Health and Wellness

People with reduced kidney function miss this important warning sign

9/26/2017

(BPT) - Anyone with a chronic disease knows the importance of monitoring personal health data to keep on top of one’s disease. If you suffer from heart disease, for example, you watch your cholesterol and blood pressure closely, and if you are diabetic, you monitor your blood sugar.

People suffering from reduced kidney function have important health measures to monitor — key among these is their potassium level. Not knowing and keeping track of this important health measure could have serious, and even fatal consequences.

The dangers of high potassium

A naturally existing mineral, potassium is an essential nutrient that helps your body regulate its fluid levels, balance other minerals in the cells and contract your muscles. Potassium can even help lower your blood pressure by warding off the potentially harmful effects of sodium.

However, like sodium, potassium can be harmful to the body if levels in the blood become too high. Because 90 percent of all excess potassium is released through the kidneys, people suffering from reduced kidney function or chronic kidney disease are at an increased risk of suffering from the complications of high potassium. The condition of high potassium is otherwise known as hyperkalemia, and failure to treat it can result in abnormal heart rhythms and even sudden death.

Raising awareness

Despite the potential for serious complications, awareness and understanding of the dangers of high potassium remains low. A new online survey of 488 patients conducted by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and Relypsa Inc. finds that 50 percent of the respondents — all of whom have chronic kidney disease — said high potassium was very important to them personally, ranking ahead of heart disease and anemia, diabetes and high cholesterol. Yet while patients said their concern over their potassium levels was real, 80 percent stated they did not know their potassium level. Thirty percent had never heard the term hyperkalemia and 53 percent had no idea what it meant.

In addition, there was a clear gap in perception of the treatment needs associated with high potassium. Although 68 percent of those surveyed had been living with high potassium levels for more than a year, 71 percent felt that managing their high potassium levels was a short-term issue.

Establishing a baseline for future treatment

High potassium poses a potentially serious threat, and 38 percent of respondents report they have needed emergency care because of high levels of potassium in their blood. However, despite potential danger, symptoms of high potassium can be difficult to spot and are sometimes nonexistent. In cases where warning signs do appear, a person may feel shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, heart palpitations or muscle paralysis. However, an absence of any of these symptoms does not always mean a person's potassium levels are within healthy guidelines.

Patients who suffer from chronic kidney disease and other reduced kidney function complications are at an increased risk for high potassium complications and cannot ignore this potential danger. If you suffer from such a condition, talk to your doctor about the dangers of high potassium. A simple blood test can determine your current potassium levels and your doctor can help you develop a treatment regimen to lower and/or manage your potassium levels.

Make the call today. Because your potassium levels are simply too important not to monitor.



Survey: Millennials manage pain with healthy lifestyle choices

9/26/2017
Spending their days hunched over phones, tablets or computers and their free time at spin class or playing sports, millennials are the next generation poised to experience chronic pain. Millennials say acute and chronic pain are already interfering with their quality of life.
But while older generations are more likely to turn to medication for pain relief, millennials’ preferred method is lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
The survey found that millennials were half as likely as baby boomers to have turned to opioids to manage pain, and 1 in 5 millennials regret that they used the highly addictive painkillers.
But while the results reflect a positive trend, they also reveal a knowledge gap. The survey found many millennials were:
* More likely to obtain opioids inappropriately. Ten percent of millennials (ages 18-36) obtained opioids through another household member’s prescription, compared to 3 percent of Gen Xers (37-52), 1 percent of baby boomers (53-71) and none of the silent generation (72-92).
* More likely to think it’s OK to take an opioid without a prescription. Nearly 30 percent of millennials thought it was OK to take an opioid without a prescription, compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers, 12 percent of baby boomers and 3 percent of the silent generation.
* Less likely to dispose of leftover opioids safely. In fact, 1 in 5 millennials said they “did not know” the best way to safely dispose of opioids, and only 37 percent were aware that a collection center at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drug store was the best method of disposal.
“It’s encouraging that millennials see the value of opting for safer and often more effective methods of managing pain,” said ASA President Dr. Jeffrey Plagenhoef, “But clearly they are in need of further education because using opioids initially to treat pain can turn into a lifelong struggle with addiction.”
Learning how to manage pain is vital: 75 percent of millennials say they have had acute pain (which comes on suddenly and lasts less than three months) and nearly 60 percent have experienced chronic pain (which lasts longer than three months). The source of that pain is reflective of millennials’ lifestyle, including technology use, migraines and sports injuries.
People in severe pain who don’t find relief through lifestyle changes can see a physician who specializes in pain management, such as a physician anesthesiologist, to address pain before it interferes with quality of life.
To help all generations cope with pain, ASA offers the following tips:
* Take a break from devices and gaming. To avoid aches from smartphone, tablet and gaming overuse, use devices at eye level instead of looking down for long periods of time, which puts strain on your neck and back. To avoid digital eye strain, look away from the screen every 20 seconds and don’t sit too close.
* Don’t be a weekend warrior. Whether you plan to hit the basketball court after many years away or do CrossFit weekly, ease into it. Warm up your muscles and stretch to avoid pain and injury. If you think you’ve been injured, see a pain management specialist right away.
* Remember to move. Whether you’re in the library studying or at a desk job, get up and move at least once an hour, if not more.
* Get healthy. Take charge of your health now and engage in healthy lifestyle changes before chronic pain sets in. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Quit smoking.
* Take and dispose of opioids the right way. If prescribed opioids, ask questions about taking them appropriately. If you have leftover opioids, dispose of them at a collection center at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drugstore. This will ensure that others who have not been prescribed the opioids do not have access to them.
For more information about pain treatment, visit the ASA’s pain management page at www.asahq.org/whensecondscount.


4 ways to take back control from breast cancer

9/25/2017

(BPT) - It is no secret that dealing with breast cancer is hard. It can turn lives upside down, inspiring concerns on topics as wide-ranging as maintaining daily routines, paying for treatment and life expectancy. Underlying it all is its emotional toll. According to a survey by Ford Warriors in Pink, 44 percent of breast cancer patients report needing help maintaining a positive outlook, while 43 percent report needing help maintaining their self-confidence. As supporters, we want to alleviate the burdens on our loved ones, yet only 28 percent of Americans say they know how to best support a patient during and after treatment.

Although the emotional journey of cancer is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are ways you can help those experiencing it feel more in control of their situation. Encourage your loved ones to engage in activities that nourish their spirit and support them in pursuing avenues for self-care to help them maintain a positive outlook on life.

Expand your world. Many patients feel as though breast cancer takes hold of their life as its own. Remind your loved one that cancer is not the center of their world by encouraging them to pursue their passions. “Amidst chemo and radiation, you’re constantly finishing battles. But when life is constantly pushing you down, you need more wins. So I decided to hike through the rainforest in Colombia immediately post radiation,” says breast cancer survivor Lara Mehanna. Participating in new experiences — even those in your own hometown — can allow those who have been touched by breast cancer to refocus on their spirit. Treat your loved one to an experience that aligns with their interests, like a local pottery or cooking class, to provide a much-needed outlet as they continue their fight.

Create peace of mind. Mindful meditation is one method of self-care that helps lower anxiety and stress. As part of her “integrated care” treatment plan, breast cancer survivor Ana Mostaccero practiced meditation and visualization exercises prior to surgery. “Doing these exercises helped me to not only reduce stress, but to begin practicing an all-around mindful life with heightened perspective and appreciation for what my mind and body were experiencing.” Help your loved one tap into their own inner peace by making meditation easily accessible to them. Popular personal meditation app Headspace offers meditations specific to every phase of the cancer journey.

Channel your chi. Breast cancer often brings feelings of being betrayed by your body. “It took a long time to learn to trust my body again,” says survivor Amber Tumbow. “For so long it felt like my own body turned against me in a constant state of battle. I began practicing yoga, and slowly but surely I was able to feel more in control.” Because yoga is a gentle exercise with a variety of modifications, it can be a manageable exercise for patients at different stages of their journey. Start a regular yoga practice with your loved one to encourage regular activity, keep them motivated, and help them reconnect with their bodies. Look for programs like the Wanderlust 21-Day Challenge that can be done at home and are designed especially with breast cancer patients in mind.

Empower with community. Cancer can feel alienating. While patients undoubtedly appreciate the support of family and friends, they can also feel like no one understands what they are going through. Connecting with others who have also experienced cancer can help patients feel less alone. “The greatest blessing was support from fellow survivors, the Models of Courage community,” shares survivor Jessica Ayers. “Being diagnosed so young, I felt alone. Hearing the stories of those who had gone through the same thing as me, and seeing their strength as they offered support, advice and love completely changed my outlook on my disease. It turned me into a warrior.”

No matter what you choose to do, it’s important to let your loved ones know that you are there to support them, on days good and bad. By doing so, you can provide vital support for making your loved one’s journey just a little bit easier. For free patient support resources such as Headspace meditations and the Wanderlust 21-day yoga challenge visit www.fordcares.com.



You need more fruits and veggies: 5 easy ways to get there

9/21/2017

(BPT) - Most Americans understand the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables into their diets, but finding inspiration and fresh ideas for incorporating them into everyday meals can be challenging.

Research shows that only 10 percent of Americans are meeting the MyPlate recommendations for daily intake of fruits and veggies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a rule of thumb, half the foods you eat for any given meal should be made up of fruits and veggies — preferably ones incorporating a range of different colors and nutrients.

Daily meal planning is made easier if you turn to your freezer for a little help. Balancing your plate with frozen meals and pizzas and adding fresh side dishes is a simple solution that can help make you feel good about what you’re eating, even with a hectic schedule. Choose your favorite frozen prepared foods and pizzas as the foundation, add side dishes made with fresh fruit and vegetables and you have a balanced meal that is both delicious and nutritious.

Nestlé's Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate frozen and fresh foods. The website, www.nestleusa.com/balance, provides information, tips and recipes to help consumers create easy, balanced meals that meet dietary guidelines.

Here are some quick and easy tips for including more fruits and veggies in your diet:

1. Chop, eat, repeat. Not into cooking? Simply buy whatever looks good, wash it, cut into slices and enjoy, perhaps dipping it into salad dressing or a yogurt dip.

2. Shop the frozen-food aisle. Delicious and easy-to-prepare frozen foods such as DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita pizza or Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli provide your family plenty of wholesome meals without requiring lengthy prep time. Simply pair with tasty side dishes made with fruits and vegetables for a balanced meal.

3. Divide and conquer. Each Sunday night mix your favorite veggies into a big salad bowl with a cover, combining Romaine and iceberg lettuce with darker green varieties and throwing in other tasty ingredients that will motivate you to want more; consider slices of grilled meat or shrimp, boiled eggs, or small amounts of nuts, cheeses, dried fruit, etc. Then divide the mix into individual plastic containers for the week’s lunches.

4. Top it off. As soon as your favorite frozen pizza comes out of the oven, boost its nutrient punch by adding pieces of fresh tomato, basil, pineapple, spinach or arugula.

5. Stir it in. Add complementary veggies to your favorite comfort food, like Stouffer's Mac & Cheese. Suggested stir-ins: roasted broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots or butternut squash.

Nestlé’s Balance Your Plate offers two delicious side dish recipes that, when served with your favorite frozen prepared foods, create a perfectly balanced meal you and your family will love.

Arugula and Roasted Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Pairs well with DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita

(Recipe from Hungry Couple of Tasting Spoon Media)

Recipe

4 cups arugula

2 pears

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

* Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

* Slice the pears vertically and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Spread the walnut halves on one side of the baking sheet and layer the pear slices on the other. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, toss the nuts and flip the pears. Continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes.

* Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper.

* Assemble the salad by adding the arugula to a large bowl or platter. Top with the roasted pear slices, sprinkle on the walnuts and drizzle with the dressing.

Simple Kale Salad

Pairs well with Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli

(Recipe from Loop88)

Recipe

2 medium bunches kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

Sea salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

Dress kale with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and sea salt, then top with red onion, feta cheese and toasted walnuts.

For more recipes, information and meal ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance.



Clinical trials and the vital role they play in furthering cancer research

9/21/2017

(BPT) - The world of health care is one of constant innovation and discovery. New drugs, treatments and ideas are needed to combat the various health problems Americans face every single day. It is an ever-evolving challenge, and as health concerns are conquered, one constant threat remains: Cancer.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), cancer will be the leading cause of death by 2030. Even as advances in radiation, chemotherapy and surgical procedures have improved outcomes immensely, now more than ever, additional research is needed. This research comes from many sources, but the most effective way to obtain such valuable information is through clinical trials.

What is a cancer clinical trial?

Cancer clinical trials help researchers determine if a treatment option or drug is safe and effective against certain cancers. Today’s drug development strategies typically incorporate precision medicine approaches into their research platform. Clinical trials are traditionally conducted in four phases.

In phase I trials, a small group of participants are tested to determine the safety of a drug as well as the appropriate dosage and side effects. Phase II trials are similar but involve more participants and test how well a treatment works. Phase III trials enroll even more people—typically in the hundreds or thousands—and usually compare a trial drug to the current standard of care treatment. In many cases, this is the last step before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the drug as a treatment option.

Finally, phase IV trials are undertaken after the FDA has approved a drug. This final stage continues to research the long-term side effects or benefits of drug use.

The latest trials spur the latest advancements

While many trials research specific drugs targeting specific cancers, the possibility exists to conduct such research in a broader format.

“The Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) Study is the first-ever clinical trial by ASCO,” says Eugene Ahn, MD, medical director of clinical research at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) in Zion, Ill. “This trial aims to improve our understanding of how commercially available anti-cancer drugs perform on a broader range of cancers by matching drugs to tumors with specific genomic mutations that the drugs are designed to target regardless of their location in the body.”

Each of the targeted therapies included in the study has already been approved by the FDA to treat specific cancers. This trial will collect data on how these anti-cancer drugs perform on patients with advanced cancer types when used outside of their FDA-approved indications. The hope is that by studying these drugs—which are provided at no cost to the study participants—researchers will gain new insights on the drugs’ potential uses.

Taking an active role in a clinical trial

Clinical trials like TAPUR are important for the advancement of cancer care and treatment. If you are considering enrolling in TAPUR or any other clinical trial, its important you know that enrollment is voluntary and a decision between you and your medical oncologist. Ask questions to find out if enrolling in a trial is right for you.

CTCA at Midwestern is one of five CTCA sites and the first location in Illinois enrolling patients in the ASCO TAPUR trial. You can learn more about the TAPUR study by visiting clinicaltrials.gov. The study is registered on the site (NCT 02693535), which includes a list of inclusion/exclusion criteria and other information. You can also learn more by contacting the clinical trials team at clinicaltrials@ctca-hope.com or by calling 888-841-9129.



Winning routines for warding off winter weight gain

9/20/2017

(BPT) - With cold weather and short days, it’s easy to fall off healthy eating and exercise routines. Here are tips on how to eat right and stay motivated to exercise during the winter months from a leading nutritionist and a top celebrity trainer.

EAT RIGHT

Dr. Michael Roussell holds a degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. He is a nationally recognized nutrition consultant and nutrition adviser to Men’s Health, as well as the best-selling author of The MetaShred Diet (2017).

“It’s easy to fall into eating calorie-loaded or nutrient-empty comfort foods in the winter, but take time and plan ahead. The optimum winter foods for weight loss and maintenance are packed with nutrients and filling fiber, so we feel full longer and eat less. Here are five suggestions for your shopping list.”

Pistachios. The fiber-rich green nut makes the perfect wintertime snack for many reasons. Research shows that pistachios promote healthy, stable blood-sugar levels and can help improve various risk factors for heart disease when snacked on regularly.

Winter squash. In season, butternut squash delivers a sweet, nutty flavor for fewer carbs and more fiber than you would expect. It is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, both antioxidants that will help keep your immune system in top shape. Add into soup and give your body what it craves: cold weather comfort.

Mushrooms. Mushrooms are a great cold-weather food that is in season all winter long. They are not only a unique source of a potent antioxidant called ergothioneine, but they are also a low-calorie, appetite-filling food that can be roasted, braised or sauteed.

Cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage are fibrous low-calorie foods that are perfect for the winter. They also contain powerful antioxidants like glucosinolates that help reinforce your body’s cellular detoxification pathways.

Green tea. Green tea is one of the few truly fat-burning foods. The antioxidants in green tea work to increase the amount of calories that your body burns as heat while also stimulating the liberation of stored fat in your body.

STAY FIT

Julie Diamond of Julie Diamond Fitness is a well-known, highly regarded personal fitness trainer with more than 20 years of experience empowering clients to reach their maximum fitness potential. She trains clients at all fitness levels and ages that run the gamut from celebrities to athletes to moms to anyone who aspires to live a healthier life.

“Every year as the weather gets colder, I hear the same thing: It’s too hard to get motivated to exercise on cold, dark mornings, and by nighttime I just want to get home and eat something warm. But there are tricks to staying motivated to move during the winter months.”

Set a new goal and reward yourself. Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger or move faster, set reasonable and specific goals that involve numbers or tangible accomplishments. Once you’ve attained your goal, treat yourself with a massage, new outfit or whatever tickles your fancy.

Find a workout buddy. Accountability is a great way to stay on track. Make a commitment with a friend or personal trainer for set times. This not only forces you to show up, but it can also make you push harder when you have someone cheering you on — and it’s fun!

Think outside the box. Do something different like a dance class, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class, join a running group, or grab friends and go ice-skating.

Dress the part. Invest in some new gear. It’s a known fact we all feel better and perform better in the appropriate attire. Invest in a couple of great pieces.

Amp up your playlist. Music motivates. Create a bunch of playlists that get you up and going. Play songs as you get ready.

Focus on nutrition. Food is fuel to get moving. Every week, set yourself up by preparing healthy snacks that you can just grab and go if needed, such as portable pistachios, hard-boiled eggs or chopped vegetables.



Is BPA a thing of Halloween nightmares?

9/19/2017

(BPT) - Now that fall is underway and you’re already growing tired of all the pumpkin-flavored treats, Halloween must not be too far away. That means it’s time to head to the store to pick up the trendiest Halloween decor to guarantee a shocked response from trick-or-treaters. But before you do, have you considered what some of these products are made of? Chances are, some may be polycarbonate plastic made with a safe, common chemical known as BPA.

BPA is a building-block chemical used to make a certain kind of plastic known as polycarbonate, which has unique properties that make products like flashlights lightweight and durable. And its shatter-resistance makes it ideal for use in LED lights to illuminate your Halloween-scape to guide trick-or-treaters to your doorstep.

Before heading to the store, take a look at some of the common ways BPA is used to keep trick-or-treaters spooky and safe on Halloween night:

* Flashlights – For trick-or-treaters, flashlights are a must-have to avoid losing their way. Polycarbonate gives flashlights their strong, shatter-resistant outer casing so trick-or-treaters can spook their way through their neighborhood late into the evening.

* Halloween decorations – Every neighborhood has one house that spares no expense when decorating for holidays throughout the year. But did you know many of those decorations would not be possible without polycarbonate? It makes those spooky plastic tombstones and skeletons durable and shatter-resistant.

* LED lights – To keep your jack-o'-lanterns burning bright into the night, LED lights have become the lights of choice. Polycarbonate plastic allows LED lights to be more durable and energy efficient as well as transparent.

Products made with polycarbonate help keep trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night, and using BPA to make the polycarbonate for these products is safe as well. BPA is one of the most widely studied chemicals in use today, and when it comes to BPA used in food contact materials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answered the question, “Is BPA safe?” with a clear answer — “Yes.”

With Halloween fast approaching, rest assured your trick-or-treater will have a safe and fun Halloween thanks to polycarbonate made from BPA — which isn’t so spooky after all!



5 tips to keep ticks away

9/19/2017

(BPT) - Researchers are predicting 2017 will be one of the worst years for ticks that we have seen in quite some time — and by all indications, those researchers are correct. People who have found themselves pulling ticks off their pets, children and their own bodies can readily attest to this. The question is, what to do?

While the tick population may be booming and becoming an increasing problem, there are effective measures you can take to prevent them from getting on you and your loved ones.

1. Cover up. One of the easiest ways to keep ticks off of you when you're hiking in tall grass or a wooded area is to make sure you and your family wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toe shoes. You may think dressing this way during warmer months is anything but comfortable, but if you dress in lightweight, breathable clothing, you’ll be surprised at how cool you can stay.

2. Keep up with your yard. Ticks love a messy yard. They seek out tall grass, patches of weeds and unkempt gardens. Take the time to keep your lawn cut, remove any loose debris and keep the weeds out of your garden. Areas you want to be particularly concerned about are around patios, play areas and anywhere people congregate or pets explore.

3. Protect your yard. Ticks and other pests may seem like an insurmountable problem, almost impossible to avoid or get rid of. But rest easy knowing there is a solution to help protect against these blood-feeding pests. Whether you’re concerned about protecting your family’s health from tick-borne illnesses or need help controlling an infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional to come in and assess the situation. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) can help you find a qualified, local expert to identify and treat your tick problem.

4. Wear insect repellent. Just like you make it a habit to always apply sunscreen when going out on a bright, beautiful day, get in the habit of applying insect repellent any time you are out in an area that might harbor ticks. To be effective, make sure the insect repellent contains at least 20 percent DEET.

5. Perform regular inspections. At the end of the day, take the time to comb through your pet's fur and check them for ticks, even if they are wearing a tick collar. Also, don't forget to do a check on yourself and your children. Since it usually takes between 24 and 48 hours for a tick to attach to a host and transmit diseases like Lyme disease, it’s important to remove them quickly.

To learn more about ticks or other common pests, visit www.pestworld.org. There you’ll find a wealth of information and resources that will help you and your family have a safe and tick-free year.



Four times you should choose organic when it comes to your child

9/12/2017

(BPT) - If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across ongoing debates regarding the term “organic” and what should go into your child’s body. But, what about organic versus non-GMO? A recent study from Perrigo Nutritionals revealed that more than half of moms didn’t know that organic is inherently non-GMO.

So, what’s the real difference? Simply put, organic is always non-GMO, but, unlike non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

* No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers.

* No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.

* Support for organic farming practices and animal health and welfare.

* Regulated by the federal government under the USDA (non-GMO products are not regulated and can vary based on the company or third party making the claim).

"It’s important to understand the difference between these labels so you can make the right nutritional decisions for you family," says Jessica Turner, best-selling author and founder of the Mom Creative blog.

Looking beyond the non-GMO label doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, especially since purchasing all organic can add up quick. As a mother of three, Turner believes the following products are worth the extra splurge for organic instead of just non-GMO for your child.

Baby Food

As a child starts eating solids, many organizations such as The Environmental Working Group recommend always going organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen” such as apples, bell peppers, peaches, etc. to avoid pesticides. Purchasing baby food jars or packets? Make sure you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, not just a non-GMO certified label to avoid all those chemicals.

Milk

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse when it comes to your child’s nutrition with vitamin D, calcium and protein, but unfortunately it can sometimes contain not-so-good ingredients. Organic milk brands like Organic Valley have absolutely no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything. Going organic also supports a better life for the cows since they have access to pastures (another thing not guaranteed by only purchasing non-GMO).

Infant Formula

According to the Perrigo Nutritionals study, 43 percent of moms said they purchased organic foods for their babies when they started eating solids, but only 10 percent purchased organic infant formula. So why not choose organic for your baby from the very beginning? Choosing organic brands like Earth’s Best or Honest may be worth the extra investment since it will ensure you are avoiding pesticides and hormones- something not guaranteed by just the non-GMO label.

Skin Care

Skin care products that go on a baby’s skin, like lotion, diaper cream, shampoo and soap, are being absorbed into their bloodstream. Since their skin is more porous than adults, products from organic/natural lines such as Burt’s Bees or Seventh Generation may be worth the extra splurge to ensure your child is being exposed to the least number of chemicals as possible.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, err on the side of buying organic since organic is always non-GMO, plus more. For more information on organic versus non-GMO, visit www.choose-organic.com.



Emergency preparedness 101: Know how to protect your family against carbon monoxide poisoning

9/18/2017

(BPT) - Few areas of the country are immune to natural disasters or severe weather. Whether you live in a hurricane zone or face icy winters, it is important to prepare your home and family to weather the storm and know the potential health and safety risks that may arise in emergency situations.

Beyond inconvenience, widespread and long-term power outages resulting from storms raise a much more serious concern: carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. While the poisonous gas can come from any fossil fuel-burning appliance or vehicle, the risk posed by generators is of particular concern because of this year’s devastating storm season.

“Simple preparation, along with an understanding of the risks of CO, are key factors for protecting your home and loved ones both during storm season and throughout the year,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “The risk of CO can occur anytime — not just during emergencies — which is why installing and regularly testing CO alarms are an integral part of any home safety plan.”

What is CO?

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” the gas is colorless and odorless, making it impossible to detect without a CO alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the No. 1 cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year.

CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose — often until it’s too late. Symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses, and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardio-respiratory failure or death.

Sources of CO may include, but are not limited to, generators, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space also are sources of CO.

What should you do?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing CO alarms on every level of the home, including the basement, and within 15 feet of all sleeping rooms. These alarms are the first line of defense against CO poisoning. Checking alarms regularly and following manufacturer instructions for alarms and all home equipment play an equally vital role.

In case of power outage, never use a generator indoors. Portable electricity generators must be used outside only and should never be used in a garage or in any confined area that can allow CO to collect. When running a generator, be sure to remain 15 to 20 feet away from the outside perimeter of the home and be careful to follow operating instructions closely.

Additional areas to consider include the kitchen stove, a frequent source of CO poisoning in the home. Ensure the kitchen vent or exhaust fan is running to limit exposure. For any fuel-burning appliances in the home, make sure to have a professional inspect them regularly to detect any CO leaks. This includes items such as the furnace, oven, fireplace, dryer and water heater.

If you have an attached garage, it is extremely important to never leave your car running inside. Even if the garage door is open, CO emissions can leak inside the home.

CO alarms should be battery-powered or hardwired with battery backup. To help ensure your family is protected, First Alert offers a variety of alarms to meet all needs, including a table-top alarm with a 10-year sealed battery and digital display to see detected CO levels in parts per million. Additional alarm options include plug-in and wall-mount alarms, hardwired alarms with battery backup, and a combination smoke and CO alarm for 2-in-1 protection.

In addition to carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, along with smoke alarms, should be an integral part of a comprehensive home safety plan.

Most importantly, if your CO alarm sounds, go outside for fresh air immediately and call 911. To learn more about CO safety or other home safety tips from First Alert, visit www.firstalert.com.



Good health at any age: What women should watch out for

9/18/2017

(BPT) - Being healthy is a common goal for many people, but good health does not have a finite endpoint; it’s an ongoing process that unfolds over a lifetime. For women, aging can bring on surprising health changes as they move through the decades of their life. From good nutrition and proper exercise to bone health and vaginal wellness, knowing the changes aging may cause can empower women to better care for themselves and prepare.

“From puberty to pregnancy to menopause, a woman’s body can go through a plethora of changes in her lifetime,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN, author and expert on women’s health. “Once adulthood hits, the next few decades bring about expected, and some not-so-expected, physical, mental and emotional changes. Those changes mean how we care for our bodies will change, too.”

While each woman’s aging experience will be as unique as she is, Dr. Dweck points to some common health changes women may encounter during several decades of their lives:

20s

With puberty completely over, women can begin to identify what is and isn’t normal for their bodies. While diet and exercise are important at any age, during their 20s women begin to understand what is required in order to maintain a healthy weight. Menstrual health may fluctuate during this decade of life and many women will focus on both contraception and feminine hygiene, Dweck says.

“Women ages 21 and older should get a pap smear at least every three years,” she adds.

During this age range, infections are not unusual. In fact, three out of four women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime. Diets high in sugar and/or alcohol can increase the risk, as well as other factors like staying in a damp bathing suit or tight clothing for extended periods and menstrual cycle fluctuations. For those experiencing an infection for the first time, it’s best to visit the gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis.

30s

During their 30s, women often start to focus on family planning and pregnancy, among other things.

The hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy and/or use of birth control can cause shifts in pH balance, which can lead to infections. Being familiar with yeast infection symptoms from past experience allows women to find quick and easy solutions, like the over-the-counter treatment of MONISTAT(R) in the feminine hygiene aisle of local drugstores. It relieves symptoms four times faster and works on more of the most common strains of yeast than the leading prescription.

Nutrition continues to be important during this decade, whether women choose to begin families or not, as bone loss generally commences in the fourth decade and metabolism slows. Women should adjust their diets and exercise to ensure their caloric intake meets their needs, including maintaining their intake of calcium and eating nutritious, low-fat foods.

40s

Perimenopause can cause significant health changes for women in their 40s, including a decrease in estrogen levels. Something many may find surprising is that at this age, women are at their sexual prime. However, intimate areas become thinner and less elastic in a woman’s 40s, which may cause varying degrees of discomfort.

50s

Most women will experience menopause during their 50s, and while this new stage can cause pH changes, having no more menstruation or erratic cycles can be very freeing. With diminished estrogen, drying can occur in private areas, for which moisturizers and lubricants can be useful. Women should avoid feminine products that are not both dermatologist and gynecologist tested as they can cause yeast infections, Dweck cautions.

At this age, it is more important than ever to maintain a regular exercise routine, including cardio, strength training and flexibility training.

60s and beyond

By this age, most women know their bodies intimately and can quickly tell when something isn’t right. Common health issues that can occur with age include diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease, many of which also cause irregularities in feminine health.

