Thursday, 18 December 2014

Free Laundry Service for the Homeless

Homeless people endure rough times out on the streets, and they are always in need of warm food, water, shelter, and basic necessities.

Being homeless and poor is inevitably linked. "If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets." (1)

Many people shun or turn a blind eye towards the homeless community, but there are also many kind-hearted volunteers who truly enjoy helping out the needy.

Read on to find out how volunteers around the world help the homeless in unique ways:

Homeless can wash their clothes for free inside van

Two 20-year old male volunteers from Brisbane, Australia created a charity called Orange Sky Laundry in order to help their city's increasing homeless population. They installed a washer and dryer inside their gutted out van, and this provided free laundry service for the homeless. "Orange Sky Laundry is Australia's first mobile laundry service providing homeless people with access to free washing/drying facilities, and it's run by unpaid volunteers." (2)

DuPage County residents sleep outside for one night in order to raise money for homeless families

On November 1, 2014 around 2,000 DuPage County residents from Illinois slept outside in boxes, tents, and their cars. This act was an effort to raise awareness about the living conditions of the homeless, and also to raise money for homeless families who are part of the Bridge program. This program offers needy families housing, case management, employment training, and mentoring. (3)

The 'Sandwich Man' delivers sandwiches to the homeless all night long

Allan Law is a 69-year old Minneapolis resident who is known as the "Sandwich Man," because he personally hand delivers sandwiches from his van to the homeless population. He's been doing this for 12 years, and in 2013 he handed out more than 500,000 sandwiches. He usually starts handing the food out about 8 pm, and doesn't get back home until noon the next morning. (4)

Sources for this article include:


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Vegetarians and Vegans can have a healthy pregnancy and raise healthy children

Many argue that a vegetarian or vegan diet may not be the best way for a mother to carry a growing child inside of her. Contrary to beliefs, how you choose to nourish your body has more significance than the type of diet you follow. We can all agree that providing the body with what it properly needs is the key factor.

So, can a woman carrying a child follow a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet? According to a couple of studies, the answer proves to give positive support.

A plant-based vegan diet isn't dangerous

There may be much misinformation regarding veganism in general, let alone a woman's pregnancy. Vegan or not, the most appropriate evaluation is how well a person provides their bodies the nourishment it needs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics both agree that a well-planned vegetarian and vegan eating habits are healthy for infants and toddlers. They believe that time and attention during pregnancy in ensuring the proper nutrients to support normal growth and development is of utmost importance. (1)

While being pregnant or raising a new child, it is important to pay extra attention to certain nutrient such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, protein, and fiber. (1)

Studies show that vegans can have a healthy pregnancy and healthy children

According to Reed Mangels, a registered dietician, "It is reasonably simple to follow a vegan diet throughout pregnancy while eating foods that meet your needs and the needs of your baby." (2)

In fact a couple of studies have shown that a community in Lewis County, Tennessee in the 1980s that incorporates veganism as a socially responsible lifestyle and they have shown that vegans can have healthy pregnancies and children. (2,3,4)

In one study, researchers looked at preeclampsia and reproductive performances in a community of vegans. They evaluated 775 vegan mothers and only one met the clinical criteria. Researchers say that, "Since preeclampsia in our culture is frequently associated with unrestrained consumption of "fast foods" (foods having high levels of saturated fat) and rapid weight gain, it is possible that a vegan diet could alleviate most, if not all, of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. (3)

Another study in the same community evaluated the growth of vegetarian children. A total of 404 vegetarian children between 4 months and 10 years of age were evaluated and compared in height, age, and weight with the rest of the United States growth reference. Researchers say that, "These children have adequate attained growth, even though it was modestly less than that of the reference population." (4)

So, vegetarians and vegans have been shown to have healthy pregnancies and healthy children. Like anyone, there are always factors to consider ensuring a healthy pregnancy such as weight, proper nourishment, and physical changes throughout pregnancy. (2) The good news is that it is absolutely possible to be healthy!

Sources for this article include:


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Are Your Favorite Health Apps Causing More Harm Than Good?

Are Your Favorite Health Apps Causing More Harm Than Good?

Who doesn't love finding a new health app to help them stay in shape? From dieting apps to pedometers, there's practically a new app out there that can help you reach your health goals - or so it seems anyway. New studies show, however, that apps shouldn't the only way you monitor your health. (1)

How do health apps cause harm?

The FDA is concerned that some people may be using these apps alone in place of medical help, which could lead to problems when it comes to managing high blood pressure and diabetes. The FDA says that these apps are used in conjunction with medical advice, not to replace it. (1)

How many people use health apps?

Almost 20% of all smartphone users have at least one health app downloaded to their device. It's also predicted that next year at least 500 millions smartphone users will have a health app on their device in order to manage their weight or help them achieve certain health goals. (1)

If you generally use a health app to count steps, meal logging, or counting calories, then there isn't too much to be concerned about. Medical News Today says that the problem lies when people rely on apps that are supposed to test for epileptic seizures, blood pressure changes, blood sugar changes, etc. Though some of these apps may work, it may be dangerous to rely on them for your overall health. (1)

But what about apps used to track weight loss?

The most popular health app is My Fitness Pal, which has over 40 million daily users, and that number is only growing. But does counting calories through a smartphone app really work? For some, it seems to be so and for others not so much. Apps may help a person see negative patterns in their daily habits such as skipping exercising, eating unhealthy foods, or eating the wrong portion sizes, however it's still up to the user to make the change, which ultimately leads to health benefits. (1)

Whether you use health apps or not, if you have a medical condition, it's best to use these apps alongside your doctor's advice instead of direct replacement for it. (1) Last year the FDA set a final guidance for smartphone app developers who specifically develop medical apps for this reason. (2)

Apple's new health app: does it work?

And then there's the question many of you are likely asking: What about the new app by Apple released in the latest IOS 8 software? The new app showcases an easy-to-read display that allows users to see how many steps they've taken and track their meals each day. The app also measures your blood pressure, heart rate, calories burned, cholesterol and more! You can even sync your music to help you pick up the pace. (3) The new app is definitely a benefit from the new IOS 8 software; however, you should use the new app (and any others) to enhance your health, not as your sole medical guidance.

Sources for this article include: