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Healthy & Natural Ways to Reduce High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that’s found naturally throughout your body.  In general, your body needs cholesterol to produce substances like certain hormones and Vitamin D that contribute to your body’s digestive system.  Naturally, your body creates the proper amount of cholesterol that it needs to function properly; however, many people struggle with battling high cholesterol that can lead to heart problems and other health issues.  Luckily, high cholesterol can be managed and reduced with the right steps:

Reduce Consumption of Saturated & Trans Fats

Saturated fats and Trans fats are both large contributors to a rise in your cholesterol level.  Saturated fats are primarily found in red meat and some dairy products that are high in fat. Reducing your consumption of these foods lowers your intake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol; LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol.  Additionally, many non-perishable items you purchase from the grocery store, such as butter and margarine, or sweets like cookies and cakes, can be high in trans fats.

Boost Your Soluble Fiber Intake

Just like fats, there are both good fiber, and bad fiber.  Soluble fiber, the good kind, can be found in many natural foods such as beans, avocados, broccoli, oats, and flax seeds, to mention just a few.  Soluble fiber blends well within your gut, reduces high blood sugar, improves digestion, and can contribute to lowering your cholesterol…

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The Mediterranean Diet and Heart Health

In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the many benefits and negative impacts that different foods and diets can have on your body and your heart.  The foods you eat regularly have a huge impact on your body’s overall function; from weight management to the function of vital organs, taking care of your body is extremely important.  Many people look at a diet as a form of restriction; meaning you focus on the things you can’t have, rather than what you can. The Mediterranean diet is a fantastic eating plan that not only gives you the ability to consume delicious foods but know the foods you are consuming are providing your body with numerous health benefits.  So, what is it?

The Mediterranean diet is a basic incorporation of natural, plant-based foods, whole grains, beans, and healthy fats, such as raw nuts; you even have the option of the occasional glass of red wine.  According to the American Heart Association, individuals that follow an average Mediterranean diet consume a much lower amount of saturated that those who eat the average American diet.  Let’s break it down:

Benefits

According to the Mayo Clinic, the traditional Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and is associated with decreased levels of LDL cholesterol.  A decrease in LDL cholesterol limits the buildup of cholesterol deposits in your heart and arteries, ultimately reducing the overall risk of mortality related to cardiovascular issues. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet reduces the risks of different types of cancers and can prevent other major chronic illnesses.   

Natural Foods: Fruits, Veggies, Grains

The main components of a healthy Mediterranean diet are natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains like pasta, bread, and different types of rice…

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The Importance of Organ Donation

Becoming an organ donor is much more than just an indication on your driver’s license.  Organ donors are extremely important in our society as they give individuals in need the chance at a new life.  According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, just one organ donor can save or improve the lives of more than eight people in need.  From vital organs such as the heart and lungs to restorative surgeries that can help bring back a patients eyesight.  Organ donation can save and improve the lives of children and adults of various ages, and the need is only increasing.

According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, more than 114,000 men, women, and children are registered on the national transplant waiting list.  These patients are waiting for vital organs that can help save their lives. Though that staggering statistic is only increasing as time goes on, the number of registered donors is struggling to keep up.  While many U.S adults support the concept of organ donation, it is estimated that only 54% are actually registered as organ donors. The shortage of donors is increasing with a new patient waiting for transplant being added to the list every ten minutes. 

So, how can you go about registering, and what does being an organ donor consist of?  Regardless of your race, nationality, or medical history, you can usually register as an organ donor.  To register you must be 18 years or older; however, in some states, donors under 18 can be acceptable with the authorization of a parent or guardian.  Deciding to become a donor is a big decision; however, once you have made the choice, going about it is an easy process…

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The Spectrum: Transition into Adulthood

As a parent, you want the best for your child.  As a parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you may have concerns about how your child will make the transition into adulthood.  While many children with ASD can lead generally normal lives, it’s not uncommon for them to face different challenges as they grow and make the transition into adulthood.  However, this isn’t a reason to worry, just a reason to have a plan in advance. Here are some great steps to helping your child with their transition as they grow.

Develop a Plan

The first step to setting your child up for a successful transition into adulthood is creating a solid plan.  While your child is living at home with you, they have stability and a solid routine that they can stick to. If they are planning on going out on their own, you’ll want to do your best to prepare them for the world that they may not be too familiar with.  To do this, you can start to introduce new things gradually, and see how they react. Making decisions such as college, work, or living on their own with a caretaker are all potential options you may want to visit.

