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Four Unhealthy Habits That Damage Your Heart

Most of us understand that unhealthy habits are sometimes inevitable, it may be a surprise to some that a few of these habits are part of our everyday lives and go unnoticed. Here are four of those unhealthy habits along with ideas on how to promote heart health.

Regularly Skipping a Good Night’s Rest

Adults typically need seven to eight hours of sleep to feel rested and be productive. Getting enough sleep is also necessary for heart health. During the non-REM phase of sleep, blood pressure and heart rate go down, which helps to give the heart the rest it needs to maintain cardiovascular health. In addition, a chronic lack of sleep is associated with obesity, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and elevated levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. The presence of those hormones is an indicator of inflammation, which is linked to cardiovascular disease.

Consuming Too Much Salt

Ninety percent of Americans consume more than the recommended daily intake of 1,500 milligrams of sodium. In fact, the average daily sodium intake is 3,400 milligrams, which is more than twice the recommended limit. The salt shaker is not the culprit since only 10 percent of sodium intake is from shaking salt on food. Most dietary sodium comes from restaurant, packaged, or prepared foods. Excessive sodium consumption raises the risk of hypertension, which may lead to heart disease. People interested in lowering their sodium intake should limit or avoid high sodium foods such as bacon, cold cuts, canned soup, jerky, chips, canned vegetables, and pretzels…

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Improving Your Emotional Health

While the benefits of physical activity have been lauded time and time again, mental health is just as vital for wellbeing both inside and out. Being healthy emotionally is linked to lower blood pressure, lower cortisol, better sleep, more resilience and a multitude of other benefits. Taking time to take care of oneself mentally shouldn’t be neglected. Here are a few tips for greater mental well-being.

Exercise Regularly

Physical and mental health go hand in hand for overall wellness. Exercising helps to release endorphins, a natural chemical created in the body that can promote feelings of happiness, and even increase cognitive sharpness. Exercise is also shown to help with mild depression and ease anxiety. Aim for three or more days of physical activity a week.

Spend Time in Meditation

Spending as little as fifteen minutes sitting in stillness, or while focusing on the good things in life has been shown to cause a dip in anxiety and stress, while improving cognitive abilities.

Have a Strong Support System

Having a steadfast group of friends, or family members that will listen during times of joy and duress is a pillar to a healthy, meaningful life. Support systems can be small or big, as long as they are positive influences. If one is looking for new friends, they should look at the things they enjoy doing to meet like-minded individuals.

Find Positive Ways to Cope With Stress

Some days stress is unavoidable, but going for a walk, or practicing deep breathing can bring relief. If a specific situation is causing stress daily, it might be time for a change. One should view this change as a positive new experience…

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The Spectrum: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Autism (ASD)

One of the greatest challenges faced by parents of children with autism undoubtedly lies in the challenge of teaching communication skills to children who find socializing extremely difficult. As a primary facet of autism, difficulties with communication can put stress on familial relationships and deeply affect how a child performs in school and job training; fortunately, there are ways to help an autistic child overcome their struggles with verbal and non-verbal communication.

Thinking Patterns of Autism

To truly make a difference in the life of a child with autism, it is imperative for parents to understand why communication is so difficult for people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). For children with autism, psychological processes that neurotypical individuals often take for granted are experienced differently and with far greater difficulty. An autistic child will often experience a high degree of sensory overload when placed in a social situation, making the process of communicating with others feel overwhelming and even painful.

Where a neurotypical child would process social information quickly and efficiently while communicating with peers or adults, for example, a child with autism will “shut down” as the part of their brain that controls executive function struggles to cope with what it perceives to be as a multi-faceted problem. Just as most of us would feel overwhelmed if we were suddenly presented with four difficult math problems that needed to be solved simultaneously and within a limited timeframe, a child with autism will often view the multiple processes at work in socializing with anxiety and trepidation.

Learning By Doing

With these concepts about the chief qualities of autism in mind, parents can help children overcome difficulties in communication by modeling the kind of interpersonal skills that children with autism often struggle to learn or cope with in a social setting. Exaggerated modeling of social skills by parents has been shown to be particularly effective in teaching autistic children about socializing; emphasizing the kind of gestures and eye contact that are central to clear interpersonal communication can do wonders for children who are learning the basics of social skills, for example, as can reducing speech to its barest elements…

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Heart Disease and Obesity

When discussing heart health, there is an inevitable correlation between obesity and heart disease. To emphasize how serious obesity is, it’s second only to smoking as the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 34.9 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children were obese in 2011-2012.

