Lab Testing Info https://www.labtestingnow.com Take control of your {health,Wellness} get {tested,test} now. Mon, 27 Aug 2018 11:34:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Are You Going to Use It? Or Lose It? https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/are-you-going-to-use-it-or-lose-it/871 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/are-you-going-to-use-it-or-lose-it/871#respond Mon, 07 Dec 2015 17:54:32 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=871 cost_of_plastic_surgery-200x300It’s that time of year…the Flexible Spending Account is sitting there, waiting to be used! But you never got sick, or never got around to going to the doctor, or just didn’t feel that you needed to go… Unfortunately, that money is going to be lost forever, if you don’t use it soon. Some FSAs will allow you to use the funds until March of the following year, but not all of them allow for rollovers of the money. If you’re at a loss as to how to quickly use the money that you set aside for medical expenses this year, there are a few things that are allowable expenses that you could fit in before year end:

  1. If you haven’t had a complete physical in a while now is a great time to get one. Getting a baseline of your health is always a good idea and will let you know if there are other things that you should have checked out.
  2. Maybe you’ve been to the doctor or it’s been recent enough that you don’t need to go now. It might be a good idea to get some blood tests that will keep you updated on your health status like a VAP cholesterol test, a Hormone or Comprehensive Male or Female Profile, a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test or even an Allergy or Food Intolerance Test. All of these are valid medical expenses but may seem expensive without insurance or a specific reason to get them. If you want to know the status of some basic health systems, like lipids, allergies, or hormones, now is a good time to make the investment.
  3. If you haven’t been feeling well, but not sick enough to get to the doctor, a Fatigue Panel or a Micronutrient Panel could shed light on what is causing your symptoms.
  4. Some over-the-counter medications and medical equipment can be purchased with FSA funds.
  5. Eyeglasses or lasik surgery are also reimbursable medical costs so if you’ve been thinking about one of these but it seemed too expensive, vision expenses can be a great use of your FSA dollars.

While FSAs are ideal for expected (and unexpected) medical costs that aren’t covered by insurance, it is often difficult to know at the beginning of the year how much you’ll actually spend. Now that the time if almost up to use your funds, don’t let it go to waste. There are quite a few places to spend your medical dollars and get a head start on a healthy 2016.

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What Does Diabetes Look Like? https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/what-does-diabetes-look-like/866 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/what-does-diabetes-look-like/866#respond Tue, 03 Nov 2015 19:15:44 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=866 Battling DiabetesDo you know someone who has diabetes? Most of us do, even if we aren’t aware of it. It may be your coworker, your cousin or your neighbor. The obesity epidemic has recently pointed a spotlight at type 2 diabetes which can be delayed or even prevented by diet and activity changes or losing weight. But type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, strikes those who haven’t had a chance to make poor food choices, like very young children, or those who are physically active and at normal weight. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the pancreas, ultimately disabling it. Because the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, these people have no alternative but to test their blood with finger pricks several times a day and inject insulin to control their blood glucose level. Diabetes Awareness Month aims to educate us about those who live with this disease every day, 24 hours a day. There is no vacation from diabetes.

Since the discovery and the medical availability of insulin in 1921 lives have been prolonged and diabetics are able to lead more normal lives, but there is still no cure. The treatments have progressed to include continuous glucose monitors that alleviate finger pricks and allow diabetics to more closely monitor glucose levels. Insulin pumps are becoming more mainstream and more common so that diabetics can program the amount of insulin delivered at any given point in time and make adjustments more quickly. But, the ability for these two devices to communicate doesn’t exist yet so diabetics must still track information and program insulin pumps or inject the insulin themselves. Tests and panels to monitor diabetes and blood glucose levels over time, including the fasting glucose test and the hemoglobin A1c test are more readily available and make the disease easier to manage, but it still requires constant monitoring. Keeping glucose levels in a tight range have been found to prevent the more serious complications of diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2: cardiovascular disease, blindness and neuropathy that can lead to amputations. A true artificial pancreas may be a reality in our lifetime, but it’s not here yet! If you are at risk for developing diabetes or are already dealing with the disease, stay on top of your testing and glucose levels. You can either let the disease control you…or you can decide to control it!

