The Eyelash of the Beholder: How Lashes Play a Vital Role for Your Eyes

Did you know your eyelashes have glands?eyelashes-a

Or that you might have mites on your eyelashes?

Some interesting facts about eyelashes include:

  • Eyelashes fall out daily. Sometimes, as many as five drop in one day.
  • You have more eyelashes on the upper lid than on the lower. The upper lid usually contains about 200, and the lower about 100.
  • Eyelashes vary in length, with the longest lashes at the middle of the upper lid.
  • The eyelash has two sets of glands: oil glands and sweat glands. The oil glands are named Glands of Zeis (after ophthalmologist Eduard Zeis), and the sweat glands the Glands of Moll (after oculist Jacob Anton Moll). The glands keep the follicles unclogged and the lashes bacteria-free.
  • For many people, tiny mites named Demodex live at the base of your eyelashes. They come out during sleep to eat dirt, debris and cells shed by lashes. In many instances, this is beneficial, as it keeps follicles from getting clogged, although too many Demodex can become problematic, causing eyelashes to fall out.

Who would have thought eyelashes could be so interesting?

But eyelashes are more than just interesting. They play important roles in eye health.

Love at First Sight: Some of the Beautiful Purposes of Eyelashes

Eyelashes can enhance the eyes. Some people claim the eye is the first feature we fall in love with, so eyelashes can make you seem more beautiful to others.

But they play more than just a beauty role.

One of their purposes is to minimize airflow over the eyeball, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Prolonged airflow on the eyes can dry them out.

Also, because the eyeball is exposed, eyelashes can keep out dirt, sweat and debris. This can prevent viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.

Five Simple Ways You Can Keep Your Eyelashes Healthy

For your eyelashes to serve their greatest purpose, make sure you take good care of them. To do so, you can start in a few ways:

  • Thoroughly remove eye makeup each night. If you don’t, you risk too many Demodex (those eyelash mites) in your eyelashes.
  • Replace eye makeup more often than other kinds of makeup. Mascaras, along with other liquid or creamy products, are wet, dark and damp. That may seem obvious. What may not be as obvious is wet, dark and damp products are more prone to cause infection. Bacteria can thrive in them, especially if the products are exposed to air. As a result, most manufacturers recommend replacing mascara every two to four months, and keeping other eye makeups no longer than three months.
  • Don’t share your cosmetics or cosmetic eye tools. You are more likely to develop an eye infection by sharing cosmetics or cosmetic eye tools.
  • Avoid plucking. Eyelashes generally grow at a slower pace than most other hair on your body. If you pluck too many eyelashes out, you run a greater risk of dirt, sweat and debris getting into the eyes.
  • Practice basic wellness. By practicing basic wellness techniques, like proper hand washing and regular showering, you can prevent infections like styes. Styes are red, painful lumps near the base of your eyelid.

Not only can lashes accentuate your eyes and help you look more beautiful, they play an important role protecting your eyes. As you practice proper eye care, don’t forget your lashes!

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Spiced Almonds

Packed with vitamin E, protein and fiber, almonds are one of the most nutrient-dense tree nuts. Spice them up with sweet paprika, cayenne pepper and a touch of brown sugar for a healthy snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg whitespiced_almonds-lowres
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups natural almonds
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray as necessary.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, paprika, sugar, salt, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper until well combined. Add the almonds and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Transfer almonds to the parchment-lined baking tray and spread out to form a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until the coating is crisp. Almonds will continue to crisp as they cool. Allow to cool completely then break up any nuts that are stuck together. Nuts will keep up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Recipe and photo credit: http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/recipes/spiced-almonds/

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A Pain in the Tooth: What to Do if You Suffer from Tooth Sensitivity

Do your front teeth hurt when you breathe in the cold winter air? What about when you warm up with a healthy Veggistrone soup? Does brushing and flossing make you wince?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might suffer from sensitive teeth.

A Couple of Reasons You Might Experience This Common Problem

According to the Mayo Clinic, tooth sensitivity is very common, affecting more than 3 million people in the U.S. a year.

It can occur for a couple of reasons:

  • The enamel on your teeth thins out. Enamel is the outer part of your teeth and covers a part called dentin. Dentin contains tiny nerve endings. If enough enamel wears away, the dentin can become exposed. So that hot Veggistrone soup — it could be touching exposed nerve endings.
  • Your gums recede. Your gums also cover dentin. If they recede, they can expose the nerve endings.

