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Surprising Causes of High Blood Pressure

If our blood pressure readings are usually more than 140 over 90, then we will be said to have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke if it continues for an extended period of time (i.e., several weeks or more). It is also linked to kidney disease and associated with some forms of dementia. Fortunately, many of the factors that cause our blood pressure to rise are factors that we can control. Here are some of the main reasons for this condition: many of them may surprise you.

Our Genes

This is not something that we can alter: if we are genetically predisposed to have blood pressure higher than the average, there is currently no way to leap in and edit our genes. However, we can mitigate this genetic factor by leading a healthy lifestyle.

Smoking

Smoking clogs up our arteries, meaning that our blood is compressed into a smaller space as it flows through them, thus raising our blood pressure. Cut out the cigarettes, and your blood pressure will fall.

Obesity (Or Simply Being Overweight)

When a person is very overweight, they tend to have fatty deposits in their blood vessels. This is similar to the deposits left as a result of smoking, causes our blood pressure readings to rise. This is not just something that clinically obese people have to deal with, though: even being slightly overweight can cause those fatty deposits to start building up.

Sleep Apnoea

Sufferers of sleep apnoea are also likely to have raised blood pressure. This is because sleep apnoea causes the oxygen levels in the blood to suddenly dip because the sufferer stops breathing properly and thus does not inhale enough oxygen. These drops in blood oxygen levels can cause, or exacerbate, hypertension.

Exercise Levels

If we exercise regularly, our blood pressure will usually be within a healthy range. Aim for five thirty minute sessions of moderate to strenuous exercise every single week.

Old Age

As we age, our blood pressure tends to rise. This age-related hypertension can be avoided or mitigated by following a healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical activity, no smoking and low levels of alcohol consumption.

Drinking Habits

Drinking more than 1 or 2 units of alcohol a day can cause our blood pressure to rise dramatically. Try and have at least three alcohol-free days every week and to stay within the recommended limits for your sex.

Eating Lots of Salt

If you have a diet high in salt, you may also have raised blood pressure. Conversely, reducing the salt in your diet is an excellent way to alleviate hypertension. It is recommended that adults consume no more than 6g of salt every day (which gives us our recommended daily intake of 3.2g of sodium). Unfortunately, it is estimated that adults in the UK currently consume around 8g of salt per day. We do need some salt each day to keep our body healthy as we use sodium in many bodily processes. Nevertheless, cutting down our salt intake is very good for our cardiovascular health.

Vision Direct’s Baby Sight App Helps You Understand Baby Vision

Vision Direct Baby Sight App is a new interactive tool designed by an optician to help parents understand how a baby’s eyesight develops over the first year.

If you were ever curious to know how your baby sees the world, you can now see things through your baby’s eyes with the tool here: http://www.visiondirect.co.uk/baby-sight-tool.

You can quickly shift from a newborn’s first view to the fully developed vision of a 12 month old child. You can input your child’s age and get an idea for your baby’s field of vision, depth perception and colour awareness.

A newborn’s vision

A newborn sees shapes, light and movement, but only in shades of grey.

6 months

A six month old baby can move her eyes quickly to follow moving objects and is beginning to understand object permanence.

10 months

At 10 months old, a baby’s eyes will be the colour they’ll stay when she’s grown up; give or take a shade or two.

Help your baby’s vision develop!

Another great feature of this app is it provides tips to help facilitate your baby’s vision development under each month. For example, at seven to eight months playing games like peekaboo is a great way to help your baby improve her understanding of object permanence, that items still exist even when she can no longer see them.

Vision Direct is the UK’s online leading retailer for contact lenses (also shipping to the USA with no prescription required).

Millenials Are Right About Cars (To An Extent)

Millenials are the generation every other generation loves to look down on, there is no doubt about that. And there are legitimate issues that annoy a lot of people from previous generations. Millenials can come across as apathetic, selfish, lazy, a whole host of unsavory things. These stereotypes are often unfair but they also don’t exist in a vacuum.

However, having said that, there are some areas in which millenials really are seeing things more clearly than those that come before them.

It’s been said that this generation possesses the best BS meters out of any generation before it, and this is definitely true in more ways than one. One area where I think their perception serves them very well is in the area of buying vehicles. This is often a bad investment, and millenials aren’t having it anymore.

