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Navigating the Complex World of Health Insurance: How to Choose the Right Plan for You



Health insurance can be a daunting topic for many people. The options are vast, and the terminology can be confusing. With so many variables to consider, it can be challenging to navigate the complex world of health insurance and choose the right plan for you. However, having the right health insurance plan is essential for maintaining good health and protecting yourself from unexpected medical expenses.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the complex world of health insurance and choose the right plan for you:

1. Assess your healthcare needs: Before you start shopping for health insurance, it’s important to assess your healthcare needs. Consider factors such as your overall health, any pre-existing conditions, and your anticipated medical expenses. Are you planning to start a family? Do you have ongoing medical needs? Understanding your healthcare needs will help you narrow down your options and choose a plan that meets your specific requirements.

2. Understand the different types of plans: There are several types of health insurance plans to choose from, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs). Each type of plan has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand the differences and consider how they align with your healthcare needs.

3. Compare coverage and costs: When comparing health insurance plans, it’s essential to consider both coverage and costs. Look at the services that are covered under each plan, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs. Additionally, consider the out-of-pocket costs, including monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Understanding a plan’s coverage and costs will help you determine its overall value and whether it’s a good fit for your needs.

4. Consider network options: Many health insurance plans have a network of providers (doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare professionals) that you can use for your medical care. It’s important to consider the network options and ensure that your preferred healthcare providers are included in the plan’s network. If you have a specific doctor or medical facility that you prefer, you’ll want to make sure that they are covered by your insurance plan.

5. Review the fine print: Once you’ve narrowed down your options, carefully review the fine print of each health insurance plan. Pay attention to any exclusions, limitations, and restrictions that may apply. Additionally, look for any additional benefits or perks that may be included in the plan, such as wellness programs or telemedicine services.

6. Seek expert advice: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options or struggling to understand the fine print, don’t hesitate to seek expert advice. A licensed insurance agent or healthcare navigator can help you understand your options, compare plans, and choose the right coverage for your needs. They can also assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about health insurance.

Navigating the complex world of health insurance can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can choose the right plan for you. By assessing your healthcare needs, understanding the different types of plans, comparing coverage and costs, considering network options, reviewing the fine print, and seeking expert advice, you can make an informed decision about your health insurance coverage. Taking the time to choose the right plan can provide you with peace of mind and ensure that you have access to the healthcare you need.

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Oral Microbiome & Remineralization to Restore Tooth & Gum Health




You don’t have to be a dentist to spot a healthy, beautiful smile a mile away. 

Clean healthy teeth and fresh-smelling breath can be the first things we notice about those around us. 

And, why wouldn’t we? Dental health and hygiene are so important that they are taught as early as preschool. It ranks equally with all other hygiene practices in those regards. 

But, are the typical exhortations of brushing twice a day and flossing all that are needed to keep your mouth clean and healthy? 

What other factors affect the health of your mouth? 

Could your oral hygiene and health affect other areas of your body? 

If so, what can you do to ensure you are facilitating the health of not just your teeth, but your whole mouth? 

Dental Health

We often associate dental health with teeth, but dental health doesn’t stop at your teeth. 

It refers to the health of your mouth as a whole. From your teeth, to your gums, to your mouth, and the presence or absence of injury or infection there. 

And, no, despite the suggestion from the popular commercial, just a stick of a particular brand of gum won’t clean up a “dirty mouth” either. It’s far more complex than that.

In fact, the health of your mouth can be an indicator of the health of your entire body. 

Hmmm, that statement sounds familiar, but in reference to a different area of the body. 

We generally hear of your gut or digestive tract health being a good indicator of the condition of your entire body. 

The bacteria that live in your gut, trillions of bacteria, aid in many functions. This microbiome houses your immune system and facilitates its important actions and responses. It metabolizes nutrients and serves as a barrier to infection, just to name a few. 

So then, how would your mouth serve as a measure of total body health as well?

While your gut is home to the largest group of bacteria (microbiome) in your body, the runner-up is none other than your mouth! 

