Health Care & Services Guide

Advice and Guidance for Health Matters

Welcome to HCASG.org

November 24th, 2013

Hello and welcome to HCASG.org,

Here at Health Care & Services Guide (HCASG) we are committed to helping you educate yourself in ways to better you and your friends and families health and well-being.

HCASG was born out of the idea that diet and exercise play a huge factor in the health of every individual, that’s mental health and physical health.

How we can Help

Our aim is simple, we want to update this website with information that we know can help you better your standard of living and feel better, both physically and mentally.

Sometimes we will discuss mental health issues, such as autism, and other times we will talk about fitness, diet and exercise. We will cover many topics which we believe are critical for your ongoing health.

What we Expect

We would like to think that you are reading this because you want to better your circumstances so we expect you to read the advice on these pages and try them out. Not all of the advice will be for you, so try whatever you like and see how it works for you and if it is going to work in your life. If it does, great. If not, not a problem either but you should consider why it doesn’t work for you and if there is something else in your life that you need to change to help you achieve more.

When to Check

We will update this site as often as we can but we are not going to commit to a daily, weekly or even monthly schedule. The best thing to do is subscribe to the feed and then you will see the new posts as they happen.

Feedback

If there is anything that you would like to make a comment on please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you no matter whether the feedback is good or bad…Just let us know how we can help you :)

Charity Begins at Home

August 10th, 2014

If you like to give generously to charity this very short post might be something that you like, but only if you also have a head for heights and appreciate a little exercise.

When we think about donating to charity we usually think about money and nothing else. However, it’s also possible to donate time, effort and awareness. The point of this post is to quickly bring to light some charitable ways to give.

#1 – Giving Time

The Time Bank is a charity which will give you the opportunity to become a volunteer and donate your time. This is a really great thing to do because you will see who you are helping and make a real difference in people’s lives. Giving your time carries very high value because if the charity had to pay a full time employee to carry out this work it would be very expensive.

#2 – Practical Action

There is a charity called practical action who don’t just donate money to those who need it the most, they actually donate practical gifts, such as chickens, other animals and infrastructure such as wells. Great idea and an easy Xmas present for those who have everything.

#3 – Giving Effort

A great way to raise money and awareness of various charities is to join a fundraising event, such as climbing a mountain or running a marathon. http://www.leebaines.com has a first hand experience of how that feels and you can get some more details from here.

Hopefully that has piqued your interest in doing something a little more charitable today or tomorrow, just remember to do it!

4 Types of Dangerous Fertilizers that are used for Farming

July 31st, 2014

For plant growers who want to generate healthy and nutritious crops, fertilizers are one of the most effective tools that they can use to do that. They are soluble in water so plants can absorb them quickly and some of them are also nutrient specific. These days, there are numerous plant-growing stimulants available on the market, but unfortunately, a lot of them are also hazardous.

Not only can they make your plants grow weak, an article from [Turf Pro USA] also noted that the synthetic types can cause specific types of cancer to people who use them frequently. The entry below will give you a list of the various types of dangerous fertilizers so you can avoid them.

Nitrogen Fertilizer

A post from [Live Science] noted nitrogen is one of the most common additives that were imbued in several agricultural composts. United States is the biggest consumer of this product with an annual use of 4.7 million tons. There are thirty-four production facilities in this country that create nitrogen fertilizers. In addition, 6,000 stores sell this directly to farmers.

Plant growers commonly use nitrogen in its ammonium nitrate form. This chemical compound has the following hazards which include:

Ammonium nitrate can potentially explode when subjected to certain conditions such as heat and shock.

When it is washed away by rain or melting snow, it will be transported to other bodies of water. When it reaches rivers, lakes, ponds, it will rapidly boost the growth of algae in that area. These algae will consume oxygen in the water, causing the death of various marine lives like fishes.

Nitrate rich water is not safe for drinking, and treating it would be rather difficult.

It can have an effect on the soils alkalinity and acidity, thus, affecting crop production negatively. Plants

Superphosphate

Superphosphate is well-used because phosphoric acid is soluble in water. Thanks to this property, plants can easily absorb nutrients properly. It usually comes in three varying grades;

  • Single superphosphate – contains 16% – 20% phosphoric acid
  • Dicalcium phosphate – contains 35% – 38% phosphoric acid
  • Triple superphosphate – contains 44% – 49% phosphoric acid

Unfortunately, its effectiveness poses several consequences. According to [Dr. Lawrence Wilson], superphosphate is dangerous because:

The soil becomes less permeable. When this happens, water just flows through without being absorbed by the plants and land. This could spell danger to crops that needs more water nourishment. It could also cause soil erosion.

