4 Most Common Vitamin Deficiencies

Most people think of nutrient deficiency as something that used to happen to pirates and other people who lacked access to healthy foods. But surprisingly, nutrient deficiencies are still reasonably common. Even though most people have easier access to food than previous generations ever had, much of the food consumed in the standard American diet is nutritionally poor. For this reason, vitamin deficiencies are still commonly found in people of all ages.

If you think you may be dealing with a vitamin deficiency, there are a few symptoms that could confirm your suspicions. Here are four of the most common vitamin deficiencies and their associated symptoms.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a very important vitamin for both mental and physical health. It helps boost immunity and helps combat diabetes, cancer and other diseases. It also helps strengthen muscles and bones. There are two main ways the body gets vitamin D—food and sunlight. Fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and liver are all excellent food sources of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight also stimulates the body to create vitamin D.

Many people are deficient in vitamin D without even knowing it. Some people may not get sufficient sunlight exposure to create vitamin D. Others may not be able to convert sunlight into vitamin D. Still efficiently, others may not eat sufficient vitamin D-rich foods to maintain healthy levels of this vitamin in their bodies.

Whatever the cause may be, deficient vitamin D levels are associated with the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Bone loss
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis

If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement and increase your intake of fatty fish and other vitamin D-rich foods.

2. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (also known as cyanocobalamin) helps maintain nerve cell health and is required to form red blood cells. It is easy to get vitamin B12 from animal-based products (such as poultry, red meat, milk and fish). Despite its abundance in these products, many people are still deficient in vitamin B12. Vegetarians and vegans need to be especially careful to ensure they get enough vitamin B12 from the plant-based products they eat.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Sore tongue
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow or pale skin
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Headaches

Vitamin B12 supplementation can help minimize the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. For vegetarians or vegans, good food sources of vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, nutritional yeast and fortified non-dairy milk products.

3. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) is important for brain development. It also has important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. People with autoimmune diseases are more likely to have vitamin B6 deficiencies.

Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:

  • Sore or cracked lips
  • Skin rashes
  • Mood swings (including irritability and depression)
  • Glossy, sore tongue
  • Weakened immune function
  • Tingling in the feet and hands
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures

Foods that are high in vitamin B6 include bananas, turkey breast, pork, fish, prunes, and baked potatoes (with skin). You can also supplement with this important vitamin.

4. Folic Acid

Folic acid is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for pregnant women and infants. Deficient folic acid can lead to neural tube defects in children, which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that all cereal grain products be fortified with this nutrient.

Folic acid deficiency symptoms include:

  • Premature gray hair
  • Growth problems
  • Fatigue
  • Tongue swelling
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Mouth sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

Good food sources of folic acid include vegetables, fruits and fortified cereals. If you don’t consume enough folate-rich foods, your folate levels can become deficient in a matter of weeks.

If you’re concerned that you may have a vitamin deficiency, it’s important to try to rectify it as soon as possible. Good health starts with what you put into your body, so focus on eating nutrient-dense foods and limiting your intake of nutrient-poor foods and treats.

When Should You Drink Water, and Are You Drinking Enough?

Many dieticians and nutritionists believe people often require more water than they get, even following federal guidelines — eight glasses per day. According to Sarah Krieger, a registered dietician nutritionist, a more accurate or adequate model is to take half of your body weight and drink that in ounces, meaning a 140-pound individual would drink 70 oz. 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine makes the process even easier, recommending men drink a minimum of 13 cups of fluids per day and women drink nine or more. In other words, men should aim for 104 oz. and women for 72 oz. 

How do you fit all that liquid into your day? First, pay attention to the wording. The suggestion is for fluids, not just water. However, it is crucial to up your water intake, and that is a straightforward process when you know the most optimum times to drink.

Wake-Up 

Many people do not realize they wake up in the morning already dehydrated. You do not drink for the eight hours you are asleep. Therefore, help your body replenish itself by drinking one to two cups of water when you wake, eight to 16 ounces. 

Once you have one or two cups, feel free to make yourself a cup of coffee. Coffee also counts toward your fluid intake for the day.

Pre-Meal, Mealtime, and Post-Meal

Many studies suggest that drinking water can help regulate and mitigate hunger. Therefore, many experts recommend having a cup of water before, during, and after a meal. 

By drinking a glass of water before your meal, you effectively lubricate your insides, which will ultimately help with digestion. However, you also prefill your stomach, meaning you are less likely to overindulge during the meal. 

Drinking water during your meal will also help with digestion. It also provides lubrication for your throat, making it easier to swallow food. 

Finally, drinking a cup of water after a meal ensures optimal digestion and helps reduce the risk of sudden hunger pangs. Therefore, drinking water in this way ensures you stick to a meal plan and avoid consuming empty calories between meals.

Midafternoon Slump

It is natural to feel a bit of a slump around 3:00 pm. While this slump often results in the afternoon consumption of coffee, it is best to stay away from caffeinated beverages. Consuming caffeine late in the afternoon can affect sleep later. 

What most people do not realize is that slumps can stem from dehydration. Dehydration can also result in irritability, hostility, confusion, etc. Therefore, it is best to help your body stay steady and alert by consuming more water.

Pre-Workout, Workout, and Post-Workout 

Do you workout before or after work? Regardless of when you exercise, drinking water is a crucial component of your routine. 

While you will want to drink water before your routine, make sure you allow your body enough time to process the fluid. Drinking a cup of water immediately before hopping on a treadmill will likely result in bloating and discomfort. Instead, drink a cup of water 30 minutes before you begin. 

You will also want to hydrate during your workout. However, do not gulp water. Take sips. Drink slowly during your routine to prevent getting sick or feeling uncomfortable.

Bedtime

You should also bring a glass of water to bed, only taking a couple of sips before lying down. Too much water before bed will lead to sleep disruptions. 

Are you an avid water drinker? Share your tips for staying hydrated throughout the day.

7 Advantages of a Workout Buddy

If you're looking for a way to reach your fitness goals and have a lot of fun along the way, you should find a fitness buddy. This can be a friend, family member or partner. You won't believe how many benefits it can have on your workouts.

1. Stay Motivated

When you have a fitness buddy, both you and your buddy can encourage each other to reach your goals. This keeps you motivated long term.

We all need someone to tell us that they’re proud of us from time to time. It feels really good when your friend tells you they can start to see those sculped abs peeking out.

2. Push Yourself Harder

You may notice your exercise buddy's legs, glutes or abs and think “I wish I looked like that.” They’re going to gaze upon your toned arms and think the same. Far from being a bad thing, a little friendly competition pushes you to reach your goals more quickly.

One study from Kansas State University found that people who worked out with a partner who was fitter than them exercised up to 200% longer and harder than someone working out alone. That’s almost triple the calories burned!

3. Have More Fun

The main reason I love having a workout buddy is that it’s more fun. Going to the gym with a friend is like spending time together at a coffee shop, except with tank tops and fitness watches. You can laugh, joke around, talk about the weather or gossip (gasp!) — all while lifting weights or cycling.

4. Stick To Your Exercise Commitment

You know your buddy is counting on you. This gives you another reason to push yourself. It’s a lot harder to hit the snooze button in the morning when you know a friend is waiting for you at the park.

5. Get Better Results

A workout buddy can improve your exercise performance and results. The other person can see things you can’t. They can correct positioning errors and help you avoid hurting yourself.

A classic example is pushups. From your point of view, you’re acing them! That’s when your workout buddy tells you your butt is jutting out and you’re not actually doing a pushup. With some good-natured nudging, you’re going to burn way more calories.

6. Watch Time Fly

When you exercise alone, your mind is completely focused on the burn. You feel all the aches, you count every sit-up and you have way too much free time to think. It’s so boring!

Things are different when you hang out with your workout buddy. Those 30–45 minutes zip by and you have a blast.

7. Mix Business and Pleasure

Couples can enjoy an added benefit when working out together. Some studies suggest that all the sweating and adrenaline and closeness can lead to more romance. Whether it’s just a quick smooch or something a little more playful, this relaxing time together is good for your heart on many levels.

