Look for the Product Symbol, such as Healthier Choice Symbol endorsed by the Health Promotion Board that reads “Higher in Whole-Grains” or the “Whole Grain” stamp by the Whole Grain Council in the US.
Check the description on the packaging for these terms: Whole grain, whole wheat, sprouted whole grain wheat flour, wholemeal, brown rice, oats or oatmeal (including instant oatmeal). All of these are whole grain products as they contain all parts of the grain.
What are terms that may be confused with whole grains?
Enriched flour, bran, wheat germ and high-fibre do not describe whole grain foods.
Multigrain can be several whole grains or several refined grains, or a mix of both. So, multigrain products may not always have whole grains.
These terms may not refer to whole grains either: Wheat, wheat flour, durum wheat, organic flour, semolina and stoneground.
As whole grains help in weight control, can we eat them without restriction?
Whole grains are not free from or low in carbohydrates. While they help to boost the feeling of fullness, whole grains do contain similar energy values as their refined counterparts. They should, therefore, be included as part of your overall meal plan.
Is it advisable for very young children to eat whole grains?
There are concerns about feeding whole grains to children below two years old. This is because the amount of phytates, a compound found in whole grains, can bind to minerals before they are absorbed. It is also harder for the body to digest food with phytates.
The high-fibre content in whole grains also increases the feeling of fullness, which may affect the appetite of young children who need to obtain sufficient nutrients for growth.
However, for an overweight child, eating whole grains may help to control food intake.
Ways to integrate whole grains into your diet:
Opt for different types of whole grain bread each week.
Eat whole grain cereal with milk or yogurt, or mix it with other breakfast cereals.
Add brown rice or oats to white rice when cooking at home.
If you don’t like brown rice, try red, black and purple rice. There are manyvarieties on the
shelves today. ‘
Cook with whole grain noodles or pasta instead of refined varieties. The taste is generally similar, though these may have a nutty flavour.
When baking, replace half of white or plain flour with whole wheat flour in your recipes for cupcakes and cookies.
When emotional intelligence (EQ) first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into the broadly held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success.
Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90 percent of top performers have high emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.
Despite the significance of EQ, its intangible nature makes it difficult to measure and to know what to do to improve it if you’re lacking. You can always take a scientifically validated test, such as the one that comes with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book, but unfortunately, most such tests aren’t free. So, I’ve analyzed the data from the million-plus people TalentSmart has tested in order to identify the behaviors that are the hallmarks of a high EQ. What follows are sure signs that you have a high EQ.
1. You have a robust emotional vocabulary All people experience emotions, but it is a select few who can accurately identify them as they occur. Our research shows that only 36 percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.
People with high EQs master their emotions because they understand them, and they use an extensive vocabulary of feelings to do so. While many people might describe themselves as simply feeling “bad,” emotionally intelligent people can pinpoint whether they feel “irritable,” “frustrated,” “downtrodden,” or “anxious.” The more specific your word choice, the better insight you have into exactly how you are feeling, what caused it, and what you should do about it.
2. You’re curious about people It doesn’t matter if they’re introverted or extroverted, emotionally intelligent people are curious about everyone around them. This curiosity is the product of empathy, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ. The more you care about other people and what they’re going through, the more curiosity you’re going to have about them.
3. You embrace change Emotionally intelligent people are flexible and are constantly adapting. They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major threat to their success and happiness. They look for change that is lurking just around the corner, and they form a plan of action should these changes occur.
4. You know your strengths and weaknesses Emotionally intelligent people don’t just understand emotions; they know what they’re good at and what they’re terrible at. They also know who pushes their buttons and the environments (both situations and people) that enable them to succeed. Having a high EQ means you know your strengths and how to lean into and use them to your full advantage while keeping your weaknesses from holding you back.
5. You’re a good judge of character Much of emotional intelligence comes down to social awareness; the ability to read other people, know what they’re about, and understand what they’re going through. Over time, this skill makes you an exceptional judge of character. People are no mystery to you. You know what they’re all about and understand their motivations, even those that lie hidden beneath the surface.
6. You are difficult to offend If you have a firm grasp of who you are, it’s difficult for someone to say or do something that gets your goat. Emotionally intelligent people are self-confident and open-minded, which creates a pretty thick skin. You may even poke fun at yourself or let other people make jokes about you because you are able to mentally draw the line between humor and degradation.
7. You know how to say no (to yourself and others) Emotional intelligence means knowing how to exert self-control. You delay gratification and avoid impulsive action. Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is a major self-control challenge for many people, but “No” is a powerful word that you should unafraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
8. You let go of mistakes Emotionally intelligent people distance themselves from their mistakes, but do so without forgetting them. By keeping their mistakes at a safe distance, yet still handy enough to refer to, they are able to adapt and adjust for future success. It takes refined self-awareness to walk this tightrope between dwelling and remembering. Dwelling too long on your mistakes makes you anxious and gun shy, while forgetting about them completely makes you bound to repeat them. The key to balance lies in your ability to transform failures into nuggets of improvement. This creates the tendency to get right back up every time you fall down.
9. You give and expect nothing in return When someone gives you something spontaneously, without expecting anything in return, this leaves a powerful impression. For example, you might have an interesting conversation with someone about a book, and when you see them again a month later, you show up with the book in hand. Emotionally intelligent people build strong relationships because they are constantly thinking about others.
10. You don’t hold grudges The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event sends your body into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. When the threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when the threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better now but can also improve your health.
11. You neutralize toxic people Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. But high-EQ individuals control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their own emotions and don’t allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the difficult person’s standpoint and are able to find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.
12. You don’t seek perfection Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know that it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and should have done differently instead of moving forward, excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.
13. You appreciate what you have Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood by reducing the stress hormone cortisol (in some cases by 23 percent). Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who work daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experience improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol play a major role in this.
14. You disconnect Taking regular time off the grid is a sign of a high EQ because it helps you to keep your stress under control and to live in the moment. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even–gulp!–turning off your phone gives your body and mind a break. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels. Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email with the power to bring your thinking (read: stressing) back to work can drop onto your phone at any moment.
15. You limit your caffeine intake Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, which is the primary source of a fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine’s long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body. High-EQ individuals know that caffeine is trouble, and they don’t let it get the better of them.
16. You get enough sleep It’s difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams) so that you wake up alert and clearheaded. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when they don’t get enough–or the right kind–of sleep. So, they make sleep a top priority.
17. You stop negative self-talk in its tracks The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that–thoughts, not facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural tendency to perceive threats (inflating the frequency or severity of an event). Emotionally intelligent people separate their thoughts from the facts in order to escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive, new outlook.
18. You won’t let anyone limit your joy When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.
The foods you eat can have a major effect on your weight.
Some foods, like full-fat yogurt, coconut oil and eggs, help with weight loss (1, 2, 3).
Other foods, especially processed and refined products, can make you gain weight.
Here are 11 foods to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight.
1. French Fries and Potato Chips
Whole potatoes are healthy and filling, but french fries and potato chips are not. They are very high in calories, and it’s easy to eat way too many of them.
In observational studies, consuming French fries and potato chips has been linked to weight gain (4, 5).
One study even found that potato chips may contribute to more weight gain per serving than any other food (5).
What’s more, baked, roasted or fried potatoes may contain cancer-causing substances called acrylamides. Therefore, it’s best to eat plain, boiled potatoes (6, 7).
Bottom Line: French fries and potato chips are unhealthy and fattening. On the other hand, whole, boiled potatoes are very healthy and help fill you up.
2. Sugary Drinks
Sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda, are one of the unhealthiest foods on the planet.
They are strongly associated with weight gain and can have disastrous health effects when consumed in excess (8, 9, 10, 11).
Even though sugary drinks contain a lot of calories, your brain doesn’t register them like solid food (12).
Liquid sugar calories don’t make you feel full, and you won’t eat less food to compensate. Instead, you end up adding these calories on top of your normal intake.
If you are serious about losing weight, consider giving up sugary drinks completely.
Bottom Line: Sugary drinks can negatively affect your weight and general health. If weight loss is your goal, then giving up soda and similar drinks may have a big impact.
3. White Bread
White bread is highly refined and often contains a lot of added sugar.
It is high on the glycemic index and can spike your blood sugar levels (13).
One study of 9,267 people found that eating two slices (120 grams) of white bread per day was linked to a 40% greater risk of weight gain and obesity (14).
Fortunately, there are many healthy alternatives to conventional wheat bread. One is Ezekiel bread, which is probably the healthiest bread on the market.
However, keep in mind that all wheat breads do contain gluten. Some other options include oopsie bread, cornbread and almond flour bread.
Bottom Line: White bread is made from very fine flour, and can spike your blood sugar levels and lead to overeating. However, there are many other types of bread you can eat.
4. Candy Bars
Candy bars are extremely unhealthy. They pack a lot of added sugar, added oils and refined flour into a small package.
Candy bars are high in calories and low in nutrients. An average-sized candy bar covered in chocolate can contain around 200–300 calories, and extra-large bars may contain even more (15).
Unfortunately, you can find candy bars everywhere. They are even strategically placed in stores in order to tempt consumers into buying them impulsively.
If you are craving a snack, eat a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts instead.
Bottom Line: Candy bars consist of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, refined flour and added oils. They are high in calories, but not very filling.
5. Most Fruit Juices
Most fruit juices you find at the supermarket have very little in common with whole fruit.
Fruit juices are highly processed and loaded with sugar.
In fact, they can contain just as much sugar and calories as soda, if not more (16).
Also, fruit juice usually has no fiber and doesn’t require chewing.
This means that a glass of orange juice won’t have the same effects on fullness as an orange, making it easy to consume large quantities in a short amount of time (17).
Stay away from fruit juice and eat whole fruit instead.
Bottom Line: Fruit juice is high in calories and added sugar, but usually contains no fiber. It is best to stick to whole fruit.
6. Pastries, Cookies and Cakes
Pastries, cookies and cakes are packed with unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined flour.
They may also contain artificial trans fats, which are very harmful and linked to many diseases (18).
Pastries, cookies and cakes are not very satisfying, and you will likely become hungry very quickly after eating these high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
If you’re craving something sweet, reach for a piece of dark chocolate instead.
Bottom Line: Pastries, cookies and cakes often contain large amounts of added sugar, refined flour and sometimes trans fat. These foods are high in calories but not very filling.
7. Some Types of Alcohol (Especially Beer)
Alcohol provides more calories than carbs and protein, or about 7 calories per gram.
However, the evidence for alcohol and weight gain is not clear (19).
Drinking alcohol in moderation seems to be fine and is actually linked to reduced weight gain. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is associated with increased weight gain (20, 21).
The type of alcohol also matters. Beer can cause weight gain, but drinking wine in moderation may actually be beneficial (19, 22).
Bottom Line: If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to consider cutting back on alcohol or skipping it altogether. Wine in small amounts seems to be fine.
8. Ice Cream
Ice cream is incredibly delicious, but very unhealthy. It is high in calories, and most types are loaded with sugar.