It rapidly increases the oxidation rate of plants and soil micro-organisms. This event could lead to a change in the mineral composition of the soil and depletion of nutrients. The lack of trace minerals could also create an abundance of toxic metals in the soil.

Urea

Urea is a type of chemical fertilizer. It discharges nitrogen into the land and then the crops will absorb it afterwards. This product is usually distributed on the market in prills or granules. Urea is composed of 46% nitrogen.

This means that you do not have to worry about the product suddenly exploding. However, [Kelzyme for Life] mentioned that using it still poses danger to our health and to our surroundings. These include:

  • It causes the plants to grow rapidly.
  • Wipes out the best and vital organisms in the soil.
  • Makes the pests more active.
  • Oftentimes, urea gets broken down into other components that retard the soil’s ability to grow crops.
  • Makes the plants lose their nutritional content.

Bone Meal

Bone meal is an organic type of fertilizer created from animal bones and slaughterhouse waste products that were finely or coarsely grounded. It is popularly used by farmers because of its high phosphorus and calcium content.

An article from [Gentle World] mentioned that bone meal has the following negative side-effects:

Since it is made from animal carcass, it is very dangerous to breathe its dust because it might be contaminated. Reports have stated that bone meal can be an agent of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease  (CJD) or the human form of the “mad cow disease.”

When accidentally eaten by your pets, this fertilizer could form into little hard balls. This will stay in their digestive track and might impede their digestion processes. This could only be removed through surgery.

To Wrap Things Up

Fertilizers can be effective tools to keep your plants grow fit, rich in flavor, and beautiful. However, make sure that you choose the ones that are not hazardous to yourself and to the environment. Before using any fertilizer products, keep in mind to study its composition, ingredients, and the proper way of applying it to your products.

If you can share other useful information about the dangerous types of fertilizers, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments section.

The Guide Towards Healthy Eating

July 6th, 2014

In a recent post about Obesity I discussed various healthy eating ways. I want to take it further in this post.

People are currently living in a world where food products are enriched with preservatives rather than minerals and vitamins; where exercising has become so hard; and where eating healthily has become so ridiculous and unlikely.

Statistics show that most of the causes of morbid obesity and mortality in the world are caused by lifestyle-related diseases. This means that these diseases are preventable if there had only been some changes in the way people live their lives. Some of the most common lifestyle-related diseases are hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, and diabetes mellitus. These diseases could have been avoided if people have just been eating healthily, exercising regularly and if they turn away from vices that can keep them from achieving state of wellness.

What are the foods that you can eat and what are the measures that can get you into the habit of eating healthily?

Go Low on Sodium

Sodium is one of the major causes of hypertension and is even considered to be one of the major regulators of water balance. Sodium is the major extra-cellular electrolyte in the body and is a major factor that must be considered in eating healthily.

Sodium causes hypertension by the following mechanisms: First, this electrolyte attracts water. In short, wherever sodium goes, water follows. If you take in a salty meal, then you are in for volume overload. When sodium levels are increased, the thirst mechanism is activated, causing you to drink more water. More water intake means more water in the blood. Because of the increase in blood volume, the heart is stimulated to pump harder causing hypertension.

Next, sodium causes stiffening of the blood vessels. Normally, blood vessels are elastic and responds to the varying degrees of pressure being exerted upon them by the volume of blood and by the heart. Decreasing the elasticity of these structures will lead to an increase in the workload of the heart that can eventually elevate one’s blood pressure. Eating healthily promotes sodium and water balance in the body leading to prevention of hypertension.

Eating healthily requires that you choose the types of foods that you are going to eat very well. Vegetables rich in sodium, like broccoli, should first be boiled to decrease their sodium content. If you want to eat chicken on your next meal with less sodium, choose the breast part. It is the part of the chicken with the lowest sodium content.

Cut Down on Sugar

While sugar or glucose can provide the cells with more energy to perform their functions, too much levels of it in the blood can do the opposite. High blood glucose levels can increase the viscosity of the blood leading to a decrease in the blood flow and delivery of oxygen. In eating healthily, you must take note that sweets must only be taken in the smallest amounts, about one to two grams every day.

There are many beneficial effects of eating healthily: you get to avoid certain diseases, you get to live longer and you get to stay young and active!

Say Goodbye to Obesity

May 31st, 2014

Recent statistics show that more and more people are becoming obese nowadays. The number of obese people are alarmingly increasing and this number will keep on growing until a healthy lifestyle has been adopted by those concerned.

