Health
Pregnancy

Prenatal Testing Timeline: All About Prenatal Testing

Prenatal care can vary greatly according to your location, budget, and doctor. Ultimately, your doctor will be the one to recommend any lifestyle changes and prenatal testing necessary to ensure that your baby’s health is always the highest priority.

Based on the results of prenatal tests throughout your pregnancy, your doctor may also order important treatments and make recommendations that could affect your child’s future. These tests are crucial for understanding the health and wellbeing of your child while in the womb and long after they enter the world. But, what kind of testing should you be prepared for? When should this testing occur?

Pregnancy Testing

Many women first discover they are pregnant from an at-home pregnancy test. These are usually purchased over the counter and easily performed according to the instructions printed on the box. After this initial test, you must go into your chosen OBGYN’s office for a blood test to confirm the at-home results. During this visit, a pregnancy will be identified, a schedule of additional visits will be laid out, and the next steps for prenatal care will be explained. Your doctor may also recommend other preliminary tests like a pap smear, or STI testing at this point.

First Ultrasound

In the first few weeks after receiving confirmation that you are pregnant, you will be scheduled for an ultrasound to confirm that the pregnancy is normal, that the baby is developing, the baby’s due date, and that your uterus and other organs are well-equipped to handle the stress of pregnancy.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing

As early as nine weeks into the pregnancy, your doctor might recommend non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) if:

  • Your pregnancy is determined to be high risk
  • You are over the age of 35
  • You have a genetic disorder that runs in your family
  • You’ve had a high-risk pregnancy in the past
  • You have a medical condition that could affect the pregnancy
  • Or you have a history of miscarriage or stillbirth

NIPT consists of a blood test that identifies the likelihood that your child will have a chromosomal or genetic abnormality. It does this without risk to the developing fetus, however, if your baby is found to be at risk for being born with a genetic abnormality, additional prenatal diagnostic testing will be recommended to you to confirm the NIPT results.

Prenatal Diagnostic Testing

Prenatal diagnostic testing is not recommended for every pregnancy because it carries a low risk of miscarriage. This type of testing is used to diagnose genetic disorders and is usually performed between 10-15 weeks of gestation.

The two most common types of prenatal diagnostic testing are amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Both types of testing involve using a needle to remove fetal DNA from either the placenta or amniotic fluid of the baby. Depending on the results of this test, your doctor may recommend additional testing to get a better idea of the baby’s health.

Additional Testing

Throughout the course of your pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend additional kinds of prenatal testing as needed. These can include additional ultrasounds and blood tests to confirm that both mother and baby are healthy.

Your doctor should be able to answer any of your questions or concerns about prenatal testing and prenatal care. They may refer you to a specialist, or genetic counselor, if your baby is found to be at risk for being born with a genetic disorder. A genetic counselor will be able to better explain your testing options, what test results mean, and any next-steps or preparations that should be made for the health of your baby.

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Health

Why You Should Consider Your Body Composition For a Healthy Lifestyle

Everyone wants to be fit and healthy. In the fast culture, we rely on fast foods too much. While they save time and make our lives easier at the moment, they have long-lasting adverse effects on our bodies. We do so many things to get to our ideal body goals. Having body goals and working towards them is all well and good, but most people don’t exactly know what their problem areas are.

When you know about your body, when you understand where your focus needs to be, you can make informed decisions. Only then can you take some proper steps towards getting your body healthy. Body composition is currently the next big thing in health and fitness and for a good reason too.

Knowing your body and its ideal weight is more than just knowing your BMI (Body Mass Index). There are many methods and devices, currently available, that are used to determine body composition. Having a clear idea of your body composition is the first serious step towards improving it. Your body composition test results can help you understand your weight and how much unhealthy fat you carry and help improve your overall health. You can also achieve your fitness goals with a technical and proper approach.

What exactly is body composition?

