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Top Tips For A Sustainable Christmas

Presents

  1. Quality not quantity: When buying gifts think: less but better. This reduces the chances of gifts going to waste and can be better for your wallet!
  2. Gift an experience: Gifting an experience for your loved ones will reduce demand for physical resources. You could buy tickets to shows, concerts or events. Make a restaurant reservation or give a gift card.
  3. Think about materials: Look at the materials gifts are made from and keep sustainability in mind.
  4. Remove packaging: Reduce waste even further by buying gifts with little or no packaging.
  5. Test your wrapping skills: Look for cards and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified paper. Avoid plastic ribbon and tape or foil-backed wrapping paper.
  6. The gift of a better future: If you’re struggling for a gift idea – why not support WWF’s work by choosing an animal adoption? These are perfect gifts for nature and wildlife-lovers wanting to help the environment.

Food

  1. Cut your food waste: Try to cut any waste by planning ahead – be realistic about how much food you need and use up leftovers.
  2. Eat More Plants: Eating more plant-based meals is good for you and the planet.
  3. Know your logos: When shopping for food, look for local produce to reduce food miles. Search for sustainability certifications.
  4. Eat seasonally: Make your shopping basket more sustainable by buying locally produced, seasonal products.

Decorations

  1. Table Manners: Many Christmas crackers are not recyclable, and the toys inside are often made of plastic. Instead, look out for FSC-certified crackers. Reusable DIY crackers are another great option. Fill them yourself with sustainable options (like chocolates) and personalised festive favours.
    Avoid single-use tablecloths and napkins. Instead, use material versions which have a longer lifecycle. Cranberry sauce stains? No problem! Washing at lower temperatures will help to reduce your environmental footprint.
  2. Think about your lights: Use LED lights on your Christmas tree, they use less energy, last longer and look just as good! Also, switch off your lights at night – it’s safer and won’t cost the earth.
  3. Make your own decorations: Save yourself some money by upcycling old decorations. Or make your own using spare material around the house.
  4. Don’t forget the tree! If buying a plastic Christmas tree, make sure that you’re going to reuse it for at least 10 years. Otherwise, it would have been better to buy a living tree from a sustainable forest. If buying a real tree, make sure it’s FSC-certified.

Out and about

  1. Dressing for the party season: Choose the sustainable option and try to use clothing that you already own! If you can’t find anything to wear, ask your friends or family.
  2. Reconnect to nature: The festive season is all about spending time with friends and family. Try making one of your festive activities a walk around your local park or nature reserve.

Source: www.wwf.org.uk

Male factor infertility: myths, facts and advice for future fathers

It is estimated that approximately 1 in 6 couples worldwide are faced with infertility.
While female factors are considered to be mainly responsible, the truth is that in over 50% of cases, male infertility is a contributing factor and in 25% of cases it is the sole associated factor. In view of the above we shall explain below many aspects of male infertility and offer advice to men wishing to start a family.

1. When should I get worried?

A common phenomenon amongst couples trying to conceive is that they are quick to panic when they are having difficulties. Most fertile couples conceive on average within 4 months of trying (frequent intercourse during the woman’s fertile window), with longer time required in a significant number of cases. However, after 12 months of natural conception efforts, there should be a clinical suspicion of infertility, associated with female factor, male factor or both. For a more general guide to infertility and available courses of action, as well as advice, kindly also look into our article: DIFFICULTY GETTING PREGNANT: WHY, WHAT TO DO AND WHEN TO SEEK FERTILITY CARE.

2. What causes male infertility?

Multiple factors may be associated with male infertility such as:

Medical factors: a number of medical conditions and treatments for certain conditions may impact male fertility such as:

  • Varicocoele: an abnormal swelling of testicular veins, a common and potentially treatable condition.
  • Metabolic disorders eg Diabetes, obesity.
  • Anatomical anomalies:
    • obstruction of sperm flow (at any level, from the testis to the urethra).
    • Undescended testicles.
    • Small transport tubule defects (associated with injury, inflammation etc).
  • Infections: infection of any of the male reproductive organs (epididymitis, orchitis etc), Sexually Transmitted Infections (HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia etc) and SARS CoV 2 (COVID-19) infection.
  • Sexual intercourse issues:
    • Retrograde ejaculation
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Premature ejaculation
    • Painful intercourse
    • Psychosexual disorders
  • Immunological disorders, such as anti-sperm antibodies, coeliac disease etc.
  • Hormonal disorders: such as decreased Testosterone, endocrine organ dysfunction, such as hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal and/or thyroid gland dysfunctions.
  • Genetic abnormalities: Klinefelter’s Syndrome, Kallmann’s Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Chromosomal anomalies etc may negatively affect male fertility.
  • Tumours, either of the male reproductive system or male fertility associated organs eg hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal and/or thyroid gland.
  • Medications: chemotherapy, testosterone replacement therapy, anabolic steroids, certain drugs eg arthritis drugs may impair male fertility.
  • History of pelvic surgery (eg testicular surgery, prostatectomy) and major abdominal surgery.

Environmental factors

  • Exposure to chemicals (eg herbicides, benzole-based solvents, paints).
  • Exposure to heavy metals (eg lead).
  • Exposure to radiation and/or radiotherapy.
  • Increased testicular temperature and/or pressure (sitting for long periods, tight clothes etc) may affect male fertility.

Health and lifestyle factors

  • Substance abuse (eg marijuana, cocaine, anabolic steroids).
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Smoking (even passive smoking).
  • Obesity.

3. Are there any warnings signs?

In most cases, the only warning sign is infertility itself. However, depending on the underlying cause, there may be warning signs, which combined with the difficulty to conceive, should raise awareness:

  • Sexual intercourse disorders, such as ejaculation difficulties, small sperm ejaculate volume, reduced libido and/or erectile dysfunction.
  • Pain, swelling and/or a palpable lump in the testicular area.
  • Recurrent respiratory infections (possibly associated with cystic fibrosis).
  • Anosmia (inability to smell).
  • Gynaecomastia (breast growth).
  • Decreased facial and/or body hair.

4. How is male infertility diagnosed?

Diagnosis of male infertility is performed via semen analysis, a test during which multiple sperm parameters may be assessed such as:

Parameter Normal value
Volume > 1.5 ml
pH >7.2
Total sperm number > 39 million sperm per ejaculate
>15 million sperm per ml
Morphology >4% normal forms (Tygerberg method)
Vitality > 58% live sperm
Motility >40%
Sperm agglutination none

An abnormal semen analysis confirms the diagnosis of male factor infertility in most cases. Additional tests, such as semen culture, DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI) calculation, sample oxidative stress (assessment with MiOXSYS®), genetic testing eg peripheral blood karyotype, cystic fibrosis mutation testing, Y chromosome microdeletion testing, ultrasound, post-ejaculation urinalysis and/or testicular biopsy may be performed on individual cases.

5. Are there any tips to improve sperm quality?

In most cases, dietary supplementation, lifestyle changes, awareness of environmental hazards and improved mental health may enhance male fertility.
Namely, beneficial changes may include:

  • Smoking cessation.
  • Reducing / ceasing alcohol intake.
  • Maintenance of a normal weight (BMI: 18.5-25).
  • Avoidance of having a vasectomy, prefer alternative contraception strategies.
  • Avoid exposure to environmental health hazards (radiation, industrial chemicals, heavy metals etc).
  • Psychological stress reduction.
  • Acupuncture: stress reduction and sperm quality improvement.
  • Exercise.
  • Avoidance of substance abuse.
  • Balanced diet and dietary supplements, most importantly:
    • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin E
    • Selenium
    • Zinc
    • Folic acid
  • Avoidance of continuous sitting at work and cycling.

6. What if I still have issues?

Some cases can be resolved with such measures alone. However, there are many methods that facilitate selection of the healthiest sperms and increase your chances during Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART), such as sperm centrifugation and the more advanced sperm separation technique (Zymōt).
It is important to remember that >10% of males who wish to father children are facing difficulties, you are not alone in your struggle. Thanks to modern Fertility Medicine, >90% of males with infertility manage to produce offspring of their own genetic material.

Please contact EmbryoClinic today to find out the solution that best suits you!

Gestational diabetes: can it affect my baby and me? What should I do?

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is an abnormal response to blood glucose levels, which may be initially diagnosed during pregnancy, in the second trimester in particular. It is amongst the most frequent pregnancy complications and may affect around 1 in 6 pregnancies. In this article we shall examine the causes, how it could affect your baby’s health or your own and what could be done to manage it.