Obesity Cause

Obesity is largely caused by not eating healthily. A diet high in cholesterol, sugar, sodium and other preservatives increases the risk of certain diseases. The state of obesity, as well as its degree, is most commonly assessed with the use of the body mass index (BMI). The normal BMI is 20 to 24.9 and a value of 30 and above is already considered Stage 1 Obesity.

There are many factors that hinder these obese people from eating healthily and getting the body weight appropriate for their height and age. One of these factors is difficulty losing weight, which, again, is influenced by many things. Lack of motivation, lack of support and lack of discipline can all prevent one from eating healthily and losing weight.

How to Start

 

One of the many ways by which you can lose weight and regain good health is eating healthily. Some people find this difficult but here are some ways to help you get those healthy foods on your plate.

  1. Make up your mind

The first step to eating healthily is to make up your mind that you want to be healthy and fit. This gives you direction, motivation and the strength to proceed with your plan.

  1. Set your target

Eating healthily does not just end in getting some servings of vegetables and fruits on your plate. To be able to assess whether you are successful in attaining a healthy lifestyle, you must set some few targets. You can choose to set a target weight by the end of a certain period of time, or you can go more specific and choose to set a target amount of calories that you are going to take every day. For example, you can plan to lose 5 lbs. by the end of the month or you can plan to take 1800 kilocalories, which is appropriately divided according to your carbohydrate, protein and fat needs, every day.

  1. Plan your diet

Planning your diet encompasses many things. It includes the types of foods that you are going to eat day by day, their amount, their preparation and so on. Make a list of these things so you will not be lost during the implementation process.

  1. Implementation

Maybe the most difficult part of eating healthily is the actual implementation of your plan. Now that you have already made a list of what you need to eat and do, it is high time to make use of that list. Here are some quick tips that you can try to help you ease up into your “eating healthily” program.

  • Eat in small frequent feedings. This alleviates craving and hunger without compromising your weight.
  • Eat slowly. Chew your food twenty times before swallowing it.
  • Drink lots of water. Not only does this provide your body with the fluids it needs for major metabolic processes, but water also provides you with a feeling of fullness.

Treating Autism

April 22nd, 2014

Autism has long been associated with poor quality of life and poor prognosis. People with this condition are often subject to discrimination. But whatever prejudices the people may have against it, this disorder still remains to be preventable and controllable. Parents of children with this condition can feel hopeful that there is a cure for this condition.

Health & Autism

Health and autism are two interrelated factors that must be addressed in the treatment, diagnosis and prognosis of this disorder. Most therapeutic and psychological interventions for autism fail because of the failure to recognize the relationship between health and autism. One cannot treat autism only for its symptoms. The approach for health and autism must be holistic.

Many experts claim that autism is incurable; however, there are therapies that the patient can undergo to optimize their health, maximize their functions, and to improve their quality of life. Here are some of the therapeutic modalities that address the issues on health and autism symptoms.

  1. Physical Therapy

While this modality is most widely used among stroke and trauma patients, physical therapy is also being used for the improvement of symptoms in autism. ASD, or autism spectrum disorder, is characterized by sets of signs and symptoms that include motor affectation. Most autism patients present with a stereotypical behaviour, an act that is said to be repetitive and purposeless. An example of this is clapping one’s hands for a long period of time, imitating the movement of certain objects or running around purposelessly in the room. Health and autism can both be addressed by physical therapy through the use of various mechanisms such as exercise, to promote control over these stereotypical actions.

  1. Behavioral Therapy

Another therapy that integrates health and autism is behavioural therapy. This form of therapy aims to reduce the patient’s repetitive and aggressive movements, as well as to help these people gain the social and occupational skills that they would need for survival. This therapy is largely based on the concept of behavioural rewards and punishment. Just like what Kohlberg’s theory claims, rewarding of good behaviours promotes repetition, while punishing a person for an unpleasant or a wrong act will lead to behaviour modification into an acceptable one. Applying this theory in this form of therapy, one will be able to learn how to control one’s behaviours and improve on his skills.

One of the many forms of behavioural therapy is the play therapy. This therapy does not only keep the patient’s mind and body off repetitive and aggressive tendencies, but play therapy can also improve one’s emotional intelligence. Through play therapy, learning and social skill improvement can also be facilitated. This addresses one’s need to improve emotional health and autism symptoms at the same time.

  1. Diet Therapy

Researches claim that cholesterol blood levels are increased in patients with autism, thus, a well-balanced diet can reverse the elevation in blood cholesterol. Proper nutrition can also boost one’s immune system, helping the person fight off certain diseases and infections.

The physical, mental, emotional and social health and autism symptoms should all be addressed together for a successful treatment outcome. 