A small portion of ice cream is fine every now and then, but the problem is that it’s very easy to consume massive amounts in one sitting.
Consider making your own ice cream, using less sugar and healthier ingredients like full-fat yogurt and fruit.
Also, serve yourself a small portion and put the ice cream away so that you won’t end up eating too much.
Bottom Line: Store-bought ice cream is high in sugar, and homemade ice cream is a better alternative. Remember to be mindful of portions, as it’s very easy to eat too much ice cream.
Pizza is a very popular fast food. However, commercially made pizzas also happen to be very unhealthy.
They’re extremely high in calories and often contain unhealthy ingredients like highly refined flour and processed meat.
If you want to enjoy a slice of pizza, try making one at home using healthier ingredients. Homemade pizza sauce is also healthier, since supermarket varieties can contain lots of sugar.
Another option is to look for a pizza place that makes healthier pizzas.
Bottom Line: Commercial pizzas are often made from highly refined and processed ingredients. A homemade pizza with healthier ingredients is a much better option.
10. High-Calorie Coffee Drinks
Coffee contains several biologically active substances, most importantly caffeine.
These chemicals can boost your metabolism and increase fat burning, at least in the short term (23, 24).
However, the negative effects of adding unhealthy ingredients like artificial cream and sugar outweigh these positive effects.
High-calorie coffee drinks are actually no better than soda. They’re loaded with empty calories that can equal a whole meal.
If you like coffee, it’s best to stick to plain, black coffee when trying to lose weight. Adding a little cream or milk is fine too. Just avoid adding sugar, high-calorie creamers and other unhealthy ingredients.
Bottom Line: Plain, black coffee can be very healthy and help you burn fat. However, high-calorie coffee drinks that contain artificial ingredients are very unhealthy and fattening.
11. Foods High in Added Sugar
Added sugar is probably the worst thing in the modern diet. Excess amounts have been linked to some of the most serious diseases in the world today (25, 26, 27).
Foods high in added sugar usually provide tons of empty calories, but are not very filling.
Examples of foods that may contain massive amounts of added sugar include sugary breakfast cereals, granola bars and low-fat, flavored yogurt.
You should be especially careful when selecting “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods, as manufacturers often add lots of sugar to make up for the flavor that’s lost when the fat is removed.
Bottom Line: Added sugar is one of the unhealthiest ingredients in the modern diet. Many products, such as low-fat and fat-free foods, seem healthy but are loaded with sugar.
Take Home Message
The worst foods for weight loss are highly processed junk foods. These foods are typically loaded with added sugar, refined wheat and/or added fats.
If you’re not sure if a food is healthy or unhealthy, read the label. However, watch out for the different names for sugar and misleading health claims.
Also, remember to consider the serving sizes. Some healthy foods, like nuts, dried fruit and cheese, are high in calories, and it can be very easy to eat too much.
Originally posted on http://authoritynutrition.com/
Ma is no doubt that a person has a great vision, he chose to have insurance coverage of up to 40 million.
Ma’s remarks, sharply reflects the significance of insurance, “Do not let your hard-earned money become medical expenses.”
“Buying insurance can’t change your life; instead it prevents your lifestyle from being changed. After toiling for decades, an illness can wipe out an entire family’s savings by the medical bills incurred. In times of tragedy, when faced with the possible loss of life, one is once again reminded of the purpose of the existence of insurance sales people.”
Here is his original message as posted in http://mp.weixin.qq.com/
How would you keep a roof over your head if you couldn’t work due to ill health? Many of us wrongly adopt the “it-will-never-happen-to-me” mentality, but for millions of households, putting your head in the sand could have dreadful consequences. Recent research from Shelter showed that nearly four million families could not keep up with housing costs in the event of a month’s missed pay.
“There is little or no room for manoeuvre for people with stretched household budgets,” says Gillian Guy, chief executive at Citizens Advice. “Many are still feeling the effects of the recession as low wages and high costs mean people face a daily battle to make ends meet. A month without a pay cheque can easily prove disastrous.”
So how can you ensure you are properly protected should you find yourself out of work due to an accident or sickness? It is worth considering insurance such as income protection or critical illness cover. These policies can pay vital bills in the event of prolonged periods unemployment due to poor health.
According to figures from the Institute of Actuaries and insurer LV, a 30-year-old, non-smoking man is nearly twice as likely to suffer a serious illness before the age of 70 than to die. Yet despite this, just one in 10 of us have this type of financial protection in place. “Anyone with debts or dependents should consider some form of financial protection insurance,” says Tom Baigrie, chief executive of Lifesearch, the insurance brokers. “For many people affording both types of cover would be difficult, however, the products do complement each other as they cover different risks.”
Critical illness cover pays a tax-free lump sum on diagnosis of any one of a list of serious illnesses, while an income protection policy pays a monthly income if you are unable to work through sickness. “It’s really important to think about why you might be unable to work for an extended period of time,” says Phil Jeynes, spokesman for insurance provider PruProtect. “Statistically, injury or illness are the biggest causes of absenteeism and many employers stop paying sick pay after quite a short period of time.”
Most people dramatically overestimate the amount of state aid they will receive if they are taken ill. According to Lifesearch, a 30-year-old earning a salary of £35,000 would only be entitled to around £300 a month in benefits if they were to become too ill to work. However, an income protection policy from Exeter Friendly, costing £15 a month, would guarantee a monthly income of £1,400 if the person buying it opted for payouts to begin after a six-month deferral period.
When you consider figures from Aviva that show that the average length of an income protection claim is nine years and four months the sum can soon add up. Based on the Exeter Friendly policy above, this cover could be worth nearly £150,000 over the course of your claim.
