Staying Healthy

5 Trendy Health Foods to Try Now

From our wellness partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

Some food trends stick, some are just a flash in the pan. Either way, it can be fun and interesting to see what all the fuss is about. We asked you which health foods you would try. Now, we break each one down — from least popular to most popular — and show you why these foods made the list. Some may be familiar, others a little shocking. Either way, these health foods are sure to pique your curiosity … and possibly your hunger.

Crickets

Clearly the least popular choice among health foods, these nighttime noisemakers may soon be chirping their way to your dinner plates! Eating bugs is common in many parts of the world, including Asia and Latin America, but it wasn’t until recently that it started gaining momentum in Western countries.

Benefits: Crickets are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and low in fat. Another reason for the rise of crickets and other edible bugs is that farming them could greatly affect the environment. Crickets emit 100 times fewer greenhouse gases than cattle, and raising them requires significantly less water and less feed.

Uses: Some believe crickets in flour form have the most potential and could be incorporated into an assortment of foods. There are also a variety of products made from crickets, including cricket granola bars, cricket chips, cricket cookies, and even cricket dog treats.

Fermented Foods

A quick look at how vegetable fermentation works: vegetables are soaked in salt water or preferably their own juice. This allows for bacteria to grow and eat the vegetable’s sugars. As a result, they produce lactic acid, which has a sour, tart taste. Chefs like fermentation because it creates new dimensions to food, bringing out flavors and textures previously unattainable.

Benefits: The live bacteria or probiotics found in fermented foods are rich in enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients and help the digestive system run more smoothly. Eating fermented foods is similar to having an oil change for your stomach. Kimchi, a special kind of pickled cabbage that’s a staple in Korea cuisine, is packed with antioxidants, boosts your immunity, and helps lower cholesterol. Many Koreans credit kimchi for their long lives and statistically, Koreans boast one of the lowest cancer rates in the world. No wonder why this has joined the list of top health foods!

Uses: Popular examples include kraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and pickled vegetables. Fermented fruits and vegetables can be used as side dishes, in salads, and in smoothies.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is a key element in the popular Paleo diet, which is based on the food humans’ ancient ancestors might likely have eaten. Dietitians who specialize in the Paleo diet assert that bone broth is different from stock because its made with roasted animal bones and simmered for a long time – anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. This long process breaks the bones down, releases nutrients and minerals, and produces gelatin from collagen-rich joints.

Benefits: The list of bone broth’s restorative properties runs long, but there are few scientific studies of the specific properties of bone broth. No studies have researched the broth specifically, though dozens support the benefits of its ingredients. The use of cartilage, gelatin, and other components found in homemade bone broth have been linked to prevent and sometimes even reverse osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, digestive distress, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. Though bone broth soups may be resurfacing the West, they have been and remain a staple in many Asian cultures, where they are considered medicinal and prescribed in Chinese medicine.

Uses: You can drink bone broth plain or use it to make soup, stew, or gravy. It can also be used to sauté or roast vegetables. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to make and can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Matcha Green Tea

Americans love their coffee. According to the National Coffee Association, 59 percent drink a cup of it every day! But has coffee met its match-a? Literally meaning “powdered tea”, matcha is made from tea leaves getting finely powdered, mixed with hot water, and whisked with a bamboo brush. Matcha was the “it” beverage at New York Fashion Week, and has many dedicated coffee lovers ditching their brew for this ancient cup o’ tea.

Benefits: Tea’s perceived health benefits are some of the reasons for its rise in fame among health foods. In terms of nutritional content, one cup of matcha is equal to 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea. It also has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. Antioxidants have been tied to protection against heart disease and cancer, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. Compared to the jittery caffeine buzz you can get from coffee, matcha creates an “alert calm,” thanks to L-theanine. However, matcha quality is key – high-quality matcha is expensive, and a low price tag could be a red flag for a poor quality and less nutrient-rich product.

Uses: In addition to drinking matcha warm or cold, there is no shortage of creative uses for the powder: it can be whipped into lattes, sprinkled atop savory dishes, and mixed into an assortment of sweets, ranging from macaroons to muffins.

Avocados

Benefits: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which can lower bad cholesterol. They’re also packed with potassium, containing nearly two times as much potassium as a banana. Avocados are not only high in antioxidants themselves, but also help increase antioxidant absorption from other foods. Not to shabby for the most popular health food on our list.

Uses: Chefs love avocados for their taste, which is creamy enough to balance out acidity or spiciness but mild enough not to overpower other ingredients. Some of its countless uses include adding it to sandwiches and salads, eating it with plain toast, or making it into guacamole.

While some of these health foods may be just a trend, some others are here to stay. Give your body some love and add one of these foods to your diet today and see how you feel. You may be surprised at the results!

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Business Health Trust Members Have Access to Preventive Care — at No Cost!

When Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical through Premera Blue Cross receive routine preventive care, your health plan pays for the services — you don’t!

By getting preventive care you:

  • Help avoid serious health problems — and additional healthcare costs — before they start
  • Stay healthy for the people at home and at work who count on you

Preventive services may include screenings, vaccinations and medications. You can get the full preventive care list and guide to using your benefits at Premera.Com/WA/StayHealthy.

Tip: During your preventive care visit, if your doctor recommends other screenings or tests that are not considered preventive, you may have out-of-pocket costs.

Man standing under streetlights by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, Treatments and Therapies

From our wellness partners at Wellspring EAP.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.

Signs and Symptoms

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not considered as a separate disorder. It is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern. To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least two years. Seasonal depressions must be much more frequent than any non-seasonal depressions.

Symptoms of Major Depression

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of the Winter Pattern of SAD include:

  • Having low energy
  • Hypersomnia
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)

Symptoms of the less frequently occurring summer seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Poor appetite with associated weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Episodes of violent behavior

Treatments and Therapies

There are four major types of treatment for SAD:

  • Medication
  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Vitamin D

These may be used alone or in combination.

Medication

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat SAD. The FDA has also approved the use of bupropion, another type of antidepressant, for treating SAD.

As with other medications, there are side effects to SSRIs. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition. You may need to try several different antidepressant medications before finding the one that improves your symptoms without causing problematic side effects. For basic information about SSRIs and other mental health medications, visit NIMH’s Medications webpage. Check the FDA’s website for the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications.

Light Therapy

Light therapy has been a mainstay of treatment for SAD since the 1980s. The idea behind light therapy is to replace the diminished sunshine of the fall and winter months using daily exposure to bright, artificial light. Symptoms of SAD may be relieved by sitting in front of a lightbox first thing in the morning, on a daily basis from the early fall until spring. Most typically, light boxes filter out the ultraviolet rays and require 20-60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light, an amount that is about 20 times greater than ordinary indoor lighting.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is effective for SAD. Traditional cognitive behavioral therapy has been adapted for use with SAD (CBT-SAD). CBT-SAD relies on basic techniques of CBT, such as identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive thoughts along with a technique called behavioral activation. Behavioral activation seeks to help the person identify activities that are engaging and pleasurable, whether indoors or outdoors, to improve coping with winter.

Vitamin D

At present, vitamin D, supplementation by itself, is not regarded as an effective SAD treatment. The reason behind its use is that low blood levels of vitamin D were found in people with SAD. The low levels are usually due to insufficient dietary intake or insufficient exposure to sunshine. However, the evidence for its use has been mixed. While some studies suggest vitamin D supplementation may be as effective as light therapy, others found vitamin D had no effect.

If you suspect you or someone you know is dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder, connect with a mental health professional for support and guidance.

Adapted from: National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml on January 7, 2020. 

Business Health Trust members enrolled in an Industry Health Trust have access to up to three in-person visits with a counselor through Wellspring EAP. For more information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Business Health Trust, view the plan summary.

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, email info@businesshealthtrust.com.

Smiling senior man in medical clinic.

What You Should Expect During a Visit to the Doctor’s Office

From our wellness partners at Washington Health Alliance.

You should expect certain things to happen every time you go to the doctor. If you can check off the items on this list, you are having a good experience. Having a good experience at the doctor’s office helps you stay on top of any problems and can improve your health.

  • I was able to schedule an appointment as soon as I thought I needed it.
  • My doctor listened to my questions and gave me helpful answers I was able to understand.
  • I felt respected by my doctor and the entire staff (or care team).
  • My doctor knew my medical history.
  • I had enough time to ask the questions I needed to.

You can also visit the Community Checkup to compare scores for patient experience at providers in Washington state.

Eyeglasses in front of eye test.

Planning Your Eye Doctor Visit

From our wellness partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

An annual eye exam is a great step in taking care of not only your eyes but your overall health. Eye exams can detect signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Visiting the eye doctor doesn’t have to feel intimidating, even if you haven’t been there in a while. Knowing how to prepare for the visit and thinking ahead is an important part of the eye exam process. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next visit.