Oral Microbiome

More than 700 kinds of bacteria reside in your mouth. 

These bacteria are vitally important to the health of your mouth and in turn, your body. Your oral microbiome is responsible for: 

  • aiding in the remineralization of your teeth
  • carrying molecules of oxygen to your gums and soft tissues in your mouth
  • removing free radicals and waste products
  • protecting your body from harmful environmental organisms  

The warm temperatures, pH levels of your saliva, and continual presence of moisture in your mouth provide a comfortable environment suited for the survival of these bacteria. 

And, like the microbiome of your gut, these bacteria in your mouth need to remain in balance. 

When balanced, the bacteria within your mouth form a thin, clear, odorless layer of protection over your teeth. 

When unbalanced, this same layer becomes thick, sticky, and has an off-putting odor. 

A continual absence of this needed balance results in bad breath, bleeding gums, and tooth decay, which can lead to infection and can even cause disease. 

The pH levels in your mouth play a large role in preserving this balance, and those levels are influenced greatly by what you eat and drink. 

When your diet contains large amounts of fermentable carbohydrates (sugars like sucrose, fructose, and glucose), the layer of bacteria on your teeth work to break down these carbohydrates and this creates an environment that is overly acidic. 

This acidic, unbalanced, environment leads to the demineralization of your teeth, which dentists consider to be the first step to tooth decay. 

  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Toxins
  • Inflammation
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Excess sugar 

All of those things listed there can lead to demineralization. 

But, there are many things that you can do to both promote a healthy balance in your oral microbiome and remineralize your teeth! 


Chances are, from early childhood, you’ve learned that brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing will prevent tooth decay. 

So, why do some individuals who religiously adhere to this cardinal rule of oral health still experience demineralization, tooth decay, bleeding gums, and bad breath? 

All of those metaphoric roads listed above lead to an imbalance in the oral microbiome. 

You can remineralize your teeth and balance this delicate community of bacteria in the following ways:

1- Probiotics

The health of your gut is linked to the health of your entire body. Since your mouth is the second largest home to bacteria in your body, second only to your gut, a healthy gut leads to a healthy mouth! 

Probiotics balance your gut microbiome by introducing healthy amounts of good bacteria and inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria there. 

Some consider the pH of your mouth to be the biggest factor in remineralizing your teeth. And, probiotics promote this balance in your gut and your mouth, keeping the environment from becoming too acidic. 

2- Oil Pulling

Oil pulling has become popular in recent years. 

It involves swishing 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth for roughly 10-20 minutes as soon as you wake up, before eating or drinking anything. 

After this duration of time, you spit out the oil (trash can, not drain), rinse out your mouth, and brush your teeth as usual. 

Most recommend repeating this practice 3-5 times per week for the best results. 

Oil pulling removes harmful toxins from your mouth and promotes a balance in your oral microbiome. 

3- Saliva Production

Your saliva plays possibly the largest role in keeping the environment for the microbiome in your mouth from becoming too acidic (and thus leading to demineralization). 

Having adequate amounts of saliva is thus crucial for remineralization. 

You can boost saliva production and avoid dry mouth in the following ways: 

  • Hydrate! Make it a goal to always stay hydrated. Sip water frequently throughout the day to boost saliva production.
  • Ditch the tobacco. Both smoking and chewing tobacco can cause a lack of saliva and lead to demineralization.
  • Limit caffeine. Caffeine can hinder saliva production and cause dry mouth. Also, many caffeinated beverages contain large amounts of sugar which are a primary cause of tooth demineralization.
  • Breathe through your nose. Mouth breathing can dry out your mouth.
  • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. These can both dry out your mouth and disrupt the balance of the oral microbiome.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to your room and thus your oral and nasal cavities.

4- Dietary Changes

Your diet can be the biggest contributor of demineralization and the biggest aid in remineralization!

So, what should you eat and drink?

First, foods rich in vitamins and minerals are a must! 

Leafy greens and other organic vegetables, wild-caught fish, grass-fed meats, healthy fats, and eggs all promote remineralization. 

