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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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Should You Take a Multi-vitamin?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

vitaminsThe jury is still out on the usefulness of vitamins and supplements.

A report published in mid-2013 on the JAMA Internal Medicine journal website (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1568520) concludes that most people take supplements because the action makes the individual feel healthier, not because the science supports taking supplements.

In fact, according to a WebMD article, most doctors and nutritionists would recommend spending the $20 a month (that would be spent on supplements) on eating a better diet.

Vitamins can be an "Insurance Policy.”

According to the Harvard School of Public Health (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vitamins/) vitamins may help to supplement a diet that is missing some essential nutrition, but vitamins and supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet. If individuals choose to take a vitamin, they should take a multi-vitamin and stay away from "megas” that offer more than the daily allowance of nutrients, because too much of something can also be harmful. The Harvard site also points to research specifically around Vitamin D supplements as a positive addition to a diet, because most individuals do not get enough vitamin D naturally.

It is important to note that another article from JAMA directly contradicts Harvard’s recommendation of a multi-vitamin. A study published in 2011 (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1104493) points to increases in certain types of cancer and nerve damage directly related to supplement use and too much of certain nutrients.

Because most vitamins are not regulated, is there a source to know which may be safer?

The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is attempting to add some regulation to the unregulated supplement market. Products that meet program requirements are awarded the USP Verified Mark for use on labels, packaging, and promotional materials. The USP Verified Mark is meant to signify a product:

  1. contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts.
  2. does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants.
  3. will break down and release into the body within a specified amount of time.
  4. has been made according to FDA current Good Manufacturing Practices using sanitary and well-controlled procedures. 

Does all of this sound confusing?

If so, you are not alone. The bottom line remains that there is no substitute or supplement for a healthy diet. Talk with your medical provider about your diet and about any supplements you are taking or considering taking.

Tags:  Diet  Intellectual  March 2014  Nutrition  Physical 

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How Well is Your State?

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Gallup-Healthways just released (February 20, 2014) its latest state well-being rankings. Some states improved while others were less successful at achieving better overall health and wellness.

Any guesses about which state maintained the number one spot? If you guessed North Dakota you're right. Surprised? Gallup-Healthways conducted more than 178,000 interviews across 50 states to gather its data. To determine the rank of each state, the analysis examined Americans' perceptions of their lives overall, emotional health, work environment, physical health, practice of healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.

Overall, the U.S. Well-Being Index score in 2013 (66.2 out of 100) was down to from 66.7 in 2012.

So who was last? Sadly, West Virginia maintained this unflattering role from the 2012 rankings. This Southern state might want to take cues from the Midwest and West that held 8 of the top 10 best rankings. (In order: ND, SD, NB, MN, MN, VT, CO, HI, WA, and IA.)

Why does this matter? According to the authors, the decline in 2013 happened despite improved economic confidence in most states. However, 11 states did show improvements, illustrating that actions at the state level can help despite national trends. Moreover, the Gallup-Healthways research, like the National Wellness Institute, recognizes that there are many factors that go into our overall wellness. Not happy at work? It could impact your health. Plus, the research shows clear correlations between behavioral factors (e.g., smoking rates) and statewide health. Finally, people who surround themselves with healthy people, tend to be healthier. So, if your state, community, workplace, family or friends, don’t rank high on health and wellness, you can help to reverse that trend by being a healthy person and leader. Why not start today?

To see the full Gallup-Healthways report, visit: http://info.healthways.com/wbi2013

Tags:  6 Dimensions  Emotional  Intellectual  March 2014  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Statistics  Wellness 

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Don’t Just Educate People, Legislate People?

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Laws and HealthEducation isn’t enough; fighting cancer requires legislation, too. This is the newest sound bite from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

What could this mean for the average person? There may be more laws that govern buying tobacco products, tobacco product cost, when tobacco products can be used, selling tobacco products, etc. The good news: Having these laws in place is correlated to lower smoking rates. (These laws might be helping you reduce your tobacco consumption or even quit!) 

In a February 2014 report (World Cancer Report 2014, http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/books/wcr/wcr-order.php), scientists from this organization projected that cancer deaths would continue to increase worldwide at a rate that requires "urgent attention.” The most common causes of cancer deaths will be lung, liver, and stomach cancer.

While poor countries will suffer the increasing percentages to a greater degree, many of the deaths will be avoidable, according to the report. Moreover, the cost of treating cancer will damage even the strongest economies. 

"Avoiding” cancer deaths will involve everything from access to cancer treatments (including diagnosis) to prevention and, most importantly, legislation.

The report found that, especially in wealthier countries like the United States, prevention is good, but prevention and legislation together is better. The report goes on to propose researching similar approaches to regulating other unhealthy resources (e.g., alcohol, sugar, fat, pollution).

For more information on this report visit: http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/books/wcr/wcr-order.php

Tags:  Intellectual  Legislation  March 2014  Occupational  Wellness Law 

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One Step at a Time to Tobacco-Free!

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

As you may have heard, CVS Caremark will stop selling tobacco in all CVS stores by October 1, 2014.

CVS Caremark’s decision has not gone unnoticed by other retail pharmacies. According to an article by the Supermarket News, Walgreens is evaluating tobacco sales, but will still continue selling tobacco products for now. Rite Aid has a "Committed to Quit” campaign intended to highlight the nicotine replacement and smoking cessation products, but has not announced any plans to end the sales of tobacco.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CVS Caremark's decision to end tobacco sales was fueled by the company’s belief that now is the time for retailers to act. The article goes on to say if other retail pharmacies follow the CVS lead, tobacco products will be harder to get. This move by CVS helps to educate consumers on the idea that tobacco products are contrary to health and wellness.