Women should remain active and continue to eat healthily as metabolism slows and bone health decays. Brain health is also important. Along with regular exercise and intellectual stimulation, social interaction with family and friends can help prevent cognitive decline.

“Women will typically know what’s normal for them. There isn’t one normal — just normal for you,” Dweck says. “Women should never be afraid to familiarize themselves with their bodies and ask their doctors questions. Be inquisitive and don’t consider any topic taboo. Good health is a multifaceted process, and gynecological health is an important part of a woman’s overall well-being.”



Prevent falls this fall with a home safety checklist

9/18/2017

(BPT) - After months of sticky heat and humidity, it’s time to put away the shorts and pull out the sweaters because the autumn season is finally here. But, late September brings us more than just cooler temperatures and a wardrobe change. If you or a loved one are over the age of 65, the change in seasons is also an opportunity to think about another kind of fall — the kind that impacts one in four older Americans every year — and the steps we can all take to help prevent them.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and account for the majority of emergency room visits for older adults. More than 75 percent of falls happen in or around the house, but fortunately there are ways to evaluate our loved ones’ homes and make them safer for everyday living.

Use the checklist below, based on suggestions from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help guide your review of the exterior and interior of the property. Many of the safety measures listed can be made at little to no cost, but more significant modifications could require a considerable investment.

Keep in mind, there are financial options available for seniors who want to modify their homes to meet their changing needs. Area Agencies on Aging, state and local governments, and some nonprofits offer grants, loans or other assistance programs for eligible seniors in need of home repairs and modifications.

Older homeowners may also want to consider using a reverse mortgage loan to convert a portion of their home's equity into cash proceeds that can be used for many reasons, including home modifications and maintenance. Unlike a home equity loan, a reverse mortgage requires no monthly principal or interest payments and cannot be frozen or reset.

Borrowers do not have to repay the loan balance until the last eligible spouse permanently leaves the home, or if they fail to meet their loan obligations, which include staying current on property taxes, insurance and any condominium or HOA fees.

For a comprehensive overview of reverse mortgage loans and a Borrower Roadmap to the loan process, visit http://www.reversemortgage.org/Your-Roadmap, a free consumer resource created by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Home Safety Checklist

Start on the outside:

* Make sure the driveway and any paved walkways are smooth and stable. Seal any cracks before more damage is created. Crumbling or uneven concrete surfaces should be repaired.

* Porch and deck flooring should be flat, even and nonslip. Any loose or broken floorboards should be nailed down or replaced.

* Outdoor steps should have sturdy, easily graspable handrails.

* The porch and entryway should be well-lit and light switches should be easily accessible.

* Consider whether the doorway to the home can be converted to a no-step entrance way. There are many creative ways to achieve this.

Check out the inside:

* Floors should be flat and nonslip; floorboards should be stable and carpets should be free of holes and tears that could create a tripping hazard.

* Throw rugs should be fully fastened to the floor with tacks or double-sided tape, or taken out of the house.

* All stairs and steps should be flat and even, and clutter should be removed.

* Add nonslip treads to stairs that are not carpeted.

* Stairways should have solidly mounted handrails on both sides of the steps if possible, and should be well-lit.

* If you or your loved ones face mobility challenges and stairs are an obstacle to accessing different levels of the home, consider installing a chairlift that will enable them to enjoy all the rooms in the house again.



The top 5 things to know about opioids

9/18/2017

(BPT) - While a decade ago you may not have heard much about opioids, today they make headlines daily. The nationwide epidemic crosses generations and socioeconomic lines, and it's affecting your family, friends and neighbors.

"Opioids have long been used clinically to treat pain, but prior to the 1990s they were primarily reserved for patients with a limited life expectancy, such as for someone with cancer or in a hospice setting," says Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist. "The potential problems associated with long-term use were secondary considerations."

To help shed light on this growing national problem, Dr. Hooten lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.

Opioids are prescribed for various reasons

Opioids are used to treat a variety of pain disorders. While they are commonly prescribed after an operation, opioids are also used to treat a host of chronic pain conditions including musculoskeletal, abdominal, pelvic, and neuropathic pain.

Length of use varies

"Following surgery, up to one in four patients may use opioids longer than anticipated," says Dr. Hooten. "How long, exactly, depends on several clinical factors."

He notes that after an operation, a patient might use opioids to manage acute pain for three to five days. "When opioids are used for acute postoperative pain, patients should try to use the lowest possible dose." After this short time period, opioids should be replaced with non-opioid pain medicines including Tylenol scheduled to be taken every six hours."

There are alternatives for pain management

There are many alternative options for chronic pain. Dr. Hooten suggests talking with your doctor about:

* Non-opioid analgesics (non-opioid pain medications).
* Interventional treatments such as image-guided spine injections or nerve blocks. * Acupuncture.
* Low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates. Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a structured exercise program.
* For advanced pain treatment, spinal-cord stimulation can disrupt the pain stimuli and provide sustained pain relief.
* Work with a pain psychologist who can help teach individuals how to use specialized behavioral and cognitive techniques that could lead to improvements in daily functioning and quality of life.

Opioids can be deadly if misused

"Approximately 90 people per day die in the U.S. from a prescription opioid and/or an illicit opiate overdose," says Dr. Hooten. Many of those are accidental overdoses. “People who take prescription opioids will inadvertently mix them with benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium and Xanax). Dr. Hooten warns that these two drug classes should never be taken together, as the combination can suppress the central nervous system and put the individual at risk of an accidental overdose.

Addiction can happen to anyone

As Dr. Hooten notes, “No one plans to get addicted, but it happens. Using opioids requires a high level of vigilance for the signs and symptoms of addiction."

There are many signs of over-reliance or misuse that families should be aware of. These include an increased preoccupation with the drug, concern about the timing of the next dose or refill, hiding use of the drug, and signs of intoxication like slurred speech and excessive sleep.

If you notice these warning signs, alert your loved one about your concerns. "This might be enough to prompt a change," says Dr. Hooten. "Otherwise relay this information to the prescriber and tell them what’s going on. They can take the correct next steps."

For more information on pain medication and alternatives, or to make an appointment, visit www.mayoclinic.org.



Top 4 tips to help you get the sleep you need

9/14/2017

(BPT) - If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're not getting enough sleep. You could probably use a nap, and you're not alone.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that about 70 million U.S. adults report sleeping six hours or less on average. This is well below the seven or more hours of nightly sleep that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends for optimal health.

It's important for you to get the sleep you need. No matter the age, children and adults report improved alertness, energy, mood and well-being when enjoying healthy, consistent sleep.

However, with different sleep needs for each family member, making sure that everyone gets the sleep they need can be a real challenge. Therefore, families should make it a priority to adopt routines that fit each individual's unique lifestyle and sleep needs.

Whatever your situation, these four tips can help you and your family get on a consistent sleep schedule, sleep better, and in the process, lead healthier lives.

1. Use a bedtime calculator. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has developed a bedtime calculator that can help you generate a customized sleep plan. Simply visit www.projecthealthysleep.org and enter your age and wake-up time. The calculator will tell you what time you need to go to bed to get an adequate amount of sleep. This personalized calculation can help you and your loved ones keep a schedule that allows everyone to get the sleep they need.

The AASM recommends that each age group get the following amount of sleep on a regular basis:

* Infants 4 to 12 months old: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)

* Children 1 to 2 years old: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)

* Children 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)

* Children 6 to 12 years old: Nine to 12 hours

* Teens 13 to 18 years old: Eight to 10 hours

* Adults: Seven hours or more

2. Limit your screen activity. It may be tempting to watch television and scroll through apps until you fall asleep, but this is one of the worst bedtime habits. The blue light emitted from phones, tablets and laptops resets your circadian clock and “tricks” your brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. Late-night screen time is one of the most common sleep hygiene violations, and a new study links binge-watching in young adults with poorer sleep quality, more fatigue and increased insomnia. To promote responsible screen time, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends setting an episode or time limit each night, using one of the apps for your computer, tablet and smartphone that filters out blue light, avoiding use of mobile devices while in bed; and turning off all screens at least a half-hour before your bedtime.

3. Implement a relaxing routine before bed. Studies have shown that children sleep better when they have a bedtime routine. Parents should develop a consistent, nightly routine that includes relaxing, calming activities, like reading a story before bed. Whatever your age, it’s important to turn off your computer or television at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Prepare to go to sleep by doing something relaxing, whether it’s reading, writing in a journal or taking a warm bath.

4. Add daily exercise to the routine. Many people lead busy lives that are mentally tiring but consist of little to no physical activity. This can be a recipe for a poor night’s sleep. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t have to do an exhausting workout to sleep better. Even small amounts of routine physical activity may improve your sleep and overall well-being.

Getting enough sleep isn’t just a matter of feeling well rested and alert; it’s a necessary component of good health. Sleeping six hours or less per night increases the risk of a stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Insufficient sleep is such a widespread problem that the CDC has named insufficient sleep a public health problem.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that healthy sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity. If you’re having trouble sleeping, help is available at more than 2,500 sleep disorders centers that are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For more information, visit www.aasmnet.org.



5 tips to keep sniffles and sneezes out of your holiday plans

9/14/2017

(BPT) - With the holidays upon us, there’s a lot to look forward to: seeing old friends, eating too much, wearing ugly sweaters; the list goes on. Likewise, there are a lot of things that might make you sigh: awkward questions from your aunts, arguing about politics and of course, how you’re going to work off all that extra weight in the new year.

One question millions of Americans should keep in mind this holiday season is how to best handle their asthma and allergies. While everyone else is singing along to carols and letting their food digest, others are tearing up, coughing and going into a sneezing fit.

“People don’t realize how many hidden triggers are associated with the holidays and winter season,” said allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Those who suffer from allergies and asthma assume things will ease up once the cold weather hits, but there are other factors that can cause your allergies and asthma to flare. In fact, two-thirds of allergy sufferers have year-round triggers and symptoms.”

To help make the holidays as enjoyable as possible, here are five tips to manage your allergies this season.

An excuse to stay out of the hugging circle. There are a lot of hugs and kisses during the holidays, which can make it easy for germs and viruses to spread. Catching a cold or coming down with the flu is pretty awful, but because those illnesses make asthma and allergy symptoms even worse, those with allergies must take extra precautions. One more reason to avoid the mistletoe!

Watch out for that ... tree! For many, picking out a Christmas tree is a holiday tradition. For others, a tree can be pure misery. Mold on the tree and terpene found in the sap can trigger allergies you thought you had under control. A much better option is to use an artificial tree — just be sure to dust it off! Dust allergies can be a problem year-round.

Keep an eye on holiday treats. Holidays are about food, and people usually share the food they make. As a result, you need to be extra careful about food allergies. If you or your kids have food allergies, let your host know what ingredients should be avoided. If you are hosting, prepare food you know everyone in your clan can eat.

Your nose knows to sniff out those "pleasant" scents. People love to add those little touches to create a cozy holiday atmosphere in their homes. Unfortunately, scented candles, wood-burning fireplaces, aerosols and potpourri can trigger allergies and asthma. There are plenty of other nice touches you can add, but this year, forgo the scents!

Leave the house prepared. Whether it’s someone’s lovable dog, a co-worker wearing too much perfume or a moldy Christmas tree, many triggers exist out there. Before you leave the house, take your medications, and if your allergy and asthma symptoms worsen during the season, be sure to schedule an appointment with your allergist.

If you need help with allergies, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org to find a board-certified allergist in your area. ACAAI member-allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer allergy shots (immunotherapy), and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes.



Try this science-backed way to learn in your sleep

9/13/2017

(BPT) - The brain never rests. If you've shared a room with a sleep-talker or woken from an intense dream, it’s pretty clear the brain is always active, even during sleep.

If we better understand what is happening up there while we rest, perhaps we can direct that activity into something meaningful that improves our lives. Did you know that, for example, sleeping can help you learn a new language? Recent research has shown that while we sleep our brains are solidifying memory, and that has implications for our language skills.

Despite what we’ve seen in science fiction, it turns out that learning in your sleep does not happen by osmosis. You still have to learn the words while you’re awake.

To use an example on how to do this, take the word “tulo.” Before you go to bed tonight, repeat to yourself, “Tulo means sleep.” That’s what it means in the language of Chichewa, which is spoken in the countries of Zambia and Malawi. When you lie down and close your eyes, say it a few more times. “Tulo means sleep.”

What does the brain do while we’re sleeping?

In order to understand how you can use sleep to help you commit the word “tulo” to memory, it’s important to understand something about sleep and brain science.

When you think about it, sleep doesn’t make a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint. We hate to lose all that productivity, not to mention that sleep makes animals in the wild vulnerable to predators. We still don’t fully understand why we sleep, but as scientists study sleep in humans and animals, its benefits keep emerging and unfolding. For example, scientists have discovered that sleep flushes toxins from our brains, and dreaming helps us process emotional events.

In 2014, scientists from the Swiss National Science Foundation published study results in the journal "Cerebral Cortex" that could help your “tulo” game. Here, 60 German-speaking students were asked to memorize some Dutch words before 10 p.m., words that were unfamiliar to them. Half the students were then allowed to sleep. As they slept, recordings of the words were played for them. Meanwhile, the other half stayed awake, listening to the recordings.

At 2 a.m., scientists tested the knowledge of the two groups. (The first group was awakened and the second group was still awake.) The group that had slept recalled more Dutch words than the group that stayed awake.

Another finding lends startling insight as to why the sleeping minds might have had better recall. Brain scans taken from the sleeping subjects indicate that their brains responded to the spoken words, helping them solidify a meaningful connection with the words.

Tips for learning in your sleep

Before you leap into your language study, give it a test run with “tulo.” Follow these three steps to see if the insights from the brain and sleep studies help you commit the word to your memory.

Prime the mind: Again, this learning does not happen by osmosis. Before you sleep, it’s important to spend some time with the word “tulo.” Write it down, say it to yourself in a sentence, and tell others about it. "Tulo means sleep." That alone may or may not be enough to help you remember what you need to know, but at the very least, you are creating the conditions.

Create a good sleep environment: You can’t get the full benefits of sleep if you're not getting enough of it, and that also applies when you’re trying to memorize new words. In order to capture these full benefits, make sure you set yourself up for the best possible night’s sleep. Stay away from caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime, exercise regularly, and keep your bedroom dark and quiet, and at the right temperature. Make sure you’re going to bed and waking at the same time every day.

Play a recording: Make a recording of yourself saying, “Tulo means sleep,” and have it play on repeat for a few hours while you’re in dreamland. Be sure and have a sticky note posted near your bed to remind you when you wake up — "what’s that word you have to recall?" When you wake up and read it, chances are, the answer will come right out: “Tulo.”



Tips for choosing the Medicare plan that's right for you

9/12/2017

(BPT) - Fall and winter don’t just bring cooler temperatures and the holidays — the final seasons of the year also mean open enrollment for Medicare. For most seniors in the United States, the period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 is the only time they can switch or make changes to their Medicare insurance plan.

“As people age, their health care needs evolve,” says Dawn Maroney, chief growth and strategy officer for Alignment Healthcare. “When that happens, they may find the Medicare plan they first chose when they became eligible no longer meets all their needs. This open enrollment period is their yearly opportunity to re-evaluate whether to continue with their plan or switch to another, with changes becoming effective the first of the new year.”

Medicare basics

Most Americans are aware that Medicare is a government program designed to ensure people older than 65 have access to affordable health insurance. The program can also cover people younger than 65 who have certain disabilities.

The Medicare program has four parts, according to Medicare.gov: A, B, C and D.

* Medicare Part A helps pay for in-patient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility and hospice care.

* Medicare Part B helps cover care by doctors or other health care providers, outpatient services, some medical equipment and some preventive services.

* Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) covers everything included in parts A and B, and usually includes Medicare prescription drug coverage as part of the plan. Medicare Advantage plans may include extra benefits and services for an extra cost. Medicare-approved private insurance companies, such as Alignment Healthcare's Alignment Health Plan, run Medicare Advantage plans.

* Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription medications and is run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies.

Original Medicare versus Medicare Advantage

Most people think of Medicare parts A and B as Original Medicare, in which the government pays directly for the health care services received. People with Original Medicare can see any doctor and hospital that accepts Medicare in the country, without prior approval from Medicare or their primary care physician. Most people do not pay a monthly premium for Part A if they paid taxes while working; everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B, based on income. The standard premium for Part B in 2017 was $134 per month, which is deducted from the individual's Social Security benefits.

Original Medicare pays for about 80 percent of the total costs of health care. The patient is responsible for the remaining 20 percent, which can mean high out-of-pocket costs in the event of a hospitalization or other events requiring significant medical attention. To offset the financial burden of that 20 percent, some people choose to purchase supplemental insurance, called Medigap.

Private insurance companies offer Medigap to cover things Medicare doesn’t, such as deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance — but, keep in mind, Medigap only supplements Original Medicare benefits. Further, if you do not apply for Medigap in the first six months of becoming eligible, there's no guarantee that an insurance company will sell you a Medigap policy.

With Medicare Advantage, government-approved private companies administer health plans that cover everything Original Medicare does, but can do so with different rules, costs and restrictions that can change every year. For example, a private Medicare plan may require your physician to request permission before performing a procedure in order to be paid by the plan. Medicare Advantage plans, however, usually cover extras that Original Medicare does not, like dental care, vision services, hearing exams and gym memberships.

Most Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D), which is not included in Original Medicare, at no additional cost. If you elect to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you still have Medicare — this means that you must still pay your monthly premiums for parts A and B, in addition to a monthly premium for Part C, if applicable. Many Medicare Advantage plans are available for no additional monthly premium.

Considerations when choosing

When choosing between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, you should consider these questions:

* How likely is it your health needs will change down the road? Since health changes as you age, chances are your treatment needs will, too. If you don’t enroll in the additional insurance and drug coverage when you first sign up for Original Medicare, you may pay a monthly penalty for enrolling later and may not be eligible for additional Medigap coverage.

* Are you still working past age 65? If so, you will probably want to enroll in Part A, because there generally are no monthly premiums, and it may supplement your employer’s insurance plan. You might choose to delay enrolling in Part B, but it depends on your health coverage. Everyone has to pay a monthly premium for Part B.

* Is it more important to you to have lower or no premiums or lower out-of-pocket costs? With Original Medicare, you may pay more out of pocket without supplemental insurance and prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage includes supplemental insurance and sometimes prescription drug coverage, too.

* How important is it to keep your doctor? Original Medicare is accepted by any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, without referral. Medicare Advantage plans allow you to select a doctor from the plan network, which is usually very large; your current health care providers are likely to be in the network already.

* Do you regularly take prescription medication for chronic conditions? Prescription drug coverage is not included in Original Medicare, and if you fail to sign up for Part D at the time you enroll, you could pay a penalty for adding it later. Most Medicare Advantage plans do cover prescription drugs.

“Medicare Advantage allows patients to receive the care they need to stay well and keeps their budgets in check with set costs and annual maximums,” Maroney says. “It’s an ideal solution for patients who need frequent care or who struggle to meet medical expenses.”

To learn more about Medicare, visit www.Medicare.gov. For information about Alignment Healthcare and its affiliated Medicare Advantage plans, visit www.alignmenthealthcare.com.



Making sense of nutrition labels

9/11/2017

(BPT) - You can find them on the side of most every product at your local grocery store. They are plain and kind of boring but nutrition labels were designed to contain vitally important information for good health and wise food choices. These labels tell you the number of servings in a container, how many calories per serving, and what amounts of vitamins and essential nutrients (like sodium) they contain.

However, they don’t just give you the raw data, they also tell you what percentage of your daily allowance of needed nutrients you are getting. When it comes to sodium, however, that may be a problem. The daily allowances are based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, with guidance from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now known as the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies).

The current FDA Dietary Guidelines call for a maximum daily sodium allowance of 2,300 mg, well below what the average American eats, which is about 3,400 mg per day of sodium. But, when the IOM studied this issue and released their report in 2013, “Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence,” they found no evidence to lower the daily allowance below 2,300 mg per day and some indication that doing so would be harmful. The level set by the FDA not only represents a significant population-wide sodium reduction effort, it also ignores the latest evidence.

An increasing amount of research is contradicting the FDA’s sodium guidelines. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 6,000 mg per day and eating less than 3,000 mg per day may increase the risk of death or cardiovascular incidents. And a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that low-sodium diets were more likely to result in death from cardiovascular disease.

Low-salt diets can lead to insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, cardiovascular events, iodine deficiency, loss of cognition, low birth weights, and higher rates of death. Dr. Michael Alderman, editor of the American Journal of Hypertension and former president of the American Society of Hypertension, has repeatedly cited his concern that a population-wide sodium reduction campaign could have unintended consequences.

Very few countries in the world meet the government recommendations. A study of almost 20,000 people in 33 countries shows the normal range of consumption around the world is 2,800 to 4,800 mg/day. This is consistent regardless of where people get their food, either from home-cooked meals, prepackaged meals or restaurants.

The new nutrition labels were supposed to go into place this year, but now the FDA has indefinitely delayed their implementation. Hopefully this will allow them time to adjust the sodium limits to more accurately reflect the evidence as well as how real people eat and the safe range of sodium consumption.



Sports nutritionals 101: What you should know about supplementing your workout

9/8/2017

(BPT) - Whether you're an athlete looking for an extra competitive edge or would just like to increase the effectiveness of your daily workout, you have most likely considered adding nutritional supplements to your fitness routine. Diet, exercise and everyday lifestyle are all factors that can help determine the right supplements for you.

“It’s not uncommon for people who’ve never tried nutritional supplements to have some misconceptions about them,” says Don Saladino, a fitness and nutrition expert who trains celebrities and is a brand advocate for Garden of Life(R) SPORT. “People may think supplementation is only for die-hard athletes, but every human being is an athlete. We do things each day like move, carry items and change direction. Carrying a baby, hauling groceries or running across the street — these are the exact same patterns an athlete needs to perform, which is why it’s important to learn about all the options available and how they can help.”

As you’re considering nutritional supplements, keep these important points in mind:

* Power up with protein — Adding a protein-rich sports supplement to your diet provides many benefits. Protein fuels workouts, aids in muscle recovery after exercise and extends energy throughout the day. Supplements can provide needed nutrients that are difficult to get through diet alone. Adding protein powder into a smoothie or snacking on a protein bar can help incorporate necessary nutrients like antioxidants into your daily diet.

* Match your supplement to your objective — An exercise regimen can greatly benefit from a system of supplementation. Various nutrient-rich supplements are designed to be taken before you exercise, and others following exercise. For example, pre-workout supplements such as Garden of Life SPORT ENERGY + Focus incorporate ingredients intended to improve focus, such as organic coffeeberry, and optimize energy production, such as B12. Post-exercise supplements such as SPORT Organic Plant-Based Recovery can help your body recover faster from the rigors of vigorous exercise.

* Pick your best protein — Protein is a key component of sports nutrition, since it helps build muscle mass and supports muscle recovery post-workout. When a supplement contains all nine of the essential amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, it contains “complete proteins.” You can get these essential amino acids from different protein sources, such as plant-based protein or whey protein. Plant-based proteins are great for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, and they are especially effective at enhancing post-workout recovery. Whey protein is designed to refuel and repair muscles and can help maximize muscle growth when supplementing with regular exercise.

* Keep it clean — It’s important to be aware of what’s in your supplement. Just as you choose organic foods and beverages for their ingredient transparency, you wouldn’t want a nutritional supplement that’s made up of chemicals. Look for a truly clean sports nutrition system that’s designated with the Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified seals, as well as by Informed-Choice for Sport and NSF(R) Certified For Sport.

“Working out is good for you — whether you choose to supplement or not. But the right nutritional supplement can help maximize the benefits of your exercise regimen and improve how you feel during everyday life activities,” Saladino says.

Nutritional supplements may be the fuel your body needs to reach the next level of performance, whether it's putting that extra weight into your workout or lifting an extra child at home.

To learn more about clean sport supplements, visit www.gardenoflife.com/sport.



Medicare Advantage: 20 years, 20 million people and 4 factors

9/5/2017

(BPT) - In 1997, the federal government created the Medicare + Choice program — later renamed Medicare Advantage — to enhance consumer choice and more efficiently deliver Medicare benefits to older Americans.

You may have heard of Medicare Advantage, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it is, what it offers and how it can help you.

Today, Medicare Advantage serves almost 20 million people — a nearly 50 percent increase from even five years ago, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Here are four important factors in why people choose Medicare Advantage:

1. Simplicity and convenience. Medicare Advantage plans combine all your Medicare coverage, including Original Medicare (Parts A and B), and often prescription drug coverage, into one plan so you only have one card to carry.

2. Predictable costs. Managing your health care costs can be especially important if you are living on a fixed budget. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits for a $0 premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare and have set limits on what you have to pay out of pocket. Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, explains, “Original Medicare generally covers about 80 percent of a person’s costs for doctor visits and other outpatient care, leaving the individual responsible for the rest, with no limit to what that cost may be. Medicare Advantage, on the other hand, offers peace of mind and helps you plan your health care expenses by capping how much you may have to pay out of your own pocket in a given year.”

3. Care Coordination. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analyzed 3 million Medicare claims and found that Medicare Advantage members have shorter hospital stays and fewer readmissions within 30 days of leaving. Medicare Advantage plan members are also more likely to receive preventive care to keep chronic illnesses in check, according to researchers.

A possible explanation for the favorable outcomes: care coordination. Thompson says, “The health care system is complex. With Medicare Advantage plans, doctors work as a comprehensive team, led by a primary care doctor, and together with the health plan, they help members receive the care they need. This can create more convenience and value for the member and ultimately lead to better health.”

4. Choice. Thompson also points out that “every day more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and they expect to have choices.” Medicare Advantage plans come in a wide variety of options, so people can choose one that meets their unique health and budget needs. Many offer programs to support people with diabetes and other chronic conditions, and most offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare. Perks may include prescription drug, dental, vision and hearing coverage, home visits, 24/7 access to health care professionals and gym memberships.

If you want to learn more about Medicare and options available to you, visit MedicareMadeClear.com. You can also learn more about Medicare Advantage at UHCMedicarePlans.com.

Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.



4 steps to safely recycle your household batteries

9/1/2017

(BPT) - Do you have a pile of used household batteries hidden in your junk drawer or in a coffee can in the garage? You know you should be environmentally responsible and recycle them, but you aren’t sure where to start. So the pile grows larger.

But did you also know that extra precautions are required when storing and recycling them? Some batteries retain a residual charge even after they can no longer properly power a device. These batteries may appear dead but they can be a safety risk because their power has not been completely used up. Some batteries can combust or spark, causing a fire or other safety incident.

That’s why it’s important for anyone with used batteries to embrace some simple safety tips when storing them. Call2Recycle, the leading consumer battery recycling program in North America, offers these recommendations for safely protecting your batteries to avoid any issues:

1. Bag each battery in its own clear plastic bag before placing it in a storage container. If a bag isn’t available, you can tape the terminals with these tape types: clear packing, non-conductive electrical and duct. Avoid masking, painter and Scotch tape; opaque bags or any wax products. Make sure the label is visible.

2. Store the batteries in a cool, dry place. Incidents can occur when batteries (or the devices they power such as a cellphone or tablet) are exposed to inclement or excessively hot weather. Store them in a plastic container; avoid metal or cardboard.

3. Keep an eye out for damaged batteries. If you see a swollen or bulging battery, immediately put it in a non-flammable material such as sand or kitty litter in a cool, dry place. Do not dispose of it in the trash. Contact Call2Recycle, the manufacturer or retailer immediately for instructions, especially if the label says it is Lithium or Lithium-Ion.

4. Drop them off within six months. Call2Recycle recommends storing old batteries no longer than six months. Make sure they are bagged or taped before dropping them off for recycling.

You can drop off rechargeable batteries for free at a Call2Recycle public drop-off site anywhere in the U.S. The online locator can help you find a nearby site; its Recycle on the Way feature helps you add a recycling stop on your errand run. Retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples also accept them for recycling.

For single-use batteries, you can drop them off at select Call2Recycle participating locations, purchase your own Call2Recycle recycling box or contact your local community recycling center for other options.

All household batteries can be recycled. In particular, metals in rechargeable batteries can be repurposed into other products such as new batteries, stainless steel pans and golf clubs. By dropping them at a Call2Recycle drop-off site, you can be assured that your used batteries will be kept out of the landfill and recycled in the most sustainable way possible.

Start your commitment to safe battery recycling today. For more information, visit www.Call2Recycle.org.



Baseball legend steps up to the plate to raise awareness of fatal lung disease

9/1/2017

(BPT) - All-Star centerfielder Bernie Williams is taking on a new role as an advocate for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) awareness in honor of his dad Bernabé who lost his life to this rare and fatal lung disease. In this new role, he’s teamed up with Boehringer Ingelheim on Breathless(TM) (www.BreathlessIPF.com), a national education campaign that offers hope to those with IPF and their loved ones — and helps them get the information and support they need.

Williams’ dad’s battle with IPF began in the '90s, at a time when Williams’ career with the Yankees was in full swing. Bernabé, who had been in perfect health his whole life up until then, began to experience breathlessness and disruptive coughing fits, and the Williams family became concerned.

“My dad was a role model to me — and my biggest fan. When I was a kid, long before there were any thoughts of me becoming a professional baseball player, we’d go out to the local field and play catch for hours just because I enjoyed it — and it was time for the two of us together,” said Williams. “My dad was such an important part of my life. So when he started to have health problems, I became worried — and scared.”