Choose a Workout Buddy You Like Spending Time With

The best workout buddy is someone positive that makes you feel comfortable and happy. You can tell you made the right choice if you look forward to your sessions together.

Can't find a suitable human just yet? An energetic dog can also be an exercise buddy!

The Effectiveness of Reiki

Based on an early 20th-century Japanese practice, Reiki is best described as spiritual healing. The term is typically not associated with hospitals or medicine, especially in America; however, more reputable facilities have been adopting and offering reiki programs in recent years.

As the skepticism wains, it is natural for patient questions to arise. Is Reiki effective? Is it real? While questions are abundant, the answers are few. Few, if any, peer-reviewed journals have offered studies of the practice, and any studies that do exist elsewhere focus on a patient's feelings rather than science-backed data.

If the science of Reiki cannot be proven, then why are hospitals permitting and suggesting reiki treatments to patients? In a nutshell, pain management is challenging and comes with its fair share of risks, primarily when narcotics are involved. Reiki offers an alternative to prescriptions that some might find compelling. Additionally, many patients find the combination of medications, therapy, and Reiki effective.

Lack of Evidence

There is no concrete proof that reiki works. However, when meditation and yoga became mainstream, there were few studies to prove their effectiveness.

While people might be concerned that a hospital is offering alternative medicine to patients, there is no mandate that they have to use it. The growing popularity and recognition of such programs suggest popularity and usefulness.

Unfortunately, popularity does not equate to tangible and measurable change. Many opponents to the acceptance of Reiki argue that any results are placebo, that patients are not experiencing any real benefit. However, proponents of the practice and its adoption into hospitals say that a positive response is effective enough.

Power of Positivity

While there is no significant evidence to support Reiki as a legitimate medical therapy, research and evidence support the claim that a positive attitude improves patient outcomes. Studies have proven that people who maintain a positive outlook about treatments, surgeries, or conditions typically experience fewer adverse side effects and pain, suggesting that psychology plays a role in treatment and outcome.

While Reiki might not have a swath of supportive evidence, patients express feeling better after a session. Don't patient feelings matter. As some medical experts expressed, there is no definitive way to measure pain, but doctors still believe patients when they say it, so why can't professionals accept that Reiki works for some people.

Is Reiki Right for You?

Unfortunately, because Reiki does not have much supportive evidence, it is up to you to decide if it is right for you or not. The best way to tell is to schedule a reiki appointment with a professional and certified practitioner. See how the visit goes. If you experience something positive, then it might be worth it for you.

Reiki is not for everyone, and there is little evidence to suggest it works. However, despite the lack of credible evidence, Reiki can still be an effective practice, especially when combined with other treatments.

What do you think about Reiki? Do you have experience with the practice?

Functional Foods: What Are They, and Why Should You Be Eating Them?

The concept of “functional foods” is growing in popularity and as society becomes increasingly focused on health, wellness and self-care. Though all foods are functional to an extent in that they satiate appetite, provide taste and offer some nutritional value, there are certain foods that are so high in vitamins and nutrients that they have powerful health benefits. Evidence suggest that these foods — known as functional foods — may safeguard against disease, promote healthy growth and development, and prevent nutrient deficits. So, which foods are considered functional and what kind of value do they really provide? Find out below.

Defining “Functional”

Though a buzzword in recent years, functional foods are not a new concept. The term originated in Japan in the 1980s when, in response to rising health care costs, the country’s government began approving certain foods for their health benefits. Once the concept caught on in the United States, where the FDA regulates what manufacturers can and cannot say regarding the health benefits of certain foods, health organizations began attempting to come up with a definition. Below are two definitions of functional foods, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Functional foods are those that provide benefits that go beyond its basic nutritional value because of what it contains. For instance, soy is considered functional because it is a protein that is proven to reduce cholesterol levels — a benefit that goes beyond its nutritional value.
  • Functional foods are also foods that have been fortified to add health benefits. A common example of a fortified “food” is orange juice, which is often calcium-fortified to improve bone health.

Though the latter types of foods are healthy, most people can agree that foods that are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals are better for the body.

