrated, one can prevent overeating. That is because a lot of people confuse thirst for hunger! Isn’t drinking water better than eating high energy foods?

Flushes out toxins early on

It is a long known secret that drinking water as soon as you get up, i.e. before eating anything is a good way to purify your internal system. This practice helps to flush off the toxins from our body and cleanses the colon thus it enables better absorption of nutrients from various foods.

Drink water as a morning routine if you want glowing skin throughout the day

Water, the first thing in the morning, helps improve the skin glow by flushing off the toxins from the body. It also helps the skin do its job of regulating the body’s temperature through sweating, renewing the body cells.

If you are bored of drinking plain water, you can add a dash of lemon. The benefits of lemon water in the morning is it helps in detoxification and tastes good. Remember not to add sugar! Need more reasons to drink more water? Read on this blog about a recent study on drinking water.

“The Truweight healthy start tip: After 20 minutes of drinking water take some healthy food like nuts, fruit etc.”

Healthy Lifestyle Tip no. 2: Consume a healthy breakfast within the first hour of waking up

healthy breakfast - 5 Tips for Starting a Healthy Lifestyle and Having a Healthy Start to the Day
Consume a healthy breakfast within an hour of waking up

Best time to have breakfast: The optimum time to have breakfast is 7 am, or within the first hour of waking up.

Qualities of the breakfast: Always breakfast should be healthier, heavier, and eaten at earliest. Almost 60% of our total calories should come from our breakfast.

Start the breakfast with:  A fresh fruit or vegetable juice after a glass of water is advisable. If you plan to consume both, you could do so. It is a nutritional double whammy. Eating fruits, the first thing in the morning, after a glass of water is highly advisable. That is because fruits may not be digested and absorbed properly if eaten right after a meal. Eating fruits/ drinking vegetable juice early on could also reduce the number of carbs consumed in breakfast.

Follow up breakfast with: You can then add protein-rich items like egg or sprouts. Studies show that including eggs in breakfast can help you eat fewer calories for the next 3 hours. Which translates to losing more weight and body fat. If you can’t or don’t eat eggs for some reason, then any source of good quality protein should do the trick.

Some breakfast suggestions:  After a protein-rich food, you can consume regular breakfast items consisting of complex carbs or healthy carbs such as pesarattu (moong dal chilla)/ idly/ wheat vegetable upma/ vegetable dosa/ red poha with vegetables etc. If you are the breakfast cereal kinds, we have the harsh truth about how healthy is your breakfast cereal right here in this blog.

“The Truweight healthy start tip: After breakfast, take 2 hours before you drink or eat anything.”

Healthy Lifestyle Tip no. 3: Make some time for a morning exercise routine

morning exercise routine - 5 Tips for Starting a Healthy Lifestyle and Having a Healthy Start to the Day
15 minutes of morning exercise routine is important

We know morning could be a hectic time but try taking time out for at least 15 minutes of morning exercise for weight loss. It could something simple like spot jogging, planks, squats, or even a few Surya Namaskars. Try doing it every alternate day until it becomes you have a daily morning exercise charted out. Here are 13 awesome walking exercises with 5 of them demonstrated for all of you.

What is a healthy living?

Confused with leading a healthy lifestyle and healthy living? Healthy living is a state in which you are mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. Guess what, leading a healthy lifestyle is the first step towards a healthy living!

Healthy Lifestyle Tip no. 4: Never skip any nutrient group throughout the day

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A balanced healthy daily diet will keep you healthy

Carbohydrates are all about energy and are found in foods like fruits, grains, bread, and dairy products. They have wrongly implicated because they provide energy but they also provide both minerals and vitamins. Hence, we should not avoid this food group as a part of a healthy daily diet. We also tell you why you shouldn’t count calories for weight loss or otherwise.

What happens when you completely skip carbohydrates? If you stop eating carbohydrate, you rapidly lose water weight as your body breaks down the stored carbohydrates,” explains Darwin Deen, MD, Senior attending physician at Montefiore Medical Centre’s Department of Family and Social Medicine in the Bronx, New York. ” The problem is that a low-carbohydrate diet is not a normal balance of physiologic nutrition. As soon as you start eating carbohydrates again, your body replenished your carbohydrate stores and your weight comes back. So it is always advisable to have everything as per the required allowance.”

