Wear Red: National Wear Red Day®

February 3rd, 2016

Heart with StethoscopeIn the United States one in four women dies from heart disease. National Wear Red Day®, (this year held on Friday, February 5th) is about bringing awareness to this issue.

Heart Disease and Women

Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman experiences signs and symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, an arrhythmia, or stroke. These symptoms may include:

  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering in the chest (palpitations).
  • Heart attack: Women may not realize that they are having a heart attack because they may not display the "typical symptoms". Signs of a heart attack are chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
  • Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
  • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs especially one side of the body. Other symptoms may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.

There are several medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put people at higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Being overweight and/or obese
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking

About half of Americans have at least one of the following: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and/or smoke.

Reduce Your Chances of Heart Disease

Heart disease can be prevented. For a woman to reduce her chances of getting heart disease:

  • Aim for a healthy weight--it is important for a long, vigorous life.
  • Get moving--make a pledge to be more physically active.
  • Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease.
  • Learn to manage stress and relax
  • Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day
  • Plan to eat heart healthy--limit saturated and trans-fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Quit smoking
  • Talk to your doctor about your personal risks

80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.

What IAA has to Say

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. That is why Insurance Administrator of America thinks it is important to spread the word about National Wear Red Day®. So wear red this Friday to help support the women who are battling heart disease. Feel free to forward this blog post on to friends and colleagues.  Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in reading more on heart health? Click here and here!

Zika Virus Causes Concern

January 27th, 2016

Travel AlertOn January 15th, federal health officials advised pregnant women to delay trips to Latin American and Caribbean countries newly affected by the Zika virus.

Travel Alert

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a travel alert (Level 2 Practice Enhanced Precautions) due to the Zika virus. The alert stated:

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
  • Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to those areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during their trip.

Why the travel alert? Zika virus had never before been known to cause birth defects or even serious illness. In fact, a number of people who get it don't even know they ever had it. But since it showed up in Brail last May, officials have noticed a clear increase in the number of cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes underdeveloped heads and brains. On January 19th, a Hawaiian newborn with microcephaly had been infected with the Zika virus. This case could be the first one reported in the United States linking the birth defect to the virus.

If you plan on traveling to these countries, follow precautions to prevent mosquito bites during the trip:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Use insecticides that include DEET
  • Wear long-sleeves

The CDC does not expect the virus to spread to the United States. We can thank air conditioning, window screens and cold weather. 

Zika Virus

The Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947. The virus is usually transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a common culprit in infecting humans with viruses. If the mosquito bites one infected person, it can carry the virus to the next person  and transfer the infection.

Only about one in five people who get Zika virus break into symptoms, and they are usually mild. The most common symptoms are:

  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Rash

The illness is usually mild lasting from several days to a week. People with Zika virus don't infect one another. Currently there is no vaccine or medicine to treat this virus.

What IAA has to Say

While officials do not believe that Zika virus will spread to the U.S., Insurance Administrator of America still finds it important to share health related travel alerts. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button!

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines are out

January 20th, 2016

Dietary Guidelines pamphletPublished every five years for public health professionals, each edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects the current body of nutrition science.

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines

The specific recommendations fit into five overarching guidelines:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods  and amount 
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverages choices
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Healthy eating patterns include a variety of nutrient dense foods, while limiting saturated fats, trans-fats, added sugars and sodium.

The government's dietary guidelines affect everything from food labeling to the national school lunch program, which serves more than 30 millions kids every day.

Of course  the question on everyone's mind is, why should the government care about what people eat? The answer: nutrition matters. Half of all the adults in the United States  (about 117 million) have a preventable, chronic disease.

Dietary Guideline Takeaways

When reading the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, some good takeaways are:

  1. A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases
  2. A healthy eating pattern includes:
  • A variety of vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruit
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
  • Oils, including those from plants

3. Most Americans can benefit from making small shifts in food choices, over a course of a week, a day, or even a meal, can make a difference in working toward a healthy eating pattern that works for you.

4.Everyone has a role in encouraging easy, accessible and affordable ways to support healthy choices:

  • At home, you and your family can try out small changes to learn what works for you, like adding more veggies to favorite dishes, planning meals and cooking them, and incorporating physical activity into time with family and friends.
  • Schools can improve the selection of healthy food choices in cafeterias and vending machines.
  • Workplaces can encourage walking or activity breaks, offer healthy food options in the cafeteria, vending machines, and staff meetings.

Small changes can make a big difference in your health!

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to lead a healthy life. Sometimes that means making small changes to your diet, to help you in the long run. While the new dietary guidelines are not rules to live by, they may help guide you in the right direction. Just think of IAA as your third-party dietary guide!

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button!

National Healthy Weight Week Starts January 20th

January 13th, 2016

Apple and weightsMake it your goal to create a healthy weight action plan during this year's National Healthy Weight Week, starting on January 20th.

