Obesity in the United States – Obama Pressuring Insurance Companies

Childhood-Obesity-FactsObesity has become a growing problem inside of the United States. More and more people are now clinically considered overweight, if not obese, which in turn is costing the economy and United States government hundreds of millions of dollars to care for it. Obesity is one of the top killers anywhere, as it directly causes the development of diabetes, heart conditions and other medical problems, all of which can be easily avoided by simple exercise and a proper diet. Despite this though, in order to combat the problem with obesity, Obamacare is now requiring most health insurance companies to tackle obesity, as pointed out by Nanci Hellmich of USA Today in her article “Obamacare Requires Most Insurers to Tackle Obesity.”

As Nanci Hellmich points out, many people struggle with obesity and simply are not able to shed the pounds. Due to this, insurance companies are offering to help with this situation as they know that not treating this sort of a condition can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars more, per person, should they develop more serious health conditions due to the weight issue. These insurance companies have long offered weight loss and wellness programs at local community centers and schools. Some insurance companies as well, depending on the coverage, has provided medication to help reduce weight or help pay for gastric bypass surgeries. Before the Affordable Care Act went into place, insurance companies decided on their own whether or not they would provide assistance for overweight and obese individuals. Now however, insurance companies are required to help obese individuals lose weight. The method of assistance though does vary, depending on the specific plan.

According to a health insurance agent in Nutley NJ, for all insurance coverage plans, screen and counseling is covered without any sort of cost to the patient. While Medicare has covered this sort of a service for years, traditional health insurance has never been required to do so. While there are some grandfathered plans that do not cover obesity screening and treatment, but this is only the case if a patient has not changed their coverage since 2010.

obesity1During an obesity screening, the health service measures the individual’s BMI. This is designed to determine their body mass index, and should the health service provider determine the individual is obese (obese is the keyword, as someone that is just overweight does not qualify for some of these services), than the health care provider can offer additional weight-loss assistance. Some plans are going to simply provide telephone counseling, although this is really just part of a base plan as it does not do all that much in assisting the person. However, other plans provide visits to a health coach and group sessions with a lifestyle coach. Weight Watchers is a popular selection as a health coach as it helps individuals come together and lose weight

Ultimately though, it really comes down to the specific form of insurance and what the insurance provider wants to cover. For anyone looking for their own insurance or for additions to what their company provides, they need to go out and seek specific insurance services that do cover obesity and other weight related issues.

Own a Pool? Get Fit In It!

pool fitnessYour backyard swimming pool is more than a place to beat the heat. It is the ideal spot for family fun and whip yourself into shape. Exercising in the water has been shown to strengthen the heart, improve endurance and increase muscle tone. The natural resistance of water makes movements more challenging. So whenever you do aqua exercises, you’ll exert more energy.

When your body has to fight against the resistance in the water, it helps build muscle mass. This is great news if your goal is to lose weight. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest.

In addition, the buoyancy of the water supports your weight and takes the pressure off your skeletal frame. If you have joint issues, you can easily do movements in the water that would normally cause you discomfort on land. If getting in shape in your backyard pool is something you want to try, get started with these ideas.

Swim against the current. If you want a total body workout, invest in an aquatic jet system so you can swim against the current. Since you never have to stop and turn around, you can get your momentum going and keep swimming until you’re ready to stop. Many jet systems are adjustable, so you can modify the intensity of your workouts to suit your needs.

Jog in the Water. If you really want to increase your heart rate and set those legs muscles on fire, try jogging in the water. Jog for intervals of one to two minutes at high intensity and then alternate with an exercise that is less intense.

pool_spidermanDo the Spiderman. To do this exercise, stand in the water facing the side of the swimming pool. Glide your hands back and forth to help stabilize your frame. Use your legs to run up the side of the pool and then back down. This exercise is extremely challenging, and it’s great for strengthening your core and back muscles.

Play pool volleyball. Getting in shape can be as simple as playing volleyball in the water with your friends and family. Pool volleyball nets are easy to set up and use. If you invest in a good one, it will last for years. This water-sport does wonders for the upper half of your body.

Push-ups in the pool. This is the ultimate way to tone the muscles in your arm, chest and upper back. Place your hands firmly on the deck of the pool and use your arms to lift yourself up out of the water and then back down again.

There are tons of backyard pool exercises you can try. The above are just a few suggestions. To get the most out of your workouts, do not go into water deeper than waist-high to do standing exercises. This way, you can make sure your feet will plant firmly on the floor of the pool. In addition, wear water shoes to help with traction.

