Enjoy the Health Benefits of Tea

Keeping fresh iced tea in the fridge is a summer staple. In addition to being flavorful and offering varieties for every taste, there’s compelling evidence that tea reduces the risk of heart disease, and possibly even helps prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Indeed, tea is considered a super food — whether it’s black, green, white, or oolong. All those tea types come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. They are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables.

Reducing and preventing disease

Studies show that tea can be highly beneficial to our health. Research suggests that regular tea drinkers — people who drink two cups or more a day — have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL cholesterol, and recover from heart attacks faster. There’s also evidence that tea may help fight ovarian and breast cancers.

Tea also helps soothe stress and keep us relaxed. One British study found that people who drank black tea were able to de-stress faster than those who drank a fake tea substitute. The tea drinkers had lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

The secret ingredient in tea

Catechins, a type of disease-fighting flavonoid and antioxidant, are the key to tea’s health benefits. The longer you steep the tea, the more flavonoids you’ll get in your brew. To get the best tea benefit, some studies suggest drinking three cups each day to cut heart disease risk. Drink decaffeinated tea if caffeine consumption is an issue for you.

Since iced tea is diluted, it’s a lighter source of flavonoids — but it still counts!

Choose to drink tea whenever you can, especially as a substitute for soft drinks. In the long run, drinking tea helps tote up the antioxidants you get in a day’s time.

Easy sun tea recipe

  1. Get a clear glass gallon-sized jar. The glass lets the sun in, and doesn’t give tea any strange odors or tastes that come from plastic.
  2. Use black tea: 16 teabags to make one gallon (16 cups) of sun tea.
  3. Find a sunny spot outside for your sun tea jar. Let it soak up the sun’s rays for about three hours.
  4. Remove tea bags. Pour over ice for a great summer treat!

 

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Simple Tips for Healthy Eyes

Your eyes are an important part of your health. There are many things you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you are seeing your best. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years.

 

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye-care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye-care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye-care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.

Know your family’s eye health history.

Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Eat right to protect your sight.

You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing systemic conditions such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma which can lead to vision loss. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.

Wear protective eyewear.

Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.

Quit smoking or never start.

Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

Be cool and wear your shades.

July is UV Safety Month and a good opportunity to remember that you must protect your skin and your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Give your eyes a rest.

If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.

Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly.

To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Practice workplace eye safety.

Employers are required to provide a safe work environment. When protective eyewear is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your co-workers to do the same.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Protecting Yourself from Tick and Mosquito Bites

While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April through September) when ticks are most active. And in summer, when we’re out hiking, biking, camping, and spending a lot more time in and around grass and woods, there are several steps you can take to limit bites from ticks, mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects.

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks and Mosquitoes When Possible

If you can, avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. When hiking, picnicking or walking, try to remain in the center of trails.

You can repel ticks and mosquitoes with DEET or Permethrin. Here are some useful hints:

  • Use repellents that contain 20 percent or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on the exposed skin for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
  • If you’re using other repellents, go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for safety information.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

Finding and removing one of these little critters embedded in your skin can be gross, but painless. The best bet, of course, is to keep them at bay. But if they do find you, here are tips for dealing with them easily and effectively:

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
  • Consult your doctor or a nurse (or Internet sources) to determine the best method for removing the tick; it’s important to remove the entire tick, or it can leave parts embedded in your skin.

Should you or a family member develop a bulls-eye-type red rash near the bite site, or exhibit other side effects such as a fever, lethargy or extreme exhaustion, consult your doctor. You may need to be tested for Lyme Disease, which is common in New England and treated with antibiotics.

Preventing Mosquito-Borne Diseases

When dealing with West Nile virus or other mosquito-related diseases, prevention is your best bet. Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry. The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill. Obviously, avoid bites whenever you can by covering up exposed areas, especially during peak feeding times (dusk to dawn). Clean out the areas that attract mosquitoes where you live and work, and help your community control these pests whenever possible.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites

When possible, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or DEET will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Workplace Obesity Prevention Programs Work

In a comprehensive study conducted just three years ago, the annual healthcare cost of obesity in the United States was estimated to be as high as 147 billion dollars a year. The annual medical burden of obesity had increased to 9.1 percent compared to 6.5 percent when measured in 1998. In fact, medical expenses for obese employees are estimated to be 42 percent higher than for a person with a healthy weight. So, even though an employee’s weight can be a sensitive topic, workplace obesity-prevention programs are effective ways for employers to reduce obesity and lower their healthcare costs, lower absenteeism, and increase employee productivity.

What is the cost of obesity to your organization?

Obesity and the health conditions associated with it, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancer are responsible for much of the increase in healthcare spending by employers. Obese persons spend 77 percent more money for necessary medications than non-obese persons.

It is estimated that employers spend $13 billion annually on the total cost of obesity. But obesity affects more than healthcare costs — it also has a significant impact on worker productivity because the more chronic medical conditions an employee has, the higher the probability of absenteeism or increased presenteeism (when an employee is physically present but ill or not at the top of “their game.”)

Organizations can benefit directly by improving employee health through wellness programs that include an obesity-prevention component. A survey of CEOs found that “healthier employees” is the number-one reason why companies choose to implement health promotion programs. Additionally, well-designed programs have the potential to extend beyond the worksite and positively influence dependents (spouses and children), and thereby reduce an organization’s overall healthcare costs.

Although it may seem that only large organizations can implement obesity-prevention and control programs, organizations of all sizes have done so successfully. Many types of organizations, including those with few employees and resources, are implementing successful obesity prevention programs.

Why should employers get involved?

Potential benefits to employers for initiating obesity-education efforts include:

  • Reduced cost for chronic diseases
  • Decreased absenteeism
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Improved recruiting efforts
  • Increased worker satisfaction
  • Demonstrated concern for your employees
  • Improved morale

Potential benefits to your employees include:

  • Greater productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Improved fitness and health
  • Additional social opportunities and source of support within the workplace

“CDC’s LEAN Works! Leading Employees to Activity and Nutrition” is a free web-based resource that offers interactive tools and evidence-based resources to design effective worksite obesity-prevention and control programs. It includes an Obesity Cost Calculator  that lets you calculate your company’s ROI. The tool allows employers to create scenarios to estimate the financial impact of specific obesity interventions, including the costs, benefits, and time required to break even.

To reap the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!