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Fighting the Flu: Foods to Eat Before and After Getting Sick

Temperatures start to drop and as much as this shows that winter is nearing, it also means that flu season is hurtling in. This calls for extra caution if you want to avoid the emergency room for urgent care. Remember that the cost of an emergency room visit is estimated at $1,354 and you don’t want to add that to your bills.

The common cold tends to develop in one to three days once you come into contact with the virus. However, there are measures that you can take that will stop the flu and eliminate the need for urgent care. The first sure step is to get a flu shot.

Next, ensure that your home temperature is comfortable but don’t crank up the thermostat. This is the norm in most American homesteads with heating and cooling gadgets making up about 54 percent of annual utility bills.

You can also fight the flu from the kitchen. There are foods that can help prevent catching a cold and some that help fight it. Here is a list of foods to eat before and after catching a cold:

Foods to Eat That Fight Sickness

Oranges

If you are feeling a little under the weather, then stocking oranges will come in handy. Oranges contain vitamin C, which is vital when it comes to preventing the flu. According to the National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health, vitamin C is essential for people who live in sickness-inducing environments, such as winter.

Ginger tea

When a cold is approaching, you should jump on foods that boost your immunity. Ginger can be relied upon to prevent and treat the common cold. Researchers speak highly of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation affects the immune levels of the body but the anti-inflammatory qualities in ginger can help improve immunity and avoid the need for urgent care.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is quite different from regular yogurt because it has a higher protein content and is full of probiotics that help fight sicknesses. These probiotics, according to researchers, can help prevent and even grind a common cold to a stop. Researchers also discovered that when you eat probiotics daily, it lowers the risk of catching a cold than when you don’t eat probiotic-rich food.

As an added bonus, yogurt is high in calcium, which can help strengthen your teeth. By regularly consuming yogurt and other foods that promote healthy teeth, you may be able to avoid being among the 47.2% of adults 30 and older who have periodontal disease. Why not prevent two diseases with one tasty snack?

Tomatoes

Oblivious to many, tomatoes are a great food to help beat the common cold because they are rich in vitamin C. One medium-sized tomato has more than 16 milligrams of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known for strengthening the body’s immune system.

Vitamin C plays an important role in strengthening the body’s T-cells and phagocytes, the two most important components of the body’s immune system. When the body is low on Vitamin C, it has a weak immune system and offers little resistance to pathogens responsible for diseases.

Blueberries

These berries are laden with antioxidants that can help prevent and treat colds and coughs. Research carried out by the University of Auckland concluded that taking flavonoids, antioxidants that are in blueberries, makes the average adult about 33% less likely to contract a cold compared to adults who did not indulge in flavonoid-rich foods.

Foods to Eat While You’re Sick

If you let your defenses down and are already sick, fret not. With the right diet, you’ll be in a good position to evade the emergency room and the high costs that come with it. This avoidance is especially essential for people on Medicare, a government-run health insurance program for people 65 years old and older as well as people under 65 with certain disabilities. Federal programs like Medicare don’t always cover visits to emergency rooms, leaving vulnerable people with high hospital bills. With that being said, here are foods that you should eat if you have a cold:

Chicken soup

Chicken soup is a great source of vitamins, protein, calories, and minerals which are easy-to-eat and needed in large quantities when you’re sick.

Additionally, chicken soup provides the body with fluids and electrolytes and this helps hydrate the body, especially if you are losing a lot in the bathroom. Chicken soup is a natural decongestant, especially when taken hot, as it helps clear nasal mucus effectively. This is partly because it gives hot steam and also has amino acid cysteine. This not only breaks mucus, but also has anti-viral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Garlic

Garlic has several health benefits, including anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial effects. It also stimulates the body’s immune system. Garlic extract supplements have been found to enhance immune function and reduce the severity of flu and colds. You should add garlic to broth or chicken soup for flavor and make them even more effective.

Hot tea

Hot tea is also a natural decongestant and helps rid the sinuses of mucus. However, it has to be hot to act as a decongestant but not too hot as it can irritate the throat.

Tea has polyphenols with health benefits such as antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects. Tannins, another polyphenol, acts as an antioxidant and has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

Honey

Urgent care will be a thing of the past with honey that has antibacterial effects due to its large concentration of antimicrobial compounds. Some studies also suggest that it stimulates the immune system and is a wonderful food for the sick, especially in the event of a sore throat.