Trans Fat No Longer GRAS According to the FDA

Trans Fat No Longer GRAS According to the FDATrans fatty acids (or more commonly known as trans fat) are a product of an industrial process of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to create a more solid consistency.  It is also used to prolong the shelf life of many food products, as well as help lock in their flavors. However, trans fat is also known to be a major health concern, and for good reason. For years health experts and advocates have been pleading to eliminate trans fat from various food products, and the FDA has responded with a new ruling.

The FDA has now announced that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer considered safe that food manufacturers will be forced to prove that intake of such oils are safe. This, however, would be difficult to do, considering that there are already a lot of studies concluding that trans fat doesn’t have any health benefits at all. The FDA even cited a study made by the Institute of Medicine, which winded up stating that there isn’t even a safe level of consumption when it comes to trans fatty acids.

A summary of the docket states: “Based on new scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids, or trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in food based on current scientific evidence establishing the health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat, and therefore that PHOs are food additives. Although FDA has not listed the most commonly used PHOs, they have been used in food for many years based on self-determinations by industry that such use is GRAS. If finalized, this would mean that food manufacturers would no longer be permitted to sell PHOs, either directly or as ingredients in another food product, without prior FDA approval for use as a food additive.”

Before, despite scientific evidence of the effects of trans fat, the FDA only asked that they be included on food labels if products contained more than half a gram per serving. This new ruling is a big improvement. However, Dr. Scott Grundy, the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center still warns that “in the push to reduce trans fats, people have been forgetting that saturated fats are much worse because there is a lot more saturated fat in the diet than trans fat,” meaning that in the fight against fats, there’s still much work to be done.

The Benefits of A Corporate Gym Membership for Company Employees

The Benefits of A Corporate Gym Membership for Company EmployeesA company that decides to invest in the health of its employees can recover their money in a relatively short amount of time. Money lost due to decreased productivity and health or accident claims is dramatically reduced when workers begin to feel better physically and mentally. Providing employees with gym memberships offers benefits that are well worth the company’s cost.

Boosts Moral

It’s a commonly known fact. Employees that exercise and are allowed to work out frustrations at the gym are happier and tend to be more productive than workers who don’t, just ask this agency. In the beginning, there may not seem to be a big change in moral, but as employees begin to feel better, their moral and outlook become more positive. Their productivity will increase and their desire to perform better will begin to show through.

Exercise causes the body to produce endorphins. Endorphins work within the brain to enhance mental clarity and create feelings of euphoria. As the brain begins to function more efficiently, other systems in the body begin to follow suit. A person’s metabolism begins to adapt to the new level of activity and excess pounds are lost.

Fewer Absences

Workers who are under large amounts of stress due to work or home obligations will often be more susceptible to illness, especially those that fall into the chronic category. This can lead to repeated absences. A person who continually contracts the cold and flu will rarely feel up to par. This can lead to bouts of depression. The cycle that is created by repeated illness and depression is hard to break, but can be accomplished if a person is given the right tools. Employees who are offered a gym membership are able to utilize whatever type of activity they feel most comfortable with. Some like to swim or walk, while others prefer free weights or aerobics. Allowing them the freedom to choose gives them self confidence and provides them with the motivation to regain control of their lives.

Fewer Health Problems

stress and illnessIndividuals who are encouraged to work out and are given the means to do so, will have fewer health issues than those who live a sedentary, stressful lifestyle. Exercises flushes toxins from the body and strengthens the immune system. It improves how both the cardiovascular and upper respiratory systems function and as a result, provides the following benefits:

  • Reduces the risk of chronic illness
  • Improves general health
  • Employees are less likely to catch a cold or flu that spreads through the workplace
  • Reduces the risk of injury both inside and outside of the workplace
  • Diminishes the effects of depression
  • Eliminates physical effects caused by stress

Another distinct advantage of a gym membership, is the ability to talk to trainers and other athletes that can provide advice on the types of foods a person should be consuming to obtain the maximum benefit from their workouts. Being able to support their new lifestyle with the right diet and supplement will also help to improve their attitude and performance in the workplace.

Which Foods Help Provide Healthy Skin

food-for-healthy-skinCertainly, nothing compares to a truly gorgeous, radiant and smooth skin. While genetics play a significant role to having good skin, not everyone is blessed with a flawless complexion. If you want to enhance your skin’s natural beauty, practicing good skin care habits day in and day out is a must. What’s more, health experts believe that eating the right food can help fight acne, wrinkles, and give a boost of glowing health to your complexion. In simple terms, what you feed your mouth is even more important than what you put on your skin.

