Author Archives: Alison

Eating Disorders In The Middle East

One of the least reported issues in the Middle East is the dramatic increase in obesity and eating disorders. Throughout Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and throughout the United Arab Emirates, cases of obesity are on the rise.

It is estimated by the International Diabetes Foundation that over thirty-seven million people in this area have Type 2 diabetes and only about half of those are diagnosed. While this is high, the same report indicates that with the lack of education and mental health support for eating disorders, these numbers could easily double over the next two decades.

Lifestyle and Food Choices

Two of the factors driving this rise in obesity are lifestyle and food choices. The lifestyle tends to be very sedentary without a lot of physical activity. This is particularly true for the upper to middle class families in the area, which is where the obesity issue is most dramatic.

Tied to this are the cultural issues around food. Food is seen as a way to celebrate. This includes large meals, multiple food items to choose from and an emphasis on socialising around food. Additionally, in most of these areas, going out to eat at luxurious restaurants is not just an occasional event, it is common practice.

Food Addiction

To compound matters the rich, calorie-dense food is seen as such a part of daily life, socialising and celebrating, so it becomes a comfort to people. When this is intertwined with the stigma of working with mental health professionals for issues such as depression, anxiety or addictions, it may become the way that individuals cope with stress in their lives.

In addition to food addiction, or the need for food to calm or soothe individuals, there is also an increasing rate of eating disorders from bulimia and anorexia to binge eating disorders. Give the current lack of focus on changing these issues; these numbers are also anticipated to rise dramatically over the next few years.

A New Idea To The Health Insurance Crisis In America

Lack of health insurance coverage for over 41 million Americans is one of the nation’s most pressing problems. While most elderly Americans have coverage through Medicare and nearly two-thirds of non-elderly Americans receive health coverage through employer-sponsored plans, many workers and their families remain uninsured because their employer does not offer coverage or they cannot afford the cost of coverage. Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) or HAWK-I here in Iowa help fill in the gaps for low-income children and some of their parents, but the reach of these programs is limited. As a result, millions of Americans without health insurance face adverse health consequences because of delayed or foregone health care and extending coverage to the uninsured has become a national priority. -(Information taken from kff.org)

The number of people that are forced to go without health insurance is nothing less than a crisis in this country today. We have fallen into a vicious cycle over the last few decades in which health insurance premiums have become too expensive for even a middle class family to afford. This in turn results in the inability of the uninsured to cover medical costs which often times results in the financial ruins of the family, and in turn results in the continuing loss of income by the medical community, which in turn drives the cost of medical expenses higher, finally cycling back to the insurance company which then must drive the premiums of health insurance higher to help cover the rising cost of health care.

Many proposals have been tossed around by politicians on both sides of the isle ranging from socializing health care comparable to the Canadian system, to endorsing health savings accounts and cracking down on frivolous law suits against the medical community. Many of these proposals have good points, but along with whatever good points they bring they also bring major downfalls. For instance; a socialized national health care program would eliminate the need for health insurance all together and the cost would be taken on by taxes, which in theory doesn’t seem like a bad idea. However, the downfalls to this system include a deficit in new doctors willing to get into the field due to the inevitable decline in income while the demand would grow due to no personal responsibility. In short if people didn’t have to worry about deductibles or copays that would normally keep the person from seeking medical treatment for minor things, they would simply go to the doctor every time they had an ache or pain. So now we have waiting lines for people with major health problems since everyone is scheduling an appointment while at the same time we are loosing doctors due to lack of incentive.

The current battle cry by the republican Bush administration is to push HSA’s (Health Savings Accounts) which reduce premium by taking a less expensive high deductible health insurance plan with a tax deferred savings account that earns a small interest on the side that you contribute to along with your premiums each month. Any money withdrawn from the savings account for qualified medical expenses are taken “tax-free”, and unlike a flex spending account like many people are familiar with in employer based plans, you don’t lose the money you put into the account that you don’t use. Basically if you never used any of that money in the savings account you could withdrawal or roll it over into another vehicle once you turn 62 1/2 penalty free to be used for retirement. This is a viable option for some people, however for many the premiums for these plans are still too expensive, and the problem remains that if you need major treatment in the first few years of the policy you will not have a big enough amount in the savings account to help cover the gaps leaving that person responsible for a large portion of the cost out of pocket.