Policies are priced according to your age, general health and the amount you want to receive if you have to make a claim. When calculating how much cover you need, it makes financial sense to consider all the monthly outgoings you pay every month. “As well as your mortgage, rent or loan commitments, you must include those everyday essentials such as council tax, utility bills and the weekly food shop,” says Simon Burgess, director at protection provider British Money. “If you only take out enough cover to repay a loan or mortgage, you could still end up in debt trying to meet your other commitments.”
Financial experts agree that due to society’s increasing life expectancy, it is crucial to think past traditional retirement ages when taking out a protection policy to ensure that you will be adequately covered for the duration you require.
“Given that we may all need to work much longer to be able to afford to retire, one must think beyond age 65 as a maximum term,” says wealth manager Philippa Gee. “You still need to consider just how long your working life could be and scope a product to reflect that.” Bear in mind, however, that this could increase the cost of the policy, depending on the length of cover you are after.
While these policies complement each other, they do different things and cover different risks so it is important to carefully consider both before making a purchase. If you have a heart attack, for instance, and return to work after six months, a critical illness policy would have paid the lump sum, where income protection payments would stop when you go back to work.
When it comes to taking out insurance, policyholders must be careful to disclose all previous medical conditions. Failure to report even minor conditions, tests or even a complaint made to a GP could potentially invalidate a later claim, or result in a reduced payout.
When it comes to choosing an income protection policy, consumers should look to insure their “own occupation” – claimants who are unable to do their own job – rather than any work at all because they fall ill. The good news is that this type of cover, while offering better protection, may not be more costly as it is factors such as age, smoking, occupation, length of policy and amount of cover that determines the premium.
Get the most for your premiums and opt for two single policies rather than joint cover if you are in a relationship. Despite higher premiums of roughly 10%, these two policies can pay out twice, whereas a joint policy will only ever pay out once.
This will help should they be diagnosed with serious health problems later
Little Chloe Mah was just seven months old when she was diagnosed with Pompe disease, an inherited neuro-muscular disorder that is progressive, debilitating and often fatal.
It is difficult to determine the lifespan of people diagnosed with rare disorders such as hers.
And even if Chloe, now aged five, should live well into adulthood, her parents Kenneth and Patricia Mah are worried about the heavy medical expenses involved.
“People often ask us, how long can Chloe live?” Mr Mah, 45, said.
“But that’s not the question. It’s about the quality of life, not the quantity.”
And so they do whatever they can to help Chloe live as well as possible, in spite of the heavy financial cost.
Chloe requires enzyme replacement therapy at least 26 times a year, with each session costing about $9,500. She also needs various types of therapy – speech and language, occupational and physio.
Her annual medical bills total about $250,000, and other expenses amount to $30,000.
For instance, the filters for Chloe’s ventilators need to be replaced every three days, and they cost $5 each.
And her expenses will only increase as Chloe grows older and bigger, with the amount of enzyme she requires for each treatment increasing proportionately with her weight.
When Chloe was a year old, her an-nual hospitalisation bill was $117,000. Now it is a staggering $300,000.
Mr Mah used to earn between $60,000 and $80,000 annually running his own business. He is now a stay-at-home dad looking after Chloe. Mrs Mah, 40, is the head of training and competency at Finexis Advisory. The couple also have a son, two-year-old Cayden.
When Mr Mah quit his business, their annual household income halved, while Chloe’s medical bills seemed to triple, said Mrs Mah.
“It was a double whammy,” Mr Mah said.
Their annual household income is about $80,000 to $90,000. The family manages to get by with support from insurance coverage, careful financial management and donations.
Chloe has three insurance policies, all purchased in January 2010 when she was two months old and before her diagnosis. To date, the total payout has been $700,000 under a policy known as the AIA Healthshield Gold Max with Essential Plan A, covering the period from June 2010 to January 2015.
The plans cover Chloe’s hospital bills and various therapies.
The total premiums for the three policies are less than $200 a month.
The Mah family takes care to limit expenditure by driving to Johor Baru, for instance, to buy cheaper groceries and not going on expensive holidays.
Whatever donations the Mahs receive, they put in Chloe’s child development account, a special savings account for children.
“When we are old with no income, who will support her? This money in her fund will be important then,” said Mr Mah.
“We just want her to be as independent and as happy as she can.
“With whatever financial planning I can do, and based on Chloe’s own capabilities, we hope that she will be able to take care of herself and survive even when we are no longer around.”
Mr Mah emphasised the importance of having reliable financial advisers to help out when policyholders make a claim.
“I think without the AIA financial services consultant’s (FSC’s) guidance, we probably wouldn’t even have thought we could have gotten the first claim through,” he said.
The Mah family’s AIA FSCs – Ms Elaine Yeo and Mr Tommy Tay – stressed the importance of adequate financial protection for the whole family.
The parents, especially, should not be neglected, they pointed out.
Ms Yeo said: “Given that the parents are the breadwinners, they need equal protection against unforeseen circumstances to ensure their children can be taken care of.”
According to a 2012 protection gap survey commissioned by the Life Insurance Association (LIA), each working adult requires coverage of 10 times his or her annual income to be adequately insured.
“It is also best to have regular financial reviews to better address a family’s changing needs with each new milestone,” Ms Yeo added.
The two advisers strongly advised families to get insurance for their children when they are young, to safeguard against any unforeseen threats.
Financial planning for families with special needs children
The Mahs purchased insurance for Chloe when she was two months old, before she was diagnosed, but many families with children already diagnosed with rare disorders will find it difficult to buy insurance or receive financial aid.