Foods for Healthy Skin

Eating a balanced diet is the best way to achieve a healthier skin. Certain foods have powerhouse ingredients that keep skin vibrant and younger looking. Here’s a list of skin-saving foods that you need to include in your diet to help prevent skin breakouts:

  1. Fish – Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and rainbow trout all contain omega-3 fatty acids that protect the skin from damage. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can damage skin cells and lead to premature aging. Essential fatty acid in the diet protects our skin from toxins, keeps skin hydrated and prevents it from drying and flaking.
  2. Whole Wheat Bread and Pasta – Whole wheat breads and pastas are the best dietary sources of selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that acts to protect the skin from damage caused by excessive ultraviolet light. It plays an important role in preventing skin cancer. It is also responsible for tissue elasticity.
  3. Fruits – Strawberries, guava, pineapple, papaya, kiwi and other fruits rich in vitamin C have antioxidant properties, highly effective in reducing free radicals in our system that cause wrinkles and other signs of premature skin aging. Vitamin C also helps the body produce collagen to keep the skin elastic and firm.
  4. Carrots – Carrots contain a high amount of beta carotene that is converted in the body to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps protect the skin against sun damage and also functions in proper skin repair and maintenance.
  5. Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are foods rich in zinc. This mineral is one essential component in controlling the production of oil in the skin and some of the hormones that produce acne.
  6. Almonds – Almonds are good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps reduce the damaging effects of the sun on your skin. It is also effective in nourishing the skin and in preventing certain skin cancers.
  7. Cucumber – Cucumber contains the trace mineral silica that is vital for skin elasticity and general skin health.

healthy dietWhile there are other skin-saving foods not mentioned in our list, it is important to know what minerals they contain so you know which ones also promote good healthy skin. Last but not the least, don’t forget to get more water in your daily diet to flush out all the toxins in your body and to keep your skin cells hydrated.

Subway Getting Rid of Plastic Chemical in Bread

Subway Getting Rid of Plastic Chemical in BreadHere’s a bit of trivia – do you know what Subway sandwiches have in common with yoga mats? The answer is a chemical known as azodicarbonamide. The reason for bringing it up is that the Subway sandwich food chain has announced that they will be removing the said chemical from their bread recipe. But why? The chemical is actually USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) approved, so why the sudden change? And how big of an impact will this change bring about to people always craving for cold cut combos, black forest ham, and Italian BMTs?

azodicarbonamide bread subwayAccording to a Portland-based law firm, the chemical azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia and Europe because it has been linked to certain health conditions. The WHO (World Health Organization) says, “the most frequently reported effects of repeated exposure to azodicarbonamide are respiratory symptoms as well as, to a lesser extent, skin sensitization reactions.” I’m pretty sure that’s reason enough why people should steer clear from the chemical, even though the WHO does state that “there are no reports relating to the potential for azodicarbonamide to produce other systemic adverse effects” because its genotoxic, carcinogenic and reproductive effects have yet to be tested in exposed humans. Why its use isn’t prohibited in the US is unclear.

what is AzodicarbonamideSo what is azodicarbonamide? It is a synthetic chemical and blowing agents that is used by the rubber and plastic industries to make different products such as yoga mats and rubber soles, among others. It is also used as a pesticide. And in the food industry, the chemical is used as a flour bleaching agents and as an additive that makes dough easier to work with. The types of bread containing this chemical include 9-grain wheat, Italian white, honey oat, Italian herbs and cheese, parmesan/oregano, roasted garlic, sourdough and Monterrey cheddar. And it is not just found in bread, but also in chewing gum, cereals, and many other processed food items. Can you even digest the fact that you’ve been eating the stuff they use to make your shoes?

Vani Hari of FoodBabeProbably the first person to be concerned with having this stuff in her bread is blogger Vani Hari of FoodBabe.com. She has actually been a Subway regular up until she found out what was in their bread. Because of this Vani Hari launched a petition to convince the sandwich chain to remove the chemical from their recipe. When interviewed by CBS News, she said, “I reached out to Subway over the last year and a half and they’ve never once told me they’re taking out this chemical, so this is an obvious response to the power of the Food Babe army.”

