Is Your Carpet Cleaner Dangerous for Your Health?

It goes without saying that our floors tend to take a beating. Carpets, which are both visually appealing and functional, can easily become soiled and smelly thanks to day in and day out wear and tear: including lounging, food stains, and muddy shoes or paws. It is inevitable that carpets will need to be cleaned at one point or another. Plus, there’s just nothing quite like the aroma of a freshly cleaned carpet.

But could caustic cleaning solutions, designed to stand up to the toughest stains, be hazardous to the health of your family and your pets? The short answer is yes.

Like other industrial cleaners, the chemicals that one major carpet cleaning company used for decades were found to be particularly dangerous. Why? Carpet cleaners often contain strong solvents similar to those used in the dry cleaning
industry. Up until 2009 the key ingredient in Scotchguard, a widely-used carpet cleaner and protector, was something called Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid – a serious organic pollutant that is shown to compromise the immune systems of both people and animals. Following increased pressure from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the makers of Scotchguard gradually phased out this chemical. However, it proves that there is a concerning pattern of tackling stains with harmful solutions often included in inexpensive household products.

While many cleaning solutions are able to dissolve dirt without the use of soap and water, they often produce dangerous fumes – including formaldehyde – layered on top of various artificial fragrances. Indoor air pollution is a major concern when using traditional carpet cleaners available on the market today. While drying, some of the chemicals in these cleaners tend to accumulate in the air. During stretches of particularly warm, humid weather, this can be especially concerning, as these accumulations in the atmosphere are known to cause eye irritation, migraine headaches, congestion, sneezing, asthma attacks, nausea and fatigue – among a slew of other symptoms. This often means that there is residue left over from these cleaners that end up on tiny hands or paws, and may be ingested.

carpet cleaningNeed more proof that carpet cleaners can be dangerous? There are multiple accounts from veterinarians across the country of cats and dogs inexplicably suffering from overactive thyroids and excessive shedding issues. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with the non-profit Environmental Working Group (often referred to as simply the EWG), recently conducted a study that found the bloodstream of house pets – particularly cats and dogs – was contaminated with increasing amounts of synthetic industrial chemicals. Shockingly, all 20 dogs and 40 cats that were tested – 100% of the study group – were found to be polluted with more than 45 industrial chemicals and five times the amount of mercury than what is typically considered acceptable.

Health problems in pets – including improper thyroid function and excessive shedding – can be traced back to this increase of chemical substances present in their blood. And it’s easy to see why – our pets spend the majority of their lives lounging on furniture and crawling around on our rugs and carpets. They are bound to ingest some of the chemicals we use to keep these surfaces free of dirt and stains.

But it doesn’t stop there, as more worrisome evidence continues to emerge. The evidence of chemical exposure doesn’t simply disappear after the culprit is removed. (Yes, that’s correct – even if you stop using harsh cleaning solutions, the damage you’ve done in the past may remain).

Many of the toxic ingredients used in the production of common household and industrial cleaners tend to collect inside the body. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as a chemical “body burden,” since chemicals can combine and react within the body even after exposure has ceased. Not surprisingly, these can cause adverse health effects. Since our beloved pets have significantly shorter lifespans, they may develop health problems ore age more rapidly.

While not directly related to the hazards associated with chemicals, mold and mildew can also be a problem when it comes to carpet cleaning. Cleaners that do not dry properly run the risk of growing mold spores, which are widely known to cause respiratory distress.

So how do you keep your floors clean, while protecting the health of your pets and family? There are a few easy steps you can take.

Most importantly, don’t buy into the myth of a safe stain-resistant treatment. Many carpet cleaning companies aggressively push homeowners to treat their carpets with stain-resisting chemicals following a routine cleaning. These companies claim that the chemicals that are part of this process help the carpet fibers better resist spills, stains and dirt. Buyer beware: these solutions often contain harmful pollutants. Plus, they rarely provide any additional protection against dirt. There are some companies out there that do provide non-toxic cleaning solutions, however. These companies, like these carpet cleaners in Santa Rosa, CA, use only eco-friendly products that won’t be harmful to your family or pets. When you’re thinking about getting your carpets cleaned, the bottom line is that you need to do your research first.

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Healthy Habits for Preschool Children

child healthy habitsAs the saying goes, “old habits die hard.” For better or for worse, the habits that we make become more and more difficult to break the older we get – whether it’s a habit of putting your seatbelt on as soon as you get in the car, or a habit of leaving all the lights on when you leave the house. Many habits that we unintentionally practice have been stuck with us for years. How many habits do you have (that you can think of) that you picked up from your parents, or that you’ve had since you were a kid? When you’re so accustomed to doing a certain thing, it’s not easy to give it up.