And, some cheeses and low acid, fermented dairy products like kefir have been known to be healthy remineralization-aiding options, but milk tells a different story. 

Traditional dairy milk products contain lactose. Because lactose is a type of sugar, it greatly increases the level of acidity in your mouth. 

Choosing dairy free milk options like almond or oat milk can provide the calcium that your teeth need for remineralization, while avoiding the acidic effects of lactose.

Besides dairy milk, other foods and drinks can wreak havoc on your teeth. 

  • Acidic fruits and fruit juices contain high amounts of acid that can contribute to an imbalance in the oral microbiome and demineralize your teeth.
  • Sugar, when eaten frequently, even in small amounts, contributes to an overly acidic environment in your mouth, leading to demineralization, tooth decay, and ultimately, disease. 
  • Simple carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, pasta and white bread all turn to fermentable sugars in your mouth, which once again leads to the acidic environment that you’re trying to avoid to promote oral health.

5- Avoid Phytic Acid

Your body, specifically your teeth, need calcium and other minerals for remineralization to occur naturally.

So, when it comes to the health of your teeth, avoiding foods and beverages that contain phytic acid is of monumental importance. 

Phytic acid is considered an “anti-nutrient.” It adheres to nutrients and minerals that your body needs, like calcium, zinc, and iron and keeps your body from absorbing them. 

Grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes are the primary sources of phytic acid. 

Cutting out foods high in phytic acid and replacing them with foods that are high in essential nutrients and minerals will promote remineralization. 

And, if you can’t see yourself living without grains or legumes, you can opt for their sprouted versions or fermented grains like sourdough instead, which are considered phytic acid lowering foods.

You can optimize your dental health by balancing your oral microbiome. Balancing these bacteria keeps your teeth healthy and hinders demineralization which leads to tooth decay and disease. 

To aid in remineralization you can:

  • Eat probiotic rich foods or use a quality probiotic supplement
  • Practice oil pulling
  • Boost your saliva production
  • Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals 
  • Avoid sugars, simple carbs, acidic foods and drinks, and dairy milk
  • Cut out foods high in phytic acid

Try this for 60 seconds to rebuild your teeth & gums overnight.

Doctors still can’t believe their eyes…

Every person who did this 60-second trick before going to bed experienced a dramatic rejuvenation of their gums, rebuilt their teeth…

And even got rid of bad breath and ugly spots…

No matter how advanced their tooth decay was…

And all they had to do was mix 2 dirt-cheap ingredients.

Some of them even claim they’ll never have to go to the dentist again after this…

See here the breakthrough method that’s making dental implants absolutely useless!


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4 Ways to Improve Your VO2 Max (and 5 reasons you might want to)




True or false:

  • Aerobic fitness only matters for elite athletes. 
  • Those fancy numbers often displayed on fitness trackers surely don’t mean much to the average person.
  • You should only seek to improve your cardiovascular fitness for training purposes. 

If those statements were all on a test, you would’ve written the word “false” next to each one! 

Cardiorespiratory fitness levels, or your VO2 max levels, certainly aren’t just information vital to athletes. In fact, knowing these levels and improving them can be the key to a long and healthy life!

So, let’s look at what these levels are called, how to increase them, and how those increases can benefit you

What Is VO2 Max?

VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use while you exercise. 

Your VO2 max can tell you just how fit your body is and if you’ve improved your physical fitness over a length of time when measured throughout training. 

Your muscles require oxygen to keep your body going for extended periods of time during physical activity (endurance). And, your heart is tasked with pumping appropriate amounts of blood to carry the oxygen needed to meet this requirement. 

The greater the amount of oxygen that you can use during intense exercise, the greater the amount of energy your body can produce during that activity.

So, determining your VO2 max involves measuring the amount of oxygen (mL) you use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. The number derived from this measurement tells how much oxygen you’re using when exercising at your hardest. 

Many fitness trackers can assess your VO2 max level, as can testing done through your doctor. 