So what did Subway representatives have to say about the issue? Well, they’re claiming that they were already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide from their food, and that they had begun to do so even before they heard of Vani Hari’s petition. “We are already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is a USDA and FDA approved ingredient,” they say, adding that “the complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon.”

Healthy Eating Habits are Better than Statins

Healthy Eating Habits are Better than StatinsFor many years, one of the major causes of death has been heart disease. This has led to the manufacturing of a variety of cardiac drugs such as antihypertensives, anti-arrhythmics, and other drugs claiming to reduce levels of fat (otherwise knows as statins).

However, there is a bad side to taking all those medications. Overtime, it can cause damage to your liver and kidneys and other serious side effects. What people need to realize is that eating a healthy diet can be way more beneficial than relying heavily on medication. Studies have shown that the right eating habits can be just as effective as downing statins, more effective even.

Why we should choose food over drugs

The American Journal of Clinical NutritionThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that discussed how eating certain foods can result in a decrease in cholesterol levels at a percentage similar to taking statins. And researchers discovered that food products such as soy protein, tofu, and other soy products, as well as almonds and cereal fiber and plant sterols, can lower cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol, more significantly than statin drugs.Then again, nutritionists have long acknowledged the fact that a healthy diet can keep the body’s biochemistry levels within normal range. It’s everyone else who needs to control themselves when around junk food. Instead of all those processed and manufactured products, people need to have a daily intake of natural whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.

The Long-Term Effects of Statin Drugs

Going to see the doctor or having yearly check ups is fine, but a lot of the times you are given a bunch of medications you don’t really need. It’s just that doctors sometimes feel that it is easier to give patients peace of mind by teaching them to take certain medications rather than teaching them to practice a healthy lifestyle. But in truth, access to the right kind of food can be all it takes to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.


Statin drugs not just prevent the production of bad cholesterol but also hinders the production of healthy cholesterol, which disrupts the normal function of the endocrine system. And when consumed for a long period of time can cause muscle pain, muscle wasting and memory loss which can eventually develop into Alzheimer’s. Truth is no one should be taking statins for long-term use. People just need to be made more aware of the benefits a healthy diet. They need to familiarize themselves with natural food products and the good they to your health. With agreeable eating habits, admit it – you wouldn’t need medication at all.

To learn more about how to develop healthier eating habits, take a look at this page on ChooseMyPlate.gov: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/healthy-habits.html

The Art of Baking Bread From Scratch

Mastering the Art of Baking BreadBread is a food product consumed all over the world, probably because it can go with anything and also because the mixture of yeast, flour and water can easily be experimented with, thus leading to the creation of so many varieties of bread. From flatbreads that date back to prehistoric times, today’s bakeries provide you with an array of modern bread creations from loaves to bagels, focaccias, brioches, doughnuts, dampers and so much more. They can be sweet or savory, they can be made in different sizes and textures, and they can be eaten at any meal of the day.

Bruno Pinho bakerBaking bread from scratch

One such bakery that uses different techniques in baking bread is The Village Bakery in Caerleon. Bruno Pinho, the owner of the said bakery, likes to do the work himself. His family bakery is known for providing consumers with Portugese bread and making them with healthy ingredients. Their bestsellers include low GI multiseed bread, and right now they are venturing into the gluten-free market. Of his bakery’s technique, he says “I know a lot of bakeries believe in pre-mixers where they only have to add water, but we make all our bread from scratch.” He also explains that other manufacturers like to use products such as CCPs to improve the shelf life of the bread, “but bread is a daily product and should be used in on the day.”

Key steps to follow

From these simple words you know that Pinho truly understands the art of making bread, which is all you’ll ever need to create a slice of heaven. Whichever way you want your bread, it all comes down to the following: 1) allowing the gluten to develop by kneading the dough properly for approximately 10 minutes, 2) storing the dough in a refrigerator overnight so it can gradually rise and take the form of its desired shape, 3) knowing how to work the oven, how to properly turn out bread and how to determine whether or not it is baked to perfection.

A good lesson for all you bakers out there. By mastering the art of making bread, along with a long-standing love affair with baking, even you can put up your own family bakery and turn it into a successful venture. So long as you have bread that’s fresh and baked to perfection, you won’t ever go out of business. Like in the case of Caerleon, Pinho shares that locals “don’t care about the cost as long as they have a good product.”