After seeing several doctors and years of misdiagnoses, Bernabé finally saw a lung specialist, or pulmonologist, who accurately diagnosed him with IPF and explained the fatal nature of the disease — a devastating reality for the entire Williams family. Over the years that Bernabé battled IPF, Williams flew from New York to Puerto Rico to help care for him — even missing an occasional Yankees game to be by his side.

Bernabé’s breathlessness eventually progressed to the point where he could barely participate in regular telephone calls with Williams without becoming winded, and everyday tasks like walking up stairs or bending over to pick something up turned into difficult struggles. Finally, and sadly, in May 2001, Bernabé lost his fight to IPF and passed away at the age of 73.

Bernie Williams teams up with the Breathless(TM) campaign

Unfortunately, the Williams family is not alone. As many as 132,000 people are affected by IPF in the U.S., and there are approximately 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year — enough to fill some baseball stadiums. Worse still, since the symptoms of IPF, including breathlessness during activity, a dry and persistent cough and chest discomfort, are similar to more common diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, the disease is regularly misdiagnosed — sometimes by multiple doctors and for multiple years.

Williams is now on a mission to turn his family’s heart-wrenching experience into a chance to help others, and he wants anyone who thinks they may be suffering from IPF to talk to a lung specialist sooner rather than later, so that they may be accurately diagnosed early and prescribed an appropriate treatment regimen.

“IPF is a disease that has touched my life in a very profound and personal way,” said Williams. “When my dad was diagnosed with IPF, we didn’t have the information and tools we needed available to us, so now I want to educate and empower others who are affected by this difficult and oftentimes deceiving disease — but I need your help spreading the word.”

Williams is encouraging everyone to visit www.BreathlessIPF.com, where there are a number of helpful IPF resources that you can share with your loved ones through social media. A few minutes of your time — and a few simple clicks — may just provide someone with the information they need to take action.



6 simple steps to avoid distracted driving

8/31/2017

(BPT) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.

2. DND
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.



Is your hearing loss a barrier to a happy life?

8/31/2017

(BPT) - Sheliadawn Fitch would wonder if it really was possible for her to hear again. But she would shove aside those thoughts, overcome by fear and uncertainty, telling herself she was doing okay.

Not that you could blame her. The vivacious Texan had been through a lot, having lost much of her ability to hear speech when she was around 40 years old. Following an air bag injury, she suffered from an ear infection that led to her profound hearing loss. Fitch’s hearing aids didn’t go far enough to restore quality hearing, so they were useless.

She suspected she was a good candidate for cochlear implants, but the idea of going through with the procedure struck her with fear.

“I really thought that since I was an excellent lip reader that I could get by just fine,” says Fitch, who is now 54.

Eventually, things got worse. She faced missing out on fully participating in her daughter’s wedding and she was stricken when she realized people were actually avoiding her.

“Not only did that hurt my feelings, I was always the type who was overly involved in school, community and church events,” Fitch says. “Things just weren’t working out for me or my lifestyle.”

The silent affliction

Fitch is far from alone. Hearing loss is one of those silent afflictions that impacts millions. In addition, it tends to cut people off from the world so the general population may not realize just how widespread it is.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have hearing loss, affecting 17 percent of our adult population. When you look at the older adult population, the rate of hearing loss is even more startling. It affects one third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74, and nearly half of those over the age of 75, the NIDCD further states.

What’s more, a high percentage of people with hearing loss, like Fitch, find ways to cope with it rather than pursue treatments. Only 30 percent of adults ages 70 and older who can benefit from hearing aids try them, according to the NIDCD. Others with more severe hearing loss, like Fitch, may be reluctant to pursue other solutions such as cochlear implants.

This exile from the world can be lonely as well as debilitating. In several studies cited by the NIDCD, researchers have found the isolation imposed by hearing loss is one underlying cause of depression and decreased cognitive function found in adults who become prisoners in their muted world.

Is it time to look for a different solution?

If you’ve tried hearing aids but wondered if you were a candidate for cochlear implants, here are three signs that confirm you may be suffering from the effects of severe or profound hearing loss.

1. You avoid your hearing aids.

Fitch was outfitted with hearing aids. At first she was overjoyed she could hear sounds again, but it eventually dawned on her that something critical was missing from the quality of those sounds.

“I was hearing, but not really understanding,” says Fitch. “Everything was louder. I needed clarity, not just volume.”

In fact, Fitch got headaches from straining to sift through the din of background noise to understand what people were saying to her. Eventually, she had to abandon them and rely on her lip-reading skills.

2. Family dynamics are becoming strained.

With more severe hearing loss that’s not helped by hearing aids, you may notice changes in how your friends and family interact. Family members may frequently comment on the too-loud television or radio, or note the noise is interfering with their sleep. Perhaps they’re showing more frustration and impatience because they’re frequently misunderstood or asked to repeat themselves.

3. You dread rather than look forward to special occasions.

When there’s ongoing hearing loss, family milestones and special occasions may come with a special sense of dread and sadness, driving painful choices. Do you suffer through an unpleasant event or do you stay home and disappoint your family? Perhaps a family member who serves as your “human hearing aid” can’t attend and you can’t face the idea of attending alone without your “ears.”

Finding courage to take the next step

After seven-and-a-half years of living with hearing loss, it was the upcoming wedding of her daughter and the arrival of her future grandchildren that brought Fitch to the tipping point. She realized she “might miss all of it.” That startling idea finally gave her enough courage to ask a doctor for help.

One option for Fitch and others who suffer from profound hearing loss is a Cochlear Nucleus Implant System (www.cochlear.com). While hearing aids only amplify sounds, cochlear implants help make them louder and clearer. Improving the clarity of hearing may help someone better understand speech in both quiet and noisy situations. There are two primary components of the Cochlear Nucleus System: the implant that is surgically placed underneath the skin and the external sound processor. To receive the implant, Fitch needed a CAT scan and clearance from her doctor. Several weeks after the surgery, her new Cochlear system was activated.

“And I heard and understood from that day on,” she says.

“I didn’t miss those wedding vows, or the dance music afterwards, and most importantly, I heard my grandbabies cry their first cries.”

Views expressed herein are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for cochlear implant technology. Outcomes and results may vary.



The key to personalized vitamins: Understanding medication and nutrient interactions

8/30/2017

(BPT) - Technology, science and research are turning our world into a personalized powerhouse at our fingertips, including products made specifically for us delivered to our doorsteps. We wear personal fitness trackers to track our steps, sleep and heart rates. Personal trainers are commonplace to design fitness routines that are made just for us. Today, we understand that our family history, lifestyle choices and even genetics are predictive of our health needs and this information is integrated into our health care plans. With all of this personalization, our nutritional supplement options still deliver the same cookie-cutter solutions found in store aisles.

According to New Nutrition Business and its report “10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2017,” personalized nutrition is the next big nutrition movement, as people want individually tailored diets. Personalized or precision nutrition is nutrition health care that considers the uniqueness of an individual to provide recommendations that are tailored to their needs and specific goals. When creating a personalized nutrition plan, it’s important to take into account holistic well-being; however, deciding what is truly right for you can be confusing.

“Personalized nutrition shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not a catchy-named pack of vitamins or nutrition plans curated from a few questions about how you want to feel, it needs to include everything that makes you unique, down to the medications prescribed by your doctor,” said Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, co-author of the new book "Age-Proof: Living Longer without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip" and Vitamin Packs science advisory board member. “Technology is creating amazing advances in personalized nutrition, but it’s only as good as the data it can collect and the information you are willing to share.”

Medication and Nutrition Interactions

Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population is taking prescription medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 68 percent of Americans are taking dietary supplements, based on the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) estimations.

With several new personalized vitamin subscription services launching, it’s important to select one that takes into account your diet, physical fitness, sleep patterns, lifestyle habits and family health history as well as your medication use. Some drugs can deplete nutrients while other medications add nutrients to the body. One subscription service, Vitamin Packs, delivers customized vitamins and nutritional supplements in daily packs based on what it learns during a free Nutritional Assessment. Its technology cross-examines more than 650 possible medication interactions and recommends only what an individual’s body needs.

Mixing Meds and Nutritional Supplements

* Taking a statin? You will want to add Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) because the average blood concentration of CoQ10 in blood plasma decreases within 30 days by an average of 50 percent.

* Taking a medication for allergies or inflammation? Consider adding vitamin D and calcium. These types of medications may reduce the absorption of calcium, which can lead to unnecessary bone loss. Supplementing with vitamin D and calcium may support bone health and adding vitamin D with calcium can have a greater impact on calcium absorption.

* Taking a blood pressure medication? You should know that taking an iron supplement two hours before or after taking this type of medication can decrease its absorption rate.

* Taking a synthetic thyroid hormone? Look at your supplement facts to be sure you’re avoiding soy, iron and calcium. Soy, iron and calcium, if taken within four hours of taking a synthetic thyroid hormone, may reduce the absorption rate.

Personalized nutrition, while exciting and impactful, should be focused on the whole person. Be sure to consult your health care practitioner before starting any dietary supplement regimen.



5 tips to make family mealtimes more mindful

8/29/2017

(BPT) - The hectic workday is over. As you pull into your driveway, you feel relief because you’ve finally escaped the cranky co-workers, the deadlines and traffic jams. Now you can spend the next few hours relaxing at home with your family. What better way to enjoy this time than with a delicious meal together?

Sometimes, the lingering stress can be hard to shake, especially if you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table. You can shed your stress and make this time together more meaningful. Consciously ease into the transition from work mode to family mode, and use these tips to make your evening meal more relaxing and mindful.

1. Take a breath.

As soon as you get home, just take a few minutes and chill out. What you’ll want to do is shake off any lingering “fight or flight” stress response that’s making you feel tense and on edge. With deep breathing techniques — the kind that get your belly moving — you’ll lower your heart rate and feel much calmer. Sit in your favorite chair, soften your gaze and start those long, drawn-out inhales and exhales, counting your breath if needed. Just by transitioning into this calmer state, you’ll set the right mood and standard for the rest of the evening.

2. Give the devices a timeout.

Being mindful is all about staying in the present and following each action with intention and awareness. But when your mobile device is pinging from the latest Facebook update, text message or news alert, that can distract us from this calm and aware state of mind. For now, while you’re preparing and eating the meal, put the devices out of reach — or in another room, if that’s practical.

3. Include the kids.

With devices out of the way, it’s also much easier and more pleasant to focus on the people in the room. If your kids are hanging around the kitchen, take it as a sign they want to be with you, so use this time to connect. A great way to do this is to include kids with the meal preparation. The youngest ones can rinse fruits and vegetables, cut soft foods with a butter knife and tear lettuce. Older kids can help measure ingredients, stir and whisk, and eventually peel foods with a paring knife.

4. Simplify your menu.

Eliminate the stress of getting weeknight meals on the table, and build a list of delicious go-to meals that you can prepare with ease. For example, this recipe for Easy Shrimp Kabobs will allow you to get the entrée ready in minutes, plus the skewers and easy dips will make this a fun favorite with the kids. For more ideas and inspiration to make the weeknight meals more mindful and relaxing, visit seapak.com/recipes.

5. Slow down and savor the food.

Give yourself a few moments for mindful eating. Before earnest conversation begins, put your focus on the food you've taken the time to prepare. Put down your fork, and pay attention to the flavors, the textures and how you respond to them. No matter how hungry you are, don’t rush. Mindful eating is all about pacing yourself and staying in the moment to experience the delicious meal you are eating.

After a long day, you can make the evening meal more relaxing and enjoyable by bringing a mindful approach to dinnertime. When it’s time to eat, you’ll be in the right state of mind to enjoy your food, as will the people around you.

Easy Shrimp Kabobs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 12-ounce package SeaPack Popcorn Shrimp

Wooden skewers

Dipping sauces, such as tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit.

Place shrimp on baking sheet in a single layer so shrimp are not touching.

Bake 5 minutes on the middle oven rack, then turn shrimp over.

Bake another 5-6 minutes until shrimp are hot and crispy.

Using a fork to hold the hot shrimp in place, slide shrimp onto wooden skewers.

Serve with small sides of sauces for each person. For example, use tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.

Source: The blog A Helicopter Mom via SeaPak.com.



Want to lose weight? Research proves a big breakfast is the first step

8/29/2017

(BPT) - If you want to lose weight, you're not alone. More than half of Americans desire to shed pounds, according to Gallup. This goal inspires people to take action in many ways, from increasing exercise to modifying meals.

One thing many people do is skip breakfast in order to lower calorie intake. While this may seem like a good idea to lose weight, research proves otherwise. In fact, eating a big breakfast followed by smaller meals throughout the day is the best method for weight loss.

A new study in The Journal of Nutrition investigated the relation between meal frequency and timing and changes in body mass index (BMI). The study found that "eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain."

“When you eat your meal matters," says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. "The best way to eat for energy and weight is to eat a big breakfast, smaller lunch and light dinner because it mimics our days' activities."

Blatner explains that people are typically most active in the beginning of the day and so need the most fuel then. They slow down as the day progresses, and by dinnertime they need less fuel.

"But it’s not just about eating anything in the morning," she cautions. "It’s important to pick nutrient-dense foods to fuel your day right."

Blatner provides three tips for creating a wholesome breakfast that will give you energy and support your weight-loss goals:

1. Fruits and veggies

Wake up your taste buds and give your body important vitamins by eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies. Try shopping the farmers market for locally sourced in-season produce. A quick frittata with egg and chopped veggies or a smoothie bowl topped with fresh fruit will satisfy. If fresh produce isn't available, frozen has optimum nutrients so it is a smart alternative.

2. Whole grains

Make whole grains part of your breakfast and you'll feel fuller for longer. Oatmeal is a classic whole-grain breakfast option. Use whole-grain pancake mix to whip up some flapjacks. Bake muffins with whole-grain flour. Make cornbread with whole cornmeal. When shopping for cereal or other breakfast products, look at the label to ensure it's made with whole grains.

3. Proteins

Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients for breakfast, but not all eggs are created equal. Swap out ordinary eggs for Eggland’s Best eggs, and you’ll get great taste and superior nutritional benefits with 10 times more vitamin E, six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s, more than double vitamin B12 and 25 percent less saturated fat.

Short on time in the morning? Try Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls that can be frozen and microwaved in minutes for a satisfying start to your day.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

Ingredients:

12 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado
6 individual-sized containers with lids

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers then set aside to cool.

Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.

Tip: Store in individualized microwave-safe containers with lids to make these bowls ready to reheat and go.



It takes a village: Integrated care team gives hope back to dialysis patient

8/28/2017

(BPT) - Six years ago Francis Hogan was doing what he loved most: playing golf. After his usual game, his ankle was swollen and painful. When he visited the doctor, he discovered the swelling wasn’t because of an injury. Something was seriously wrong.

Hogan’s kidneys were failing. He was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a condition that scarred his kidneys, leading to end stage renal disease (ESRD). He needed to start dialysis or receive a transplant to survive. After a failed transplant, Hogan began dialysis treatments.

Hogan spends about 12 hours a week on a dialysis machine that cleans his blood. At one point, he had to track over 20 pills a day — a common daily average for dialysis patients. Also, Hogan’s risk for hospitalization increased: Most dialysis patients spend about 11 days a year in the hospital.

“Dialysis patients are some of the most medically fragile in our health care system,” said Bryan Becker, MD, chief medical officer of Integrated Kidney Care (IKC) at DaVita. “They need a tremendous amount of support managing their condition to reduce the risk of repeated hospitalization.”

Fortunately, Hogan qualified for treatment at an ESRD Seamless Care Organization (ESCO), a Comprehensive ESRD Care Model administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ESCOs are groups of dialysis centers, nephrologists and other providers who join together to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD. The ESCO model encourages providers to think beyond their traditional care delivery roles to provide patient-centered care that addresses health needs inside and outside of the dialysis center.

Hogan’s ESCO is one of several run by DaVita. His care team includes a dedicated nurse practitioner and registered nurse in addition to his nephrologist and DaVita center staff. The increased resources and focus on care coordination have made a big difference for Hogan.

The care team reduced Hogan’s daily pills in half by coordinating with his other specialists to create a better prescription plan. And, after a recent surgical procedure, the team not only managed his transition back to DaVita but also recognized something was different about him.

“He wasn’t interested in conversation and wouldn’t say his usual ‘Good morning!’” said Debbie Abbonizio, Hogan’s nurse practitioner. “He often lost his words, wasn’t hungry and couldn’t walk short distances without stopping.”

The team met consistently until the root cause of Hogan’s symptoms was identified. After ruling out several possible diagnoses, the team found his recommended post-treatment target weight was too high. Extra fluid was accumulating in his body and toxic waste was gathering in his bloodstream, causing his symptoms.

Hogan’s target weight was adjusted and the extra fluid slowly decreased from his body. He soon regained his health and began to greet his care team with a cheerful “Good morning!” again.

“I feel fortunate to have a team observing and supporting me daily,” Hogan said. "It gives me confidence to better manage my condition."

Hogan also is grateful to feel better so he can spend quality time with the love of his life, Carol, his wife of 57 years.

“Currently less than 10 percent of dialysis patients on Medicare have access to IKC programs,” said Dr. Becker. “Yet these programs can make a significant impact on patients’ health-related quality of life. Why not make them available to all Medicare patients on dialysis?”

To learn more about DaVita’s IKC programs, visit VillageHealth.com.

The statements contained in this document are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CMS. The authors assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this document.



Fire away: Enhancing your home's safety with fire extinguishers

8/28/2017

(BPT) - You check your alarms regularly and practice your family escape plan — but are you overlooking an essential component of home safety? Having fire extinguishers — and knowing how to use them — is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family.

“In America, a fire starts in a residential home every 86 seconds — and the rapid protection offered by fire extinguishers can make the difference between minor or insignificant damage and greater tragedy,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “However, because many Americans have never activated a traditional fire extinguisher before, many do not understand the essential role that fire extinguishers play in a home safety plan, and lack the confidence and know-how to use them properly.”

To help overcome this, follow these tips on fire extinguisher placement and usage to help ensure you and your family are properly prepared in case of emergency:

Compare features: When selecting a fire extinguisher, two of the most important features are size and intended use. Larger commercial fire extinguishers meant for public spaces may be too heavy or unwieldy for some family members. Select a home fire extinguisher that weighs 3 lbs. or less for easy handling. For home fire extinguishers, other features to look for include a metal valve and trigger, which offer the durability of a commercial grade extinguisher, as well as an easy-to-read color-coded gauge for accurate measurement. Spray times also vary by make and manufacturer, so select extinguishers that perform above the standard and feature longer spray times. Remember, a fire extinguisher that has been discharged is no longer effective, so consider rechargeable extinguishers which can be recharged by a certified professional if the unit is used.

Keep it in reach: If a fire breaks out in the living room but the extinguisher is elsewhere, you may not be able to access it before the fire grows beyond control. When seconds count, having an extinguisher nearby is crucial for rapid response. For this reason, place an extinguisher in each area of the home where a fire could potentially occur, including the kitchen, living room, each bedroom and the garage. In most cases, one extinguisher is likely not enough protection for an entire household. In addition, make sure that every responsible member of your household (including house sitters and babysitters) knows where each fire extinguisher is placed. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing fire extinguishers close to room exits so that you are able to discharge it and quickly escape if the fire cannot be controlled.

Know your ABCs: While they may all look similar, fire extinguishers have very specific ratings that indicate what kind of fire they are designed to extinguish. Extinguishers with a Class A rating are able to put out fires caused by wood, paper, trash and other common materials, while Class B rated extinguishers are intended for gasoline and flammable liquids. Class C rated extinguishers are meant for fires caused by electrical equipment, such as frayed cords. For general protection, it’s best to select a multirated extinguisher, such as the First Alert Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, that’s capable of handling most types of household fires. Beyond the Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, First Alert offers an entire range of extinguishers for home and commercial use.

Know how to use it: Every First Alert fire extinguisher includes instructions on proper usage, but a simple way to remember is with the acronym PASS:

* Pull the pin on the extinguisher

* Aim the nozzle low toward the base of the fire

* Squeeze the trigger

* Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Frequently repeat the acronym when practicing your family escape plan so that if a fire occurs, the response will be automatic.

Know when to go: Combating small fires with an extinguisher is one component of a fire response plan, but the primary goal should be safe escape. The first step in any scenario should be to call 911. In addition, a fire extinguisher is no substitute for having — and regularly practicing — a home fire escape plan, and ensuring that proper functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the home — one on each level and in every bedroom — to provide early detection. Keep in mind that alarms and fire extinguishers aren’t designed to last forever, and must be replaced at least every 10 years.

To learn more about fire safety, visit FirstAlert.com.



Turning 65? Choosing the right Medicare Part D plan starts with 4 simple rules

8/28/2017

(BPT) - If you’re turning 65 in 2017 or 2018, you’re one of 10,000 people who become Medicare-eligible each day. Choosing Medicare prescription drug coverage can be confusing, especially for the first time. You may have questions about which plan fits your healthcare needs and budget or how to enroll. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you know these four rules.

Rule #1: Lower premium plans may mean higher costs. Plans with a lower premium may end up costing more in the long run if they have higher drug copays, which can really add up.

Rule #2: Not every plan covers every drug. Drug lists (formularies) can change every year and so can the drugs you take. Be sure to check your plan’s formulary each year to make sure any medications you take are covered.

Rule #3: Check that there are pharmacies close to you. That way, it’s easier to fill your prescriptions. Select a plan with a wide range of “preferred” pharmacies, which typically offer lower co-pays than standard pharmacies in the network. Also, see if using a home delivery pharmacy or a 90-day supply could lower your costs even more.

Rule #4: Look for 24/7 access to pharmacists and Medicare experts who can answer questions about your medicines and offer drug safety tips, money-saving alternatives and expertise in drugs to treat specific conditions.

Also, remember to check the Medicare Part D plan’s Star Rating. This is the overall quality and performance rating (out of 5 stars) based on member satisfaction surveys and other measures by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

For more information, please visit www.Medicare.gov or www.RoadmapForMedicare.com. To talk to an Express Scripts Medicare adviser, call 1.866.544.3794, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week (TTY users: 1.800.716.3231).



Advocate for your care: Recognizing and tracking symptoms of a rare blood cancer

8/25/2017

(BPT) - Living with a rare disease can present a unique set of challenges, as people may experience symptoms for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, it may be challenging to locate a physician familiar with this rare disease, or to even connect with other patients facing the same diagnosis. For patients with polycythemia vera, or PV, a rare, chronic and progressive blood cancer that affects approximately 100,000 people in the United States, recognizing the symptoms of the disease can be even more challenging because they can vary over time and from patient to patient.

“Patients living with rare diseases don’t always know what to ask their doctor as they work to manage their disease, where to turn for resources, or what signs and symptoms to look for,” says Ellen Ritchie, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “PV can develop slowly and get worse over time. Its symptoms can be hard to spot, so it’s critical that those diagnosed with PV understand the symptoms and discuss any changes with their physician, as these symptoms may be a sign that their disease is not under control.”

Recognizing Symptoms

The symptoms of PV can sometimes be difficult for patients and healthcare providers alike to recognize. Some people living with PV may be asymptomatic, having no symptoms at all. Others could have symptoms for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. While not a comprehensive list, PV symptoms may include:

* Itching (especially after a warm shower)

* Dizziness

* Abdominal pain or discomfort

* Sweating (at night or during the day)

* Feeling of fullness, even when you haven’t eaten

Approaches to Tracking Symptoms

There are many approaches to tracking PV symptoms. Keeping a regular diary to record symptoms or changes in symptoms is one approach. There are also online trackers such as the PV Tracker Tool that can help patients monitor their PV symptoms. This tool can record previous entries and compile those results for sharing with your healthcare professional. Beyond tracking symptoms, it’s important to talk with your physician about your symptoms and to be knowledgeable about your disease.

What to Ask Your Physician

To ensure you have an informed conversation with your healthcare professional, come to all appointments prepared with a list of questions, as well as a rolling log of symptoms and any changes in their severity experienced since the last checkup. Possible questions you may wish to ask your physician include:

1. What are my target blood counts, and what are my actual blood counts?

* Hematocrit (volume of red blood cells)

* White blood cell count

* Platelet count

2. What is my treatment plan to keep my PV under control?

“All people diagnosed with rare diseases should advocate for their care and take an active role in managing their disease with their healthcare provider,” says Dr. Ritchie. “It is important to create a routine that not only includes monitoring blood levels, but also recognizing, tracking, and talking about symptoms with a healthcare professional.”

For tools to help track PV symptoms and additional tips on managing PV and other MPNs, visit VoicesofMPN.com.



Meet today's organic shopper

8/24/2017
The organics category is growing in just about every measurable way: in volume, dollars spent and even in conversations in the media.
When consumers dabble in organic produce, they are more likely to purchase organic goods like organic snacks or organic cotton sheets. This means it is important for retailers that sell organic products across departments to pay attention to trends in organic produce.
The organic shopper
“Organics are becoming mainstream, and shoppers are beginning to choose organic items over conventional items,” says Michael Castagnetto, vice president of sourcing for Robinson Fresh. “In our survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce, we found that 51 percent of respondents purchased organic produce and of those, 73 percent purchased both conventional and organic produce during the same trip.”
Research indicated that the organic shopper of today is most likely under the age of 35 or has young children living at home. Organic purchases are also highly correlated to household income.
Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers all show a preference for organic produce.
Why organic is becoming mainstream
“In the past, purchasing anything organic was an emotional-based purchase,” continues Castagnetto. “However, for today’s casual shopper, organic purchases are increasingly becoming more of an impulse purchase. The way that produce is merchandised makes a difference in how consumers make purchasing decisions.”
How organic produce is purchased
Here are the main factors people cite when asked why they go organic:
* The freshness and quality of the produce: 73 percent of respondents ranked this as a top driving factor
* The price of the produce: 61 percent of respondents rank this as a top driving factor
* The packaging the produce comes in
* Whether the organic produce is locally grown
To learn about information on the buying habits surrounding conventional and organic produce, visit the Robinson Fresh website at www.robinsonfresh.com.

(BPT) -



How to build healthy habits for the school year and beyond

8/22/2017

(BPT) - Bells are ringing across the country as kids settle into classrooms for a year full of fun, friendship and plenty of learning.

While exciting, adjusting to new school schedules is a hectic time. Healthy habits are often forgotten as the focus shifts to studies, assignments and extracurriculars.

"Parents and caregivers can make a big difference in helping kids lead a healthy lifestyle during the back-to-school season and beyond," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a mom and registered dietitian. "A few proactive steps can set kids up for success in and out of the classroom."

Segrave-Daly offers six easy ideas you can try to help encourage your kids to build healthy habits that last a lifetime:

Prioritize sleep

Sleep is something families often sacrifice due to busy schedules. Remember, kids need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development, according to the National Sleep Foundation. School-age children should strive for nine to 11 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and prioritize sleep every night.

Eat breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — especially for our kids. Help them jump-start their day with a quick breakfast of healthy foods like fruit, eggs and whole-grain cereal. For those busy mornings, grab fridge-free, GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ, made with real low-fat yogurt and fruit, for a wholesome option they can easily eat in the car or bus with a banana, toaster waffle or whole-wheat toast.

Encourage exercise

Kids should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hopefully some of this physical activity can take place during the school day, but there are lots of easy ways to build healthy activity into daily life at home. Make a habit of going on a family walk after dinner (a great chance to unwind and reconnect) or challenge kids to bring their books up the stairs or to another room one at a time. Take 10-minute “dance party” breaks during homework or see who can jump rope the longest.

Manage screen time

It's important for families to be mindful of screen time for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids ages 2-5 limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. For children 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media and monitor the types of media used.

Snack well

Kids love to snack, and it’s important to keep nutritious options on hand for when hunger strikes — it helps them avoid emergency vending machine stops. Stock your pantry with healthier snacks like GoGo squeeZ applesauce pouches. These fridge-free pouches, made from natural ingredients, are easy to grab on the way to soccer practice, music lessons or the playground. They’re also an easy lunchbox addition!

Adjust the attitude

Mental wellness is part of overall wellness. Keep in mind the power of a positive attitude toward education. Encourage kids to look at issues from different angles, appreciate diversity and be resilient. Have conversations with children and truly listen to their concerns to build trust and solve problems.

Finally, it's the adult role models in a child's life that really set them up for success.

"If you model healthy habits, your child is likely to follow your lead," says Segrave-Daly. "Try to routinely eat well, sleep well, exercise and have conversations about the good and bad parts of your day. Your kids are paying attention even when it seems like they aren’t!"



My Experience with Dog Flu: A Dog's Point of View

8/22/2017

(BPT) - Recently, I got really sick. I had just spent a fun-filled week with all my friends at doggie daycare while my family was on vacation. Shortly after they brought me home, I started coughing a lot. It was really hard to breathe and I started vomiting. I didn’t feel like eating anything and I was tired all of the time. I was miserable. One of my family members missed a couple days of work to try to nurse me back to health. One time we spent the whole night in the bathroom hoping the steam from the hot shower would help my nasty cough. I know it was hard for her as she has a busy job, but she was as scared as I was. When it was clear I wasn’t getting any better, my family decided to take me to my veterinarian, who ran some tests and found that I had contracted H3N2, a new strain of canine influenza (CIV), also known as dog flu.

