Should You Get a Flu Shot?

The question of whether or not a person should get a flu shot seems to be one asked yearly. What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the myths? Will it help our overall general health? Hopefully after reading this article the answer will be clear whether or not you should get a flu shot.

What exactly is the flu? The influenza virus is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system. All of the symptoms you might find with the common cold (coughing, sneezing, congestion, sore throat, headache, etc.) are associated with the flu, but the flu often causes a high fever accompanied with body aches and fatigue.  These symptoms can lead to more serious issues that are certainly not good for one’s general health which may prompt an individual to consider getting a flu shot.

There are several benefits to getting a flu shot. The flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting the flu by 40% to 60%. This is especially true among children and older adults and the prevention of hospitalization caused by flu symptoms. Flu vaccination has proven to be an effective tool for people with chronic health conditions such as cardiac issues. It has lowered some cardiac events just by receiving the vaccination especially for those who have experienced heart issues within the past year. Patients who have chronic lung disease or diabetes who have received the flu shot have also shown a decrease in hospitalization. Another benefit of the flu vaccination is proven among pregnant women to not only reduce their risk of catching the flu, but reducing their baby’s risk of getting the flu after birth. If for some reason you still get sick with the flu after receiving a flu shot, chances are your symptoms will be milder.

As with any medication or vaccination, risks are always involved. Babies under the age of six months should not receive the flu shot. Any person with a severe allergy to the ingredients found in the flu vaccination, such as gelatin or antibiotics, should not consider getting a flu shot for obvious reasons. Other things to consider before getting the flu vaccination are any allergies to eggs or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Speaking with your physician is advised in either case. People may also experience a low-grade fever and a sore arm after receiving the injection.

The biggest myth about flu shots is that the flu vaccination actually causes the flu. Prior to 2016 some vaccines contained a live virus, however, it was weakened and was specifically developed to prevent illness. Since then flu vaccinations are made from inactivated virus. The virus is essentially grown and then killed, making it impossible for a dead virus to cause the flu but instead help your body build an immunity to the live virus.

When considering one’s general health, one needs to be informed and educated. Only you can decide if getting the flu shot is best for your well-being. Compare the benefits to the risks and deduce whether or not the risks of getting the flu are better or worse than the risks of receiving the vaccination.

10 Ways Ketones Can Improve Your Health

Just as sugar is converted to glucose in our bodies, fat is converted to ketones by the liver. When blood sugar drops and the body has burned up its stored glucose, our bodies convert fat into ketones.

There are many health benefits to ketones, provided the body doesn’t go into ketoacidosis. This occurs when a person is unable to produce insulin—such as in the case of diabetics—and the body creates way too many ketones. This, however, only typically occurs in the cases of diabetics who are untreated.

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Ketones can, in fact, have considerable health benefits. Here are 10 ways they can improve your health.

  1. Ketones help reduce hunger. This is very beneficial for weight loss.
  2. Ketones lessen cravings. When cravings are curbed, meals and snacks tend to be wholesome foods that add power to your day.
  3. Ketones increase energy. Who couldn’t use a whole lot more of that? Ketones are responsible for developing a higher oxygen capacity, as well as better athleticism and motor performance.
  4. They are noted for improving moods. People who fear they are on the verge of depression have found ketones vastly improved the way they felt.
  5. Ketones help with better focus and sharper mental clarity. If you’ve felt like you’re not quite with it or can’t complete the tasks at hand, this will be a welcome and significant change. People with seizure disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and even ADHD have experienced vast improvements.
  6. Ketones improve body composition. Loss of fat leads to a leaner physique.
  7. Ketones help are known to prevent autoimmune diseases. In people who already have autoimmune diseases—like Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus—they are known for healing them and putting the disease into remission.
  8. Ketones improve the skin. Not only do they make it softer and more supple, it also both prevents and cures many skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, acne and common rashes.
  9. The presence of ketones can alleviate many forms of chronic pain. Arthritis pain is often lessened as is the occurrence of migraines.
  10. Instances of developing heart disease and cancer are lessened with ketones. Not only are the risks decreased, but those with these diseases have noted quicker and more complete recoveries.

In order to get ketones, you must get your body into ketosis. This occurs when eating a ketogenic diet. This isn’t always an easy task, since our bodies are used to burning sugar. The process will throw your body into a major change. Going from burning sugar to burning fat is an enormous contrast.

Most people begin by seriously limiting their intake of carbohydrates. This leaves only fat and proteins for the body to burn. Since you don’t want your body burning proteins, it’s important to considerably up your protein intake. Eating healthy fats, like avocado and olive oil will help you reach ketosis even faster.