Using a Healthy Breakfast to Boost Sales

healthy-breakfastAt our agency we realized early on that if our realtors were going to have a productive and worthwhile day, they needed a wholesome breakfast. We began to experiment with different types of breakfast foods and quickly learned that donuts and coffee are not conducive to an increase in motivation. Instead, the exact opposite occurred. While the donuts offered a quick burst of energy, they did nothing to help maintain that level through lunch. About an hour after our realtors got their “sugar fix”, they acted as if they were ready for a noon nap instead of a healthy lunch.

We decided to try something different. In addition to the coffee and donuts, we put out bowls of fruit, pitchers of juice, granola bars and oatmeal packets. We encouraged our staff to take a little extra time each morning and prepare a bowl of warm oatmeal and take a granola bar and a piece of fruit with them when they left for their morning appointments or training. it didn’t take long to see some interesting results. Our staff was beginning to make some positive changes.

Those who chose not to eat the healthier foods were tired by lunchtime. During lunch they often overate and returned to the office feeling lethargic and miserable. The staff members who chose to eat a healthy breakfast on the other hand were full of energy. They ate less and were ready to start the second half of their day at an eager pace. They were in a better mood and often had a smile on their face.

We gradually eliminated the donuts and coffee as more and more of our staff began to opt for the healthier, more nutritious items. The productivity levels at work began to go up. Sales increased and the mood in the office became more upbeat and carefree. Not only did our staff members’ numbers improve, their outlook about their careers began to change. They were more positive about how they handled stressful situations and they didn’t let things bother them as much.

The atmosphere in the office began to change as well. No longer were staff members walking around in a daze as if they were falling asleep on their feet. Instead, they passed each other with a smile and began to share ideas. Teamwork became commonplace and staff members began to help others when they needed help with difficult tasks. Pride in their work became common and everyone celebrated when a team member reached a goal they had set for themselves.

Happy, Healthy Staff

staff membersA few staff members started to take walks on their lunch breaks and after work. A few others decided to join the local gym. Before long, the majority of our staff had jumped on the fitness wagon and we all had memberships at a convenient, discounted rate. The productivity in the office didn’t just increase, it doubled within the first six months. Our sales goals are being met and in some cases, exceeded by record breaking numbers.

Why Grass Fed Beef Is Healthier For Kids

There has been a great deal of debate over how healthy our foods really are. One of the biggest concerns is how cattle is treated and what happens to the meat when an animal is placed under extreme stress. Much like a human, when a cow or other animal is forced to endure high levels of stress, their health suffers. Those effects, in addition to the large amounts of chemicals (antibiotics and human growth hormone) they are forced to consume, can result in very poor quality meat.

In the cattle industry, young cattle are often forced to stand in place for hours at a time, rarely being allowed to leave a narrow stall. They are fed and forced to remain in an enclosed building until they are ready to be shipped out for slaughter. Instead of exercise and fresh air, they are fed grains that are infused with a cocktail of vitamins and nutrients that cause increase their muscle mass and, in dairy cattle, more milk to be produced. Cattle raised in these conditions, produce meat and dairy products that contain elements of the foods they were given. This means anyone, including our children, who consumes those products will ingest the same type of chemical compounds.

Free range cattle, on the other hand, are not stabled. Instead, they are allowed to graze freely eating grass and natural grains that do not have chemical additives and preservatives. Choosing the right grass seed and hay can also have an effect on how the cattle grow up.  They are not given nutrition cocktails or human growth hormones. Cattle raised on grass and hay produce meat and dairy products that have a much higher concentration of nutrients than cattle raised on commercial farms. The muscle mass they gain is derived from walking and roaming the fields instead of through protein mixes and vitamin supplements.

How does choosing grass feed beef benefit our children? First, they will not be ingesting the many chemicals and synthetic nutritional compounds that can be found in commercially grown beef. Secondly, they will not be exposed to high levels of human growth hormones. Studies have shown that meat and dairy products taken from cattle who were fed large amounts of HGH contained traces of it after the animal was butchered. This means that whoever ate those food products would also be ingesting it.kids-photos

No one knows for sure what the long term effects of the nutritional cocktails and the human growth hormone will have on humans. Although the cattle industry claims the levels are safe, no long term studies are available to support their information.

Feeding our children grass feed beef not only limits the amount of chemicals they are exposed to, it increases the amount of nutrients they receive per serving. Nutrients derived from animals that are fed natural foods without the added stress and fear of being confined are more easily assimilated by the body and are higher quality. It is believed that children who are fed a diet that contains meat from free range animals have a stronger immune system and are more likely to resist disease and infections.