Simple Steps to Your Best Eyesight

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again."
Sylvia Plath

"The eyes are the window of the soul."
 Traditional Proverb

"The eyes can do a thousand things that the fingers can't."
 Iranian Proverb

"The face is the portrait of the mind; the eyes, its informers."
 Latin Proverb

If our eyes do all that and more - lots more - we best take care of them! It really is not difficult to keep your eyes at their best with a few tactics and precautions. Some simple measures can do wonders for those doors into our soul. Read on to find out if you are taking care of those peeps the very best that you can.

How the Sun Can Hurt Your Eyes

I love sunlight and lots of it.  But the glare it gives off and the rays that it delivers can be blinding - literally. Sunglasses are a necessity for me. And, they should be a requirement for you, too. Here's why you should reach for your sunglasses and for more reasons than cutting the glare:

Those sun rays can knock out some damage.  Sunlight exposure, winter and summer and everything in between, damages the surface tissues of the eye as well as the retina and the lens. It can increase the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65.

Unwanted cells can be created. Too much unprotected sun exposure can contribute to cancer of the eyelids and the skin around the eyes and cause cancer in the back of the eye as well.

Sunlight is relentless.  Those pretty days in the sun contain rays that can penetrate. Those rays can burn the surface of the eye, causing a painful condition called photokeratitis and amplify signs of aging around the eyes as well.

Without protection, clouds will form.  Over time, unprotected exposure can contribute to cataracts, a film over the eye that make you nearly blind and that must be surgically removed.

Finding the Right Pair of Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyes

Don't just reach for any pair of sunglasses as not all sunglasses are the same.  In fact, some can even cause more harm than good. Sunglasses that protect your eyes well are not necessarily the most expensive either. Don't forget the children too.  Their eyes are vulnerable to damages of the sun as well. Here are three tips for finding sunglasses that will actually protect your eyes from all the harm:

1.  Knock it off with the knock-offs.  Keep walking past those stands with the fake designer labels. You do not know the quality of the lenses. The darkness of the lens in many pairs of no brand sunglasses that do not have proper coatings causes your eyes to dilate and allow more damaging radiation hit your retina than if you were wearing no glasses at all.

2.  Read the labels. No, not the designer labels. Look for UV labels and tags indicating the sunglasses block all UV radiation (UVB and UVA rays) up to 400 nanometers.  That is equivalent to blocking 100 percent of UV rays. Note that UV protection is not related to how dark the lens is. Polarized lenses do not increase UV protection either. If you wear prescription glasses, a protective UV coating can be applied to your lenses.

3.  Bigger is better. Larger sunglasses offer more coverage. Sunglasses should cover the sides of your eyes to prevent stray rays from entering. Close-fitting glasses with wide lenses are a good choice as well.

Other Healthy Eye Tips

Besides wearing the right sunglasses to best protect your eyes, here are a few other actions to take to protect those peeps:

Rest every 20.  Looking at those screens often? Take 20 seconds every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away. This practice breaks up eye strain and helps decrease eye dryness by encouraging blinking.

Go towards the light.  Light up your work area. Insufficient light will strain your eyes and make them tire easily, causing your eyes to age faster. No one wants that!

No sharing.  All eye products should be hands off to others. This includes eye drops, eye make-up and towels.  Eye infections are spread very easily through these means.

Eye exams aren't just for glasses. Many diseases have no symptoms and can affect the eye suddenly and can have dire consequences if not caught in time.  Regular eye exams are important for those over 40 to prevent many age-related ocular conditions from macular degeneration to glaucoma.  Children should be screened from their pediatrician but should see an opthamologist as well at some point.  Here is more specific information on how often and what age to have an eye exam.

During your exam, be extra thorough on your medical history.  Many connections between illnesses in the body and the eye exist like high blood pressure and diabetes. Discuss your sports activities as well to ensure proper eye protection.

Protect with goggles. Operating machinery? Wear the goggles. Debris flying about hitting your eye can do serious damage and serious pain. The same goes for proper protection when playing sports. Those flying balls or other parts of the game can do a lot of harm.

Practice contact lens cleanliness.  Besides following lens care that your doctor gave you, take the extra step to clean your contact lens case frequently to avoid bacterial infections. If possible, replace it often and in between sanitize it and keep it in a dry place. I throw mine in the dishwasher once a week at least to keep bacteria infections away. Change the soaking solution daily as well.