That’s why it’s never too early to impart positive, healthy habits to our youngsters. When good habits and routines are practiced by children beginning at a young age, it’s more likely that they will stand the test of time. And because some may find it more difficult to establish new habits when they’re older, this will ensure that they enter adulthood on the right foot.

Here are some of the healthy habits that are most important to teach young, preschool-aged children:

Washing Hands

Once your child begins attending preschool or day care, they will be in contact with a number of other children – children who might be picking their noses, coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths, and
other gross things that children typically do. Therefore, it’s important to get your child in a good habit of regularly washing their hands. Children should wash their hands every time they use the restroom, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing.

A great way to turn hand-washing into a fun routine is to sing a short song while washing. While your child sings, they wash and scrub their hands until the song is over.

Nutritious Foods

Children can be picky eaters – their taste buds aren’t fully developed, and many children are simply afraid or unwilling to try new things. It can be much easier to throw a frozen dinner into the microwave for your child, but regularly feeding your child unhealthy, processed foods can create an unhealthy junk food habit. Instead, pack healthy lunches for your child comprised of nutritious, whole foods, and keep sugary and salty snacks in moderation.

You don’t need to be a professional chef to cook healthy meals for your family. Make nutritious meals fun by building “ants on a log” with your child – topping celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins, or making homemade popsicles with 100% fruit juice together. If your child see that healthy foods can be fun and tasty, they will be more likely to continue eating and enjoying nutritious foods for years to come.

Physical Activity

Did you know that more than half of young children today aren’t getting enough daily exercise? Instead of the recommended amount of 1 hour of physical activity each day, many children instead spend too much sitting in front of the TV or playing computer games. While the television and computer can offer educational activities, it’s still necessary for children to be physically active on a regular basis. Regular exercise can be easy when it’s fun and becomes a habit.

Turn exercise into a fun and easy task by involving the entire family. Make a habit of walking together through the neighborhood each night after dinner, or have a fun soccer competition in the backyard. If your neighborhood has a playground, take your child regularly so they can run around, get some fresh air, and make some friends as well. Find out if your child’s preschool also incorporates physical activity into their daily routine. For example, Creative World School in Independence, MO, each child gets 1 hour a day to be active and play outside.

Communication Skills

When people think of “health,” most think of food, hygiene, and exercise. But positive social skills and the ability to communicate with others also lead to strong emotional wellbeing – another important component of health. To encourage your child to make good communication skills a habit, practice good manners and how to share with others. If your child doesn’t have any siblings, bring them to playdates and other social activities so that they can learn how to be nice and play well with others.

Practicing good habits will help to ensure that your child grows up to be a healthy, successful adult. Be sure to regularly reinforce these good habits and show your child that being healthy is fun. If you’re concerned with your child practicing healthy habits while they’re in preschool, speak with their teacher.

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Healthy Aging Through Exercise

seniors health

Retirement brings well-earned rest, but it’s also the time when it’s more important than ever to stay as active as you can. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased health problems, and decreased enjoyment of life. Exercise needs to be a part of a senior’s daily life.

The Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

Staying active with regular exercise helps seniors maintain a limber and energized body, mind, and spirit. The benefits include helping you:

  • Maintain your independence
  • Keep you fit enough to play with your grandchildren
  • Sleep better
  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses
  • Improve brain function and memory retention
  • Reduce risk of falls
  • Maintain self-confidence and sense of well-being

Research indicates that regular exercise can help prevent falls and “silent strokes,” manage incontinence problems, and help maintain or even improve your memory. You may not be as agile or quick as you once were, but you can still exercise to enjoy good health and joie de vivre as you age.

Exercise is good for the body and soul

Exercise is good for the body and soul

Exercise Adaptations for Seniors

Professor and clinical exercise physiologist Carol Ewing Garber says, “Staying fit comes down to you and what you’re comfortable with.” If you like swimming, biking, golf, and other activities, then continue to enjoy them even if you have to make a couple modifications. Your comfort level will tell you if it’s okay or not. Always get your doctor’s OK before beginning an exercise program.

Aging brings some inevitable changes. Seniors have less tolerance for extremes in temperature, have slower reaction times, and experience reduced balance. Vision also changes as you age, so always pay close attention to your surroundings, especially stumbling hazards. Wear sturdy but comfortable shoes. Good exercise should require some effort, but not feel too hard. Most importantly, enjoy yourself.