The average 40 year old male VO2 max scale ranges from under 30.2 (very poor) to over 48.0 (superior). 

The average 40 year old female VO2 max scale ranges from under 21.0 (very poor) to over 36.9 (superior). 

If you’re an avid runner seeking to improve your endurance, or a serious athlete looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, knowing your VO2 max can be crucial in your efforts to improve your fitness abilities.

But, does this measurement only matter to athletes and their performance during their preferred physical activity? 

Absolutely not! 

Your VO2 max can tell you a lot about the overall health of your body. 

How Is VO2 Max Tied to Health And Wellness?

Healthy cardiorespiratory fitness capabilities can affect many areas of your body. 

While VO2 max levels have been considered the “gold standard for measuring cardiovascular fitness levels,” research suggests that these measurements can determine your risk factors for all causes of mortality. 

Cognitive Benefits

Cognitive decline, such as what is seen in conditions like vascular dementia, is caused by a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels leading to the brain. 

Cardiovascular exercise causes new cells and blood vessels in the brain to grow. 

Improvements in VO2 max levels have been associated with cognitive benefits like: 

  • improved thinking capabilities
  • performance improvements regarding memory
  • improved motor skills
  • improvement of time management skills
  • better organizational skills on tests
  • an improved ability to give attention to detail  

Studies have also shown that individuals with a high VO2 max show better connections throughout various regions of the brain. 

Live Longer

The American Heart Association states that a low VO2 max puts you at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and some cancers (breast, lung, and gastrointestinal). 

Some consider your VO2 max, often referred to as your fitness age, as a better indicator of long term health and lifespan than your actual age. 

Research suggests that a 10% increase in your VO2 max can decrease your risk for all causes of death by 15%. 

And, a higher VO2 max may actually be a better predictor of health than traditional factors such as weight and cholesterol. 

Decrease Stress

Studies show that individuals with a higher VO2 max experience less physiological stress and can better handle stresses that do arise. 

Increasing cardiorespiratory fitness levels are also associated with decreases in anxiety and depression. 

And, regular physical activity (which can improve your VO2 max) is directly correlated with improved mental health and feelings of personal well-being.

Improved Quality Of Life

Your day to day quality of life improves when you increase your VO2 max. 

Simple tasks like going up and down stairs, bringing in your groceries, keeping up with energy-filled children, and keeping up with a busy schedule in general can all be done with greater ease when you improve your cardiovascular respiratory fitness. 

Each and every physical task that you do throughout your day requires energy. In the same way that we described the measurement of VO2 max in physical activity earlier, this process occurs within your body when you need energy to perform any physical daily task. 

Your muscles require oxygen to expend energy. Your heart pumps oxygen through your blood to supply it to your body as you do any physical activity…yes, even carrying laundry up and down stairs. 

Improves Immune And Respiratory Health

Increasing your VO2 max can make you less likely to get sick, and improve your overall health, by giving your immune system a boost. 

Studies have shown that improving cardiorespiratory fitness also improves the function of both the immune and respiratory systems. 

Increased aerobic capacity increases the levels and function of immune cells and can actually restore lung tissue and strength by acting as an antibiotic and an antioxidant! 

What Can You Do To Improve Your VO2 Max?

Now that we’ve seen the benefits to your overall health and well-being that come with improving your VO2 max, how exactly can you achieve such increases? 

1- Continuous Training

Many coaches and trainers believe exercising at 90-95% of your maximum heart rate is the best course for improving your VO2 max. 

This method improves the strength of your heart muscle thus increasing the amount of blood your heart can pump with each beat. 

2- HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

High intensity interval training is a type of exercise characterized by brief periods of intense activity followed by brief periods of rest within a given workout (like this 9-minute fat-burning workout I created). 

Some studies have shown that exercising in this manner provides slightly more consistent VO2 max improvements than exercising at a constant high intensity.

3- Ironman Training

You don’t have to actually be training for an Ironman race to incorporate this method of improving your VO2 max. The principle of ironman training is what we’re after here. 

