Breathe Easy: 4 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality

Breathe Easy: 4 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality


We tend to think of air pollution as something outside — smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air.. But the truth is, the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside. The air inside your home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde, fire-retardants, radon, even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners. Some pollutants are tracked into the home. Some arrive via a new mattress or furniture, carpet cleaners, or a coat of paint on the walls.

In that mix, you’ll also find microscopic dust mites — a major allergen — plus mould and heaps of pet dander. “Even if you don’t have pets, you’ve probably got pet dander,”

Children, people with asthma, and the elderly may be especially sensitive to indoor pollutants, but other effects on health may appear years later, after repeated exposure.

Indoor allergens and irritants have become much more important in recent decades because we’re spending more time indoors.  And because modern homes are airtight, these irritants can’t easily escape. We’re all exposed to a greater degree than we were three or four decades ago.

5 Simple Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality

  1. Keep your floors fresh.
  • Suck it up. Chemicals and allergens can accumulate in household dust for decades. By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. You can also get rid of other toxins, like brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.

Using a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter ensures that dust and dirt won’t get blown back out in the exhaust. In high traffic areas, vacuum the same spot several times. Don’t forget walls, carpet edges, and upholstered furniture, where dust accumulates. For best results, vacuum two or more times each week and wash out your filter regularly.

  • Mop it up. Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens.
  • Keep it out. Put a large floor mat at every door. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don’t wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat — not the floors in your home.

To best protect your family, ask people to remove their shoes when entering your home. Keep house shoes, slippers, and socks near the door.

  1. Keep a healthy level of humidity.  Dust mites and mould love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. A dehumidifier (and air conditioner during summer months) helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens. An air conditioner also reduces indoor pollen count — another plus for allergy – sufferers.

More tips for dehumidifying your home:

  • Use an exhaust fan or crack open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.
  • Don’t overwater houseplants.
  • Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Fix leaky plumbing to prevent moisture-loving mould.
  1. Make your home a no-smoking zone.  Probably the single most important aspect of indoor air pollution is secondhand cigarette smoke.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Research shows that secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of developing ear and respiratory infections, asthma, cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  1. Smell good naturally.  You may associate that lemony or piney scent with a clean kitchen or clean clothes.But synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. You won’t find their names on the product labels. Conventional laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and air fresheners in solid, spray, and oil form may all emit such gasses.
  • Look for fragrance-free or naturally-scented laundry products.
  • Switch to mild cleaners that don’t include artificial fragrances.
  • Stop using aerosol sprays — deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners.
  • Let in fresh air. Open windows so toxic chemicals don’t build up in your home. What if you or your child has pollen allergies? Then keep rooms ventilated with a filtered air- conditioning system.
  • Use sliced lemons and baking soda to get a clean scent in the kitchen.
  • Bring nature indoors. It’s also healthier. NASA research shows that indoor plants like these act as living air purifiers — the foliage and roots work in tandem to absorb chemical pollutants released by synthetic materials.

Looking for indoor air quality solutions? Contact us for a free consultation.

How to Prevent Foodborne Diseases in India

How to Prevent Foodborne Diseases in India


With Indians eating out more, there is an increased risk of various health issues. One may suffer from fatal diseases owing to the unhygienic conditions and not adhering to preventive measures. In monsoon, diarrhoea is the acute and most common symptom of foodborne illness, but other serious consequences are kidney and liver failure, brain and neural disorders, reactive arthritis, cancer and death.

Foodborne diseases are usually due to an infection or irritation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by food or beverages which carry harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, or chemicals. Most foodborne illnesses may happen suddenly and also last for a short duration. Many people may recover by themselves, without taking any treatment. In some cases, foodborne illness can cause serious complications. 

Preventive measures:

You must refrigerate the food properly: Raw and cooked perishable foods should be refrigerated or frozen without delay. Not doing so can invite bacteria and viruses. How do you store vegetarian and non-vegetarian food? These foods items should be stored separately. Certain foods like milk, meat and curries which can get spoilt immediately must be stored at the right temperature. Refrigerate cooked food as soon as it reaches the room temperature. Leftover food items have to be consumed at the earliest to prevent fungus growth. 

Maintain good hand hygiene: Following good and proper hand hygiene is the need of the hour. Firstly, you must wet your hands thoroughly and apply soap. Then, rub the back of your hands and after that rub both your hands interlocking your fingers. After rubbing your finger and thumbs, rinse your hands properly. Follow this healthy habit after handling food, visiting the washroom, changing diapers, or touching animals. This will prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses.

Make sure that there is no cross-contamination: Cross-contamination can be defined as the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object or place to another. Make sure that you place raw meat and eggs away from the rest of the food items in your refrigerator because the juices of raw meat can lead to cross-contamination. Opt for airtight containers to store food and those should be of good quality. Don’t leave your food open for a longer period of time as it can attract insects and flies. Don’t serve fresh food on the same plate which had raw food on it. In case you are eating outside, see to it that the plates, knives, and spoons you use are clean.

Eat fresh food: Eat properly cooked food at home. Bid adieu to the junk food. Going for fresh fruits and vegetable salads can improve your immunity. But, make sure that the fruits and vegetables are freshly cut. Include pepper, garlic, ginger, jeera powder, coriander and turmeric. Check vegetables before buying as they can be infested with dirt. Also, remember that hydration is the key. So, drink a lot of water to stay healthy during the monsoon.

7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate


Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.  Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.   Studies show that dark chocolate can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease.  This article reviews 7 health benefits of dark chocolate or cocoa that are supported by science.

1. Very Nutritious

Share on PintereIf you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fibre and is loaded with minerals.

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fibre
  • 67% of the RDI for iron
  • 58% of the RDI for magnesium
  • 89% of the RDI for copper
  • 98% of the RDI for manganese
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.

It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.

2. Powerful Source of Antioxidants

ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.” It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.  Basically, researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of a food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” the radicals.  The biological relevance of ORAC values is questioned, because it’s measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.  However, it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been tested.  Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others.

3. May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO).  One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

4. Raises HDL and Protects LDL From Oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.  In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol.  Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

5. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.  In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.  Of course, these three studies are observational studies, so can’t prove that it was the chocolate that reduced the risk.  However, since the biological process is known (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL), it is plausible that regularly eating dark chocolate may reduce the risk of heart disease.

6. May Protect Your Skin From the Sun

The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.  The flavonols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.  The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin 24 hours after exposure.

7. Could Improve Brain Function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of your brain.  Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It may improve verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease, as well.  Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term.

The Bottom Line

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against heart disease.  Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat.  Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savour them. If you want the benefits of cocoa without the calories in chocolate, consider making a hot cocoa without any cream or sugar.  Also be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is not healthy.  Choose quality stuff — dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.  Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.  Chocolate is one of the few foods that taste awesome while providing significant health benefits.

Fruits and Vegetables – High in Nutrients, Low in Calories

Fruits and Vegetables – High in Nutrients, Low in Calories


Fruits and Vegetables – High in Nutrients, Low in Calories

  • Vegetables and fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, and variety is as important as quantity.
  • No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. Eat plenty every day.

A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check. Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and green leafy vegetables may even promote weight loss.

At least nine different families of fruits and vegetables exist, each with potentially hundreds of different plant compounds that are beneficial to health. Eat a variety of types and colours of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. This not only ensures a greater diversity of beneficial plant chemicals but also creates eye-appealing meals.

Tips to eat more vegetables and fruits each day

  1. Keep fruit where you can see it. Place several ready-to-eat washed whole fruits in a bowl or store chopped colourful fruits in a glass bowl in the refrigerator to tempt a sweet tooth.
  2. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety and colour are key to a healthy diet. On most days, try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories: dark green leafy vegetables; yellow or orange fruits and vegetables; red fruits and vegetables; legumes (beans) and peas; and citrus fruits.
  3. Skip the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with different nutrients and more slowly digested carbohydrates.
  4. Make it a meal. Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables. Salads, soups, and stir-fries are just a few ideas for increasing the number of tasty vegetables in your meals.

Fruit and vegetable serving suggestions for your family’s health

Vegetables and fruit are a handy snack food and are easily carried to work or school. Include them in everyone’s meals and snacks for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some suggestions include:

  • Keep snack-size fruit and vegetable portions easily accessible in your fridge.
  • Keep fresh fruit on the bench or table.
  • Add fruit and vegetables to your favourite family recipes or as additions to your usual menus.
  • Use the colour and texture of a variety of fruit and vegetables to add interest to your meals.
  • Think up new ways to serve fruits and vegetables.

Some simple ways to serve fruits and vegetables include:

  • fruit and vegetable salads
  • vegetable or meat-and-vegetable stir-fries
  • raw fruit and vegetables
  • vegetable soups
  • snack pack, stewed or canned fruits or dried fruits.

