Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Myths We Have Been Told About Fertility

birth control pills don't prevent pregnancy after you stop taking them
Birth control pills don't affect your ability to get pregnant once you stop taking them.
Image: Shutterstock
There are so many forms of birth control that are accessible to both men and women these days, making it easier than ever to take control of your body and family planning. Whether you plan not to have children or can someday envision picking out baby names and nursery decorations, you should have the power and knowledge to make informed decisions about reproduction.   

The problem is… there are a lot of rumors and flat-out wrong information all over the Internet that it can be difficult to know where to find reliable information about fertility and family planning. Here are some common myths we have all been told about fertility:

One myth is that the longer you are on birth control pills, the longer it will take you to get pregnant when you stop. The fact of the matter is that it does not take time for your fertility to kick in—you can get pregnant within days of when you stop using birth control. One exception to this rule is the Depo birth control shot, which can take up to 10 months to work its way out of your system.

Another myth is that skipping safe sex a few times will not influence your future fertility. However, having unprotected sex when you are young can be a threat to your future ability to have a baby. One of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the U.S., chlamydia can be asymptomatic (meaning you don’t know you are infected), and can cause pelvic inflammatory disease if you don’t get treatment. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the fallopian tubes, potentially creating a problem if you want to get pregnant later in life. To protect against chlamydia and other STIs, it's a good idea to always use protection such as condoms—even if you are on the pill.

You may have heard this phrase a few times by now: “You can always freeze your eggs.” It’s been in the news a lot lately, and the technology is, in fact, evolving—but it’s far from perfect. Success rates tend to be lower than 50% and most studies agree that success highly correlates with the age of the woman when she froze her eggs (the younger the better).

In addition, freezing your eggs is expensive—on average costing $10,000 for the initial freezing and treatment, with a yearly fee to store the eggs and a thawing fee of about $5,000 should you decide to use the eggs.  That’s a lot of money for a small chance of success. Essentially, freezing your eggs is an option, but it’s an involved and expensive process that should not be treated like a fix-all.

Be sure to visit Resolve, the National Infertility Association, for even more myths about fertility debunked.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Essential Ingredients To Keep on Hand At Home

Soft boiled eggs broken open to reveal the yolk inside. Eggs are a versatile food that can compliment any meal.
Eggs are incredibly versatile - a staple ingredient I always have on hand.
Image: Shutterstock
Cooking for yourself can be a fun, empowering, and educational experience. It’s important to learn how to nurture your body in healthy ways as an adult, but knowing where to start can be tricky. Here are some staples that can serve as the base of many easy-to-make dishes. Be sure to pick these up on your next trip to the market!

Eggs – Eggs can be added to anything and serve as an easy way to get protein in your diet. You can eat them for breakfast or dinner and add them to just about everything. A fried egg atop a hearty kale salad? I don’t mind if I do! A soft-boiled or hard-boiled egg for a daytime snack? Heavenly!

Cheese – Cheese is another essential item you can add to just about any dish or eat alone. It’s easy to make a snack with cheese if you just add crackers, veggies, apple or toasted bread for a meal. What’s your favorite type of cheese? I love sampling the gourmet cheese section at the store each week and trying new things.

Bacon – Bacon is another awesome ingredient that can be used in so many ways--just don't eat it ALL the time. You can put it in sandwiches, breakfast dishes, salads and pastas. You can utilize it in a multitude of ways or eat it alone. I love adding the Trader Joe’s Peppered Turkey Bacon to chopped Brussels sprouts for a spicy breakfast side.

Bananas – I may have a slight banana problem. I recently got braces, and my morning staple breakfast has become smoothies, which seem to always call for banana. My personal favorite is blending one banana, 2T cocoa powder, 2T almond butter, a handful of frozen blueberries, and 1.5 c almond milk for the perfect chocolaty start to the day!

Veggies – Although it’s hard to keep fresh veggies for very long, you can always pick up some frozen vegetables that can be added to a variety of dishes—I always do this with peas and corn. For fresh veggies, I usually have at least one leafy green on hand (kale or spinach, usually), carrots (they keep for quite some time), and onion (I prefer yellow or sweet—they’re so versatile!). Plus, even if the kale starts to turn before I can finish it, it’s easy to turn into some crunchy and delicious kale chips!