It is more difficult and expensive to purchase coverage once the child has been diagnosed with a disease.
Families with children suffering from rare diseases face rising medical costs that will stretch on for an unknown number of years. This will impose a heavy financial burden on even middle-income families, who will need to dig into their savings and Medisave, both of which are limited.
Another concern is ensuring that the financial needs of a child will continue to be well met even after the parents or guardians pass away.
Nevertheless, families in these situations can still take action to address such concerns.
Take stock of all available financial assistance opportunities
Families can try to seek both financial and non-financial support from organisations such as Club Rainbow and the Rare Disorders Society. The latter was founded by Mr Mah himself.
Apart from patient support and parent support groups, the Rare Disorders Society, which is a non-profit organisation, also provides financial aid to families.
“A lot of these families often have to go through means testing to apply for financial aid. But for us, when it comes to rare diseases, it’s not about how much you earn. The most critical thing is how much are your medical expenses and needs,” Mrs Mah explained.
Mr Steven Ong, chief executive officer of Financial Planning Association of Singapore, suggested that families look into hospital funds such as the KKH Rare Diseases endowment sub-fund and NUH Kids Fund.
Understand the government schemes in place
There are also government schemes in place that families may be able to tap.
Families must familiarise themselves with the 3Ms – Medisave, MediShield and Medifund – and how each can help to pay for the medical expenses.
First though, be clear on the classification of your child’s disease.
For instance, if the disease was diagnosed at birth, you should check with existing medical insurers and MediShield to determine if the disease is classified as congenital or a neonatal condition that is covered by them.
Since March 2013, MediShield has been extended to cover newly diagnosed congenital and neonatal conditions with no underwriting, so long as parents do not opt their children out.
This, however, is only applicable to infants born on or after March 1, 2013 and are Singapore citizens at birth.
MediShield Life, to be introduced at the end of the year, is the “light at the end of the tunnel” for such families, Mr Ong said.
While subject to terms and conditions, it will cover all individuals automatically.
But for some serious pre-existing illnesses, individuals may need to pay 30 per cent higher premiums for 10 years. In addition, this subsidy is only for Class B2/C wards in government hospitals.
The CPF Nomination scheme, under the Special Needs Saving Scheme as administered by Special Needs Trust Co (SNTC), is an option to help manage the regular distribution of the parents’ CPF monies after they pass away, subject to specific conditions.
On top of that, the CPF Enhanced Nomination scheme will help parents transfer their CPF monies to their children’s Medi-save accounts, subject to the ceiling, to ensure the children can pay some of the medical expenses from their own Medisave accounts in future.
Consider insurance and its various alternatives
Parents are strongly advised to consider buying a medical insurance plan for their children as soon as practicable – and not wait until a sudden adverse diagnosis that may render the child uninsurable.
When purchasing a policy, Ms Eline See, council member of Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore Executive Council, recommended that parents review the terms and conditions set out in the policies.
“Pay attention to benefits limits, exclusions as well as their claims requirements,” she advised.
Trying to apply for insurance after the child has been diagnosed with the disease might be difficult.
Mr Ong said: “Successful application with insurers depends on the underwriting decisions. Some insurers may limit the coverage of the policy by excluding the condition or increase the premiums due to increased risks.”
The Mah family wholeheartedly endorses the benefits of insurance even if bought after a diagnosis.
Mr Mah said: “Maybe they can’t get medical insurance, but how about life insurance? It doesn’t mean you can’t get any at all.
“Perhaps you may need to pay a bit more if your child has a disorder, and perhaps there are certain exclusions. But at least you’re covered for something with certain insurance.”
Ms See said while most insurance options are barred to those already diagnosed with medical conditions, there are still options in the market that cover existing medical conditions, albeit subject to terms and conditions and usually at a high cost.
“Insurance policies that cover long-term disability can also be considered,” she said.
Mr Aw Choon Hui, deputy chief executive officer of GYC Financial Advisory, noted that a few international health insurers offer plans that cover pre-existing conditions, subject to conditions. These plans have very high premiums compared with standard local plans.
There will also usually be a waiting period of a few years and a cap on the amount one can claim for that condition.
Alternatively, parents can consider enrolling in group insurance at their workplace.
Group insurance refers to company insurance where employees are covered and the employer owns the insurance policy.
However, such policies usually come with a waiting period before treatments for pre-existing conditions can be claimed.
Participation in such policies very much depends on the group insurance put in place by your employer, Ms See said.
Pay attention to rising medical expenses
To avoid being caught out, parents should keep an eye on rising medical costs.
It is important to note that some insurance plans have a lifetime limit to the total claims amount. This means that the plan will lapse once the claims exceed the lifetime limit.
And as medical expenses will rise every year, it is important to review the insurance policies regularly and take into account medical inflation and affordability of the insurance premium.
“As insurance premium often rises with age, it is important to ensure it is affordable in the long term,” Ms See advised.
Parents should also monitor their available funds against climbing medical costs over time. Just leaving your savings in a savings account or fixed deposit account might not be sufficient to beat the high cost of inflation for medical expenses, Mr Aw cautioned.
He said: “Part of that savings will need to be prudently invested to try to achieve better rates of return in the long run, otherwise it would be rapidly wiped out with rising inflation.
“One practical way is to consider creating a trust and systematically setting aside money on a regular basis to grow over the years so as to provide the financial resources needed for this child in the long term.”