It is a method of describing what our bodies are made of, the proportion of fat and fat-free mass in your body. When you have a clear understanding of your body composition, it will help you to improve your health more efficiently. Like anything else, when you go about it correctly, it will change your life for the better. Weighing yourself on a scale or calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index) simply doesn’t cut it anymore because we do not have a way to differentiate between body fat, lean body mass, muscle, or body water.

There are many ways like the basic skinfold calipers, then there is hydrostatic weighing, then there is Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry aka DEXA, and also Bioelectric Impedance Analysis aka BIA. Some methods are quick and easy, but they will provide you just the basic information like the skinfold caliper and the hydrostatic weighing. If that’s all you need to know, then great. There are other methods that are lengthy and require the assistance of a trained technician to administer a test like DEXA and BIA. For obvious reasons, these methods are expensive, but they let you understand a lot more about your body in detail.

Take action

Only when you are obese and develop weight-related health issues is not when you should start caring about the fat in your body. Find out your body composition and make lifestyle changes to treat the problem areas. Some methods just tell you about the percentage of body fat you have, while others give you a detailed report on various areas of the concentration, use the information about yourself. Understanding your body composition makes sure that you feed your fitness goals with meaningful and accurate data and make changes that actually help.

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Fitness
Weight loss tips

5 Drinks to Help Lose Weight

Losing weight is a sensitive issue to many. We try a lot of things to reach the ideal body weight and type we want. A lot has to do with the food we eat and the calories we intake. Here are some drinks that can help you in your journey towards weight loss.

1. Water

I am not kidding when I say you need to drink a lot of water to lose weight. Not only for weight but it solves a lot of skin issues too. Many drinks that we buy from stores have a ton of sugar added to them, while energy drinks might make you feel energized, it’s the sugar that is doing the most harm to you. Make a point to drink more water than energy drinks and soft drinks.

2. Vegetable juice / Vegetable Smoothie

Vegetables are healthy, we all know that. If we could turn them into drinks and fulfill our drinking quota, how cool would that be? Now, vegetable juice can be yummy or inedible to you depending on the vegetables you use. I mean I don’t want to be gulping down bitter gourd juice, even though it is one of the healthiest ones. Cucumber, carrot, cabbage, celery, kale, spinach, and wheatgrass are some of the popular smoothie veggie options.

3. Green tea

Green tea is said to increase metabolism and help lose weight. If you are a person who can’t live without tea, then it is a great idea to switch it with green tea instead. Hot or iced, depending on your preference. For it to be a low-sugar option, add honey instead of sugar. Honey is a healthy sweetener for almost anything you use sugar for.

4. Black Coffee

Like green tea, black coffee also helps boost metabolism and helps lose weight. It is also a good switch to make if you keep drinking a lot of coffee and need to reduce it. It is stronger than the one with milk so you do not constantly feel the need for drinking a lot of coffee.

5. Fruit juice / Smoothie

Fruits like vegetables are our staple healthy food. Unlike vegetables, most fruits juices are tastier and people take them regularly. Instead of buying tetra packs of fruit juices, try making them fresh. That way you know the amount of sugar going into it, which can be none if you make it at home with seasonal fruits.

Taking care of what you put in your body is important. May it be food or drinks, be aware of what you intake and also the sugar content that your drinks have.

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Health
nut

5 Healthy Evening Snack Options

Snacks are important because they sustain you from meal to meal. Sometimes three meals a day are not enough, and you feel hungry between meals. It is easy just to grab something unhealthy than preparing something. Which is why diets can suffer.

Healthy snacking options are also easy to get. Some don’t even require quicking, and some can be made with minimal efforts. Some you can also batch-make. Batch making food is anyway always a good idea for when you are busy.

Here are some options of healthy evening snacks to stop you from opening another packet of those fried chips.

1. Mixed Nuts

Mixed nuts are the perfect healthy evening snacks to carry with you or have at home. There are a lot of options so you can always personalize your own mix. Because they have fat, eating nuts in moderation is recommended. When taken in moderate amounts, they can help you lose weight. Nuts give you a balance of protein, fat, and fiber in your evening snack.

