Important Lessons from Your Wise Dads

To celebrate Father’s Day we asked you to give a shout out to your dad on Facebook and to share a lesson he taught you that’s been important in your life. We loved reading your tributes to your fathers and stepfathers. Here are some of the lessons from your dads that help you take care of yourself—we’re reprinting them here because we all could learn a thing or two from these wise dads.

“My dad taught me that it’s my duty to myself to do what it takes to be happy. When I was down on myself about what I wanted to do with my life, when I doubted myself the most, my dad would always encourage me to follow my passions, do what I love, do anything to make me happy. And keep doing it!”

“When my mother was pregnant, a fortune teller told my family I would be a boy - it was a traditional Chinese custom. When I turned out to be a girl, it didn’t stop my dad from teaching me the proper way to build a sawhorse, the best way to solve varying calculus problems, or letting me put nail polish on him.”

“He would take me out to go driving, tried to teach me how to drive, taught me how to cook. He taught me how to expect more of myself and not to settle for less but to set my expectations higher.”

“My dad gave me an awesome work ethic. This man served his country for 32 years and never missed a day of work!”

“My dad taught me not to be afraid of a challenge—a great trait in life and especially as my husband and I have embarked on multiple home renovations over the past decade! We’re closing in on the end of our kitchen renovation and my dad and I are laying the tile together—a great way to spend the week before Father’s Day!”

“He taught me never to dwell on the past. Your past may shape you, but it does not define you. This simple advice has helped me get through many things in life!”

These are just a few of the inspiring anecdotes our community shared—to see the rest, visit the Mango Health Facebook page.

How to Stay Hydrated (and Why It’s So Important)

You’ve probably heard that your body is mostly water, and it’s true—approximately 60 percent. Staying hydrated is essential to good health, because your body requires water to carry nutrients around, remove toxins, and perform pretty much every vital function.

Even though you know it’s important (especially now that summer weather is finally here) it’s not always easy to drink enough water. To help you take care of yourself we’ve put together some key advice on getting enough H2O:

1) That go-to “drink eight eight-ounces glasses of water a day” advice is a good guiding principal, but you may not know that there’s no hard evidence behind that specific figure. If you exercise heavily, live in a hot climate, or are taking certain medications you may need more water than that.

2) Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink—by the time you’re actively thirsty you’re already slightly dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, dark urine, a headache, and muscle cramps. But before you notice those symptoms, mild dehydration can make you fatigued. Think of that: The remedy for low energy spells might be as simple as more H2O.

3) Keep a water bottle with you (by your desk at work, in your car, in your bag) so that regular hydration takes minimal effort. Consider slipping a few slices of lemon or cucumber in your water if the extra flavor makes you more likely to drink enough.

4) Try using your medication reminders as hydration reminders—when you take your medications or supplements, drink a full glass of water rather than just a few gulps, unless the instructions on your medications advise otherwise. Also, be sure you know whether or not it’s okay to take your medicine with liquids other than water because drinks like fruit juice and milk can interact with medications.

5) When you exercise, drink water before, during, and after your workout. Drinking water beforehand will help you feel better and boost performance during your workout, and drinking afterwards will replace the water you lost through sweat.

6) If you take care of somebody else, like a child, an elderly relative, or a pet remember to offer them water frequently on warm days. Often, children and the elderly don’t realize that they’re thirsty.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, well-hydrated summer!

Mother’s Day Love

Mothers are known for taking care of their families, but not always taking care of themselves. In honor of Mother’s Day we asked our Facebook fans to name the “mama figure” who takes care of them—be it your mom or another person in your life who deserves a little recognition for always looking out for others. You replied with over one hundred shout outs to and heartfelt appreciations of your moms, mothers-in-law, sisters, wives, daughters, and even some men in your lives. To see what everyone shared, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mangohealth.

We loved reading all of the love you shared, and have one more Mother’s Day request: Encourage the mama types in your life to take care of themselves as well as they take care of you!

Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Mango Health!

Mango Insight of the Week

With the start of the new year we’re going to begin sharing some interesting information about the Mango Health community. Each week we’ll release a stat or piece of data that provides unique insight into how people are interacting with medications and supplements, and how they’re feeling as they do it. These insights will come from anonymous, aggregate data from across our user base. We’ll be tweeting these insights every Thursday, so follow us on Twitter to stay up on our latest:

Separating the Best Apps from the Rest

“There’s an app for that”? These days, “There are ten apps for that” sounds more accurate because there’s a dizzying selection of apps available. In the health and medical space the sheer number of apps is becoming a problem—it’s hard for people to determine which apps are safe, helpful, and easy to use. We feel that it’s important for experts to separate the best from the rest, so we were happy to learn that U.S. insurance leader Cigna has done just that. Last week Cigna launched a curated app store, and Mango Health was chosen, along with HealthTap, as one of just two medical apps in the program. Apps selected to participate were run through a detailed review process that included checks of privacy and security standards, quality of content, good use of behavioral science, and underlying technology. It’s a great initiative and we’re excited to be included! You can visit the Cigna Go You marketplace at https://goyou.mwellth.com/.