Cars are useful, there is no doubt about it. And the idea that privately owned cars are just going to disappear in a few years time is honestly more than a bit premature, especially in countries like the USA and Canada. Self-driving cars are still far far away from becoming a day to day reality on the street level, and while rideshare technology has transformed how people get around to an extent, many people are still going to need some form of private transportation for the forseeable future.

However, what really doesn’t make sense anymore, and honestly probably never did, was buying a new or even newer car. It’s a luxury that many people can’t afford anymore, and frankly it’s mostly a big waste of money.

The smart thing to do is to analyze a car’s depreciation curve before buying it. As the article in that link shows, a car starts to be a much more sensible investment after it reaches five years of age or so.

People who know the most about this subject from personal experience are, ironically, often the rideshare drivers themselves, especially the ones who have enough experience to be already using a car they bought specifically for rideshare purposes. It becomes painfully obvious that it’s very bad business to put a car on the road driving rideshare and having it chew through that depreciation curve in what seems like record time because of the high levels of usage these vehicles endure. But in all honesty, this is just an accelerated version of what happens to any car under any circumstance; the car’s depreciation curve has not changed at all.

So in short, if you’ve decided you need your own car, aim to buy vehicles five years old or older,  buy them in good condition, and budget appropriately for their maintenance. Over the long term, your wallet will thank you for it many times over.

How to Showcase Your Family Pictures

Gone are the days where film cameras limited the number of pictures a family can have. Today, digital albums are the only way to truly share every moment you have captured in time; traditional albums won’t cut it. The only problem with the digital era is that there are just so many incredible photos of your family that it can overwhelm any viewer.

Don’t let those precious memories sit in a Facebook album or on your computer where no one can see them. Photos are meant to be viewed. You can print out a few and hang them up, but the problem with this method is that it is guaranteed to miss out on so many great photos.

So, unless you want to cover your walls from head to toe with family pictures, you will have to convert to a digital age. Here are two great options for displaying and sharing your photos in your home:

Collages

Before, the only way you could have a photo was to develop the negatives. You had a physical copy of the photo right from the start. The thing is, though, when pictures were still film, people took a lot less of them, and there were usually only a few copies. Nowadays, you can have hundreds or thousands of pictures that you want to display.

Use a free collage maker to format your photos to maximize space for when you are creating your modern-day equivalent to the photo album – picture books. These books are easy to create online, and will be shipped to you in the quantity you want so that you can give them to your family members too. In order to do this, maximizing space is imperative.

This option is perfect for those who like the feel of physical pictures. They make perfect gifts too! Never again do your grandparents, and older family members have to miss out on your family photos, you can send a copy to them right from the get-go.

Digital Photo Frames

For digital photos, it only makes sense to showcase them digitally. A great way to bring all your family photos into your home is using a digital frame. This frame simply plays slideshows of your photos on loop. For the best results, select only the best photos. You don’t have to worry about seeing too many similar photos as well, as the digital frame can shuffle your photos, so you get a nice mix of your memories.

Your memories are important. It makes no sense at all to hide them away in an old album buried deep on your computer. You certainly don’t want to publish too many photos of your kids online. When you have friends and family over, it likely won’t be comfortable for them to stand behind your desk while you scroll through your photos.

Creating beautiful photo collage books is a great way to bring your photos out from the digital world and back into the physical one. Digital photo frames are a great way to showcase your digital photos as you take them. Choosing both options is the best way to showcase all the best photos of your lives.

How to Improve Interaction Between Kids and Senior Family Members

The multigenerational gap is most evident in families where younger members of the group fail to understand older loved ones and vice versa. Such is particularly the case in small children who may not understand why Grandma or Grandpa ignores them or is always mean. For kids, adults refusing to engage in activities is evidence of such persons wanting to be left alone. The contrary is true as older adults enjoy the company of vibrant youth. Finding a middle ground andbolstering harmony among generations is a task that parents of small children and caregivers of seniors can accomplish by working together.

Communication is a two-way street

Many children believe that older adults do not like them because they do not interact during conversations. By the same token, senior citizens think that smaller children do not want to hear what they have to say because of the difference in ages. Parents can encourage children to move past their fears of being ignored and engage in meaningful conversation with older adults. Caregivers can help seniors by encouraging them to share their life’s wisdom with the kids. Such interaction presents the potential for both parties to learn new skills.

