4 Things to Know About the Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout The Great American Smokeout is a yearly event promotes the act of quitting smoking. Taking place on the third Thursday of November, the Great American Smokeout is meant to be an opportunity for people to encourage someone that they know to quit smoking on that day. Even if they only stop smoking for that one day, it’s one day of being healthier, making it well worth the effort. The following are four things to know about the upcoming Great American Smokeout:

  1. The Great American Smokeout began in the 1970s – The event has been going on for almost five decades and started out back when smoking was incredibly common and not everybody was aware of the health risks of smoking. The idea originated in 1970 when people were asked to quit smoking on a specific day and to donate the money that they would have used on cigarettes on a high school scholarship fund in Massachusetts instead.
  2. The event has helped promote anti-smoking laws – The event’s success in promoting the dangers of smoking as well as promoting quitting smoking has led to numerous landmarks in the areas of environment, research and policy in regards to smoking. Over the course of the almost five decades that the event has gone on, workplace smoking restrictions were passed, smoking bans on buses and flights were passed, tobacco companies were sued over false advertising and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law.
  3. The Great American Smokeout is still needed – Even though the dangers of smoking are widely known, one out of five American adults still smoke cigarettes. Not to mention that 32 percent of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking. The Great American Smokeout can be just what a smoker needs to finally give up smoking.
  4. Giving up smoking for a day can be beneficial – Even smokers who stop smoking just for the Great American Smokeout will experience a drop in heart rate, blood pressure and carbon monoxide levels in their blood.

To keep up with all the latest health-related news, visit us at The Benefits Store today.

Fighting Disease With With Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Cholesterol-Lowering DrugsScientists at Duke University recently revealed a gene variant known for affecting cholesterol levels might also increase the risk of typhoid fever. While this is certainly not good news, it was also found that cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as Zetia (ezetimibe), could help protect against typhoid fever as well.

Using Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs to Protect Against Disease

The recent research results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists were using zebrafish for their study and plan to use the approach they applied to different model organisms, such as mice. The study highlights several possible ways to protect people who are more vulnerable to certain pathogens like the Salmonella bacteria, which use cholesterol to infect host cells.

The study not only revealed new information on potential ways to fight disease, but has also resulted in a blueprint for combining various techniques to help researchers uncover why some individuals are more likely to contract certain diseases than others. One of the most famous examples of this is Typhoid Mary, an Irish immigrant that spread typhoid fever to over 50 people throughout New York City but was immune to the disease herself.

To determine why this was the case, the scientists used hundreds of cell lines from healthy subjects and exposed them to the same dose of Salmonella typhi. They visually tagged the bacteria and then searched for genetic differences to identify cells which had higher rates of bacterial invasion.

This allowed them to identify a single nucleotide of DNA in the VAC14 gene, which was determined to be associated with the level of bacterial invasion in cells. When they knocked out this gene, they found the cells were invaded more effectively by the bacteria. Additionally, they found cells that were more susceptible to infection had higher levels of cholesterol.

New findings revealing that higher levels of cholesterol could increase the risk of disease could mean that cholesterol-lowering drugs may protect against certain diseases. For the latest health news, be sure to visit us at The Benefits Store today.

Tomatoes and Spinach: Is Cooked Healthier?

Is Cooked HealthierIs cooked healthier? One of the biggest factors impacting your overall health is your diet, so it’s important to eat well. Certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, provide the body with the nutrients that it needs in order to function at its optimal level. However, the way you prepare different foods, such as tomatoes and spinach, could affect the nutrients they contain, both in good and bad ways.

The Health Benefits of Tomatoes and Spinach

Raw tomatoes and spinach are incredibly beneficial to your health! Tomatoes, which are actually a fruit and not a vegetable, are packed with lycopene, which is an antioxidant that has been linked to helping reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium.

The flavonoids found in spinach are a type of antioxidant that prevents cholesterol from oxidizing, and that protects the body from free radicals. The folate in spinach is also great for your cardiovascular system, while the abundance amount of magnesium can help lower blood pressure. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin B6, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, calcium, protein and iron.