How Are You Feeling?

We’re super-excited about the newest version of the app (now in the App Store) because it contains a cool new feature we call “How Are You Feeling.” One of the things we’ve heard from many of you over the past months is that you want an easy way to record your symptoms and overall well-being on a day-to-day basis.

So now you’ll notice that the top right-hand corner of your reminder screen contains an emoticon with a plus sign. Tap on it and the app asks “How are you feeling?” and offers five options, ranging from Awesome to Sick. Just tap on the emoticon that best describes how you feel at that moment, and it will be saved to your History with a timestamp. That screen also has a space to write notes, so you can detail specific symptoms if you choose. Alternately, you can record how you’re feeling any time of day (and multiple times of day) by going into the History section and tapping on the Add Note icon you’ll now find there.

We believe that using the “How Are You Feeling” feature will be super-useful, because tracking your symptoms over the course of weeks and months can help you understand whether or not a medication is working for you, and if it’s causing unpleasant side effects. You can then take that record to your care provider to discuss. “How Are You Feeling” also offers benefits for supplement-takers. This feature might help you realize that you haven’t had a cold since you started on daily probiotics … or that the pricey supplement you’re taking for joint pain isn’t helping and isn’t worth the spend.

Download this latest version in the App Store now, and then review it or write to us to let us know what you think!

Our Community By the Numbers

Adherence rates of over 90% seen in first 14 weeks of app being live.

Now that 14 weeks have passed since our launch a clear picture of the Mango Health community is starting to emerge. What we’re finding: our users rely upon the app to manage both life-saving medications and quality-of-life ones, encompassing a broad range of prescriptions, OTC drugs, and supplements.

We’re observing medication and supplement adherence patterns in real time and developing detailed insight into how our community interacts with medications and supplements on a daily basis. We thought we’d share some of these insights here—we hope you find them interesting!


Our Biggest Update Yet

We are excited to announce that our biggest app update yet is available for download on the Apple App Store.

In today’s release, we’ve included a few of the features most requested by the Mango Health community, and we’re eager to see how these changes work for you. Here is a quick overview of the new features:

Ability to edit history. Since our launch in April, the request we heard the most from you all is an ability to go back and edit medication and supplement history. Many of you wrote in and explained that in some cases you took your medication but weren’t able to respond to the app reminder in a timely way, say because you were at work. We understand the importance of keeping an accurate record, so now when you need to correct your history you can tap the ‘Edit’ button in the top right-hand corner of the History screen. You will be able to edit the most recent 30 days of history.

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Custom alert tones. As we received your feedback, we realized that folks sometimes don’t notice our banner push notifications and some of you mentioned that you don’t hear our short, default alert tone. To address this we worked with a sound designer to create two custom tones—you can now go to the Settings section of the app to choose a longer alert tone that’s specific to the Mango Health app.

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The team had a lot of fun choosing our custom tones, and we hope you like them too—let us know what you think!

Auto-snooze option for reminders. Several of you told us that you miss your reminders if you’re busy when an alert comes in. To help, we created an “auto-snooze” option, which means that when you don’t respond to an initial reminder you’ll automatically receive a follow-up reminder 10 minutes later. This optional feature can be found in the Settings section of the app.

Earn bonus points when you invite friends. Our team wanted a way to give something back to people who are sharing the app, so we decided to start awarding bonus points to Mango Health users who invite friends to the application. You’ll now earn 10 points for every friend you invite to join Mango Health. We’ll reward you for up to three invites, for a total of 30 bonus points. You’ll find the new “Invite a Friend” feature either via the More menu or from a promotion on the homescreen,

We hope you like these new features, and we can’t wait to complete our next set of features and share them with you!

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or feedback about this update.
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Prenatal Vitamins and Pregnancy: Why It’s Essential You Remember to Take Them

Whether you’re hoping to get pregnant soon or have just confirmed the good news, you should talk to your doctor about prenatal vitamins. These vitamin and mineral supplements are formulated to ensure that you and your future child get all the nutrients you need during this important time.

During pregnancy your nutrient needs change, so even if you eat a healthy and diverse diet you should take a prenatal supplement to guard against nutritional gaps. According to the Mayo Clinic, a good prenatal supplement should contain folic acid, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B-6. But the exact formulation should be chosen with your doctor to meet your individual needs.

Here are a few of the nutrients usually found in prenatals, and why they’re so important:

Folic acid: Doctors have long known that folic acid is crucial to fetal brain development, and a study released in February found that this B vitamin may prevent autism too: Women who took vitamins containing folic acid before pregnancy and during early pregnancy were 40% less likely to have a baby later diagnosed with autism.

Iron: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women’s iron needs increase during pregnancy to produce extra blood and support the growth of the baby. Studies have shown that pregnant women who take prenatal supplements containing iron are less likely to have low birth weight babies.