Examples of Functional Foods

There are two types of functional foods: conventional and modified. Conventional foods are simply those that naturally contain vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. Modified foods are those that are fortified with additional ingredients to boost their health benefits. Examples of conventional foods are as follows:

  • Fruits and vegetables, particularly cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, kale, apples, oranges, bananas and berries
  • Nuts, such as cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds and pistachios
  • Whole grains, such as oats, brown rice and couscous
  • Seeds, such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds
  • Seafood, such as salmon, mackerel, cod and sardines
  • Legumes, such as black beans, navy beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Herbs and spices, particularly cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, ginger and pepper
  • Certain beverages, such as green tea, black tea and coffee
  • Fermented foods, such as kombucha, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir

Examples of modified foods include several dairy products, fortified grains, fortified juices, fortified eggs and fortified cereals.

The Benefits of Functional Foods

There is ample evidence proving that those foods deemed as “functional” do, in fact, have several health benefits beyond their nutritional value. Though some foods have more and more powerful benefits than others, many conventional and fortified functional foods help to correct nutrient deficiencies, promote healthy growth and development and prevent disease. A few examples of functional foods at work include those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation, promote heart health and boost brain function; iron-fortified foods, which reduced rates of childhood anemia in Jordan by nearly 50%; and foods that are rich in folic acid, which can help to reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects by as much as 70%.

Incorporating Functional Foods Into Your Diet

Incorporating functional foods doesn’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — difficult. So long as you maintain a well-balanced diet rich in whole foods, your body should get the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. To fill nutrient gaps, add fortified foods to your diet where necessary.

Adaptogens: The Secret to Amazing Stress Relief

Stress is frustrating. The last time I went to my doctor for a checkup, she told me that my blood pressure was too high and my waist weight was creeping up again. That was a shock because I eat healthy meals with fresh veggies, avoid salt and go for a walk every day.

“Have you been stressed lately?” she asked. I just looked at her. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have been feeling stressed the last few years. I never imagined it could cause so many problems with my healthy lifestyle.

The bigger surprise was what the doctor told me afterward: “I want you to try taking adaptogens for a couple of months.” I had never even heard of adaptogens before!

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are plant compounds that naturally lower anxiety. These herbs make you more resistant to the effects of stress hormones. They reduce anxiety and all the negative effects that come along with it.

How Does Stress Affect Your Body?

Cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, gets your heart racing at the drop of a hat. This can trigger countless issues:

  • Physical symptoms: Low energy levels, headaches, high blood pressure, chest pain, digestive problems, weakened immune system, weight gain, physical pain and inflammation
  • Emotional symptoms: Sadness, depression, panic attacks, lack of desire to see other people and no enjoyment from things you used to like
  • Mental symptoms: Lack of motivation, mental exhaustion, concentration problems (brain fog), trouble sleeping, irritability

How Do Adaptogens Work?

When stress hormones are too high, you feel anxiety rushing in. The effect is even worse when you have low levels of “happy” hormones that should create feelings of calm. Adaptogens alleviate stress by lowering negative hormones and boosting positive brain chemicals. They keep your body’s systems in balance.

What Are the Benefits of Adaptogens?

With the help of adaptogens — plus good habits such as exercise and sleep — you can turn the tables on anxiety:

  • Higher energy levels
  • Fewer sad days or panic attacks
  • Increased positive feelings
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved mental focus and endurance
  • Better physical stamina
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Less weight gain

What Are the Best Adaptogens for Your Mood?

If you’ve ever relaxed with a cup of licorice root tea and your favorite book, adaptogens have already helped you with stress relief. Here are my favorites:

  • Ashwagandha: Promotes feelings of overall wellbeing and happiness
  • Rhodiola rosea: Helps with tiredness and mental fatigue
  • Cordyceps: Increases physical stamina
  • Licorice root: Promotes calm and relaxation
  • Siberian ginseng: Boosts energy levels
  • Holy basil: Lowers stress, anxiety and depression
  • Turmeric: Increases mental focus, alleviates stress and fights inflammation
  • Astragalus root: Helps with physical, mental and emotional stress

That’s all there is to it — healthy, natural herbs that alleviate anxiety. Personally, I prefer taking these adaptogens in a stress-fighting supplement because it helps me get the right amount of every day. Other people sip teas made with these herbs when under a lot of stress.

No plant can change the way you look at stressful events, but adaptogens can keep your body from going into red-alert mode constantly. That way, you worry less about things that aren’t a big deal. And when truly stressful events happen, you can stay in control and find a solution instead of “losing it.”

What Noise Pollution Is Doing to Your Heart

Do you feel stressed every day and have trouble falling to sleep at night? Do you wake up in the morning exhausted? I felt that way for months — at my wit’s end. When I finally discovered the reason, I was shocked.

Weird Symptoms With No Cause

I felt irritable, tired and sluggish, which was weird because I’m normally perky and energetic. Things got so bad that I finally decided to give in and buy over-the-counter sleeping pills to get some relief. That morning, my sister called me out of the blue and told me to check something I had never considered.

The Phone Call That Changed It All

You see, my sister and her family live in Chicago. When I told her about my symptoms, she asked: “Is there a lot of noise near your house?” The answer was yes, because our city has been redoing the streets near us. All that time, the real reason for my day-and-night stress was noise pollution!

The Truth About Noise Pollution

What is noise pollution? It's any unwanted sound that forces its way into your surroundings. You want peace and quiet, but you can’t make the noise go away.

Usually, noise pollution is caused by loud music, insensitive neighbors, wild parties, cars driving by or airplanes taking off. At work, there can be a lot of noise from heavy machinery.

Not all noise pollution is loud. Even quiet sounds can interrupt your concentration if they’re constant. A coworker that won’t stop clicking their pen is one of my personal pet peeves.

A Not-So-Silent Enemy

Some people will tell you, “It’s just noise; it’s not that big a deal.” Don’t believe them. Noise pollution can cause more problems than you think, and serious ones at that:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Insomnia
  • Weak immune system (from not sleeping)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

It's even worse if noise pollution gets in the way of a good night’s sleep. People who live in noisy areas find it harder to fall asleep, and they get less of the regenerating “deep” sleep the body needs to repair itself. This causes other problems, from low energy levels to weight gain.

Noise Pollution and Stress

Constant noise can be devastating for your mental health. When it seems like you can’t escape from loud sounds, your emotions suffer:

  • Stress
  • Panic feelings
  • Irritability
  • Sadness and depression
  • Exhaustion

The longer the situation keeps going, the worse you feel. It can get to the point where you're thinking about taking medicine for the side effects, but the real culprit is too... much... noise!

Tips for Stopping Noise Pollution

Inside the home, turn down the volume on electronic devices. Ask your kids to wear headphones when listening to music or playing video games. What about noises from outside?

One option is to choose home decor that deadens sounds. Insulated walls, double-pane windows, carpeting and thick curtains can help. There are even soundproof layers if your neighborhood is really noisy.

Set aside time every day to relax somewhere quiet. Take refuge in a quiet space when you get home from work. My bathroom is my haven, soaking in a bubble bath with a book for 30 minutes.

At work, you can block out irritating coworkers and noisy equipment with noise-cancelling headphones at your desk. Listen to calming classical music instead. This is invaluable for concentrating when you're focused on a task.

When a Nosebleed Is Not Just a Nosebleed

Nosebleeds. Are they messy and inconvenient? Absolutely. Do they sound the alarm bells for people who experience them, or for parents of children who develop them? Usually not. Should they? In most cases, no. However, though nosebleeds are typically not causes for concern, some symptoms may develop that warrant a call to the doctor. Moreover, when nosebleeds occur frequently, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. Below you will learn about when a nosebleed is not just a nosebleed and when it should prompt you to call the doctor.

When Nosebleeds Become Cause for Concern

Most children and adults have experienced at least one nosebleed in their lifetimes. If you have, then you know that a few minutes of self-care should be enough to abate the bleeding and let you resume your daily activities with little break in stride. However, there are some instances when nosebleeds prove to be a little more troublesome. When these events occur, how do you know when to call the doctor?