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Lyme Disease Prevention: Do You Know What to Do? https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/lyme-disease-prevention-do-you-know-what-to-do/862 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/lyme-disease-prevention-do-you-know-what-to-do/862#respond Fri, 11 Sep 2015 16:56:32 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=862 Tick on a blade of grassSummer is coming to an end and in most places, cooler temperatures mean less bug bites. However, with fall approaching and camping trips being planned left and right, you may want to think twice before assuming that the days of creepy bugs and itchy bites are behind you. Ticks are still out in abundance regardless of the temperature drop, and the consequences of a tick bite have the potential to be treacherous.

Ticks are pesky little members of the arachnid family that are commonly found in low vegetation areas and are hematophagous; in other words, they survive by feeding off of the blood of mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. Blood plays a crucial role in tick development because blood is needed to reach each new stage of a tick’s life cycle. In fact, many ticks die due to failure to find a blood host. But how do ticks latch on to a feeding source? Ticks are not something we regularly see crawling around on your floor like a spider. Instead, ticks actually identify well used paths and remain on blades of grass or twigs. When a body part brushes against the grass or twig, ticks will quickly climb up the host and latch on to feed. But there are bigger, and scarier, reasons why it is important to avoid ticks at all costs.

Ticks play a massive role in disease transmission, second only to mosquitos, and are responsible for vector-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, and Tularemia (although it is important to remember that not all tick bites result in disease). Although all forms of tickborne illnesses are serious, Lyme disease is spreading rapidly around the United States. This occurs when a tick feeds on a carrier of Lyme, and then feeds on another person or animal for 36-48 hours, allowing the illness to transfer into the bloodstream. In 2013, a startling 30,000 Americans were infected with Lyme disease, with most cases occurring in the Northeast and along the Mississippi River (Healthline). Symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash around the eye, fever, chills, arthritic pain, accelerated or decelerated heartbeat, and loss of memory. Unfortunately, there is no Lyme vaccine available for humans, although there is one for dogs.

So how do we avoid ticks? It’s hard because they don’t buzz around our faces and make themselves a constant annoyance. Ticks are silent and sneaky. Nevertheless, there are some precautions you can take:

  • The most obvious way to avoid ticks is to avoid grassy or woodsy areas. However, this may seem silly to some outdoorsmen and women. In that case, try to walk in the center of a path, away from long blades of grass or twigs that stick out.
  • Stick to repellents that are 20-30% DEET. Be sure to spray clothing, as well as body parts. (Remember, ticks latch and crawl for as long as possible).
  • Take a shower after a day outside. This assists in washing off any ticks that are crawling on your body and also make it easier to identify ticks that may have already latched on.
  • Perform full body checks, including the scalp! This can be done with a mirror if there is no one who can assist you. Parents should be sure to check children.
  • Be sure to examine all four legged friends on a regular basis. It is extremely important to remember that our pets are also at great risk for tick bites, and can bring ticks inside. If you haven’t already, speak to your veterinarian about obtaining a Lyme vaccine for your dogs, it could save their life.

Be sure to stay aware of ticks this upcoming season. As the number of people and animals with Lyme disease rises, our chances of obtaining the illness increase as well. Take the proper precautions and conduct frequent tick checks on yourself, members of the family, and all pets!

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Are Your Children Ready for School? Think Immunizations! https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/are-your-children-ready-for-school-think-immunizations/858 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/are-your-children-ready-for-school-think-immunizations/858#respond Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:32:28 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=858 hiv testingAs the new school year creeps up on us, many parents are dedicating the month of August to their children and back to school. Aside from shopping for trendy clothes and school supplies, back to school serves as an important time to consider getting your children vaccinated, if you haven’t already done so. Although vaccinations are a very controversial subject to some, there are lots of good, and in some cases lifesaving, reasons to vaccinate your child.

Immunizations are important because they prevent children from contracting serious illnesses such as measles, mumps, and rubella that may result in brain damage, loss of sight and/or limbs, or even death. Considering immunizations for your child, or even checking to see if everything is up to date, is important at the beginning of the school year as many school systems require children to be vaccinated in an effort to prevent the spread of diseases. Refusing to vaccinate could spark an outbreak, similar to the December 2014 measles outbreak that occurred in Southern California, in which 40 people contracted the virus while visiting Disneyland. Alarmingly, the outbreak spread to over half a dozen states before it was declared over in April, 2015. These highly contagious diseases spread like wildlife, and the results could be truly grueling for a young child- think high fever for a number of days followed by an incubation period in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

Aside from the recent measles outbreak, many parents believe that since outbreaks of many of the diseases requiring vaccinations have not been heard about in a long time, they do not exist and are no longer a reason to worry. However, it is important to realize that although many diseases are rare in the United States, they may still be prevalent in foreign countries and could be brought in through international travel. Do not rely on other parents to vaccinate their kids, and don’t assume that since everyone else is vaccinated, there’s no reason to vaccinate your own children. Not only does this allow your child to become vulnerable to diseases, but non-vaccinated children could spread diseases to children that are too young to obtain vaccinations.