Consume more of fruits and vegetables: Aim to reach at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day because that is the recommended amount to keep lifestyle diseases at bay.

Healthy Lifestyle Tip no. 5: Consume healthy snacks every 2-3 hours

You may have a healthy diet plan but as long as you don’t account for snacks, you may fail at leading a healthy lifestyle. How to counter this? Always have healthy, non-fried but baked snacks handy. If possible, you can make some yourself at home! That will prevent unnecessary snacking.

How do you Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle?

Drinking upwards of 8 glasses of water a day; eating foods from different food groups such that you get protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and good fats;  having an early morning exercise routine, and eating healthy snacks can ensure that you lead a healthy lifestyle.

We have condensed all these healthy lifestyle tips in a video for quick viewing! Happy leading a healthy lifestyle!

Your child and their weight – where do you start?

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Language is an odd thing. Take the term ‘bonny’ – if you live in Scotland, it’s pretty standard to use it to refer to an attractive young woman. In England, the same term is pretty much unknown for adults, yet we still refer to ‘bonny babies’. What most people actually mean from this compliment, when they’re referring to babies, is plump. Yet overweight babies are far more likely to grow into obese adults – weight is no laughing matter.

Of course a century or two ago, when people in the Western world still regularly died from starvation, a ‘bonny’ baby was more likely to survive to adulthood than a skinny, sickly looking one. But a century ago, one in five children entering reception at primary school wasn’t obese or overweight, as they are today. And the figure for 10- to 11-year-olds is one in three.

Children weighing more than ideal is not a new thing – after all, we were using the term ‘puppy fat’ half a century ago. But it is getting more common – in 1995, one in five children aged 11 to 15 years and just one in 10 children aged two to 10 years was obese. And it’s not because of starvation – in fact, the more deprived the area, the more likely children are to be overweight. This, of course, may well reflect the fact while very few children have too little to eat because they can’t afford it, unhealthy foods do tend to be cheaper. The more affluent the area you come from, the more fruit and veg on your plate – although even children in the richest households eat way less than the recommended five portions a day.

But exercise – or lack of it – plays a major part too. For children aged under five, guidelines recommend at least three hours of physical activity every day. For those aged five to 15 years the target is an hour a day of ‘moderate to vigorous’ physical activity. In fact, only 21% of boys and 16% of girls meet these targets in England. Again, there’s a socio-economic divide – the more deprived the region, the less likely children are to be physically active.

As a parent, there are lots that you can do – and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

Sugar is great places to start – all UK children, regardless of age or family income, on average have too much sugar in their diets. Sugar provides completely empty calories, with no nutritional goodness at all. A single portion of some sugary drinks contains the equivalent of eight sugar cubes – and when guidelines say four- to six-year-olds shouldn’t have more than the equivalent of five sugar cubes a day, seven- to 10-year-olds no more than six cubes and 11- to 15-year-olds up to seven sugar cubes, the figures just don’t stack up

Pure fruit juice does contain vitamins which are important for your child’s health. But it also contains more sugar than you might think – so water down fruit juice and stick to one portion (150 ml – a small glass) a day, taken with food

Milk is a great alternative, with calcium for strong bones and teeth and no added sugar. Water, of course, doesn’t have added sugar either!

Be a role model. You may be exhausted when you come in from work, but don’t give your kids the idea that flopping down on the sofa with a family bag of crisps is the best way to reward yourself for hard work. If they take that message away, they’ll carry it with them for life. You may be surprised to hear that regular exercise is actually a really effective way to combat tiredness. So dust off your bicycle or wrap up and head to the park with a Frisbee – give them the message that being active is fun

Consider joining up for Change4life – you and your child will both get a personal activity plan, tailored to what you’re most likely to enjoy

Major on fruit, veg and starchy foods (such as potatoes, wholemeal bread and pasta) in your child’s diet. Almost any fruit and veg count – fresh, frozen or tinned (tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup)

Swap high sugar cereals for sugar-free ones, with chopped up or dried fruit to make them interesting

Swap after-school chocolate bars for fruited teacakes or malt loaf – and encourage your friends to do the same for their kids (to keep cries of ‘it’s not fair!’ to a minimum)