Seven Possible Causes Why Your Teeth Might Be Hurting

Causes for thinning enamel or receding gums can include (but aren’t limited to):

  1. Using teeth improperly. We’ve written in detail about this one.
  2. Brushing too aggressively. Brushing too hard might make you feel like you’ve gotten your teeth extra clean, but your teeth won’t be thanking you. Using too much force can wear down enamel.
  3. Eating or drinking acidic foods or drinks. Coffee may be essential to the morning routine, and spicy foods may taste delicious, but both can wear down enamel. If you can’t give up coffee, though, consider drinking it through a straw, so you can avoid contact with your teeth.
  4. Yes, gross, but with vomiting, stomach acid comes in contact with the teeth. This can be especially problematic if it happens regularly, as with the victims of some eating disorders.
  5. Grinding teeth. This condition, called bruxism, can rub off enamel from your teeth. It could be caused from higher levels of stress. If you need to de-stress, we have some tips here.
  6. Using tobacco. As if there aren’t already enough reasons to give up tobacco (both smoking and smokeless), tobacco can restrict oxygen and nutrients from reaching the gums, which can cause them to recede.
  7. Suffering from gum disease. Gum disease is the No. 1 cause of receding gums.

Five Ways You Can Treat Your Hurting Teeth

Luckily, you can treat sensitive teeth. Five tips include:

  1. Understand the cause. This is half the battle. Some of the causes come with specific solutions. For example, if you brush too hard, you would want to brush in softer strokes. Or if you grind your teeth, you could wear a mouth guard when you go to sleep.
  2. Monitor what you eat. This isn’t too different from understanding the cause of your sensitive teeth. Not only can acidic food and drink wear down enamel, alternating between hot and cold foods can cause issues, too. So, while it might sound awesome to sip a hot latte and eat ice cream simultaneously, you might not be doing your teeth any favors.
  3. Apply fluoride. Drinking tap water can be a source of fluoride. Some toothpastes contain fluoride. Your dentist might apply a fluoride varnish. Whatever way you get it, it can help your sensitive teeth, as fluoride strengthens enamel.
  4. Brush twice a day and floss daily. A regular brushing and flossing routine can keep your gums and teeth healthy and properly functioning. If your teeth are already sensitive, brushing and flossing can prevent further damage.
  5. Visit your dentist. Schedule at least two checkups a year with your dentist.

Sensitive teeth can be painful. But by knowing what to look for and by maintaining a healthy routine, you can brighten the world with your smile!

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Mushroom, Asparagus, and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

February 9th is National Pizza Day! Make your next pizza a healthier one with this recipe that’s loaded with mushrooms, asparagus and red peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-pound) package presliced cremini mushroomsmushroom-asparagus-roasted-red-pepper-pizza-ck
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 12 ounces refrigerated fresh pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as Dell’Amore)
  • 1/2 cup thinly diagonally sliced asparagus
  • 1/4 cup bottled roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Preparation

  1. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven on the bottom rack. Preheat oven to 450° (keep pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it preheats).
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes or until browned. Stir in vinegar.
  3. Place pizza dough in a medium microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) for 30 seconds.
  4. Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Carefully remove pizza stone from oven. Sprinkle cornmeal over stone; place dough on stone. Spread sauce over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange mushroom mixture, asparagus, and bell peppers over dough. Top pizza with salt, crushed red pepper, and cheese. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until browned. Remove pizza from oven. Cut into 8 wedges.

Recipe and photo credit: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mushroom-asparagus-roasted-red-pepper-pizza

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How to Enjoy Football without Hurting Your Smile

Are you ready for some football? The big game is this Sunday, with the New England Patriots facing off against the Atlanta Falcons.

If you’re at all like us, you might wonder why football football-600-144324835players smear eye black (a glob of grease) under their eyes (to reduce the glare of stadium lights, which helps them see an airborne ball better).

Actually, we’ll probably be doing what you’re doing: gathering with friends to scarf down healthy snacks, like stuffed mushrooms and guacamole nachos. Heads up: If you’re looking to make something new and aren’t already following us on Facebook, you can find plenty of healthy recipes there, which we post every Wednesday.

Oh, and during the big game, some of the commercials will be pretty great, too.

Football can be fun to watch, and it can also be fun to play. While the sport comes with many rewards, it can, unfortunately, be dangerous to your eyes and teeth.

Are the Risks of Football Worth the Rewards?