Tomatoes – Not only do they add a pop to your dish, but they are also a great accent and starting point for a base for any dish. You can use them for pastas, savory pies, or paired with a sandwich. And of course, the cherry or grape varieties are fabulous all on their own. Try to get tomatoes when they are in-season, however; the out-of-season tomatoes will be far less flavorful.

Which essential ingredients do you keep in your kitchen?

Should You Shampoo More or Less?

Washing your hair more often could lead to a healthier scalp
You may WANT to wash your hair every day, after all.
Image: Shutterstock
Chances are, you’ve heard from your hairdresser that you should not be washing your hair every day. 

However, this version of shampooing best practices was originally developed when all shampoos were heavily detergent-based and wreaked havoc on people’s hair and scalp. Nowadays, shampoo formulas have changed, and there are many sulfate-free shampoos and cleansing conditioners on the market. 

So does the old "don't shampoo every day" rule still apply? Well, it depends.

There is a new market trend of paying a lot more attention to the scalp instead of just the hair. In general, a clean scalp is a healthy scalp because it’s the starting point by which you support optimal follicular function. Our scalps are the bedrock of the follicle, which means that you can’t grow your best head of hair if the scalp is covered in oil, sweat and debris all the time. 

There has been a longstanding notion that the natural oils your scalp produces leads to more beautiful, healthier hair. This can still be true, especially for those with curly hair that needs a little more oil to not frizz out. However, much of the dirt and other things that you see come off your face when you wash it at night are also on your hair and scalp.  The scalp has a whole set of needs that are separate from your hair's needs. For optimum hair growth, it is vital to balance the stressors on your skin.

This doesn’t mean it’s necessary to shampoo every day--but washing more often can absolutely contribute to a healthier scalp, especially with the right product. Avoid harsh ingredients and detergents which can be found in many shampoo products. Even if shampooing everyday isn’t for you, adding an extra wash in here and there might actually do you more good than harm. Hey, all the better excuse to allow yourself that splurge on pricy shower products, right? :)

Do you shampoo your hair often, or prefer the less-is-best method? What are your best tips or products for a healthy scalp and hair?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Innovations in Healthcare Technology

CitiusTech is making healthcare more reliable and efficient than ever before with the help of investors like General Atlantic
Companies like CitiusTech are revolutionizing the healthcare industry.
Image: Shutterstock
Technology is becoming a fact of life, especially in healthcare.  You may have been to a doctor’s office where your intake information is put directly into a database shared with all the medical staff.  Maybe you’ve even sat and watched your doctor email the pharmacy so that your prescription is ready within minutes of leaving the office. 

The whole process of going to the doctor looks completely different than it did even five or ten years ago. I love how simple and efficient so many things are becoming, especially as my life has become more hectic.

There’s a whole business brewing around providing the best, most efficient healthcare technology.  Whether it’s streamlining the data filing process or helping doctors evaluate treatment plans, technology is changing how medicine is practiced.

One key technological element is the idea of computers that “evolve,” or learn.  Scientists use the term “machine learning” to describe a computer that can collect data, determine trends and ideal outcomes, and rework its programming to optimize for the best results. 

Think about how amazing it would be if a doctor could use this sort of technology to make sure the right patient is getting the right treatment every time!  It would also help pharmaceutical companies do their testing  much more efficiently and with fewer errors.

One company that’s leading the way with technological advances like this is CitiusTech.  CitiusTech builds new applications, software, and methods for keeping healthcare analytics tidy.  Its board of directors includes Gary Reiner and Cory Eaves of General Atlantic, which recently began investing in the company. Together with its investors, CitiusTech is focused on bringing the best new technology to the market. 

Like many industries, healthcare isn’t always well organized, so companies like CitiusTech have been working to not only bring out new technology, but also to help organize the massive amounts of information already there.  The company is currently partnered with 50 healthcare organizations, including hospitals and life science companies.

With computers that can learn and companies stepping up to improve healthcare organization and technology, who knows what the future of healthcare will look like?

Have you had an interesting experience with technology at the doctor’s office?  Share your story in the comments below!