Swap stodgy puddings for low fat, low sugar yoghurts

Don’t pile the plates. Portion sizes across the world have increased steadily over the last 20 years, for children as well as adults. Yet it stands to reason that with kids being less physically active than ever, loading up the portions means piling on the pounds. Try using smaller size plates and don’t insist they eat everything on their plate if they say they’re full

Limit screen time. Whether it’s TV, laptops, mobiles or games consoles, limit this time to two hours a day. Encourage them to try other activities, whether it’s playing football or tag outside or playing a board/card game as a family. If they’re used to spending every waking hour playing electronic games or watching TV, it’ll take a while for them to get used to a new way of entertaining themselves, so you may need to cut down their ‘electronic fixes’ gradually

Never let your child have electronic equipment in their bedrooms at night – it’ll encourage them to stay up (and young people really do need their sleep) and the quality of light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with sleep quality

If you’re struggling to make changes, visit the MEND programme. They have an amazing array of free courses for youngsters of all ages – and their families – to get active and learn about a healthier lifestyle.

Above all, remember that you’re doing your child a favour. Your youngster may not thank you at first for trying to get them more active, or limiting their chocolate supply. But young people with weight problems are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and bullying. Of course you want the best for your child – and a little tough love could do them one great big favour.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Your checklist for a healthy start to 2017

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1.17.2017

With the start of a new year, it’s a great opportunity to take stock of your health and benefits to ensure this is your best, and healthiest, year yet. Consider adding the following simple, yet important, items to your to-do list this month:

  • Understand your healthcare coverage. What costs are you responsible for? What is covered under your health insurance plan? Are your doctors in-network? These are all important questions to review to ensure you are using your benefits wisely and making informed decisions. Here is some helpful information about understanding health insurance.
  • Confirm your providers are still in-network: With the start of a new plan year, it’s important to make sure your doctors are still in your health plan’s network. This can change from year-to-year, so call your doctor or health plan to confirm before scheduling an appointment to avoid being charged higher out-of-network fees.
  • Choose a primary care provider (PCP): While having a primary care provider is necessary for some health plans, having an established relationship with a doctor is important to maintaining good health down the road, regardless of your health plan. A primary care provider can care for the majority of non-emergency needs, understands your health history, and can help manage and treat injuries, illnesses or issues requiring immediate care.
  • Schedule preventive screenings: Most health plans are required to cover preventive screenings and immunizations at no cost to you, making the new year an optimal time to take advantage of this opportunity and make sure you are in good health and address any potential issues early.
  • Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA): If you are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, you are eligible to contribute to an HSA. The new year is a great opportunity to begin contributing to an account if you haven’t already – these funds are contributed and can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for health expenses, which can help save you a great deal of money, plus they rollover year-to-year.
  • Review your emergency contact information: In the event of a health emergency, it’s critical that first responders know how to contact your friends or family members. It may be helpful to update or add an “In Case of Emergency” or ICE contact in your cell phone to help quickly identify the person you’d like them to contact. For more tips and information on this, read our post on Tips to Prepare for Emergencies.
  • Be proactive: Take steps to stay healthy and possibly prevent health issues later on, including eating right, exercising, visiting the doctor regularly, and practicing healthy habits.

Taking these steps now can help ensure you have a happy and healthy 2017. Happy new year!

How Health Advocate can help

If you’re a Health Advocate member, your Personal Health Advocate can help you take many of these important steps, including confirming your doctors are in network, helping you locate a primary care provider in your area and scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss which preventive screenings may be right for you. Your Personal Health Advocate can also help you navigate a wide range of both clinical and administrative health issues, ensuring you have the tools and resources to have a healthy start to the new year.

Start saving now for your summer getaway!

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3.05.2016

Are you dreaming of white sandy beaches, thrill rides with the kids, or even museums full of exhibits to explore? It’s the time of year when many of us are starting to shake off the winter doldrums and plan our summer getaways. Planning and looking forward to vacations are (almost) as fun as the trip itself, but getting a head start can also give you a chance to start saving and make the most of your travel budget. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path toward a fun and relaxing summer getaway:

  • Set up a separate account. It’s helpful to set up a separate savings account for “fun” items like travel that you can contribute to on a regular basis or whenever you have extra cash, like your tax return or a rebate check.
  • Make a few swaps. A few simple swaps can help your account grow more quickly and ensure you are spending on the important things, like your dream vacation! Perhaps decide to only go out for lunch once a month, and earmark the amount you would’ve spent for your vacation fund.
  • Contribute automatically. You can also consider having a small percentage directly deposited from your paycheck into the savings account. Those little additions can add up over the course of a year or so, especially if you are earning interest.
  • Decide on a goal. Everyone has different ideas of what their ideal trip looks like. Sit down with your travel companions to start thinking about what yours might be to help create a budgeting goal. A long weekend in a nearby city will likely cost much less than two weeks in Europe (but you may be able to make that shorter trip much sooner!). Considering what you are comfortable spending and your other budget priorities (paying down school loans, buying a new car, etc.) may also help determine a final number that you are working toward.
  • Do some research. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, start looking at airfare, hotels, food and activities in the area to estimate how much you may need to save. Use this information to make any adjustments to your vacation savings contributions.
  • Look for deals. By planning early, you may be able to take advantage of special deals or packages. Also consider renting a house or apartment versus staying in a hotel or visiting locations during off-peak seasons to keep costs more manageable.
  • Have fun! Get excited as you start to make final plans for your trip, and let the countdown begin!

Looking for ideas of where to head this summer (and affordably?)? Here are a few suggestions for this year’s top budget travel destinations:

For Health Advocate Members

If you are a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness or EAP+Work/Life Programs, you can take advantage of financial wellness workshops and other resources to help you plan a budget for your dream summer vacation.

Why you should start a spending diary

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If you often find yourself staring at your bank account and wondering where all your money has gone, you’re not alone. Many people live paycheck to paycheck, do not contribute to a savings account, or don’t set aside money for a rainy day—which means when something unexpected happens and you need more money than usual, you find yourself in a tough situation.

If this regularly happens to you, getting a better handle on your finances is imperative. If you don’t already know what you’re really spending and where your money is actually going, now is the time to start finding out.

Keeping a spending diary is a simple way to track your financial activity, and it can provide valuable insight into how and why you’re spending money. Once you understand where the money’s going and why, you can take steps to improve your financial situation, such as:

  • Understanding what you’re spending money on, like your essential expenses (rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, car payment, etc.) and your discretionary expenses (a new outfit, restaurant meals). This can help you create a budget.
  • Begin identifying ways you can cut your spending. For example, could you pack your lunch 4 days a week and enjoy lunch out once a week, or perhaps pick a less expensive cable package that has fewer channels? Implementing some of your ideas can lead to cost savings and more money in your bank account.

How to keep a spending diary

You don’t need anything fancy to get started—just a notebook and pen! In your notebook, keep a record of:

  • What you bought
  • The total price of what you bought (if buying something online, be sure to include shipping and handling in the cost)
  • The date and time you bought it
  • How you were feeling when you bought it

Remember to write down every purchase! Even if it was “just two bucks” for coffee at your favorite café, write it down. You’d be surprised how much those little purchases add up. In order to really get a handle on your finances, you need to have an accurate picture of exactly how and where you’re spending money.

In addition to listing purchases you make at stores, don’t forget to also list things like your monthly mortgage or rent payment, and the amounts of bills like your electric bill or cell phone bill. While you may not think of these things as “purchases,” you are still spending money on them; tracking them will help you see the full picture of what you are spending.

Identify your spending patterns

Review the information you record in your spending diary regularly and take note of patterns that you see. Are any of these patterns causing you financial stress or hardships—for example, do you notice that impulse purchases are taking a toll on your bank account, or are you upset because you’re routinely spending more than you had originally anticipated spending in certain areas? If so, dig deeper into the patterns and potential reasons associated with this behavior. For example…

  • Are you more likely to make impulse buys during certain days or times of the day, or when you feel a certain way (sad, tired, hungry, etc.)?
  • Are you more likely to buy things spur-of-the-moment when certain triggers occur, such as receiving a sale alert emailed to you by a store you like?
  • Are large amounts of your money going to certain categories of purchases, and if so, can you begin thinking of any ways to reduce the amount of money you’re spending?

Get creative!

Once you’re aware of your habits and patterns, you can think of ways to outsmart the part of yourself that is susceptible to making financial decisions that may feel good in the moment, but ultimately hurt you and diminish your financial wellness. Here are a few examples of ways you can begin to change the behaviors and feelings behind spending money.