Some of the rewards of football include:

  1. It improves fitness. Football improves aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. It combines slow and fast movements with sprinting, which gets the heart pumping at different paces. This increases overall fitness. It can also increase bone and muscle strength.
  2. It can decrease stress. When you play football, dopamine is released in your brain. This can make you happier and more relaxed.
  3. It can help you sleep better. This is also due to dopamine in the brain.
  4. You can learn teamwork skills. You play football on a team. To get the ball down the field, you have to execute a play, which requires everyone to cooperate.
  5. You can make quick decisions. Because football is such a fast-paced sport, you have to sharpen your reflexes.
  6. It can build confidence. After seeing the gains from the game, football can encourage you to pursue and achieve other goals.

However, football is one of the more dangerous sports when it comes to teeth and eye safety. It is a game of many collisions — from the offense trying to block the defense to a defender tackling a receiver. Any of these, especially if a collision ends up being head-on, can cause damage to teeth and eyes.

Four Reasons Football Injuries Can Be Devastating

Losing teeth or sustaining eye injuries can have serious consequences. Here’s why:

  1. Missing teeth can make it harder to chew foods. Teeth break down food for proper digestion. Better chewing can better nourish your body, as chewing produces more saliva. Saliva can prevent plaque from building up around teeth and can also aid in the digestion process.
  2. Missing teeth can make it harder to speak. Teeth aid in speech. If you’re missing teeth, your tongue might readjust, which can affect your speaking skills.
  3. Injuries to the eye can affect your vision. This may seem like an obvious thing to write, but consider it for a moment. Your eyes are a window to the world. With impaired sight, it could feel like your window has some annoying smudges.
  4. Damage to teeth and eyes can affect your appearance. When you smile, the first feature many people notice is your teeth. Teeth support the lips and face. Some people have reported their noses and upper lips sagging after losing their two front teeth. Likewise, some people claim eyes are the first feature we fall in love with. Damage to either could rob you of your hard-earned confidence.

Three Pieces You Need to Protect Your Eyes and Teeth

When you play the sport, yes, you want to play for the love of the game. But protecting your eyes and teeth should be No. 1. It’s ok, though. You have a few options:

  1. Always wear a football helmet. A football helmet has a face mask, which can protect both your eyes and teeth.
  2. Wear sports goggles. Sports goggles can offer added protection to the eyes where the cracks in the wire mesh of a face mask might not.
  3. Wear a mouth guard. A mouth guard can protect your teeth, tongue, lips, cheeks, and jaw.

Football, like any other sport, does come with its enjoyable moments. But it can be dangerous. Get out, and enjoy the game. Just make sure to protect your eyes and teeth when you do!

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Wellness Wednesday Recipe: Guaca-Bowl-e Nachos Stadium

Looking for a healthy snack to munch on during the big game? This Guaca-Bowl-e Nachos Stadium Recipe will be the life of party.

guaca-bowl-e-nachos-stadium-700

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 8 ripe fresh avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 5 black olives, pitted
  • 8 baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, reserve 10 additional leaves for garnish
  • 1 bag (13 oz.) tortilla chips
  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar or jalapeño jack cheese
  • 2 small bell peppers, different colors, seeded and cut into small squares to resemble flags
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl combine 7 avocados, lime juice, onion, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. Mash to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the guacamole into a 6-cup rectangular dish (or aluminum foil carry-out container); smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.
  2. Place the dish of guacamole in the center of a large platter or tray. Scoop the sour cream into a small plastic bag. Snip a tiny piece from the corner; pipe lines on the guacamole to resemble a football field. Pipe lines on one olive to resemble a football; place in center of the field.
  3. Pare down one end of each of 4 baby carrots and fit one end of each carrot into one of the remaining black olives to make football players with helmets; press “players” into the field. Slice remaining 4 carrots crosswise and reserve for garnish.
  4. Sprinkle the edges of the guacamole with chopped cilantro.
  5. Place half of the tortilla chips on two large foil-lined, baking sheets. Top with half of the cheese and bell peppers. Top with remaining chips, cheese and peppers. Bake 3 to 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  6. Working quickly, place the tortilla chips around the guacamole, mounding them up on the outside edges to appear as stadium seating.
  7. Sprinkle chips with radishes, remaining cilantro leaves, baby carrots and chopped scallion. Cube remaining avocado; add to nachos as garnish.