Beyond consciously building a special medical fund exclusively for their child’s medical expenses, Ms Low Mei Kuen, director of the advisory unit in Providend, said one way to help grow this fund is to contribute to the child’s Medisave account, where the current interest rate is 4 per cent a year.
Plan for the future
While battling rising medical expenses will be the key priority for such families now, they should also consider the difficult issues that may arise should the parents die before the child.
This involves appointing an alternative and reliable guardian, planning a constant source of funding for the child, the distribution of this funding source over time and other issues related to caregiving.
Mr Ong acknowledged that there is no magic formula to correctly spread funds out over time, but said parents can consider tapping the various government schemes and creating a legal entity known as a Special Needs Trust with prior instructions on how the money should be used over time.
This trust will continue providing for the child’s expenses, as per the trust deed and any letter of wishes given by the parents.
According to Mr Aw, this is important as the parent’s assets may not be readily released if the case is embroiled in disputes or challenges from non-beneficiaries.
The trust would ensure that payment for expenses can still be disbursed without interruption as the trustee holds the legal title of the trust’s assets, although the child is the beneficiary.
Also, assets such as payouts from the parents’ life insurance policies can be injected into the trust upon the parents’ deaths so as to boost the assets of the trust. Mr Aw noted that the parents could take on more life insurance on their own lives and assign the proceeds to the trust with the aim of boosting its available funds.
It’s easy to experience boredom when working out in the gym. Just the sight of the same machines, mirrors and muscle-pros can send you into monotony-land and leave you feeling uninspired and uninterested in working out. But take heart – your fitness regimen doesn’t have to be like this!
By implementing a few changes to your routine, you can start to enjoy every moment of your time in the gym.
Try these tips for turning your lackluster gym workout into a rewarding experience:
Let music invigorate you. Put together a compilation of your favorite tracks and take your MP3 player with you every time you go to the gym. Lose yourself in your music and you’ll be done with your workout before you know it!
You’ll be surprised how quickly your 20-minute treadmill warm-up will pass if you listen to four of your all-time favorite songs back to back!
The rhythm of some songs automatically gives an adrenaline rush and pushes you to keep going.
Alternate routines and workouts. You’ve probably found that after doing the same routines repetitively for a few weeks, you get pretty tired of them. Working out is just like anything else – it needs variety to be spicy and interesting!
For example, do a step aerobics class one week and then replace it with a spinning class the following week.
Memorize your routine and try to do it in the reverse the following week.
Perform your workouts in front of the mirrors one week and take a break the next. You’ll automatically feel challenged to do the exercises properly when you can’t see your reflection in the mirror.
Find a workout partner. Company goes a long way in relieving the monotony of a gym workout. Visiting with a friend can distract you enough to keep you going without paying too much attention to the workout.
Set goals and reward yourself. One strategy that can help you to look at your gym workout as beneficial and interesting is setting workout goals that come with rewards. Give yourself achievable workout targets and reward yourself once you’ve hit them.
For example, if you have a goal to increase your repetitions by 5, plan a reward to give you an incentive to reach this goal. Treat yourself to a new book, movie, or other inexpensive gift when you achieve the goal.
If you’d like to save up for something more expensive, add to your savings to reward yourself each time you meet a new goal. Set small goals you can easily achieve and add a dollar to the pot for each achievement. It’s exhilarating to see both your savings and your fitness level growing consistently just by meeting these small goals!
Earn a sweet (low-calorie) treat for working out all muscle groups.
There’s nothing better than a little inspiration to get you involved your gym workout! The minute you start to put more creativity into making it a worthwhile experience, you’ll start to enjoy it. Experiment and discover your own unique ways to make your workout more interesting and motivating. Even the experiments themselves will bring more fun to your workouts.
So don’t give up on the gym – it promises to help you achieve all your fitness goals as long as you stick to it. And with these techniques, you’re bound to enjoy your workouts as well!
Is it a good thing to ‘starve’ yourself each day, or a few days of the week? Well, a tonne of evidence indicates that timed periods of fasting are a good thing.
Fasting has become increasingly popular over the years, especially among the health community. Whilst most health practitioners are afraid to recommend eating less due to the stigma involved, it still doesn’t alleviate the incredible benefits of fasting when used sensibly.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 benefits of fasting that will surprise you, and how you can incorporate them into your own life.
1. Fasting Helps Weight Loss
Fasting can be a safe way to lose weight as many studies have shown that intermittent fasting – fasting that is controlled within a set number of hours – allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than just regular dieting.
Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar. Many athletes now use fasting as means to hitting low body fat percentages for competitions.
2. Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting has shown to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, allowing you to tolerate carbohydrates (sugar) better than if you didn’t fast. A study showed that after periods of fasting, insulin becomes more effective in telling cells to take up glucose from blood.
3. Fasting Speeds Up The Metabolism
Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest, and this can energise your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. If your digestion is poor, this can effect your ability to metabolise food and burn fat. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and promote healthy bowel function, thus improving your metabolic function.
4. Fasting Promotes Longevity
Believe it or not, the less you eat the longer you will live. Studies have shown how the lifespan of people in certain cultures increased due to their diets. However, we don’t need to live amongst a foreign community to reap the benefits of fasting. One of the primary effects of ageing is a slower metabolism, the younger your body is, the faster and more efficient your metabolism. The less you eat, the less toll it takes on your digestive system.
5. Fasting Improves Hunger
Just think about this, can you actually experience real hunger if you eat a meal every 3-4 hours? Of course you can’t. In fact, to experience the true nature of hunger, this would take anything from 12 to even 24 hours.
Fasting helps to regulate the hormones in your body so that you experience what true hunger is. We know that obese individuals do not receive the correct signals to let them know they are full due excessive eating patterns.