If you know you are more likely to shop in the first hour or two after you get home from work, distract yourself. Instead of stopping at the mall on your way home, or engaging in online shopping on your home computer, go straight home and busy yourself with an activity that is not related to shopping:

  • Go for a walk or do a workout
  • Bake a treat or cook a meal
  • Call a friend or chat with your family
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Take a warm bath
  • Or do any other activity you enjoy that will keep you occupied during that specific timeframe

If you know that receiving notifications about sales triggers your impulse to buy, you could unsubscribe so that you stop receiving email notifications from stores, or you could set up filters in your email system that direct messages from stores into a separate folder so that you do not see them constantly popping up in your main inbox folder.

If you notice you’re spending a lot of money at the grocery store and want to try to spend less, you could employ one or several of these strategies:

  • Make a list before you go
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry
  • Use coupons
  • Choose items that are on sale first
  • Pick items that are store brand instead of name-brand

For Health Advocate Members

If you are a Health Advocate member and want to improve your financial situation, we offer resources to help you. If you have access to our Wellness Program, log on to your member website to take one of our 6-week Financial Wellness workshops. And, if you have access to our EAP+Work/Life program, you can call to address financial stress (or any other difficulties or stressors) with a Licensed Professional Counselor, or ask one of our work/life specialists for help locating financial counselors or other support resources.

How to Start Health Contingent Wellness Programs

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How To Start Health Contingent Wellness Programs

To be effective, a wellness program should do two things well. First, it should help improve the health of all employees, especially those with elevated health risks. Second, it should help the healthy employees stay healthy. When these two things happen, there is a reduction in the cost of employee health care, and improvements in both productivity and morale. But all of this is easier said than done.

Even though there are clear benefits to having a healthy lifestyle for both individuals and companies, there is a need to tread lightly on anything that involves an employee’s personal life. Problems arise when organizations dictate what individuals can and cannot do away from work.

Workplace wellness programs that provide opportunities for growth and improvement in the quality of life — while respecting personal space — are more likely to demonstrate positive outcomes. Every workplace is composed of individuals with different behaviors, habits, cultural influences, and health characteristics. Some employees are extremely healthy, while others live with a variety of elevated health risks or may even have a chronic disease. And none of this is static. People change. People with good health can develop health risks and the opposite is also true.

Efforts to provide wellness programming for all the employees within an organization is a challenge. Throw in an incentive program that requires complicated risk tracking, behavior change interventions, and various degrees of rewards, and things can get complicated very quickly.

With a limited budget, most wellness programs struggle to strike a balance between helping the healthy stay healthy and helping employees with elevated health risks improve their health. More often than not, programs focus on just one subset of the workforce population while the rest of the employees get neglected.

Here is a short video that shows how a well-organized health contingent wellness program can adequately fulfill its duty to both the healthy employees and those with elevated health risks.

Most employers treat their employees with respect. Most employers recognize that the individuals who work and serve in their organizations are the single most valuable asset that the organization has. Wellness programs that are based on sound scientific evidence can change lives.  When individuals adopt and maintain healthy behaviors, not only will they extend the length of their lives, but they will also improve the quality of their lives.

When done correctly, a wellness program is an outward demonstration that an employer truly does care about every employee and his or her health. Despite all good intentions and careful efforts to lift and support employees, some employees will view a wellness program as punitive. And some will complain.

It is true that personal health and personal life are not the business of an employer. Nobody wants big brother telling them what they can or cannot do on their own time or with their own health. And no one wants their private health data shared with anyone except a medical professional or family member.

These are real concerns that employees have regarding wellness program participation. And these concerns are the reason why programs need to be organized and administered in a way that does good and does no harm.

No More Sharing Risk

The cost of health care is calculated differently than the cost of life insurance, house insurance, or car insurance. Unsafe driving leads to higher car insurance. If an employee is big into BASE jumping, their life insurance will be higher because the premiums are based on risk of premature death. Having a fireplace or flooding potential or asbestos siding are all risks that will increase the cost of homeowners insurance.

The cost of insurance is calculated on the amount of risk the insurance company is taking. But for decades, the cost of health care has been unrelated to individual health risks.

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However, now your health insurance is beginning to take the same risk-based approach to pricing as other forms of insurance. But there is one important twist; risk assessment with health insurance is usually voluntary and not forced upon you by the insurance company. A health-contingent (outcomes-based) wellness program is a step in that direction.

