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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.

 

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Diabetes Does Not Discriminate in Women: New Study

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 30, 2013

Woman DiabetesWhile black and Hispanic women tend to have higher rates of diabetes, a new study finds that the rate at which women die of diabetes-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer does not favor one race over another.

The study, released by the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine (September 2013), specifically looked at postmenopausal women. Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and the lead author of the study, concluded that the way to reduce high diabetes-related death rates among all postmenopausal women would be to focus on prevention. While many drugs are available to treat diabetes, the impact of those drugs on aging women is still unknown…making prevention the best route.

Overall, the research acknowledges that diabetes rates vary by race (27.1 percent for blacks, 20.8 percent for Hispanics, 15.9 percent for Asians and 11.7 percent for whites). However, diabetes has an "amplifying” effect on other chronic illnesses regardless of race.

Current research suggests that 80 to 90 percent of diabetes cases may be preventable by lifestyle modifications, such as being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and having a healthful diet.

University of Massachusetts Medical School (2013, September 17). New insight into reducing racial, ethnic disparities in diabetes.

Tags:  Diabetes  October 2013  Physical  Social 

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Clean Air? I’ll breathe to that!

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 30, 2013

Jars of AirWhat if we could reduce deaths by 35%? It seems we already have.

In a study published in September 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one Brigham Young University professor, Arden Pope, through economic analysis, concludes that improvements in U.S. air quality have reduced deaths by 35%.

Pope, a member of a larger research team, asserts that evidence exists that by reducing our air pollution, we have seen measurable improvements in life expectancy and public health.

As part of this research, Pope and other scholars found in successive studies that dirty air impacted hospital admissions, mortality rates, and cardiovascular disease— including the risk of heart attacks. Whereas past research had made the tie between bad air and respiratory issues, newer research shows links between dirty air and cardiovascular disease, lung health, and brain health.

What does this mean for you? Pay attention to Red Alert Air Quality Days if you live in a populated area. Even if you aren’t concerned about global warming, emissions play a critical role in our health and the health of future generations…so it wouldn’t hurt to think greener.

Christopher J. L. Murray et al.The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors.JAMA, 2013; 310 (6): 591 DOI:10.1001/jama.2013.13805

Brigham Young University (2013, September 17). Death and disability from air pollution down 35 percent in the US.ScienceDaily. Retrieved

Tags:  Clean Air  Environment  Intellectual  October 2013  Physical  Social 

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Inspiration: Quotes for Comfort

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 30, 2013

ComfortThis month’s quotes are inspired by the season that inspires comfort: Fall. From comfort food to holidays enriched by family and friends, let’s take a collective deep breath and think about comfort.

In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds.
Aristotle

Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
Hippocrates

Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.
Humphry Davy

When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always get worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.
Malcolm Forbes

Now, God be praised, that to believing souls gives light in darkness, comfort in despair.
William Shakespeare

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
Jane Austen

If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.
Bill Cosby

I like looking nice, but I always put comfort over fashion. I don't find thin girls attractive; be happy and healthy. I've never had a problem with the way I look. I'd rather have lunch with my friends than go to a gym.
Adele

We're constantly striving for success, fame and comfort when all we really need to be happy is someone or some thing to be enthusiastic about.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Tags:  Comfort  Inspiration  Intellectual  October 2013  Social  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: Health Myths Debunked

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 30, 2013

Cat_LionThis month, in an effort to ensure we are all getting the right amount of information, Wellness News You Can Use (WNYCU) sought out wellness myths debunked by reputable sources from around the Web. Our sources for this article included WebMD.com, US News & World Report, ABC News, The Washington Post, healthyliving.com, and others. As not to create any myths of our own, all facts below were verified on at least two sites.

