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Polar Bear Plunge

January 1st was the day of the annual Polar Bear Plunge! What is this event? Well, it does not have anything to do with bears. It is when you take a plunge into icy cold water on New Year’s Day to celebrate a fresh start! Many people also do the Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for charity. Depending on where you live, it can be the ocean, a lake, the river, or even a cold pool. Doing this in the New England cold is not a feat for the faint hearted. This event takes place all over the world – in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, England, South Korea, and Russia. 

People have been doing dips in icy cold water for generations. There are perceived health benefits from this daring act. A quick dip in an icy lake after a hot steam bath or once in a while can actually improve circulation, make you feel more energetic and brisk even during those cold winter months, and can alleviate pains from rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and respiratory issues like asthma. For most people, a dive into cold water will cause “a surge of epinephrine,” also known as adrenaline, and “physiological aspects are going to be similar to exercise.” The water triggers a flight or fight reaction, causing that invigorating feeling. People report feelings of energy, euphoria, and mental clarity that can last for up to 3 days.

With some advance planning, you can prep your body to tolerate the cold water by taking cold baths or swimming in a cold-water pool. “The body has some capacity to acclimate [to heat and cold], Dr. Rittenberger, a medical expert, says. “There’s some evidence suggesting that people repeatedly exposing themselves (to cold water) handle it better and acclimate to it.”

However, for some people who have health conditions, doctors warn that a polar bear plunge is not in their best interest. Sudden immersion in cold water can trigger a heart attack, stroke, or hyperventilation, and even good swimmers can drown as muscles become paralyzed from the frigid water.

To those brave souls who complete the icy dip, Private Home Health Care solutes you!

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National Bloody Mary Day

The Bloody Mary – a brunch staple and the most vegetable-dense cocktail. Bloody Marys are arguably the healthiest cocktail, but just how healthy are there. Bloody mary offers far more health benefits than a typical Manhattan or the other popular breakfast cocktail, a mimosa. If you drink Bloody Marys you can still get some of those health benefits your body craves, and needs.

The ingredients in a typical Bloody Mary include: Vodka, Tomato Juice, Lemon Juice, Spices or Hot Sauce, Horseradish and/or Worcestershire Sauce, Ice, Celery Stick garnish. Tomatoes are packed with nutrients that are great for your body’s natural processes. Tomatoes are considered a high-antioxidant food and one of the best sources of the phytonutrient, called lycopene, in the world. Lycopene is closely tied to enhanced immunity and cancer risk reduction. It is also great for adding a bit of protection to your skin when you want to go out in the sun all day. Also, the lycopene in tomatoes is a powerful antioxidant that promotes bone-health, heart-health, and can help lower cholesterol, is rich and plentiful in tomatoes! Research has also shown the power of antioxidants to drastically decrease inflammation, which has been directly linked to many diseases and can prevent or slow damage to our cells!

The vodka in Bloody Mary’s is actually not that bad for you. Vodka is low calorie, and is antibacterial as well as antimicrobial. It is also a known stress reliever, even more so than red wine. Vodka can increase blood-flow and circulation in your body which can prevent clots, strokes, and other heart diseases. Vodka can also help lower your cholesterol. And, for those watching their weight, it’s also generally considered a lower-calorie alcohol. Everything in moderation of course!

Horseradish contains a lot of great vitamins, such as vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber. Horseradish fights the common cold, analgesic, antibiotic properties, protective against UTI’s, cancer-fighting properties called glucosinolates. Don’t forget the celery garnish! It is also packed with nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin B6.

Celery is an excellent source of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes. Celery is known to fight cancer, lower high blood pressure, ease insomnia, prevent kidney stones and help with digestive problems.

Bloody Mary’s are the perfect brunch cocktail, especially to combat a hangover! Private Home Health Care invites you to stir up some Bloody Marys with friends for a good time. Cheers to your health!