For those who have already decided to vaccinate their children, your job is not yet finished- think Titer tests. Titers are blood tests that check your immune status to vaccinations or diseases you may have received in the past. If your titer results are positive, it means that you have adequate immunity to a particular infections disease thus eliminating the need to get a particular vaccination. In fact, many schools have Titer tests listed as a requirement for admission and seek adequate proof of immunity.

Even though parents are entitled to their own beliefs on parenting, immunizations go beyond the safety of your own children. Diseases are unpredictable and the effects on children can be paralyzing. It is important to keep immunizing until the disease is eliminated, as in the case of smallpox. Vaccinations diminish a child’s vulnerability to a crippling sickness and allow them to be active participants in school and group activities. Be a part of the effort to wipe out diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and more, and visit your pediatrician to vaccinate your children.

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Should You Pause Before Applying Sunscreen? https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/should-you-pause-before-applying-sunscreen/854 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/should-you-pause-before-applying-sunscreen/854#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:09:36 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=854 Sunscreen has always been an essential part of summer, especially over the past 10 years as we have learned more about its benefits. It protects us from UV rays, painful sunburns, and helps prevent skin cancer. But debates have risen Suntanning on the beachover whether or not sunscreen is actually detrimental to our health. While we have been taught that the sun emits powerful and dangerous UV rays, some physicians and scientists are arguing that UV rays provide vitamin D, which can assist in preventing certain cancers and bone diseases. So does this mean we should stop wearing sunscreen?

You may want to hold off on throwing away your summer supply. According to vitamin D advocates, vitamin D is the new miracle worker, helping with everything from cancer to weight control to high blood pressure. One of the best ways to obtain this essential nutrient is to go outside and bask in the sun to catch some UV rays, all while leaving the skin protection behind. Some claim that Americans have been scared away from sun exposure, resulting in a greater number of people suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Other health issues that can contribute to low vitamin D include darker skin, obesity or gastrointestinal issues which can all reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency in itself can be extremely painful, as it causes weak muscles, fatigue, skeletal deformities and soft bones. Although there is evidence that vitamin D is essential for bone health, it’s ability to prevent certain cancers and high blood pressure has yet to be proven. Still, some physicians are recommending that people decrease or even abandon their use of sunscreen.

The majority of scientists and physicians still believe that sunscreen is a crucial element during the summer months since skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions. The United States sees a shocking 1.3 million people diagnosed with skin cancer annually, most cases stemming from sun exposure. Many cancer groups, physicians and dermatologists still argue that any type of sun exposure leads to some form of skin damage, including skin cancer, rapid aging, brown spots, leathering or sagging. And, as helpful as vitamin D is said to be, the tradeoff between unproven studies and a definitive link between sun exposure and skin cancer is just not worth the risk.

So how should we get our vitamin D? Since it is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, many foods have been enriched with vitamin D and supplements are easily accessible at the grocery store or pharmacy. However, the most natural way to get your daily dose of vitamin D can be found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.

The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that the average person get 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D a day and 800 IU for people 70 and older. Also, even the strongest of sunscreens are unable to stop all UV rays from reaching our skin. Fortunately, the amounts sun that reaches your skin may be enough to provide all the vitamin D that a body needs in a day.  If you’re not sure whether you are getting enough a simple Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy test will let you know if you need to up your outdoor time, adjust your diet or add vitamin D supplements to your daily regimen.

So while the sunshine feels lovely, be sure to wear sunscreen. There are too many easy alternatives for obtaining vitamin D to excuse yourself from doing so, especially when you balance it with such a high skin cancer risk!

