Easy Ways to Enhance the Ergonomics of Your Home Office

Easy Ways to Enhance the Ergonomics of Your Home Office

As of December 2020, 71% of U.S. employees were working from home. These figures were likely a reflection of the coronavirus’s impact on normal work routines, but as more and more employers realize work can be completed from home, it’s likely a good portion of businesses will continue to be conducted remotely even as vaccines continue to roll out.

Working from home has many benefits from skipping commutes to not having to invest in a business wardrobe. Yet, it also comes with some unique challenges. For one, injuries of the hands, wrists, and back increased through 2020, which suggests that home office arrangements aren’t quite posture-friendly. Whether you’re working from the couch on your laptop or slumped over the kitchen counter, chances are there’s room for improvement.

Fortunately, improving the ergonomics of your home office doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are a few simple changes you can make:

Focus on Your Alignment

First and foremost, if you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, you should have a designated workspace. Even if you need to set up a small desk in your bedroom, setting up an actual workstation will prevent you from working on the couch, in the kitchen, or in another common area of your home. In these spaces, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy working posture.

With a desk, however, you can put your body into alignment to support spinal health. Ideally, your elbows should be in line with the keyboard, and your feet should be flat on the floor. Your shoulders should be relaxed and stacked over your hips. Try to situate your monitor so that its midpoint is at eye level.

Keep Your Lower Back Supported

To prevent slumping, keep your lower back well supported and your buttocks firmly pressed into the back of your chair. If that feels uncomfortable, you might consider placing a small cushion or rolled-up towel behind your back. This can support the spine’s natural curve and provide a little extra support.

Get Up & Stretch

At work, you may have taken periodic breaks to talk to coworkers. Some people have fewer distractions at home and find that it’s easier to get stuck in one spot for long periods. Yet, being sedentary for too long can put pressure on your back, wrists, and other areas of the body. Plus, it impedes circulation. Keep the blood flowing by doing heel raises from time to time when you’re seated. Every 20 to 30 minutes, get up and stretch or walk around. With a little creativity, it’s easy to integrate movement into your daily routine. You might try to stand and walk about while you’re on the phone, or do stretches while proofing an email, for example.

Be Mindful of Your Arms

Proper keyboard placement can reduce strain in the upper body. Aim to have your arms bent at a 90-degree angle while working. Only use your armrests during breaks, and remove or adjust them if they don’t support your arms at the proper angle. Try to keep other items you use frequently, such as your phone, within close reach so you’re not stretching awkwardly.

Invest in the Right Equipment

While you can implement the tips above right away, you might also consider purchasing some items to promote ergonomics in your office space if you think you’ll be working from home for a long time. An ergonomic desk chair is a great place to start. Ideally, it should provide back support and be adjustable to align with your specific height and comfort needs. If you’re not ready to invest in new furniture right now, modifications such as placing a yoga block under your feet or even tilting your monitor can help improve ergonomics and reduce the strain on your body.

With these tips, you may find yourself feeling better and perhaps even becoming more productive in your home office. Not only will you help to prevent strain now, but you can also avoid some of the long-term issues that come with poor work posture. 

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Five Compelling Health Benefits of Lemons

Five Compelling Health Benefits of Lemons

When life gives you lemons, consider keeping them. These citrus fruits are loaded with beneficial properties that can help your body function its best. From delivering key vitamins to promoting fresh breath, here are a few ways lemons can boost your health.

Provides Ample Vitamin C

Lemons provide more than 18 milligrams of vitamin C or nearly a third of your daily recommended amount. The key nutrient has been shown to help reduce the risk of serious illness, including cardiovascular disease and stroke. Vitamin C has also been shown to lower blood pressure. 

Supports Weight Loss

Lemons can help you stay hydrated, thereby reducing bloating. They may also boost your metabolism and increase feelings of fullness, both of which can help you lose weight.

Keeps Skin Looking Its Best

There’s a reason vitamin C is a common ingredient in many leading skincare products. The nutrient has been shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. While topical creams may be most effective, enjoying some lemon water certainly won’t hurt.

Promotes Digestion

Ayurvedic medicine promotes lemon water as a healthy way to stimulate digestion. Many people drink lemon water right when they wake up for its ability to rev the digestive system.

Prevents Kidney Stones

Lemons contain citric acid, which surprisingly can make the urine less acidic. As such, you may be less likely to experience kidney stones if you drink lemon water regularly. As an added bonus, you’ll also be staying hydrated, which further helps to prevent kidney stones.