Now we come to what I believe is one of the biggest problems from a health insurance agent’s point of view, which is the inability for persons with pre-existing health conditions to obtain coverage. From the number of people that contact my office searching for health insurance coverage, I would have to say that about half of them have a health condition that will either result in an insurance company declining that persons application, or result in an amendment rider which basically excludes coverage for any claims related to that condition. An example of a condition that I run across constantly is hypertension or high blood pressure. This condition will sometimes result in a company declining an application all together if other factors are involved, but most generally result in an amendment exclusion rider. You may think that this isn’t that big of a deal, after all, blood pressure medicine is about the only thing they would have to pay for out of pocket, but what many people don’t realize is that this rider will exclude ANYTHING that could be considered part of this condition including heart attacks, strokes, and aneurisms which would all result in a huge out of pocket claim. Consider the fact that my father had a double by-pass surgery recently that ended up with a final bill of around $150,000. This whole amount would have had to come out of pocket had he had a hypertension rider on his health insurance policy, not to mention the added cost of 2 months off of work thrown into the mix. On a modest income of $40,000 per year this would have ruined him financially.

So what how do we fix this problem? Obviously the proposals thus far have been flawed from the beginning, and even if one of these plans gained support from the American people chances are it would never be passed into law simply due to political infighting. One side wants to keep health care privatized while the other wants to socialize it, which as we discussed before both have upsides and downsides. It seems that we are doomed on this issue and there is no real ideas or light at the of the tunnel right? Maybe not, let me tell you about a client I had in my office a couple of years ago.

A young woman came in wanting to compare health insurance plans to see if there were any options for her and her family. She had several children and had been on Title 19 Medicaid and had been going to college paid by the state. She had recently graduated from college and had gotten a job with the local school system, however for whatever reason she was not eligible for health insurance benefits. Obviously she still couldn’t afford 5 or 6 hundred dollars per month for a plan so she went back to the aid office and explained her situation. They ended up working with us to find an acceptable private health insurance plan and reimbursed her for a percentage of the cost which I didn’t even know was possible!

This got me thinking, consider how many more people would be able to obtain coverage if they could be reimbursed by the government a percentage of the premium according to their income. For example; take a young married couple in their 20’s with one child, let’s say that their family income is $25,000 and that the average premium for a $500 deductible health insurance plan for them is $450. Just as an example let’s say that the government determined that a three person family with an annual income of $25,000 is reimbursed 50% of their premium taking the actual cost to the family to $225 per month. This is now an affordable enough premium for the family to consider.

With this merging of private insurance with government assistance we get the best of both worlds. Of course the next question goes to cost, how much more would this cost the American tax payer and how much would this raise taxes? I don’t think that it would cost the tax payers much more an here’s why I think that: First off we would bring down significantly the amount of uninsured people that are unable to pay for the medical care they get in turn driving down the total cost of health care. Secondly the number of people that are forced into bankruptcy and driven to Medicaid Title 19 assistance due to medical bills stemming from catastrophic medical conditions that don’t have health insurance coverage would be significantly reduced. This is important to keep in mind considering that once someone is on Medicaid they are receiving health care basically 100% covered by the government so there is no more incentive to not seek treatment for minor or non-existing conditions. On the flip side many conditions that would have not been caught before they became severe because a person didn’t seek treatment due to not having insurance coverage would now be caught before they turned into a catastrophic claim. Finally, if the government allocated a certain amount of money to help cover claims by people that have pre-existing conditions the private insurance companies could do away with exclusions and declines due to already existing health problems, this is already done is some states such as the HIPIOWA Iowa Comprehensive Plans which insures Iowa residents that can not obtain coverage elsewhere.