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

April 1st, 2014

When people speak about diet they are usually talking about going on one. This is the common misconception with dieting; people think it’s about what you don’t eat, not what you eat. In fact, it’s all about what you eat. After all, the saying goes that you are what you eat.

Fatty Fat

Fats get a bad rap. Saturated fats are deserving of their bad reputation but the other kinds of fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are much better for you and are absolutely essential for good health. These kinds of fats are obtained from foods such as nuts, salmon and avocados.

Maintaining good brain function, healthy skin and nails, for example, requires the intake of a good level of helpful fats from the sources I just mentioned.

Top Tip: Make sure you are getting your fix by snacking on some nuts or seeds each day, but not too many as they do contain a large number of calories.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

There is such a thing as bad carbs in my opinion. The reason being is that you should try to avoid highly processed foods which had have levels of carbs in them because they are devoid of goodness. Try to avoid too many carbs if you are not that active as they will just be stored as fat by the body if not used for energy.

Top Tip: Switch all white carbs for their brown equivalents, such as rice, pasta and bread.

Protein – The Building Blocks

Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies so it’s critical that you get sufficient levels of them in your diet. There are certain amino acids, which are what proteins are made of, which are only available in the diet and they cannot be created by the body.

Top Tip: Use a protein shake to supplement your diet with a good and convenient source of protein. Check out this site for an independent review of some.

How Autism Affects One’s Health

February 26th, 2014

Autism patients are usually judged and discriminated for their appearance, behavior, mannerisms, and way of thinking. But behind these different behavior and mentality are the bravery, strength, and epitome of a survivor.

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a group of disorders that are characterized by impaired social interaction and language abilities with associated stereotypical behaviours. The range of impairment in one’s social and language abilities may differ from one patient to another, while the stereotypical behaviours may range from simple repetitive movements of hand-clapping to more severe motor manifestations such as running around in circles or rocking their bodies back and forth. This is the reason why you don’t see two autism patients manifesting the same social, motor and language signs.

Health & Autism

 

Health and autism are sometimes taken into account separately. Each disease of an autism patient is treated symptomatically without regard to his mental condition. You might find it hard to believe but in treating these patients, considering both health and autism as one entity can make a lot of difference. Because of the patient’s tendency to misinterpret situations, especially dangerous circumstances, the safety, health and autism are closely linked with one another. The health-related effects of mutations, deletions, or disruptions of some genes associated with autism disorder are not only limited to the motor, social and language aspects; rather, they also have physiological impacts that might not be at all beneficial to the person concerned.

ASD

 

ASD is a product of a disruption in the normal brain development in the utero, which could be either to trauma, disease conditions, like infections, or medicine intake, such as antibiotics, during pregnancy. This is one of the basis for saying that health and autism should go together. Any imbalance in the health of the mother during her pregnancy can result to great consequences, including autism.

Complications

 

Another link between health and autism is its complications. The complications of autism may either affect the mental or psychological and physiologic state of the affected person. As mentioned earlier, autism is not all about the motor, language and social impairment, but is also associated with various diseases and metabolic imbalances.

One of the complications that links health and autism is a seizure disorder, which in chronic or prolonged period can lead to epilepsy. A seizure disorder that is caused by autism is most commonly associated with the negative effects of its perpetrators on brain development. The brain is normally made up mostly of proteins whose functions are to maintain the integrity of the neural system and to promote communication among various brain structures. The seizure arising in this disorder can be due to the protein synthesis that could have been poorly modulated as the fetus develops inside the mother’s womb.

Immune System Changes

 

The relationship of health and autism is further explained by the alterations in one’s immune system during the intrauterine growth and probably beyond the neonatal life. There have been research findings indicating the role of aberrant immune system in the development of autism and in the predisposition of many patients to various autoimmune diseases and infections.

The link between health and autism may not be as apparent as the motor, language and social impairments seen in this disorder, but it is important to know that it exists. Realizing the relationship between health and autism will help you understand them better and will aid in the success of their treatment.

Fit to Run

December 30th, 2013

In today’s post I wanted to share some advice and recommendations about running for fitness.

Why Run

Naturally we are creatures which need to exercise. If we do not exercise our bodies will tend to slowdown because the muscles we are not using will be a waste of energy. It’s a really great way of the body remaining as efficient as possible.

If you think about it, if you have a large amount of muscle but you don’t use it the body still has to maintain it which requires energy so it’s a waste. That same principle applies to the heart muscle, too, as it is just another muscle. Therefore training your cardiovascular system is a must for anyone who wants to have a strong and healthy heart.