Leafy, Green Vegetables

Greens such as kale, romaine lettuce, and spinach are full of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. They are rich sources of vitamin A, C, K, and folate. They are also rich in plant compounds that have antioxidants properties protect the body cells from damage and stop inflammation.

Urgent care is needed if symptoms persist or veer off at a tangent. When researching for pediatric urgent care clinics, it’s important to look at their Google and Facebook reviews, which are left by patients who have visited these clinics and have a one to five star rating and a comment about what their experience was like. If a fever persists or you suddenly feel weak, seek urgent care in an emergency room.

When Is the Best Time to Start Planning Your Summer Trip Abroad?

More Americans are traveling abroad–a record-breaking 80 million in 2016–and with scientifically proven health benefits, too! According to the U.S. Travel Association, women are less likely to have heart attacks if they travel a minimum of twice per year. Men who vacation more suffer a 30% fewer heart troubles. NBC News adds that traveling boosts creativity, promotes happiness and overall satisfaction levels, and keeps the symptoms of depression at bay. With blatant health benefits and good times to be had, what is holding would-be travelers back?

Planning a trip overseas may seem daunting at first, even if the benefits are obvious and plentiful. Follow the below guidelines for a simple and straightforward trip.

How Soon Do You Need To Start Planning Your Trip Abroad?

You made up your mind. You are going to go for it. Great. Now, you need to start planning, and doing it well in advance. For most abroad trips, it is wise to begin planning no later than six months before your trip. Some travelers plan nearly three years ahead of time, while others work well under pressure, putting it all together in just three months.

The specifics of when you plan your travel can depend on other factors, too. For example, if you plan to visit a given destination during its high season, it is best to solidify plans eight to 12 months prior to travel. A quick Google search is all it takes to determine the high season for your favorite destination. Weigh the pros and cons. Remember high season may entail more tourists and higher prices. It may also be the most popular time to visit for a reason. Are there any seasonal events taking place during that time? Do resorts and attractions close seasonally when they expect fewer tourists?

For example, Holland’s tulips are world-famous, thanks to their short lifespan — three to seven days — and perceived value. In the 1600s, Western Europe entered a “Tulip Frenzy” and tulips became more valuable than gold, leaving a lasting impression to this day. To see Holland’s tulips at their best, visit in mid-April. The flowers, symbolizing life, love, and immortality, can also be viewed from the end of March to the middle of May. Tourists can travel to the Garden of Europe, or the Keukenhof, to see 7 million of the world-famous tulips bloom. As previously mentioned, travelers hoping to view the tulips in mid-April should start planning a full year ahead of time, or a minimum of eight months before their departure date.

What Do You Need To Know Before Your Trip?

Before making any final plans, it is important to create an itinerary. Plan the things you would most like to see on your trip. Make a list of museums, landmarks, natural wonders, and historical sights you must see. Keep in mind that hours may be limited. For example, if you are planning a trip to Italy and want to visit the Vatican Museum, visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday only. The last entry is several hours before it closes at 4 p.m. Knowing this can help you draft a plan and fit it into the week, weeks, or extended weekend you have planned for your trip.

Similarly, get familiar with the local culture. If you only speak English and the few words and phrases you learned in a different language are not that strong, stick to particularly touristy destinations. The more tourists that come through, the more likely you are to be able to order meals and enjoy attractions even if you do not speak the native language.

On the other hand, if you would like to reconnect with your Hispanic or Latino roots and you speak decent Spanish, it is still in your best interest to do some research ahead of time. Famous museums do not display a lot of Hispanic and Latino art. These artworks compromise just 2.8% of art displayed in museums. If you are on a mission to learn more about Hispanic culture, unfortunately, the art museum may not be the optimal place to do it. Local shops and restaurants may be a good alternative.

What Do I Need To Do To Prepare For Travel?

With your timeline and itinerary down, you may be wondering what you need to personally do before booking your trip abroad. There are a few things to consider when it comes to your health and documentation. First, vaccines.gov recommends getting any vaccines four to six weeks before your trip. The flu and complications from the flu are increasingly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 710,000 people have been hospitalized after contracting the flu since 2010. Thankfully, flu shots are widely available (sometimes even at your local pharmacy) and covered by most insurance plans.