Eat your colors.  Those leafy greens and other whole foods likes the darker berries that have lutein are great choices for eyesight protection.  Omega 3s in walnuts and some fish are helpful, too. Try incorporating gogi berries, commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve vision. Recent studies found that these small red berries are a rich source of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid helpful in protecting your vision.

eye: photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/liesforaliar/5167553781/">Claire Brownlow</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
sunglasses: photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/uomodiatlantide/458604820/">UomoDiAtlantide</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
eyechart: photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaleyeinstitute/7544604758/">National Eye Institute</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>


Creating Flavor: Making Your Own Seasoning Salt

Eating healthy is a goal for many, but that is hard to keep up if the food does not taste good, right? Flavor is important! It is especially needed to keep to the healthy eating habits you are creating. Seasoning your food well is a great way to add flavor without diminishing the healthy elements.

I wrote about the simple and quick way of creating flavor with compounding butters and oils here as one flavoring technique. But, another quick way to add distinction without a lot of effort is to use seasoning salt.  But, those premixed seasoning salts? Most of them on the market shelves have some detrimental ingredients.

Why Toss The Premixed Seasoning Salt 

Here is why you should consider deleting premixed seasoning salt from your grocery list:

Some ingredients in them are not needed and harmful.  Preservatives, anti-caking agents and MSG in many pre-made seasoned salts are not chemicals our body needs and could be harmful. The levels of sodium and sugar in them can be  quite high as well.

They are made with undesirable refined salts.  Regular white table salt has been bleached, and who wants bleach in your seasoning salt?  I wrote about swapping out regular table salt to unrefined pink salt here and why you would want to consider that simple switch. Unrefined salts usually have less sodium as well.

The taste can fall flat. If on the store shelf for a long time, premixed salts can lose potency and flavor. Unless they are dated, you do not how long ago it was created. If the flavor is bland, you may end up using more than you should as well adding sodium levels to your food.


How To Make Your Coffee Habit a Healthier One

Java. Joe. Jitter Juice. Morning Jolt. Whatever you like to call it. Coffee is a liquid infusion that many enjoy worldwide.  I know, I enjoy a morning cup, and it is something I look forward to when I awake. And, on that really rare occasion when I order an ice cream cone? You got it.  Coffee ice cream it is!

Many health practitioners suggest eliminating coffee and other caffeinated beverages from our diet and it may be a smart move for many of us, but more studies are emerging that show that cup of joe just might carry some real merit.

How Coffee Might Be Good For Your Health

Although for some, it is not a good choice, recent studies have been published that show those that drink the most coffee may enjoy these benefits:

Java may lower your risk for several diseases.  With over 1.000 various phytochemicals, coffee provides an enormous range of disease deterrents.  For example, coffee can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes because studies are showing that coffee interferes with glucose synthesis and release in the body.  It is also being studied for its use as a cancer risk reducer.  Other diseases it may fend off include liver disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cardiovascular disease.

It helps dissolve stones.  Coffee could slightly reduce the risk of gallstones and lower your risk of kidney stones.


How a Band Aid Might Change Your Life

Sounding a bit melodramatic, am I? To say that a band aid changed my life?  Well, it did. It actually did!

Here's my story:  Almost a year ago, I suffered a large injury to the bottom of my foot. I was in New York City at the time and had to hail a cab to rush to the nearest urgent care. I will not elaborate on the injury details, but suffice to say, it was not pretty, the cab driver was horrified and it was quite painful.  It certainly put a damper on the rest of my time in the city with my family as well as the days that followed at home.

I received great care from the doctor in New York City, but when I got back home a few days later, my wound, and it was a large one, was healing slowly. It required a good amount of daily home care and the pain was getting worse.  I decided to see my own general practitioner to check on my progress. There, I was introduced to hydrocolloid dressings. This bandage, this dressing, this way of covering a wound, it changed my life, at least for the next few weeks anyway. Here is why:

Better Band Aids, Better Healing with No Scarring

Stocking up your first aid kit at the drugstore offers boxes upon boxes of band aid choices. Bandages are not so simple anymore. And, that is a good thing apparently as research proves there are better ways to cover that boo-boo and make it better, heal faster, and create a lot less scarring and other complications.

Some bandages help create a better environment for your wound healing. Here are some reasons to consider using hydrocolloid dressings to heal your next wound:

Your wound will heal much faster and better.  Hydrocolloid dressings create an environment that allows skin to form new skin cells where they do it best - in a moist climate. The principle of moist wound therapy is to create and maintain optimal conditions for your skin to heal faster and better with less chance of infection.  If you keep your wound covered with a hydrocolloid dressing, your skin cells will divide and migrate at an increased rate accelerating wound healing.

I watched it happen with my foot and it was fascinating.  Once I switched to that new dressing, it got so much better, so much faster.  I was up and around much quicker than the original doctor had predicted.


Travel Tips: Getting the Most Out of Your Adventure

Is exploring our planet and meeting its many inhabitants (human and otherwise) as important to you as it is to me?  Tasting and experiencing new foods, landscapes, languages and customs -- do you consider it all part of living a healthy lifestyle? I think so. Travel can be mentally expanding, stimulating and inspiring and provide a varied outlook to life. I wrote a bit about it here.