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National Hangover Day

National Hangover Day

January 1 was National Hangover Day. New Year’s Eve is often a time to seriously party. If you’re like many, there’s a decent chance you’re greeting the new year with one or two (or six) cocktails. Unfortunately, drinking too much can bring some rather unpleasant results. Alcohol can get pretty unfriendly 12 hours after the fact. So, if New Year’s Day turns into National Hangover Day, read on for some tips and tricks to feel better on January 1.

So, all that champagne caught up to you. With some tips to spring back from a hangover, you will be good as new. All of that champagne was worth the fabulous celebration for ringing in NYE!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Double down on drinking water the day (or even two) before partying. Part of what gives us a hangover is from the dehydrating effect of alcohol. Drinking plenty of water can help mitigate or ease headaches, nausea, and other side effects of partying a little too hard.

Have some hangover relief remedies ready. Your future self will thank you.


Prepare by stocking up on essentials that will help you feel a little more like your true self after a night of partying. Ibuprofen, sports drinks, greasy potato chips, antacids — whatever your preferred hangover remedies are, make sure that you have them on hand.

-Eat before and after

A fat and protein-loaded meal before or during the first round of drinks slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. No, the food doesn’t act as a sponge, soaking up the alcohol, but it does slow down the digestive process. Fats and especially proteins, take longer to digest, and the alcohol will be released more slowly into the bloodstream. When faced with a hangover the day after, eating good food is immensely helpful. Eating a meal with complex carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat can help ease the symptoms of a hangover. Whole wheat toast can absorb some of the acids the stomach is producing. A fried egg can give the stomach something else to do instead of producing acid and also replaces some nutrients the body lost during the party binge.

-Host a hangover brunch

If you’re feeling really ambitious, why not throw a party? After all, the cure to your hangover may just be a really awesome Bloody Mary.

-Drink some…Pedialyte?

Some consider Pedialyte a panacea for hangovers. And for good reason, because this really works. Though Pedialyte wasn’t invented for hangover relief, of course, but it just might help. The drink, marketed for use by children, can replace nutrients and electrolytes your body might need to feel better.

-Eat a banana

Bananas are high in potassium. While consuming alcohol, we lose a lot of this nutrient. Potassium loss contributes to muscle aches and cramps. Eating a banana will help ease these symptoms.

Private Home Health Care hopes these tips will ease your NYE’s hangover. Happy New Year!

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Staying Connected This Winter

One of the missions of Private Home Health Care is to promote health and wellness. Social connectedness and feeling part of a community is a pillar to well being. These tips can help you ‘weather the storm’ this winter season and bring sunshine to your life and others.

1. Embrace the cold – layer up and get outside to exercise!

2. Join a local outdoor organization – activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and bird watching are all safe, fun activities for the winter.

3. ‘Podding’ – create a COVID social pod with a few other families (or individuals) who follow the same sort of safety precautions

4. Old fashioned, long distance correspondence – Consider letter writing and sending notes and sending pictures and leaving care packages on people’s doors.

5. A shared memories project – The presentation included old photos and video clips from past holidays and vacations gathered by family members, who live in different places.

6. Virtual activities – including an activity in video calls with the people you miss — perhaps a movie you can all watch together then talk about or a game you can play virtually.

7. Working out or meditating together – Garfin also advises people to use technology to engage in activities that improve mental and physical health while connecting with others. She recommends exercise or meditation apps that include a social sharing component, like Fitbit and Nike Run Club.

8. Give help, time, and love

9. Practice gratitude

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Buffet Style

Buffet Style

January 2cnd is National Buffet Day. By design, buffets are for extravagant eating. They often lead people to overeat. With unlimited amounts of food and a multitude of different dishes to try, it’s certainly tempting to keep re-filling that plate. Research shows that the environment of a meal can influence our eating habits, and all-you-can-eat buffets are amongst the most challenging contexts to navigate when trying to eat healthily. The constant visibility of food presents a strong sensory trigger, which—combined with a noisy, distracting surrounding—can easily induce you to consume larger portion sizes and unhealthier dishes than normal. Buffets are especially not a good idea when you are really hungry, as they tend to engage people in more food than what they can handle. Seldom is it heard after a buffet “I am so glad that I ate reasonable portion sizes.”