With so many benefits to consider, freshly squeezed lemons begin to sound more delicious than ever. At the very least, adding some to your water may make you more likely to stay hydrated without sugary beverages, which is a health benefit in itself.

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A Guide to Lactoferrin and Its Benefits

A Guide to Lactoferrin and Its Benefits

Lactoferrin is a protein found naturally in cow and human milk. Colostrum, the first milk that develops after a baby is born, is especially rich in the protein. It’s also found within fluids in the nose, respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, and elsewhere.

What Is the Role of Lactoferrin?

This protein binds with iron and cooperates with other proteins to metabolize iron and form energy, store and transport oxygen, and support detoxification. It’s also involved with the production of blood cells and the body’s ability to fight off infection. Research suggests exercising could increase lactoferrin. In some cases, supplementation could have several benefits.

Specifically, lactoferrin has been shown to:

  • Improve iron absorption in women, including athletes and pregnant women, as well as in infants
  • Reduce body fat in individuals with obesity
  • Control inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with hepatitis C

Additionally, lactoferrin appears to help fight off infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It seems to slow the growth of bacteria. With these health-promoting properties, lactoferrin can help:

  • Treat diarrhea
  • Reduce swelling of the liver
  • Treat anemia
  • Help control cold symptoms
  • Help treat blood infections

Other potential applications for lactoferrin may include wound healing, allergy treatment, immune system health, and optimal health of key organs, including the lungs.

In some cases, elevated levels of lactoferrin could be indicative of underlying disease. For instance, fecal samples with high levels of lactoferrin can indicate the presence of irritable bowel syndrome. When found in blood or tears, it could indicate other types of disease.

If you’re considering lactoferrin supplements to support your wellness goals, consider speaking with a physician for proper dosing recommendations. 

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Is the Mediterranean Diet the Best Option for Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Is the Mediterranean Diet the Best Option for Managing Type 2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes nutrient-rich eating from sources such as vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and lean protein. The dietary approach has been praised for its health benefits in recent years, including improved heart health. Now, it’s also been hailed as a beneficial diet for people with type 2 diabetes, thanks to its ability to improve several key biomarkers, such as inflammation, insulin resistance, body mass index (BMI), and HDL cholesterol.

How the Mediterranean Diet Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is a flavorful eating pattern based on the dietary habits of people in countries near the Mediterranean Sea. It offers filling meal options that prioritize the nutrients bodies need to perform their best, while also limiting additives such as refined carbohydrates, red meat, and added sugars.

According to research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants of the Mediterranean diet had the best A1C scores, which measure blood sugar over a three-month period. They also lost more weight and had the best cardiovascular health, including improved cholesterol levels, compared to peers who participated in high-protein, high-fiber, vegetarian, vegan, or low-carbohydrate diets.

While this heart-healthy diet can’t reverse diabetes, it can help reduce the risk of complications related to the disease. By reducing cholesterol, it protects the heart, thereby limiting the risk for serious issues such as heart attack and stroke. The diet also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by as much as 30%.

Which Foods Can You Eat on the Mediterranean Diet?

Fortunately, the Mediterranean diet isn’t restrictive and is quite simple. The idea is to incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible and prioritize lean meat or plant-based protein, such as skinless chicken, fish, and legumes. Here are a few examples of which foods are commonly eaten in the diet:

  • Whole Grains: Choose whole-grain bread and pasta products, as well as quinoa, brown rice, barley, and farro.
  • Nuts, Seeds, & Beans: Heart-healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios are excellent choices. You can also have sunflower and sesame seeds, beans such as kidney, white, black, and cannellini beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
  • Vegetables: Eat a variety of vegetables such as bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, artichokes, carrots, beets, fennel, onions, and zucchinis, among others.
  • Fruits: While fruits do naturally contain sugars, they are also nutrient-rich and can be enjoyed in moderation. Consider snacking on melons, figs, dates, grapes, citrus fruits, berries, and apples.
  • Healthy Fats: Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats, and can be used for cooking or salads.
  • Fresh Fish & Seafood: Salmon, shrimp, halibut, mackerel, herring, trout, and other seafood rich in healthy fats are among the best protein sources.
  • Dairy & Poultry: Reduced-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt and milk, eggs, and lean poultry are all welcome choices on the Mediterranean diet.

While switching to an entirely new eating style can be overwhelming, you might consider taking small steps to work towards a full Mediterranean dietary lifestyle. For instance, you might start by reducing or eliminating processed foods, then aim to incorporate vegetables with most of your meals. Making healthy dietary choices can deliver numerous wellness benefits and is a worthwhile endeavor, even if it takes some time to adapt.