How to Get Fit

You have a lot of options for getting fit but running is a great one because it works both the cardio (heart and lungs) and muscular systems at the same time. And, depending on which type of running you do, you will work different system within the cardio and muscular systems. For example, if you do sprints at maximum intensity you will find that you are working your anaerobic cardiovascular system and developing more leg strength compared to muscular endurance.

Train with Purpose

Whether you are working on an assignment or training for fitness and health, in order to achieve something you must have something you are working towards. A great way to train with a purpose is to have an event that you have to enter, like a running race. A really great and iconic race to enter would be the London Marathon. This is a good challenge and achievable for most people to complete in a good time.

Check out this website for more information for training tips and advice.

Types of Running

As I touched on earlier there are different ways to run. You can sprint for 100m or run for 26 miles, so obviously your training will have to be different when training for the different types of event.

If you are training for a marathon you will want to have a mix of different types of running training in there. So, you might want to do something like the following:

  • Mon – Intervals of 2km, with 1 min rest. Repeat 5 times
  • Tue – Rest
  • Wed – Longer, steady run starting at 12km and working up to 35 km over the weeks
  • Thur – Hill Sprints
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Weight training
  • Sun – Rest

That’s just an example of a week but you might want to add or remove some of the suggestions there to tailor it towards your proper training goal.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Not only does running improve your fitness it will also improve your mental state, helping to release chemicals in your mind which make your feel happier. And, if you are achieving the goals that you have set out for yourself you will get a sense of satisfaction that you cannot get from sitting on the sofa or just going to the gym, unless you have a specific goal.

This is one of the main reasons why I always suggest people who have mental problems should be participating in sport regularly. It really does work and also helps to get rid of any stress that they may have, both physical and mental stresses. It’s a great release for the body and mind.

 

 

Fats and Proteins

December 13th, 2013

The media and food manufacturers would have you believe that fats and bad for you, but that’s only half the story. Fats are actually good for you and you need to have them in your diet, but what you don’t want to have are too many saturated fats and definitely as few hydrogenated fats are possible because they are going to clog up your body and your body has a really difficult time in processing them.

Proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of your body and are found in all of the tissues in the body. Without them your body would not be able to function so you must make sure you get an adequate level of protein in your diet in order to maintain health.

In the proteins are amino acids which are actually critical to your health. There are around 20 of them and some of them are called essential amino acids because your body is unable to synthesise them, which means you have to get them from the food you eat in your diet.

Protein breakfast

A large number of people have a high sugar breakfast, mainly consisting of cereal and milk. This is not an ideal breakfast for many reasons and so a large number of people have started moving to a high protein and fats breakfast. One example of this could be tuna with lemon for taste with a little salt and pepper and then some almonds for a small snack afterwards.

High Fat & Protein Diet

If you try out the high fat and protein breakfast I am sure that you will notice the difference within two weeks so I would highly recommend it. If you do that along with follow the 80/20 principle that I outlined in my previous post I think you will be amazed at the results you see.

The other great thing about this breakfast is that you will feel fuller for longer and not have to worry about feeling hungry within an hour of having your breakfast.

Protein Shakes

An easy way to up your intake of protein and fats is to get a protein shake and use that as a snack replacement. This will help to keep you full because protein does make you fuller for longer and it’s low in calories, too. It’s a much better alternative to having some kind of biscuit snack which is going to be high in carbohydrates and sugars.

Image courtesy of Apolonia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

European Health Insurance Card – EHIC

December 11th, 2013

Many of you have probably heard of the E111 card which was previously used to allow you to get health insurance cover when abroad, in Europe. In 2006 it was superseded by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

What’s Is It?

When you are in Europe and you need healthcare you can use this card in order to get greatly reduced or even free, depending on the situation. Check out the official website for more details.

What’s Covered?

You should cover you for pre-existing injuries and child birth, providing that you are not intentionally going abroad to have you baby. It will cover you for treating an injury in order to allow you to continue your journey or for your safe return home.

Where Is It Accepted?

The EHIC card is accepted in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Cost

The card is completely free so don’t pay for it, you just need to apply online from the NHS website. Be aware that some companies and sites will try to charge you for it so make sure that you aren’t paying for it unnecessarily.

Who Can Apply

Anyone who is a resident in the UK and is British can apply for an EHIC and you can apply free of charge online.

Travel Insurance

This card is not a replacement for travel insurance. For events such as skiing, private medial issues and lost or stolen items you will have to rely on your private travel insurance and not the EHIC.

That was just a quick post about an important way of staying protected while travelling around Europe which is supplementary to travel insurance. You should have both and sometimes your insurance company will insist that you have an EHIC so as to be covered properly.