The appeal of buffets is clear: Why choose one menu item when you can have it all? But with increased quantity often comes decreased quality. And, in the case of buffets, a potential health risk.

Due to their large quantities of food and serve-yourself setup, buffets can be hotbeds of germs and bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, which affect 1 in 6 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The zone between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is what food safety experts call the danger zone because, at those temperatures, bacteria love to grow. When food has been sitting out for an extended period of time at the wrong temperature, it’s more inclined to grow bacteria like salmonella and staphylococcus. There are many well-frequented surfaces that are not cleaned and are breeding grounds for germs. These include serving utensils and plastic trays. Cross contamination is also a serious issue. With various food items in close proximity, it’s not beyond a patron to dribble bits of food into other containers, or swap the tongs from another dish. While that may taste unpleasant, it has the potential to make you very sick if you have a food allergy.

While you have well-meaning efforts when eating from the salad bar, this can be dangerous. it’s not uncommon for the salad bar to contain food that was previously out, placed back into the refrigerator overnight, and then put back out the next day. There’s also no telling how long it was out before it was placed back into the refrigerator. To make matters worse, employees freshening up the salad bar may simply refill the containers without washing them before doing so. Not only is it yucky, but unwashed vegetables are well known sources of food poisoning.

While in theory a buffet may sound like a good idea, there are hidden dangers. On National Buffet Day, Private Home Health Care is raising awareness about these potential issues to keep everyone safe, healthy, and happy.

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Happy New Year’s!

Happy New Year’s!

Private Home Health Care wishes you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and safe new year! I think everyone can agree that they are ready to leave 2020 behind and look forward to new beginnings in 2021! New Year’s resolutions are great to have, but not always the easiest to stick with.

The new year often feels like a fresh start and a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep, and by the end of March, many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns.

In one study, only around 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals. Some of the most common resolutions include losing weight, sticking to a healthier diet, exercising regularly, making better financial choices, quitting smoking, and spending more time with family.

While many people feel that they don’t necessarily achieve their resolution goals, there is some good news! Those who set New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to actually change their behavior than people who don’t make these yearly goals

Here are some tips for how to keep your New Year’s resolutions:

1. Set a clear, measurable goal – Some days you’ll feel as though you’re reaching your goals, but other days you won’t–and an intangible, vague goal will cause you to feel lost.

2. Identify clear action steps – You can’t lose weight or get out of debt without actions steps that will help you get there. Create a plan that includes objectives that will create change.

3. Set yourself up for success – Your motivation will start to fluctuate at some point. To prepare yourself for that dip in motivation, set yourself up for success well in advance. Make bad habits inconvenient and good habits convenient.

4. Plan for obstacles – Think about the obstacles you’re likely to encounter in the first weeks after establishing your resolution. Consider how you’ll navigate these challenges, and develop a plan. Planning ahead for the probable challenges can help you feel equipped to handle the unexpected obstacles that crop up along the way as well.

5. Start when you’re ready – Your New Year’s resolution does not have to start January 1st – nothing is set in stone! Start working on your goal when you’re ready. That’s not to say you need to wait until you feel fully confident before starting (that may never happen). But make sure you’re committed to the goal, and you’ve thought through what you’ll need to do and how you’re going to do it.

6. Track your progress – You need to know if you’re headed in the right direction. So it’s important to find a way to track your progress. Use an app or a calendar to check off the days you work on your goal. Or create a chart, spreadsheet, or graph that helps you visualize your progress.

7. Learn from your mistakes – Mistakes are part of the process. But too often people think one mistake means they’re destined to fail. When you make a mistake–like you skip the gym for a week, or you make a ridiculous impulse purchase you can’t return–learn from your misstep.

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National Champagne Day!

National Champagne Day!

Today is National Champagne Day! What better day and way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than toasting to this favorite beverage? National Champagne Day recognizes the wine that puts the pop in every New Year’s Eve celebration. 