1. What causes GDM?

GDM, as with regular diabetes, is caused by a dysfunction in glucose metabolism, with the added contribution of the placenta and fetus, which exacerbate it, by further increasing blood glucose levels.

2. Which women are more vulnerable? What are the risk factors?

The following are known risk factors for developing GDM:

  • Advanced reproductive age (>40 years)
  • Obesity (BMI>30 kg/m2)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Personal history of GDM during previous pregnancy
  • Latin, Asian or African descent
  • Increased birth weight of previous baby (> 4,000 g)
  • History of maternal, embryonic/neonatal complications (congenital abnormalities, polyhydramnios, intrauterine death etc)
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • History of recurrent miscarriage
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Infertility

3. Are there any warnings signs?

It is quite challenging to detect GDM based only on clinical findings, as it most frequently is asymptomatic (no noticeable symptoms) or its mild symptoms are considered part of the course of pregnancy. However, some women notice the following symptoms:

  • Polyuria (frequent urination, large quantity of urine)
  • Thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent infections (vaginal, urinary tract infections)

4. Is it dangerous?

GDM could seriously impact your and your baby’s health and could cause severe disorders. Namely, GDM has been known to cause the following embryo/neonate complications:

  • Large foetus (macrosomia) or small foetus
  • Foetal developmental disorders
  • Neonatal delivery complication (hypoglycaemia, risk of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, shoulder dystocia etc)

Additionally, there might be long term complication on your child, which potentially may include:

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Psychological disorders

Potential negative effects on the mother may include:

Pregnancy complications:

  • Miscarriage
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Urinary infections
  • Premature delivery
  • Post-partum haemorrhage/infection

Post-pregnancy complications:

  • Recurrence of GDM in future pregnancy (30-80%)
  • Development of diabetes post-partum
  • BMI increase
  • Cardiovascular disease

5. What should I do?

The aforementioned effects of GDM are definitely quite unsettling, however the intention of these extensive lists is not to frighten but to educate and prepare. With proper medical management, you can have a normal pregnancy, without any of the above potential effects. This is why GDM awareness, close monitoring and adherence to your doctor’s instructions is of vital importance.

6. How will I know if I have GDM?

Most physicians check blood glucose levels, at the latest by 24th-28th weeks of gestation, regardless of risk factors. The following tests are usually recommended:

  • Fasting glucose
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
  • HbA1c test

Of the above tests, OGTT is the most reliable and is used more frequently both as the basis of diagnosis and to confirm the findings of the other two. Typically, the two-step 75 g OGTT may be used. The following table shows normal values for each test:

Diagnostic Test Normal
Fasting glucose (8-hour fast) <92 g/dl
OGTT
Baseline <92g/dl
1-hour measurement <180 g/dl
2-hour measurement <153 g/dl
HbA1c < 6.5 % (ideally < 6 % in pregnancy)

7. What is the optimal management of GDM?

GDM management is based on two principles: monitoring and control. Should GDM be diagnosed, constant monitoring, either self-testing, fasting glucose measurement by the physician or midwife, or even constant monitoring via implant is a must. Monitoring is vital as it is the only means of assessment of GDM’s severity and response to treatment, given the lack of distinct clinical symptoms in most cases.

Regarding control, management ideally starts with a more conservative approach, namely proper diet and exercise. These measures usually achieve satisfactory control in most patients and even if they are not successful on their own, they are always recommended along with medication. It may be safer and more effective for each patient to be assessed individually and offered individualized care, however some general recommendations may include:

  • Reduction of daily caloric intake (33% reduction, 1600-1800 kcal per day), avoidance of very low caloric intake diets (<1500 kcal).
  • Carbohydrates: 35-45% of daily caloric intake, minimum of 175g/day divided in 3-5 daily meals/snacks.
  • Reduction of high glycaemic index foods (white bread, white rice, potatoes and fries, cakes, cookies, sweet treats, sweet fruits and sweetened dairy products)
  • Consume at least 28 g of fibre per day
  • Maintain/reduce body weight (dependent on initial BMI)
  • Exercise: improves glycaemic control via insulin resistance reduction. Personalized exercise programs are more effective, however these are some general guidelines:
    • Planned physical activity 30min/day
    • Brisk walking or seated arm exercises after each meal

Should such measures not suffice, then medication may be recommended. Insulin is the treatment of choice and an endocrinologist should be consulted and continue monitoring for some time after the delivery as well.