What We Learned About Dog Flu

My family didn’t know anything about H3N2, but my vet said she was happy that they brought me in to see her. My vet knew a lot about dog flu and was able to answer all of our questions. We were surprised to learn that even though a lot of people don’t know about it, H3N2 has been spreading rapidly across the United States since the first case was reported in 2015. My vet also shared that:

* Social dogs like me, who go to doggie daycare, dog parks, groomers, or really anywhere that dogs, cats and humans come into contact with one another, are at the highest risk for exposure to and contracting dog flu

* Because most dogs have no natural immunity to this highly contagious disease, nearly every dog who comes across it will become infected

* H3N8, a relatively less intense strain of dog flu, has been in the United States for more than 13 years, but it can also spread very quickly, like the H3N2 strain

* In most dogs, dog flu manifests as some coughing, a runny nose and a slight decrease in appetite and energy

* H3N2 can also cause respiratory problems and vomiting, and serious cases of either strain can lead to pneumonia and even death in severe cases

* The common kennel cough vaccine doesn’t protect against dog flu

Dogs Are Social Animals – That Puts Us At Risk

One of my favorite things in the whole world is running around and playing with my friends at doggie daycare and at the dog park, as well as when I go get my bath, haircut and nails trimmed. My vet told us that this was probably how I got sick. Because we can have trouble letting our families know when we’re not feeling well, people may accidentally take contagious dogs out and about, inadvertently causing CIV to spread between dogs that come into contact. Even drinking out of the same water bowl or chewing on community dog toys can expose us to the disease.

However, my vet told my family that because of how contagious the dog flu is and because it can be contagious for up to three weeks, it was important that I stay home from the dog park, groomer or doggie daycare for a while. She compared it to how my little family members stay home from school when they’re sick, in order to keep their classmates healthy. I’m so glad my family listened to my vet—I certainly didn’t want to get any of my friends sick!

Prevention Is the Best Approach

When my vet gave us my diagnosis, she also said that there is no specific treatment or medicine for dog flu, so the best protection is vaccination. Most veterinarians recommend the dog flu vaccine. There is even a combination vaccine that helps to protect against both strains of dog flu, H3N2 and H3N8, which means one less shot for me!

If This Dog Could Talk: Tour to Prevent Dog Flu

Before we left my vet, she told us about the If This Dog Could Talk: Tour to Prevent Dog Flu and we downloaded a copy of the new tour album, created in collaboration with Merck Animal Health and The Dogist photographer Elias Weiss Friedman. The album contains hundreds of beautiful pictures of dogs and shares important information with pet parents about the dog flu. My family and I had so much fun looking at all of the photos and sharing them with our friends—many of whom also had never heard of dog flu before. We all learned about dog flu the hard way, but hopefully you won’t have to!

Visit dogflu.com to download the free tour album for you and the dog you love to see some amazing doggie photos and learn how to keep your pup safe, happy and healthy!



A mother's loss sheds light on need for better asthma control

8/21/2017

(BPT) - For people living with asthma, managing the condition becomes part of their daily life. But some may not know that, in spite of their best efforts, their asthma may still be uncontrolled.

Benjamin Buckley was one of those people. Ben, as he was known, was just 7 years old when he died from asthma-related complications in 2014. Now, Ben’s mother, Cristin Buckley, is sharing his story in an effort to help raise awareness of just how serious asthma can be.

According to Cristin, it was a normal Saturday morning in the Buckley household. Ben went to his sister’s basketball game with the rest of the family, but when the game ended, Ben asked if he could go home and use his nebulizer, as he was experiencing an asthma attack.

Later that day, Cristin received a frantic call from her husband and daughter and came home to find Ben had collapsed in the driveway. Police and paramedics were already on the scene performing CPR. They were able to start Ben’s heart, but he was unconscious and not able to breathe on his own. He remained in a coma for five days until he passed away.

“What we didn’t realize was that Ben was using his rescue inhaler way more than he should have been. We were refilling it once a month,” said Cristin. “The pharmacy just kept refilling the prescription, so we didn’t think it was an issue. Looking back now, we know his asthma was uncontrolled.”

And it appears the Buckley family is not alone, as studies indicate that asthma is responsible for deaths every day in the United States, most of which are believed to occur in patients with uncontrolled asthma.

“Uncontrolled asthma can have a huge impact on a patient’s health,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network. “Patients may not know the signs — but if someone is using their rescue inhaler more than twice a week, and their asthma is interrupting daily activities and sleep, they should really talk to their doctor immediately to assess if it is uncontrolled.”

Cristin’s number one priority today is that Ben’s asthmatic twin brother Adam, now 11 years old, is equipped to handle an attack on his own. To ensure he is prepared, Cristin takes Adam for his annual check-up with his allergist before the school year starts.

“Make sure their doctor takes the time to sit down and teach them how to properly use their inhaler,” Cristin said. “People think they can just put it in their mouth and take a few puffs and it works just fine, but so much medicine is wasted or doesn’t get into the lungs because they’re not taking a deep enough breath.”

Another one of her main priorities, particularly before school starts, is to make sure all of Adam’s inhalers have enough medicine in them. As such, Cristin relies on inhalers fitted with dose counters to help both her and Adam better manage his asthma. A dose counter works by showing the user exactly how many doses are left in the inhaler — similar to looking at a bottle of pills to see how much medicine is left.

“I think dose counters are one of the best things ever invented,” Cristin said. “Before they were integrated into inhalers, you were blindly leading your child. You had no idea how much medicine was left.”

Dr. Parikh also noted that the addition of a dose counter to asthma management can create a helpful dialogue between patients and their doctors. She explained how the dose counter allows the doctor to see how much medicine has been used since the previous visit and determine if a patient is using their rescue inhaler too frequently.

“When using an inhaler that does not include a dose counter, you really are taking a gamble on your life,” said Cristin.

For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com, and for more on Ben and Cristin’s story, visit www.BenWasHere.org.

Mrs. Buckley has been compensated for her time in contributing this program.

RESP-41523

August 2017



3 activities to help you move safely after knee surgery

8/17/2017

(BPT) - Most patients undergoing knee surgery want to know when they’ll be able to return to a pain-free, active lifestyle and do the things they once enjoyed before knee pain took over. For 58-year-old Kathleen Cohan, this meant a desire to return to mountain biking, hiking and skiing — activities she had always loved to do as a youth and continued to enjoy with her husband in their hometown of Golden, Colorado.

Cohan recently participated in a clinical trial to treat persistent knee pain caused by a meniscus tear. After receiving the NUsurface Meniscus Implant — the first “artificial meniscus” — she completed a six-week rehabilitation program and was ready to return to doing the things she loved.

“The NUsurface Meniscus Implant changed my life. It feels great to not have to worry before I choose an activity about how much pain I’ll be in afterward,” Cohan says. “My husband and I recently went on a 100-mile mountain bike trip, and I climbed a 14,000-foot peak last month and my knee didn’t bother me at all. The implant gave me a chance to extend my activity level as long as I possibly can.”

Three months after surgery, most patients have completely recovered and are able to return to many activities that were too painful or difficult previously. Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor, the safest way to restart activity after meniscus surgery is to find activities that avoid placing unnecessary stress on your knee joint. Here are three activities to help you move safely after knee surgery:

1. Walk (don’t run!). Experts say walking outside your home three to five times each day is one of the best ways to regain your knee strength. While you may need to adjust the length of your step and speed, you will be able to spend more time walking for exercise once your muscle strength improves.

2. Dance. While you should avoid high-impact moves like jumping or lifts, ballroom dancing and gentle modern dancing are great ways to use leg muscles, engage in aerobic activity and have fun! Just be sure to avoid abrupt movements or twists that could potentially put your knee out of alignment.

3. Swim. Once the wound has healed, many people choose swimming as their exercise of choice as it’s not a weight-bearing activity and therefore reduces stress to the joints. If your knee is still a bit tender, opt for water aerobics or pool walking.

Want to mix it up? You can feel safe doing many other recommended activities such as yoga, golf, boating, aerobics or rowing. If you have experience prior to your surgery doing more intense activities, like Cohan, your doctor may give you the go-ahead to resume cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing and doubles tennis. Whichever activity you choose, remember that rushing into activities before you’ve recovered sufficiently may put you at risk for complications, so be sure to check with your doctor first before resuming any activity after meniscus surgery.

To be eligible for the NUsurface Meniscus Implant clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, and have pain after medial (the inside of the knee) meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit www.activeimplants.com/kneepaintrial.



Are you safe from BPA? The answer may surprise you

8/16/2017

(BPT) - Based on how much you’ve heard about bisphenol A (BPA) in recent news articles, it would be perfectly understandable if you concluded that BPA is public enemy No. 1. It’s apparently everywhere at unsafe levels, and there is no way to escape.

Or is there? There must be somewhere we can go to avoid being harmed, but where? You will find the answer in a peer-reviewed study that was just published in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution.

At the outset, the researchers note, “[t]o evaluate BPA’s potential risk to health, it is important to know human daily intake.” After all, too much of almost anything would pose a risk to health. What we need to know is how much BPA people are actually exposed to and whether those levels pose a risk to health.

What the researchers realized is that an enormous amount of data on exposure to BPA is already available. It just wasn’t all in the same place where it could be most useful, until now.

It’s well known that people quickly eliminate BPA from the body through urine after exposure. Measuring BPA in urine is considered the best way to evaluate exposure to BPA since what goes in (i.e., exposure) comes out in urine where it’s easy to measure.

What the researchers did was search the scientific literature for studies that measured levels of BPA in urine. They found more than just a few studies: “[i]n total, we obtained over 140 peer-reviewed publications, which contained over 85,000 data [points] for urinary BPA concentrations derived from 30 countries.”

The researchers then sorted the data by age group (adult men and non-pregnant women, pregnant women and children) and country to assess where in the world exposure levels were safe or unsafe. That assessment was done by comparison of exposure levels with safe intake limits set by government bodies worldwide.

The results may surprise you: “[i]t is evident that the national and global estimated human BPA daily intakes in this study are two to three orders of magnitude lower than that of the TDI [Tolerable Daily Intake]…recommended by several countries.” In other words, actual exposure to BPA is hundreds to thousands of times below the safe intake limit.

Due to the large volume of data, the researchers considered their results to be representative, meaning they can be relied upon as an accurate measure of exposure to BPA worldwide. The results also provide very strong support for the views of government bodies worldwide on the safety of BPA.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answers the question “Is BPA safe?” with the unequivocal answer “Yes.” Similarly, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.”

So, to return to where we started, where in the world are you safe from BPA? Based on the data, and a lot of it, the answer is very simple — everywhere.



The key ingredient to a successful school year

8/16/2017

(BPT) - Now that school is in session, you’ve likely returned to the routine of nightly homework and packing lunches in the morning. One thing that helps ensure a safe and successful school year is polycarbonate plastic made from bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA is a building-block chemical used to make a plastic known as polycarbonate, which helps make many of the items we use throughout the school year safe, durable and reliable. This kind of plastic makes products, like lab goggles or eyeglasses, lightweight and clear. Plus, its shatter-resistant nature keeps classrooms productive and safe.

Check out our list of must-have items for school and take a look at how BPA is used in these popular items:

Sports equipment

For aspiring varsity athletes, polycarbonate is especially important. Strong, shatter-resistant polycarbonate is used to make helmets, sports safety goggles and visors used in football and lacrosse to keep athletes safe and performing at the top of their game.

Eyeglasses

When hitting the books hard, sometimes your eyes need a helping hand. Polycarbonate is used in lenses, making them highly shatter-resistant and extremely lightweight. This means looking cool and having a comfortable wear, while being protected from accidental mishaps in a book bag.

Electronic equipment

Accidents happen, but thanks to polycarbonate, students can avoid disaster. Laptops, tablets and cell phones are durable and break-resistant, and polycarbonate films help to prevent scratches on the screens.

Lab safety goggles

To prevent accidental injury to the eyes, lab safety goggles are an essential part of every school’s science projects. Polycarbonate gives these goggles their clear, shatter-resistant and lightweight properties.

Products made with polycarbonate help keep us (and our students) safe and set for a successful school year, and using BPA to make the polycarbonate for these products is safe as well. BPA is one of the most widely studied chemicals in use today, and government agencies around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) all agree: BPA is safe in consumer products.

So confidently fill that backpack with these back-to-school basics to set yourself up for a successful school year.



5 tips to solve separation anxiety in your pet

8/14/2017

(BPT) - With good weather and flexible work schedules, summer time is the best season for spending some extra time with your pet. However, once fall comes, the kids aren’t the only ones in the family that experience the back-to-school blues. Separation anxiety can happen for many reasons among pets, but with the changing routine and lack of attention due to busy schedules, back-to-school is a common time when pet owners may start noticing changes in their dog or cat’s behavior. To support them during this time Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer offers five tips to address separation anxiety in pets.

1. Get your pet into a routine. Pets love routines because it makes them feel secure. During the summer, kids are always around to make things entertaining and exciting. When they suddenly disappear, some cats and dogs will feel sad and confused while others may experience real separation anxiety. It’s important to get your pet acclimated to the change by replacing their old schedule with a new one. This new schedule should include allocating time to play after work and keeping a consistent schedule when coming and going from the house.

2. Burn off some energy. Some pets deal with separation anxiety by engaging in negative or destructive behaviors, such as howling, excessive barking or chewing on inappropriate objects. A great way to keep your dog from doing this is to take them on a walk in the morning before you leave the house to help burn off some of that extra energy. For cats, consider playing with them at night as well — whether it’s making them chase a feather wand or play with a ball.

3. Create an interactive environment. Back-to-school season is a great time to buy your pet a new, interactive toy to play with. This will help mentally stimulate them and keep them occupied during the day when children are away at school. For dogs, chew toys are a way for them to relieve their anxiety, frustration and boredom. For cats, creating a play area — including scratching posts and cat furniture — can keep them entertained even when you’re not home.

4. Turn up the tunes and start with baby steps. Try leaving some soothing music on at your home while everyone is out of the house. The music will help drown out distracting noises that your dog may mistakenly associate with their family coming home. Some animal shelters have even found that playing calming music helps animals in their facilities relax. Additionally, help your pets adjust to a new routine by providing them with clear cues. For example, jingling your car keys prior to leaving for work each day can provide your pet with an important audible cue and ultimately, help with the transition to a new family schedule.

5. Spend time with your pet. It’s important to remember that while you may have had a long day, your pet may have been sitting at home feeling lonely, waiting for you to come home. Spending some quality time with your pet at the end of the day is critical to helping keep them active and mentally sharp. It may be tough to fit into a busy work schedule, but be sure to build some interactive time — whether it’s a walk or cuddle session —to benefit both you and your pet.

For more information on helping your pet deal with separation anxiety, check out this article on Purina.com.



Age ferociously with this eating game plan

8/16/2017

(BPT) - A healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons against age-related diseases, and for staying healthy and active throughout life.

Becci Twombley is sports dietitian for USC Athletics and Angels Baseball, overseeing the nutrition of 650 collegiate athletes and the 200 MLB and minor league baseball players within the Angels organization. The healthy practices she employs to keep her athletes fighting strong also apply as preventative measures for staying fit and active as we age.

“It’s vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a long and healthy life,” says Twombley. “Exercise and move 30 minutes a day and along with that, pay attention to what you put in your body.” Twombley’s prevention plan against age-related illnesses and conditions starts with a “food first” approach.

Diet has a profound impact on two of the leading causes of age-related illnesses and conditions: inflammation and being overweight, according to Twombley. “Maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels are two of the most important things anyone can do, along with keeping one’s weight under control.”

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be a chore, she claims. It is all a question of smart choices. Picking the right foods not only makes a difference in health risks, but also positively affects performance throughout the day at work and at home. While the answer is not in a single food, or even a handful, adding nutrient-rich foods like these Twombley recommends, and calls the "All Americans" of the functional food group, is part of a winning game plan.

Pistachios

Pistachios are a multitasking nut that has proteins and healthy fats, as well as three types of antioxidants. Those antioxidants help to decrease blood pressure and allow for good muscle recovery. Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a substantial lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. Pistachios may protect from heart disease in part by improving blood cholesterol levels. Pistachios contain relatively high levels of the amino acid L-arginine, which maintains the arteries’ flexibility and enhances healthy blood flow by boosting nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels. They’re also good for the eyes and skin, and have been found to positively promote weight maintenance.

Cherry juice

Twombley serves tart cherry juice to her athletes after their workouts as its targeted antioxidants help with muscle recovery, improving recovery time. In addition, it boosts sleep quality to help prevent anxiety and stress later on in the day.

Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a nutrient-packed snack that has many health benefits. High in protein, it can boost energy and muscle mass, which decreases as we age. It can also benefit digestive health if it contains probiotics. Check the label to see if it contains live and active cultures.

Beets

The deep red root vegetable increases the size of blood vessels, thereby improving the flow of oxygen that can get to muscles and tissues. For anyone with high blood pressure or suffering from cardiovascular disease, this is a good food to include.

Milk

A good hydration beverage that has protein, vitamin D and calcium like we often hear, milk also contains electrolytes for good muscle contraction.

Salmon and grass-fed beef

Both of these are high in omega-3, which is a really good healthy fat profile for overall heart health. They also decrease inflammation in the long term. Inflammation causes a lot of the diseases we fear as we age, whether it’s diabetes or cardiovascular health.

Beyond these foods Twombley identifies, the noted nutritionist has more tips for healthy eating.

* Look for different colors of foods at different times. Make sure they’re incorporated throughout the day.

* Eat often and in a good portion size.

* Shop for high quality whenever possible and pay attention to ingredients.

* Maintain balance. Make sure your plate has carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat in the correct amounts. Add fruits and vegetables to that to get the antioxidants.

* And finally, have a plan. Plan out what you’re going to eat that day and stick to it.



How to Tackle a Dust-Free Renovation

8/14/2017

(BPT) - Kristen Johnson* loved her home, her family and their active lifestyle. She’d never want to change a thing — except for her foyer and adjoining dining room. When she and her husband first moved into their home, they had intended to refinish the hardwood floors in those areas in a darker stain to better fit their style, but life got in the way. Twelve years, two boys and countless birthday parties, pets and indoor soccer games later, their floors were covered in scuffs, scratches and stains, and some of their walls needed repair. To complicate matters even further, they had a wraparound staircase with a wood-tone banister that would also need to be refinished if they decided to change their floor.

With their big family reunion and a house full of people just weeks away, Johnson and her husband knew it was time to make a change. However, they couldn’t afford to disrupt their busy schedules, and they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of renovation dust getting all over their ceiling fans, cupboards or worse — especially with their son’s dust allergies. They knew if they decided to take on this renovation project, they’d need it finished quickly, and they’d need the entire project to be as dust-free as possible.

What’s the big deal about renovation dust? Beyond creating a huge mess, renovation dust is also a health concern. As any homeowner who has embarked on an interior renovation project knows, the resultant dust gets everywhere — even inside closed cabinets and in adjacent rooms. However, as problematic as the mess is, dust-related health hazards are of even greater concern, particularly to allergy sufferers. Traditional methods of mitigating dust usually involve extensive prep work, like hanging plastic sheeting and taping off doors, or doing a thorough post-renovation top-to-bottom cleaning. Both options are extremely time-consuming.

Is there a better way to handle renovation dust? There is a better way to handle renovation dust: by collecting it right at the source like the pros do. Professional contractors are used to dealing with renovation dust, and given the volume of work they do, they create dust far more frequently and in much greater volumes than the average homeowner or DIYer. Rather than spend valuable time on prep work or post-project cleanup or suffer through the use of uncomfortable dust masks, they use dust collection tools that capture and contain dust immediately as it’s created, before it can become a mess or airborne health hazard.

How Johnson tackled her dust-free renovation. Because of their tight timeline, Johnson and her husband decided to take on some of their renovation themselves using supplies purchased at their local hardware store, but they let the professionals handle the tricky floor/banister redo.

To repair their drywall, they patched the damaged areas using joint compound and a drywall sander, which together cost about $130. To make the sanding process dust-free, they added a Dust Deputy, which they connected directly to the drywall sander and to their wet/dry vacuum. They found that this combination captured virtually all the dust generated by the sanding. They noticed no dust in the air, and the Dust Deputy prevented the fine drywall dust from clogging their vacuum filter.

Even though they had the flooring contractor tackle the floor and banister, they saved a few dollars by removing the varnish from the banister and other hard-to-reach areas themselves. To do this, they applied a gel varnish remover using a brush (together about $20), then scraped the wet varnish residue using a Viper Scraper attached to their Dust Deputy and wet/dry vacuum. The scraper captured the residue, and the Dust Deputy contained it for disposal, without it ever reaching, or damaging, their vacuum.

Their big splurge was on the floor refinishing, which they left to the pros to tackle (about $2,500). To keep that process dust-free, they selected a dust-free contractor in their area who used a cyclonic Oneida Vortex dust collection system with HEPA filtration. In the end, they finished the project virtually dust-free and just in time for their family reunion, and they were very pleased with the results!

*Kristen’s last name has been changed for privacy.



Is your family expanding? Protect what matters most with these nursery safety checks

8/14/2017

(BPT) - You may have chosen the perfect color palette and all of your nursery furniture, but have you thought about some key safety checks?

“The arrival of a baby means you have to take a look at your home in a whole new light,” said Tarsila Wey, marketing director for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “Take the time now to help ensure your home is safe and secure.”

First Alert has outlined some crucial tasks to accomplish before the little one makes his or her appearance:

Maintain crib safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of children’s deaths under the age of one are caused by suffocation. Make sure that, when prepping the nursery, the crib meets safety standards, and avoid loose bedding or soft toys in the crib. After the baby arrives, the infant should sleep alone and be placed on his or her back on a firm surface.

Check your smoke alarms

Smoke alarms help protect your family, but in order to do so the alarms need to be present — and working. Install a working smoke alarm in the nursery and ensure that the rest of the home is properly equipped. The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Residential smoke alarms need to be replaced at least every 10 years. To find out whether it’s time to replace the smoke alarms in your home, simply look on the back of the alarms where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).

Protect from the “Silent Killer”

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year. Standard CO alarms are designed to alert people to high levels of CO (30-70 parts per million), which can be fatal.

However, lower levels of CO have also been proven to be harmful to infants. Fully protect your newborn from both high and low levels of CO with the Onelink by First Alert Environment Monitor, which provides protection for those most vulnerable to CO levels as low as 9 parts per million, and peace of mind for parents. Compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa Skills, it also monitors temperature and humidity, and notifies users of changing conditions.

Update the escape plan

It is important to plan and practice an escape plan for your home in the event of a fire. According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. This is even more important with the addition of a new member to your family. As a family, walk through the home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Identify two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. For the second story, place escape ladders near windows, and practice setting it up so you’ll be able to use it correctly and quickly in an emergency. Make sure everyone understands the plan, with special attention to carrying the newborn. Choose an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from your home, and make sure to practice your escape plan twice a year — and before the baby comes.

Create an emergency call list

Even though everything we need is on our smartphones these days, when a babysitter or nanny is with your infant, they might not be as prepared in case of an emergency — and you might not be either! Having an emergency contact list readily available can potentially save time and make everything go a little more smoothly when there is a crisis. Make sure the list includes family numbers, poison control, non-emergency numbers for police and fire departments, and neighbors’ phone numbers.

To learn more about fire and carbon monoxide safety and the Onelink Environment Monitor, visit FirstAlert.com or FirstAlert.com/Onelink.



Pets help seniors stay healthier and happier, wherever they live, studies show

8/14/2017

(BPT) - French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette once said, “Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” Pets provide meaningful social support for owners, and they can be especially beneficial for seniors. Ample research shows pet ownership delivers physical and mental health benefits for seniors, regardless of whether they’re living on their own or in a senior living community.

However, many older Americans still mistakenly believe moving into a senior living community means they’ll have to leave their pets behind. In fact, the fear they’ll have to give up a beloved pet is among the top emotional reasons seniors don’t want to move into senior living, according to author and senior real estate specialist Bruce Nemovitz. In an informal survey by Nemovitz, seniors ranked losing a pet as emotionally jarring as having to leave their familiar homes and possessions.

“Senior living communities like Brookdale Senior Living are all about supporting the physical health and mental well-being of residents,” says Carol Cummings, senior director of Optimum Life. “For many senior citizens, pets are an important part of their lives. It makes sense to preserve the bond between pet and senior owner whenever possible.”

Physical benefits

Pet ownership benefits senior citizens in multiple ways, research shows. Older people who own dogs are likely to spend 22 additional minutes walking at a moderately intense pace each day, according to a recent study by The University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University. Published in BioMed Central, the study also found dog owners took more than 2,700 more steps per day than non-owners.

Multiple studies have also concluded that pet ownership can help lower blood pressure, contribute to improved cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol.

Mental health

Interacting with pets also has many mental health benefits, especially for seniors. Spending time with pets can help relieve anxiety and increase brain levels of the feel-good neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine. Pets can help relieve depression and feelings of loneliness.

The online journal Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research reports multiple studies indicate dementia patients who interact with animals become more social, are less agitated and have fewer behavioral issues.

Pets in senior living settings

“For too long, some senior living communities didn’t recognize the value of allowing residents to bring their pets with them,” Cummings says. “That has definitely changed.”

For seniors looking for a community that will accept their pets, Cummings suggests a few questions to ask:

* What is your pet policy and what type of animal do you consider a pet? Generally, small dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rats, hamsters, fish, turtles and other small companion animals qualify for pet policies. Seniors should check to be sure their pet meets the standards of the community.

* What is your pet health policy? Typically, senior living communities that accept small pets will want them to be current on all vaccinations and have regular exams by a licensed veterinarian. Pets will also need to have any required state- or county-issued licenses.

* What, if any, kind of training do you require pets to have? Requiring dogs to be house-trained and cats to be litter-trained is standard. Communities will also want to know your pet is well-behaved and not aggressive. They may ask you to have pets obedience trained.

* Do you offer any assistance with pet-related tasks? Most communities will require residents be able to care for pets themselves, including feeding, walking, potty needs and health needs.

“Moving into a senior living community is a big change, one that most residents find positive,” Cummings says. “They gain freedom from home maintenance tasks and household chores, a socially rewarding environment, and as-needed support for healthcare and daily care. As long as seniors are still able to care for their pets, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to bring their best friends with them to their new homes.”



Enjoy the latest trend in swimming pools

8/14/2017

(BPT) - It was supposed to be a community swimming pool, but many people stayed away because they couldn't tolerate the biting, nose-curdling odor of chlorine. Others experienced breathing and skin problems.

So the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Michigan, converted its 65,000-gallon chlorine pool into a saltwater pool. People who had stayed away are now coming back, getting exercise and therapy, while socializing with others.

The senior center is hardly alone. Across the country, traditional chlorine pools are being converted into saltwater pools, sometimes called saline pools.

Swimmers noticed the difference right away after the switch, making their pool experience much more enjoyable. The new system also meant softer water without harsh chemicals that sometimes required a shower to wash off.

Homeowners and pool managers have many motivations for converting pools from chlorine to salt, including:

* Simplified, more convenient maintenance. Saltwater pool owners don't have to buy, transport, store and handle hazardous chlorine chemicals. This saves time and money.

* Water that's gentle on skin, eyes, nose and hair. Saltwater pools have approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water and about one-third the salinity of human tears, with no unpleasant chlorine smell.

* A more environmentally friendly approach. Routine pool maintenance doesn't involve the handling and storage of manufactured chlorine and lessens the need for other potentially hazardous chemicals.

How do they work?

Saltwater pools use a generator to convert the salt into mild chlorine that keeps the pool free of harmful bacteria. This chlorine is added to the water at a constant rate, displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount. Once the chlorine sanitizes the pool it converts back to salt. The process continues, over and over again, conserving the salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced.

The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s and today more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are saltwater, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.

The other good news for homeowners and pool managers is that pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater pool can pay off quickly.



5 baby formula myths debunked

8/11/2017

(BPT) - Baby feeding has many pervasive myths, especially about infant formula. Here are five of those myths debunked by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, family physician and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year:

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: It depends on the mother and her baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural and easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally.It can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief, or used exclusively, depending on mom and baby’s needs. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: You do not need to sterilize your baby's bottles. This is another time saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for five minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (if it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal — just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each time.

Myth 5: Brand-name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store-brand formula are practically identical but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store-brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store-brand formulas cost less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!



Top tips for making back to school a success

8/9/2017

(BPT) - Summer days are getting shorter. Summer fun is winding down for the season. Bedtimes are starting earlier. And parents seem to be oddly excited.

Back to school is right around the corner.

For most kids, the thought of going back to school can be a drag. But it doesn’t have to be.

Marley Dias, 12-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, knows a thing or two about balancing extracurricular activities and back-to-school readiness.

According to Marley, preparing for back to school is the key to success. “Tweens know, going back to school can be stressful and to conquer it with a smile takes guts,” said Dias. She offers these seven simple tips for parents to help make a smooth transition back to school.

1. Get Back to a Routine

A healthy routine is essential to getting your body clock back on schedule. A week before school starts, the family should wake up early and eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. For that week, everyone should try to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

2. Power Your Inner Potential

Seventy percent of the immune system is located in your gut. I take a daily probiotic like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotic to stay healthy and operate at my best. Probiotics help keep my gut healthy, which improves my sleep, mood and memory, all important aspects to being a good student, especially during the first few weeks when you still feel sluggish from summer.

3. Reconnect with Friends

Your kids’ friends have been away at camp, on vacation or visiting relatives all summer long. Chatting with friends gets kids excited about the new school year and helps avoid the back-to-school jitters.