What to Know About Your Vision Benefits:
  • For personalized information about your benefits, create an account or log in to your vsp.com account. You’ll see your vision plan and coverage and easily view benefits for all your covered dependents from your desktop, mobile or tablet. Click here to learn how to create an account.
  • Once you’re logged in, you’ll also be able to find a VSP network doctor that accepts your vision plan and view how you can save with Exclusive Member Extras.
What to Think About Before Your Eye Exam:
  • Have I noticed any eye problems such as blurry vision, flashes of light, poor night vision, or double vision?
  • Do I have trouble judging distances or distinguishing between reds and greens?
  • Is my vision impacting me from doing certain activities?
  • How well am I taking care of my glasses or contacts? Do I take my contacts out each night and rinse them thoroughly?
  • Have I had any health issues, injuries, operations, or sicknesses lately that my eye doctor should know about?
  • Does my family have a history of eye problems such as glaucoma or cataracts?
What to Bring to Your Eye Exam:
  • Your current glasses, sunglasses, and contacts.
  • A list of current medications—and not just prescription medications. Your eye doctor can look at the list and determine if your medications could be affecting your vision.
  • The name and address of your primary care doctor.
  • If your appointment includes having your pupils dilated—and most yearly eye exams do—bring a friend or family member to drive you home. Many people can’t see well enough to drive safely after having their eyes dilated.
  • Your vision insurance information.
  • A list of the questions you want to ask your doctor, so you don’t forget them.
What to Ask Your Eye Doctor:
  • Has anything about my eyes changed since my last visit that I should know about?
  • What are my options for improving my vision?
  • Am I a candidate for laser vision correction?
  • What are the advantages of wearing both contact lenses and glasses?
  • How many hours per day can I wear contacts?
  • Should I look out for anything in particular when it comes to my eyes and overall health?
  • How can I protect my vision while staying active?
  • Should I be doing anything differently to care better for my eyes?
  • Can I schedule my next eye exam?
When to Follow Up with Your Eye Doctor:
  • If you receive contacts or glasses for the first time, plan to follow up with your eye doctor after about two weeks so you can report back on how well they are working.
  • If your eye doctor adjusts your prescription and your new glasses or contacts aren’t working out, let your eye doctor know immediately.

With a little bit of preparation, your eye exam should be a simple and straightforward process. Take a few moments beforehand to get ready, and your eyes will thank you.

If you haven’t already scheduled your next eye exam, you can do it now.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

Tips for “Healthy Living” Through the Holidays and Beyond!

The holidays offer the ideal time to reflect on the past year, while also setting expectations for your family’s annual holidays traditions.

If it’s time for a change, the December edition of Healthy Living with Business Health Trust offers tips to help you introduce new holiday traditions as families evolve. We even offer a new dessert tradition for a more naturally sweetened Dark Chocolate and Ginger Biscotti!

Speaking of food and nutrition, we also take a look at the top health food trends of 2019, and help you separate hype from fact.

To read more, take a look at the December Healthy Living with Business Health Trust, or subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter today!

New Health Plan, New Doctor?

From our wellness partners at Washington Health Alliance.

It’s that time: you are considering a new health plan or choosing between several plans. But with a new plan, will you still be able to see your doctor, or will you need to find someone new? Before signing up for a new health plan, check to see if your preferred doctors, clinics and hospitals are covered.

“What is a provider network?”
Each health plan contracts with specific health care providers and facilities. This is called a “provider network” and it varies from plan to plan. Even two plans offered by the same insurance company can have different provider networks. For the lowest costs, make sure you are going to an in-network provider or hospital for your care. Depending on the type of plan, out-of-network providers and hospitals could be MUCH more expensive.

“I want to keep my doctor.”
If you already have doctors you like, check to see if they are in the plan’s provider network. The provider directories are usually on an insurance company’s web site. But the lists could be out of date. If you don’t see your doctor in the directory, call your doctor and ask if they are covered under that plan. If you have a preferred hospital, check to make sure it is in-network as well.

“I need to choose a new doctor.”
Maybe you don’t have a preferred provider or hospital. Or maybe your plan options do not cover your preferred doctor. First, try selecting a plan with many in-network providers close to your office or home. You can then use the Community Checkup to compare the quality of care different clinics provide.

Domestic Violence Prevention Awareness

From our wellness partners at Wellspring EAP.

All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive with unhealthy somewhere in the middle.

Check out the Relationship Spectrum below to see where your relationship falls.

A healthy relationship means that both you and your partner(s) are:

  • Communicating: You talk openly about problems and listen to one another. You respect each other’s opinions.
  • Respectful: You value each other as you are.
  • Trusting: You believe what your partner has to say. You do not feel the need to “prove” each other’s trustworthiness.
  • Honest: You are honest with each other, but can still keep some things private.
  • Equal: You make decisions together and hold each other to the same standard.
  • Enjoying personal time: You enjoy spending time apart, alone or with others. You respect each other’s need for time apart.
  • Making mutual sexual choices: You talk openly about sexual and reproductive choices together. All partners willingly consent to sexual activity and can safely discuss what you are and are not comfortable with.
  • Economic/financial partners: You and your partner have equal say with regard to finances. All partners have access to the resources they need.
  • Engaging in supportive parenting: All partners are able to parent in a way they feel comfortable with. You communicate together about the needs of the child(ren), as well as the needs of the parents.​