Incentives can be offered to those who have lower risks or who are working to improve their health. Those who maintain their health, and who are therefore less risky to insure, get a better deal on health insurance through lower deductibles, lower premiums, and lower co-pays.

A health-contingent program is one where an employee must meet a health standard to qualify for a reward. A reward can be either an incentive OR a penalty.  WellSteps doesn’t have a single client that uses penalties. People respond better to positive rewards so that is what we promote.

Think about it this way. As a teenager, do you remember how much you disliked being told what to do? It turns out that teenagers — and most adults — don’t like being told what to do! We dislike having privileges taken away even more.

The punitive approach to employee wellness is not the happy option. We strongly recommend an approach that allows employee to earn a positive reward if they choose to. And yet, companies, in spite of their best intentions, often mess things up in their attempts to provide an employee wellness program. Let’s count the ways.

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How To Avoid Getting Sued

Despite the guidelines that were included in the Affordable Care Act, a few lawsuits have been filed against wellness programs. These cases have taught us a few simple rules that should be followed when setting up an effective wellness program. If you use a health-contingent wellness approach, the first rule is to treat people nicely!  If you are nice, you really won’t need to worry about these other rules. But here they are just in case:

  1. Provide employees the opportunity to qualify for the reward once per year.
  2. Have and communicate alternate ways to qualify. WellSteps has developed a clever way to manage the alternate requirement on an individual basis. We do this in a way that prevents the employee’s colleagues from ever knowing.
  3. Give every employee a chance to earn the reward.
  4. Do not deny or limit insurance coverage for non-participants.
  5. Provide notice if collecting anonymous medical information.
  6. Follow data security rules.
  7. Limit the reward value to 30% (or less) of the cost for employee-only health insurance coverage.
  8. Reasonably design your program to promote health or prevent disease. Reasonable design means the program cannot take too much time, require intrusive procedures, or place significant costs on employees. Promoting health or preventing disease means using an evidence-based program.

Start Health Contingent Wellness Programs Wrong and You Can Destroy Employee Morale

There are some companies and institutions that have used poorly designed health-contingent programs and all they accomplished with their wellness program was to reduce employee morale. Here is what they did wrong:

  1. Ramrodded the program down employees’ throats without listening to their input
  2. Failed to communicate about the employee wellness program until it was rolled out
  3. Used a stick-based approach instead of carrot-based approach
  4. Implemented a health contingent program but did not provide tools or skills to help employees improve health. This is sort of like asking employees to write a business report with no desk, chair, or computer.

If a workplace already has a confrontational culture and a leadership style that does not support  employee wellness initiatives, it is probably not a good place to implement a health-contingent wellness program. The culture needs to be prepared with some organizational development first. A health-contingent wellness program will thrive at a workplace that values, supports, and cares for its employees. It will thrive in work locations where employees trust management and vice versa. It will thrive in locations where healthy living has been integrated into the work culture. But without management and leadership support, the wellness program is likely to fail.

Health-Contingent Wellness is Really Just Prevention

WellSteps has created a platform that allows organizations to develop, administer, and evaluate an effective health-contingent wellness program. Insurance carriers and larger companies have spent a lot of time and money trying to help employees manage chronic diseases. The entire disease management industry is designed to improve the health of those with a chronic disease. I like to think of a health-contingent wellness program as prevention.

The ideal time to help people with disease management is before they get the disease. The time to help individuals improve their health and reduce their healthcare costs is when they start to demonstrate elevated health risks. Elevated health risks are the precursors to chronic disease. Prevention efforts require that wellness coordinators help individuals improve elevated health risks.

At WellSteps, we call this WellSteps Plus. It’s a software platform that uses employee biometric data to organize, track, plan, and evaluate the health improvement and incentive status of every single employee. It provides structure and organization to the otherwise complex task of monitoring and improving the health of individual employees. It gives organizations a powerful way to manage employee health in a private, unobtrusive, and positive way.

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So What?

When you create a wellness program make sure you have employee input, communicate the program well, offer rewards instead of penalties, and provide the tools necessary for employees to improve their health. Make sure that the organizational culture is ready for a wellness program. A well organized, health-contingent wellness program can allow employers to maximize the impact of their wellness strategy. Do it right and both the employee and the employer can win.

 

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