Before you join the 2.7 million passengers who fly in and out of U.S. airports every day, you’ll also need your passport. Make sure to begin the process of getting your passport several months ahead of time. To be safe, apply for your passport six to eight months before your trip. You can print forms on the Internet and mail them in order to apply for a new passport, renew an expired one, or change the name on your passport. Processing can take weeks or months, so get your necessary materials in well before your trip.

Where Should You Go?

With general know-how about passports, vaccinations, and drawing up an itinerary underway, you may be left with your final decision: where to go. The Earth is 71% water, and the rest is all land you can potentially visit–more than that statistic suggests! Italy is one of the top destinations in the world, with Rome and Florence being among the most popular cities to visit. Both boast famous architecture, and Florence adds its world-famous canals and gardens into the mix. Paris is another top destination with divine cuisine, breath-taking views, and a variety of historic sites and landmarks to visit.

Traveling abroad can be the experience of a lifetime, and it can make you considerably happier, too! Know the best time to plan your trip, draw up an itinerary, gather your necessary documents and get necessary vaccines, pick out your favorite destination and enjoy.

Do Americans Even Want Time Off?

A new Gallup survey finds that about half of Americans who hold second jobs say they don’t do it out of financial necessity. Why, then, do they put in the extra hours? Do they just like working?

Europeans, in stark contrast, relish their free time. Workers in Denmark actually went on a general strike because they were entitled to only five weeks of vacation. They wanted six.

Many American workers get a lousy one or two weeks off, if that much. Yet 55 percent of Americans with paid vacation said they didn’t even use all the time off, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

John de Graaf, who writes on free time and consumption, has a theory on why Americans don’t pound the table for more paid vacation. “Until you actually get a block of time off,” he said, “you don’t really appreciate it.”

He cites an interesting case in Amador County, California. After the 2007-09 financial crisis, California trimmed its contribution to every county by 10 percent. County officials in Amador decided that rather than lay off public workers, they would cut their working hours by 10 percent.

The Service Employees International Union cried foul. It preferred layoffs of low-seniority people over a shorter workweek for other public employees. The county stood firm but said that it would honor the union’s preference in two years if money remained tight.

Two years later, the budget still needed cutting. The union leadership predictably chose layoffs and restoring the five-day week for the others. But the workers said, “Wait a minute.” They weren’t asked. The union put the matter before the rank and file, which voted 71 percent to 29 percent to stay on four days with less pay.

What happened? As de Graaf observed, “Workers were now saying things like, ‘Now I go fishing on Fridays.'” (Only a few, mainly men, used the freed-up day to take on outside work.)

The female employees tended to like the four-day week more than the men, according to de Graaf. They would tell him, “Well, now what I do is the kids are in school on Fridays, so I do various chores on Friday, and then I have the whole weekend off.”

Amador County workers enjoyed the added advantage of all having the same day off, so they had friends to go fishing with. That’s the thinking in Europe, where nearly everyone gets vacation time during the same weeks of August. Europeans realized that people want time off when friends and family do.

During the Great Depression, a number of big American companies moved to 30-hour weeks. One of them, Kellogg’s in Battle Creek, Michigan, adopted a kind of compromise. The workweek was reduced to 30 hours, but the company paid the employees for 35 hours. Interestingly, Kellogg’s found that these workers had become more productive during the hours worked.

Those holding multiple jobs — now about a quarter of U.S. workers — are far rarer in Canada and France, according to Gallup. Why would that be?

Perhaps the stronger social safety nets in those countries make ordinary people feel more economically secure. Perhaps a consumer culture flashing luxury in our faces makes Americans see some expenditures not as extravagances but as basic necessities. Work is how they can afford them.

“Other things being equal,” de Graaf adds, “when Americans are given the choice of time or money, most will choose the money.”

But looking at the experience in Amador County, it’s possible that we just don’t understand the value of time off because we’ve had so little experience with it. If so, what a sad commentary on the American way of life.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: lyncconf.com

Why Is Now A Great Time To Buy An Electric Car?

Making decisions about the goods you purchase may not be something you always consciously think about, but they are essential choices that shape the rest of your life. About 68% of poll respondents tend to make these shopping decisions while in the car, but what about purchasing decisions for the car itself? One type of automobile that’s been making headlines more and more recently is the electric car. Not only does it boast unique environmental benefits, but its quiet performance and low operating costs make it an attractive choice for many drivers.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics of how electric vehicles work and why now might be a better time than ever to purchase one.