I also covered some practicalities of packing a great carry-on and avoiding jet lag but if traveling is important to you as it is for me and my family, I have compiled a few other tips that my family and I adopt when we embark on our travel adventures.

More Travel Tips

Consider some of these tips to make your travels run smoother and get the most our of your journey. Although most of these tips pertain to international travel, many of them can be applied to domestic travel as well.

Pack your healthy habits. Routines can be a bore, I know! Fully experience your destination, and that may include indulging sometimes. After all, isn't that part of the reason you are traveling -- to expose yourself to new ways?  But, if you veer too far to the left or right of your healthy eating or exercise regimens you can feel bloated, nauseated or worse and ruin your trip. Then, when you come back, it is a longer road ahead to get back on track or even button your pants. There may be several health habits you do at home that help you feel your best that you can easily incorporate into your travels. So, think about that and just keep your indulging in check is all.


Making Space For Greek Fava

Is there such a malady as non-buyer's remorse? Because if so, I think I have it. I have all the symptoms.

Our suitcases were at full capacity with numerous cans of organic olive oil from a recent trip to Crete and many tins of local raw honey from there, too.  We had several incredible wines from Santorini nestled so carefully in our suitcases as well.  So, I ask myself: would a bag of beans really have made such a difference in getting that suitcase closed before heading back home?

The answer is not really. So, here I am, chastising myself over not picking up a bag or two of the delicious Greek fava grown in the rich volcanic soil of Santorini. I could be whipping up a batch right now, at home, this very moment. It was a poor decision not to include those yellow nuggets of yumminess and fiber on my packing list and I will just have to live with the it -- symptoms and all.

Why Would You Want To Buy A Bag of Greek Fava Beans?

As confusing as this sounds, Greek fava has nothing to do with the fava bean. Rather, Greek fava is a split pea made into a smooth and delicate and creamy spread served with various toppings like onion, lemon juice, capers and olive oil. Greek fava has a similar look and texture to hummus and is served typically at taverns with bread as an appetizer.


Until Then . . .

Blowing Kisses!

There is a big family event in the works right now so I won't be around sharing health bits much over the next few weeks.  But just because I am not here, please put your feet up, make yourself comfortable and stay a while. Look over the categories and see what piques your interest, leave me a comment and get the conversation going!

I will see you soon, but for now, I bid you a heartfelt farewell and a few kisses your way. But, just in case you were wondering just exactly how to blow a kiss  and doing it just right, I have it all here for you.  So, until then, practice your technique, get it right and let me know how that goes.

Wishing you wellness in mind, body and spirit!

lori @ The Health-Minded

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelotuscarroll/5580803407/">Lotus Carroll</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>


Refresh With Rooibos: Minty Sangria

I remember the big pitcher of iced tea with lemons and fresh mint my mom would make each morning during the summer.  Perhaps that is why I love it so and it is my beverage of choice summer, winter and every season in between. I wrote about tea here and the varieties of them as well as why you may want to quench your thirst with it often, but I have been into a different tea lately and serving it a bit differently as well.

I have been reaching for Rooibos tea, or red bush tea and tossing in a variety of fruits as well.  Rooibos is an herbal tea grown from a small shrub that grows near Cape Town, South Africa, and not grown from the Camellia sinensis plant where we obtain our other tea varieties. Both "teas" have endless health benefits but here is why you should consider giving Rooibos a rotation in your beverage making and doing so often.

Five Health Benefits Of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tastes great and supports many of our bodily systems. Read how here:

It acts like your personal body guard.  Rooibos contains many antioxidants and we all know how good they are. But the wide variety of them in Rooibos tea helps to protect the body in a number of ways. Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in Rooibos tea, which aid in free radical protection. The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease and defend cells and DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer. The antioxidant chysoeriol can improve circulation as well.


Bread Basket Toppings

Those bread baskets are dangerous. Yes, they should carry proceed with caution signs. And, I think you know why. The waiter places it on the table before you and it takes a delicate and disciplined approach to not cave in and consume the entire basket in minutes (and especially if they contain those sumptuous and creamy buttery spreads.)  Those baskets can be a formidable challenge for those watching the waistline and consuming too much can kill the appetite. Being gluten-free lately has certainly helped me push that basket away, but those gluten-free options are enticing, too.

So, if you are going to dig in that bread basket seeking your favorite carb and throw a devil may care nod to the wind, try a spread or topping like one of these for some nutrient-packed options.  Who knows, you may enjoy the toppings so much, you won't eat so much bread and ruin your appetite!

Healthy Spreads

Here are three healthy toppings or spreads you can create quickly at home for your bread basket.  They make great pot luck additions too.