Champagne is technically bubbly wine, but not all bubbly wine is champagne! Did you know that genuine Champagne only comes from France’s Champagne region?

In fact, French law protects where and how it is made. With some exceptions, only Champagne made according to set specifications and within the French region may label their wines using the term “Champagne.” 

Champagne, France, is located northeast of Paris and provides ideal temperature and soil to produce the grapes required for Champagne. The chalky remains of ancient sea-creatures are the “soil” for champagne’s grapes. The champagne region of France was actually once the floor of an ancient prehistoric sea. Now it’s the perfect foundation to grow grapes. French law allows only eight varieties of grapes for the production of Champagne in the Champagne region. Primarily, the three grapes used to create Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. 

It is rumored that champagne was created by accident! 

It all began when the wine growers (today’s famous Champagne Houses) from the Champagne region were trying to equal the Burgundy wines. Because the French region of Champagne is the most northerly of the wine-making regions in France, sometimes the cold winter weather would interrupt the fermentation process. So when spring came the yeast would start fermenting again, creating a secondary fermentation, which for a long time the winemakers tried to prevent. This is how Champagne came into being.

Champagne is high maintenance – it is the most labour-intensive wine to produce. The beverage undergoes two fermentations; one in the barrel, and one in the bottle.  It’s in the second fermentation that the bubbles form over a minimum of two weeks. Yeast and sugar is added to wine for a second fermentation, which then creates the bubbles that make champagne. Unlike other wines, Champagne ferments in the bottle allowing the vintner to trap the CO2 in the bottle. The bubbles give Champagne its effervescence.  The bottle is then gradually twisted and inverted, traditionally by hand, over a month, allowing the sediment to settle at the cap. It’s then aged for at least 15 months before the cap and sediment are removed and the bottle is finally corked.

Champagne actually used to be considered dangerous! In the early days, the bottles were known to spontaneously pop their corks if they contained too much sugar. Helmets worn in Champagne cellars became de rigueur and the drink was dubbed ‘devil’s wine’. An interesting way of opening champagne is with…swords! “Sabrage” is a term for opening a champagne bottle with an actual sword. It’s only done in certain ceremonial occasions and the wielder uses the blunt side of the sword. It was made famous by Napoleon and his army when they celebrated victories in battle.

Champagne was beloved by historical figures! Queen Victoria and Edward VII especially loved champagne, they drank Joseph Perrier, a high end champagne. Marilyn Monroe once took a bath in champagne, it took 350 bottles to fill the bathtub! Also, Winston Churchill was one of the biggest champagne drinkers on record — between 1908 and 1965, the former British Prime Minister drank an estimated 42,000 bottles!

Champagne is fitting for any celebration! And what better than to celebrate leaving 2020 behind?! Raise a glass of bubbly champagne tonight to toast New Year’s Eve!

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Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Tonight is Christmas Eve! The evening of December 24 kicks off a series of holiday traditions. Some are ancient practices with a modern spin, while others date back hundreds of years or decades. Ancient practices include decorating with evergreens, and more modern ones are Santa Claus!

Christmas Eve is filled with both religious and nonreligious traditions. Religious traditions center around the birth of Jesus. Different denominations have their own traditions. On Christmas Eve Roman Catholics and Anglicans hold Midnight Mass. Lutherans celebrate with candlelight services and Christmas carols. Many evangelical churches hold evening services where families celebrate Holy Communion.

Around the world, Christmas Eve is celebrated with a variety of foods. In Italy, they celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes. Russians traditionally serve a 12-dish Christmas Eve Supper before opening gifts. Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, the Christmas Eve meal consists of an odd number of meatless dishes.

Besides food and religious services, the holiday is when Santa Clause takes to the sky in his sleigh to deliver Christmas gifts around the world. The legend of Santa is based on a real-life man named Saint Nicholas of Myra. The early Christian bishop was known for secret gift-giving, as well as many miracles. Through the years, the legend of Santa grew to include the North Pole, a sleigh driven by reindeer, a naughty or nice list, and his jolly laugh, “ho, ho, ho.”