It’s true that reaching ketosis requires planning and diligence. Those ten benefits listed here, however, will certainly make it worth your efforts.

8 Signs that You May Have a Mental Disorder

As a society, we don’t talk enough about the issue of mental disorders. In many cases, we treat them as secret problems when really they are no different than physical disorders. As a result, it is important to be aware of any signs that you may have a mental disorder and to receive the treatment necessary for you to get better. Remember: everyone deserves to receive the help they need to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

  1. Suicidal Thoughts

This is one of the strongest warning signs of a mental illness. However, if you are not suffering from any of the other symptoms, it is still important to seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts, as these could potentially manifest into action.

  1. Withdrawal

If you begin to find yourself withdrawing from others (even those you care most about) and/or from activities that used to matter to you, this could be a strong sign of a mental illness. Many individuals feel they cannot connect with others and start to isolate themselves, which can make it hard for them to recover.

  1. Illogical Thinking

If you find yourself constantly thinking things that do not make sense, things that scare you, or things that are not logical, this could also be a sign of a mental disorder. Many people start to think they see hidden meanings in what others say or do or use magical reasoning the way a child might. These are strong signs something isn’t right with your ability to reason with what is happening around you.

  1. Mood Changes

One minute, you may be feeling extremely happy, and the next, extremely sad. Anger and apathy can also be included in these mood swings, especially if you suddenly switch from one to the other with little to no cause. We all feel shaky from time to time, but if you find yourself dealing with mood swings often, it may be time to seek help.

  1. Appetite or Sleep Changes

Have you found it is suddenly hard to sleep or that you are sleeping far too much? Are you eating much more or less than you used to? These can also be signs of a developing mental illness.

  1. Sensitivity

Have you often found yourself avoiding situations that could be volatile? Have you also noticed an increase in your sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, etc.? Any type of sensitivity, if extreme enough, could potentially be a sign of a mental disorder as well.

  1. Hallucinations

Hallucinations are a strong indicator of a mental disorder. They can be visual, auditory, or tactile.

  1. Difficulty Thinking

If you often find your thinking to be fuzzy, to the point where you cannot focus on your work or concentrate, this could be a sign of a disorder. Many people also have problems with memory or logical thought processes.

While none of these symptoms alone are definite indicators of a mental disorder, several of these can clearly define one’s need for treatment. No matter what, it is best to seek help if you are struggling with symptoms that make it difficult to live your daily life.

Which Is More Important: Exercise or Diet? 

We all know the two most important things when it comes to staying healthy are exercise and diet. Making sure to exercise regularly and to eat right are the best ways to keep your body in tip-top shape and to ensure you have the energy to do, well, whatever it is you want to do.

But which one of these is more important? That comes down to what results your hoping to achieve.

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Weight Loss

According to the Huffington Post, when it comes to weight loss, cutting calories is more important than jumping on the treadmill. There are many reasons why diet should be your focus when losing weight rather than exercise. For one, exercise tends to promote a stronger appetite, and it also takes more time. You can go through all the time-consuming steps of going to the gym, exercising, and showering, or you could just avoid a fatty snack.

Though both tend to work in tandem when it comes to losing weight, it’s actually diet that makes more of a difference than exercise. Because both will begin to plateau as our bodies change to meet the new effects of each activity, its exercise that creates a more intense plateau, making it harder for the body to shed pounds if it isn’t also taking in fewer calories and healthier meals.

Energy

If you’re more focused on increasing your energy level and trying to give your body a boost, diet is the way to go as well. According to Real Simple, eating well throughout the day will give your body more of a long-term energy surge that lasts all day, rather than exercise, which gives you a quick boost of energy that can just as quickly disappear. In addition, keeping your diet healthy will help you avoid strong spikes and drops in blood sugar, which will also keep you feeling more energized for longer periods of time.

Organ Health

If you’re worried about your ticker or the health of another organ, you may want to focus more on exercise. This choice can actually help you make sure your body will stay strong and will be more physically fit, which will mean your heart will be healthier as well as your brain. In fact, physical activity helps to sharpen your mind and protect you from diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, while it also protects your heart from other issues.

The Verdict: Focus on Both

While exercise may be better for one benefit you’re trying to gain and diet may be better for another, both are considerably helpful for every one of these goals. You’ll gain more energy with exercise too, and your organs will thank you if you put healthy food in your body. It is best to know which of these practices will be most helpful for your specific goal. However, if you want to gain all the benefits that exercise and a healthy diet can give you, it’s best to practice them together.