You may be sitting there thinking that this is all just wishful thinking and that these ideas could never be implemented, but all of these ideas are already being implemented. The problem is that only some states do some programs and not even most health insurance agents know that some low income families can get reimbursed for health insurance premiums. If these programs were all standardized and put into effect on a national well publicized level I believe it would put one hell of a dent in the uninsured population in this country. Now I don’t pretend to know what the reimbursement levels should be for what income levels but I do know that anything is better than nothing,

Changing How You Eat

As you may know, not fueling up with the right
nutrients can affect how well your body performs
and your overall fitness benefits. Even though
healthy eating is important, there are myths that
hinder your performance if you listen to them.

Below, you’ll find some myth busters on healthy
eating.

1. Working out on an empty stomach.
If you hear a rumbling noise in your stomach, the
rumbling is trying to tell you something. Without
listening to them, you are forcing your body to
run without any fuel. Before you exercise or do
any physical activity, always eat a light snack
such as an apple.

2. Relying on energy bars and drinks.
Although they are fine every once in a while, they
don’t deliver the antioxidants you need to prevent
cancer. Fruits and vegetables are your best bets,
as they are loaded in vitamins, minerals, fluid,
and fiber.

3. Skipping breakfast.
Skipping breakfast is never a good idea, as
breakfast starts the day. Your body needs fuel
as soon as possible, and without it, you’ll be
hungry throughout the day.

4. Low carb diets.
Your body needs carbohydrates for your muscles and
the storing of energy.

5. Eating what you want.
Eating healthy and exercising doesn’t give you an
all access pass to eat anything you want. Everyone
needs the same nutrients whether they exercise or
not, as well as fruits and vegetables.

6. Not enough calories
Although losing weight involves calories, losing
it too quickly is never safe. What you should do,
is aim for 1 – 2 pounds a week. Always make sure
that you are getting enough calories to keep your
body operating smoothly. If you start dropping
weight too fast, eat a bit more food.

7. Skip soda and alcohol.
Water, milk, and juice is the best to drink for
active people. You should drink often, and not
require on thirst to be an indicator. By the time
you get thirsty, your body is already running a
bit too low.

Changing how you eat is always a great step
towards healthy eating and it will affect how your
body performs. The healthier you eat, you better
you’ll feel. No matter how old you may be, healthy
eating is something you should strive for. Once
you give it a chance, you’ll see in no time at
all just how much it can change your life – for the
better.

Eating For A Healthy Heart

Bad cholesterol or a bad diet is something we all
experience at some point in time. It’s impossible
to eat healthy our whole lives, even though we may
try hard to do it. Eating healthy for your heart
is something everyone should try to do, especially
when it comes to restoring health and reducing
heart attacks.

Your heart and food
We know these things for sure – a diet high in
saturated fats will help raise your cholesterol,
which is a risk factor for heart disease. People
that are obese are more prone to heart disease. A
diet high in sodium may elevate your blood pressure,
leading to inflammation and even heart disease.

To help prevent heart disease and improve your health,
put the tips below to good use.

Eat plenty of fish
Herring, sardines, and salmon are all excellent sources
of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Other fish are great
to, although Omega 3 may help to get your cholesterol
down to a healthier level.

Choosing healthy fats and oils
Saturated fat will increase the risk of heart disease.
It’s found in meat, butter, and even coconut oil. You
should avoid them until your cholesterol levels are
down and you are at a healthy weight. Even those
that love red meats can enjoy seafood and nuts for
their main sources of protein.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oils will help
you to protect your heart. Olive oil is an ideal
choice for cooking, dressing, or even as a dipping
sauce.

Plenty of fiber
Fiber can help you control your cholesterol. You
can find fiber in whole grain products to help
control sugar absorption as well, which will help
you keep your digestive system healthy.