2. Boiled Eggs

Eggs are one of the healthiest options when it comes to snacking or a complete meal. They are protein rich and also give you a dose of vitamin. Eggs are a filling snack, which means you will feel full for quite some time thus reducing the urge to munch on unhealthy options. Eggs are also much-advocated food for weight loss. Because they are filling and you don’t need to eat again very quick, your calorie intake isn’t high.

3. Cheese

Like an egg, cheese is a filling snack option. They are tasty enough to be a snack on their own. Cheese has a high level of saturated fat so it should be taken in moderation. If you would like, pair cheese with something else. Cheese makes everything taste better.

4. Fruit Salad

If you talk about healthy snacking options, fruits are the first pop up in everyone’s minds. What is healthier than fruit? You can prepare fruit salad bowls and keep it in the fridge and eat whenever hunger strikes. Because these bowls are ready to go and you don’t need to peel and cut when you are hungry, it becomes easier to not open a bag of unhealthy fried chips.

5. Protein Shake

A protein shake is a highly sustainable snacking option until your next meal. Protein shakes help you to gain muscle and lose fat. They are also known to help improve body composition. There are different flavors that you choose according to your taste. A tasty, healthy drink, especially in the summer is a good snacking option.

These options are all super easy and also not that expensive. Apart from the eggs, nothing else needs even a little bit of cooking, and even with eggs, you are just putting them on the burner to boil. Fruits bowl is the only one that needs any of your time, but you can batch-make fruit mix bowls, so it is worth your time.

You can play around with what healthy snack works for you. On the days you have time, you can treat yourself.

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Skin Care
Greek yogurt

5 Natural Ways to Remove Sun Tan

The first thing we worry about summers is the suntan. Summers also mean holidays, so most of us have outdoor plans. After a day of fun, when you come home, it means standing in front of the mirror and gawking at how tanned your skin looks.

We don’t always remember to put on sunscreen and even when we do use it, we keep wiping it off as we start sweating. If you have a lot of plans that require you to be outdoors most of the times, then you might definitely need to use one of these solutions.

De-tanning in the parlor can be expensive plus who has the time to frequently visit parlors. Instead, here are some home remedies that you can do quickly from what you have available in your home.

1. Lemon Juice

Lemon seems to be the solution to everything. Always have lemons in your fridge, you never know what you might need it for. Cut a lemon and rub a slice on your tanned skin, allow all the juice to seep in. Let it sit for some minutes to work its magic and then wash it off.

2. Bengal Gram Flour and Turmeric

Like lemon, turmeric is used for a lot of things. It has a lot of medicinal properties. Mix a tiny amount of turmeric in 2 tbsps of Bengal gram flour, milk, and one tbsp rose water for that sweet glow afterward. Apply this paste to your tanned skin and let it dry for 15-20 minutes, then wash it off gently. My mom used to apply this paste on me every Sunday when I was a kid, kept my skin glowing.

3. Turmeric and Milk

If you don’t have Bengal gram flour handy, just mix a small amount of turmeric in milk. Apply to the problem area, let it dry, and then wash it off.

4. Oat Meal and Buttermilk

The tasty buttermilk is also great for de-tanning. Add two tbsps of oatmeal to three tbsps of buttermilk. Apply the mixture on the tan skin using a circular motion. Let it sit, and when dry wash off.

5. Yogurt and Tomato Extract

Tomato is said to work great on tanned skin. Mix one tbsp of tomato extract with one tbsp of yogurt. Apply the mixture on your tanned skin and let it sit for half an hour or so, till it has completely soaked in and dried down. Wash it off after half an hour.

Your kitchen is a treasure chest. A lot of kitchen supplies can be used as solutions to many skin and hair problems. You don’t have to spend a ton to get solutions, just take a look around your kitchen, you might already have a lot more than you need.

Remember to wear sunscreen before leaving the house, carry a scarf or hat. Drink lots of water and eat a ton of fruits. Other than that, we will always have natural remedies for any and every skin problem you have.