6 Ways to Recharge Your Batteries

Everyone has a breaking point. Even when things are at their best, as women, we sometimes push ourselves too hard and experience a kind of overkill, stress-wise. We can often feel it coming, but we ignore it.

Instead, try to think of yourself as needing a moment to just recharge your batteries. Pushing yourself can only get you so far before everything—work, home life, friendships, etc.—begins to suffer. Here are 6, quick ways to take a moment and allow yourself to relax. Afterwards, you can then go back to living your fast-paced life, just with a lot less stress.

1. Remove Yourself from Social Media

Better yet, if you can, remove yourself from all technology for as long as possible. Whether it’s refreshing our email, obsessively checking our Facebooks, or just updating the news on our phones, technology is constantly giving us new things to stress about, worries we honestly don’t need when our lives are already so hectic.

So take some time off, and plan it so the important people will know how to get in contact with you when it’s happening. Trust us, you’ll feel so much better once it’s over, and then, you can return to the world of technology like nothing happened.

2. Spend Time With Your Pet

Petting an animal can lower one’s stress levels, minimize blood pressure, and elicit a laugh, which is almost better than anything. If you don’t have a pet, try volunteering at the local animal shelter. Whatever you do, just get some cuddle time with a furry friend.

3. Book Some Spa Time.

Even if it’s just in your own bathtub. Give yourself a break and light some candles, use some good bath salts, and relax. If you can afford to go to the spa, do it! You deserve to be pampered.

4. Listen to Music.

We all have a favorite type of music or band. Even if you just have a favorite song, put it on repeat when no one else is home and dance along. Sing at the top of your lungs, and enjoy yourself! If you don’t have time to do this at home, do it in the car on your way to work.

5. Go for a Walk.

Yes, it seems like a sneaky way to get exercise into your day, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re enjoying the scenery. Spend some time walking but not going anywhere in particular. It will help you remember there isn’t always a finish line to sprint toward.

6. Take a Nap.

Most of us don’t get enough sleep at night, and many of us feel like taking a nap is selfish or indulgent. The truth is, though, napping is actually extremely good for you, and it’s one of the easiest, most natural ways to recharge your batteries.

So what’re you waiting for? Close this window and go get 20 minutes of shut-eye. Don’t worry, you’ve earned it, and everything will still be here when you wake up.

I Know I Should Drink Water But Why: The Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated    

 

Practically everyone knows drinking water is where it’s at, and we all pretty much know we don’t do nearly enough of it. But why is drinking enough water so important and what can it actually do for your health? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Here are the top seven health benefits of drinking the recommended amount of water every day (about 8 8-ounce glasses or whatever your body needs).

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  1. Weight Loss

Most people know that drinking a lot of water can actually help you lose weight, but many people don’t know why. Water can actually remove the by-products of the fatty foods you eat to an extent. It can also reduce your amount of hunger (because it fills up your stomach) and it can minimize the amount you will eat (because your hunger level will decrease). One of the best ways to promote weight loss is to drink lots of water every day.

  1. Energy Boost

Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or—even worse—an energy drink, why not try getting yourself a glass of water instead? Drinking water can actually make your brain more alert and give you energy, in large part because your brain and your body are mostly made up of water. After drinking water, you will feel more energized, and you may even feel less tired if you didn’t sleep well the night before.

  1. Stronger Immunity

When you drink enough water, you will begin to see the effects over time in the number of sick days you won’t have to use. Drinking water can actually make you less likely to catch a cold. In addition, drinking water can help your body fight other types of diseases, cancers, and issues like heart attack.

  1. Healthier Skin

Drinking water helps to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Making sure you’re properly hydrated can also potentially decrease the sight of wrinkles and other issues that can also be attributed to dry skin instead of just age.

  1. No More Toxins

Okay, your body is always likely to have some sort of toxins in it, but drinking lots of water can help your kidneys flush them out more easily. If you are properly hydrated, your kidneys will work better and be able to get rid of the toxins your body doesn’t want or need, allowing it to be healthier and function better.

  1. Regularity

If you’ve noticed your body hasn’t been regular as of late, try to drink more water. This will help your body digest its food more easily and decrease the likelihood of constipation.

  1. Pain Relief

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines regularly? Drinking water can be a great way to treat this issue naturally rather than with medication. While it can sometimes be necessary to reach for a pain reliever, you should also make sure to stay well hydrated the next time you experience a headache, as this could also help minimize the issue.

What Are the Best Post-Workout Snacks?