Epilogue – Conclusion

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus is a common complication in pregnancy, which could have very severe consequences if left unmanaged. However, they may all be avoided with vigilance, timely diagnosis and effective management, by experienced physicians.

If you want to discuss your particular situation and seek an individualized opinion contact us today via phone at 0030 2310 420020, email at info@embryoclinic.eu or online form.

8 tips for healthy eating

These 8 practical tips cover the basics of healthy eating and can help you make healthier choices.
The key to a healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are so you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use.
If you eat or drink more than your body needs, you’ll put on weight because the energy you do not use is stored as fat. If you eat and drink too little, you’ll lose weight.

You should also eat a wide range of foods to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet and your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
It’s recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).
Most adults in the UK are eating more calories than they need and should eat fewer calories.

1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates

Starchy carbohydrates should make up just over a third of the food you eat. They include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.
Choose higher fibre or wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or potatoes with their skins on.
They contain more fibre than white or refined starchy carbohydrates and can help you feel full for longer.

Try to include at least 1 starchy food with each main meal. Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram the carbohydrate they contain provides fewer than half the calories of fat.

2. Eat lots of fruit and veg

It’s recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.
Getting your 5 A Day is easier than it sounds. Why not chop a banana over your breakfast cereal, or swap your usual mid-morning snack for a piece of fresh fruit?

A portion of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables is 80g. A portion of dried fruit (which should be kept to mealtimes) is 30g.
A 150ml glass of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie also counts as 1 portion, but limit the amount you have to no more than 1 glass a day as these drinks are sugary and can damage your teeth.

3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish

Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals.
Aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, including at least 1 portion of oily fish.
Oily fish are high in omega-3 fats, which may help prevent heart disease.

4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar

Saturated fat
You need some fat in your diet, but it’s important to pay attention to the amount and type of fat you’re eating.
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
On average, men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day. On average, women should have no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.
Children under the age of 11 should have less saturated fat than adults, but a low-fat diet is not suitable for children under 5.

Sugar
Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay.
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in energy (measured in kilojoules or calories), and if consumed too often can contribute to weight gain. They can also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals.
Free sugars are any sugars added to foods or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies.
This is the type of sugar you should be cutting down on, rather than the sugar found in fruit and milk.
Many packaged foods and drinks contain surprisingly high amounts of free sugars.

5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
Even if you do not add salt to your food, you may still be eating too much.
About three-quarters of the salt you eat is already in the food when you buy it, such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces.

Use food labels to help you cut down. More than 1.5g of salt per 100g means the food is high in salt.
Adults and children aged 11 and over should eat no more than 6g of salt (about a teaspoonful) a day. Younger children should have even less.

6. Get active and be a healthy weight

As well as eating healthily, regular exercise may help reduce your risk of getting serious health conditions. It’s also important for your overall health and wellbeing.
Being overweight or obese can lead to health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. Being underweight could also affect your health.
Most adults need to lose weight by eating fewer calories.
If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to eat less and be more active. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.

7. Do not get thirsty

You need to drink plenty of fluids to stop you getting dehydrated. The government recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses every day. This is in addition to the fluid you get from the food you eat.
All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water, lower fat milk and lower sugar drinks, including tea and coffee, are healthier choices.

Try to avoid sugary soft and fizzy drinks, as they’re high in calories. They’re also bad for your teeth.
Even unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies are high in free sugar.
Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day, which is a small glass.
Remember to drink more fluids during hot weather or while exercising.

8. Do not skip breakfast

Some people skip breakfast because they think it’ll help them lose weight.
But a healthy breakfast high in fibre and low in fat, sugar and salt can form part of a balanced diet, and can help you get the nutrients you need for good health.
A wholegrain lower sugar cereal with semi-skimmed milk and fruit sliced over the top is a tasty and healthier breakfast.

Source:www.nhs.uk.