Choosing carbohydrates
Eating for your heart involves staying away from
sugary foods such as candy, cookies, cakes, and
pastries. Eating a lot of sugar isn’t good for
your heart disease at all. Healthy carbohydrates
involve whole grain breads, whole grain pasta, brown
rice, and a lot of vegetables. You should make
fruits and vegetables the main aspect of your diet.

Healthy cooking methods
Stir frying and sauteing with olive oil or canola
oil are both great methods, as you shouldn’t dip
your food in batter and fry it anymore. If you
cook chicken, remove the skin and bake it in the
oven in foil.

Instead of frying your fish you should always bake
it. Steaming your vegetables can help maintain the
most nutrients. You should use cream sauces or lots
of butter anymore either. When you eat vegetables,
try squeezing lemon juice on them or using your
favorite seasonings.

As you make the proper changes to your diet, keep in
mind that it takes time for them to become habits.
Eating healthy is always great for your body and your
lifestyle, especially when it comes to your heart and
the prevention of heart disease.

A More Convenient Approach To Heart Health

Here’s news many Americans can take to heart. In addition to diet and exercise, there is a new heart health product with aspirin available to help reduce heart disease risk factors.

Cardiovascular disease poses a major health threat to both men and women in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, more than 71 million adults in the U.S. have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. These include dysfunctional conditions of the heart, arteries and veins that supply oxygen to life-sustaining areas of the body such as the brain, the heart itself and other vital organs.

These conditions can be caused by a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and poor circulation. Patients with cardiovascular disease are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and death.

A healthy diet and regular exercise are important steps in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In addition, a new and complete heart health product has been developed that combines the known benefits of doctor-recommended, low-dose aspirin with heart health vitamins and other supplements. These ingredients have been clinically shown to reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke, and may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and help manage other cardio risk factors.

Called CardioEA™ Enhanced with Aspirin, each safety-coated caplet contains 81 mg of doctor-recommended, low-dose aspirin plus a complex of vitamins B6, B12, Folic Acid, L-Arginine and Aged Garlic Extract™ (AGE). It provides heart health-conscious consumers with the opportunity to help manage many of the risk factors that contribute to heart disease with a single daily caplet instead of taking various supplements and aspirin every day.

This is the first in a new category of preventive and wellness products called OTCeuticals™, manufactured by the Alan James Group, a health care-focused consumer products company based in Boca Raton, Florida. OTCeuticals are vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements that are combined with FDA-monographed, Category 1 USP-grade ingredients in rational, safe, effective and convenient combinations.

In addition to CardioEA Enhanced with Aspirin, the Alan James Group’s OTCeuticals pipeline includes products for bone & joint and gastrointestinal health, among others.

CardioEA Enhanced with Aspirin is available in the vitamin section at most major supermarkets, chain drug and discount retailers.

Cooking with Oils

Everyone knows the foods to eat that improve health,
although how we cook the food can be just as important.
With there being so many oils and butter products
claiming to be the best, it can be quite difficult
to know which ones to use and which ones to avoid.

1. Canola oil
Canola oil is a popular oil, with many physicians
claiming that it has the ability to lower the risk
of heart disease. The oil is low in saturated fat,
high in monounsaturated fat, and offers the best
fatty acid composition when compared to other oils.

You can use canola oil in sauting, as a marinade
and even in low temperature stir frying. It has
a bland flavor, which makes it a great oil for foods
that contain many spices. Unlike other oils, this
one won’t interfere with the taste of your meal.

2. Olive oil
olive oil offers a very distinct flavor with plenty
of heart healthy ingedients. The oil is rich in
monounsaturated fat, helps to lower cholesterol
levels and reduce risk of cancer. It’s also rich
in antioxidants and has a very long storage life.

Even though it can be used in cooking, it’s the
healthiest when uncooked, such as with a salad or
dipping sauce. When you use it with cooking, you
should heat it on low to medium temperatures, making
sure to avoid high heat.

3. Butter
Butter is one food that has been around for many,
many years. Butter tastes good, and offers sources
of Vitamin A and other fat soluble vitamins such as
E, K, and even D. Butter is also made from natural
ingredients and not chemically or artificially
processed.