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A Guide to Probiotics and How to Use Them

A Guide to Probiotics and How to Use Them

Probiotics are a variety of microorganisms intended to provide health benefits when consumed. While they’re found naturally in yogurt and fermented foods, many people take them in the form of dietary supplements to boost health.  

With the right dosage, probiotics are believed to deliver health benefits including improved gastrointestinal health, a supported immune system, weight management, and potentially even brain health. As antibiotics become more ubiquitous, many medical experts are urging the importance of maintaining beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to support a healthy microbiome. Environmental and lifestyle factors can also alter the microbiome, so restoring its health is critical to supporting optimal wellness.

While much remains to be learned about the power of these supplements, we already know that probiotics are helpful for:

  • Treating diarrhea and other GI issues
  • Inducing or maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis
  • Treating periodontal disease
  • Preventing issues in premature infants, including sepsis
  • Controlling colic in babies

There is also research to support probiotics’ use for treating other conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, allergy-related issues such as atopic dermatitis and hay fever, asthma, urinary tract infections, acne, and upper respiratory infections.

The importance of a healthy balance of bacteria in the GI tract has been suspected for over 100 years since scientist Elie Metchnikoff established the link between yogurt and better health. Metchnikoff pioneered the use of probiotics for general use, but the boom of antibiotics in the 1940s has been affecting gut microbes for decades. While antibiotics are often necessary and allow us to fight off infections, they also cause good bacteria in the gut to be wiped out.  

In addition to taking antibiotics, many other factors can affect the microbiome. Exposure to cigarette smoke and air pollution, for instance, can take their toll on gut bacteria, as can poor sleep, chronic stress, and a diet rich in heavily processed foods.

Addressing these issues is important, as a disruption of homeostasis in the microbiome can lead to issues such as dysbiosis and poor bacteria diversity. With dysbiosis, there are fewer good organisms than harmful ones, while lack of diversity in gut bacteria has been associated with an increased risk for disease. These issues can also lead to intestinal permeability, in which the barrier function of the intestine is compromised and intestinal activity is affected. Known as “leaky gut syndrome,” this condition has been linked to conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fortunately, probiotic supplements could help maintain a healthy microbiome, or repopulate a GI tract with good bacteria. Moreover, they’re generally regarded as being safe, with minimal side effects such as gas sometimes occurring. They shouldn’t be used in clinically ill or immunocompromised populations, however.

There are many different types of probiotics available, including specific strains and dosages. If you’re considering getting started on a regimen, it’s a good idea to seek professional guidance so you can determine the type that’s best for your personal needs.    

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Tips for Safely Getting Vitamin D from the Sun

Tips for Safely Getting Vitamin D from the Sun

Vitamin D deficiencies are a common problem in the U.S., with more than 40% of adults getting inadequate levels of the nutrient. The body produces the vitamin after the skin has been exposed to sunlight, so getting enough sun is important to maintaining healthy vitamin D levels. Of course, too much exposure to UV rays presents risks, including skin cancer. For this reason, we must learn how to get enough sunlight to make vitamin D without overdoing it.

The Risks of Low Vitamin D

There are many functions in the body supported by vitamin D. For instance, the nutrient prompts the cells in the intestines to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which is essential to bone health. And, without vitamin D, the risks of cancer, depression, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness are increased.

Vitamin D is notoriously difficult to get from diet alone, since it’s only found in a handful of foods, such as egg yolks, swordfish, canned tuna, and cod liver oil. And, eating these foods once in a while wouldn’t suffice; you’d have to eat them almost daily to get enough vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight is, therefore, a simple and effective way to get vitamin D.

Getting Vitamin D Through Sunlight the Safe Way

Research suggests that the body’s ability to make vitamin D peaks around midday, which is also the point in time when UV rays are strongest. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a long time outside to reap the benefits. Just 13 minutes of midday sun exposure is enough for Caucasian adults to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. People with darker skin might need a bit more exposure. This will allow adults to meet or exceed the recommended daily dose of 600 IU. It’s also believed that going out at noon could also be safer. Afternoon sun exposure appears to come with an increased risk for dangerous skin cancers.

Of course, it’s not always possible for people far from the equator to get ample vitamin D from the sun alone. People living in Boston, MA, for example, will struggle to make any vitamin D from UV rays alone from November to February. In the winter, it’s therefore important to get the critical nutrient from food and supplements.

Ultimately, while UV rays present their health risks, controlled sun exposure is believed to be beneficial to overall health. Whether you get it through the sun or supplements, vitamin D is essential to helping your body perform its best.

For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog

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