Essential Fatty Acids: Many prenatal vitamins now contain essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA, which are found in fish and believed to promote fetal brain health. The jury is still out on whether essential fatty acid supplements are important during pregnancy, so ask for your doctor’s opinion. If you don’t eat much fish, a prenatal containing EFAs could fill that void.

While it’s essential to get the right nutrients during pregnancy, know that when it comes to supplements more isn’t necessarily better. Past research has found that women who took high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy were more likely to have babies with birth defects.

The bottom line: Talk to your doctor about which prenatal vitamins and supplements you should be taking, and follow his or her advice.

Mango Health makes it easy for expectant moms to stay healthy during their pregnancies. Our medication and supplement database includes the most commonly recommended prenatal vitamins, as well as other medications and supplements you may be taking. Once you enter in the vitamins your doctor recommends and the schedule you need to follow, the app will send you helpful reminders so you never miss a dose. The fun part is that you earn points every day when you stay on your suggested schedule, and as the points add up you unlock the chance to win real-world rewards.

Are you using Mango Health to help you keep track of your prenatal vitamins? Please tell us about your experience.

How to Change a Habit

We all have at least one bad habit we wish we could drop, and good ones we wish could adopt. But if changing a habit will have a big positive impact on your health, you’ve got to end the idle wishing and make a plan. Our mission at Mango Health is to help people get healthier, and make it easy and even fun, so we thought we’d share the best advice we’ve learned on how to break bad habits and pick up good ones. If you want to start exercising before work, stop eating sugar, go vegan, go Paleo, stop smoking, start mediating or make any healthy behavior change, pay attention to these 6 principles:

Write it down. Putting your habit change goal down on paper holds you accountable, at least to yourself. Even better: State your goal to friends and family and ask them to hold you accountable too. Once you’ve declared your goal, make it so you can’t forget about it—via Post-its around your house or reminders programmed into your phone.

Link goals with values. One reason we resist healthier habits is that some part of us is defensive–we resent and resist the message that we need to change, even if we know that it’s true. In a recent interview, University of Michigan professor and health expert Victor Strecher explains that we can break through that defensiveness by affirming our core values, an idea called self-affirmation theory. Says Strecher: “If you write down or are rating your core values, such as your faith or your commitment to family, and then are exposed to a health message that you may normally process defensively, you’re more likely to accept it. When you start to put things in writing, you realize, ‘Hey, my values differ from my behaviors, don’t they?’.”
      So when you write down a goal (Start exercising/Stop smoking/Eat more vegetables) connect it with one of your core values (eg “It’s important to model healthy behavior for my kids” or “I need energy so I can give back to my community”). Tying habit change to something bigger than yourself dramatically increases your chance of success.

To form a healthy habit: Strategize around pain points. Writing down goals and values is just the first step—the secret to success lies in anticipating moments when you’ll be most tempted to quit a healthy habit or succumb to an unhealthy one. In last year’s fascinating book The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg writes that patients prescribed painful post-operative exercise routines were far more likely to adhere to them if they wrote down exactly how and when they were going to exercise, and how they would handle discomfort along the way. Writes Duhigg: “The patients’ plans were built around inflection points when they knew their pain—and thus the temptation to quit—would be strongest. The patients were telling themselves how they were going to make it over the hump.” So if your goal is to start running in the morning, anticipate that it’s sometimes freezing in your bedroom at 6:30 AM, and place your running clothes and a cozy fleece right next to your bed at night, so you’re that much less likely to hit the snooze button and hunker under the covers.

To break a bad habit: Know your triggers. A trigger is a sight, sound, setting, emotion or other cue that sets a habit in motion, and is very hard to resist. So beating a bad habit requires IDing its triggers and avoiding them or crafting a plan for handling them. If there’s a certain restaurant where you usually eat or drink too much, switching to a different go-to restaurant could help you stick to a diet, even if the food is no healthier at the new place. (And switching to a more expensive restaurant will definitely help—think about how New York’s smoking rates have dropped by more than twice as much as national ones since it adopted the country’s highest cigarette tax.)
      Of course, some triggers can’t be avoided so easily. Let’s say feeling stressed at work has been your cue to go to the office vending machine and buy potato chips. You can’t avoid work stress entirely, but you can replace the bad habit it triggers with a healthier one—maybe going for a ten-minute walk or calling a friend or relative for a quick check-in.

Going big might be better. If you have multiple habits that need changing, you should tackle one at a time, right? Actually, there’s evidence that positive habit changes are better in pairs: A recent Stanford study found that people who adopted healthier eating habits and began new exercise routines simultaneously were more successful at achieving healthy eating and fitness goals than were people who focused on changing only food or fitness habits, not both.

Remember: You don’t have to be how you’ve been any longer. This is probably the first rule of habit change (but we’re putting it last because we think it’s the most important to remember): Accept that your future doesn’t need to resemble your past, that just because you’ve “always” done something doesn’t mean you can’t stop, just because you’ve never done something doesn’t mean you can’t start, and you’re given a new chance to get healthy every day. Changing habits isn’t easy, but it is possible. And the sooner you start, the better you’ll feel—so what habit are you going to change?