When To Call the Doctor for Nosebleeds in Adults

You may be used to frequent nosebleeds, especially during certain times of year. However, just because they’re frequent visitors does not mean you should ignore them completely. Below are a few symptoms for which you should look:

  • A nosebleed that persists for more than 20 minutes despite your best attempts to suppress it
  • A nosebleed that causes you to lose more than a cup of blood, even if it lasts for less than 20 minutes
  • A nosebleed that is accompanied by bleeding from other areas of the body, such as from the rectum or ear
  • A nosebleed that is the result of a serious blow to the head
  • A nosebleed that results in gagging, breathing troubles or vomiting due to blood dripping down your throat

These symptoms may indicate a more serious health issue. Some conditions that cause nosebleeds include high blood pressure, blood clotting disorders and infections of the arteries, among others.

When To Call the Doctor for Nosebleeds in Children

If you’re like most parents, you may worry when your child experiences a nosebleed — not so much because of the nosebleed itself but rather, because of your little one’s comfort during an episode. However, the cause for your concern may shift — and should — if the following occurs:

  • A nosebleed that persists for 20 or more minutes despite you putting direct pressure on it
  • A nosebleed that arises as the result of a blow to your child’s face
  • A nosebleed that occurs as the result of an object stuck in your child’s nose
  • A nosebleed that is accompanied by headache, dizziness, vomiting, fatigue or breathing problems

If a nosebleed is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be an indicator that your child has lost too much blood.

If you or your child experience frequent nosebleeds, do not just chalk it up to environmental factors or genetics. Frequent nosebleeds may indicate that there is a problem within the nose, such as a nasal polyp or some type of growth.

More often than not, a nosebleed is just that — a nosebleed. However, if you or your child experience worrisome symptoms, contact your doctor if nothing more than to err on the side of caution.

This Is Why Is I Don’t Buy My Salad Dressing at the Store

The idea that most store-bought salad dressings aren’t healthy may sound strange. “What about low-fat, fat-free or organic?” you’re probably asking. The shocking truth is that they’re almost as bad as regular versions!

1. The Fat-Free Trap

Fat equals flavor. I’m not saying you should eat full-fat dressings, just that they tend to be more flavorful. Food manufacturers know this.

Do you know what they do to compete with other brands? Instead of adding high-quality herbs or healthy ingredients, they put extra sugar and sodium in dressings marketed as low-fat or fat-free. All of that sodium is bad for your blood pressure and your heart.

Some dressings slap the word “organic” on the label to make it seem healthier than it really is. Calling something organic only means it hasn’t been grown without pesticides, but it doesn’t mean the ingredients are good for you. Many contain tons of saturated fats, salt and sugar.

2. “Healthy” Vinaigrettes That Aren’t

What about vinaigrettes and Italian dressing? Aren’t they supposed to be healthy? Well, when you make them at home, they’re absolutely amazing for your health. Most of the time, store-bought varieties aren’t.

All you need to do is take a quick look at the ingredients list for some of these dressings to understand what I mean. You’ll find preservatives, food colorings and other weird ingredients that can mess with your body. Like, what in the world are “calcium disodium EDTA,” “potassium sorbate” and “xanthan gum”?

These processed ingredients can make inflammation worse and trigger digestive troubles. If you have gout, arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) or other types of chronic pain, tossing out prepared salad dressings should be at the top of your to-do list.

3. Organic Salad Dressings With Cheap, Processed Oils

Another trick I’ve seen manufacturers use is mixing a really healthy oil with a really cheap one. Extra-virgin olive oil is a nutritious, high-quality oil with healthy fats that protect your heart. It’s also expensive.

To make more money, companies put a little EVOO in the dressing and a bunch of cheap soybean oil or vegetable oil. The label has “EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL” in huge letters, but the dressing actually contains mostly vegetable oil.

Soybean oil and other highly refined vegetable oils are completely lacking in nutrients. They’re bad for your heart instead of good, and they increase inflammation.

What Should You Do?