You can use butter with cooking, baking, or even as
a spread. You can also pair it with creamy sauces,
marinades, baked dishes, or even bread.

4. Margarine
Margarine was first introduced as an alternative to
high fat butter. When it was first created however,
it was loaded with trans fat, a substance that we
now know raises bad cholesterol.

As a cooking oil, margarine tastes good, it’s lower
in fat than most oils and butter, and it’s quite
easy to spread. It’s available in a variety of
different products and a good source of vitamin E.

When it comes to cooking with oils, there are
several at your disposal. There are many more than
what is mentioned here, although the ones above are
the most popular. Eating healthy involves cooking
healthy food – which is where your cooking oil really
takes center stage.

Winter Eye Problems

During the winter months, the weather and environment can really affect your eyes, and this can often be forgotten about. Here are some common eye problems people can suffer with during winter and tips on how to combat them.

Dry Eyes

During winter, the weather is colder and windier and this can really dry the eyes, but also when you try to warm up by using heat, such as a blower heater or central heating, this can also dry out the eyes. Some easy tips to help combat this problem is to use artificial tear drops to keep your eyes hydrated throughout the day, drinking plenty of water, and even warm soup, will keep your body and eyes hydrated. Also try to avoid direct heat, especially heat that is blowing directly in your face, like car heaters for example, try to direct the airflow away from your face. If it is a windy day you can use glasses or goggles to help protect your eyes from the wind directly drying out your eyes. If you already suffer from dry eyes it is always a good idea to speak to your ophthalmologist if you are struggling in the winter months, as they will advise what else you can do to keep on top of your dry eyes during winter.

Tearing Eyes

Apart from winter weather drying out your eyes, the cold weather can also make your eyes over produce tears which can be very annoying and can make vision blurry. The best thing to help with this is to wear glasses, goggles, or sunglasses when outside to avoid the wind causing watery eyes. Also, if you are wiping your eyes to get rid of the tears make sure you use clean tissues or cloths to avoid infection. Excessive tearing eyes can also be caused by other factors such as infection, blocked tear duct, or surprisingly dry eyes, so if you are concerned make an appointment with your eye clinic or opticians so they can check it out.

Tired Eyes

The winter months are darker and natural light is less which can make certain tasks more difficult, reading and writing for example. Straining your eyes to see in lower light can cause eyestrain making your eyes feel tired quicker than usual. To help avoid this try having a lamp on when carrying out close work and if you require glasses to see well, make sure you wear them to avoid overstraining your eyes.

Light Sensitive Eyes

The sun tends to be lower in the sky during winter and this can cause difficulty seeing, especially when driving, light sensitivity, and damage caused by UV rays. Try to make a habit of not only wearing sunglasses in the summer, but also the winter. If you drive, keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your car so you are always prepared for the low, bright sun. Sunglasses also protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays which can contribute to many eye issues, such as cataracts. Make sure your sunglasses are 100% UVA and UVB protected.

Red Eyes

Red eyes can be a sign of many things, such as tiredness, dryness, blurry vision, over tearing, infection, and inflammation. Winter weather can cause eye redness due to many of these factors but also it can be caused from the sunlight either directly or from being reflected on snow for example. This can lead to inflammation of the cornea causing the red eyesBusiness Management Articles, therefore this is another reason why wearing sunglasses or snow goggles is so important in winter.

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Starting off your with a healthy well balanced diet is the best thing you do for yourself and your baby. This way, you’ll only need to make a few adjustments during your pregnancy.

Your first trimester If you find it tough to maintain a balanced diet during your first trimester, you can rest assured that your not alone. Due to queasiness, some women will eat all of the time and gain a lot of weight in the process. Other women have trouble getting food down and subsequently lose weight.

Preventing malnutrition and dehydration are your most important factors during first trimester.

Calories
When you are pregnant, you need to consume around 300 calories more than usual every day. The best way to go about doing this is listening to your body when you are hungry. You should try to eat as many foods as possible from the bottom of the food pyramid.