Difficulty getting pregnant: why, what to do and when to seek fertility care

Motherhood is a very important aspect of life for many women and the greatest step in starting a family. However, many couples nowadays are facing difficulties despite their efforts. In this brief article we will discuss several tips for improving the odds at home and the cases where professional fertility care is advised.

1. Are you certain you are having problems?

Despite the answer seeming obvious, many couples are actually quick to panic and unnecessarily so. By the medical definition, infertility is diagnosed after at least one year of frequent attempts to achieve pregnancy, especially during the fertile days of the menstrual cycle (also read below). So, during the busy routine of current times in particular, it is important to take your time and make enough attempts prior to seeking further assistance.

2. Proper intercourse practices – maximize your fertility potential

It is vital to ensure optimal conditions to achieve pregnancy, therefore intercourse is advised during the fertile days of the menstrual cycle, namely on the day of ovulation, as well as on the day before and the day after, with up to five days before ovulation being considered fertile as well, though not to the same degree. In women with a stable menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs 14 days before menstruation, therefore menstruation journals and phone apps can assist with the timing. If you are experiencing instability, or are unsure, ovulation tests or a visit to your gynecologist will help you.

Regarding intercourse itself, it should take place every 1-3 days during the fertile period of the cycle and ejaculation must occur within the vagina. Different positions or resting afterwards don’t affect the odds and some lubricant agents have been shown to affect sperm motility, therefore instructions and side-effects must be checked prior to use, or avoided completely.

3. Impact of psychological factors: stress and depression

Years of medical research have proven the correlation of stress and depression with infertility, with 35-55% of women seeking fertility care exhibiting symptoms. Several activities may help in combating these symptoms, namely sequential muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, yoga exercises, hobbies and outdoors activities, in particular with your significant other and, as cliché as it might sound, positive thoughts, probably assisted by keeping a journal of positive experiences. Note that some methods might be less effective than others, which should not disappoint you or make you give up. You should find the activities that suite you. However, there might also be cases where professional help is required.

4. The importance of healthy diet and body weight

The cornerstone of combating any health problem, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, poultry, fish and with minimal saturated fats, red meat and sweets has been shown to significantly improve fertility potential in females and sperm quality in males. Dietary supplements, namely folic acid (400-500mcg daily) and less so omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and Vitamin D have been shown to positively impact fertility as well. Normal body weight, namely a BMI of 19 to 25 is also important, as extreme deviations to either side of the spectrum can lead to anovulation, unstable cycles, drop in oocyte quality and in endometrium receptivity, thus to an overall reduction of fertility potential. However, keep in mind that achieving normal weight must be a gradual process and that in extreme cases a nutrition specialist should be consulted.

5. Dropping bad habits

The usual suspects, namely alcohol and smoking are at play in infertility as well. Alcohol consumption should be limited to 1-2 alcohol units for women and 4 for men weekly, though ideally it should cease altogether, as it greatly diminishes fertility potential, especially in males, causing a drop in sperm quantity and quality. Smoking of conventional, as well as of more modern tobacco products also negatively impact fertility in both genders. Caffeine may also impact fertility, although to a lesser extent, with 1-2 coffees per day being a safe quantity.

6. Treating chronic ailments

Several common endocrine/metabolic diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid disease can impact fertility if not effectively treated. Consult your physician and ensure proper control for optimal fertility potential.

7. When to seek professional fertility care

In general, a young, healthy couple has a 25-30% chance to conceive within the first months of attempts and an 80% chance within the first year. If you have followed all the aforementioned tips and still were unsuccessful, then a fertility specialist might be the solution you need. Additionally, you should seek fertility care in the following cases:

  • When there is a genetic disease in your or your significant other’s family.
  • When you are under medication for chronic diseases, as many drugs affect fertility and alternative medication might not be available.
  • If you are 35 or older and have unsuccessfully tried for 6 months
  • If you are 40 or older, immediate fertility care is advised, since precious time should not be wasted beyond this age
  • When you have prominent symptoms associated with infertility, namely:
    • Females: unstable menstruation and or complete lack of it (amenorrhea), pain during intercourse, heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, intermenstrual bleeding (spotting), hormonal disorder symptoms (acne, increased face and body hair etc)
    • Males: testicular swelling or pain, impotence, loss of libido, ejaculation difficulties etc
  • If you have a personal history of autoimmune disorders or a family history of premature ovarian failure or recurrent miscarriage.
  • If you or your significant other have undergone chemotherapy and/or pelvic radiotherapy

Overall it is important to remember that up to 2 out of 10 couples are facing difficulties conceiving and that it not something to be guilty or shameful for. When all other alternatives fail, keep in mind that capable professionals are there to help you.

Get in touch with us via telephone, email, contact form and subscribe to our newsletter for weekly articles on fertility and other topics on female health.

7 Reasons To Introduce Office Plants In Your Workplace

A great way to bolster productivity and add some cheer to your office is by including some leafy friends around your workplace. Just like office snacks, office plants are a cost-effective way to brighten up your team’s workday and even improve productivity.

1. Office plants can improve the health of employees and reduce sick days

An immediate effect that office plants can have on employee well-being is the reduction of sick days taken. Plants naturally filter toxins from the rooms that they grow in and help freshen up the place. If your office has poor ventilation, then your team may be at risk of developing the “sick building syndrome” and believe us when we say – it is a real thing! Symptoms include headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and even flu-like symptoms. Although plants alone cannot fix all of the problems associated with this office phenomena, they can help relieve the burden just a little bit.

Try sprucing up your workplace with Peace Lilies, Devil’s Ivy, and Spider Plants, all common office plants that are known air purifiers and will help everyone in the office breathe a little easier.

2. Office plants can play a role in increasing productivity

Did you know that offices with zero decor are considered “the most toxic” spaces for humans? Dr. Chris Knight and his fellow psychologists at Exeter University say that employees perform better when household plants are added to their work spaces. In fact, after studying this concept for 10 years, the team concluded that workers are 15% more productive when there are houseplants and decor around. Reason? Employees who engage with their surroundings tend to achieve a greater output and have an easier time staying focused.

Consider setting up some communal office plants in places where people can see them from their desk. Eye-catching varieties like the Zebra Plant, Red-Edge Dracaena, or the Bamboo Palm are great for sprucing up common spaces.

3. Certain plants can boost creativity

Creative blocks are no joke. Whether you’re out of ideas or stuck on the same one for a little too long, office plants can provide inspiration. Bright colors and vibrant smells are key to making sure your leafy buddy has a positive impact on your creativity. It’s been widely recognized that stimulating our senses can open up the flow of ideas and taking the time to literally smell the flowers can help pull you out of your slump.

Try scrounging up some Hens and Chicks, Chamaedorea Elegans, or a Cypress Vine, as these plants are eye-catching and smell lovely.

4. Office plants can help absorb background noise

With open-concept offices dominating the workforce and the inarguable distractions employees experience when there’s too much noise, having plants in the office can help absorb some of the background office chatter. This is especially true if your work space has hard surfaces such as exposed concrete walls or floors, since there are no other means of absorbing the excess noise.

Positioning larger plant pots, around the edges and corners of a room is the best way to reap the benefits. Some of the taller plants include the ‘Anita’ Dragon Tree, Snake Plant, and the Weeping Fig.

5. Office plants can help reduce stress

Even if you love where you work, sometimes stress is unavoidable. Office plants have been shown to reduce stress levels in employees when introduced into the workplace. The UTS study conducted in 2010, found that offices that were spruced up with plants saw the following benefits:

  1. 37% reduction in anxiety.
  2. 44% reduction in office hostility.
  3. Reduced chronic fatigue by nearly 40%.
  4. 58% reduction in reported depression.

Since the color green can have a soothing effect, try picking up plants like the Pincushion Cactus, the Desert Gem, or Blue Barrel Cactus.

6. Plants can help attract talent

Did you know that nearly 50% of employees have no natural light in their place of work? In addition, one in five people said they have no natural elements in their office, whatsoever. That means that a lot of us are working in a dark, lifeless space, which if you ask me, doesn’t seem like an appealing place to be. That’s why there is an upward trend of potential employees taking the physical space into consideration when searching for new opportunities.

Impress candidates with natural decor or even go as far as evaluating if a living green wall is right for your office.

7. Office plants help reduce the use of energy

Turns out, when plants breathe they raise the humidity levels in the building, and enough of them can lower the temperature inside by 10°C (50°F) or more. One study showed that a single healthy tree can cool a building by the same amount as 20 air conditioning units working for 20 hours a day.

Try some larger species of indoor trees to max out this effect and reduce the use of your office AC. This may not be the all-in-all solution to reducing your energy use, but it can sure set the office on a more eco-friendly path.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many ways that office plants help with workplace stress, productivity, creativity and overall health of your team. You don’t have to go all out right away, maybe pick up a few plants are easy to care for and go from there. Start building your collection of office plants and discover all the wonderful ways that they benefit your day.

Source: www.hoppier.com/

The journey of spermatozoa to achieve fertilisation naturally versus IUI

Fertilisation is a complex series of events, beginning with the activation of the oocyte by the spermatozoon and resulting in the development of a diploid organism.

Everything starts after ejaculation, when the seminal plasma is deposited into the vagina and millions of spermatozoa start their long journey to reach the oocyte. Before moving into the uterus, spermatozoa will be exposed to the acidic environment of the vaginal fluid and many hostile leukocytes. Another barrier is the presence of the immunoglobulins IgG and IgA in the vagina and the cervical mucus respectively.

In the field of assisted reproduction, the intrauterine insemination technique bypasses the vagina and the cervix. More specific, the semen sample that has previously been washed and concentrated is placed directly in the uterus with the use of an intra-uterine catheter.

The next challenge is for the spermatozoa to traverse the uterus, where under endocrine control, uterine contractions mediate their transport. The last stop of this journey is the fallopian tube, a friendly environment which can host the spermatozoa for up to 3-5 days (time that spermatozoa can remain viable in the female reproductive tract) until ovulation.

At the end of this challenge only few spermatozoa (around 200) will approach the oocyte.

Water is important!

Fifteen benefits of drinking water

  1. It lubricates the joints
  2. It forms saliva and mucus
  3. It delivers oxygen throughout the body
  4. It boosts skin health and beauty
  5. It cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
  6. It regulates body temperature
  7. The digestive system depends on it
  8. It flushes body waste
  9. It helps maintain blood pressure
  10. The airways need it
  11. It makes minerals and nutrients accessible
  12. It prevents kidney damage
  13. It boosts performance during exercise
  14. Weight loss
  15. It reduces the chance of a hangover

Tips to reduce water waste

  1. Turn off the tap while washing your face, brushing your teeth and shaving
  2. Fix leaks
  3. Avoid mid-day plant and lawn watering
  4. Shorten your showers
  5. Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when full

Sources: www.medicalnewstoday.com
greenactioncentre.ca

How to Prepare Your Older Children for a New Baby

A new baby brings joys and challenges to a family. You’re excited, but you may also be nervous about how your older children will react to the newborn.

All sorts of questions come up: How should we tell our older children that they are going to have a baby brother or sister? Will they be jealous of the new baby? How can we help them get along?

Children of different ages will react differently to a new baby.

Knowing what to expect from each age group will make it easier to handle the changes in your family.

Toddlers – Ages 1 To 2 Years

Children of this age will not understand much about what it means to have a new brother or sister. However, let your child hear you talk about the “new baby” and feel your excitement. She may not understand why you are excited, but your attitude will rub off on her and she will feel excited too.

Keep in mind, you may not be able to satisfy the needs of both children all the time—especially not by yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, look to your partner, other relatives, and friends for support and an extra set of arms.

  • Look at picture books about a new baby. At the very least, your child will become familiar with words like “sister,” “brother,” and “new baby”.
  • When the new baby arrives, try to do something special for your older child. Reassure her that she is still loved. Some ideas include giving her a special gift, letting her spend some time alone with dad, grandma, or another special adult, or taking her someplace special.

Preschoolers – Ages 2 To 4 Years

At this age, your child is still very attached to you and does not yet understand how to share you with others. Your child also may be very sensitive to change and may feel threatened by the idea of a new family member. Here are some suggestions that may help ease your preschooler into being a big brother or big sister.

  • Wait a while before telling your preschooler about the baby. Explain it to your child when you start buying nursery furniture or baby clothes or if he starts asking about mom’s growing “stomach.” Picture books for preschoolers can be very helpful. So can sibling classes (ask your hospital if it offers them). Try to tell your child before he hears about the new baby from someone else.
  • Be honest. Explain that the baby will be cute and cuddly but will also cry and take a lot of your time and attention. Also, make sure that your older child knows that it may be a while before he can play with the new baby. Reassure your child that you will love him just as much after the baby is born as you do now.
  • Involve your preschooler in planning for the baby. This will make him less jealous. Let him shop with you for baby items. Show him his own baby pictures. If you are going to use some of his old baby things, let him play with them a bit before you get them ready for the new baby. Buy your child (boy or girl) a doll so he can take care of “his” baby.
  • Time major changes in your child’s routine. If you can, finish toilet training or switching from a crib to a bed before the baby arrives. If that is not possible, put them off until after the baby is settled in at home. Otherwise, your child may feel overwhelmed by trying to learn new things on top of all the changes caused by the new baby.
  • Expect your child to regress a little. For example, your toilet-trained child might suddenly start having “accidents,” or he might want to take a bottle. This is normal and is your older child’s way of making sure he still has your love and attention. Instead of telling him to act his age, let him have the attention he needs. Praise him when he acts more grown-up.
  • Prepare your child for when you are in the hospital. He may be confused when you leave for the hospital. Explain that you will be back with the new baby in a few days.
  • Set aside special time for your older child. Read, play games, listen to music, or simply talk together. Show him that you love him and want to do things with him. Also, make him feel a part of things by having him cuddle next to you when you feed the baby.
  • Ask family and friends to spend a little time with your older child when they come to see the new baby. This will help him feel special and not left out of all the excitement. They might also give him a small gift when they bring gifts for the baby.
  • Have your older child spend time with dad. A new baby presents a great opportunity for fathers to spend time alone with older children.

School-Aged Children – Ages 5 and above

Children older than 5 years are usually not as threatened by a new baby as younger children are. However, they may resent the attention the new baby gets. To prepare your school-aged child for a new baby,

  • Tell your child what is happening in language she can understand. Explain what having a new baby means and what changes may affect her—both the good and the not so good.
  • Have your older child help get things ready for the new baby by fixing up the baby’s room, picking out clothes, or buying diapers.
  • If possible, have your older child come to the hospital soon after the baby is born so she feels part of the growing family.
  • When you bring the new baby home, make your older child feel that she has a role to play in caring for the baby. Tell her she can hold the baby, although she must ask you first. Praise her when she is gentle and loving toward the baby.
  • Do not overlook your older child’s needs and activities. Let her know how much you love her. Make an effort to spend some time alone with her each day; use that as a chance to remind her how special she is.

Source www.healthychildren.org

Everyday chemicals contribute to air pollution mortality

  • Air pollution is responsible for the deaths of around 7 million people each year — and 91% of the global population is exposed to air that exceeds the limits on pollution levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Fine particulate matter is a key source of air pollution. This can be directly produced or indirectly produced when other pollutants react to chemicals in the atmosphere.
  • In a new study, researchers highlight another type of pollutant, called anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols (ASOAs), which also react with other pollutants.
  • The researchers show that ASOAs are likely to significantly contribute to mortality associated with air pollution.

In a new study, a team of scientists has shown that an under-researched type of pollution, ASOAs, make a significant contribution to air pollution mortality.

For the researchers, their findings, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, highlight the need for greater focus on these types of aerosols and the need for further research into how, when, and where they react with other pollutants to cause air pollution.

Fine particulate matter

According to the WHO, about 7 million people die each year due to air pollution. The organization also reports that over 90% of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds the WHO’s safety standards for air pollution.

Researchers have found that fine particulate matter is a leading cause of this pollution — and that deaths due to fine particulate matter have increased from 3.5 million per year in 1990 to 4.2 million per year in 2015.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fine particulate matter can be caused directly or indirectly. Some direct sources of fine particulate matter include fires and construction sites.

Indirect sources include chemicals such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which can be emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce fine particulate matter.

Strong correlation

The researchers found a strong correlation between the production of ASOAs and volatile organic compounds, which react in the atmosphere to create fine particulate matter.
Using the models, the researchers estimate that ASOAs cause between 340,000 and 900,000 premature deaths each year. According to Dr. Nault, “[That is] more than [10] times as many deaths as previously estimated.”

While regulations on air pollution emission have increased over time, ASOAs have seen relatively little regulation.

Source www.medicalnewstoday.com