To better understand obesity, let’s first define it. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30 kg/m2. Obesity increases the risk of multiple chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obstructive sleep apnea, stroke, among other health conditions. According to the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the number one contributing factor leading to death globally; obesity increases the risk of CVD.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), between 2007-2010 there were approximately 5.1 million Americans 20 years or older who suffered from heart failure. A higher BMI will increase the risk of heart failure. For every one unit of increase in BMI, the risk of heart failure rises by 5-7 percent in both men and women…

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4 Natural Foods That Will Boost Your Energy

Many adults are faced with heavily packed schedules and tasks that require them to be on the go from morning to night. From work or school to running a household and taking care of a family; your “job” likely doesn’t end with a regular 9-5. With the large number of tasks you’re taking on every day, it can be difficult to keep your energy up, and not feel as if you’re ready to crash by the time you hit the pillow. So, what are some of the ways you’re keeping yourself up and moving throughout the day? Coffee and energy drinks? For many adults, this is the solution to trying to get a quick energy boost; unfortunately, the boost is short-lived and can do more harm than good, over time.

A great way to avoid the quick-fixes to a lack of energy is to take a look at your diet and the foods you’re consuming daily. The foods you eat can play a major role in your energy level, and incorporating the right ones can give you the natural boost you need every day. Here are a few foods that not only boost your energy but improve your overall health.

Apples

Apples are a quick snack that can provide you with a sufficient energy boost throughout your day. A food that’s high in fiber and carbohydrates, apples can provide you with a sustainable energy release after consumption. Due to their high level of carbs, fibers, and natural sugars, they tend to take more time to process and digest; thus providing you with a slower and more sustained energy release, rather than a quick boost.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another great form of sustainable energy that when consumed in the morning, can likely last you for the remainder of your day. It’s known as a complex carbohydrate that’s packed with fiber and other major nutrients. According to Healthline, “It contains beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that forms a thick gel when combined with water. The presence of this gel in the digestive system delays stomach emptying and the absorption of glucose into the blood.”..

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How to Boost Your Immune System and Stay Healthy

Cold and Flu season is still underway, and you may be wondering how you can keep yourself healthy, and avoid getting sick. For many, the winter and spring months bring on at least one dreaded head cold, or worse, the flu. However, it’s important to remember that your immune system is your body’s natural form of defense from sickness, and making sure it’s functioning properly is the first step to avoiding feeling under the weather. This season, here are a few great ways to give your immune system the boost it needs.

Don’t Miss Out on Sleep

Sleep deprivation is one of the main things that can contribute to a lowered immune system.  Think about when you’re not feeling well and your body’s decreased energy level. When you’re sick, your body desires sleep due to an automatic response and immune defense.  In other words, when you sleep while being sick, your body essentially kicks into overdrive and increases its healing process.  With that said, sleep is also a preventative measure you should always take to avoid getting sick.  It provides your body with downtime and gives it the opportunity to restore and repair itself.

Have a Well-Rounded Diet

Eating the right foods provides your body with tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that directly contribute to keeping your immune system functioning properly.  You’ll want to focus on natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains and avoid processed foods that hold little to no nutritional value…

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Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

We’ve previously discussed the significant impact that sleep deprivation can have on your heart and your health in general.  One of the main links to sleep deprivation is a sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is linked to a general lack of sleep, chronic daytime sleepiness, and many cardiovascular issues including high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart arrhythmia.  

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person’s breathing during sleep to pause due to blocked airways, or issues with muscle control.  Generally, a person will fall asleep and have a significant pause in breathing that will ultimately cause them to wake up multiple times throughout the night.  In severe sleep apnea cases, this can happen for an individual hundreds of times throughout the night, causing a very unsteady sleep pattern. According to Harvard Health, sleep apnea is found in 47-83% of individuals with cardiovascular disease; and research estimates that those with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of death due to heart disease.

The most common form of sleep apnea, known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused due to the upper airway collapsing, thus becoming blocked during sleep.  When the airway becomes blocked, breathing is paused, and oxygen levels decrease. As an emergency response, your body then releases a stress hormone known as epinephrine.  Depending on the severity of OSA and how many times your body is releasing the hormone, your epinephrine levels can remain consistently high, thus leading to high blood pressure…

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