Changing up the aerobic activities that you do in a single session can benefit your VO2 max levels. 

In an ironman, participants typically start with swimming, switch to cycling, and then switch again to running. 

You can incorporate this kind of variety in your exercise sessions to improve your cardiovascular respiratory fitness. 

4- Increase For Increase

If exercise is already a normal part of your daily routine, you may already be reaping the benefits of a healthy VO2 max rate. 

But, you can increase your aerobic fitness (and your VO2 max) by increasing the following in your exercise sessions:

  • increase the duration of your workouts
  • increase the intensity of your workouts
  • increase how often you workout

If you’re new to fitness, the good news is that increasing your VO2 max will happen easily as you get started. 

Consider starting with a walking regimen to begin, and then you can increase speed, intensity, and duration over time. 

Then, as mentioned above, add high intensity interval training exercise sessions, switch up your aerobic activities within a single session, or workout at your maximum heart rate to boost your VO2 max. 

(Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program if you are new to working out.)

And if you’re looking for a workout that incorporates all of the above (for FREE), follow this 3-movement full body toning workout.

It’s an easy way to tone your entire body in just 3 movements using the 3x Method (the workout i used to lose over 100 lbs). The good news is…

You can try this 3-movement workout (3 minutes each) for free through this link…

>> 3 Min Full Body Toning Workout

To your health,

Nate Hopkins


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4 Steps to a Healthy (and Positive) Digital Life




From work, to play, to shopping, to education, to keeping in touch with friends and family, a growing portion of our lives involves online activity. 

Conversing with your boss or professor about an assignment…online. 

Telling others about your recent experience at a local restaurant…online.

Sharing a video of your child’s first steps with your parents…online.

All of that sounds convenient and positive, right? Well, it certainly can be! 

But, at this point you might also be recalling ways that digital interaction, even in your own life, is currently, or has at some point, been negative. 

Just a brief look at the other side of the (bit)coin here reveals isolation, bullying, negative news overload, feelings of inadequacy, and distraction are just a few items on the list of potential hazards of life in the digital world. 

So, how can you make sure that your digital experiences and interactions remain positive regarding what you give and take away from your time online? 

Let’s take a look…

Habits To Keep Your Digital Life A Net Positive

The technological advances that we enjoy today weren’t implemented with the hope or desire that users would suffer negative effects. 

No! The digital age that we’re living in has come about all in the name of ease, convenience, and enhancement. 

The pitfalls or negatives that can take place while online or as a result of things that have happened in our digital lives can be avoided with a little intention and attention. 

1- Choose Wisely

No matter your age, chances are at some point, someone in your life gave you this advice: “choose your friends wisely.”

The intent behind this exhortation revolves around the fact that we can all be influenced, good or bad, by those around us. 

And, this is no different online. From friends to followers, we must choose wisely. 

Always keep in mind that the influence you experience and provide online doesn’t end when you close an app or turn off your computer. 

This is why keeping your digital life (and your physical life) positive means surrounding yourself with people online who encourage, motivate, teach, and influence you in positive ways. 

2- Use Wisely

How you influence others online is just as important (even more important) as how you are influenced by others in your digital life. 

Keeping your digital life positive requires you to be positive. 

Ever heard of the golden rule? Something my grandma repeated to my cousins and I pretty frequently throughout my childhood has become somewhat of a lost “art” in this age of digital interaction it seems. 

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Let this simple, logical principle rule your interactions online for sharing and receiving a positive digital experience. 

Think about how you would want others to treat you, and act accordingly. 

Don’t want someone to hurl a list of insults at you because they disagree with your political views? Then be sure to remember that thinking in how you comment or speak towards others online regarding their views. 

Don’t want to scroll through negative post, after negative post, after negative post? Then make sure you are posting positivity. 

And, this doesn’t only include social media friend and follower interaction. 

Another popular phrase offering advice on making a positive impact: “see beauty, speak beauty.” 

How many times have you eaten an amazing meal at a restaurant or received stellar service from a company? 