Acceptance is essential

Isolation is common among seniors. Even those matureadults residing in assisted living communitiesface the possibility of loneliness because those surrounding them are not close loved ones. Children in the family can be the remedy for isolation if youngsters learn to accept older adults along with their limitations. There are many things that kids and seniors can do together when both parties make accommodations for one another. Also, parents can teach children the invaluable lesson of accepting people of all ages and lifestyles when they encourage kids to interact with older members of the family.

Respect sparks concern

Parents are always telling kids to respect their elders, but few understand that such esteem for older adults ismore than good manners. Teaching children to abide by the elders of the family compels them to develop relationships with senior citizens. Emotional bonds form during relational building that prompts young people to respect and help mature members of the family with disabilities and other limitations. Respect, then, becomes the driving force behind concern that urges children to interact with older adults.

Among the many things that parents can do to foster a positive relationship between their kids and older adults in the family, setting a positive example is probably the most useful measure. It makes little sense for moms and dads to tell the children to respect mature adults if they do not revere senior citizens. It is always in the best interest of caregivers to encourage seniors to remain in good spirits even if children are initially reserved. Such positive attitude can significantly contribute to closing the multigenerational gap in families.

Just Passed Your Test? Tips for Driving with Your Kids for the First Time

If you have recently passed your driving test then you’re probably feeling excited, and maybe even a little nervous, about driving in your own car for the first time. For parents with young children, the idea of taking the kids in their car can be a very daunting one. As a new driver, you’ll know that you’re already more susceptible to accidents on the road since you’re not yet experienced in driving on your own and no longer have the safety net of your instructor with dual controls. So, it’s natural for you to be feeling anxious and perhaps even scared about driving somewhere with your children in tow after recently passing your test. We’ve put together some top tips to help you and your family get safely on the road in no time.

Tip #1. Practice Alone

If you’ve recently passed your test and have purchased a shiny new car, the first obstacle is going to be getting used to driving in a new vehicle. Chances are, you won’t have gotten the same car as the one that you have learned to drive in, so you should allow yourself some time to get used to the feel of the car and the positioning of the controls, which vary between different makes and models. For your first few drives, go on your own or with another adult who can help to reassure you on the road. Check out toptests.co.uk as well, where you can revise driving theory and improve your confidence reading road signs via practice driving theory tests.

Tip #2. Use P Plates

Although it’s not mandatory to use P plates when driving in the UK, after recently passing your driving test it can be a good idea – especially if you have young passengers. Although you’re probably more than aware that there are always going to be some inconsiderate drivers on the road, the majority of drivers will remember their first few drives out after passing their test and will be a little more forgiving of you if you display P plates on the car. It may also be a good idea to display a ‘child on board’ sign, as this will signify to other drivers that you have little passengers and warn them to keep their distance and drive safely when they are close to your car.

Tip #3. Keep Your Children Occupied

Your first few days or weeks driving independently in your own car can be a little bit daunting as you get used to your car and to being on the road. Because of this, anything that can distract you in the car can increase your risk of having an accident. If you are driving with your little ones in the car, then they could distract you from the road. So, it’s important to make sure that they are kept occupied for the duration of the journey; stay well prepared with games, or even give them your iPad or smartphone to play with, as this will help to keep them happy and quiet and allow you to focus on the road.

After just passing your test, driving with your children in the car can be nerve-wracking! These strategies will help you stay calm and safe.

Organize Your Family Events Properly

These days, planning family events are harder than ever. This is for many reasons. Families are more spread out now than ever before, often spread out over multiple countries. And while communication technology has obviously improved tremendously, people’s schedules are crazier than ever, so it’s very hard to coordinate events properly.

If you’re planning a major family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, sweet sixteen or anything else similar, you have to make sure to give yourself sufficient lead time. This is the first absolute key to success. The major factors here is that you want to avoid too few or too many people coming at the last minute. There will always be some last minute cancellations or even last minute people that need to be added, but this needs to be kept to a minimum.

One thing that can be a big help is to have everybody fill out their particulars online. This may sound complicated, especially for the technophobic among us, but it’s a lot less complicated than you may think. These days, they have excellent websites like this one called Typeform, which allows you to customize a form online where people fill in the relevant information, allowing you to build a little database and coordinate everything very effectively.