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Health
oats pudding

7 Healthy and Quick Breakfasts

Coming up with different breakfast ideas can be very difficult. Add to the equation the healthy options. When we think of healthy things, tasty isn’t the first objective that comes to mind. But, healthy breakfasts can be tasty too.

With busy lifestyles cooking an elaborate breakfast daily is out of the question. This is were batch-cooking or easy and quick recipes come in. Batch-cooking is my favorite. You cook a lot of food at the weekend and then either reheat it every day or take it on the go. This has been a life-saver to me in extremely busy weeks.

Here are seven recipes that I have learned reading blogs over the years and have used quite frequently.

1. Avocado Toast With Egg

Avocado toast with egg is one of the easiest and basic breakfast recipes that is loved by everyone and is also healthy. Take two lightly toasted slices of bread and top them with smashed avocado. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Layer sunny-side up eggs on the avocado and you’ve your delicious breakfast ready.

2. Cheese-Spinach Baked Eggs

Speaking of eggs, here’s another one of the delicious breakfasts that you can make with egg. All you have to do is bake whole eggs with vegetables and cheese. You can cook a batch on the weekends and have them over the week.

3. Open-face Breakfast Sandwich

Here’s another recipe you can make using egg. Last one in this list I promise. Put some olive oil, add arugula and lemon juice, add egg and sprinkle salt and pepper, and fry them together. Take two bread slices and toast them, add the fried egg on the toasts. Layer with ricotta and some cheese. You can have it whenever you want.

4. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Breakfast Burrito

Burritos are my all time favorite. They are a great, easy snack to take on the go. I usually make a batch of them and then take one whenever I feel hungry. I said eggs would be the last mention in the earlier one, but this one has them last I swear. This particular burrito is filling and delicious and gives you a healthy dose of protein.

5. Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Cookies are filling and are tasty. This one here gives your basic banana oatmeal cookies a tasty twist with peanut butter. If you want you can use something other than peanut butter in different batches, then you will have a variety to choose from every morning.

6. Berry Breakfast Parfait

The quickest and simplest combination you can come up with for a healthy and fast breakfast is the combination of yogurt and fruits. While berry seems to be the popular choice, you can use any fruit that is in the season to spice it up to your taste.

7. Frozen Nutty Breakfast Banana

This is like eating a healthy dessert. All you have to do is dip the peeled banana half into almond butter and top with the toppings you like and then insert a skewer for easily holding it. All that’s left to do is freeze for at least 2-3 hours. Once solid, you can enjoy your breakfast dessert.

These recipes have made by breakfasts a very exciting event. When you have something tasty to eat which doesn’t take much effort, you really enjoy your meals. No worries about coming up with something every day or spending a ton of time.

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Fitness
oats pudding

5 Morning Habits to Lose Weight

Losing weight can seem impossible at times, once you get over thinking that way. The routine you need to follow, the diet, exercise, can all be too much. Who says that you need to incorporate big changes to achieve your weight loss goals.

You don’t have to do a 180 of your current diet and lifestyle to lose a few pounds. Little daily changes can go a long way. Setting out a few ground rules, following some easy steps in the morning can help you achieve that number in your goal. Continuing the habits can actually help to keep the pounds, you shed, gone.

  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast

Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day. What and how much you eat for breakfast can dictate how much calories you are going to intake in the day. If you have a full breakfast, you will feel full until it is time for lunch, stopping you from snacking in between. A lot of studies show that protein-rich breakfast can help cut cravings, and also can aid in losing weight.

  • Drink warm water

As soon as you wake up, it is advisable to drink a cup of warm water, usually lemon water. Warm lemon water has been proven to help in weight-loss, and also helps solve other health issues.

  • Get the morning sun

Spending time in the sun has shown to have effects related to weight loss. So, by being in the sun, you don’t only get the much needed Vitamin D, but it also helps with your weight loss and prevents weight gain. How cool is that?