4. Set Goals

Having your kids set goals helps them attack the school year with purpose. Challenge them to improve at a subject, try a new sport or make a new friend. Ask them to write down their social and academic goals; you can't get anywhere without a plan!

5. Shop!

Indulge in a new outfit or cool locker supplies for your kids. Buy those fun items, but also the functional ones that last throughout the year.

6. Getting Organized at Home

Getting organized now helps them tackle all of those upcoming assignments. Help them review old work to jog their memory. Plan outfits the night before. Pre-pack lunches and snacks. Post all assignments and activities in a visible spot in the house. And lastly, set up a home homework space. Kids need a dedicated place to focus.

7. Pick a Place to Just Breathe

Pick a peaceful spot at home where kids and parents can practice deep breathing and relaxation. The school year is a hectic time. Take a moment to push pause on all electronics. This quiet moment will help each member of the family prep their mind and body for everything the school year brings.

Getting back into a routine after summer takes guts. Make sure yours are up for it. To help keep your complex digestive system thriving and restore good bacteria, visit www.RenewLife.com. #beinghumantakesguts



Diabetes impacts younger people more often: Are you at risk?

8/8/2017

(BPT) - Every 17 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. What's even more surprising is diabetes is growing fastest among younger people, outpacing the rate of heart disease, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that the impact of diabetes continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among those age 18 through 34. The 4.7 percent growth in diabetes impact for younger adults from 2013 through 2015 corresponds to this age group’s spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.

Diabetes ranks third in terms of its health impact nationally on quality of life and cost for the commercially insured population among the more than 200 conditions measured by the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index. The “health impact” of a specific condition reflects the prevalence and severity for that condition as well as the years of life lost due to disability and risk of premature death.

The report, “Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population,” represents an analysis of the BCBS Health Index data on diabetes, which leverages the claims of more than 40 million BCBS members.

Younger people may not be as focused on their health and many may not be aware they are at risk for diabetes at their age. The first step is to understand the risk and the next step is to take action. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with thoughtful, proactive measures.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are many ways to lower your risk of developing diabetes, including:

Weight: Staying at a healthy weight can help you prevent and manage problems like prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol. Keep tabs on your weight by weighing yourself at least once per week. Stay active and strive to watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
Physical activity: Physical activity can do a lot for your overall health. Set your alarm to get up and stretch or walk around the house or office at least every 30 minutes throughout the day. A walking buddy or workout friend can support you while you both work toward your goals.
Healthy eating: Eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Cut back on calories and fat in your diet. Choose lean meats, whole grains and fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli and green beans. Consider keeping a journal of what you eat and have fun trying new healthy recipes.
Finally, speak with your doctor about any concerns you have. Your doctor is able to provide individualized insight into your risks and guide you to how you can prevent diabetes and live healthier. For more information, visit www.bcbs.com.


5 things parents need to know about HPV

8/7/2017

(BPT) - Being a parent means looking out for your kids. When they were small it meant making sure they wore a helmet, crossed the street carefully and wore sunscreen. As they get older, the health challenges they face change. As they become adolescents, you can’t always be with them, so you warn against things like the dangers of alcohol and drugs and sharing too much on social media. But what about human papillomavirus (HPV) — a virus that can cause certain cancers and diseases? Learning about health risks your children may be exposed to as adolescents or young adults that can affect them later in life is the first step toward helping to protect them.

You may have heard about HPV, but you may not be aware of the impact it may have. As your children become adolescents it’s more important than ever to be their health advocate and learn about potential future health concerns, including HPV.

Here are five HPV facts for parents:

1. HPV is more common than you may think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and there are approximately 14 million new HPV infections in the United States each year. Half of these infections occur in people ages 15-24. For most, HPV clears on its own. But for others who don't clear certain types, HPV can cause significant consequences in both males and females.

2. When HPV does not clear, it can cause certain pre-cancers, cancers and other diseases. These can develop very slowly and may not even be diagnosed until years later. There's no way to predict who will or won't clear the virus.

3. You may have only heard of HPV as a cause of cervical cancer in women, but there are other HPV-related diseases that can affect males, as well as females. Certain types of HPV cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar pre-cancers and cancers in females and other HPV types cause genital warts and anal cancer in males and females.

4. HPV often has no visible signs or symptoms, so many people are not even aware that they have it. This means people can pass on HPV without knowing it. It may take only one sexual encounter to be infected with HPV. HPV can be transmitted through experimentation that involves genital contact of any kind — intercourse is not necessary but is the most common.

5. You may think it’s too soon to worry about how HPV could affect your son or daughter, but the best time to get the facts about HPV is before they may be exposed.

As a parent you never stop looking out for your kids, and the more we learn about health risks for our children, the more we can do to help protect them as they grow up. Take action now, while you are still managing your adolescent’s health care. Speak with your child’s doctor for more information and be sure to ask about ways to help prevent HPV-related cancers and diseases, including vaccination.



Shop for health care with these websites and apps

8/7/2017

(BPT) - As our nation seeks solutions to help improve the health care system, there is at least one goal we can all agree on: the importance of making health care quality and cost information more accessible.

This is an important effort that has the potential to help improve health outcomes and make care more affordable — laudable goals considering the nation’s health care system ranks among the least efficient in the world, according to a recent Bloomberg analysis.

More widespread use of health quality and cost resources may be part of the solution. Providing health care prices to consumers, health care professionals and other stakeholders could reduce U.S. health care spending by more than $100 billion during the next decade, according to a 2014 report by the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center.

That is in part because there are significant price variations for health care services and procedures at hospitals and doctors’ offices nationwide, yet a study by Families U.S.A. concluded that higher-priced care providers do not necessarily deliver higher-quality care or better health outcomes.

Fortunately, there are many new online and mobile resources that help enable people to access health care quality and cost information, helping them to comparison shop for health care as they would with other consumer products and services. And people are starting to take action: Nearly one-third of Americans have used the internet or mobile apps during the last year to comparison shop for health care, up from 14 percent in 2012, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey.

These resources are far more accurate and useful than those of past generations, and in some cases provide people with estimates based on actual contracted rates with physicians and hospitals, including likely out-of-pocket costs based on their current health plan benefits. Some resources also include quality information about specific physicians, as determined by independent standards.

There are many resources people can consider when shopping for health care. In addition to online and mobile resources, people can call their health plan to discuss quality and cost transparency information, as well as talk with their health care professional about alternative treatment settings, including urgent care and telehealth options. Public websites, such as www.uhc.com/transparency and www.guroo.com, also can help enable access to market-average prices for hundreds of medical services in cities nationwide.

These resources can help people save money and select health care professionals based on objective information. A UnitedHealthcare analysis showed that people who use online or mobile transparency resources are more likely to select health care providers rated on quality and cost-efficiency across all specialties, including for primary care (7 percent more likely) and orthopedics (9 percent more likely). In addition, the analysis found that people who use the transparency resources before receiving health care services pay 36 percent less than non-users.

As people take greater responsibility for their health care decisions and the cost of medical treatments, transparency resources are becoming important tools to help consumers access quality care and avoid surprise medical bills.



Fighting head lice can start with a conversation with your doctor

8/7/2017

(BPT) - "Your child has head lice" is news no mother wants to receive. Not only can this common condition affect the child at home and at school, but it can also throw a family’s life off balance for days or even weeks.

Results of the new “Facts of Lice” online survey of 1,000 millennial moms (ages 18-35) and 350 pediatric health care providers (HCPs) suggest that some millennial moms may be receiving mixed messages from various sources about managing head lice. The “Facts of Lice” survey was conducted by ORC International on behalf of Arbor Pharmaceuticals between March 28 – April 10, 2017. Respondents were members of an online panel that agreed to participate in online surveys and polls.

Nearly all of the HCPs surveyed (95 percent) said that at least one parent had reported treatment failure using an over-the-counter (OTC) head lice treatment in the past year. Still, the majority (51 percent) of HCPs surveyed continue to recommend OTC treatment as a first-line option for their patients.

Considering a report stated that some parents may try OTC treatment up to five times before successfully eliminating head lice, the time and money commitment can become significant. Approximately 68 percent of millennial moms surveyed who had experienced head lice in their households reported they had failed to treat it successfully.

While head lice are not dangerous and do not carry any diseases, the survey explored the social and emotional impact the condition can have. Almost all (97 percent) millennial moms surveyed say they worry about the consequences of head lice on their children and households, including lost time at school (58 percent), inconvenience of an infestation (49 percent), fear of their child being bullied (45 percent), personal anxiety (44 percent), criticism from other parents (39 percent), ruined clothing or property (27 percent) and their own lost time at work (24 percent). Furthermore, 77 percent of moms surveyed say that their child was negatively affected, either socially, mentally, and/or physically, by having head lice.

The “Facts of Lice” survey findings highlight an opportunity for more effective conversations between parents and HCPs about head lice management. To address these findings, Arbor Pharmaceuticals developed educational resources to arm moms with tools to encourage conversations with their child’s doctor and promote understanding of how to get a head lice infestation under control and combat associated misinformation and stigma.

If you have received the news from your child's school that your child has head lice, or you received a note saying he or she has been exposed and you suspect an infestation, it's important to reach out to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to provide you with advice for treating head lice as quickly as possible. Some important questions to ask include:

1. What is the most effective way to control head lice?

2. What head lice treatments do you recommend?

3. Does my child need to stay home from school?

4. What can I do to eliminate head lice from my home?

5. How can I help so my child doesn't feel embarrassed or isolated?

More head lice tools and information, including more questions to ask your doctor, can be found at FactsofLice.com.



Travel tips to keep bed bugs at bay

8/4/2017

(BPT) - Planning an upcoming trip – maybe a long weekend getaway, or a family vacation before the kids head back to school, or perhaps you’re a road warrior who travels frequently for work? No matter what type of trip you have planned, you’ve probably already put together a packing list of what to take along.

But here’s a question: Is there anything on your list you could use if you were to come into contact with bed bugs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – insects of any kind are the last thing on most people’s minds when planning for paradise. Nevertheless, if you’re not careful, bed bugs could become a most unwelcome part of your travel plans.

Bed bug 101

Research from Ortho shows that 50 percent of Americans know someone who has had bed bugs. However, if you’ve never encountered these pests before, your first question is, naturally, what are they?

A bed bug is a non-flying insect that feeds on the blood of mammals, like human beings. Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies. Their flat shape is what allows them to hide in small spaces.

How to spot a bed bug infestation

It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at a 2-star or 5-star hotel, bed bugs do not discriminate and infestations can happen anywhere. If your hotel room has a bed bug infestation, the first thing you may notice is an odor. Many people say it smells sweet like almonds or musty.

When first arriving at your room, place your luggage in the bathtub where bed bugs cannot reach. Then, physically look for bed bugs, checking the seams and folds of your mattress and behind the bed frame and headboard. Remember, bed bugs are very small, so they can easily hide in nooks and crevices. As you check these places, look for shed bed bug skin or black dots (fecal spots) as evidence of their presence.

To determine whether the place you're staying has bed bugs, you can use a product like Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. To use, place the trap in key areas where bed bugs may hide, such as under the bed’s headboard. Then, release the attractant to lure bed bugs out of hiding. In about an hour, check the trap to determine whether you have an issue.

Carry these affordable traps with you whenever you travel and you can go to bed each night assured you’re not sharing your room with bed bugs. If your trap shows your room has bed bugs, immediately contact hotel management to understand your lodging alternatives.

Enjoy your home alone

Remember, even the briefest stay in an infested room could be enough for some of these insects to hitch a ride home with you. Because bed bugs love dark places, the folds of your luggage make for a welcoming environment. Pack a travel-sized aerosol spray on trips, such as Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer, and treat your suitcase before returning home.

When you return home, inspect the seams of your luggage for visible bed bugs. Finally, confirm you didn’t bring any home by placing a trap near your bed or sleeping area. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and the right tools, protecting yourself and your family is easy.

For more information about the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, and other products to treat bed bugs, visit Ortho.com/BedBugs.



More than fun: 5 tips for planning a healthy vacation

8/2/2017

(BPT) - Taking a vacation is more than a fun getaway from the daily drudges of life. Turns out, travel has a multitude of benefits that can impact your health and wellness, too.

Beyond stress reduction, vacations can improve heart health, mental health and personal relationships. In fact, men who take annual vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Women benefit too: Those who take vacations twice or more per year are “less likely to become tense, depressed or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages,” according to the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

Wellness travel is growing 50 percent faster than travel as a whole, according to a survey from the Global Wellness Summit. This includes spas, adventure and fitness-themed trips. But that doesn't necessarily mean you need to go on a yoga retreat to get the healthy benefits of travel. Consider these five tips for adding a healthy dose of wellness to your next vacation.

Intentionally disconnect: A whopping 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check email during vacation and 26 percent feel guilty even using all of their vacation time at all, according to Randstad. Make it a point to focus on the present and ignore your phone or limit checking it to once per day. If email or social media is hard to resist, sign out of those apps for the length of your vacation.

Relax by the water: Water is a natural element that inspires relaxation, but also provides lots of opportunity to play. For example, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, offers visitors an incredible 60 miles of ocean to explore, including the famous Intracoastal Waterway. Go to visitmyrtlebeach.com to learn more about how to relax on the sand by day and fall asleep to the calming waves of the ocean by night.

Try a new activity: Trying something new can have positive mental and physical benefits. Never tried kayaking or paddle boarding before? Give it a whirl. Want to take a yoga class? Sign up for an introductory lesson on the beach. Feeling brave? Go skydiving, zip-lining or parasailing. Whether you end up discovering a new hobby or just have a one-time adventure, you're sure to fully enjoy the experience.

Get into nature: Many health studies show the benefits of being outside, so make sure to plan plenty of time to explore Mother Nature on your trip. In addition to fresh air, take a hike at a local park and explore new scenery. When in Myrtle Beach, for example, you can take a morning jog through Huntington Beach State Park, meditate at Brookgreen Gardens or plan a family bike ride at Myrtle Beach State Park.

Eat well by eating right: Going out to eat is a fundamental part of vacationing for most people, but that doesn't mean you need overindulge so much that you feel sluggish throughout your trip. To eat well, plan sensible meals that feature fresh local ingredients, such as fruit, vegetables and the daily catch of fish. You'll enjoy regional flavors that tantalize the palate without the heavy foods that drag you down.



Looking for balance? Fighting fatigue? Your diet might be a place to start

8/1/2017

(BPT) - Adults today are constantly searching for balance in life. While balance can be broadly defined, in simple terms it is rooted in equal proportions. The human body demands an equilibrium in order to sustain proper mental, physical and spiritual health. But, achieving balance can be difficult when everyday personal and environmental stresses (such as work, poor diet, harsh sunlight and pollution) expose the body to cell-damaging oxidative stress.

The obstacles to reaching balance are only growing due to shifting lifestyle choices. Today’s adults are active and trying to cram more into a 24-hour day than ever before. In fact, fatigue is a common issue for working adults.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of adults are not getting the nutrients they need to keep their bodies properly fueled to meet the demands faced in a single day. In fact, according to a survey from Instantly, more than 53 percent of Americans skip breakfast at least once a week, while 12 percent never have breakfast at all. The World Health Organization recommends eating at least 400 grams, or five servings, of fruits and vegetables per day, but approximately 75 percent of people worldwide fail to meet that minimum recommendation, creating significant nutrient gaps.

Let’s face it, it can be tough to eat a healthy and well-balanced meal morning, noon and night. For that reason alone, supplements, which fill in nutrient gaps, can ensure you get the right quantities and varieties of nutrients your body needs. Supplements are becoming a critical part of the everyday routine for those looking to do it all and still ensure optimal nutrition. When you incorporate the adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals into your diet, particularly plant-based supplements that add phytonutrients, you can easily fill nutrient gaps and achieve optimal nutrition. By following a few easy steps, you can be on the path to achieving balance.

Educate yourself on your body’s needs

The first step in achieving nutritional balance is understanding the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Knowing what phytonutrients are, and the health benefits associated with them, is key. Phytonutrients are nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and other sources. They are associated with a variety of health benefits, such as eye, bone, joint and heart health, as well as supporting the immune system and brain health. Many phytonutrients are also powerful antioxidants that help fight cell-damaging free radicals.

Taking a multivitamin or multi-mineral supplement each day is a great way to fill in nutrient gaps. Amway’s Nutrilite Double X, for example, is a supplement that delivers a comprehensive and balanced range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to help your body’s natural antioxidant defense mechanisms fight cell-damaging free radicals and support whole body health. Nutrilite Double X contains 12 essential vitamins, 10 essential minerals and phytonutrients from 22 fruits, vegetables and herbs sourced from plants grown on Nutrilite-certified organic farms and Nutricert-certified supplier farms.

The vitamin B family is made up of eight B vitamins, each of which helps your body form energy. Your body requires a regular supply of B vitamins in order to support energy-yielding metabolism. Most importantly, B vitamins need to be taken in the right amounts and at the right times. Amway’s Nutrilite Vitamin B Dual-Action supplement provides your body with an instant and extended release of B vitamins to create and sustain energy within the body. Knowing when to take vitamins and supplements and the right quantities you need is critical to achieving optimal health.

“Amway’s Nutrilite Double X supplement is strategically designed to provide key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your body needs,” said Steve Missler, Principal Research Scientist at Amway. “Together with Vitamin B Dual-Action, these two products help provide the body with the quality nutrients needed to function properly and maintain a healthy balance. However, as with all nutrition plans, it is important to consult with a medical professional or health expert to determine your specific nutritional needs.”

Achieve nutrient balance

When it comes to finding the right supplement, another tip is to look for third-party verifications of product quality. Nutrilite Double X and Vitamin B Dual-Action supplements are certified by NSF International, an independent, accredited organization that conducts rigorous tests to assure consumers that products contain what is stated on the label.

It is important to ensure that the supplement you choose is also gentle on your stomach. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast along with a supplemental source of phytonutrients and B vitamins can help ensure you get optimal nutrition throughout the day.

Achieving nutrient balance and fighting fatigue do not need to be uphill battles. Coffee and energy drinks can be effective for short-term needs, but are not the solution. There are many ways to proactively supplement your diet with the nutrients you need and to help fight fatigue before it begins. Supplements are an easy, safe and effective way to ensure you get enough vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, while also ensuring you get the right B vitamins to help fight fatigue. Jump start your day with essential phytonutrients and B vitamins and help your body endure your active life.



Is your child protected from preventable illnesses at school?

8/1/2017

(BPT) - Fall is an exciting time for kids — seeing old friends, getting to know new classmates, learning new skills and exploring classrooms. But with all this fun and interaction, it’s important to remember one of the best ways to keep your child safe and healthy is to make sure he or she is up to date on their vaccinations. Vaccines have made many once-common serious childhood diseases rare today. They are safe, effective and they save lives.

“It’s critical to make sure that you and your children receive vaccinations according to the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Vaccines are important not only for school-age children, but for babies and young children, pregnant women, teens and pre-teens, adults and seniors.”

How exactly do vaccines work? According to the patient education website familydoctor.org, “Vaccines contain weakened versions of a virus or versions that look like a virus (called antigens). This means the antigens cannot produce the signs or symptoms of the disease, but they do stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies help protect you if you are exposed to the virus in the future.”

Much like how an athlete trains to prepare for competition, vaccines train your immune system to respond in case the body is exposed to the virus. If it is, it knows exactly how to fight it off. Vaccines help you stay healthy, and if you do get sick, it might be less severe or for less time when compared to others who have not been immunized.

The CDC lists recommended immunizations for the prevention of 17 diseases to protect people from birth through old age. All states require children to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases in order to attend school.

Information about recommended immunization schedules for people of all ages is available at familydoctor.org. On aafp.org, you can find an interactive map showing vaccine-specific coverage levels for each state.

If anyone in your family is behind on their vaccinations, it’s easy to catch up. Speak with your family physician about creating a plan. You might even be able to schedule vaccine-only visits, meaning you won’t even need an exam.

Concerned about costs? Vaccines are typically covered by health insurance, so it’s likely you won’t have to pay anything. If you don’t have health insurance, reach out to your state public health department. Many offer assistance programs that provide vaccines at a reduced cost.

Visit familydoctor.org for health information the whole family can use.



Mandy Moore's Advice to Pursuing Life Goals

7/27/2017

(BPT) - You hear a lot about dreams in our society these days. Companies tell you to “dream big” or “dream fearlessly.” Yet no one tells you to “dream prepared.” And when you get down to it, this last idea may be the most important because it’s the preparation that can help you as you pursue personal goals and life adventures.

In a 2017 online survey conducted by Kelton Global and sponsored by Merck of 2,013 women ages 18 to 40, the majority listed financial stability, emotional development, relationship security and career growth as their top priorities.

Comparatively, only about 40 percent of those surveyed listed starting or growing a family as a current priority, regardless of whether or not they currently have children. When it comes to family planning, birth control can play an important role for those looking to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. However, among the 908 birth control users surveyed, more than one in four women considered their birth control options for less than 15 minutes before making a decision.

For women, adventures are different and finding balance among all their priorities can help them be more prepared to take on what’s next. That’s why Merck teamed with actress and singer-songwriter Mandy Moore on Her Life. Her Adventures., an educational campaign encouraging women to know their options and set priorities, including talking to their doctor about family planning and birth control, to help them feel better prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Moore has been in the spotlight since a young age and as she has built her career, balancing her priorities has become more important than ever. “My life has been full of so many adventures and through it all, setting long-term goals and having a plan in place has helped me get to where I am today,” she says. “Whether it’s landing your dream job, traveling to a new country, or pursuing your education, the important thing is to plan, know your priorities and stay focused on your goals, whatever they may be.”

To help prioritize your goals, Moore offers the following tips:

Find Your Passion

What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, Moore recommends working it into your life as much as possible. “Growing up, music was a passion of mine which opened the door to my acting career,” she says. “Now, I’m really fortunate that I get to incorporate music into my acting. Getting to this point was an adventure filled with opportunities and challenges along the way, but it was all part of my journey that helped me get to where I am today.”

Bring Your Passions into Your Daily Life

If you’re passionate about writing, consider taking creative writing workshops or pursuing a career in editing. If you’re passionate about fitness or the outdoors and you can’t work in these fields, incorporate exercise or a walk outside into your lunch breaks. And if you’re itching to explore something new, consider traveling to a new location. Experience the tastes, sights and sounds of a new place — there are so many options to choose from.

Make Note of Your Current (and Long-Term) Priorities

As you embark on your next life adventure — whether it’s with your finances, career or next big trip — don’t forget about family planning. In 2011, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States were unplanned, oftentimes due to inconsistent or incorrect use of birth control. And it’s important to remember that any woman of reproductive age can have an unplanned pregnancy; it doesn’t only occur in teenagers.

“Understanding your priorities and planning can help you pursue your goals,” Mandy says. “That’s why I’m excited to team up with Merck on the Her Life. Her Adventures. campaign to encourage women to think about their priorities, including family planning and birth control, and talk with their doctor to explore their options.”

Visit Her Life. Her Adventures. to learn more about this campaign, find helpful information and tips on planning ahead, and join Mandy and other adventurers as they share their stories on Instagram and Facebook. To learn more about all family planning and birth control options, including reversible daily, non-daily and longer-term ones, talk to your doctor.



Fighting the morning clock? 9 no-fail ways to get out the door on time

7/27/2017

(BPT) - As the sun shines through the curtains, you hit the snooze button again. Suddenly you bolt up, realizing you're running late. You skip breakfast, grab your bag and rush out the door. Stress levels skyrocket and your day has barely begun.

The race against the clock at the start of the day is a common problem. Mornings shouldn't be difficult and certainly not something you dread. To get out the door on time and with a grin on your face, consider these nine no-fail tips.

Bedtimes aren't just for kids: A great morning starts the night before. A regular bedtime is as important for adults as it is for children. Go to bed with the goal of getting seven to nine hours of sleep, as is recommended for adults by the National Sleep Foundation.

Use the night prior to your advantage: Mornings flow smoothly when you do a lot of prep work the evening before. That means select outfits, pack bags and backpacks, and organize any paperwork before you hit the hay.

Stock the fridge for health and convenience: It’s always smart to have delicious and nutritious ingredients in your fridge like fresh fruits, veggies and eggs. Eggs are especially versatile and packed with nutrition. Look for eggs with added nutritional benefits like Eggland’s Best eggs. In a hurry? Try Eggland's Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs for a ready-to-eat lunch or snack.

Meal prep on Sunday: Another fridge-friendly tip is to do Sunday prep for the week. For example, chop up veggie spears or fruits and place in individual containers for easy grab-and-go snack options to pair with your hard-cooked eggs.

Learn to love the alarm: Rather than just setting one alarm for waking up, try setting several to keep your morning routine on track. For example, set one for when it's time for breakfast and another as a five-minute warning for departure.

Eliminate distractions: The fewer distractions you have, the better your chances of meeting the morning clock. That means resist the urge to check your smartphone or have a rule that the TV remains off until all morning tasks are complete.

Check it and forget it: It can be highly effective to make a specific list with morning to-do's for you and your family members. As each task is complete, you get the satisfaction of marking it off your list, plus it keeps the morning moving quickly.

Adjust your attitude: A positive attitude doesn't only start your day out on the right foot, it can also help you stay focused so when you're racing against the clock, you win every time (and with a smile on your face).

Don't forgo breakfast: The most important meal of the day doesn't have to take a lot of time. Make-ahead breakfasts and easy recipes are your key to a delicious morning without running late.

These delicious Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls will fuel your family throughout the day with superior nutrition. By choosing Eggland’s Best eggs, you get six times more vitamin D, 25 percent less saturated fat, more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado

6 individual-sized containers with lids

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

3. Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

4. Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

6. Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

7. Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers, then set aside to cool.

8. Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

9. To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.



Focusing on Family Health: August is National Immunization Awareness Month

7/27/2017

(BPT) - National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), held each year in August, is a great time to review your family’s vaccination records. NIAM was established to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on the vaccines recommended for them and their family members.

Vaccination is considered to be one of the greatest public health achievements of the last two centuries. Over time, successful vaccination campaigns have contributed to the elimination (or near-elimination) of some diseases in the US.

Eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep are all great ways to help live a healthy lifestyle. But keeping up-to-date with recommended vaccines is an important part of doing everything you can to help protect your family’s health.

August is an ideal point in the year to consider seasonal health check-ups, to address the upcoming flu season and back to school time.

Flu season occurs in the winter; but flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last as late as May.

Today vaccines can help to protect against 14 diseases before age two, but it is also important to know that vaccines are not just recommended for infants. There are vaccines recommended for school-age children, from preschoolers to college students. Making sure that children receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to help protect your children.

In the US, most young children receive many of the recommended vaccines, but there is room to improve vaccination rates among all groups, including adolescents and adults.

It’s important to help make sure that everyone in your family gets their recommended shots, at the recommended time.

To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines that may be recommended for you and your family, and visit www.vaccinesandyou.com.

This information was provided by Merck

VACC-1190361-0000
08/16



7 ways to snack like a pro this football season

7/26/2017

(BPT) - Football season is quickly approaching, which means it will soon be time for tailgating or watching the big game on TV. For many of us, this time of year is tough on our diet and exercise plans, but it doesn't have to be, according to Bryan Snyder, registered dietitian and director of team nutrition for the Denver Broncos.

Snyder, who is responsible for keeping the year-round nutrition strategies for the team’s players on track, also knows the pitfalls for fans. “Nutrition goals can fall by the wayside when leisure time includes snacking or party fare,” Snyder says. “We tend to make poor choices when it comes to snacking, earning it a bad rap. But in fact, by picking healthy and tasty options, anyone can come out a winner on game day.”

Snyder recommends these tips for better snacking in his healthy eating playbook for football season and throughout the year.

1. Plan ahead.

Cut and slice your fruits and vegetables the day before you plan on eating them. That way when you find yourself hungry and ready for a snack, you will already have the hard part finished. Grab your pre-cut veggies and dip them in low-fat ranch dressing or hummus to help get you through the day. This is a great way to add some healthy vegetables to your tailgate menu. Perhaps you could make a strawberry banana smoothie with Greek yogurt the night before and leave the pitcher in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go snack as you run out the door.

2. Snack on foods that are healthy and will fill you up.

How many times do we eat a snack and 10 minutes later we’re hungry? The perfect snack strikes a great balance of healthy carbohydrates along with protein, fiber and antioxidants. One of the healthiest and best snacks is pistachios. With 1 ounce of pistachios, you get 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, healthy fats and 6 percent of your daily value of iron. Plus, pistachios contain antioxidants, which help our immune systems stay strong and fight off diseases. One serving of pistachios contains only 160 calories.

3. Aim for whole grains.

The last thing you probably think about as you get ready for the big game is setting out snacks that contain whole grains. However, eating whole grains may reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases like heart diseases, and incorporating whole grains isn't as hard as it seems. One option you could have available is whole grain crackers and cheese. Try whole grain Wheat Thins instead of potato chips as a healthy substitution.

4. Stay hydrated with water.

Our bodies have a difficult time distinguishing between being hungry or thirsty. Often, we feel like we are hungry when in reality we simply may be thirsty and/or dehydrated. One study found that people who drink water 20-30 minutes before starting their meals eat about 75 fewer calories per meal. Considering we may be snacking for three hours while watching the game, these calories will add up.