The way Typeform works is that it asks a series of questions, the ones you tell it to ask, and this allows you to get the information you need. For example, you can first confirm their attendance, then find out if they will be travelling, if they already have a place to stay, if they need a hotel booking (you can keep everybody at the same hotel this way), if they need a rental car (group discounts) etc. You can then have a master list of all guests, and sub lists of all out of town guests. Etc. And if there are any emergency announcements to be made, you can make them to a sub group or to the entire group if you so desire.

For weddings, Typeform is especially powerful, because you can also use it to do the all important gift registry and get everything super organized right from the start. The best part about Typeform is it’s totally customizable so you can use your imagination. If you really want to get crazy with it, people can coordinate even what they will wear by having them organize and communicate on the platform. The possibilities are virtually endless.

So the next time you need to plan an event, do it right the first time next time. Take advantage of the latest technology like Typeform.

Smart Tricks To Keep Your Family Healthy

When it comes to fighting diseases, the best course of action is to not have them in the first place. No one likes to go to work and worry all day thinking if their partners are OK or if their kids are taking the medicine at the right time.

So what you should be thinking about is preventive care. It’s easier to keep your family healthy than to treat them once they fall ill. In order to do that, you should make sure your family is eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and sleeping properly. Learn about other tricks to keep your family healthy.

Enjoy Some Sunshine

Although you cannot control the weather, you should make the most of it when the sun is shining. If you get 20 minutes of sunlight two to three times a week, you’ll boost your vitamin D levels, which help against high blood pressure and keeps bones healthy. The optimal time for Vitamin D absorption is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., or when your shadow is shorter than you.

Exercise Frequently

Studies have shown that people who exercise at least 2 1/2 hours a week lived three and a half years longer than those who didn’t exercise. That’s just 20 minutes per day! The trick here is about being consistent and doing it every day. And it doesn’t have to be complicated; you can brisk walk around the block with your family, do some pushups, or skip rope in the living room.

Have a Good Night’s Sleep

When a family is not sleeping well, it can cause problems like tiredness and low levels of energy, and even impair performance at work or school. A good way to fight that is to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on weekends. Keep the rooms dark and cool, and tell bedtime stories to the little ones.

Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Many people don’t pay too much attention to their home’s air quality, but it can be an invisible threat causing allergies and respiratory problems. House plants like ficus and spider plants help reduce air pollutants, but it’s also a good idea to invest in air purifiers or ventilators, which increase the circulation of fresh air in your home.

Have a Hearty Breakfast

Did you know that a nutritious breakfast can reduce the risk of a heart attack and type 2 diabetes? By having a healthy balance of protein and carbs, you can decrease the fats in your blood and improve your blood sugar levels. And you’ll probably avoid caloric foods by leaving home with a full stomach.

Understand Your Family Medical History

It’s important to talk to your parents and other family members to find out about your medical history. One-third of men die from cardiovascular diseases, so if you know your partner might be prone to have heart problems, you can take action early and seek a healthier lifestyle.

When you start using these smart tricks to change your family’s habits, you avoid the risk of developing unnecessary illnesses. Another benefit is having the peace of mind of living in a disease-free house. At the end of the day, a healthy family is a happy family.

4 Ways to Start Saving for your Child’s College Education

It’s way too easy to put off saving for those future college bills, but starting early is the key to making the grade. According to The College Investor, parents who start saving $50 per month when their child is born could end up with over $21,000 for college, while parents who start saving when their child is nine can put away twice as much per month and still wind up with less than $15,000. If you’re convinced that starting now is important, but you’re not sure how to find the savings, here are some tips for you.

Small Amounts Add

Go through your bank statement for the last few months looking for small monthly expenses you can eliminate. Maybe you’ve signed up for an online service you don’t need but never bothered to cancel. Maybe you’re still paying for that gym membership you never use. Spend an afternoon canceling those expenses, and then set up an automatic monthly transfer into your child’s college account for the total amount you’ve saved. Also, set aside a bank to collect your change and $1 bills at the end of each day. A piggy bank with a narrow slot is too fussy; make it easy for yourself by using a jar with a wide mouth. Decorate the jar if you’re crafty or keep it simple.

Sweat the Big Stuff

Look for ways to trim your biggest monthly expenses. Maybe you can refinance your mortgage at a lower rate, save big on your heating system, trade down to a more affordable car, or find some other way to trim your expenses. Anything you can do that shaves even $20 off your monthly expenses takes your child one step closer to an education.

