How do I decrease my salt intake?

By Brooke Strickland

Eating too much salt is very detrimental to health and can cause serious health issues, mainly increased blood pressure, which can increase risk of heart disease and stroke.  But did you know that if you’re eating a significant amount of bread, that your salt intake could be too much?  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the leading cause of nine out of ten Americans’ increased intake of salt is when they eat bread or rolls with dinner.[1]  With one of three Americans facing heart disease, it’s very important to monitor your salt intake.  The recommended daily allowance is 2,400 milligrams per day and it’s important that you don’t consume more than that on a regular basis.  

It’s important to remember that you do need sodium to help maintain water balance in your body, but it’s easy to take in too much of a good thing.  So how do you avoid foods that are high in sodium?  We’ve compiled a list of foods that are high in sodium.  Many of these you can find in “low-sodium” form, which will help you in your goal of decreasing sodium intake and living better. 

High sodium foods:

-Hot dogs
-Salad dressing
-Canned vegetables
-Cold cuts

In addition to avoiding these foods, you can also help decrease your salt intake by cooking more with natural spices, herbs, or juices.  Also, incorporating lots of fresh vegetables is imperative and using salt at the table should be a rare occasion.  Try not to eat frozen meals or processed foods on a regular basis, as they are often full of salt.  Limit your trips to the drive thru window, too, as the foods there are likely high not only in sodium but fat as well.  In addition, beware of salt substitutes – these can contain sodium and may be just as bad as the real thing!  It’s likely that you’ve become accustomed to tasting strong amounts of salt on a daily basis, so reducing your serving portions of salt and beginning a low sodium diet may take a little adjusting.  Researchers predict that reducing sodium intake could help prevent more than 100,000 deaths per year.[2]  Your heart and overall health are worth this lifestyle change!

[1]Beasley, David. Reuters Health Information. “Bread a culripit in Americans eating too much salt.”

Accessed Feb. 8, 2012

[2]“ Strategies to reduce sodium intake in the United States.” Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Consensus Report.

Accessed February 9, 2012.

Why you need a first aid kit.

By Brooke Strickland

Having a first aid kit is a must.  You should keep one in your home, your office, and even your car. Minor, as well as more serious accidents and injuries can occur at any time – you never know when you might need something in it! Being prepared is always a good idea, so be sure to always keep these items on hand.   You can create your own first aid kit, or they’re found easily at drugstores or at your local Red Cross office.  If you choose to make your own, be sure to use containers that are easy to open and easy to store. In case of an emergency, you need to be sure that you can access the kit without any trouble, perhaps in a bathroom closet, hall closet, or drawer. But always keep it out of the reach of children.

-Painkillers (ibuprofen, Tylenol, and naproxen)
-Antihistamines (especially if you have known allergies!)
-Bandaids (of all sizes!) and gauze
-Flashlight and extra batteries
-Hydrogen peroxide
-Rubbing alcohol
-Alcohol wipes
-Antiseptic cream
-Bandage scissors
-First aid manual (be sure to read this thoroughly on a regular basis so you know what to do in an emergency situation)
-Cotton swabs/balls
-Disposable cold packs
-Phone number of your doctor/pediatrician or allergist/family members

After you’ve stocked your kit with what you need, check it regularly so you can replace any items that may have expired or are in need of replacement.  Keeping a first aid kit handy can help prevent infection, prevent scarring, and can help stop excessive blood loss.  In serious cases, your first aid kit could save a life.  In addition to keeping a first aid kit handy, also consider taking a first aid course that teaches how to give CPR, how to perform wound care, as well as how to carry out many other life-saving techniques in emergency situations.  Also, consider teaching your children about medical emergencies and how they can help.  There are a variety of courses out there that are designed to help children use first aid techniques.

There’s something to be said for being prepared.  Even if you think something serious is not likely, it’s better to be ready so you and your loved ones can be safe.  

Why You Grind Your Teeth at Night

By Brooke Strickland

If you’ve woken up one day with a sore jaw and don’t know what happened, it’s likely you were grinding your teeth (bruxism) in your sleep.  It can not only cause pain in your jaw, but also other face pain, headaches, and if continued, damage and wear to your teeth.  In severe cases it can cause significant issues in your teeth including those that require major dental procedures such as crowns, bridges, root canals, etc.

There are several reasons why you might be grinding your teeth including stress and anxiety, but it’s also likely you might have an abnormal bite caused by crooked or missing teeth.   If you think you might be grinding your teeth, consult your dentist.  He or she can check for signs of bruxism and also see if you have any irregularities in your teeth, bite, or jaw. 

If you do in fact show signs of grinding your teeth on a regular basis, your dentist can fit you for a mouth guard, which will protect your teeth during sleep.  You can also ask about correcting your misaligned teeth to see if this can help the situation.  It’s also important to note if you have significant stressors in your life that may be causing you to “act out” in this way during your sleep.  Reducing stress in waking life can give you restful, peaceful sleep at night. There are other things that can help you avoid grinding your teeth. These include avoiding chewing gum as well as chewing on pencils or pens – the more you let your jaw muscles relax, the better.  


“Bruxism/Teeth Grinding.”  Mayo Clinic.
Accessed January 30, 2012

“Dental Health and Teeth Grinding.” Web MD.
Accessed January 30, 2012

Why You Should Drink Green Tea

By Brooke Strickland

Drinking green tea is not only delicious but seriously good for you.  Discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago, this beverage has become a well-known beverage in the last several years.  

Want to know the benefits of drinking green tea?  We’ve compiled some reasons why you should incorporate this drink into your daily routine.

 It’s packed with cancer-fighting, heart-healthy polyphenols that other teas don’t offer, which means it can help you burn calories faster.  It also can give you a little boost of energy, increases stamina, and helps in suppressing appetite.   It helps boost your immune system, keeps bones strong, helps minimize the risk of stroke, and can help prevent rheumatoid arthritis.   It has also been known to treat indigestion and depression, helps treat diabetes, reduce blood pressure, and can help cure many skin conditions. 

There are a lot of different varieties on the market today.  Make sure you put green tea on your shopping list.  Keeping your body healthy and maintaining a strong immune system just got easier: go green!


Sources: “ Green Tea Benefits.”
Accessed January 30, 2012.

Edgar, Julie.  “Health Benefits of Green Tea.”  WebMD.
Accessed January 30, 2012.

Is Dust Bad For You?

By Brooke Strickland

Dusting your house is time consuming and boring, but very necessary to keep your home free of allergens.  A single dust mite can produce up to 20 waste droppings each day.[1]  These microscopic little guys are the cause of asthma and allergies for people of all ages.  How do you know if you’re suffering from a dust mite allergy? The following could be symptoms:

  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Asthma, difficulty breathing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Swollen, blue colored skin under your eyes

If you think you might have a dust mite allergy, visit your doctor.  He or she can do blood and skin tests to see if you are in fact allergic. 

How do you stay on top of the dust mite population in your home?  We’ve compiled a few tips below.

  • Make sure to wash your bedding and pillows in very hot water to kill the dust mites in the fabrics
  • It’s ok to not make your bed sometimes:  leaving your sheets open and free to breathe in the air can help reduce moisture/humidity and thus reduce the number of dust mites
  • Clean your floors: use a damp mop on your floors to get the dirt and dust up and if you have carpet, vacuum daily if possible
  • Use a furnace air filter and clean and replace the filters regularly
  • Reduce the temperature in your home: homes above 70 degrees are the perfect living space for dust mites

[1] “Dust Mites: Everything You Might Not Want To Know.”

Accessed January 24, 2012.