5. Replace fatty protein with lean proteins.

Hamburger sliders are a staple of many tailgating menus across the country, but sometimes we just want a good burger. While eating a fatty hamburger in moderation isn’t the worst thing in the world, there are certainly some leaner options to choose. Instead of going to the grocery store and picking up the first piece of beef available to grill for the game, look at either a leaner beef option or a different meat altogether. For example, a better option for protein would be a 97 percent lean ground beef to make sliders or hamburgers. Another option would be to simply choose ground turkey instead of ground beef to make patties to throw on the grill.

6. Don’t be afraid of veggies.

Despite what your buddies may think, it is not against the law to eat vegetables at a tailgate party. More than likely, there will be some grilling before the big game. Don’t be afraid to throw some zucchini, mushrooms or even asparagus on the grill to complement the other items you are cooking. You can also chop up some veggies and serve with low-fat ranch dressing or hummus.

7. Have a backup plan

You might be heading to the game on Saturday or Sunday, and you plan on meeting up with some friends before the game to tailgate. In this case, you may have zero healthy choices to pick from while you are snacking and eating before the game. It is always good to have a backup plan. Healthy bars, nuts or a piece of whole fruit are easy and portable so you have a go-to backup plan. Trail mix and pistachios are easy to throw in your bag for the game or to have around your house for a snack. Plan ahead and bring some small snacks with you, so you don’t indulge in hours of unhealthy snacking, like my Pistachio and Date Energy Bites (recipe below). Great for tailgating, this portable and delicious snack is healthy and gives a great variety of protein and antioxidants to not only fill you up, but give you an immune system boost as well.

Pistachio and Date Energy Bites

Serves 20-25

Ingredients:

1 cup dried cherries

8 ounces dates

1/2 cup local honey

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax meal

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup pistachios (shelled)

Pinch of Kosher salt

3/4 cup pistachios (Finely ground)

Instructions:

Combine dates, honey, chia seeds, flax meal and salt in food processor and mix. Add small amount of honey if it's too thick.

Remove and add to mixing bowl. Incorporate pistachios, cherries, oats and dark chocolate chips, and mix until combined.

Use desired portion scoop or portion by hand. Roll bites in finely ground pistachios, coating the whole bite. Store in the refrigerator.



One man's struggle with PTSD, 40 years later

7/25/2017

(BPT) - Bobby Barrera’s career as a Marine ended abruptly at age 21. While in Vietnam, on his first mission, a land mine explosion took his right hand at the wrist and left arm at the shoulder, and left him with severe burns over 40 percent of his body and face.

Coping with the physical challenges of his injuries and struggling to find a new purpose for life was almost easy compared to dealing with the psychological impact of war trauma: something that would remain with Bobby for the next 40 years.

Bobby went on to marry and have a family. His children had children, and he created a fulfilling and meaningful life for himself. He returned to college to earn a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. For nearly four decades, Bobby counseled veterans with mental health challenges caused by war and volunteered with DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a veterans service organization that helps veterans of all generations get the benefits and services they’ve earned. He went on to become the national commander of DAV in 2009. What Bobby didn’t realize — or want to admit — was that for more than 40 years, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It wasn’t until Bobby and his wife moved to San Antonio, Texas, to retire that his PTSD symptoms became overwhelming. After moving, Bobby felt immediately lost. Being new in town, losing his network of friends, no longer working and coping with chronic pain triggered long-suppressed symptoms of PTSD. Soon, the nightmares began. Then came mood swings, increased anxiety, and feelings of isolation and hopelessness — and eventually, thoughts of suicide.

Bobby’s wife pushed him to seek help — which led to a PTSD diagnosis. He questioned how he could have overlooked his own signs of PTSD for so many decades, while helping countless other veterans who struggled with it.

PTSD symptoms are caused by experiencing traumatic events and not by an inherent individual weakness. Roughly 15 percent of Vietnam veterans are impacted by PTSD, and an estimated 20 percent of recent war veterans have symptoms of PTSD or depression. It can lead to a higher risk for unemployment, homelessness or suicide.

Bobby is learning how to cope with his diagnosis. He is meeting more people, getting involved at church and spending time with his family. He began to volunteer again. His recovery is ongoing. Bobby credits his wife for encouraging him to ask for help and believes that doing so gave him yet another chance at life.

If you are struggling with symptoms of PTSD, you are not alone. Resources are available at www.DAV.org/veterans/resources. If your situation is critical, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.



Looking for a new doctor? Start with a D.O.

7/19/2017

(BPT) - Your yearly physical, a nagging injury that won’t go away, a sick child: There are plenty of reasons to go to the doctor, but when you do, do you know what type of doctor you’re seeing?

The common answer most people offer is that they are going to see a medical doctor, an M.D., and in many cases they are right. Medical doctors dominate the market, but they are not the only option. Each year more and more Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) enter the market. In fact, it’s possible your current physician is actually a D.O. rather than an M.D.

So now that you know D.O.s exist, you probably have some questions. This article can help. Consider it your chance to check up on the professionals who are specifically trained to check up on you.

What is a D.O.?

On the surface, a D.O. is so similar to an M.D. that a patient may not recognize the difference. Like their M.D. equivalent, D.O.s are fully licensed physicians who practice in every major specialty. D.O.s enroll in a college of osteopathic medicine, and in addition to their medical training, they also receive special training in the musculoskeletal system, your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones.

D.O.s use this additional training to treat the pain or disease that is causing immediate problems for the patient. They are also taught to take a deeper look at the patient’s lifestyle and environment to better understand factors that could be influencing their health. A D.O.’s focus is on the patient’s total well-being and they are interested in helping their patients hone preventive techniques that can support long-term health. In short, a D.O. doesn’t just want to treat you when you arrive needing help. They want to help you ward off problems before they ever arise.

A long tradition of service

While you may have never heard of a D.O. before, the profession will celebrate its 125 year anniversary in October. D.O.s have been treating patients and supporting healthy lifestyles since the early 1890s, and can now be found in some of the most prominent medical institutions including The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic.

Over the last decade, however, the popularity of D.O.s has skyrocketed. In fact, since 2006, the number of D.O.s in the United States has increased 65 percent, and D.O.s account for 11 percent of all physicians in the workforce.

Today, one in four incoming medical students is enrolled in a college of osteopathic medicine.

How do I find a D.O. near me?

The easiest thing to do is to contact your current physician and ask whether they are a D.O. It is possible you’ve been seeing a D.O. all along and never knew it. If your physician is not a D.O. or you’re looking for a new physician and you like the idea of a D.O.’s approach to total, lifelong wellness, then finding a D.O. near you is easy.

Start your search by visiting the Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine website and entering your zip code into the “Find a DO” tool. Once you’ve identified your possibilities, meet with those who appeal to you and be choosy when selecting your new physician. After all, it’s your health and you deserve a medical partner who will support it every step of the way.

To learn more about the difference a D.O. can make, visit doctorsthatdo.org.



Mangos bring families together around the world

7/25/2017

(BPT) - Ayesha Curry was raised by great women who instilled in her a passion for cooking. This passion has helped Ayesha both launch her career and prioritize spending time with her family in the kitchen. But even as a celebrity chef, author and foodie, Ayesha sometimes struggles to think of new, wholesome and delicious meals to bring to her table. When she finds herself needing a little food inspiration, Ayesha turns to the experiences and flavors of her childhood.

Mango love runs deep

Ayesha grew up with a Jamaican grandmother who had mango trees in her backyard, so eating and cooking with the fruit reminds her of home. A lot of people don’t know this, but mango is the world’s most popular fruit and iconic in many cuisines across the globe. While its sweetness and versatility make it a perfect addition to any favorite dish, mango is also delicious on its own and is often simply paired with the spices of the country.

In Ayesha’s home, not only does everyone love mango for its incredible flavor, but because it’s a superfruit. At 100 calories per cup, mangos are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and are a good source of fiber, making them a perfect food for any family.

Make it with mango!

When Ayesha is in the mood for something special and with a little cultural flare, she whips up her Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers and Mango Salsa. Jerk chicken is a family-favorite recipe for Ayesha, and adding the sweet flavor of mango gives it a delicious twist.

Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers with Mango Salsa

Servings: 4-6 skewers


Ingredients:

Mango Salsa

2 cups mango, chopped

1/4 cup red onion

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp jalapeno, finely diced

1/4 tsp salt and pepper


Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

3 cloves minced garlic

3 tbs olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 pound chicken breast, cubed

Skewers, soaked in water


Instructions:

Mango Salsa

Combine all ingredients. Let sit and allow flavors to meld while you prepare the chicken.

Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Coat cubed chicken well with the rub. Marinate for 30 minutes or more. Skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken per stick. Cook on a grill pan at medium high heat. Turn frequently to avoid burning. Cook for about 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Place the chicken on or off the skewer and spoon the Mango Salsa on top.

Get your hands on a perfect mango

Mangos are available year-round, so you can always get your hands on a perfect mango. If you’d like to make mango your go-to ingredient, here are some tips and tricks Ayesha shares with family and friends:

  • Selection. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado.
  • Ripening. Keep unripe mangos at room temperature. Once ripe, mangos can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.
  • Cutting. To cut a mango, simply slice off the sides of the fruit, avoiding the large seed in the center. Once you have these two sides, you can slice or dice as needed. Then, simply scoop it out of the skin. You can also cut around the seed to get two extra slices of mango and let your kids gnaw on the seed!

Mangos at the grocery store

While there are many mango varieties to covet, Ayesha’s kids love Honey mangos because they’re super sweet and creamy! Here’s a quick look at the most common mango varieties you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores:

Honey. Sweet, creamy and vibrant yellow. Small wrinkles appear when fully ripe. Peak availability is March – June.

Francis. Rich, spicy and sweet, with yellow skin and green overtones. Peak availability is April – June.

Haden. Rich in flavor with fine fibers, often bright red with green and yellow overtones. Peak availability is March – May.

Keitt. Sweet and fruity, with juicy flesh, limited fibers and green skin. Peak availability is July – September.

Kent. Sweet and rich, dark green mangos with red blush. Peak availability is December – February and June – August.

Tommy Atkins. Mild and sweet, these dark red mangos are the most widely grown variety coming into the U.S. Peak availability is March – July and September – October.

Who will you share the mango love with today?

Learn More

Visit www.mango.org for additional information on mango nutrition, selection tips, cutting methods and much more.



New FDA-approved method of lung cancer detection gives many hope

7/24/2017

(BPT) - Each year, more people die of lung cancer than any other form of cancer — more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. The American Cancer Society estimates of the 224,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, 155,000 will succumb to the disease.

Many have heard the statistics about lung cancer, but for those who have lived through it, or who have a friend or loved one battling the disease, these numbers are even more personal and frightening. The low five-year survival rate (five to 14 percent) for late-stage lung cancer patients makes the search for a way to treat this deadly disease all the more urgent.

Genetic breakthroughs

To beat cancer, early detection is critical. Scientific research over the past several decades has revealed that cancer is a disease primarily caused by changes — or mutations — in the genes. This discovery has led to a major shift in how early cancer can be detected and treated. Now, researchers are able to identify mutations in the genetic code that are most likely to cause potentially deadly cancers. This has led to the development of new testing technology and drugs that target those specific mutations.

This approach is in stark contrast to traditional detection methods that are limited in their ability to test for a small number of specific mutations linked to only one possible treatment. This painstakingly long process can take several weeks to identify an effective treatment.

In a matter of days, modern techniques using next-generation sequencing technology can save valuable time by avoiding the need to run multiple tests by simultaneously screening tumor samples for multiple mutations and multiple potential therapies. The new technology also reduces the likelihood of subjecting patients to unnecessary and invasive secondary biopsy procedures.

New advancements in early detection and treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Oncomine(TM) Dx Target Test, a first-of-its-kind genetic screening solution that can detect multiple gene mutations associated with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from a single tissue sample. The test has also been approved to aid in selecting which specific FDA-approved NSCLC treatment the patient may be eligible for.

Take action and talk to your doctor

A recent survey by the Journal of Precision Medicine showed that only about a third of patients and caregivers had a good understanding of genomic tools for cancer detection. That’s why talking to a doctor, loved ones and others about new techniques like sequencing-based tests to help inform more effective treatment options is important. Doctors and healthcare networks have a responsibility to their patients to provide the most effective innovations so patients receive the best care possible.



Take precautions in the heat - lifesaving tips

7/21/2017

(BPT) - From tornadoes and floods to hail and lightning storms, the United States experiences a broad array of extreme weather. Fatalities do occur, but many people are surprised to learn that the weather event that causes the greatest number of deaths is heat.

According to the National Weather Service, heat causes the greatest number of weather-related fatalities each year. In fact, an average of 130 people a year lost their lives as a result of heat from 1986-2015. This is a higher number than all other weather events, including hurricanes.

From coast to coast, many regions are experiencing heat waves and extreme temperatures this summer. The toll the heat can take on the body should not be underestimated. It's important to take precautions to ensure safety in the heat when exercising, entertaining or working outdoors or in non-air-conditioned areas like the garage.

Hydration: The top tip for giving your body the power to beat the heat is to stay hydrated. You need water to sweat, which cools the body. When sweat evaporates, it cools the air around the skin so you can maintain a comfortable body temperature. Be certain to avoid sugar or caffeinated drinks, as they are not as effective as plain old H2O.

Rest: Whether at work or play, be sure to take breaks from the heat. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, both of which are dangerous conditions caused by too much time in hot temperatures. Frequent breaks from strenuous activity allow the body to rest and cool down.

Shade: High temperatures paired with the UV rays of the sun can be a dangerous combination. If you must spend time outdoors, try to do so in the shade. Shaded surfaces, for example, may be 20–45 degrees cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded surfaces, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Cooling: While air conditioning is not an option for open areas like the patio, deck or garage, consider achieving cooling in these spaces with a portable evaporative cooler. Using the ambient air and the natural process of evaporation, these coolers produce chilled air to create a comfortably cool environment. Portacool portable evaporative coolers offer a variety of sizes to accommodate spaces from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet. They operate with a standard 110-V, are energy-efficient and are equipped with heavy-duty castors for easy mobility.

Clothing: Loose-fitting clothing made from lightweight materials can help keep your body cool during hot temperatures while shielding you from sunburn. This type of clothing can breathe, meaning that air can easily circulate to your body and keep you cool. Be selective when it comes to colors. Choosing light-colored attire is wise because it can reflect heat more efficiently than darker tones.

Peak hours: While it's not always possible, it's wise to avoid being outdoors during peak heat periods of the day. This is typically noon to 5 p.m. So if you must work in your garage or plan to exercise outdoors, start early in the morning. Consider planning family cookouts for later in the evening when the sun lowers and temperatures start to drop.



Ask your doctor about these important topics on life-threatening allergies

7/20/2017

(BPT) - The start of a new school year can be fraught with anxiety for children and parents alike. New school, new friends, new dynamics. And for children living with life-threatening allergies, that anxiety can be even more pointed as they — and their parents — consider and prepare for how to deal with a potential life-threatening allergy incident in the school environment.

Like all children heading back to school, children with life-threatening allergies should have a back to school physical. For these children, these appointments provide an opportunity for students and parents to ask questions of their doctor about life-threatening allergies and back to school readiness.

Ask about options

People with life-threatening allergies have more options than ever before when it comes to the epinephrine injectors they need. While you’re at the doctor’s office, make sure to ask about all the options currently available, including AUVI-Q(R) (epinephrine injection, USP), an epinephrine auto-injector that’s the size of a credit card and the thickness of a cell phone — plus it fits into most pockets and has voice instructions on how to use the device, and reminds the user to seek immediate medical attention after use.

Ask about access

Finding the right epinephrine auto-injector for your child is only half of the equation. You should also ask your doctor about access options for your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector. Many pharmaceutical companies offer patient access plans that make obtaining epinephrine auto-injectors easy and affordable. For example, through the AUVI-Q AffordAbility(TM) program, anyone who is commercially insured, including those with high-deductible plans, can obtain AUVI-Q at $0 out-of-pocket through the Direct Delivery Service. For more information about how to access AUVI-Q, visit www.auviq.com/affordability.

Ask about developing an anaphylaxis emergency plan

An anaphylaxis emergency is scary for everyone involved. Be sure to develop an anaphylaxis emergency plan with your doctor and child, so that everyone involved in your child’s care during the school day understands what happens when/if an emergency arises. It’s important that children who experience life-threatening allergic emergencies seek immediate medical professional help.

Ask how to educate teachers and faculty

If you’re new to parenting a child with life-threatening allergies — or even if you’re a life-threatening allergy parent veteran — it’s important to educate all teachers, faculty and others who may be responsible for your child throughout the school day. This means that all individuals involved should understand your child’s anaphylaxis emergency plan, including what to do in an emergency, when and how to use their epinephrine auto-injector, as well as what to do after using an epinephrine auto-injector. Additionally, you can provide school faculty with a photo of your child, along with information they may need in an emergency, and instructions on how to administer epinephrine.

At the end of the day, every child with life-threatening allergies should understand what their allergens are, and try to avoid them as best as possible. It is important to remain educated and prepared at all times, but that doesn’t mean they should miss out on fun school activities or outings. To learn more about life-threatening allergies, visit www.auvi-q.com/resources. Click for AUVI-Q’s Prescribing Information and Patient Information.

About AUVI-Q(R) (epinephrine injection, USP)

AUVI-Q is a prescription medicine used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in people who are at risk for or have a history of serious allergic reactions.

AUVI-Q is for immediate self (or caregiver) administration and does not take the place of emergency medical care. Seek immediate medical treatment after use. AUVI-Q should only be injected into your outer thigh. If you accidentally inject AUVI-Q into any other part of your body, seek immediate medical treatment. If you inject a young child with AUVI-Q, hold their leg firmly in place during the injection.

Rarely, patients may develop serious infections at the injection site within a few days. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following injection site symptoms: persistent redness, swelling, tenderness, or the area feels warm.

If you have certain medical conditions, or take certain medicines, your condition may get worse or you may have more or longer lasting side effects when you use AUVI-Q. Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions and the medicines you take. Tell your healthcare provider if you are or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed. Epinephrine should be used with caution if you have heart disease or are taking certain medicines that can cause heart-related symptoms.

Common side effects include fast, irregular or "pounding" heartbeat, sweating, shakiness, headache, paleness, feelings of over excitement, nervousness, or anxiety, weakness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, or breathing problems. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effect. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.



4 surprising health benefits of cherries - this summer's superfruit

7/19/2017

(BPT) - Have you ever said no to a cherry? Probably not. This summertime treat is simply delicious. And if you’re looking for another reason to indulge, you’ll be pleased to know that cherries are surprisingly good for you. Recent research indicates that this summer’s superfruit offers a variety of health benefits, including the four outlined below.

Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes

Heart disease and diabetes threaten the health of millions of Americans every year, and cherries can help. Research from Michigan State University found that 20 cherries provide 25 milligrams of anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation by shutting down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation. This helps protect the arteries from the damage that leads to heart disease. Further research shows that those same anthocyanins also help lower blood sugar levels in animals, leading scientists to speculate that a similar blood sugar lowering effect could occur in humans.

In addition to being packed with anthocyanins, cherries also have a low glycemic index, making them a good choice for people with diabetes. Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood glucose to soar and then quickly crash. In contrast, foods with a low index, like cherries, release glucose slowly and evenly, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level — as well as leaving you feeling full longer and potentially helping you maintain a healthy weight.

Combating arthritis and gout

More than 8.3 million Americans suffer from gout, a form of arthritis characterized by severe pain, redness and tenderness in the joints. This condition is commonly associated with elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Davis found that people who ate sweet cherries showed reduced levels of uric acid. In addition, research from the Boston University School of Medicine showed that people who ate cherries had a 35 to 75 percent lower chance of experiencing a gout attack.

Sleep support via melatonin

Everyone understands the value of a good night’s sleep, but sometimes your body simply doesn’t want to cooperate. When you find yourself wide awake and restless, your melatonin levels might be low. Melatonin is the chemical that controls your body’s internal clock to regulate sleep and promote overall healthy sleep patterns. Studies show that cherries are a natural source of melatonin, and researchers who have studied the melatonin content of cherries recommend eating them an hour before bedtime to help stabilize your sleep cycle.

Fiber for weight loss

Many Americans struggle with weight issues, and poor diet is often identified as a major culprit. But although there is a great deal of discussion about what people shouldn’t be eating, there isn’t as much talk about what people should be eating, like fiber. Most Americans’ diets are fiber-deficient, falling short of the 25-35 grams per day recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines recommend two cups of fruit daily, and cherries are an easy and delicious way to meet that target.

Enjoy a bowl of superfruit today

In addition to all these health benefits, cherries also possess cancer-fighting properties, according to a study by the USDA’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center. So whether you’re looking to boost your health or you enjoy the taste of this juicy treat — or both — there are plenty of reasons to reach for a bowl of cherries for your next snack or to add them to the menu at your next meal. Whatever your preference, be sure to get them quickly before cherry season is over.

To learn more about the health benefits of cherries, visit NWCherries.com.



Managing MS in the warmer weather

7/13/2017

(BPT) - Heat and humidity can make anyone feel uncomfortable, but for the 400,000 people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States, warmer weather can make life particularly difficult to manage.

“When it’s warm and sunny, that’s when I want to spend the most time outdoors,” said Wendy Booker, who has been living with MS for almost 20 years. “I enjoy gardening, walking and eating outside, but the heat is sometimes too much to bear, and I find it difficult to even get out the door.”

Symptoms of MS, including dizziness, blurry vision and fatigue, can be unpredictable and often flare up during warm weather. High temperatures and humidity can cause a temporary, slight elevation in body temperature, which impairs nerves and can potentially worsen symptoms.

“The negative effects of temperature and humidity are generally temporary, but they can make the symptoms of MS worse and make it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks or enjoy activities outside,” said Carrie Lyn Sammarco, DrNP, FNP-C, MSCN, nurse practitioner in the NYU Langone Medical Center Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center.

If you or someone you care for is living with MS, what can you do to beat the heat?

1. Dress lightly. Clothing can make all the difference. Look for lightweight, open-weave fabrics that “breathe” by letting air flow in and out more easily. Also, protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays by wearing a hat or other protective covering.

2. Hydrate. Drink plenty of cool fluids. Having a cold drink or summer treat, like an ice pop, can often provide temporary relief. “I often freeze a water bottle the night before participating in an outdoor activity so I know I’ll have a cool drink quickly available,” said Ms. Booker.

3. Stay indoors. It may seem obvious, but sometimes the best way to beat the heat is to avoid it altogether! Chill out inside an air-conditioned space, sit in front of a fan or head out to your local movie theater to see the latest flick.

4. Take a dip. “Exercising in a non-heated pool is a great way to stay both active and cool during warm months and something I often recommend to my patients living with MS,” said Dr. Sammarco.

5. Ask for help. The unpredictability of MS symptoms, especially in the heat, may mean you need to ask for help sometimes. Check out a new online resource, GatherMS.com, that provides links to existing, everyday services — from grocery delivery to free transportation. Ms. Booker, who serves as a spokesperson for GatherMS, uses the resource to help her accomplish daily tasks when the heat gets her down.

No matter how you choose to stay cool, talk to your doctor for the best advice on managing your MS year round, especially during the warmer months.



How not to look your age

7/13/2017

(BPT) - Want to look a little younger but not quite ready for cosmetic surgery? Who doesn’t.

There are more facial rejuvenation treatments to choose from today than ever before. Injectable fillers and neuromodulators like BOTOX can help soften wrinkles, peels can improve skin tone and reduce pigment, and lasers or other energy-based therapies can tighten and firm skin texture. Despite these popular treatments, there has really been no way to reverse the effects of gravity without having surgery until now.

A new non-surgical lifting option called Silhouette InstaLift is catching on among plastic surgeons, dermatologists and celebrities. This physician in-office procedure is used to lift sagging tissues of the mid face and restore volume to facial contours for a lasting, natural-looking improvement.

It is a simple procedure where your dermatologist or plastic surgeon will insert several fine Silhouette InstaLift sutures under your skin to gently lift the mid face and cheeks. These patented Polyglycolide/L-lactide sutures have tiny cones that hold them in place in the deeper tissues. Over time, they are absorbed by the body and stimulate collagen production in the skin, resulting in improved facial contour. Collagen is the structural protein that gives skin the supple, elastic properties associated with youthful skin.

“Silhouette Instalift takes about 45 minutes in the office and results can be seen immediately,” says Dr. Michael Gold, a dermatologist in Nashville, Tennessee. “Because it is a minimally-invasive procedure, patients have few side effects so they can resume normal activities quickly. Most people can go back to work the next day."

Silhouette InstaLift treats the deeper layer of the face without the downtime and side effects of a traditional facelift. It is a very attractive choice for anyone who wants to do something more than just creams and injectable treatments without the obvious signs of major facial cosmetic surgery. The lifting effect can last for one to two years, and results look natural without any visible scars.

“The best candidates for Silhouette InstaLift are women who have mild to moderate skin laxity, whose facial skin around the cheeks is beginning to sag and look less firm, creating an aging and tired appearance,” says Dr. Julius Few, a plastic surgeon in Chicago and New York City.

Everyone wants to look in the mirror and like what she sees. If you want to avoid the downtime, anesthesia and expense of an invasive surgery, and don’t want to deal with the ongoing maintenance of facial injections, Silhouette InstaLift may be right for you.

To find a Silhouette InstaLift practitioner near you, visit www.thermi.com.



Easy ways to lighten up your cookout

7/13/2017

(BPT) - The mouthwatering taste of grilled foods, the indulgence of rich desserts and the joy of entertaining with family and friends — a cookout is always a crowd-pleaser, no matter the time of year.

The food and fun make for a memorable time, but sometimes all those savory sauces, scrumptious salads and succulent sweets can be a little heavy. Fortunately, you can cut calories and lighten up your menu without sacrificing taste.

Try these eight ideas at your next cookout for lighter foods bursting with flavor.

Go lean: Hamburger and red meat can be high in fat content and calories. When grilling meat, opt for leaner varieties, such as chicken breasts, turkey burgers or fish. Guests will love the variety. If you just can't forgo the classic American hamburger, look for leaner meat such as a 90-10 ground mix.

Skip the barbecue sauce: A cookout without barbecue sauce? It can be done. Try marinating or rubbing spices on meats and sides instead. For example, citrus juice, olive oil and chopped fresh herbs are a healthier marinade for chicken or fish that brings out natural flavors.

Cut sugar in desserts: Bake with Stevia In The Raw, a zero-calorie sweetener with extracts from the stevia plant. Try replacing about half the sugar in any of your favorite baking recipes with Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag to cut calories and reduce sugar, while still achieving the proper browning, rising and caramelizing desired. The Bakers Bag is a smart pantry staple and measures cup for cup with sugar so there is no conversion needed.

Think outside the bun: Iceberg and butter lettuce are smart alternatives for buns for those who want to cut calories or have gluten sensitivities. If you do want to include buns in your menu, opt for whole grain rather than plain old white ones.

Drink up: Soda, punch, blended frozen drinks and adult cocktails are packed with calories. Swap or add in flavored water to the menu for a light and refreshing alternative. Fill pitchers with water, ice and add in flavor enhancements, such as sliced lemons, cucumbers, strawberries and raspberries.

Want more inspiration? Try these two recipes for decadent desserts that are ideal whether you're hosting a cookout or attending a potluck.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Sugar In The Raw + 1/2 cup Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, egg, vanilla extract and the Sugar In The Raw/Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag combo. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Slowly add nuts and chocolate chips until well combined. Drop the dough in spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving (1 cookie): 144 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, <1 g dietary fiber, 75 mg sodium.

Cranberry Crisp

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sugar In The Raw, divided
1/4 cup Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-inch square pan or 9-inch pie dish. In prepared baking dish, toss together cranberries, 1/3 cup Sugar In The Raw, 2 tablespoons Stevia In The Raw, cornstarch and zest. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, 2 tablespoons Sugar In The Raw, 2 tablespoons Stevia In The Raw, salt and nutmeg. Add butter and use your fingers to work it into flour until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle crumble mixture over cranberries. Bake until fruit is bubbling and crumble is browned, 45-50 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 220 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium, 11 g sugar.



Shining a light on sarcoma [Infographic]

6/30/2017

(BPT) - Sarcoma is among the most rare and complex types of cancer, comprising approximately 1 percent of adult cancers diagnosed. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of this rare cancer and when to see your doctor.




Five Reasons to Sleep More [Video]

6/29/2017

(BPT) - According to a sleep survey commissioned by ZzzQuil and conducted online by Harris Poll, nearly nine in 10 Americans (87 percent) report they have experienced trouble falling asleep. To help get the word out about sleeplessness in America and why it’s important to make sleep a priority for overall health and wellness, ZzzQuil partnered with Cassey Ho, a health and lifestyle expert recently named as one of Forbes’ top fitness influencers.

Ho understands the three pillars to being truly healthy. “Most people know the first two, but forget the third: eating nutritiously, exercising daily and sleeping enough,” says Ho. “Sleep is everything!”

This is why Ho is partnering with ZzzQuil to share tips on how to get great sleep! On those occasional nights when you just can’t get to sleep, ZzzQuil is a realistic solution that helps you fall asleep in as little as 20 minutes. When jetlagged, she occasionally uses ZzzQuil to help her adjust to the new time zone and get seven to eight hours of sleep to wake up the next day refreshed. That's her little secret!

Get your ZzzQuil coupon here.



Breathe easier this summer: An expert shares advice on how to manage asthma during the hotter months

7/12/2017

(BPT) - Summer is here, and while many spend their summer vacation outdoors swimming, playing sports and enjoying the sunshine, for those who have asthma, it can be a worrisome season.