  • Do some light exercise

A lot of people hate exercising in the morning, but doing some basic stretches in the morning might actually be more helpful than you might think. Stretching, yoga, jogging, meditating, anything light can be done. Body and mind both need to be worked out, anyway, may losing weight be your motivation for doing so.

  • Keep track of your intake

Keeping track of the calories you intake, the kind of food they eat, can be a great way to have a physical representation of the amount of unhealthy food you eat. This gives you a sense of accountability for yourself. Keeping a food diary, and writing what you ate in a day before going to bed has proven to be one of the best ways to keep track that also helps you think about your day in terms of food. There are apps that will track your diet to the T, counting calories in everything you, making a report of your intake in specific terms, the areas you have consumed more, and also what you need more of.

Making a few permanent changes in your everyday morning routine is way more effective than making huge changes that you usually drop after a few days. Starting your day right also sets a positive ton to the remaining of your day. With these habits, make sure you have a rounded diet and adequate exercise.

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How To, Skin Care
Manicure

How to do a Home Manicure in 4 Steps

Let’s be honest, every one of us wants beautiful hands. You know by some weird logic, having your nails painted makes you feel like you have your life somewhat under control. Whenever things get too tough, I make sure to take a few minutes out to paint my nails and then set out to tackle the long list of things I need to do with newfound confidence.

Now, during a crisis like this, going to a parlor is out of the question, so, we have to find an easy substitute to get the same experience but at home at our own leisure.

Luckily, I have just the thing for you ladies, in just 4 steps you can get a manicure done at home- by you, for you.

Preparation- You need to get rid of your old nail paint first, clean out your nails, try to keep the remover only on the nails and not on the sensitive skin around the nails. After you are done, rinse your hands to get rid of the chemicals.

Nail care- Now, take nail clippers or scissors and trim your nails to your preference. When you are satisfied with the size of your nails, it is time to shape them. The shape again is your preference, just some things you need to keep in mind while filing is to keep filing in one direction, do not file back and forth, start from the edge working your way to the top. When done, take a soft buffer and lightly buff your nails, do not buff too much because that can weaken your nails.

Hand care- Now that your nails are taken care of, it is time to pamper your hands. First, soak your hands in lukewarm soapy water for about 5 minutes. Pat dry and apply cuticle oil then cut the excess skin around your cuticles with a cuticle clipper while pushing the cuticles back. After you are done with the cuticles, scrub your hands. Take care to not over scrub them. Wash and pat them dry again. The only thing left to do is moisturize, get on with it to make your hands soft and smooth.

Finale- To finish off your manicure, you need to paint your nails. Grab a base coat, the color of your choice, and your top coat. Apply the base coat first, this helps protect your nails from staining and also helps the nail paint to last longer. After it is dry, apply the first coat of the nail paint of your choice, let it dry, then apply the second coat. When the second coat is dry, seal it off with the top coat. It helps the color to pop and also protects your manicure.

Getting pretty hands isn’t a hard task if you know the essentials and the easy ways to do them. Doing this once a week or every two weeks will have your nails thanking you, and you gain an extra bit of confidence by how well put together your hands look, now, come let’s do the same to our lives!

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Health
Sugar

How Sugar has the Same Effect as Drugs on Our Body

If you take a look at the top 10 global causes of death, almost all of them are directly or indirectly caused by consuming sugar or sugar related products. For example, sugar is the leading cause of diabetes, and diabetes can cause tuberculosis. About 15% of tuberculosis cases globally can be linked to diabetes.

There is no surprise that sugar is your foe. It may have never been seen as a drug, but it’s as dangerous as cocaine. By the way, studies show that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. A study conducted by the Queensland University of Technology found that consuming a lot of sugar boosts your dopamine levels as much as cocaine does and once it falls down, you want that dopamine level again, so over time you will get addicted to it.

The problem is, even if you are staying away from sugar, you are probably consuming more sugar than you should because companies add sugar to almost everything you consume.

Sometimes you might read the description of every item you buy, and notice that there is no sugar mentioned, but the trick is that there are several other names of sugar that you have never heard of. Just have a look inside your fridge, you won’t be able to find any sugarless products.