For more information about changing social norms to reduce the acceptability of smoking check out, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services video and podcast series: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/tobacco/sgr50-video-podcast-series.html.

What this means for you: If you or someone you love uses tobacco products, they may find those products to be more difficult to get. Both public and private institutions recognize the undeniable research that tobacco products are harmful to our wel-lbeing and the well-being of those who come in contact with these products through second- and third-hand exposure.

Brennan, Trevor MD, MPH, Schroeder, Steven MD (2014, February 5). Ending Sales of Tobacco Products in Pharmacies in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from http://jama.jamanetwork.com.ezproxy.uwsp.edu/article.aspx?articleid=1828530

Public Health Service, Office of Surgeon General (2014). The Health Consequences of Smoking--50 Years of Progress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf

Angrisani, Carol (2014, February 5). Walgreens Evaluates Cigarette Sales. Supermarket News. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from http://supermarketnews.com/health-amp-wellness/walgreens-evaluates-cigarette-sales

Tags:  Intellectual  March 2014  Physical  Social  Tobacco 

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Inspiration: From the Bookshelf

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heavy: Finding Meaning after a Terminal Diagnosis, A Young Family’s First Year with ALS, published February 2014, provides hope and encouragement to those facing a terminal diagnosis and individuals facing hardship in general.

Summary: After Todd Neva’s diagnosis of ALS in 2010, the Nevas felt that many of the published books dealing with grief did so only after the fact. They wanted to write something about the feelings and emotions that accompany the process of loss…as it is happening. In doing so, they wanted to provide hope, spirit, perspective, and insight to those who faced tragedy and those who are not.

As a preview to the book, below are collection of quotes from Todd and his wife, Kristin, taken from the pages of the book. Both Todd and Kristin believe in God. The practice of wellness only asks that we be connected to something bigger than ourselves. For some this is God, for others it is nature, or an undefined spirit, or something else entirely. In any case, Todd and Kristin’s message is a powerful one.

There is pain and suffering in this world, but there is also joy, and not just suffering here and joy there, but suffering and joy in the very same place. – Todd

I am forced to be humble, receiving help when I am weak and unable to return the favor. Those who help me are fulfilling the Apostle Paul’s admonishment to ‘help the weak,’ and they are blessed. I am blessed to receive their help, but I would still rather have the blessings of giving. I’ll have to find new ways to give. – Todd

It comes down to attitude. I’ve reflected on the past, in light of my condition, that I’ve worried about so much when there was really nothing to worry about, and now that I really have something to worry about, I haven’t many worries. –Todd

I have time to build memories, to live well. My children will see a man who lived to his last breath. Though I have limited physical strength, I can demonstrate mental toughness. So much of life is out of my control, except for my attitude. Shouldn’t this be how we all live, whether we have six years or sixty? I have decided to live well. –Todd

Sometimes swearing feels like the best expression of my anger about our situation. On Sunday, I worshiped in the morning and swore in the afternoon; it did not seem incongruent to me in my situation. I did both with my whole heart. – Kristin

In hard times, I am more desperate, and desperation brings me to God. We all experience hard things. We can dull our desperation with TV, the Internet, alcohol, shopping, or fun while we wait for things to get better. Or, we can come to God. – Kristin

I can’t wrap my mind around God’s sovereignty paired with the bad things that happen in life. But maybe I don’t need to. Maybe the point of the story of the blind man is that God, through His grace, can redeem any situation, and even bring out of it purpose and meaning. – Kristin

Tags:  ALS  Inspiration  Intellectual  March 2014  Physical  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Facts About Sleep

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wellness in 10 is inspired by National Sleep Awareness Week (March 2–9, 2014), sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org).

1. We need different amounts of sleep at different ages. As adults, we need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Make sure to adjust your schedule so you can be fully rested.

2. Sometimes insomnia is caused by stress, but sometimes it can be caused by an underlying medical condition. If you have a prolonged bout of sleeplessness, visit your healthcare provider to make sure there isn’t something more serious occurring.

3. Studies have found a relationship between the quantity and quality of one's sleep and many health problems such as obesity. It may be easier for you to get a good night’s sleep if you make it a priority.

4. According to the Sleep Foundation, three 8 oz. cups of coffee (250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered a moderate amount of caffeine. At a moderate intake level, it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated. Think about your sleep when you order a cup of coffee or energy drink late in the day.

5. Gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) is a common ailment that can cause sleep disruptions. If you are having trouble sleeping, one of the following could be the culprit: fats, onions, chocolate, spicy foods, large meals late in the day (2-3 hours before you lay down), your head and shoulders are not elevated enough, you are sleeping on your right side (sleeping on your left side could reduce symptoms), you consumed alcohol, or you smoke.

6. According to the National Institute’s of Health (NIH) (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf), we need sleep, not to rest our brains, but to re-charge our brains. Sleep helps us to think clearly, react quickly, and create memories.

7. Sleep helps us grow. The NIH reports that deep sleep releases more of the growth hormone that triggers growth in children and boosts muscle mass and the repair of cells and tissues in children and adults.

8. Sticking to a schedule can help you improve your sleep so you are not constantly re-setting your biological clock.

9. Relaxing before bed can help promote sleep. Meditate, listen to soft music, read, take a hot bath, etc.

10. According to NIH sleep researchers, if you are lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, it might be best to get up and take part in a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy again. Watching the clock may increase anxiety and actually prevent sleep.

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  March 2014  Physical  Sleep  Social 

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