Think of fasting as a reset button: the longer you fast, the more your body can regulate itself to release the correct hormones, so that you can experience what real hunger is. Not to mention, when your hormones are working correctly, you get full quicker.
6. Fasting Improves Your Eating Patterns
Fasting can be a helpful practice for those who suffer with binge eating disorders, and for those who find it difficult to establish a correct eating pattern due to work and other priorities.
With intermittent fasting going all afternoon without a meal is okay and it can allow you to eat at a set time that fits your lifestyle. Also, for anyone who wants to prevent binge eating, you can establish a set time in where you allow yourself to eat your daily amount of calories in one sitting, and then not eat till the following day.
7. Fasting Improves Your Brain Function
Fasting has shown to improve brain function, because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)
BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
8. Fasting Improves Your Immune System
Intermittent fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation.
In nature, when animals get sick they stop eating and instead focus on resting. This is a primal instinct to reduce stress on their internal system so their body can fight off infection. We humans are the only species who look for food when we are ill, even when we do not need it.
9. Fasting Contributes To Self-Enlightenment
Fasting has helped many people feel more connected to life during the practices reading, meditation, yoga and martial arts etc. With no food in the digestive system, this makes room for more energy in the body – the digestive is one of the most energy absorbing systems in the body.
Fasting for self-enlightenment, allows us to feel better both consciously and physically. With a lighter body and a clearer mind we become more aware and grateful for the things around us.
10. Fasting Helps Clear The Skin And Prevent Acne
Fasting can help clear the skin because with the body temporarily freed from digestion, it’s able to focus its regenerative energies on other systems.
Not eating anything for just one day has shown to help the body clean up the toxins and regulate the functioning of other organs of the body like liver, kidneys and other parts.
Here are the key tests too many of us are missing:
1) Smear test
Why it’s skipped: More than one million women miss cervical screening checks, with rates falling every year since 2011.
Women aged 25-49 are the most likely to decline a smear test, say new figures. According to other research by GynaeHealth UK, the main reasons women give for skipping smears are because they find the test uncomfortable or embarrassing, they’re too busy or it’s difficult to get an appointment.
Why you need it: Smear tests are a method of detecting abnormal cells in the cervix. Left untreated these can develop into cancer – which is why the test is credited with saving 5,000 lives a year. Eight women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer each day and it’s the most common form of the disease in under 35s.
What to do: All women registered with a GP between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening every three to five years. Women under 25 will only be given a smear test if they’re experiencing symptoms such as bleeding between periods or an unusual discharge. Ask your GP surgery when your next smear is due if you’re unsure or you have any of the above symptoms.
2) Self breast check
Why it’s skipped:
A third of women don’t check their breasts regularly for signs of cancer, often because they don’t know how to, according to the new report. And while most know that a lump ought to be checked, many don’t realise that redness, a rash or an inverted nipple could also be cancer signs.
Why you need it: In 2011, more than 50,000 women in the UK were diagnosed with breast cancer and about 11,000 died. As Breast Cancer Care chief executive Samia al Qadhi explains: ‘We know earlier detection can mean more effective treatment.”
What to do: Experts now say the important thing to do is to look at and feel your breasts regularly, so you spot any new changes quickly. You can do this in the shower, when you use body lotion or when you get dressed. See your GP if you notice any of the following: a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast or armpit, a change in the size or breast shape, nipple discharge, dimpling on the skin, a rash on or around the nipple or a nipple becoming inverted or sunken.
Why it’s skipped: The mammogram programme has come under fire in recent years for causing overdiagnosis and treatment, with a review in 2012 finding that screening saves around 1,300 lives each year – but also leads to some 4,000 women having treatment they don’t need.
As a result, figures show that the number attending screenings has fallen for the third consecutive year as women fear being subjected to needless breast removal and surgery on harmless cancers that would never have caused symptoms during their lifetime.
Why you need it: Mammograms remain the most effective way of detecting breast cancer at an early stage, when lumps may be too small to feel but can still be easily treated. Most women when surveyed still say they’d prefer being over-cautious than risk missing anything cancerous.
What to do: Women over 50 fall under the NHS Breast Screening Programme and are checked every three years until 70, although the age range is gradually being extended to 47-73. Women under 50 with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer (three first-degree relatives) may be referred by their GP to their local breast clinic for earlier screening – often an ultrasound, as mammograms aren’t very useful for women under 45 who have denser breast tissue.
4) HIV test
Why it’s skipped: Embarrassment, fear and stigma are all factors for the low rate of tests among certain groups – but mainly because heterosexuals believe they’re low risk.
Why you need IT: HIV has been back in the headlines with actor Charlie Sheen admitting he has it and new figures showing 18,000 people in the UK don’t know they have the virus. Once seen as a gay disease, rates among heterosexuals continue to rise, with research showing they’re less likely to be tested and are diagnosed later.
Post-divorce 40- and 50- somethings are a particularly high risk group as research shows these age groups are less likely to use condoms – or consider a test.
Dr Peter Greenhouse, of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, has also warned dating apps such as Tinder could also trigger an explosion of HIV and other STIs in heterosexuals.
Provided it is caught early and treated with drugs, people with HIV now enjoy a nearly normal lifespan.
What to do: Anyone who has had unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners, needs to have this test. However, the highest risk group is still men who have sex with other men, people who inject drugs and people born in Africa, along with their sexual partners.
For your nearest clinic that offers free and anonymous testing, visit Terrence Higgins Trust at tht.org.uk
5) Bowel cancer check
Why it’s skipped: In England, only around 55% of the people over 60 who receive a bowel cancer postal test actually return it.