Working out feels good. It gets your body and mind in a better place, and obviously, it’s healthy and can help you lose weight. But you should never underestimate the importance of the post-workout snack. Without it, you could become lethargic, and if you eat the wrong one, it could blow your whole workout. Here are some of the best options for your snackage once you’re finished with your daily exercises.

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Protein Shakes

We know, it’s been done. But there are some great options for protein shakes you’ve never tried, many of which are as delicious as they are healthy. Here are 13 recipe options for protein shakes that are quick and easy to make. But as long as you’ve got some Greek yogurt, some protein powder, and some complimenting fruits, you can pretty much experiment with whatever recipe best suits you.

There’s a reason why protein shakes are pretty much considered the best, after-workout snack. They give you energy and help you recover from your workout. So go ahead, fire up the blender.

Rice Cakes With Peanut Butter and Fruit

If you’re tired of the liquid diet, we’ve got another option for you. Rice cakes will give you a little bit of bulk with very few calories. In order to get the protein and energy you need, it’s a good idea to give it a little slather of peanut butter. Adding banana or another kind of delicious fruit will give you some natural sugars and a burst of flavor. If you’re not a fan of rice cakes, whole wheat English muffins can stand in.

Tuna or Turkey Sandwich

These are meats that will be healthy for you to eat after your workout. Make sure to put them on whole wheat bread and, instead of reaching for a bag of chips, go with apple slices.

Hummus

Hummus is a great, protein rich, after-workout snack for those of you who want something dippable. You can pair it with pita chips or pita bread, both of which are a lot healthier than a bag of potato chips and a container of dip.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great option as well because it keeps your body healthy and you can add anything to it. For example, granola can be a good option if you’re looking for something crunchy. If you want something sweet, try adding fresh berries to the mix. Want something a little more out there? Try yogurt, red peppers, and orange slices.

Trail Mix

Making your own trail mix can allow you to decide what will go into it. This means less butter, salt, and other ingredients your body doesn’t need. Simple trail mix can be achieved by using dry, roasted nuts, dried fruit, and some sunflower seeds for a perfect combination of different flavors and textures.

Fruit and Cheese

Many people like to get a dose of fiber and a dose of dairy after their workouts, which is a great combination. Fruit like apple slices and low-calorie cheese (like a string cheese you can find at the grocery store) are perfect.

How to Be Both Healthy and Happy in Your Life

We all want to be healthier. It isn’t just about being skinny but rather about feeling good and making sure our bodies and minds are well taken care of. But the thought of exercising and cutting out processed foods can be rather depressing to many, even if it does mean being physically healthier.

Therefore, we have devised a list of ways to be both healthy and happy in your life. After all, there is no reason a woman should have to sacrifice one for another.

Choose an Exercise You Like

While going to the gym every day and running on the treadmill can help you tone up and burn calories, it’s not exactly everyone’s idea of a good time. This is why it’s so important to start looking for an exercise routine you can enjoy, one that challenges you and also allows you to have fun.

You can choose to dance to your favorite music for thirty minutes every day. Some women also work their exercise routines into their favorite hobbies, like baking. Whatever you decide, make sure you are choosing a routine that you really enjoy. You’ll be more likely to do it often, and you might even look forward to it.

Find Foods You Like and Make Them Yourself

Instead of looking for the absolute quickest and healthiest option, start learning to make foods that you really like. You can then tweak these recipes to be healthier over time, substituting cottage cheese for ricotta in your favorite lasagna or something else. This way, you know exactly what’s going into your food and you’ll be able to make changes for the better. Bonus: you’ll be cooking things you actually like.

Give Yourself a Break

When you start to feel overwhelmed by everything you have to accomplish in a day (or in your life), don’t try to just push through. Stop. Breathe. Take a nap, even. But give yourself a break instead of trying to force yourself to finish everything when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Stress is one of the worst and most unhealthy things we can do to ourselves, and allowing yourself to stop and remember to breathe is essential to both your emotional and physical health. Sometimes, it’s healthier to skip that workout than it would be to force yourself to do it.

Meditate

Meditation has so many benefits for a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just learning to relax and to accept one’s thoughts in the practice of mindfulness will make you happier and healthier, especially if you practice often. Many people say meditation is a gift that has allowed them to slow down and become kinder to themselves while also learning to control their impulses.

Engage Fully in Your Activities

With your work, your exercise, and your time spent with others, it is important to engage fully in order to be both happy and healthy. You will get more done, you will stress less, and both your mind and body will be engaged in your work. According to Harvard Medical School, this is called flow, and it’s where health and happiness meet.