Three Important Types of Exercise

Balance and Flexibility

The easiest exercises are those that flex and stretch your muscles. Working on balance helps prevent falls. Excellent balance, flexibility, and stretching activities include:

Many local gyms offer special classes for seniors. There are DVDs and online videos for exercise at home. Sit or lie down while exercising if your balance is shaky. Home-bound seniors can ask their elder care provider to work with them.

Strength Training

Strength exercises are next. Strong muscles make everyday activities and tasks easier whether vacuuming, putting up groceries, or even getting out of your chair. Strength training slows bone weakening and develops more muscle around bones that can prevent some fractures from falls.

Start slowly and do more as you gain strength. At home you can use walls or large pieces of furniture for resistance. Improve your strength with:

  • Light dumbbells or free weights
  • Elastic resistance bands
  • Weight machines
  • Housework (sweeping, scrubbing) and yard work (raking, mowing)

Some physical therapy groups allow seniors (for a small monthly fee to use their exercise machines and train on them. If you have an in-home care service, such as Seniors Helping Seniors of North Phoenix, ask your caregiver to assist you with your exercises.

Aerobics and Cardio Workouts

Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily at a moderate level of intensity to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. This has whole-body health benefits and makes it easier to handle all your daily activities. Get a little sweaty by:

  • Walking/hiking
  • Light jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming/water aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Golf (with no golf cart!)
  • Tennis

Knee problems and balance problems, which can prevent running, can be accommodated by walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike instead. Ask your caregiver to walk with you during his or her visits if you have an in-home care service.

Good Senior Health and Fitness

Eating a balanced, healthy diet helps you stay fit physically and mentally as well as boosting immunity as you age. A healthy senior diet includes:

  • Foods rich in antioxidants, iron, fiber, and calcium
  • Protein from fish and lean meats
  • Low sodium intake and lots of water

Local hospitals, senior centers, and Parks and Recreation departments can also recommend appropriate exercise and wellness programs available in your area. If you have an elder care aide, ask your caregiver to develop activities with you.

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Hot stone massage 

Since the time of ancient Indians, pure strength from the core of the Earth, formed from pieces of lava and naturally sculpted in the river, has been used in the treatment of various diseases of body and soul. They left as a legacy a huge respect for the stone as the oldest form of life on planet Earth, which they believed was in the state of deep sleep. Once the stone was warmed up, they would place it onto sore and stiff places on the body, while performing ritual dances and singing prayers wishing that the stone’s warmth helped the patient.

imagesIn modern times, it was confirmed that the volcanic rocks contain remarkable electromagnetic potential of the Earth and that using them in treatment is beneficial and focused particularly on energy. Using the combination of warm and hot stones placed on the body, the main energy centers or chakras are opened. The chakras are energy centers trough which we receive, process and direct energy or vital force. With the help of these chakras we exchange energy with the environment in a way that we charge and release energy in equal amount, thus achieving the balance. In the physical and energetic body there are seven major energy centers or chakras, covering the entire physical body, as well as the expansion of the energy body called aura.

For hot stone massage, forty-five stones different in shape and size are heated in special chrome-plated containers, in water up to 42-43° C. The specificity of the massage with volcanic stones is that the therapist does not place the stones directly onto the body, but they first warm their palms, which they place on the client’s skin and heat it by gentle moves, preparing it for the stones. Then the hot stones are used to massage deeper structures of the skin, ligaments, and muscle groups. Depending on the client’s health condition, painful and blocked parts of the body and the desired effect of the massage, the therapist creates a treatment.

hot-stone-massageMassage with volcanic stones helps achieving faster metabolism and it encourages detoxification. To help the kidneys release harmful content obtained by blood filtration, drinking half a liter of lukewarm water is recommended after the treatment. The skin becomes smooth and silky after the massage, thanks to the improved circulation and nutrition, as well as help from the metabolism of collagen in the skin. The circulation of the body speeds up to six to eight times, which is beneficial for all the cells and organs. The muscles reject unnatural state of tension and pain caused by accumulation of lactic acid, the breathing becomes deeper and more relaxed and the stress is relieved.

Hot stones massage is recommended in cases of tension, aching muscles, rheumatic problems, degenerative conditions of the spinal column, sports injuries, insomnia, depression, irritability, PMS.

Given that the main postulate of this ancient art is “primum non nocere” (primarily do not harm), there are groups of people who are not recommended to use this massage. These are heart patients, pregnant women, people with varicose veins, high blood pressure patients, patients with skin infections and those who suffer any kind of bleeding at the given moment.

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