Limit fruit juice, as it does not contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit. It also contains a lot of sugars. These sugars are not necessarily good for your health, even though they are ‘natural’. Instead, have a drink of water and a serve of fruit.

Preparation and cooking of fruit and vegetables

Vegetables are often cooked, although some kinds are eaten raw. Cooking and processing can damage some nutrients and phytochemicals in plant foods.

Suggestions to get the best out of your fruit and vegetables include:

  • Eat raw vegetables and fruits if possible.
  • Try fruit or vegetables pureed into smoothies.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut fresh fruits to avoid bruising.
  • Cut off only the inedible parts of vegetables – sometimes the best nutrients are found in the skin, just below the skin or in the leaves.
  • Use stir-fry, grill, microwave, bake or steam methods with non-stick cookware and mono-unsaturated oils.
  • Do not overcook, to reduce nutrient loss.
  • Serve meals with vegetable pesto’s, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour cream, butter and creamy sauces.

Some nutrients such as carotenoids may actually be increased if food is cooked. For example, tomato has more carotenoids, especially lycopene, when it is cooked – a good reason to prepare fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways.

Once you’ve prepared and cooked your vegetables and fruit, spend some time on presentation. People are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s full of variety and visually appealing, as well as tasty. Sit at the table to eat and enjoy your food without distractions like television.

What’s the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fat?

What’s the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fat?


What’s the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fat?

What are dietary fats?

Dietary fat may have a bad reputation, but fat is vital for your health. The body actually needs fat for energy and for many critical processes such as the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately, added sugars and refined carbohydrates are often used to replace fat in processed foods. That adds up to a lot of extra calories with little to no nutritional value.

There’s one bad fat that you should avoid, though: trans fat. They have no nutritional value and are harmful to your health.

They’re often found in:

  • fried foods
  • processed snacks
  • baked goods

Two other types of dietary fat are saturated and unsaturated fat. Rather than trying to cut fat, learning more about these two types of fat and how they affect your body is more helpful.

What is saturated fat?

Fats that are tightly packed with no double bonds between the fatty acids are called saturated fats. There are some exceptions, but most are solid at room temperature.

Sources of saturated fat include:

  • fatty pieces of meat such as beef and lamb
  • some pork and chicken products
  • dairy products including cream, whole milk, butter, shortening, and cheese
  • coconut and palm oils

The debate over whether consumption of saturated fat is bad for heart health has been ongoing for decades. Research studies offer conflicting findings regarding the impact of saturated fat on heart health, making this topic particularly confusing for consumers.

While it’s clear that saturated fats raised blood lipids, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and certain other heart disease risk factors, such as inflammation, it’s unclear whether saturated fats increase the risk for heart disease.

While research on this subject is ongoing, it’s important to keep in mind that saturated fat is just one piece of your dietary intake. What matters most for maintaining your health and reducing your disease risk is the overall quality of your dietary intake and lifestyle.

A diet high in saturated fat may raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which will raise your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What is unsaturated fat?

Unsaturated fats are loosely packed. They tend to be liquid at room temperature.

There are two main types of unsaturated fat:

Monounsaturated fats

Research shows that consumption of plant-based monounsaturated fats may help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.

Foods that are highest in monounsaturated fats include:

  • olive oil
  • peanut oil
  • avocados
  • most nuts
  • most seeds

Polyunsaturated fats

Your body needs polyunsaturated fats to function. Polyunsaturated fats help with muscle movement and blood clotting. Since your body doesn’t make this type of fat, you have to get it through your diet.

Polyunsaturated fats can be further divided into two types: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health.

The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring
  • ground flax and flaxseed oil
  • soybeans
  • oysters
  • walnuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds

Consuming too many foods rich in omega-6 fats may increase inflammation in your body and raise your risk for certain health conditions, including obesity.

Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in:

  • canola oil
  • safflower oil
  • soybean oil
  • sunflower oil
  • walnut oil
  • corn oil

The bottom line

Healthy eating starts with a diet rich in whole foods, including sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs, and olive oil.

Just as overconsuming any macronutrient can cause weight gain, eating too many fat-rich foods can cause you to gain weight if the calories aren’t accounted for elsewhere in your diet.

Having overweight or obesity can raise your risk for heart disease and other chronic health conditions like diabetes.

However, fats are an essential part of the diet. Try to choose the right types of fats and to enjoy them in moderation as part of a healthful eating plan.

Need to test your products for fat, contact us for a free consultation.

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