Photo Courtesy of: PublicDomainPictures

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Hey Tough Guy! Are You Avoiding the Doctor? You May Want to Rethink That Plan! https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/hey-tough-guy-are-you-avoiding-the-doctor-you-may-want-to-rethink-that-plan/849 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/hey-tough-guy-are-you-avoiding-the-doctor-you-may-want-to-rethink-that-plan/849#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2015 15:48:11 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=849 Men's Health MonthThere just aren’t enough hours in a day! You’ll make that doctor’s appointment another day, right? Especially because nothing hurts and you have no pain, aches, bumps, or bruises? Think again! It is all too common for men to skip their annual visits to their doctors, which could be a big step in the wrong direction. Although we all like to believe that since we feel fine there must be nothing wrong, there are far too many health risks and potential diseases for men to ignore their doctors, and their health altogether.

June is Men’s Health Month and we encourage all men to take precautions and check up on your health! Preventative medical tests can detect diseases early, before they start to cause the aches and pains that would send someone to the doctor immediately. Here are some recommendations for screening tests and lifestyle adjustements to consider so that you can take control of your health now and prevent illness later:

  • Check your cholesterol levels regularly, especially after the age of 20. Having high cholesterol puts men at a greater risk for heart disease and should be checked every five years, or more often if your cholesterol is high.
  • Keep a close eye on your body weight, activity level and diet, as these lifestyle choices have a direct effect on cholesterol levels.
  • Consider taking the Fasting Plasma Glucose Test to screen for type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. If you are experiencing increased thirst and frequent urination, as well as weight loss and increased hunger, you may be experiencing diabetes symptoms. As with many other diseases, warning signs are not always apparent in diabetes patients. The risk of heart disease is much higher for men with diabetes, making it crucial to monitor cholesterol levels and blood pressure regularly.
  • Talk to your doctor about heart disease and discuss your personal and family medical history to determine which additional tests could benefit you. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 male deaths.” Half of those men died suddenly of heart disease with no previous symptoms. Here is a great list of heart disease screening tests that will provide critical information about your health.
  • Get your Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level tested. It is important to establish a baseline so that you can monitor changes down the road. Prostate, lung, and colon cancers are the most common cancers found in men. If you have any issues urinating or changes in your testicles, scheduling an appointment could detect prostate cancer in its early stages. Sudden weight loss, coughing, and fatigue are also symptoms of cancer. Cancer screening can detect cancer early, making it much easier to remove and treat. Everyone, men and women, over the age of 50 should get screened for cancer.
  • If you are over 50 it’s time to schedule your baseline colonoscopy. This doesn’t sound like fun, but dealing with colon cancer treatments and surgeries is worse!

Although it may seem like there are never enough hours in a day to get everything done AND visit the doctor, making time for your health is an absolute priority. Too many diseases that affect men are silent killers and many are preventable. Knowledge is power: Half of deaths due to heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes in diet, exercise and by taking hypertension or cholesterol lowering medication.

There aren’t any good reasons to avoid doctors and screening tests, only excuses! Be sure to schedule that appointment, and encourage friends and family members to schedule theirs as well.

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Does Spring Bring Suffering Along With Blooms? https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/does-spring-bring-suffering-along-with-blooms/844 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/does-spring-bring-suffering-along-with-blooms/844#respond Tue, 05 May 2015 15:38:02 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=844 Allergic ReactionsSpring is officially here and so are the warm temperatures! But, are you finding yourself with the onset of a sudden, never-ending cold? If so, you may be one of the estimated 40 to 60 million Americans suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly referred to as “hay fever,” usually occurs in the spring, summer, and fall and is caused by “allergic sensitivity to airborne mold spores or top pollen from grass, trees, and weeds.” Hay fever symptoms consist of a runny nose and congestion, wheezing, and itchy eyes or skin. Think of it as a season-long cold that just won’t go away.

For some, hay fever is an entirely new experience. You may have welcomed spring in the past, but now you feel like you’ve been hit by a nasty cold, and that the usual Dayquil or Sudafed is not doing the trick. If so, it may be time to get tested and visit an allergist to pinpoint exactly what you are experiencing. Skin tests, which consist of injecting or pricking the allergen into the skin and waiting for results, or newer blood tests that only require one blood draw, along with clues about your lifestyle can help to identify your specific allergens.

If you do find yourself a victim of seasonal allergic rhinitis, here are some tips to avoid exposure to your trigger allergens and prevent allergic reactions:

  • Avoid going outdoors between the hours of 5 am and 10 am. Pollen counts are the highest between these hours on dry, windy, and warm days. The best times for outdoor activities are in the evening or after a heavy rainstorm.
  • Keep windows in your house and car closed to avoid bringing the allergens inside. • Clean out or change the air filters at home.
  • When driving, put the air on re-circulate once you have reached a comfortable temperature. This prevents more air from the outdoors being brought inside the car.
  • Take a shower when coming in from being outside. This helps wash the pollen off your body. Also, change clothes upon entering your house. If you wash your clothes opt for using the dryer instead of hanging clothes outside to prevent allergens from landing on clean clothing.
  • Wear a mask while mowing the lawn and aim to keep your lawn short.
  • Take over-the-counter medication such as decongestants or antihistamines. Remember, medicines can assist in hindering symptoms but do not cure allergies.
  • Get allergy shots. Given by allergists, allergy shots are a long-term option for decreasing symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis is a pesky condition that, although common among Americans, can really put a damper on one’s lifestyle. Taking preventative measures can lessen the severity of an allergic reaction and make everyday life much more tolerable. Whether you are new to hay fever, or have experienced it for years, take the time to get tested and visit an allergist to assist you with managing seasonal allergies!

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Will Your Teen’s Prom Become a Statistic? https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/toxicology/will-your-teens-prom-become-a-statistic/841 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/toxicology/will-your-teens-prom-become-a-statistic/841#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2015 18:42:28 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=841 As we welcome April with open arms, enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather, many young people across America are also welcoming end-of-the-school-year celebrations that are right around the corner! Popular events like prom are exciting times for young people when many fond memories are made. Sadly, as years pass, we find that prom has a dark side: alcohol related accidents and deaths. According to the NCADD, “alcohol is the number one beerdrug of choice for America’s youth and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.” The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported that in 2001, 1,012 children under 21 died of alcohol-related traffic incidents in the months of April, May and June alone. Although young people turn to alcohol for any number of reasons, now is a crucial time to raise awareness on underage drinking to ensure that your child is safe during the upcoming prom season.

The combination of prom and alcohol is often seen as a rite of passage for teens. For many of them it is their first opportunity to experiment with alcohol and parents feel as though their children are safe drinking, as long as they are not driving. However, underage alcohol consumption can still be lethal even if they are not driving. Many adolescents are unaware of the consequences of drinking. Drinking a large amount of alcohol can cause loss of consciousness and all control over what happens to his or her body. Drinking too much too fast can cause alcohol poisoning, which could in turn lead to death. Alcohol consumption at a young age could also set the stage for a lifetime of dependency. Even if the person never becomes dependent on alcohol during their lifetime, all it takes is one too many drinks to make a life altering decision.

Talk to your teens about the consequences of underage drinking. Although these topics are sometimes tackled in classrooms, a direct talk with your child can really put into perspective the dangers that occur when drinking. Consider these talking points during a conversation about underage drinking:

  •  Prom Night Plans – Find out your teens plans for prom night. It is common for schools to host prom parties before and after the prom. Encourage teens to attend these parties as they provide safe and alcohol-free environments for young people.
  • Drinking is Illegal – If your teen does not plan to attend a school-related event, focus on the choices they can make. Remind your teen that underage drinking is illegal, and as a precaution, discuss the serious dangers of drinking and driving.
  • Alternatives to Driving – Offer an alternative way to get home if your teen, or their friends, end up drinking. Allow your teen to contact you at any point during the night, or perhaps provide extra money for a cab ride home.
  • Friends Who Drink – Discuss the dangers of being around people who are drinking. Even if your teen chooses against drinking, their friends may not. Mention the danger of drug use, including date rape drugs and “roofies”, and let them know that it is not OK to experiment.

These are only a few places to start the conversation with your teenager. Take advantage of April’s Alcohol Awareness Month and keep an eye out for NCADD events taking place near you. Prom season should be a wonderful and exciting time for both teens and their parents. Do what you can to ensure that your teen is making the right decisions concerning alcohol.

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Spring: The Perfect Season for a Nutritional Fresh Start! https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/spring-the-perfect-season-for-a-nutritional-fresh-start/838 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/spring-the-perfect-season-for-a-nutritional-fresh-start/838#respond Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:15:21 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=838 Relax! Winter is almost over! For most Americans, winter is a dreaded, gloomy time of the year when food becomes a great comfort. Due to the colder temperatures and snow/ice/wintry mixed- covered roads we stay inside and inactive. Fortunately, spring is only a few weeks away and as we step into March and rising temperatures, it’s the perfect time to reassess what we put in our bodies on a daily basis. For some, My Platecontrolling snacking throughout the day is a huge struggle. With vending machines and fast food joints too accessible and convenient during the workweek, it’s definitely worth looking at healthy snacking alternatives to keep your metabolism rolling at high fat-burning levels!

