Ordering Your Own Pregnancy Blood Test

Being unsure if you’re pregnant can be incredibly anxiety-provoking and stressful, to say the least. Your symptoms may be vague, if you have any at all, and maybe you’ve taken a urine pregnancy test (or 5) and they’ve all come back negative but you’re you’re not confident in the results.

There are two types of pregnancy tests- one checks through your urine, the other via a blood sample. Both tests determine pregnancy by the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is produced by the placenta shortly after the embryo attaches itself to the lining of your uterus and then builds up quickly in your body in the first few days of pregnancy. It is this fast shift in rising/changing hormones that can cause a lot of your pregnancy symptoms.

Blood Test: Generally, a blood pregnancy test can detect pregnancy much quicker than urine, roughly 7-12 days after conception (the day you had sex). However, if your blood test comes back negative, you should retest in a week, especially if your period is late/missed. Getting a blood test done can give you peace of mind earlier, however be in mind its more costly (a urine test you can get at the dollar store for $1!) and you have to wait a few days for your results. Blood test for hcg level remains the most accurate way to determine pregnancy.

Get a pregnancy blood test done yourself: If you don’t currently have a doctor or can’t get an appointment for several weeks, there is now an easier way to get quicker answers. Thanks to the wonderful internet, it is now possible to order just about any and every blood test you can think of online…without a doctors order. Yes, you will pay this out of pocket (another bonus for you if you lack insurance) but a lot of times its less costly than getting a doctors order for a test. By ordering yourself online though one of many reputable companies, you cut out the middleman (your physician) which may end up costing you less. How it works is you will pick and choose your tests on the companies website, place in your “shopping cart,” then after you check out you’ll be given your receipt with a “script” you created yourself and a designated lab (usually Quest Lab) to visit to get your tests done. Results are then uploaded on the website or mailed directly to you. Of course, follow up with your doctor is always recommended.

ORDER A BLOOD PREGNANCY TEST ONLINE

Urine Test: It is recommended not to take a urine test until the first day of a missed period (or about two weeks after conception). There are tests on the market (such as First Response ) that claim you can test up to 5 days BEFORE a missed period, however by not waiting until your period is late, you run the risk of a false negative. In this case, if you strongly suspect your pregnant, wait a few days and test again.

Tests vary in how long you have to wait to get a result. Usually you will need to wait 3-5 mins, depending on the brand of test. When the time is up, you will be looking for a line, or a symbol (like a plus or minus), or a change in color on the urine stick. Be sure to follow the instructions to get the most accurate results! There are now digital pregnancy tests offered by ClearBlue that make reading your results more simple than determining if there is or is not a second line: the window will either show the words “not pregnant” or “pregnant”.

Common Pregnancy Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Late/missed period
  • Lower abdomen pain/cramps
  • Light bleeding/spotting
  • Breast soreness

Juicing Celery Benefits: Fact or Fiction?

Next time you head to your nearest grocery store- take note of the celery section. You may notice (especially) the organic celery stockpile is a little slim or may be empty! Why is that you ask? One of the new crazes to hit our ever-more-health-conscious society is drinking celery juice. Juicing is nothing new, but juicing celery is a newer hyped “health food” that has claims of restoring your gut health, helping detoxify your liver and heal your body. True or false?

celery juicing benefits

I’ve compiled a general list of supposed “benefits” of drinking celery juice. I am certainly not a dietitian or doctor so be sure to do your own research and decide for yourself if its worth a try. There does seem to be quite a bit of research and a general consensus that drinking celery juice does some amazing things for your body. Just typing in “celery juice” into google or instagram will flood you with articles and images all pertaining to drinking the green stuff.

Heres a list of some claimed benefits:

  1. Heals and activates the gut. Celery juice helps raise the levels of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) in your gut, which can then help you digest food quicker and easier.  Especially protein. That big steak you ate at dinner? Maybe you won’t feel as tired or lethargic after eating it if you’ve been juicing and drinking celery.  With decreased stomach acid, your body has to resort to other sources to help digest the food, which can often leave you feeling pretty sluggish. Celery juice can also help replenish depleted gastric mucus that helps protect your stomach lining from ulcers and reflux (heart burn).
  2. Lowers cholesterol. Celery contains a compound called  3-n-butylphthalide (BuPh) that has been reported to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the bloodstream.
  3. Lowers blood pressure.  Research shows that celery helps lower high blood pressure by acting as a smooth muscle relaxant, improving the flow of calcium and potassium in cells, allowing blood vessels to expand and contract with greater ease.
  4. Anti-inflammatory. Celery juice has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It has something in it called Polyacetylene, which reduces arthritis, joint pain and gout pain. It is also thought to calm the nerves in the body, keeping you more relaxed and calm.
  5.  Improves digestion. By increasing circulation in the intestines, this helps the action of peristalsis (passage of food/water/waste in the gut) which can help with constipation. It can also aid with symptoms of bloating, and water retention, acting as a gentle, mild, natural laxative and diuretic.
  6. Liver health. Studies show that celery helps reduce fat build-up in the liver. The nutrients in celery protect the liver, and actually help the liver produce enzymes that help flush fat and toxins out.
  7. Fights infection. Research shows that compounds found in celery contain powerful antimicrobial properties. This means it boosts immunity and helps fight infections, naturally. Celery juice reduces uric acid and stimulates urine production, especially useful in fighting bacterial infections within the digestive tract and reproductive organs, helping prevent UTIs, bladder and kidney problems.
  8. Alkalinity. Celery juice is alkaline. Read up on the benefits of eating/drinking more alkaline foods! Celery is one of the most alkaline foods you can eat. It is said that eating an alkaline diet can add longevity to your life.
  9. Anti-oxidant power. Anti-oxidants can help prevent cancer. Celery contains a flavonoid called apigenin, which has been shown to destroy cancer cells. The polyacetylenes in celery interestingly contain chemo-protective compounds that help to reduce toxicity while boosting immunity and help slow the growth of mutated cells.
  10. Nutrition-packed. Celery is loaded with essential minerals and vitamins such as folate, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin K and vitamin C.  A cocktail for the skin, luteolin in celery protects skin from the inside and prevents UV-induced damage. Some swear by celery’s skin healing properties, saying that it helped clear up skin conditions like psoriasis and acne.

Curious to try drinking celery juice?

The best way is to drink it straight up, no added juice or flavors. Using organic celery is best, and drinking it first thing in the morning before a meal is ideal. If you can’t buy organic, be sure to wash it well before juicing. Celery is known year after year to be one of the highest pesticide containing foods (look up “dirty dozen” on google to know what foods to always try and buy organic!)

It is recommended to drink 16 ounces (2 cups of juice). This is a lot for some people, so if its too much for you, start with drinking one cup and gradually increase if you can tolerate it.

Don’t have a juicer?

Want to reap the health benefits of celery juice, but don’t want to spend the money on a juicer? You can actually buy celery juice powder  that you just simply mix into water! It’s claimed to have the same health benefits as using whole celery.

The bottom line is this: If celery juice is intriguing to you- try it! See how you feel. You’ll never know unless you try it and experience it for yourself. If it doesn’t interest you, it may not be right for you or that you just don’t need it.

Heart Disease and Alcohol

Can drinking alcohol be included in the definition of a healthy lifestyle? A large part of the population enjoys a drink socially from time to time, and a smaller segment has several glasses of wine or beers a week and may wonder if they’re doing more harm than good.

In general, the consensus seems to be that alcohol does have some decent health benefits but in small amounts. The question then lies in where the line is crossed where it becomes more harmful to the body than helpful. Science says that a few drinks per week can be protective to your heart. A few drinks meaning, 1 drink max per day for women, and 2 for men. One drink is equal to one 12oz beer or wine cooler, 5oz glass of wine, or 1.5oz of 80 proof liquor. This is defined as “moderate” drinking and has proven to have some health effects for your heart, including possibly helping to prevent heart disease.

How does alcohol help my heart?

Well, it does so in a few ways.

  1. It can prevent your blood from “sticking,” in other words it makes your blood a bit thinner, thereby decreasing your risk of blood clots and risk of heart attack. Be aware though, that it can then also increase your risk for bleeding.
  2. It helps to raise your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
  3. Prevents damage from “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.

While this sounds like great news, and might make you want to run to your nearest corner store to grab a 6-pack, there are plenty of other ways up your good cholesterol that don’t involve cracking open a bottle. Drinking too much alcohol puts you at risk for a myriad of health problems, the major ones include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, heart attack, stroke, liver disease, obesity, depression, addiction, accidents and death.

But isn’t red wine supposed to be healthy?

Some researchers have suggested that one glass of red wine a day has some health benefits for your heart. But again, once you go beyond that one glass, the risks start to outweigh the benefits pretty quickly. Red wine components including flavonoids and other antioxidants can potentially reduce heart disease risk, but they can also be found in other foods like grapes or red grape juice or berries. The studies on this seem to be inconclusive as well, and don’t draw a clear line demonstrating that red wine is directly responsible the health benefits seem in some cases, or whether other factors are at play. It might be that moderate wine drinkers are more likely to have a healthier diet and lifestyle — including physical activity and lots of fruits and vegetables.

How does alcohol cause heart disease?

After repeated moderate to high consumption of alcohol over a number of years (although amounts and time can vary person to person), arteries become more and more “hardened.” This is called atherosclerosis and is basically where your arteries supplying blood to your heart become clogged with fatty plaque and become stiff, making it more difficult for blood to pass through them. Not only that, but alcohol makes your heart work harder, pump faster, and it raises your blood pressure. This repeated abuse over time causes permanent effects of a “damaged” heart which no longer pumps properly. You’re now at high risk for a heart attack or stroke once you have heart disease. The worst part about it is heart disease has no symptoms until you’re already in the advanced stages.

The take home- drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation, if at all. Make sure yo understand the potential effects on your health if you do indulge. And don’t start drinking for unproven health benefits.