While springtime is often the time people think about asthma triggers, summer weather can also cause issues for people with asthma because of the increasing heat, humidity and summer allergens. To ease some of these concerns, Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network, shared her recommendations to help asthma patients stay safe and healthy this summer. Dr. Parikh has been working with Teva Pharmaceuticals to bring you this program.

“During the summertime, the common combination of high heat and humidity can often trigger asthma symptoms. Patients should be on the lookout for early warning signs of an asthma attack while participating in outdoor activities in the summer months,” said Dr. Parikh.

With asthma attacks accounting for 1.6 million emergency room visits in the U.S. each year, Dr. Parikh advised that it is essential for those with asthma to always carry their rescue inhaler with them. And to help ensure the inhalers are always ready when needed, she recommends using one with a dose counter, which shows how much medication is left.

According to Dr. Parikh, since rescue inhalers may not always be used on a daily basis, it can be easy to lose track of how much medicine the device still contains. That can present a potentially dangerous situation if and when an asthma attack does occur. In fact, a national survey showed that nearly half of the responding asthma patients found their rescue inhalers empty at least once when they needed it during an asthma attack.

“Dose counters are very helpful in not only keeping track of how much medication is left in a device, but also in empowering patients to take control of their own care,” said Dr. Parikh. “Many parents I talked to are fond of them, especially for their adolescents with asthma. It allows them to be proactive, accountable and vigilant in managing their condition, particularly when they’re away from their parents participating in summer activities like camps and sports.”

Though the hotter months can mean additional asthma triggers, a dose counter is a helpful tool to make sure medication is available and at the ready.

“If I could offer one piece of advice to people living with asthma, it would be not to take those early warning signs lightly and to keep a close eye on your dose counter — you never want to be caught without medicine in a pinch,” said Dr. Parikh.

For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com.

Dr. Parikh has been compensated for her time in contributing to this program.



This simple test can set you on the road to a lifetime of better health

7/11/2017

(BPT) - Here's a sobering statistic for you: 20 percent of all deaths in the United States can be attributed to poor lifestyle factors and behavioral choices. It's difficult to swallow, but fortunately new research also finds that those who take the time to establish a simple screening routine improve their chances of modifying their behavior toward a healthy lifestyle.

The research, appearing in the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education, shows that individuals who had undergone a cardiovascular screening were more likely to take action to modify their lifestyles after the screening. In addition, these steps toward potential better health appear to exist regardless of the actual screening results.

The survey gathered information from 3,267 individuals who were set to receive a cardiovascular screening through Life Line Screening. Participants were predominantly over 50 years of age and mostly women. The survey respondents were divided into two groups: those who were surveyed after they had their cardiovascular screening and those who were screening-naïve, meaning they had yet to undergo a cardiovascular screening.

Both groups were asked questions about their current and future health plans and once the surveys were completed, results from the two groups were then evaluated to determine a participant’s motivation to modify their lifestyles. This evaluation took into account the act of the screening and whether the presence of a completed screening modified behavior.

Results of the research show a statistically significant difference between those who had been screened and those who hadn’t with regards to modifying future behavior. These behavior modifiers included healthy initiatives such as enjoying a healthier diet or adding exercise to a person's daily lifestyle.

Perhaps more interesting, researchers found participants were more interested in improving their healthy lifestyle after the screening regardless of their individual screening results. In addition, patients who tested normal, abnormal or even critical during their screening were all more likely to make health changes after the screening when compared to their prescreening counterparts. Those who recorded abnormal or critical results also reported being more likely to follow their doctor’s exact directions and take all of their medications on the predetermined schedule.

You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are

Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, accounting for roughly one quarter of all deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet despite this shocking statistic, many people remain unaware of their current cardiovascular health.

Enrolling in a cardiovascular screening is a fast, easy way to understand your current cardiovascular health and provide you a basis for future health care decisions. It’s an important first step and one that can ultimately lead to a healthier, longer life.

To learn more about cardiovascular screening and to find screening options in your area, visit www.lifelinescreening.com.



Beat the heat: Tips to stay healthy and hydrated

7/10/2017

(BPT) - Americans love summertime and with good reason. It is the best time for outdoor fun and travel with family. Many people enjoy outdoor activities such as bicycling, kayaking and hiking, and kids are more active with sports.

One thing to keep in mind when out and about in the summer heat is to stay properly hydrated. Unfortunately, many of us are not drinking enough water. In fact, 36 percent of adult Americans drink only three or fewer cups of water per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are some tips for healthy hydration.

Replace your electrolytes

Engaging in physical activity when it is hot outside means you lose water which has to be replaced. You are also losing electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate) which need to be replaced. Very high temperatures — especially for a prolonged period — can be dangerous, especially for seniors.

Ideally, anyone engaging in outdoor activity in the heat or even an indoor exercise program should drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during a session. If exercising exceeds an hour, a beverage that contains electrolytes is preferable to plain water. That is why most sports drinks contain salt. Of course anyone can easily make their own sports drink by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon of salt per liter or 32 ounces of water.

Replacing lost electrolytes is important because they help to regulate cardiovascular and neurological functions, fluid balance and oxygen delivery.

Avoid hyponatremia

Replacing water without sufficient salt can produce hyponatremia, a potentially deadly condition caused by too little sodium in the bloodstream. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, confusion, seizures, coma and even death.

There have been several documented cases of illness and even deaths from hyponatremia over the past several years. According to the British Medical Journal, 16 runners have died as a result of too little sodium and over-hydration, while another 1,600 have become seriously ill. It is true that water intoxication is more commonly seen among extreme athletes, but older individuals may also be at risk for several reasons.

Exercise and aging

It is important to be active but be careful not to push yourself especially in high heat. As we age, our kidneys become less efficient at conserving the salt we need when the body is stressed, such as from dehydration and high temperatures. When combined with common medications such as diuretics, which are commonly prescribed to treat hypertension, the result could be a greater risk for hyponatremia.

When you exercise, your body’s metabolism works at a much higher rate, breaking down and regenerating tissues and creating waste metabolites that need to be flushed out of your system. However, regardless of your level of activity, you still need to maintain good hydration. So remember to always drink plenty of water to beat the heat, but you may also want to up your intake of electrolytes.



Allergens and indoor air quality: 4 steps to a healthier home

7/10/2017

(BPT) - When at home, you're probably relaxing, playing with the kids or tackling chores. What you aren't likely doing is thinking about the air you're breathing. Unfortunately, the reality is poor indoor air quality in residential spaces is a major problem.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission points to a growing body of scientific evidence that the air within homes can be more polluted than the outdoor air in large, industrialized cities. In fact, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be two to five times higher inside homes than outside, regardless if the home is in rural or industrial areas.

While you can’t control the allergens and pollutants lurking outside, there are many ways to take action inside the home to improve your indoor air quality. From installing BEAM central vacuum systems to implementing smart moisture mitigation strategies, follow these four steps and breathe easier at home:

Step 1: Eliminate dust mites

Dust mites can be prevalent, especially in bedroom spaces. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bed covers in hot water that is at least 130 degrees F. to kill dust mites and remove allergens, notes the Mayo Clinic. If bedding can't be washed in hot water, put items in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 degrees F.

To further prevent mites in sleeping spaces, use dust-proof or allergen-blocking covers on mattresses, box springs and pillows. If you have kids, don't forget to wash stuffed animals regularly in order to sanitize.

Step 2: Vacuum smarter

One of the easiest things you can do to improve indoor air quality is to vacuum thoroughly and regularly on all levels. However, traditional vacuums are heavy and difficult to move to different floors. Furthermore, they can kick up more dust into the air than they are removing. Due to these concerns, many homeowners are considering the benefits of central vacuum systems.

For example, BEAM central vacuums remove air, dirt and dust vacuumed from the home, whereas conventional vacuums may filter dirt and dust but recirculate the same air via the exhaust back into the home. BEAM Central vacuum maintenance is easy because the units have a self-cleaning filter that helps improve air quality during the vacuuming process.

How do central vacuums work? These systems have one permanent, hidden power unit with inlets in walls throughout the home that attach to power hoses and accessories. BEAM central vacuum systems are engineered with motors that provide powerful suction for a deeper clean; however, with the power unit located away from the living area, the quiet hush of airflow is all you will hear.

Step 3: Freshen air wisely

Open windows aren’t always the best way to bring in fresh air. When pollen levels are high, the spores can come into a home and stick to every surface. On high-allergen days, refresh air and cool the home with fans or the air conditioner, and clean preferably with a central vacuum to maintain high indoor air quality.

As an additional line of defense against dust mite debris and allergens, you should use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter with your central furnace and air conditioning unit, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If that's too costly, the EPA says filters with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters at controlling most airborne indoor particles. No matter which you use, try to change the filter every three months.

Step 4: Mitigate moisture

Mold thrives in dark, damp climates, so it’s important to eliminate places for growth. To start, be aware of moisture levels throughout the home. Always use the bathroom exhaust fan to inhibit moisture buildup. Fix leaky faucets as quickly as possible and stay on top of maintenance for appliances like the refrigerator and air conditioner.

Additionally, consider using a dehumidifier to decrease the amount of moisture inside the home. This can be particularly important during rainy seasons or in basement or cellar spaces, if your home has them.

You can breathe easy with these four easy steps to better indoor air quality. To learn more about a healthy, clean home, visit www.buybeam.com.



Research shows California Raisins positively impact diabetic nutrition

7/5/2017

(BPT) - Research highlighted at the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions suggests California Raisins — an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun, no-sugar-added fruit — can positively affect glucose levels and systolic blood pressure among people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

“Raisins are excellent food choices for most individuals, including those with Type 2 diabetes mellitus,” said James W. Anderson, MD, Professor of Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Emeritus, University of Kentucky.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control reported that more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 86 million are living with prediabetes, a serious health condition that increases a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and other chronic diseases.

Given the magnitude of the diabetes problem, and knowing that the nutritional quality of foods is one factor that influences glucose levels and cardiovascular disease risk among patients with T2DM, a first-of-its-kind study was conducted with California Raisins and patients with T2DM.

This 12-week study among 51 individuals with T2DM found that regular consumption of raisins — as compared to a variety of popular snacks — positively impacted both glucose levels and systolic blood pressure. The research, published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal, revealed study participants who consumed 1 ounce of raisins three times a day for the duration of the study, as compared to a group that ate a comparable amount of popular snacks, were shown to have:

* A 23 percent reduction in postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels

* A 19 percent reduction in fasting glucose

* A significant reduction (8.7 mmHg) in systolic blood pressure

These findings build on an earlier study where 46 men and women with pre-hypertension were randomly assigned to snack on raisins or snacks that did not contain raisins or other fruits or vegetables, three times a day for 12 weeks. The results indicated that eating raisins three times per day:

* May significantly lower blood pressure among individuals with pre-hypertension when compared to other popular snacks.

* May significantly lower postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels when compared to other popular snacks of equal caloric value.

Both studies were conducted at the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerotic Research Center (L-MARC) by Harold Bays, MD, medical director and president of L-MARC and funded by the California Raisin Marketing Board.

“With California Raisins, the ingredient list says it all: Raisins. They’re made for healthy snacking and it’s easy to whip up delicious, diabetes-friendly dishes with raisins, too — like my recipe for California Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups. Bake a batch of these simple, no-sugar-added oatmeal cups on the weekends, and you’ll have breakfast or snacks all week long,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant, author and mother of three.

California Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups

Recipe created by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD

Makes 16 servings.

Ingredients:

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup California Raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. Whisk in the milk.

4. Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Add the California Raisins. Stir well to combine. The batter has a lot of liquid in it, so don’t worry if it looks soupy.

5. Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (1/4 cup full).

6. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving: Calories: 169, Carbohydrate: 22 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 90 milligrams.

Visit www.calraisins.org for more diabetes-friendly recipes and information about both studies.



A happy pet is a hydrated pet

6/30/2017

(BPT) - It’s a warm summer day — the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the scent of blooming flowers fills the air. As a pet owner, you’re probably planning to take your dog on a walk, maybe even several. Meanwhile, your cat has found that sunny space underneath the windowsill.

Sound familiar?

If so, then you already know how much cats and dogs enjoy basking in the sun, but just like people, over-exposure to heat can cause our furry friends to become varied versions of themselves. And too often signs of dehydration, which frequently appear in the form of lethargy, dry mouth and loss of appetite, are confused with run-of-the-mill exhaustion.

Considering all the things we do know about our pets, it’s hard to believe that we wouldn’t recognize the symptoms that accompany something as serious as dehydration. But the truth is that unless you know which indicators to look for, it can be easy to misdiagnose. That’s why the experts at PetSafe have compiled a list of tips and tricks for making sure your pet is experiencing healthy hydration all year long.

Keeping them hydrated

Water is without a doubt the single most important resource you can provide your animal, especially during hot summer months. Whether outside or inside, dogs and cats should consume around one ounce of water per pound each day. In other words, if you have a 20-pound terrier or a 20-pound tomcat, they should have access to at least 20 ounces of cool, clean drinking water every day.

It’s also important to remember that liquid can evaporate quickly in high temperatures, so if your pet’s water source is outside it’s best to check on the amount of available water several times throughout the day or consider purchasing an auto-fill watering bowl like the Drinkwell(R) Everflow Indoor/Outdoor Fountain by PetSafe.

How do I detect dehydration in my pet?

The observable signs of dehydration will frequently include one of more of the following symptoms:

· Lack of skin elasticity. You can test this by gently pinching or pulling some of their skin. If it doesn’t return to a normal position, your pet is likely dehydrated.

· Drop in energy levels

· Dry, sticky gums or foam around the mouth

· Heavier than average panting

· Loss of appetite

· Sunken, dry eyes

· Vomiting

Treatment and prevention

If your dog or cat exhibits any of these behaviors or symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary attention where they will likely monitor the body temperature of your pet.

To prevent dehydration, pet parents should consider taking active measures to encourage pets to drink more water. Products like PetSafe Brand Pet Fountains are designed to continually circulate and filter water. This not only provides dogs and cats with a steady source of fresh water, but relieves owners of the constant hassle of refilling the bowl. Plus, the sound of flowing water tends to trigger an animal’s desire to drink more.

With proper care and precaution, your pet can enjoy every season — even summer — while staying happy, healthy and hydrated. Visit PetSafe.com to find more great tips, products and articles on pet care.



Shining a light on sarcoma

6/30/2017

(BPT) - After a summer of healthy eating and exercise, Janice Nicewanner was on the road to better health when she noticed a small lump in her lower left abdomen. She assumed it was scar tissue from a past surgery, but decided to see her doctor six months later after it had grown to the size of a baseball. Shortly after undergoing surgery to remove what her doctors thought was a hernia, Janice found out she had cancer. Specifically, it was a malignant solitary fibrous tumor, a form of soft tissue sarcoma. Janice was 39 years old when she was diagnosed.

“I had never heard of sarcoma before that day,” said Janice. “The word ‘cancer’ never came up as a possibility in any of my initial conversations with my doctors until I received the diagnosis. I was completely blindsided.”

Sarcoma remains an unknown cancer to many. In fact, it is often known as “the forgotten cancer.”

What is sarcoma?

Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is among the most distinct and complex types of cancer. It has more than 50 histologic subtypes that arise from connective tissues of the body, including muscle, tendons, fat, lymph vessels, blood vessels, nerves and tissue around joints. The tumors form most often in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen, though they can be found anywhere in the body.

Sarcoma is considered a rare disease; it comprises approximately 1 percent of all adult cancers diagnosed. An estimated 12,390 new cases of STS will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, and nearly 5,000 people are expected to die of STS this year.

The challenge of diagnosis

Given the rarity and complexity of this cancer, diagnosis can be especially challenging. Sometimes a patient will need to visit several different doctors before the cancer is properly diagnosed. Patients are encouraged to see a sarcoma specialist at a sarcoma-specific treatment center to get care from a team of interdisciplinary specialists.

Treatment options

Based on where the cancer formed, different types of STS may be treated differently. Therapeutic advancements have been challenging, and the 5-year survival rates for STS have not changed much for many years. Treatments include traditional methods like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and most recently, targeted therapy.

Due to her specific subtype of sarcoma, Janice’s doctors recommended radiation. After seven weeks of treatment and months of recovery, Janice has been in remission since May 2015.

Advocating for change

“Because sarcoma is so rare and has many subtypes, there is a real gap in statistics and information. It is crucial to be your own medical advocate and seek the best care based on your needs,” she explained.

Janice is now an advocate for sarcoma patients, survivors, caregivers and family members.

“It is my mission to use my experience to educate others about sarcoma and help those impacted by the disease. My positivity carried me through my disease journey, and I am dedicated to helping others find that perspective as well.”

To learn more about STS, and for resources on the disease, visit the Sarcoma Foundation of America (CureSarcoma.org).



Pancreatic cancer: Know your family, know your risk

6/29/2017

(BPT) - Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, with a mere 29 percent one-year survival rate. In 2016, pancreatic cancer became the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer.

The time frame between diagnosis and death is often short. Only 7 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive five years. This is incredibly small compared to prostate cancer or breast cancer, where more than 90 percent of patients survive for five years after diagnosis.

"Most people are unaware of how deadly pancreatic cancer is," says Jim Rolfe, president of Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. "These chilling statistics can serve as an eye-opener that motivates people to learn more about their risks and contact their health care professional."

Early detection is important

Although pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, early detection can significantly impact survival rates. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer approaches 25 percent if cancers are surgically removed while they are still small and have not spread to the lymph nodes.

Know your family, know your risk

Family history is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. When you know more about your genetics and which members of your family have been affected by pancreatic cancer, you can better manage your own health.

To make the process easier, the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has introduced a new series of online tools. Visit www.KnowMyRisk.org to download a worksheet and access other helpful tools that let you explore your family history and become your own health advocate.

Print out the worksheet and call or visit your grandparents, parents and other extended family members. You may not be aware that someone a few generations removed from you was affected by cancer. Having this conversation can be empowering, because once you know your risks you can take charge of your future.

Consider genetic counseling

When considering how personal a cancer or disease diagnosis can be, it is no surprise that medicine is looking at our DNA to uncover information. This makes genetic counselors an important part of the health care team, helping you ask the right questions and uncover familial genetic risk factors.

If you learn you have a history of pancreatic cancer in multiple family members, you should consider meeting with a genetic counselor to assess your level of risk. From there, the counselor and your doctor can decide on a course of action.

To learn more about genetic counseling and find a local certified genetic counselor at the National Society of Genetic Counselors' database, visit www.KnowMyRisk.org.

Take charge and be empowered

"Don't take a backseat when it comes to your health," says Rolfe. "The first step toward early detection of pancreatic cancer is understanding your family history. From there, you can make informed decisions that help you live a full, healthy life."



5 eye health tips that are easy to visualize

6/28/2017

(BPT) - Writer Leigh Hunt once said, “The groundwork of all happiness is good health.” It’s a mantra you heed because nothing is more important than your health. That’s why you watch what you eat, you exercise at least three times a week and you avoid tobacco or excessive alcohol use. You’re working hard to improve your body’s overall health, but there’s one integral part of your body that you have yet to focus your health regimen on — your eyes.

It’s easy to take your eyes for granted, but they remain one of your body’s most important organs and, like the rest of your body, they will benefit from your efforts to improve their health. To support your eyes and maintain a healthy lifestyle, incorporate these five tips today.

* Consult an eye care professional. Just as you visit your doctor for your yearly checkup, you should also visit your optometrist once a year to review your eye health. Your optometrist can answer any questions you have about your eyes, and the checkup can help identify eye concerns such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration, which otherwise have no warning signs.

* Read smart. Whether it’s the morning paper, your favorite weekly magazine or a page-turning thriller, reading is one of your favorite hobbies, but sometimes the page can be hard to see. In cases like this, support your eyes with Foster Grant(R) reading glasses. Foster Grant(R) offers high-quality, non-prescription reading glasses in a wide range of strengths suited for your individual eyes. These glasses are prescription-quality lens magnification without the prescription price, and they are available in a wide array of styles, allowing you to support your style as well as your health. Remember, 50 is the new 40, and there's no reason you can't look great and see great all at the same time.

* Give your eyes some downtime. If you spend long periods of time looking at a computer screen during the day, be sure to give your eyes a rest by employing the 20-20-20 rule. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes of screen time to help reduce digital eyestrain.

* Embrace digital glasses options. Another solution to help limit digital eye strain caused from using tech devices is to add a pair of non-prescription digital eye glasses. Foster Grant(R) Eyezen(TM) Glasses not only help relax your eyes but also enhance your viewing experience. Most people spend at least 12 hours a day consuming media, according to The Vision Council's 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report, Eyes Over Exposed: The Digital Device Dilemma. The report also found that it only takes as little as two hours in front of a screen to cause digital eye strain, so start protecting your eyes today.

* An apple a day. A healthy balanced diet benefits not just your overall health but your eyes as well. Carrots have a reputation for supporting eye health, but the most beneficial vegetables are leafy greens like kale or spinach. Collard greens and fish varieties like salmon, halibut and tuna can also help support your eye health, so add them to your next meal.

You’ve already taken the initiative to live a healthier, happier life, so don’t forget to add your eye health as well. By instituting these simple changes, you’ll be feeling and seeing your best. To learn more about reading and Eyezen digital glasses options from Foster Grant(R), visit http://fostergrant.com/.



Traveling with confidence while on dialysis

6/28/2017

(BPT) - If you’d like to join your grandkids as they experience a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, hope to make this year’s family reunion or need to travel for work, there’s no reason you can’t — even if you’re on dialysis, a life-sustaining treatment that cleans the blood of toxins in those people whose kidneys have failed. Those living on dialysis require the treatment three times a week for three to four hours at each visit. With a little preparation, you can continue to get the care you need when you’re away from home so you can continue to live the life you want.

“People with kidney disease can enjoy a high quality of life that includes travel,” said Kosta Arvanitis, vice president of patient admission services for Fresenius Kidney Care, which includes travel services. “By planning ahead, dialysis patients can travel freely — even internationally — and stay with their treatment schedule for optimal health.”

To ensure your dialysis care goes smoothly, Fresenius Kidney Care recommends these tips:

Plan Ahead: Well in advance of your trip — ideally at least 30 days before you leave — talk to your dialysis nurse or social worker about your plans so your treatment center can pave the way to ensure uninterrupted kidney dialysis treatment and care. They will alert a travel services liaison who will:

* Reach out to the center nearest your destination that can accommodate your dialysis schedule and set up the necessary treatments. If you know of specific times you will have plans — say, an evening wedding or afternoon tea — be sure to let your liaison know. Two weeks before your trip, your liaison will confirm your dialysis schedule and location.

* Ensure the dialysis center you will visit has all of your medical records and laboratory results.

* Work with your insurance company to ensure continuity of coverage while you are away. Note that while you should be able to receive dialysis just about anywhere you choose to go — say you’re planning the trip of a lifetime to Australia — you may not have coverage if you are leaving the country. This may also be true if you receive Medicaid and are traveling to a different state. If that is the case, your liaison will let you know what your anticipated out-of-pocket financial responsibility will be.

* Send you a letter confirming your schedule prior to your departure.

Don’t forget identification and contact information: Bring your photo ID and insurance card to your dialysis appointment at the travel-destination center. Be sure to travel with a list of all your important phone numbers and emails, including your doctor, social worker and the dialysis center you will visit, as well as your emergency contact information.

Pack extra medication: Things happen — luggage gets lost, stays get extended — so it’s a good idea to pack extra doses of all your medications when you’re traveling, whether for your kidney disease or other conditions. Also, be sure to bring a list of all your medications and prescribed doses.

Anticipate your splurge meal: Food and travel often go hand in hand. It’s important to choose the right foods and drinks to help you feel your best. Talk with your dietitian, who can help you find kidney-friendly food whether you’re at a fancy restaurant, a family barbecue or a client dinner. Throughout your trip, keep your sodium intake to under 1,500 mg/day, don’t add table salt to your food, and eat plenty of low-potassium, kidney-friendly foods such as apples, blueberries, strawberries, cauliflower, cucumber and eggplant.

If you have a family emergency or something else that requires you to travel at the last minute, reach out to your dialysis treatment center right away. Your dialysis center will support you and do everything possible to ensure a smooth and safe trip.

If you have questions about traveling while receiving dialysis, contact Fresenius Kidney Care Patient Travel Services at 1-866-434-2597 or find out more online at www.freseniuskidneycare.com/travel-services.



Harnessing nitric oxide in a new way to combat superbugs

6/28/2017

(BPT) - They are called superbugs. As their name implies, they are difficult to treat — and deadly. Earlier this year, in fact, a Nevada woman was hospitalized following a trip to India and later died from a rare bacterial infection that didn’t respond to the 26 antibiotics approved for infectious diseases.

It is an ongoing cycle in science: bacteria evolve, researchers find antibiotics to defeat them, only for the bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance and the cycle starts all over again, posing an ongoing public health threat.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, at least 2 million people in America get serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics designed to treat those infections, and these superbugs kill at least 23,000 annually as a result.

Shortly after the Nevada woman died, the World Health Organization urged infection researchers and the health care industry to identify ways to fight the most dangerous and life-threatening superbugs.

North Carolina biotech Novoclem Therapeutics is doing just that, but with a different approach. Novoclem has a potential new weapon against superbugs, harnessing the power of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps kill harmful bacteria in the human body.

Early research shows the Novoclem pipeline of nitric oxide-based therapies has the ability to kill leading superbugs considered public health threats, such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a common, resistant strain of bacteria found in hospitals, and Mycobacterium abscessus, a bacterium distantly related to the ones that cause tuberculosis.

“The growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics is a potential problem for everyone; however, it is often a matter of life or death for those living with severe respiratory diseases,” noted Anne Whitaker, president and chief executive officer of Novoclem. “New products to combat multi-drug-resistant microorganisms are desperately needed. We are aiming to answer that need with our new nitric oxide product.”

Controlled release of nitric oxide via Novoclem’s novel technology-in-development mimics the body’s immune system response to disease-causing bacteria. Their first nitric oxide product is expected to be an inhaled formulation to treat severe lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Studies indicate the product is a broad spectrum antibiotic and can eliminate nine of the most common microorganisms found in the lungs of people living with cystic fibrosis.

Early studies show promise for the novel nitric oxide approach and additional studies are planned for this year to enable the start of clinical trials in humans next year.

If the therapy proves successful, a major public health crisis could be averted.

For more information about Novoclem and its technology platform, visit www.novoclem.com.



8 fast tips to fight fall allergies before they begin

6/28/2017

(BPT) - You made it through a tough spring allergy season and are enjoying every moment of the summer. But just when you think your allergies are under control, a new problem is brewing. In the blink of an (itchy) eye, fall allergy season will be here.

You may be thinking, "It's still summer. Why worry about itchy eyes and sneezing now? I'm feeling OK and the kids aren't ready to start thinking about school!"

"Ragweed, the biggest allergy trigger in the fall, usually starts releasing its pollen with cooler nights and warm days in mid- to late August. Ragweed season can last into September and October when the first frost hits," says allergist Stephen Tilles, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "If you suffer from spring allergies, there’s a good chance you also suffer from fall allergies."

A single ragweed plant can release a million pollen grains in a day. Winds can carry these grains for up to 100 miles, which means no matter where you live, you'll likely be affected if you're allergic to ragweed. Add to this high levels of mold spores that are common in the fall, and it's no wonder people end up sneezing and wheezing.

Dr. Tilles says the key to winning the war on fall allergies is to start early while still in the heart of summer. Here are some tips from ACAAI to consider:

1. An ounce of prevention: Take your fall allergy medications two weeks before symptoms usually begin, which can mean early or mid-August. Remember to continue your medication for two weeks after the first frost.

2. Wait on the "fresh air": Keep your car and home windows closed. Use your air conditioning to regulate temperature. When you open windows, you allow ragweed and other allergens in, and they stick to surfaces.

3. Dress like a secret agent: If you do go outside, wear a hat and sunglasses to keep ragweed pollen out of your eyes.

4. Mask out the irritants: After spending time outdoors, leave your shoes at the door. Then shower, change and wash your clothes to remove the pollen. For summer and fall yard tasks, wear a NIOSH N95-rated filter mask. Only N95 masks filter out pollen due to its micro size.

5. Have a heart-to-heart with junior: If your child is old enough, make sure they know what their triggers are before they head back to school. Teach them how to properly use any prescribed inhaler device or epinephrine auto injector. Update all prescriptions for the start of the school year.

6. School the teachers: Help new teachers understand your child’s allergy triggers and how to address them. Share your child’s treatment plan with school staff, including any medication needed during school hours. If your child has a food allergy, let the teacher know they need two epinephrine auto injectors with them at all times.

7. Coach the coaches: If your child participates in athletic activities, make sure the coach or physical education teacher knows what to do in case of an asthma- or allergy-related event.

8. Go straight to the experts: Board-certified allergists are trained to diagnose and treat your symptoms, and can create an individual action plan. If you think you or your child might be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies and asthma, go to acaai.org to find an allergist in your area and take the symptoms test.

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Advanced hearing technology offers ideal features for the summer season

6/25/2017

(BPT) - Summer is the season of hot weather, outdoor activities, vacations and other conditions that in the past posed a threat to people who wear hearing aids. Extreme humidity, sweat, rain and the occasional splash were threatening to the devices’ tiny electronic components. Carrying extra batteries everywhere and worrying about the last time you changed them was a chore. Staying connected and hearing your best in virtually any summer environment wasn’t always possible.