You may be in an unhealthy relationship if one or more partners is:

  • Not communicating: When problems arise, you fight or you don’t discuss them at all.
  • Disrespectful: One or more partners is not considerate of the other(s).
  • Not trusting: One partner doesn’t believe what the other says, or feels entitled to invade their privacy.
  • Dishonest: One or more partners tells lies.
  • Trying to take control: One partner feels their desires and choices are more important.
  • Only spending time with your partner: Your partner’s community is the only one you socialize in.
  • Pressured by the other into sexual activity: One partner uses pressure or guilt on the other to have sex or do anything sexual at any point.
  • Ignoring a partner’s boundaries: It is assumed only one partner is responsible for making informed decisions.
  • Unequal economically: Finances are not discussed, and/or it is assumed only one partner is in charge of finances.

Abuse is occurring in a relationship when one partner:

  • Communicates in a way that is hurtful, threatening, insulting or demeaning.
  • Mistreats the other: One partner does not respect the feelings, thoughts, decisions, opinions or physical safety of the other.
  • Accuses the other of cheating or having an affair when it’s not true: The partner who accuses may hurt the other in a physical or verbal way as a result.
  • Denies that the abusive actions are abuse: An abusive partner may try to blame the other for the harm they’re doing, or makes excuses for abusive actions or minimizes the abusive behavior.
  • Controls the other: There is no equality in the relationship. One partner makes all decisions for the couple without the other’s input.
  • Isolates the other partner: One partner controls where the other one goes and who they talk to. They may isolate their partner from family and friends.
  • Forces sexual activity or pregnancy: One partner forces the other to have sex, or do anything they don’t want to do sexually at any point. In relationships where pregnancy is a physical possibility, one partner may force the other to become pregnant.
  • Exerts economic control: One partner controls the money and access to resources. Having an open dialogue about finances is not an option. This may include preventing a partner from earning an income or not allowing a partner access to their own income.
  • Engages in manipulative parenting: One partner uses the child(ren) to gain power and control over the other partner, including telling the child(ren) lies or negative things about the other partner.

If you feel your relationship may be unhealthy or abusive, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat live 24/7/365 via their website at https://www.thehotline.org/.

Source: Relationship Spectrum, National Domestic Violence Awareness Hotline, https://www.thehotline.org/healthy-relationships/relationship-spectrum/ Retrieved 10/16/2019

Business Health Trust members enrolled in an Industry Health Trust have access to up to three in-person visits with a counselor through Wellspring EAP. For more information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Business Health Trust, view the plan summary.

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, email info@businesshealthtrust.com.

Get Tips for a Stress-Free, Fun-Filled Thanksgiving

Let the holiday season be all about fun, family and wellness with help from the November edition of Healthy Living with Business Health Trust. From 8 simple holiday hosting tips to flu shot resources and more, our wellness partners have you covered!

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to receive our wellness tips in your inbox each month and see past editions.

More importantly, have a stress-free, fun-filled Thanksgiving!

Taking Care of Yourself: Tips for Caregivers

From our wellness partners at Wellspring EAP.

Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you’re eating healthybeing active and taking time for yourself.

Dealing with Feelings of Frustration and Guilt

Caregiving, especially from a distance, is likely to bring out many different emotions, both positive and negative. Feeling frustrated and angry with everyone, from the care recipient to the doctors, is a common experience. Anger could be a sign that you are overwhelmed or that you are trying to do too much. If you can, give yourself a break: take a walk, talk with your friends, get some sleep — try to do something for yourself.

Although they may not feel as physically exhausted and drained as the primary, hands-on caregiver, long-distance caregivers may still be worried and anxious. Sometimes, long-distance caregivers feel guilty about not being closer, not doing enough, not having enough time with the person, and perhaps even feeling jealous of those who do. Many long-distance caregivers also find that worrying about being able to afford to take time off from work, being away from family, or the cost of travel increases these frustrations. Remember that you are doing the best you can given the circumstances and that you can only do what you can do. It may help to know that these are feelings shared by many other long-distance caregivers — you are not alone in this.

Taking Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself if one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you are making time for yourself, eating healthy foods and being active. Consider joining a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online. Meeting other caregivers can relieve your sense of isolation and will give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Caregiving is not easy for anyone — not for the caregiver and not for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments for everyone. When you don’t live where the care is needed, it may be especially hard to feel that what you are doing is enough and that what you are doing is important. It often is.

Learn about sharing caregiving responsibilities with friends and family.

Source: National Institute on Aging, Taking Care of Yourself: Tips for Caregivers, retrieved 11/11/2019, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-yourself-tips-caregivers

Business Health Trust members enrolled in an Industry Health Trust have access to up to three in-person visits with a counselor through Wellspring EAP. For more information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Business Health Trust, view the plan summary.

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, email info@businesshealthtrust.com.