Tag Archives: health

HR Focus: Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every October, the entire country turns pink. While it may be pretty, wearing pink or offering pink products does little to educate employees about breast cancer or raise money for the cause. In October, which has become the nation’s annual observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your company should develop a plan to provide information and education to employees on breast cancer prevention and early detection, as well as to find meaningful ways to raise funds for breast cancer research. Participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month can help align your company with a worthy cause if done properly.

Here are some impactful ways your company can get involved this October:

Provide breast cancer prevention information and educational materials to employees and clients and their families.

Advocate for the cause by being proactive in helping employees take charge of their health. Connecting your company to breast cancer prevention can bring good will to your brand while providing useful information for women. Create a handout (with breast cancer facts, risk factors, mammogram information, and how to perform a self-exam) that employees can take home and use. Or add your logo to these pocket sliders (small interactive slide charts in which you match up the bullet point and view information and tips in the cutout window) available at  https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2317504/Pinktober%20Promos.pdf?t=1537766091314.

Share breast cancer facts and prevention tips on your company’s social media.

Get creative on Facebook and Instagram by sharing photos and memes with prevention tips and breast cancer facts for the entire month of October.

Share breast cancer and nutrition facts.

There is a lot of misinformation about the causes of breast cancer, especially when it comes to diet. As a food service company, clarifying the connections of breast cancer and diet can have a big impact. Share the facts through educational materials, blogs, newsletters, and social media. A good place to start is https://breast360.org/topics/2017/01/01/breast-cancer-and-nutrition-facts-and-myths/.

Share survivor stories.

Sharing breast cancer survivor stories and photos is also a powerful way to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you have employees or clients who are willing to share their breast cancer stories, include their photos and stories in your company’s blog and/or newsletter with links to your social media.

Organize a company team for a Breast Cancer Walk/Run or other event.

There are numerous Breast Cancer Walks/Runs and other fundraising events happening in October all over the country. Find a local event and organize a company team to get involved by fundraising and participating the day of the event. At the event, your team can wear t-shirts with your company name and logo and give away promotional products to promote your partnership.

 

 

 

Decoding Different Types of Sunscreen

Daily sunscreen use is the best way to protect your skin from both the short-term and long-term effects of the sun. Yet choosing the right sunscreen can be confusing with all of the different products on the market.

Which sunscreens are best for your skin? Understanding the differences among sunscreen products can help you make the best choice for you.

Chemical vs. physical

To put it simply, there are two types of sunscreens: chemical blockers and physical blockers.  Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays while physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect harmful UV rays.

Chemical sunscreens are the big-brand products that you can easily find on most drugstore shelves. They usually contain ingredients such as octylcrylen, avobenzone, and octinoxate. While they may be widely available, they can also be more irritating to your skin, especially for those with sensitive skin, skin conditions, or acne-prone skin.

Physical sunscreens use natural ingredients like zinc and titanium oxide to block the sun’s rays. They have become more popular recently with consumers’ increasing concerns about chemical safety, but still aren’t as easy to find as chemical sunscreens, though they do have a longer shelf life. Physical sunscreens are more gentle on the skin and are recommended by dermatologists and pediatricians for those with sensitive skin or skin conditions, as well as for children and babies.

UVA vs. UVB rays

Both UVA and UVB rays can be harmful to your skin, but not all sunscreens block both types of rays. UVA rays are the ones that cause sun damage such as premature wrinkling and age spots. UVB rays are the ones that cause those red, painful sunburns. Too much long-term exposure to either UVA or UVB sunscreens can cause skin cancer. For the best protection, chose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, which will be labeled “broad spectrum.”

SPFs

A sunscreen with SPF30 protects against 97 percent of the sun’s UV rays while an SPF50 blocks 98 percent : beyond that, the amount of extra protection is negligible. Higher SPF sunscreen products only add more chemicals that can irritate your skin and are usually more expensive. There are no products that offer 100 percent protection. That’s why all sunscreen labels remind you to reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

The bottom line

So which sunscreen is the best? Dermatologists recommend one that is broad-spectrum, contains SPF30, and is water-resistant. The brand or whether you choose a lotion or spray are personal preferences—what is most important is that you choose one that you will use on a regular basis.