Recipe and photo credit: https://www.avocadocentral.com/avocado-recipes/super-guacabowle-nachos

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The Risks that Poor Oral Health Might Share with Open Angle Glaucoma

Poor oral health reaches far beyond the mouth.

We’ve written about how it can make it harder for a person with diabetes to control their blood sugar. It can also cause respiratory infections and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

It might also be bad on the eyes.

Guilty by Association: The Link between Poor Oral Health and Open Angle Glaucoma

A recent study suggests poor oral health could signify an increased risk of open angle glaucoma. Open angle glaucoma—sometimes referred to as primary open angle glaucoma or POAG — is the most common type. It is caused when aqueous fluid drains too slowly from a part of the eye called the trabecular meshwork. As a result, pressure builds up in the eye. Left untreated for too long, it can lead to blindness.

The Ophthalmology Times, an eye care section of The Modern Medicine Network, recently reported a link between periodontal disease and open angle glaucoma.

According to the article, researchers analyzed 26 years’ worth of data, categorizing participants as either having good or poor oral health. Then they compared the rates of open angle glaucoma in the two groups.

glaucoma-400-484846168Their findings: Participants who had lost one tooth or more had a 45 percent higher chance of open angle glaucoma than those who had not lost a tooth. Likewise, participants who had presented with periodontal disease and had lost one tooth or more in the past two years had an 85 percent higher chance of open angle glaucoma.

The Research Is In: The Problems the Two Might Have in Common

The association, according to the researchers, could be due to impaired blood flow and endothelial dysfunction.

Impaired blood flow. Blood flow supplies your gums and eyes with nutrients and oxygen, which your gums and eyes need. Impaired blood flow makes it harder for the gums to fight infection. It can also affect the cornea, the part of your eye that refracts light and thus helps you see.

Endothelial dysfunction. Aside from being a 10-dollar word, the word endothelial refers to your blood and lymphatic vessels. These vessels constrict or dilate. When they constrict, blood pressure increases, and when they dilate, blood pressure decreases. Endothelial dysfunction refers to an imbalance between constriction and dilation. Gum inflammation has been linked to this imbalance, and an imbalance of blood flow can put more pressure on the eyes.

Four Habits that Will Help You Effectively Prevent Gum Disease

According to the poor oral health/open angle glaucoma study, more work needs to be done to verify whether an association exists.

Still, it’s always a good idea to maintain good oral health. To prevent gum disease, build these four habits into your routine:

  1. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated can rinse away food particles that have stuck around, and can ensure proper saliva production. If you’re on several types of medication, you’ll want to keep the latter in mind, as the medications might dry out your mouth. Pro-tip: Drink tap water. Tap water contains fluoride, which strengthens enamel and can protect your teeth against plaque and other malignant bacteria.
  2. Eat healthy. Cut out sugar and white flour from your diet. Replace these with fruits and vegetables like pears, apples, carrots and celery, which can stimulate the gums or at least prevent them from receding. Foods rich in protein like cheese and nuts can restore proper pH levels in your mouth.
  3. Brush twice a day and floss daily. This is, of course, a routine everyone should have. We’ve written about best practices for brushing and flossing.
  4. Visit your dentist. Schedule at least two checkups a year with your dentist. Communicate the kinds of medication you’re taking, and any issues with your gums and teeth.

Three Useful Steps to Treat Glaucoma

If you have glaucoma, you can follow these steps:

  1. Get organized. If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, chances are you’ll be taking a few medications. Learn what those medications are, what time you need to take them and how many times a day you need to take them. The more you can build this into your routine, the better your chances of preventing further vision loss.
  2. Monitor the disease. The easiest way to prevent further vision loss is to monitor the disease. Schedule an appointment for a dilated eye exam if you’re 40 or older. If you’ve already been diagnosed, keep in regular contact with your eye doctor. Check in with your eye doctor at least once a year.
  3. Let your doctor know about your medications. Regular checkups are important, not only with your eye doctor, but with all doctors. Make sure to communicate the types of medications you’ve been prescribed, as well as how they make you feel. For example, some medications can leave you fatigued. Let your doctors know, so the medications can help you rather than hurt.

Open angle glaucoma is dangerous. It doesn’t come with any symptoms, except for slow vision loss, and it doesn’t have a cure.

But if you catch it early enough, treatments can help. That’s why organizations like Prevent Blindness have worked to raise awareness by declaring January National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Practicing good oral health could be one easy way to start preventing the disease.

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