Don’t take that for granted. Take a few moments and share that positive experience by leaving a positive review or simply sharing your positive experience on social media. 

Another rule that comes to mind pertaining to digital interaction, minus the fact that this advice came long before the digital day and time that we find ourselves in, stems from the 1942 Disney classic, Bambi.

Bambi’s furry friend, Thumper, offers some great advice when it comes to digital life: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” 

Perhaps it’s the absence of face-to-face interaction that digital life offers, but spewing forth unkindness appears to come more easily from our tips (finger) than our lips. 

Nix that unkind behavior to give and receive a positive digital experience. 

And, anyone remember Blockbuster’s famous phrase for when you returned a VHS tape (you know, back in the day)? “Be kind, rewind.”

You can incorporate this practice online as well. If you see yourself getting sucked into a particularly negative exchange online, remember Blockbuster’s exhortation. 

You can be kind and “rewind” those thoughts or phrases. Backspace or delete any negative thoughts and either contribute in a positive manner, or take a step back from the situation completely and log off for a while to destress. 

3- Share Wisely

Digital life involves a large amount of sharing. 

Online we share our thoughts, ideas, beliefs, content, business, and the list goes on. 

For digital experiences that positively impact you and others, be mindful of what you share. 

Fake news has become quite the buzz phrase lately, and many like to use it in jest. But, in all honesty, we do need to be cautious regarding the truth of what we share into the digital world, no matter how small or large our audience. 

And, news isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to sharing truth and positivity:

  • Recently try a healthy recipe that your family enjoyed? Share that recipe as opposed to a negative comment on a recipe you didn’t particularly care for. 
  • Read a helpful article detailing needful, educational information regarding the beliefs and policies of political candidates? Share that information (sans negativity towards a particular side…that *is* possible).
  • Experiencing success in your business? Share! Your triumphs can encourage others! 
  • Stories of helpfulness, selflessness, kindness…never stop sharing those! Helpful, selfless, beautiful acts are all around us. Look for those acts and stories, and share those instances to inject positivity in your digital life. 
  • Find an article or piece of information that would benefit your class or colleagues, share that helpful information. 

4- Spend Wisely

We often think of wise spending in terms of money. And, while spending digitally certainly requires discretion and wisdom (as money seems to flee faster when leaving your bank account as opposed to your palm), here we’ll focus on how we spend our time online. 

Time is one of our most valuable assets. And, digital life can consume much of it. 

While digital life opens doors/opportunities in education and business, keeps us connected with those who live far away, and can offer relaxation and relief from the stresses of our physical lives, it can also drain the minutes off of the clock and the life out of our in-person relationships if we’re not careful. 

If you find that you’re prone to mindless scrolling: 

  • set a timer to keep those fleeting minutes in check
  • download an app that allows you to keep track of how much time you’re spending online  
  • move apps that you mindlessly browse through off of your home screen to reduce the temptation to check those sites frequently
  • delete apps that hinder productivity or promote negativity

We should also be careful not to spend our time isolating ourselves to online-only interaction.

While life online can offer connection and valuable interaction, it’s no substitute for in-person interaction. People need people, plain and simple. 

Make it a goal to be fully present with those who are in your presence. In other words, don’t let your digital life divide your time and attention from those right in front of you. 

Keeping intention at the forefront of your digital life can make your time online a positive experience for both yourself and others. 

Remember to, 

  • Be intentional about who you surround yourself with online, choosing positive influences. 
  • Be a positive influence to those you interact with online, both friends and strangers alike. 
  • Share kindness and positivity always. Seek to bring hope and help in what you share.
  • Be wise concerning the amount of time you spend online. And, never let your digital life replace the valuable interactions in your physical life. 

And, don’t forget that blue radiation from electronic devices can damage your eyes! Learn more about this and the 7-second pro baseball player trick that instantly improves vision here.

Finally–remember to put down the electronics at least an hour before bed so you can fall asleep quickly. And if you still have trouble falling asleep, this sleepytime chocolate is safer than melatonin.


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