Don’t get me wrong. My tastebuds jump for joy with a tasty salad dressing. These four practical tips let you have your salad dressing and eat it too:

  • Make your own salad dressing: Tossing together a vinaigrette with EVOO, herbs, and balsamic vinegar only takes a few minutes. You can find good recipes online for a huge variety of healthy dressings.
  • Choose dressings with simple ingredients: If you only have time for store-bought dressing, the fewer ingredients, the better. Cold-pressed dressings made with EVOO, fresh-squeezed juices, veggies and natural ingredients can be healthy.
  • Know what a serving size looks like: Put your dressing in a measuring spoon to see what that low-cal serving size really is.
  • Serve dressing on the side: You can get some dressing on each bite without overdoing it by dipping your fork into dressing instead of pouring on top.

A crispy, veggie-packed salad is the perfect complement for everything from turkey sandwiches to spaghetti. It's too bad that most bottled dressings undo the benefits you get from eating salad in the first place.

5 Effective and Affordable Tools for Correcting Your Posture

Poor posture affects more than just your spinal function and comfort. Poor posture contributes to rounded belly, agitation, stress, anxiety and depression. It can also lead to long-term physical health issues, such as poor circulation, high blood pressure, joint dysfunction and more. For all these reasons and then some, it’s crucial that you invest in your posture sooner rather than later. Check out the top five most effective and affordable posture correcting tools on the market today.

1. Evoke Pro A300 Posture Corrector

This lightweight, breathable posture corrector is slim enough to wear under your clothing and comfortable enough to rock all day long. Designed to improve posture and provide pain relief, the Evoke Pro A300 realigns the spine and shoulders while you wear it. It boasts soft armpit pads and flexibility that lets you move freely while you’re wearing it. Priced for just under $25 on Amazon, and bosting a 3.5-star rating, this is a cheap but effective way to achieve better back support.

2. SOMAZ Adjustable Posture Corrector

The SOMAZ posture corrector fits more like a vest than anything else. Like the Evoke A300, it is lightweight and discreet enough to wear under your shirt while at work, home or out and about. Because it reaches from your clavicle down to the bottom of your spine, it offers full back support, which the designer says is more effective in achieving full posture correction. During use, the vest provides gentle back support while pulling the shoulders back, thereby providing correction for the duration of you wearing it. This design also has 3.5 stars and costs about $20 at Amazon.

3. Upright GO Posture Trainer and Corrector

Wouldn’t it be nice to constantly have someone remind you to sit up straight? Okay, probably not, but if that “someone” was a “something” — like, a tiny device attached to your back, the reminder may come off as less intrusive and more sincere. The Upright GO Posture Trainer, which now comes in a second version, is an electronic device that gives you a small little reminder to sit up straight when you slouch. Though the reminder is just a small vibration, it’s enough to train the mind and body to work together to correct your posture throughout the day. You can also track your progress through an app, which helps you gain awareness of what you’re doing wrong as well as what you need to do to correct it.

The device is slightly pricier than the first two, at $80. However, it has earned a solid four stars from its users.

4. FlexGuard Support Back Brace Posture Corrector

If you already experience back pain as a result of your poor posture, try this back support/posture corrector combination. Though it is more noticeable than the other options, it prevents slumping shoulders and curbs back pain all while training your back to sit straight. Also, because it forces you to let your spine support your body, it relieves the stress that your muscles have taken on as a result of your slumping. You can find this model for just $25 on Amazon, where it boasts four full stars from nearly 12,000 customers.

5. BetterCo BetterBack

A Shark Tank innovation, the BetterBack from BetterCo has thousands of five stars reviews from very satisfied customers. Lightweight and portable, this particular posture corrector was designed to correct poor posture that stems from the lower back. It also eases the lower back pain that occurs as a result of your slouching. Users claim that by wearing it for just 15 minutes a day goes a long way toward correcting their posture for good. You can get it at GetBetterBack.com for just $49.99, plus free shipping. If you’re not convinced after 60 days that it’s the right device for you, you can return it hassle-free.

An investment in your posture is an investment in your whole body health and future. Spend a little today for the right device and save on more costly back treatments in the years to come.