Just Do It

High-income couples are often the last to set aside savings for college. Why? Because of the assumption that they will always have enough income to afford whatever they decide they want. But that’s a big risk to take when your child’s future is depending on you. Many things in life are unpredictable. What if your company goes out of business, the industry you’re qualified to work in becomes obsolete due to legal or technological changes, or you or your spouse becomes disabled or seriously ill? If you have enough money to set some aside, do it now.

Pay Your Child First

Your expenses will always expand to take up your available income, so you have to put money in savings first and resolve never to touch it. It’s easy to postpone making a savings deposit when money feels tight, but if you do it first, you will always find some way to pay your bills. Set up an automatic transfer to savings, and if you think you’ll be tempted to dip into that savings account for non-college expenses (or if you’ve already done so), move the funds to a 529 Plan or other dedicated savings plan to keep the money safe from yourself.

Saving for college isn’t especially difficult, it just takes commitment on your part. Set up a plan, make it automatic, and watch that account grow.

Reasons for Investing in the Stock Market

By simply transitioning from a common borrower to an investor, interest payments automatically start flowing into your bank account. You get the ability to buy things that you need and desire with money you earned without working extra hours and sacrificing family time. As a bonus for earning an extra profit, vacations will start feeling sweeter, and travelling will become faster, swift and comfortable.

To elevate your life status like this, you need to make well thought out decisions in your investment strategy as there are many factors that you need to consider when looking to invest. Among the various choices, some are more risky than other. Some of these investment options include savings accounts, the stock market, government savings bonds, treasury bonds, common and preferred stocks among others.

From this list, the stock market is less risky, has numerous benefits and easy to invest in since all you have to do is study the financials of a target company through quarterly, half year and yearly balance sheets before you buy their stock. Also, you should know its future investment plans, the total value of its market, the orders and its performance since its establishment among others. The reason for this is to avoid investing money in a poorly performing or collapsing company. Some of the benefits of investing in stock are highlighted next.

Beating Inflation Leading to Enhanced Capital Growth

One of the main merits of investing in the stock market is the opportunity to grow your money. Most of the other investments do not provide enough returns to counter inflation or benefit. Moreover, the instruments of some other investments like cars decrease in value by the year. Besides, if, for example, you are looking to save for your retirement, the money you invest in treasury bonds today will only be worth a fraction of their value when you retire. However, the stock market has fewer risks and can beat inflation as well as put the odds in your favour.

Stock Allows Compounding Through Delay of Taxes

Capital gains on stocks are never due until the instrument is sold. This means that investors who hold stocks for longer get to enjoy the benefits of compounding for extended periods. This is because they don’t pay taxes despite their enormous wealth until they sell their shares.When it comes to paying taxes, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have paid very little because most of their stock is in their own companies and they only sell a few shares of their businesses per year. As a matter of fact, Mr. Warren may never pay taxes since he swore to donate it all to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Similarly, investing in stock exchange translates to fewer and delayed tax obligations for you.

Dividend Income

Certain stocks provide income in the form of dividends while others provide annual payments to inventors. These payments are delivered to shareholders even if the stocks have lost value. They represent earning on top of the profits that come from selling the stock. Dividends can be used for a retirement fund or to grow your investment portfolio.

Diversification

Stock market inventors who put money in diverse types of products enjoy the benefits of diversification; it spreads the risk since stock market prices fluctuate independently. Holding stock can assist in weathering losses to other investment companies. A firm of experts such as CMC Markets can help in identifying the right portfolio to keep. Moreover, stock adds risk to your portfolio as well as the possibility of large and quick gains, while helping shareholders evade risk-averse and extreme conservative investment strategies.

Ownership

Purchasing shares simply means taking on an ownership stake in a particular business. This means that every time you buy stock, you become one of the owners of the target company where you have the right to vote in directors, have a say in particular business decisions and receive annual reports to keep you updated on the operations of the company. Furthermore, buying shares from the company you work for can portray loyalty and is also a good way of tying your individual finances to the success of the whole business.

In conclusion, the value of a business’ stock at a specific time depends on its financial data, which includes assets, financial figures and the growth rate of the company. It is clear that these factors keep changing, but generally, there is consistency in the performance of the business. You can also conclude that well-administered companies grow significantly and continue to provide dividends and profits to their shareholders.