 

How to Protect Yourself From the Flu

Flu 2018: How to Protect Yourself

Buckle up: this year’s influenza virus (flu) is a doozy. Every year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks how widespread the flu is in each state. And this year, for the first time in 13 years, flu activity is “widespread” across the entire continental United States; only Hawaii has escaped the 2017-2018 flu season.

This year’s flu features the H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, which is more difficult to treat and deadlier to vulnerable populations, like infants and people over 65 years old. H3N2 is also much more difficult to prevent with the flu vaccine. The CDC reports that “flu vaccines provide better protection against influenza B or influenza A (H1N1) viruses than against influenza A (H3N2) viruses,” with average vaccine efficiency of only 33 percent against H3N2 viruses, compared with 61 percent efficiency against H1N1, and 54 percent against Influenza B.

So does that mean you should just skip the flu vaccine? Absolutely not! Even if it’s only 33 percent effective, it will help you to reduce your chance of getting the flu by one third? If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, it’s not too late; flu seasons can often stretch into May, and the CDC is starting to see more strains of influenza B and H1N1 show up as well. So run, don’t walk, to your nearest pharmacy to get this vaccine.

Apart from getting the vaccine, the CDC also recommends these precautions to keep the germs at bay:

  • Avoid close contact.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits.

You can also boost your immune systems with heathy choices from USConnect’s fresh meals, snacks, and beverages. Look for antioxidant-rich foods like spinach and blueberries, or vitamin C-rich citrus. Drink plenty of fluids; get plenty of rest, and hopefully you can avoid the flu when it comes knocking.

Myths and Facts Everyone Should Know About Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, so for today’s post, we want to dispel some myths—and share some facts—about this oft-misunderstood disease.

myths and facts about diabetes

Myth #1: Diabetes is a single disease

Fact: The term “diabetes” actually encompasses several different illnesses: type 1, type 2, gestational, and pre-diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 are the two main types of diabetes, and they both affect the way the body regulates its blood sugar (also known as blood glucose) with the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas. Gestational diabetes (a temporary disease that sometimes begins during a woman’s 24th week of pregnancy) and prediabetes (when the body’s blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough for a type 2 diagnosis) are both types of type 2 diabetes in that they affect how the body uses insulin, not how the pancreas creates it.

Myth #2: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have the same treatment.

Fact: With type 1 diabetes (T1D), the body doesn’t make enough insulin, while with type 2, the body doesn’t use insulin properly (also known as insulin resistance). Consequently, people with T1D need to inject insulin into their bodies, either with a pump that’s attached to their body or with shots throughout the day and night. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be managed with diet and exercise, or sometimes with medication.

Myth #3: People get diabetes from overeating or from eating too much sugar.

Fact: While poor diet and lack of exercise are indeed risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, several other factors, like genetics, come into play. Lots of people live very unhealthy lifestyles without ever developing diabetes, while others eat healthily and exercise regularly and still get it. There is no lifestyle component to developing T1D; it develops most often in childhood (it is often called “juvenile diabetes”) and seems to develop as a result of some combination of genetics and viral exposure.

Myth #4: People with diabetes can’t eat any sugars or starches.

Fact: People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can certainly eat some sugars and starches (carbohydrates, which are turned to sugar in the blood). However, they need to watch their sugar and starch consumption and potentially counteract it with insulin. USConnect’s The Right Choice for a Heathier You™ program helps people see detailed nutritional information so they can make informed choices about what they eat.

 

How to Avoid Getting Sick at Work

‘Tis the season for the flu, not to mention the common cold, the annual norovirus outbreak, and some kind of respiratory bug that has people laid up for over a week. Whole departments are getting decimated for weeks at a time, and you may be wondering: how can I avoid getting sick at work?

How to Avoid Getting Sick at Work

Office spaces can be Petri dishes for the cultivation of viruses. Open-plan spaces, in particular, make it easy for germs to spread. A 2014 MIT study found that coughs and sneezes create a “multiphase, turbulent buoyant cloud,” which allows germ-laden droplets to travel up to 200 times farther than was previously thought. When someone in a cubicle sneezes, a coworker in a cubicle 30 feet away may be the recipient of those germs.

Even in more traditional office spaces, any surface that gets touched frequently is probably a hotbed of germs. Door handles, copier controls, elevator buttons: these surfaces get touched thousands of times a day, often by people harboring viruses or bacteria. Microbiologist Chuck Gerba found cold and flu viruses on about one-third of office surfaces, with the germiest object being the phone.

Despite all the germs that are probably floating around your office, there’s no need to invest in a Haz-Mat suit. Some simple precautions can help significantly reduce your likelihood of getting sick.

  1. Viruses and bacteria are transmitted through your mouth, eyes, and nose, usually from your hands, once you’ve touched a germy surface. If you can avoid touching your face at all, you’ll keep the germs out of your system.
  2. It may be hard to keep from scratching your nose or rubbing your eyes. That’s why it’s crucial to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol can quickly reduce the number of microbes on the skin. Note, however, that you should avoid antibacterial soap. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned in 2016 that antibacterial agents like triclosan show no evidence of preventing illness, and they may even contribute to antibiotic resistance.
  3. Clean frequently touched surfaces at least once a day with a bleach- or alcohol-based product.
  4. Take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, and get the most nutrition from your food.
  5. Stay home! If you’re starting to feel unwell or even just run-down, take a day off! If you can avoid getting sick, you’ll be more productive in the long run.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane… It’s a Superfood!

Foods with high levels of vitamins and minerals are often called superfoods.  Superfoods may also contain antioxidants, substances that prevent or delay cell damage and help prevent disease.  Some people also claim that superfoods have incredible health benefits, today's superfoodssuch as lowering the risk of cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimers.   It could just be good marketing—these extraordinary claims have yet to be supported by scientific research—but experts do agree that a nutritious diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and overall good health.   At a minimum, superfoods are natural, unprocessed foods that can play a leading role in a nutritious and healthy diet.

Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C.  Blueberries are also a natural anti-inflammatory. Looking for something more exotic? Try açai, a small purple berry with high levels of antioxidants.  Because it is native to South America, it is not usually found fresh here in the United States, so it is usually seen in smoothies and juices.  Another option is goji berries, which are small, red-orange berries high in Vitamin C.  Native to Asia, they are sold here dried or in powders and drinks.

Kale is the current star vegetable, packed with lutein, potassium, and vitamins A and K.  It is served raw in salads and smoothies or sautéed with apples and onions.  If kale is old news, try mustard greens, which are also high in vitamin A and C.  Other trendy choices include seaweed, such as kelp used to roll sushi.  Seaweed contains omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that assist in digestion.  Yogurt is the most common source of probiotics, but they are also found in sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kefir.

Chia seeds are a hot new superfood because they contain fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, and antioxidants.  Yes, it’s the same seed that was used to grow a “Chia Pet,” but they can be mixed into granola and tossed into smoothies for a superfood nutrition boost.

 

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions at the Office Vending Machine

You had a healthy breakfast, a salad at lunch… but now it’s 4:00, and all you can think about is a candy bar.  How are you going to keep your New Year’s resolutions at work?178446005

First, make sure you’re listening to your body.  Are you just in the routine of having a snack at the same time every day?  Take a walk down the hall to visit a coworker, and be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.

Still hungry? In that case, it’s time to make some good snack choices.  Experts say that choosing a snack that combines a protein and a carbohydrate will make you feel satisfied and give you more energy.  Nuts are a good choice because they contain fat, fiber, and protein and will leave you feeling less hungry. They also contain Vitamin E and omega-3s, which are good for your heart. Trail mix, crackers with peanut butter, or a salad with nuts are all good ways to get nuts into your diet. Other healthy snack options are hummus and vegetables or Greek yogurt (because it’s higher in protein than regular yogurt).

Or, swap out your old afternoon snack for something new. Instead of a Pop Tart, try a granola bar—it has less sugar, and more fiber and protein. Baked chips or pretzels don’t have the fat of regular chips, but still hit that salty craving.  Sunflower seeds or nuts have healthy fats that your body actually needs, instead of trans fats.

Tomorrow, plan to avoid that afternoon craving altogether by making better choices earlier in the day.  A lunch with lean protein and fiber can provide fuel for the whole afternoon. Choose a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, or a salad with grilled chicken, and you may find yourself powering through the rest of the workday.