You can add sugar into anything to make it taste better. Even ketchup, oatmeal, candies, yogurt, cereal have a lot of sugar. One of the main reasons why fast food is unhealthy is because it is has a high sugar level. Take a look at soda, it can have almost 9.5 teaspoons of sugar.

Thus, sugar is definitely a leading cause of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, tooth decay, obesity, etc. Consuming more sugar products have the same effect as that of cocaine. Some studies support the theory that high-fat or high sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. They concluded that sugar and drugs have similar response to the brain’s reward system, both releasing dopamine and other pleasure-inducing chemicals. It can heavily alter your moods, possibly to induce rewards and pleasure. The unnatural reward of consuming sugar can override our self-control mechanism and as we get used to this feeling we need more to get the same responses, leading to addiction.

Along with diabetes and obesity, sugar can be very bad for your health affecting your metabolism, impaired brain functions, and can also lead to heart diseases and cancer.

Thus, eating too much sugar is one of the worst things for your body. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to limit your sugar content. It is very difficult to cut down sugar entirely, but small steps can be taken by lowering the amount of candies, junk foods, and soft drinks from your diet. You can also replace sugar with healthier alternatives such as honey.

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Skin Care
skincare

7 Popular Natural Products for Skincare

We might not realize it, but a lot of the skincare products we use are significant contributors to harmful ingredients, toxins, and chemicals. Majority of commercially-produced beauty products are laced with preservations, artificial colors, fragrances. These can be very harmful in the long run.

Not only can it harm our skin, but the way we use and dispose of those products also can harm our environment as well. With time we have been trying to reduce chemicals and toxins in our products as much as we can. Nowadays people are more aware of the fact, they read labels, research, and look for alternatives.

The good news is, nature has always had everything we need. So, let’s talk about the best natural skin care we can get.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is the most commonly known and used gifts from nature. From beauty to health, it helps with a lot of things. It has antibacterial properties which is why it works well with our skin issues. It helps fight inflammation, redness, and itching. It is also used to treat burns, sunburns, and heal wounds. It is easy to take care of, so, having an aloe plant in your home is a good idea.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is traditionally known by everyone to be beneficial in more than one ways. You can use it on your hair as well as skin. It helps to cleanse, moisturize, and heal. Coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Many people eat a tsp of coconut oil to benefit from it from inside as well, it helps to increase immune function, and the healthy fats help nourish your gut.

Almond Oil

Almond oil has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Until recently, I only knew almond oil to be used for hair, it smelled great. Recently, I have learned of its benefits for the skin. Many essential oils have almond oil in them. It helps treat skin rashes, acne, and dryness.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is known to help kill pathogens and provide antifungal properties. It is an inexpensive and easily accessible natural skin care product that is very popular with the general public. It helps clear skin problems caused by gut issues and also helps stop acne. Like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar helps when consumed internally as well. It boosts liver function and is also known to balance bacteria in the gut.

Raw Honey

Honey is available in almost every home. This yummy product is a natural source of nutrients,

enzymes, vitamins, and skin-boosting acids. Honey helps in reducing breakouts and is an excellent moisturizing agent for the skin. It contains antiseptic qualities which help with healing wounds, fighting allergies or rashes, and also helps to reduce scars.

Sea Salt

The sea salt contains anti-inflammatory properties. It helps soothe skin and calm breakouts. It also helps remove dead skin cells and irritation, which is why it is used in a lot of body and lip scrubs. It balances oil production on the skin and boosts the skin to retain its moisture levels.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is one of the popular ingredients used in skin care products. Even if you have not used anything with shea butter, you are sure to have heard of it. It is very helpful and moisturizing for dry skin, it helps reduce flaking, redness or peeling. It also is inexpensive. I have a moisturizer that has shea butter as one of its main ingredients, it works and smells amazing.

Natural products do not always have to be expensive, you just have to look around, research a bit to know what works best for your issues and watch nature do wonders.

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