If you gain weight too slow, try eating small meals and slightly increase the fat in your diet. You should always eat when you are hungry, as you are now eating for 2 instead of one.

Calcium
By the second trimester, you’ll need around 1,500 milligrams of calcium each day for your bones and your baby’, which is more than a quart of milk. Calcium is something that’s missing from many diets. Along with milk, other great sources for calcium include dairy products, calcium fortified juices, and even calcium tablets.

Fiber
Fiber can help to prevent constipation, which is a common pregnancy problem. You can find fiber in whole grains, fruits, and even vegetables. Fiber supplements such as Metamucil and Citrucel are safe to take during pregnancy.

Protein
Unless you happen to be a strict vegetarian, your protein intake is not normally a problem for women who eat a healthy diet.

Iron
A lot of women will start their pregnancy off with a bit of iron deficiency. Good sources of iron include dark leafy green vegetables and meats. Iron supplements should be avoided, as they can cause internal symptoms such as cramping, constipation, or diarrhea.

Vitamins
Seeing as how you get a majority of the vitamins you need in your diet, you may want to discuss prenatal vitamins with your doctor. Folate is one of the most important, and if you are getting enough of it, you may be able to avoid vitamins all together – just ask your doctor to make sure.

Eating Healthy For Students

For students, eating at college is an entire new
ball game, with late night pizza delivery and food
from buggies. Even though some of these quick and
simple options taste great, they are probably
not healthy for a student’s body.

The food choices students make can affect whether
or not they are able to remain awake during class
and whether or not they will come down with
mononucleosis when it hits campus. The problem
is not only about eating junk food, it’s more
about not getting the proper proteins, carbs,
vitamins, and minerals that people need.

When it comes to defending against illnesses,
vitamins and minerals are very important. Just
because they are important, isn’t a reason for
students to run out and stock up on vitamins and
supplements. It’s best for students to get their
nutrition from food.

You can find vitamin C in citric fruits, Vitamin
A in milk and diary products, and vitamin E in
nuts, whole wheat products, and even green leafy
vegetables. This is the ideal way to get
nutrition, as your body relies on these vitamins
for many reasons.

When you eat on campus, skip on the soda’s and
go right to the juice machines. Explore the
different entrees available and go to the salad
bar where there are fresh vegetables. You can
also try putting some broccoli and cauliflower
in the microwave for steamed vegetables. There
are always healthy cereals and plenty of fresh
fruit available in dining halls as well.

Always remember that eating healthy isn’t just
about avoiding greasy foods. Eating healthy
involves getting a balanced diet and getting the
right nutrients and vitamins to keep your body
in peak performance – or at least awake during
your classes.

Becoming A Healthy Eater

Being a healthy eater requires you to become both
educated and smart about what healthy eating
actually is. Being food smart isn’t about
learning to calculate grams or fat, or is it
about studying labels and counting calories.

Healthy eating is all about balanced and moderate
eating, consisting of healthy meals at least
three times per day. Healthy eaters eat many
different types of foods, not limiting themselves
to one specific food type or food group.

Eating healthy requires quite a bit of leeway. You
might eat too much or not enough, consume
foods that are sometimes more or less nutritious.
However, you should always fuel your body and
your brain regularly with enough food to keep
both your mind and body strong and alert.

A healthy eater is a good problem solver. Healthy
eaters have learned to take care of themselves
and their eating with sound judgement and making
wise decisions. Healthy eaters are always aware
of what they eat, and know the effect that it
will have on their bodies.

When someone is unable to take control of their
eating, they are also likely to get out of control
with other aspects of life as well. They could
end up spending too much, talking too much, even
going to bed later and later.

You should always remember that restricting food
in any way is always a bad thing. Healthy eating
is a way of life, something that you can do to
enhance your body or your lifestyle. If you’ve
thought about making your life better, healthy
eating is just the place to start. You’ll make
life easier for yourself, those around you, and
even your family