Decide on College or Not

Some children with ASD may make their way to college after they graduate from high school.  Of course, this is dependent on how severe their ASD is; however if your child is college bound, you’ll want to make sure they have the right resources for support and help when needed.  Many colleges have programs for students with special needs and other disabilities that can help support them during their time there. Community college, as well as four-year universities offer various programs and you have do your research for each individual school you may be contemplating to determine what they offer. Do the proper amount of research to find the right schools and programs; don’t forget to consider the financial aspects that may be required…

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The Spectrum: Understanding Routines

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are likely to show signs of favoring rituals and routines.  Routines tend to be an extremely important part of a child’s ASD world, as having a routine can help them feel more consistent and in order.  While relying too much on a specific routine may do more harm than good (in some cases), generally, adopting different routines can be rather beneficial for individuals with ASD; the important part is how to better understand and implement them properly to avoid issues.  Here are some of the major benefits of adopting a healthy routine:

Maintain Order with a Schedule

Life for a child or adult with ASD can often seem chaotic and hard to manage.  Creating a schedule can better help someone with ASD adapt to different areas of life that generally may be more of a challenge for them.  Visual schedules are a great way to implement this as it allows for visual images of daily activities and gives your child the opportunity to see what is happening next.  Ultimately, this can assist in avoiding potential breakdowns due to unexpected changes throughout the day. It’s important to remember that a schedule is a best practice, however, change can sometimes be unavoidable; you should always be prepared, and its best to prepare your child for potential unexpected schedule changes.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Many children with ASD struggle with severe stress and anxiety disorders.  Daily tasks such as meeting new people, being in different surroundings, and going to school,  can cause an immense amount of stress for someone with ASD and may make it harder to manage. Implementing a routine can help ease these issues and improve your child’s ability to adapt to new situations.  For example, if going to school is something that generally causes your child a mass amount of stress, develop a before school routine that will help them understand what their day will look like and help them ease into it.

Increase Potential for Learning

Using a daily routine can also increase your child’s potential for learning.  In a school setting, a child with ASD may struggle to learn and retain new information.  However, with a healthy routine, and a lowered stress level, your child will be able to better focus on the direct tasks at hand…

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The Spectrum: Homework Strategies

Homework is a task that can sometimes be stressful for parents and their children to get through.  For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), homework can often be more difficult than enjoyable.  If you have a child with ASD you are likely sitting down with them to help them complete any homework assignments after they come home from school.  Similar to daily routines that can help your child with ASD thrive, a homework routine can also do the same. To ease the process, and reduce stress, consider some of these useful homework strategies that can improve how homework is done.

Designated Homework Area

The first step in creating an easy homework routine is finding a comfortable area in your home and making it a designated homework space.  This space should be an open, quiet location, with limited distractions. Whether it’s in a quiet living space, or at a desk in your child’s room, this area should be a separate space from any general household commotion.  Keep in mind, if the chosen homework space is in your child’s room, make sure the area is clutter free and any other major distractions are removed. Once you have decided on the space, set it up with the necessary materials needed (pencils, erasers, colored markers, calculator, etc.).

Establish a Time and Task Schedule

An essential part of a homework routine is establishing a homework time and task schedule.  Your homework time should be generally the same each day, so your child knows when to expect to sit down and get things done.  Once the time is established, build out a task schedule to organize everything that needs to get done each day. This can be done in various ways and can be customized to how your child works best.  For example, you may find your child focuses best at the beginning of homework time, so you may set the more difficult assignments for the beginning. On the opposite end, if it takes your child a little while to begin to focus, you may want to get the easy ones out of the way first…

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The Correlation Between Anxiety and Heart Health

Anxiety is a common mental condition for many Americans.  Experiencing an anxiety or panic attack can be quite scary if you’re unaware of what’s going on.  In fact, symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack can often be similar to that of heart problems related to heart disease.  But is there a direct correlation between the two? Can severe anxiety disorder cause heart problems that can lead to heart disease?  Can having heart disease increase anxiety levels and ultimately further damage heart health? While these topics are still generally debated, here is some firm evidence of correlation between the two.

Someone that is regularly anxious, or suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is likely to experience heightened anxiousness or bouts of panic that cause their body to physically react in a way that may put stress on their heart.  For example, factors such as a rapid heart rate (tachycardia) or increased blood pressure could be direct results of severe anxiety or panic, and could also cause unwanted stress on your heart. In fact, chronic high blood pressure can lead to weakened heart muscles, coronary disease, and ultimately heart failure.

On the other end of the spectrum, facing a heart attack or other heart problems can leave patients with fear, anxiety, and panic disorders; and it’s not uncommon to develop them if you don’t know what you can do to better manage your symptoms.  If you have previously suffered a heart attack, or are facing heart disease or other heart related issues, talk to your doctor about managing your anxiety to reduce your stress, and prevent any added stress to your heart…

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