1. Tanning beds are good for you because they provide vitamin D.
No. Opponents of tanning beds point to the high risk of developing skin cancer by using them, and the ability to get vitamin D in other ways. In 1992, tanning beds were rated as "probably carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), but in July 2009 that rating was increased to "carcinogenic to humans,” which is the highest cancer-risk category, according to a 2009 Time magazine article titled "Assessing the Risks of Tanning Beds.” This rating puts tanning beds on the same level as radon gas, plutonium, and radium. An IARC study also claims people who begin using tanning beds before age 30 increase their risk of developing skin cancer by 75 percent, according to the article. So yes, you may be able to get vitamin D from tanning beds, but you could also take a supplement and not increase your cancer risk.

2. Makeup with SPF is just as good as sunscreen.
Not true. Most women neglect to reapply the products every two to three hours (the recommended coverage). One site claimed this is why makeup with SPF can be 14 times less effective than sunscreen. Because most skin cancers occur above the neck, dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection under your makeup every day and carrying a travel-size sunscreen in your purse so you can reapply it when you're outside.

3. You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day for optimal health.
Yes, water. No, on the eight glasses a day. The truth is, the only hard and fast rule is that your urine should be clear. If your urine is yellow, drink more water (or other non-alcoholic beverages). Water is still the best choice because it is caffeine- and sugar-free.

4. Don’t have late-night snacks.
Well…here’s the underlying truth: Some people make unhealthy snack choices so the warning against late-night snacks is really intended to be a warning against bad-for-you late-night snacks. Your body has no idea what time it is…but it knows what you put in it. If you want a restful sleep, stay away from snacks with caffeine or other stimulants like sugar. Eat healthy and in moderation at any time and you should be fine.

5. You can catch a cold from not bundling up in cold weather.
The truth is viruses do tend to be more active in cold weather, but a hat is little protection from a virus. It is more likely that you will catch a cold from being inside with lots of people in re-circulated air. In addition, dry conditions inside during cold weather can damage our mucus membranes and allow viruses an easier in. Also, not bundling up when it is cold can deplete our body of energy as it works to stay warm and thus weaken the immune system over time…but feeling cold for a moment is not the key to a cold. Most sites recommended outdoor exercise with appropriate clothing layers as a way to keep immune systems strong throughout the winter.

6. Feed a cold, starve a fever
Actually true…sort of…Doctors believe the old-time theory was based around the idea that food, as fuel, warms, while liquids cool you down from the inside, bringing your temperature down. In 2002, scientists in Holland tested this theory and found different food/liquid intakes activated different types of immune cells. That said, most doctors will tell you to eat if you are hungry and visit your doctor if your health is not improving.

7. Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death.
True or false…eww! Actually false, but the explanation is still pretty gross. It just seems like hair and fingernails continue to grow because dehydration can make the skin shrink back from hair and nails, making them look longer.

8. Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals.
Not sure. You may be wondering about planes…but we’ll give flight attendants a break today. Testing in Europe found minimal interference at distances of less than four feet. However, other research done by a Dutch group contradicted this claim. WNYCU thinks you should put down your phone and spend time with the person who is in the hospital. If you have to make a call, stretch your legs and take the short walk outside…getting away for a moment could be beneficial for you emotionally as well.

9. Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy.
Turkey isn't all that rich in tryptophan, the chemical linked to sleepiness after eating turkey. But eating a big, decadent meal can cause sleepiness, even if turkey isn't on the menu.

10. You Lose 75 Percent of Your Body Heat Through Your Head.
Nope. For an adult, the figure is more like 10 percent. This adage may be based on an infant’s head size, which is a much greater percentage of the total body than an adult’s head. Just keep in mind that heat escapes from any exposed area, so as explained above, protect you and your immune system by dressing properly and in layers.