I Know I Should Drink Water But Why: The Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Practically everyone knows drinking water is where it’s at, and we all pretty much know we don’t do nearly enough of it. But why is drinking enough water so important and what can it actually do for your health? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Here are the top seven health benefits of drinking the recommended amount of water every day (about 8 8-ounce glasses or whatever your body needs).

  1. Weight Loss

Most people know that drinking a lot of water can actually help you lose weight, but many people don’t know why. Water can actually remove the by-products of the fatty foods you eat to an extent. It can also reduce your amount of hunger (because it fills up your stomach) and it can minimize the amount you will eat (because your hunger level will decrease). One of the best ways to promote weight loss is to drink lots of water every day.

  1. Energy Boost

Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or—even worse—an energy drink, why not try getting yourself a glass of water instead? Drinking water can actually make your brain more alert and give you energy, in large part because your brain and your body are mostly made up of water. After drinking water, you will feel more energized, and you may even feel less tired if you didn’t sleep well the night before.

  1. Stronger Immunity

When you drink enough water, you will begin to see the effects over time in the number of sick days you won’t have to use. Drinking water can actually make you less likely to catch a cold. In addition, drinking water can help your body fight other types of diseases, cancers, and issues like heart attack.

  1. Healthier Skin

Drinking water helps to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Making sure you’re properly hydrated can also potentially decrease the sight of wrinkles and other issues that can also be attributed to dry skin instead of just age.

  1. No More Toxins

Okay, your body is always likely to have some sort of toxins in it, but drinking lots of water can help your kidneys flush them out more easily. If you are properly hydrated, your kidneys will work better and be able to get rid of the toxins your body doesn’t want or need, allowing it to be healthier and function better.

  1. Regularity

If you’ve noticed your body hasn’t been regular as of late, try to drink more water. This will help your body digest its food more easily and decrease the likelihood of constipation.

  1. Pain Relief

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines regularly? Drinking water can be a great way to treat this issue naturally rather than with medication. While it can sometimes be necessary to reach for a pain reliever, you should also make sure to stay well hydrated the next time you experience a headache, as this could also help minimize the issue.

Which Fast Food Chains Are the Healthiest?

We all know fast food isn’t healthy, and though we try to find the least horrifying meals on the menu or stick to a simple salad when we go, it almost never lasts. So, here’s a list of the healthiest fast food chains, so that next time you’re running late and just need to zip through a drive-thru, you can feel a little less guilty and enjoy your meal a little bit more.

Panera Bread

Panera is considered the #1 healthiest fast food chain by Health.com. While many fast food restaurants tout their commitment to creating wholesome meals with healthful ingredients, Panera seems to actually be doing it. It has some of the healthiest options when it comes to kids’ meals (including grilled organic cheese and peanut butter and jelly that uses all-natural peanut butter). It also has plenty of substitutable options (like allowing you to choose apples instead of potato chips). All in all, as long as you don’t stop at the bakery counter and load up on sweets, Panera is pretty darn healthy.

Einstein Bros Bagels

Even though bagels themselves are high in calories, the chain offers reduced fat cream cheese and schmear options to customers. And even some of the bagels themselves, like the Good Grains bagel, provide impressive amounts of daily nutrients like fiber. You can also get a healthy salad if you are so inclined; just stay away from the fatty breakfast sandwiches and you should be fine.

Taco Bell

Believe it or not, one of the cheapest fast food restaurants is also one of the healthiest. According to Business Insider, Taco Bell has been building a healthier menu but has also been tweaking its regular menu for years in order to create better food for its customers. Its vegetarian menu is certified by the American Vegetarian Association, and many of its regular items can easily be customized to fit dietary restrictions of all kinds. However, the company doesn’t actually try to tout itself as the healthiest option on the block, which makes this assertion even more honest.

Noodles & Company

Believe it or not, Noodles & Company has actually been around since 1995, and it has been giving us healthy options when it comes to fast food for a long time. Though there are quite a bit of carbs in pasta, N&C’s different dishes utilize healthy ingredients. Customizable pastas, soups, and salads are also available here.

Subway

Subway has often given its customers a promise of a healthy meal, and while you can load up your sub with deluxe meat and cheese, you can also choose the healthiest, leanest options when it comes to ingredients. Their Fresh Fit menu still exists and contains some of their most popular and flavorful subs like the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki. In addition, Subway’s kids’ meals still have an option for milk instead of soda and apples instead of chips, something many other fast food chains have long since given up on.