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August 26th, 2019
Healthy Lifestyles

sanitizemobilephoneThe most germ-addled item in your home may not be the toilet or the kitchen sponge. Mobile phones pick up bacteria wherever they go. In addition, users touch their phones an average of 47 times a day according to the national average determined by a Deloitte research survey, introducing new contaminants to the device each time they do so. 

Researchers at the University of Arizona found that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than many toilet seats, and there may be as many as 17,000 bacterial gene copies on the average high-schooler’s phone.

While cell phone safety often focuses on protecting data, smartphone users also should consider keeping their phones clean to remove the potentially harmful microbes that accumulate on phones every day.

Avoid excess moisture when cleaning cell phones, advises the home and lifestyle experts at The Spruce as moisture can damage internal components. Most cell phone screens have an oleophobic coating that repels oils from hands and fingers. Harsh cleansers or abrasive materials on the glass can prematurely remove this coating and/or scratch the surface. 

While you clean at your own risk, many tech experts suggest a spray mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol applied to a microfiber cloth to remove surface contaminants. Don’t directly wet the phone. There also are pre-packaged cleansers sold for electronics usage. Invest in an antimicrobial cover to provide an added layer of protection for the phone. 

Other ways to keep a phone clean are to wash your hands before use and to try to keep the phone away from areas that may be vulnerable to germs, such as bathrooms. 

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canfoodThe affordability of canned foods  entices many people to stock up on the essentials. However, there are some people who still harbor concerns about the safety of canned foods. Getting to the truth about canned foods can assuage some of those concerns and help those on the fence stock up on these budget-friendly staples.

Myth #1: Canned foods are not as healthy as fresh foods.

Fresh foods, once harvested, have a finite shelf life. Plus, once fruit or vegetables are picked, their vitamin and mineral content decreases each day that they are not consumed. Many canned foods are picked and processed on the same day, helping to retain nutrients at their peak and lock them in for many months. Also, according to the Hy-Vee supermarket chain, sometimes canned foods are packed with additional nutrients, such as increased lycopene in canned tomatoes.

Myth #2: Canned foods are full of preservatives.

The perception that canned foods are “processed” foods often leads people to believe they’re full of unsavory ingredients. The term processing is used to describe any food that has been changed from its natural form. So removing corn from a cob counts as processing, as is baking or boiling potatoes. Canned foods are preserved by heating the items and sealing them under pressure. No other preservatives are needed to keep them fresh.

Myth #3: Can linings are dangerous.

There has been controversy concerning BPA-containing plastics for many years. Even though the Food and Drug Administration, as well as other international food safety agencies, has evaluated the extensive body of science and continue to affirm BPA’s safety in food packaging, some manufacturers are voluntarily moving away from it. Consumers can find many foods packed in cans with non-BPA linings. However, even foods packaged in BPA are considered safe for consumption.

Myth #4: Canned foods are full of sodium.

Some canned foods will contain salt as an added ingredient to improve taste and act as a freshness preservative. But canned foods do not rank among the biggest offenders in regard to excessive amounts of sodium. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that identified the top 10 food categories that contribute to high sodium diets. Pizza, cured meats, cold cuts, and rolls made the list, while canned foods did not.

Myth #5: Canned foods do not taste good.

Because foods are canned when they are at peak freshness and ripeness after harvest, they retain full flavor if properly stored.

Myth #6: All dented cans are unsafe.

Cans can become dented in transit. Drop a can and it will dent. But that doesn’t necessarily mean foods inside dented cans are unsafe to eat. If a can is bulging or if the top or bottom of the can moves or makes a popping sound, the seal has probably been broken or compromised by bacteria and should be thrown out.

Canned foods are safe and can make for valuable additions to any pantry.

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health insuranceThe world of healthcare can be confusing to navigate. Before the prevalence of health maintenance organizations and various other health and wellness insurance groups, obtaining medical assistance involved going to the doctor and then paying the bill. But today people must navigate copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and savings plans, which can make it difficult to understand what’s going on with your insurance company. 

Healthcare is standardized in some areas of the world and publicly financed with little to no out-of-pocket costs for participating citizens. Elsewhere, access to health insurance is provided through employers or government assistance programs or individually purchased.

Understanding some health insurance-related jargon is a great way to better educate oneself about the industry.

  • • Benefit period: The benefit period refers to the duration of time services are covered under your plan. It is usually a calendar year from the point of start to end. It may begin each year on an anniversary date when you first received coverage.
  • • Coinsurance: This is a percentage of the cost of services rendered in specific areas outlined by the health plan that you are responsible for after a deductible is met. For example, a plan may cover 85 percent of costs, with patients responsible for the remaining 15.
  • • Copayment (copay): A copayment refers to the flat rate you pay to a provider at the time you receive services. Some plans do not have copays.
  • • Deductible: The amount you pay for health services before the insurance company pays. You must meet a set limit, which varies by plan and provider, before insurance will kick in and cover the remaining costs during the benefit period. Many plans have a $2,000 per person deductible. This deductible renews with each calendar year.
  • • HMO: A health maintenance organization offers services only with specific HMO providers. Referrals from a primary care doctor often are needed to see specialists.
  • • HSA: A health savings account enables you to set aside pre-tax income up to a certain limit for certain medical expenses.
  • • Long-term care insurance: A specific healthcare plan that can be used for in-home nursing care or to pay for the medical services and room and board for assisted living/nursing home facilities.
  • • Network provider: This is a healthcare provider who is part of a plan’s network. Many insurance companies negotiate set rates with providers to keep costs low. They will only pay out a greater percentage to network providers.
  • • Non-network provider: A healthcare provider who is not part of a plan’s network. Costs may be higher if you visit a non-network provider or if you are not covered at all.
  • • PPO: A preferred provider organization is a type of insurance plan that offers more extensive coverage for in-network services, but offer additional coverage for out-of-network services.

Navigating health insurance is easier when policy holders understand some common industry jargon. 

 

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