In recent years, our nation has seen a spike in obesity rates. Snacking is a dietary habit that has greatly contributed to the rising obesity rates due to the “empty-calorie” nature of most prepared snack foods. Empty calories provide very little nutritional value, and instead are packed with added sugar and solid fat. According to the USDA, men consume two to three times their limit of sugar and fats and women two to four times their limit!

So what are some snacks that steer clear of empty calories? High-protein snacks are the way to go! Protein allows our bodies to feel full over a longer period of time. If you are filling up with protein during snacking periods, chances are you’re more likely to skip seconds and wait until lunch or dinner to eat again. Here are some protein-filled snacks that are also easy to carry around throughout the day:

  • Nuts! Especially almonds and pistachios, as they have the most protein! Nuts don’t sound appealing? Try mixing a variety of nuts together or combining raisins and dried fruits for a delicious trail mix!
  • Cottage Cheese! Ok, so not everyone is a fan of cottage cheese. But have you tried adding your favorite fruits? Try bananas or strawberries and melon. These fruits are full of flavor and go great with cottage cheese!
  • Jerky! But remain mindful. Make sure you are shopping for low-sodium and lightly flavored beef or turkey jerky. Nine grams of protein is hard to beat in a single serving snack!
  • Hummus! Hummus is also too good to be true. With so many different foods to pair it with and an endless amount of flavors, it’s really hard to go wrong with the delicious dip! Aside from being a great source of protein, hummus can help lower your cholesterol. Try hummus with carrots, cucumbers, celery, or on a piece of toast or pita! The list goes on and on!

Don’t worry; the list of healthy snack alternatives doesn’t stop there. Fruits and veggies also serve as great snacks filled with nutrients. But the best part of protein is that it keeps the body feeling full and satisfied over a longer period of time. Aim for a protein source in every snack you eat, and try to keep portions down to one serving size. Remember, snacking is a habit, and although habits are hard to change, we can make improvements that will keep us healthy and away from obesity!

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Changes to Make for A Heart Healthy Lifestyle https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/change-to-make-for-a-heart-healthy-lifestyle/833 https://www.labtestingnow.com/2015/clinical/change-to-make-for-a-heart-healthy-lifestyle/833#respond Tue, 03 Feb 2015 19:31:34 +0000 http://www.labtestingnow.com/?p=833 Heart Health ImageDo you know how to properly fuel and protect the most vital organ in your body? The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system and needs proper care and nourishment to remain healthy. Nearly half of Americans are at risk for heart disease, a large percentage of which are due to poor diet. Luckily, making changes in one’s diet is a quick and easy way to start to protect your heart from heart attacks, strokes, and coronary artery disease by controlling your weight and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Avoid fats! Cut out the foods filled with trans-fats and saturated fats, as well as those high in cholesterol. There are many healthier alternatives to these problematic food items, such as Greek yogurt in place of sour cream or skim milk in place of heavy whipping cream.
  • Well-rounded diet! Try to include foods from several food groups to keep meals healthy and well rounded. Make sure to include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet as they are a great source of fiber and are low in calories. Fish is an excellent addition to your diet, rich with anti-inflammatory omega-3-fatty acids that may assist in lowering the risk of heart disease.
  • Count calories! Although the task seems daunting, monitoring your daily caloric intake to manage your weight can help prevent stroke, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider to gain insight on calorie intake for your weight, age, gender, and level of activity.
  • Watch out for salt! Take note of your sodium intake. Beware of foods that are “low calorie.” Often, low calorie means a spike in sodium levels. Aim to cap your your sodium intake at 1,500 milligrams each day.
  • Snack smart! Don’t cut out snacking; just change what you snack on. Snacks keep us going throughout the day, so cutting them out won’t do you any good. Try snacking on healthy fats such as seeds and nuts, fruits or veggies. Just remember to monitor your calories!
  • Aerobic exercise! Attempt to exercise for 30-60 minutes a day, especially if you are sitting in a chair for the majority of the day! Not only does aerobic exercise help keep the heart healthy, it also releases serotonin endorphins, the feel good hormone!

Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, it is crucial that people start to make better lifestyle choices.  Although there are many ways to combat heart disease, a healthy diet is a great first step in reducing your risks and improving your chances for a long, healthy life!

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