Tags:  Myths  October 2013  Physical  Wellness In 10 

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Inspiration at Work

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Inspiration WorkRelax, nothing is under control. — Adi Da Samraj

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. — Og Mandino

Those that mind don't matter,Those that matter don't mind.— Dr. Suess

If you knew exactly what the future held, you still wouldn't know how much you would like it when you got there. We should have more trust in our own resilience and less confidence in our predictions about how we'll feel. We should be a bit more humble and a bit more brave.— Psychologist Daniel Gilbert

You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds. — Russell Conwell

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Each moment in time we have it all, even when we think we don't. — Melody Beattie

Materialism is toxic for happiness. Even rich materialists aren't as happy as those who care less about getting and spending. — Ed Diener , University of Illinois psychologist

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tags:  Inspiration  Intellectual  Occupational  September 2013  Social  Work 

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What the Affordable Care Act Means to Your Wellness Program: 8 Simple Facts

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wellness FunThe following is a summary of what is ahead for wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is meant to offer a snapshot of what employees and employers can expect, but by no means will cover every detail of implementation. This summary is based on a report published in Employee Relations Journal, Autumn 2013 (full citation below).

1. In general, the ACA tries to guide employers to develop wellness programs that balance incentives for being healthy with penalties for being unhealthy.

2. The ACA raises the stakes for wellness programs by allowing a higher threshold for the "rewards” given by employers.

3. Employers are not able to discriminate against participants, with respect to eligibility, benefits, or a premium, based on a health factor. (For more information, see HIPAA: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/index.html)

4. Because companies and wellness programs are unique, there may be additional regulations issued to address specific circumstances.

5. The ACA Wellness rules became final June 3, 2013 and went into effect August 2, 2013. The rules will apply January 1, 2014.

6. In essence, the rules set forth criteria that would allow an employer to qualify for an exemption to the non-discrimination rule (see 3 above).

7. The rule regulates both participatory (either the program does not provide a reward or penalty, or does not have conditions for obtaining a reward or penalty, based on health outcomes) and health-contingent wellness programs. Health-contingent programs fall into two categories: (1) activity-only programs, which have a reward or penalty for individuals who do a physical activity such as walking, dieting, etc.; accommodations must be made for people who have factors that would prevent them from doing an activity, and (2) outcomes-based programs, which provide awards or penalties to obtain a specific outcome (weight, cholesterol level, nicotine use, etc.)

8. Health-contingent programs must meet five (5) requirements to avoid being classified as discriminatory:

a. Everyone must have the opportunity to qualify for the reward at least once a year.

b. In general (see the actual rule for specifics: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/03/2013-12916/incentives-for-nondiscriminatory-wellness-programs-in-group-health-plans) rewards for health-related factors (BMI, cholesterol targets, etc.) cannot exceed 30 percent of the cost of coverage for the individual. Rewards tied to items other than an individual’s health factors, such as an educational seminar, can exceed the 30 percent threshold. So a company could give a 15% insurance premium deduction for cholesterol reduction, a 15% premium reduction for participating in a walking program (equaling 30%), plus a 10% reduction for attending an educational program. Because the educational program is not directly related to an individual’s health outcomes, it does not exceed the threshold. Tobacco cessation programs are an exception to the 30 percent rule regarding health-related factors. Tobacco cessation program participation can be tied to premium reductions of up to 50 percent. As an aside, the ACA authorizes a 50 percent premium surcharge (increase) for tobacco use. Yes, tobacco use is that bad.

c. The design of the wellness program has to reasonable, work to improve health and prevent disease, and cannot discriminate or cause undue burdens to an individual (no mandatory 5 a.m. boot camps or all vegetarian diet requirements, folks).

d. Rewards have to be available to everyone. For instance, if it is a walking program and an individual is wheelchair-bound, there must be an alternative way the individual can earn the reward. Discrimination that favors people with health factors is alright. For instance, people with arthritis could get a waiver for a walking program, but might need to attend an alternative arthritis management program. Again, for more detail, make sure to visit the rule as published (link above).

e. All alternative programming must be made public and accessible.

f. Employers as well as employees may want to read up on HIPAA’s patient privacy rules (link above) and the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA: http://www.ada.gov/

Again, this article is meant to serve as a summary and those running wellness programs or impacted by them may want to follow the links provided above for a complete understanding of the individual regulations.

 

 

Moran, A.E. (2013). Wellness programs after the Affordable Care Act. Employee Relations Law Journal, 39(2), 75-83.

Tags:  Affordible Care Act  Occupational  September 2013  Social  Wellness Law 

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A Loss for Tobacco is a Gain for Our Health: Cigarette Taxation and Reduced Alcohol Consumption.

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Smoking badResults to be published early in 2014 suggest that the cigarette tax is having yet another beneficial impact on our overall health: reduced alcohol consumption.

The January 2014 edition of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research will include a research summary of the findings. The researchers, scholars from Stanford Prevention Research Center, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the Yale School of medicine, received a National Institutes of Health grant to conduct the study.

The sample group consisted of 21,473 alcohol consumers from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). According to the researchers, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States, while heavy drinking ranks as the third leading cause of preventable death. Cigarette taxation has been recognized as one of the most significant policy instruments to reduce smoking. Given that smoking and drinking often occur together, the researchers embarked on a study to examine the link between the two.

The results of the analysis showed that increased cigarette taxes are associated with reductions in alcohol consumption and frequency of binge drinking among smokers, but primarily among male smokers, young adults, and those with the lowest income. Further, the positive association between reduced binge drinking and cigarette taxation was even higher.

What does this matter? According to the researchers, smokers drink more frequently and more heavily than non-smokers, and are substantially more likely than non-smokers to meet criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. Moreover, this research serves as a positive argument for states who are grappling with increasing cigarette taxes because there are possible additional benefits. Increased cigarette taxes help to decrease another harmful behavior, but further research is need to determine if the reduction in drinking associated with the increased cigarette tax is enough to have long-term health benefits.

Young-Wolff, K.C., Kasza, K.A., Hyland, A.J., and McKee, S.A. Increased cigarette tax is associated with reductions in alcohol consumption in a longitudinal U.S. sample. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2013; DOI:10.1111/acer.12226

Tags:  Physical  September 2013  Social  Taxes  Tobacco 

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Great Resources to Help you Quit Smoking and Using Tobacco Products

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quit TobaccoTobacco use is bad news—for the user and for the people around the user if the user is a smoker (While other forms of tobacco use such as chewing tobacco are bad for the user, secondhand smoke is not an issue). From lung disease to heart disease and from cancer to birth defects and pre-mature death, tobacco use is one of the most deadly, yet most preventable, health risks we face today. For more information on the harms of tobacco use and the benefits of quitting, visit The National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/tobacco/cessation).

First, good advice is easier to swallow if it comes from a trustworthy source. The CDC has compiled advice from former tobacco users that you can check out here: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/

If you think you are ready to quit using tobacco, but need some help and want to talk to someone, try http://www.Smokefree.gov (1-800-QUIT-NOW), which includes several telephone numbers (Click: "Quit Today” then "Talk to an Expert.”) and a helpline you can use as resources. If Spanish is your native language, try http://espanol.smokefree.gov/hable-con-un-experto (1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).

If you are a woman and you want tobacco cessation help that is specific to your needs (are you pregnant?), help is available specifically for you. Try http://women.smokefree.gov/tools.aspx.

Are you a teen struggling with tobacco use, or do you have teen at home who is struggling? Try http://teen.smokefree.gov/.

If you are technology-savvy, maybe a tobacco cessation app is the right choice for you. Try http://smokefree.gov/apps-quitstart.

Are you in the military or are you a veteran? Resources to help you quit that are specific to your situation are also available. Try: http://www.ucanquit2.org/.

Want an easy-to-read guide on the benefits of quitting tobacco use? Try: http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/prevention/lifestyle/tobacco/helpsmokers.html. This great guide also has a savings chart so users can see how much they will save on tobacco products over time.

