TIPS TO LIVE BY

Health Gadgets Worth the Hype

Dec. 4, 2020 - Katie McCallum

I’m a gadget gal. As in, if there’s a gadget for it, I either want it or already own it.

Admittedly, some of my gadgets don’t get used a ton — like my twirly kitchen tool that cores a jalapeno in seconds. But others, like my shopping bag carrier that helps me get all of my grocery bags into my apartment in one trip, get used all the time.

When it comes to health gadgets in particular, finding a worthwhile one can be tricky. Like supplements, health gadgets generally aren’t FDA-approved — so it’s hard to know if the health claims are actually true.

Below are some health gadgets that I’ve come to rely on and would definitely consider worth the hype (and hefty price tag, in some cases).

Fitness trackers

My first fitness tracker was pretty basic. It just counted my steps. But even something that simple had the power to get me moving. It tapped into my competitive side. Some evenings I’d even pace around my apartment so I could hit my challenge of 10,000 steps a day.

Nowadays, I use my fitness tracker to give me in-depth insights about my health. It measures my steps, calories burned, heart rate while resting or exercising, how often I get up and move, sleep quality and more.

Staying healthy means staying active, and sometimes I need an extra oomph to get up and move. I can’t tell you how often I look down at my fitness tracker and realize I’m nowhere close to hitting my step goal. It inspires me to stand up and get in some steps  and I always feel better afterwards.

Cooking appliances that make eating healthy easier

Admittedly, cooking appliances aren’t technically considered “health gadgets” — but the ones that help us eat healthier probably should be. Here are a few kitchen gadgets that I think have helped me to stay on track when it comes to eating healthy.

Pressure cookers

Pressure cookers cook food fast. In fact, my pressure cooker is so fast and convenient that it’s helped me kick my habit of turning to fast food or junk food when I’m busy or just feeling lazy.

Pressure cookers are set-and-forget. This means that once I press START, I can spend the next 30 minutes doing literally anything other than standing over my stove — although I do try to make that anything a quick workout most of the time. And the icing on the cake is that I can usually make an entire meal in one pot, which means easier cleanup.

I use my pressure cooker to make everything from simple dinners like chicken and vegetables, to everyday staples like oatmeal and yogurt, and even fancier, restaurant-style options like mushroom risotto.

Air fryers

I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I use my air fryer every single night. It's the only kitchen appliance that stays out on my countertop (aside from my coffee maker).

Whether cooking veggies or protein, an air fryer accomplishes the best parts of frying — crispy outside with a tender and moist inside — without having to submerge your food in oil. In fact, I never need more than a tablespoon of oil while using my air fryer.

I use my air fryer to make dishes like panko-crusted chicken tenders and steak fries, but it's also excellent for roasting vegetables, like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.

Smoothie makers

I work out in the morning, so smoothies serve as my post-workout recovery snack and my breakfast.

The thing about smoothies, though, is that making them at home is significantly cheaper (and sometimes healthier) than buying them from a smoothie bar.

To make my favorite breakfast/post-workout smoothie, I toss yogurt, banana, peanut butter, vanilla and unsweetened almond milk into my smoothie maker. I also try to sneak in a handful of leafy greens, like kale or spinach (you can’t actually taste the veggies —  I promise).

Food savers

When I know my week is going to be busier than usual, I turn to meal prepping — and my food saver has really upped my meal-prepping game.

Food savers vacuum seal your food, which preserves flavor for longer in the refrigerator or freezer.

This means I can make a week’s worth of chili on Sunday and eat it for lunch or dinner for the next week and a half. Even better, if I store my preportioned lunch servings in the freezer, they last even longer.

Food saver pro tip: Lettuce (and many other salad components) are vacuum-sealable — and stay fresh for almost two weeks. Just wash, chop and portion-size and seal your salad veggies, then top with croutons and salad dressing before you dig in for lunch.

Air purifiers

I have asthma, and it flares up from time to time — especially after getting sick. So, a few years ago I turned to an air purifier to help lessen my symptoms.

Air purifiers filter the air circulating in a room, removing particles that can irritate the lungs. Whether its dust, pet dander, germs or odors, my air purifier helps reduce the allergens floating around my room.

I should mention that air purifiers themselves are expensive — as is the filter replacement, which you have to keep up with to reap the benefits of the device. Given the cost, an air purifier might only be worth it if you have bad allergies or asthma. If you do decide one might be right for you, I recommend doing your research before purchasing an air purifier — they are not all created equal.

Hydration-tracking water bottles

I was a horrible water drinker growing up. Coincidentally, I got headaches — a lot. It took me understanding how much water I really need, and the consequences of not getting enough fluid, before realizing that I had to do better. But aside from just not really liking water, I realized my biggest struggle was remembering to drink it.

So, I bought a hydration-tracking water bottle — which ended up helping me form some long-lasting healthy hydration habits. With a twistable ticker on the lid, my bottle helped me track my fluid intake all day long.

Hydration-tracking water bottles have come a long way since they first came out, and now some can even connect to your smart phone and send you alerts when you’re behind drinking your quota.

Electric toothbrushes

I never really thought twice about my electric toothbrush —  until I left it behind in a hotel room while on a road trip.

The case I’ll make for the electric toothbrush is that it makes your teeth feel so clean. So much so that I couldn’t even make it through the rest of my vacation using a regular toothbrush. It was only few days before I made us stop at a store so I could buy a replacement.

The cherry on top is that electric toothbrushes are backed by dentists. The Cochrane Review, the gold standard among dentists, gives electric toothbrushes a definite advantage over regular, manual toothbrushes — in part since electric toothbrushes take some of the guesswork out of tooth brushing.

Whether you're shopping for yourself, someone's birthday, the holidays or just happen to stumble on a good sale, look out for these healthy gadgets. They may be just what you or your loved ones need to get healthy and stay healthy.

TytoCare telehealth exam kit

I was already a fan of telehealth before the pandemic, but this year — in particular — I've really appreciated having easy, convenient access to my doctors.

While I haven't used this gadget myself just yet, TytoCare is a device that records your health vitals and shares them with your telehealth provider — making virtual visits even more productive and convenient.

TytoCare is a small and portable device that, aided by a few attachments inside the kit, can:

  • Take your temperature
  • Examine your ears
  • Assess your breathing
  • Check for sore throat
  • Take pictures of rashes, bug bites and other skin lesions

With this device, you can perform your own physical examination and share the information and data right then and there with your telehealth provider. And it's compatible with Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent Care.

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