Getting Started

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), losing weight takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well thought out plan. Get started:

  1. Make a commitment: Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle and become healthier is a big step to take. Start simply by making a commitment to yourself. Many people find it helpful to sign a written contract committing to the process.
  2. Take stock of where you are: Examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. Think about aspects of your lifestyle that can help you lose weight.
  3. Set realistic goals: Set some short term goals and reward your efforts along the way. Focus on two or three goals at a time. Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results in the long run.  
  4. Identify resources for information and support: Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support.
  5. Continually "check in" with yourself to monitor your progress: Revisit the goals you set for yourself and evaluate your progress regularly. Evaluate which parts of your plan are working and which need tweaking. Then rewrite your goals and plan accordingly.

Making sudden radical changes to eating habits can lead to short-term weight loss. However, such radical changes are neither healthy or a good idea, and won't be successful in the long run. Permanently improving your eating habits requires a thoughtful approach.

Common bad Eating Habits

Common eating habits that can lead to weight gain are:

  • Always cleaning your plate
  • Always eating dessert
  • Eating too fast
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating while standing up (may lead to mindless eating or eating too quickly)
  • Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)

Common triggers for eating when not hungry are:

  • A stressful meeting or situation at work
  • Coming home after work and having no idea what's for dinner
  • Feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up
  • Having someone offer you a dish they made just for you
  • Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food
  • Sitting at home watching television

Plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you eat a healthy well balanced meal.

Are you a Healthy Weight?

Your first step to finding out if you're a healthy weight is to learn what your body mass index (BMI) is. A healthy weight is one that is right for your body type and height and is based on your BMI and waist:

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5 you are in the underweight category.
  • If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you are in the recommended weight range for your height.
  • If your BMI is 25 to 29.9 you are in the overweight category.
  • If your BMI is 30 or higher you're in the obese category.

Evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about one to two pounds a week)are more successful at keeping the weight off.

What IAA has to Say

The good news is that no matter what your weight loss goal is, even a modest weight loss, such as five to 10 percent of your total body weight, is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to use National Healthy Weight Week as a time to evaluate your dietary habits! To help support this national endeavor, feel free to forward this bog post on to friends and colleagues. 

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button!

Make Those New Year's Resolutions Stick!

January 6th, 2016

Hand writing New Year's resolutionsIt happens every year. You make these great New Year's resolutions and plan to carry it through the entire year. Then by February, your goals have started to slip away from you. Achieving and keeping your New Year's resolutions can be done, it all depends on how you go about it.

Achieve Your Goals

Keeping your New Year's goals can be a difficult accomplishment to achieve. Here are some tips to help you power through to make those goals a reality:

  • Change one behavior at a time: Unhealthy behaviors develop  over the course of time, so replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Many people run into problems when they try to change too much too fast. To improve your success, focus on one goal or change at a time. As new healthy behaviors become a habit, try to add another goal that works toward the overall change your striving for.
  • Commit to 30 days: In today's society, it's human nature to want immediate rewards and unwavering results. However, it takes about 21 days to develop new and lasting habits. People who manage to power through the first 30 days are three times more likely to see success with their New Year's resolution. Why? Because in 30 days the average person experiences some results and successes, as well as some kind of set-back. The 30 days allows you to experience both the ups and downs and get back on track.
  • Crank up your greatest hits: When you feel discouraged remind yourself how much you've accomplished in the past.
  • Involve a buddy: Someone else on your journey will keep you motivated and accountable.
  • Life your spirits: Doing just about anything that makes you feel good helps when willpower starts wearing down.
  • Remember that success takes time and perseverance: People set very lofty goals and don't take control of the small steps it takes to reach them. Gradual increases in attainable, measurable, small steps, coupled with tiny monthly goals that work toward your resolution, all add up to success.
  • Share your goals with the world: Declare your intentions to the world. Publicly announcing what your planning is not only empowering, but it holds you socially accountable for making it happen.  As an added bonus, you won't have to go at it all by your lonesome. Social networks can be especially supportive since they allow others to comment on your progress updates, remind you of why you are doing this, and inquire about your progress from time to time.   

According to USA.gov the most popular New Year's resolutions are:

  • Lose weight
  • Manage debt/save money
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit
  • Eat right
  • Get a better education
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress overall and /or at work
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others

New Year's resolutions can be attainable, just remember to look at the big picture!

Make Healthy Choices

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to make healthy choices this upcoming year. So it is our goal in 2016 to give you information on how to make those healthy choices!

Make sure to include in your diet:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Fat free and low-fat dairy products
  • Fish, skinless poultry and plant-based alternatives
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

Make sure to limit in your diet:

  • Saturated fat
  • Sodium and salt
  • Sweets and added sugars
  • Trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils

Eat reasonable portions. Often less than you are served. Also, eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.

What IAA has to Say

IAA wants you to have a happy and successful 2016. IAA believes that you can achieve your 2016 goals if you just stick to them. Just think of IAA as your third party cheerleader, cheering  you on to a successful New Year!

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!