Interested in trying tobacco cessation products? What product is right for you? This FDA site has overviews of many commonly used tobacco cessation products: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm198176.htm

Tags:  Physical  September 2013  Social  Tobacco 

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How to Get More Fruits and Vegetables into Your Diet!

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fruits and VegesVegetables and fruits are an important part of a good diet. And variety is as important as quantity. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. The key is a good mix of different vegetables and fruits.

Try these tips to fit more fruits and vegetables into your day:

  • Keep fruit on the counter or table where it is accessible. Also, after produce shopping, take some time and prepare both fruits and vegetables in "ready-to-eat” portions. Where applicable, wash fruit; cut up larger fruit like pineapple and watermelon and get it into "snack-ready” containers; peel, wash, and chop vegetables so they are ready for snacking or cooking.
  • Think about meals as fruits and vegetables with proteins and starches on the side. Below are some great recipe resources if you need some fruit or vegetable preparation inspiration.
  • Be adventurous! Look for fruits and vegetables you have never tried before. Your grocer, the Internet, and even co-workers can be great resources on how to prepare a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Make it a meal. Try some new recipes where vegetables take center stage. If you need help with cooking and preparation ideas try searching for "vegetarian” on one of the following sites:

www.eatingwell.com

www.allrecipes.com

www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe

Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor. – William Cowper

Tags:  Intellectual  Nutrition  Physical  September 2013 

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Wellness in 10: Ten Sites with Great Health and Wellness Quizzes and Calculators

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Health CalculatorThe information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you. Some treatments mentioned may not be covered by your health plan. Please refer to your benefit plan documents for information about coverage.

  1. Healthstatus.com: HealthStatus.com, Inc. was formed in 1998 and is a privately held company located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Using the algorithms from the Healthier People project of the Carter Center of Emory University, an Internet-based health risk assessment was created, along with several calculators to take a quick snapshot of a person's health. http://www.healthstatus.com/calculators.html
  2. Healthcentral.com: From cholesterol to stress, this site might have the calculator you are looking for. http://www.healthcentral.com/tools/408/index.html
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH): MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's website for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it provides information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in simple-to-understand terms. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/videosandcooltools.html
  4. University of Maryland Medical System health calculators: http://www.healthcalculators.org/
  5. MyOptumHealth.com: A for-profit company that works with physicians, hospitals, employers, insurers, government entities and individuals to improve health. From breast cancer assessment quizzes to exercise trackers, this site has many resources. https://client.myoptumhealth.com/myoptumhealth#prelogin.learn.learnLanding
  6. RealAge.com: If you want to know, based on your habits and your physical attributes, your "true” estimated age, this site is a great place to start. http://www.realage.com/
  7. American Association of Retired People (AARP): If you are looking for quizzes and calculators that speak to your mature age group, this site has done a great job of collecting valuable resources, calculators, and quizzes. From finding your coverage gaps in Medicare Part D to Drug Savings calculators, the American Association of Retired People has you covered. http://www.aarp.org/health/health_tools/
  8. Sheppardssoftware.com: For a child or just someone who wants more fun in their health quest, this site has interactive games as well as quizzes to improve your overall understanding of health. http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/health.htm 
  9. MedIndia.com: Just proving that all of the answers are not U.S.-based, MedIndia.com hosts ADHD calculators, diabetes tools, and a variety of other heath topics as resources. The current version of the site was launched in March 2000 and is supported by a team of doctors, editors, writers, programmers, and designers. http://www.medindia.net/patients/calculators/adhd-test-calculator.asp
  10. Wakehealth.edu: This site, hosted by Wake Forest Medical School, has many research-based tools to help you in your journey to understanding your overall health. http://www.wakehealth.edu/healthCalculators/

Bonus Round

Wellsteps.com: This for-profit site has a few free tools you can use to assess the wellness needs and financial implications of offering wellness at your company or in your community. https://www.wellsteps.com/roi/resources_tools_roi_cal_health.php

Tags:  Emotional  Health Calculators  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  September 2013  Social  Spiritual  Wellness In 10 

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