Is Cooked Healthier? Tomatoes and Spinach

When cooking tomatoes and spinach, it’s a win-lose situation regarding nutrients. Some of the more water-soluble nutrients, such as vitamin C and vitamin B, will be expelled from both tomatoes and spinach if they are boiled. If you’re making a soup, these nutrients will remain in the stock. Vitamin levels will, however, be lowered the longer they are exposed to heat.

Some nutrient levels may increase when cooking tomatoes and spinach. For example, although the amount of vitamin C in tomatoes decreases as a result of cooking, the levels that antioxidants will be absorbed by the body could increase. Additionally, cooking spinach may decrease the amount of fiber, but it will increase the level of beta-carotene that can be absorbed when it’s cooked rather than eaten raw.

For more advice on eating healthy be sure to contact us at The Benefits Store today.

6 Ways to Stay Safe As A Realtor

Stay Safe As A RealtorBeing a Realtor® allows you to meet many interesting people while on the job. However, it’s because Realtors deal with strangers on a daily basis that they should be extra careful. The following are six basic tips that will help you stay safe as a Realtor:

Schedule showings during the day – Avoid showing homes at night whenever possible. If you must, make sure all the blinds and curtains are open and that you turn on all the lights, inside and out, before the showing.

Always bring up the rear – When showing homes, let the clients walk in front of you. Direct them where to go instead of leading the way.

Instruct homeowners not to show alone – When you’re working with sellers, instruct them never to show their house to someone by themselves. There should always be someone with them; their Realtor, when possible.

Be careful about the information you share – As a Realtor, odds are you market your listings online. This is an effective way to do your job and usually necessary, but you don’t want to give out too much information about yourself. For example, avoid having your personal address listed, even if you work out of your home. Additionally, don’t advertise the property as “vacant;” this could attract thieves.

Be thorough when finishing an open house – Once you’ve ended an open house, make sure that you check every room to make sure everyone is gone. Be alert when you do so. If someone stayed behind, it may have been in an attempt to rob the house. When you’ve cleared the house, make sure you lock up behind you.

Make new clients check in – Before you begin showing new clients around, ask them to visit your office and make copies of their driver’s licenses and ask them to complete a prospect identification form. This ensures you’re not dealing with a potential predator.

Follow these six tips for greater safety as a Realtor. For more safety tips, be sure to visit us at The Benefits Store today.

What’s the Science Behind Yawning?

YawningEverybody yawns. It’s a natural occurrence that few people think about. Yet it’s a strange,  involuntary action, one that seems to be contagious. When one person in a room yawns, it’s only a matter of seconds before a few other people begin yawning too. Have you ever wondered why?

The Science Behind Yawning

Scientists at the University of Nottingham recently looked into why yawning seems to be such a contagious reaction. It turns out that the part of the brain responsible for triggering the yawn is the primary motor cortex, which is responsible for motor function. This part of the brain is also partly responsible for conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome.

Contagious yawning is actually a form of echophenomena, which is an automatic imitation of words or actions performed by others. It’s something that is seen in conditions such as epilepsy. Scientists performed a study to find out what was happening in the brain during echophenomena. During this study, they monitored 36 subjects while they watched other people yawning. Some of the subjects were encouraged to yawn if they had to, while others were told that they had to try and suppress the yawn.

The study revealed that the extent of the urge to yawn came down to how the primary motor cortex of each subject worked. The more excitable it was, the bigger the urge. This excitability in the motor cortex can also be increased through the use of TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation).

These findings could prove to be useful in terms of reducing the effects of such conditions as Tourette’s and dementia. TMS could potentially help modulate imbalances in the brain networks. However, while the strength of the urge to yawn as a result of its contagious element could be traced to the motor cortex, the actual cause of yawning is still unknown.

Scientists are continually making advancements regarding human function, such as identifying why yawning is so contagious and using those findings to improve our health. For all the latest health news, visit us at The Benefits Store today.