Research shows that for many, the concept of collecting and then sending their poo samples through the post is just too unpleasant.
Why you need IT: The test aims to detect bowel cancer – the UK’s fourth most common cancer that kills over 16,000 people per year – at an early stage by testing for hidden blood in a stool.
And it works – figures show those who take part in the screening programme have a 25% lower chance of dying from the disease.
What to do: In England, everyone from ages 60-74 is now sent a kit in the post every two years.
If you’ve not received a kit, or you want to continue getting them after 74, ring the NHS bowel cancer screening programme helpline on tel: 0800 707 6060.
The test is actually very simple to do and can be done in the privacy of your own home.
Anyone with new symptoms, such as bleeding in your stools or from your bottom, persistent changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or abdominal pain, should still see their GP immediately.
6) Eye test
Why it’s skipped? We don’t get round to booking one or we simply don’t have any vision problems – plus many people worry about the high cost of new glasses if their prescription changes. Whatever the reason, six million people in the UK have never had an eye test, while 14 million can’t remember when they last had a check.
Why you need it: An eye test doesn’t just show whether or not you need glasses, it can also detect early signs of a number of serious conditions before you’re aware of any symptoms, including diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also pick up glaucoma, a condition that causes increased pressure in the
eye and can lead to blindness if it is left untreated.
What to do: Book an appointment every two years with a local optometrist for a full eye health exam. Eye tests are free for the over 60s. If any problems are picked up, you’ll be referred to your GP or a specialist eye hospital.
7) Mole self check
Why it’s skipped: We’re still not really skin-cancer aware in this country – despite our soaring rates of the disease. Indeed, research by the British Association of Dermatologists this year found that just 6% of people in the UK regularly checked their skin, with more than three-quarters admitting they wouldn’t know how to recognise a skin cancer.
Why you need it: Skin cancer is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with 2,500 people dying each year in this country from malignant melanoma – the most deadly form.
“Picking up on any changes to our skin needs to become a cultural habit for us all,” stresses dermatologist Dr Bav Shergill. “Bear in mind that cancer can appear anywhere, including under your nails and on the soles of your feet, so your whole body needs checking.”
What to do: Check your skin regularly – ask your partner or a friend to do your back for you. As well as any changes in existing moles, other changes in your skin, such as bleeding or scaling, can all be early signs of skin cancer and mean you should see your GP, who may refer you to a dermatologist to rule out cancer.
The best way to improve your stamina is to run, run and then run some more. It may be slow going at first, but it’s important to note that one of the biggest pitfalls is going too hard and hurting yourself. By gradually increasing the length and speed you run, you can see positive changes over time.
Cross-training is another very effective way of building your stamina and making sure you don’t get bored with your workouts. By adding other strong cardiovascular activities like cycling or swimming to your routine, you will be more likely to see an improvement in your running time.
Sort your diet
When you think of food as the fuel for your body, it makes sense to watch what you eat. Making sure you eat enough carbohydrates to give you energy and plenty of protein to repair muscles after a run can help you reach those fitness goals. You’ll find that by eating a healthy diet you’ll have more energy thanks to all the vitamins and nutrients you’re feeding your body.
You may also want to consider taking a supplement such as Swisse Ultiboost Immune – a comprehensive formula containing vitamin C, zinc and copper, for natural defence and reduction of tiredness and fatigue – to help support your immune system and protect your cells from oxidative stress.
Apps to give you a push
You can get an app for everything now, and running is no exception. C25K (Couch to 5k) is a great option for complete beginners, while Nike+ Running adds a competitive angle for those who want to beat their friends and then brag about it over amino shakes. But if you really want to put your money where your mouth is you might want to try Pact, which rewards those who meet their fitness goals with cash.
Although no one gets injured intentionally, there are many things you can do to keep your body pain free. If you’re planning to run a marathon – or any other long-distance race – it’s a good idea to plan well ahead to give yourself enough time to prepare. If you’re feeling any pain or discomfort, it’s best to ease off for a while and let your joints and muscles repair themselves rather than risking major damage.
Watch out for your joints, which are prone to running aches and injuries. Taking Swisse Ultiboost Joints may help you achieve your running aspirations as it contains key ingredients beneficial for joint health: glucosamine, a naturally occurring chemical found in the fluid that surrounds joints; and wild krill oil, a source of omega-3 with antioxidant support.
Running has been proven to make people feel happier. Not only will you start to look fitter, which is a confidence boost in itself, the act of running releases endorphins into the brain that trigger a happy response known as “runner’s high.” Even if you don’t make it to marathon levels, running any distance long or short will do wonders for your mood.
The biggest factor to improving your stamina is having the dedication to keep training, even if your progress is slower than you anticipated or your muscles are beginning to ache slightly. Once you get into a routine, you’ll be able to work your way to longer (and quicker) runs, and all that effort will seem worthwhile. Standard Chartered Marathon, anyone?
Get a run for your money
One of the world’s premier running events, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) is actually a number of events including a full and half marathon, an Ekiden for six-runner teams, a 10km course for runners of all abilities including the wheelchair-bound, and even a (very) popular 700m kids’ dash. The SCMS rolls around every year, in early December, and registration wraps up at the end of November but most events are fully booked well before then.
The SCMS also attracts a large number of family and friends out to support runners in the various races, with a resulting carnival atmosphere, so even if you’re a non-participant it can still be a lot of fun to go down and soak up some of the marathon excitement. Check out the SCMS website if you’re interested – but hurry, because registration ends 30 November