How Does an Electric Vehicle Work?

Sitting down at the wheel of an electric car for the first time could be a surprising experience because in most ways it feels just like driving an ordinary vehicle. The differences between electric and fuel-driven cars lie mostly beneath the hood.

All vehicles, whether electric or otherwise, are essentially energy conversion devices; they turn potential energy, such as fuel in the tank or power in the battery, into functional, or kinetic, energy. In a conventional car, the energy is stored in chemical form: gasoline. It’s released and utilized through a chemical reaction that takes place within the engine, where hydrocarbon molecules burn with oxygen to release heat, which pushes the pistons to turn the wheels.

Electric cars also store energy chemically, but instead of burning potential energy to produce heat and push the pistons, the energy is released electrochemically. In a manner of speaking, electric cars take a more direct route to powering themselves, with fewer moving parts and no need for combustion.

Although they look and feel strikingly similar to conventional vehicles, electric cars can actually perform better than their internal-combustion counterparts. Electric vehicles can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less time than it takes conventional cars to do so. This goes back to conventional vehicles having more moving parts — specifically, the drivetrain, which channels movement from the engine to the wheels. Instead of sending converted energy directly to the wheels to make them turn, fuel-driven cars must first send that energy through the transmission. Along the way, a substantial portion of that power is lost in transit, so the actual performance power of the car is held back.

Electric cars don’t have a transmission. Instead, the electric motor is almost directly connected to the wheels, meaning that more potential power is utilized for actually moving the car. The drawback is that, for traveling longer distances, electric cars aren’t quite as fast for as long. But as the technology improves, this fact is destined to change.

In terms of horsepower, electric vehicles can still stand up to their conventional counterparts. The Shelby Mustang GT 500, a famous racing car, had 400 horsepower. A 2017 Tesla tested for its power came in at nearly 600 horsepower. While modern racing cars could easily outdo electric vehicles, the horsepower comparisons show that you won’t be losing any power if you switch to an electric vehicle.

As you can see, electric vehicles are similar to conventional ones in terms of their function and power. Now let’s discuss the reasons why now is a great time to join the trend and buy your own electric car.

Why is Now the Right Time to Buy?

The first of our reasons to buy an electric car is that the selection of electric cars available today is greater than it’s ever been. In fact, there are a total of 17 electric cars offered in the United States for the 2019 model year. And they aren’t all luxury options. The lowest price on 2019 electric vehicles is a very budget-friendly $23,900, with most others placed around the $30,000 range.

Another reason you should buy an electric car this year is that public charging stations are also more common than ever before. As of now, there are almost 21,000 operational public charging stations across America, and that number is guaranteed to go up even higher. Whether you’re traveling over the winter holidays to visit family or you’re on a summer adventure to find the best vanilla ice cream — the most popular flavor among Americans — in your state, you’re bound to find charging stations in airports, near public parking garages, and outside malls and hospitals.

Thanks in part to the prevalence of charging stations, range anxiety is practically nonexistent for new electric vehicles. It used to be that an electric car couldn’t get you very far on one charge. If you were going to be traveling very far, you’d have better been certain there would be working charging stations along the way. Now, not only are charging stations remarkably common, but the cars themselves have a much longer range than early electric cars. Unsurprisingly, Tesla leads in this area, with Models S, X, and 3 all peaking around 300 miles per charge.

Safety is another compelling reason to go electric, at least if you opt for a Tesla vehicle. Their Model 3 received a five-star safety rating from NHTSA in each category, and they’ve been famously building some of the safest cars on the road since the Model S was first produced. Considering the prevalence of automobile accidents and that they account for 52% of all personal injury lawsuits, improved safety is a pretty good reason to buy an electric car.

Buying a Used Electric Vehicle

Topping off this list of reasons to buy an electric car now is that these cars tend to be very low-priced as used vehicles. Though resale values for some of the latest long-range models are on the rise, many second-hand electric cars remain bargain-priced. Many of them go for as little as $10,000, or even less. Even though these cars don’t usually boast the same range that newer models feature, if it’s your first electric vehicle and you need the lower price, it’s a good thing to look into.

From their decreasing prices to the increase in range and charging stations, these are some of the top reasons why you should consider buying an electric car now.