Christmas has the power to reunite families and friends, to warm up our hearts, and remind us that we have so many things to be thankful for. So put on your cozy PJs, light up your fireplace, call your loved ones, and top off your hot cocoa with some fluffy marshmallows! Keep an eye out in the sky for Santa and his reindeer sleigh tonight! Private Home Health Care wishes you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!

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National Date Nut Bread Day

National Date Nut Bread Day on December 22nd delivers a baker’s delight to celebrate. Date nut bread is a sweet yeast bread (think banana bread) that is filled with, yes, dates and nuts. Date nut bread is packed with flavor and nutritious ingredients, without being overwhelmingly sweet. For an added punch, cheese frosting is often used as a topping or filling. The dates and nuts help preserve the bread so it will retain its moisture, making it a perfect holiday gift. That is part of the reason why Date Nut Bread Day is celebrated during the festive winter season. The great thing about date nut bread is that you can customize it with your favorites such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, and in addition to dates you can mix in raisins, dried cranberries, and more!

Printed recipes for bread go as far back as the 1920s, but bread baked with fruit was eaten in various parts of the world long before that. It is widely believed that date nut bread was originally baked and first became popular in England. There are different traditions for eating date nut bread in countries where it is popular. Britain enjoys a date-and-walnut loaf made with treacle and paired with a cup of tea, of course. The sweet treat is also popular in Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Scotland.

Dates provide essential nutrients and are an excellent source of dietary potassium. In ripe dates, the sugar content is about 80% of the fruit. The remainder of the date consists of protein, fiber and trace elements of boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc. Dates are an excellent healthy treat that are a great source of natural energy and sweetness.

Nuts, as we know, are nutritional powerhouses. Many nuts are good sources of vitamins E and B2. Nuts are also rich in protein, folate fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium. Several studies have shown that those who consume nuts on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease because the healthy fats in nuts help lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol. Nuts are also a good source of plant based protein, and are terrific for brain health. Today, on Date Nut Bread Day, celebrate by baking or eating date nut bread!

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Benefits of Crossword Puzzles

Puzzle and memory expert Dr. Ann Lukits says that solving crosswords on a regular basis can “improve memory and brain function in older adults.” Such activities can also “improve mental functions in patients with brain damage or early dementia.”

Solving crossword puzzles alone is beneficial, but working in a group adds a bigger advantage to one’s brain function. One important factor of collaborative cruciverbalism is the ability to think creatively in a more strategic fashion. The other factors are fairly easy to capture. Involving yourself in such a brain-consuming activity helps you vastly by improving your verbal skills, making you solve problems, and causing you to think deeply.

Benefits of crossword puzzles:

Help Prevent Alzheimer’s – According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a daily dose of crossword puzzles is a significant way to keep the brain active and sharp, especially as you grow older. In fact, regularly solving crossword puzzles and doing cognitive exercises can make your brain 10 years younger.

Teach new words – Solving crossword puzzles helps increase your vocabulary. Through crosswords, you are learning new words constantly. If you don’t know the meaning of a new word, you can always check the dictionary and add it to your vocabulary.

Stress relief – When you are solving crossword puzzles, you tend to dig deeper into the problem at hand. This means you are less focused on your own problems. It’s a great way to relax and forget your worries for a little while. They are also a fun way to overcome boredom and negative feelings. If you are lonely, depressed, anxious, or bored, just open your newspaper and solve a crossword puzzle. This will help you to relax, keep your mind engaged, and just have fun! If you are not a puzzle person, you don’t have to be. Just give crossword puzzles a try and you’ll be hooked in no time!

Combats Loneliness – Working together in a group creates bonding. When you have stronger social ties, you are more likely to be healthier, have a better quality of life, and enjoy longevity! Meaningful relationships, which can be created by solving crossword puzzles together with others, are one of the keys to a happy life.

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