Fortunately, hearing aid technology has come a long way, and the latest advances mean hearing aids can now be worn with ease during the summertime.

“The purpose of hearing aids is to connect people who are hard of hearing to their world of sound. That shouldn’t be limited by the season of the year, connectivity to technology, or sound quality,” says Bill Dickinson, vice president of Audiology at Phonak.

As hearing aid technology advances, doors of opportunity to more sound environments are opened for the hearing aid wearer.

Below are some new features to help hearing aid wearers take on the summer.

Water resistant and dust proof

Various hearing aids have an IP68 rating, meaning they are water resistant and dust tight. A common cause of worn-out hearing aids is from water or dust damage. The IP68 rating prevents those factors from ruining the hearing aid and protects the wearer from damaging their hearing aids. This feature can be especially helpful during the summer; for example, if you were to be hit by a surprise thunderstorm outside, accidentally splashed by water while enjoying summer activities, or relaxing on vacation in a humid climate.

No more batteries

Many vacations also occur during the summer. There are many accessories that come with traveling with hearing aids, including a case, batteries, drying kit and cleaner. With rechargeable technology, traveling with hearing aids is simple. Your charger, cleaning tool and drying kit are combined into one charger case that can hold up to seven charges. You can save space and travel lighter with rechargeable technology.

Stay connected

Stay connected to your technology in your favorite summer spots. Talk on the phone while enjoying the sunshine, listen to your favorite music beachside and easily answer a phone call with the click of a button. Hearing accessories make it easy to enjoy moments while staying connected to your devices through your hearing aids.

Be adaptable

Summertime can lead the hearing aid wearer to a variety of listening environments. It is the season of outdoor events such as festivals and sport activities, or it could be a combination of transitioning from inside to outside at a wedding or the zoo. It is important that the wearer can hear good-quality sound regardless of where they are. Hearing aids are equipped with automatic hearing technology that switches programs depending on the environment the hearing aids are in. It allows the hearing aid wearer to be adaptable to any environment they may find themselves in.

For more information on hearing aid technology and to find a provider, visit www.phonak.com.



How much juice should kids drink? What you need to know about juice and serving size

6/22/2017

(BPT) - Selecting beverages for your children can be tricky. What should they be drinking and how much should they drink? Dr. Lisa Thornton, pediatrician and mother, breaks down new juice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and answers questions about 100 percent juice in the diet.

My kids like to drink juice, but I don’t know how much to serve them. Do you have any suggestions?

Like the whole fruit it is squeezed from, 100 percent juice is both delicious and nutritious. It is filled with important vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate and vitamin C, which make it a great beverage to serve your children. A serving of 100 percent juice is also a good option to help children meet their daily fruit serving recommendations.

In regards to portion size, follow the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children ages 1-3 can have up to 4 ounces of juice a day, kids ages 4-6 can drink up to 6 ounces a day and children 7 and older can have up to 8 ounces per day. These new guidelines were put into place to help parents manage their children’s intake.

Should I be worried about juice and weight gain?

Balance is the key to good health for people of all ages, from age 1 to 100. Guidelines and recommendations are put into place by experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help guide you to make the best decisions about the foods and beverages you serve to your family.

Scientific studies that analyzed the juice consumption of children and adults found that when juice is consumed in appropriate amounts, there is no association between drinking juice and obesity. If you are worried about the impact of individual foods on your child’s weight, consult with a professional, such as a nutritionist or pediatrician.

Does drinking juice impact fruit consumption? I’m concerned that if I serve my children juice, they will be less likely to eat fruit.

Actually, nutrition research shows just the opposite. Children who drink juice tend to have overall better quality diets than those who do not drink juice. This means they eat more whole fruit, less saturated fats and have less added sugar in their diet.

Drinking juice shouldn’t replace eating whole fruit in the diet; it should complement it. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, 100 percent juice is part of the fruit group, which consists of all forms of fruit — fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice. More than 75 percent of Americans do not eat the recommended amount of fruit; one serving of fruit juice can help to supplement your family’s intake.

Making decisions about what to feed your family shouldn’t be stressful or difficult. Consult with your physician, pediatrician or nutritionist if you are confused about what foods and beverages you should be serving your loved ones. For more information about 100 percent juice and how it fits into an overall balanced diet, visit Juice Central. Juice Central is your source for the latest information about juice, including healthy lifestyle tips, recipes and nutrition science.



3 pressing reasons to talk hearing health at your next physical exam

6/22/2017

(BPT) - When was the last time you and your doctor talked about your hearing?

The fact is, only about 3 in 10 adults who had a physical exam in the last year say it included a hearing screening, according to research conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). That’s a shame, because research shows that hearing health is more closely tied to whole health and quality of life than previously understood — which means that diagnosing and treating hearing loss early may be beneficial on many fronts.

To help people take charge of their hearing health, BHI has created a free digital flipbook, “How to Talk to Your Doctor About Hearing Loss,” which anyone can view and download at www.betterhearing.org/news/how-talk-your-doctor-about-hearing-loss.

The flipbook provides pertinent information to help consumers start the discussion, which is especially important because research shows that patients are more likely to initiate the conversation about hearing than their doctors are.

To go along with the free flipbook, BHI has put together this short list of reasons to speak up and start the conversation on your hearing:

1. Hearing loss has been linked to other significant health issues. In recent years, a flurry of studies has come out showing a link between hearing loss and other health issues, including depression, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, moderate chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, obesity, an increased risk of falls, hospitalization and mortality, and cognitive decline. With so much new and emerging research, it makes sense for people to talk with their doctors about their hearing as a routine part of their medical care.

2. Addressing hearing loss often has a positive impact on quality of life. Most people who currently wear hearing aids say it has helped their general ability to communicate, participate in group activities and their overall quality of life, according to BHI research. The research also shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic, feel engaged in life, get more pleasure in doing things, have a strong social network and are more likely to tackle problems actively. Many even say they feel more confident and better about themselves as a result of using hearing aids.

3. Leaving hearing loss untreated may come at a financial cost. Most hearing aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job. In fact, BHI research found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, the BHI research found. Health care spending may also be affected. For instance, middle-aged adults (55-64) with diagnosed hearing loss had substantially higher health care costs, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, indicating that hearing loss may place patients at risk for increased health care use and costs. The study authors suggested that early, successful intervention may prevent future hearing-related disabilities and decreased quality of life.

For more information on hearing loss, visit BetterHearing.org.



Understanding the link between salt and health

6/22/2017

(BPT) - The news lately is full of articles about salt and health. Everyone seems to be getting either too much salt or not enough. So which is it? Part of the problem is with how we study the connection. Fortunately, researchers on both sides of the issue are starting to agree on how best to proceed and may soon have a better answer for all of us. That answer may be that for most of us, there is no need to eat less salt than we do now.

The European Heart Journal recently published a report by researchers from the World Heart Federation, the European Society of Hypertension and the European Public Health Association that clarified that eating more than 5 grams of sodium per day increases the risk of heart disease, but there was little evidence that eating less than 2 grams per day had any health benefits. They recommended a safe range of between 3 and 5 grams of daily sodium. The good news is that the average American eats about 3.4 grams of sodium per day, an amount that has stayed the same for the last 50 years.

Of course more research is needed, but also better research. In the past, many studies only looked at the effect of salt on blood pressure. Today more doctors and scientists are looking at the effect salt has on your total health. The researchers agreed that your overall diet is more important to your health than a single nutrient. It’s true that a low-salt diet can lower your blood pressure slightly, but it can also place stress on other parts of your body, and that can increase the risk of bad outcomes like diabetes.

Another way research into salt and health is being improved is in the way the results are collected. In the past, people whose salt levels were being studied provided only one urine sample, but your salt levels vary throughout the day and from day to day.

A much more accurate way to study salt in people is to collect multiple urine samples over many days, not an easy task, but one that the researchers recognized produces much more accurate results. Fortunately, there is a captive group of people that scientists are studying to measure their salt intake exactly: Russian cosmonauts living in a closed environment as part of the “Mars” project. This research is already yielding some surprising results, such as more salt makes you less thirsty.

Everyone agrees that we need salt to live and that it is an essential nutrient, but getting the right amount is important. The fact is that a small percentage of people are salt sensitive and are affected by salt more than others. These individuals may benefit from less salt, but the rest of us may be put at risk from that same low-salt diet. Every person has different health needs and should follow the advice of their doctor. Placing the entire country on a low-salt diet, as some have suggested, may do more harm than good.



Health and Wellness Benefits of Volunteering

6/21/2017

(BPT) - In the business world, we hear a lot about the bottom line and quarterly reports. For those in the nonprofit sector, it’s often a matter of reaching fundraising goals and achieving their mission statement. No matter what kind of organization you work for, there are big-picture goals, but of course there are more.

Increasingly, companies are realizing that part of this big picture is giving their employees the opportunity to volunteer for worthy causes, even paying them to do so. These efforts can lead to some serious collective gains. For example, according to The Health of America – Community Investment Report, employees from the 36 independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies volunteered more than 400,000 hours and donated over $11 million in 2016 alone.

Individual efforts really do add up. Whatever program your employer has in place, here are some of the enormous personal benefits that come with volunteering.

Productivity. Many would like to volunteer but just don’t have the time. Who doesn’t want to take a little time off and get away from their busy lifestyle and just relax? In a way, volunteering can help you do just that. According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, helping or giving your time to others can make you feel like you have more time, and in turn, make you a more productive worker.

Health. Many studies have found that people who regularly volunteer tend to lead healthier lives and have a reduced risk of heart disease. The jury is still out as to why exactly this is, but giving back to others seems to reduce stress, build confidence and increase a person’s sense of satisfaction. These psychological factors play an enormous role in our physical health.

While they help create connections and build community, volunteers also get a huge amount of personal benefits from their work. Better health, a sense of satisfaction and joy that comes with helping others are only a few of the reasons why more people are deciding to give their time to others.

Community. In our digital age when everyone is engrossed in their smartphones and seem to be locked in their own world, connecting with others — whether it’s those in need or other volunteers — is more important than ever. This is what happened when BCBS companies spearheaded efforts to improve health care access for the uninsured and under-insured. Volunteers helped at mobile clinics and food banks and with educational programs, making invaluable contributions and connections in their communities.

Family. When their employer gives them the opportunity to take a day or two off to volunteer, many people bring their family along. The reason is simple: coming together to do something for others is an incredible bonding experience and can really strengthen relationships.



Top 5 ways to battle belly bloat

6/20/2017

(BPT) - Warmer weather brings sunny days, fresh breezes and plenty of flora and fauna to explore. But there's another aspect to warm weather that some people dread: swimsuit season.

Three out of four women (77 percent) have felt self-conscious while wearing a swimsuit due to body issues, according to a recent Renew Life survey, and their midsection is a big reason. Belly bloat is the No. 1 reason they feel self-conscious.

Wearing a swimsuit takes guts! Most women (60 percent) typically do something in preparation to look their best for swimsuit season. To battle the bloat and feel your best at the pool, beach and beyond, follow these five simple tips.

1. Cleanse

First, prime your body with an herbal cleanse from Renew Life. This easy three-day cleanse works with the body's natural metabolism to help eliminate waste and toxins, and relieves occasional bloating and constipation. You'll detoxify, reduce water retention and immediately feel more energized.

2. Eat smart

Avoid highly processed foods to maintain a tame tummy. These foods are typically high in sodium and low in fiber, which contributes to that bloated feeling. Some vegetables should be avoided as well. Beyond beans, avoid broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, which can cause a gassy feeling.

3. Hydrate

Staying hydrated is essential on hot days, but don't reach for carbonated drinks. The bubbles can get trapped in your belly and contribute to bloating. Instead, go for good old H2O. If you need a little flavor, add a few wedges of fresh orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit for a healthy twist that's sure to quench your thirst.

4. Maintain gut health

A properly functioning gut contains a delicate balance of bacteria to help with digestive and immune health. Without this balance, you can feel bloated and unwell. Keep your gut in check with a daily probiotic supplement like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic. Just one daily pill can help replenish the balance to help you keep bloat under control.

5. Exercise

If you're bloated, you may be more tempted to curl up on the couch rather than get active. However, exercise stimulates the bowels and helps keep your digestive tract regular. Strive to move and groove at least 15 minutes a day. Take a short walk, turn on that workout video and sign up for that yoga class — not only will you kick bloat to the curb, but you'll look and feel great.

Don't let tummy troubles keep you from doing the things you love. With these five tips you'll have occasional bloat under control and be ready for swimsuit season.



What's your nutrition game plan? [video]

6/19/2017

(BPT) - To celebrate Men's Health Month, take some time to evaluate your own health goals. Are you getting enough exercise? Is your diet including the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fats?

In this video, we learn why foods like pistachios make the ideal snack for athletes on the go, and why it's important to age ferociously rather than gracefully.



BPA free does not mean safe

6/16/2017

(BPT) - Thanks to years of attention to bisphenol A (BPA), used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, there is now quite a bit of attention to various alternatives described generically as “BPA-Free." Many manufacturers proudly apply a BPA-Free label to their products, even to products that never contained BPA in the first place.

The implication is that BPA-Free products are somehow better or safer than products that contain BPA. Never mind that the BPA-Free label is somewhat deceptive in that it identifies what a product isn’t made from rather than what it is made from.

Another topic getting a lot of attention lately is “fake news." Perhaps it’s inevitable that these two trends would cross paths, but that’s essentially what happened recently.

A group of Chinese researchers recently published a study on a substance named fluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF), which they said is a common alternative to BPA. The researchers reported that “[s]erious developmental and reproductive effects of BHPF … were observed in this study.” That led to alarming headlines such as “BPA Substitute Could Cause Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes,” which appeared in both popular media and the trade press.

The findings appear to be important since, according to the researchers, BHPF is now present in a wide variety of plastic consumer products including baby bottles and water bottles that are labelled as BPA-Free. But, as noted by Popular Science, “none of this matters if we’re not coming into contact with BHFP (sic) — it’s only a potential problem if humans are exposed to it.”

If you’ve never heard of BHPF, you’re not alone. There’s little evidence the substance has any commercial significance, and certainly no evidence that it’s widely used as a replacement for BPA.

Government databases from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicate it’s uncommon in the U.S. at best, and it’s not authorized for use in any FDA-regulated products that contact food, such as water or baby bottles. The claims that BHPF is in widespread use and that people are commonly exposed to it are simply not credible.

As suggested by the study, replacing BPA may be counter-productive if the replacement is not well-tested and found to be safe for use.

Second and more importantly, BPA is one of the best tested substance in commerce. Based on the extensive scientific data available for BPA, FDA answers the question “Is BPA Safe?” with an unambiguous answer — “Yes.”

If we listen to the science, there’s no need to replace BPA at all, especially with something of uncertain safety. So, should you be concerned about BHPF? In a word, no.



Solving the nation's water problems before the tap runs dry

6/15/2017

(BPT) - Cooking dinner, washing dishes, showering and flushing toilets — these are daily activities for most Americans. If you did any of these in the last 24 hours, you’ve contributed to the roughly 355 billion gallons of water that are used each day in this country.

Water is our most basic, physical need, but it’s also one many people take for granted. While most Americans are fortunate enough not to know a world where they don’t have access to clean water, continuing that same safe access in the future is not guaranteed. In fact, preserving the nation’s clean water supply requires significant change from current practices, along with a commitment from both utility workers and the general public to work together in solving one of America's greatest challenges.

Understanding the true cost of water

The average person uses about 70 gallons of water every single day, and this number does not factor in the water allotted for general uses such as agriculture, energy production, fire protection or manufacturing. Yet despite this myriad use, the average consumer’s monthly water bill remains around $45, far below what many Americans pay for their cell phone, a night out or their television package.

It appears a bargain, yet 50 percent of Americans surveyed by Grundfos for the Who Runs the Water that Runs America Initiative believe they are paying a fair price for water, and only 2 percent report they should be paying more when comparing their water use to their water bill. Those in the utility sector tell a different story, with 70 percent reporting they aren’t generating enough revenue to cover their costs and fund infrastructure improvements.

A side seldom seen by consumers

Jayne Swift, project manager for the global engineering firm CH2M, knows firsthand the difficulties utilities face. Responsible for water delivery in Crestview, Florida, Swift recognizes that most people don’t think about their water beyond their immediate needs. “Few people think much about where the water comes from when they turn on the faucet, or where it goes and who manages it after it goes down the drain,” she says. “We treat wastewater to protect public health, and we treat and deliver clean, safe water for consumption. When something goes wrong, we have to respond and correct the issue ASAP."

Across the nation, those issues are arising more and more often. America's water infrastructure is aging, and each year more than 240,000 water mains break at a total repair cost of more than $1 trillion. These breaks and/or leaks in the water mains account for 12 percent of the nation’s water being wasted each year. And as the infrastructure system continues to age, that number is expected to grow.

Consumer challenges around what not to flush

An aging infrastructure isn't the only challenge utility professionals face. In some communities a much larger problem already exists. For example, when Jim Holzapfel, water utility director for the city of Naperville, Illinois, is asked the largest problem his department faces, the answer comes quickly. "Flushable wipes," says Holzapfel. "They are nearly indestructible."

Naperville Water Distribution and Collections Manager Tony Conn agrees. "We have a multi-residential facility that feeds into a particular pump station. Normally we'd pull the pumps twice a year to do maintenance. But in the last four months we've pulled these pumps 53 times, all because of flushable wipes."

Holzapfel says that wipes flushed down the drain can cling and weave together. When they do, the wipes form a rope-like mass that plugs pumps and damages equipment. Sometimes this plug can be so large that it can break a 2-inch-diameter pump shaft. The plugs can be expensive for consumers as well.

Holzapfel says Naperville’s utility — which serves a population of about 151,000 — receives approximately five calls per week for sewer backups in homes. "After investigating the issue, we often find out flushable wipes have plugged their service line," says Holzapfel. "At that point, it's not a utility issue. Unfortunately, it's now an individual customer that has a sewer backup that they have to take care of and pay for."

"The word 'flushable' can be interpreted by others (the consumer) to mean something different than intended or what is recommended and/or practical," says Conn, recommending that flushable wipes are better disposed of in the trash can. "Just because it's flushable doesn't mean you should flush it."

Working together to improve water use

While water utility professionals work tirelessly to preserve the nation’s water system, they cannot do it alone. To stave off the problems threatening the nation’s water supply and make real improvements to the existing water infrastructure, it will require consumers to think about their water beyond the point it leaves their tap. It will require them to reduce their water usage and realize that if change is not enacted now, the results down the road will be even more expensive for everyone.

The Who Runs the Water that Runs America initiative is working to increase consumer awareness of the water challenges that exist in the United States. Visit www.whorunsthewater.com to learn more about the water situation in your area, how it compares to other regions of the nation and what you and your family can do to improve it. Ten minutes — the length of a shower — could make all the difference in the world.



Taking Opioids for Pain? Speak up. Ask the Hard Questions.

6/15/2017

(BPT) - Opioids often are the go-to pain killer for everything from back aches and injuries to post-surgical pain, as evidenced by the more than 300 million prescriptions written each year. While they can help with moderate to severe short-term pain, opioids are not without risk. Because they have significant side effects, including an increased risk of addiction and overdose, the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggests those who take opioids ask some tough questions — including if it is time to consider alternatives.

Kathleen Callahan understands the dilemma. She suffers from a condition that causes painful cysts that required multiple surgeries resulting in post-surgical and chronic pain for which she took opioids for years. Despite being on a high dose of opioids, she still had chronic pain. So she turned to Anita Gupta, D.O., Pharm.D., a physician anesthesiologist who specializes in pain medicine.

“When I was on opioids long-term I couldn’t function, couldn’t be involved in my children’s lives and my work was suffering,” said Kathleen. “Dr. Gupta helped me manage my pain so life is livable. Now I exercise, go out with friends and go to my kids’ activities.”

“Kathleen and I had some difficult discussions. I didn’t think the medications were helping her anymore and I was truthful with her,” said Dr. Gupta. “She asked some hard questions, and I helped her move forward and cope with her pain. Since she’s been opioid-free Kathleen is vibrant and energetic. She has her life back.”

If you are taking opioids or your physician has prescribed them, the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggests asking yourself (and your physician) some tough questions:

* Are opioids affecting my quality of life? Opioids have many side effects, ranging from severe constipation, mental fogginess and nausea to depression. Kathleen said she was “exhausted, cranky, depressed, constipated and gaining weight.” She realized the side effects of opioids were worse than the pain itself, motivating her to seek other options.

* What are my concerns about taking opioids — or stopping them? With the media attention surrounding opioid risks, many people worry they:

- are being judged by others

- may become addicted or overdose

- won’t be able to control their pain if they stop taking opioids

Ask your physician about obtaining naloxone, a drug that can reverse an overdose. If you take opioids when you don’t have pain or use more than directed, you may develop a dependence. Talk to your physicians about alternatives to manage your pain.

* Is it time to consider other methods of pain management? Opioids are most effective in the short term. If they are taken for chronic pain, they should be part of a “multimodal” plan that includes other methods of pain management, including:

- Injections or nerve blocks, which can short circuit muscle and nerve pain.

- Electrical stimulation and spinal cord stimulation devices that send electrical impulses to block pain.

- Physical therapy, which strengthens muscles to improve function and decrease pain. Whirlpools, ultrasound and massage can help, too.

- Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, deep breathing and relaxation, which help you learn how to ease muscle tension.

* What type of physician can best help manage my pain? If you have severe or ongoing pain, be sure to see a physician who specializes in pain management, such as a physician anesthesiologist. These specialists have received four years of medical school and additional training in a medical specialty, followed by an additional year of training to become an expert in treating pain. They have the expertise to best help you manage your pain.

“If I was still on opioids I would be overweight, inactive, not involved in my children’s lives and depressed,” said Kathleen. “When you have a physician like Dr. Gupta who you trust and who shows you there’s another way, it’s just amazing. It’s night and day.”

For more information, download ASA’s Asking the Hard Questions About Opioids. To learn more about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, visit www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.



Survey: Cataracts impact lifestyle; surgery brings emotional benefits

6/9/2017

(BPT) - You may know that cataracts can interfere with your ability to see clearly, but might be unaware of their impact on your emotions. Alcon, the global leader in eye care, conducted a survey of about 1,300 people age 60 and older who have undergone cataract surgery and found that almost 60 percent of respondents said cataracts made them feel annoyed, frustrated or old. Also, many respondents said that the condition makes some daily activities harder.

If cataracts are impacting your ability to perform your usual day-to-day activities, and clouding the richness and detail of life, there’s good news. Cataract surgery is common, effective and not only can improve your vision, but many patients report emotional benefits and some positive impact on their lifestyles. What’s more, 93 percent of those surveyed say they would recommend cataract surgery to someone considering the procedure.

“Cataracts impair more than just vision, they can interfere with a patient’s lifestyle and emotions,” says Dr. Lawrence Woodard, ophthalmologist and medical director of Omni Eye Services of Atlanta, Georgia. “Surgery can make a significant difference, allowing people to see more clearly and get back to doing the things they love. Many of my post-surgery patients report how happy they are to get back to their life.”

Cataract Facts

Cataracts, or clouding that occurs in the eye’s naturally clear lens, are one of the most common types of eye conditions associated with aging and one of the leading causes of age-related vision impairment in the U.S., according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). They can’t be prevented and occur naturally over time, causing the clear lens in your eye to become cloudy from the buildup of proteins. As the lens becomes cloudier, less light can pass through it into your eye and your vision becomes blurred. People with cataracts may also have trouble seeing at night, or experience sensitivity to light and glare. They may see “halos” around lights, have double vision, or feel that colors look faded.

Cataracts affect more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 and older, according to Prevent Blindness America. By 2050, that number will more than double to about 50 million, the NEI projects. While nearly everyone who lives long enough will eventually develop cataracts to some extent, certain groups are at greater risk. In fact, according to a study by the NEI, African Americans are twice as likely to develop early onset cataracts due to certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. Additionally, cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment among Hispanics, according to a study by University of Arizona researchers.

Cataracts and Lifestyle

Beyond the common symptoms of cataracts, many people affected also have difficulty with some day-to-day activities. Nearly two-in-three respondents (64 percent) report that cataracts impacted their lives before surgery, such as making it difficult to work, see colors, drive and watch TV and movies. For many, undergoing surgery brought into focus the true impact cataracts had on their lives. Nearly 40 percent of respondents say they didn’t realize just how much they were missing, or didn’t truly realize the emotional impacts of cataracts until after they had surgery. For example, more than 65 percent of people surveyed reported being surprised by the brightness and vividness of colors following surgery.

"I can see things that I couldn't see before," says John Brown (name changed to protect patient privacy), who underwent cataract surgery. "I can appreciate things I couldn't appreciate before. Now that I can see well, I can appreciate the beauty of the world. It's a life-changing thing."

Since cataracts are very common, many people who develop them may also have existing conditions that are already affecting their vision, such as astigmatism. This common condition is caused by a slight difference in the curvature of the eye’s surface, resulting in blurred vision. According to the NEI, it is most often treated with corrective glasses or contact lenses. What many people with cataracts don’t realize is that there are treatment options available that can correct both conditions in one procedure.

“Patients may not be aware that there are two-in-one treatment options that can fix both cataracts and astigmatism at the same time,” says Woodard. “By treating both conditions, they could potentially find themselves free of the glasses for distance they’ve worn their whole lives. If you’re considering cataract surgery, it’s important to talk to your eye doctor to decide what treatment option is best for you.”

Visit MyCataracts.com or call 1-844-MYCATARACT (1-844-692-2827) to learn more about cataracts and treatment options.

Dr. Woodard is a paid consultant for Alcon.

Patient "John Brown" received modest compensation from Alcon for talking about his actual experience.



Calling all blood donors: Roll up a sleeve and give where you live

6/8/2017

(BPT) - Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. In fact, approximately 36,000 blood donations are needed each day nationwide. However, during the summer months, it is typically more difficult for blood donations to keep pace with demand, and this can result in summer shortages. To help bridge the gap and encourage lifesaving donations, World Blood Donor Day serves as a reminder to give blood and platelets during this crucial time.

A will to give

Nexcare Brand is partnering with the American Red Cross to raise awareness regarding the importance of blood and platelet donation during the summer months through the ninth annual Nexcare Give program. This year’s theme is “Roll Up a Sleeve and Give Where You Live,” celebrating all those who give in their communities around the world. Limited-edition Nexcare Give bandages will be available for free to presenting donors at participating Red Cross donor sites and blood drives around the country, through June 14, World Blood Donor Day. Nexcare Give Bandages will also be available as a bonus in select Nexcare Waterproof Bandage packs at retailers nationwide, as well as by mail, while supplies last, at Nexcaregive.com.

The program comes at a time when new research from Nexcare Brand shows:

* More than one-third (36 percent) of U.S. adults have never given blood;

* More than one-quarter (28 percent) do not know their blood type;

* Despite the life-changing impact, awareness is low. More than one-quarter (28 percent) say the reason they have never given blood before is because they have never even thought about it.

To bring to light the power of blood donation, the Nexcare Give program is raising awareness worldwide about how you can get involved.

“Blood donation is a cause that’s not only important in our country and around the world, but also in the lives of people, everywhere,” says supermodel and Nexcare Give spokesperson Niki Taylor. “Every year, millions of Americans need blood, and people have the power to make a difference in about an hour that it takes to give. Now is a great opportunity to make a big impact, starting with your local community.”

One blood donation goes a long way

A single donation can help save the lives of more than one person. Patients can need blood for a number of reasons, including surgeries, treatment for various accidents, cancer and other illnesses.

Getting involved

Blood donations are an ongoing need year-round. If you’ve never given blood before, now is the perfect time to start. You can visit Nexcaregive.com to find your local blood center and visit their website to determine whether you can be a donor. Donors of all blood types are needed to give this summer. Type O negative donors are especially needed, because they have the universal blood type that can help anyone who needs blood. O negative is often used during emergencies when there is no time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Once you’ve determined whether you are eligible to donate, the next step is to contact your nearest blood center to book an appointment. You may also be able to donate at a convenient location such as your school, your workplace, a neighborhood community center or your place of worship, if a blood drive is hosted there — be on the lookout for drives in your community. If you aren’t eligible to donate blood, you can still participate by pledging your support on the Nexcaregive.com website.

You can even host a virtual blood drive through the American Red Cross SleevesUp program, which is an online tool that allows supporters to create a virtual blood drive and encourage colleagues, friends and family members to give blood or platelets in four easy steps. Visit redcrossblood.org/sleevesup to create your own campaign, or visit Niki Taylor’s page and pledge to give at rcblood.org/Niki.

To learn more about the Nexcare Give program, find blood donation centers in your area and pledge your support for blood donation to make a positive impact today, visit Nexcaregive.com.



5 reasons summer is salad season

6/8/2017

(BPT) - Summer is the perfect time to turn over a new you. With the arrival of warm weather, a relaxed schedule and summer vacations, this is the moment to invest in a new wardrobe and, of course, a new, healthier menu. When you think of summer cuisine, light and flavorful is the order of the day, and nothing captures that order quite like a fresh, vibrant salad.

Salads can be so much more than just a healthy lunch or dinner choice, thanks to their minimal prep requirements and the boatload of benefits they can deliver, such as the five posted below. So, take a mindful turn toward salads this summer and enjoy their many perks.

* A great source of vegetables — and fruits, too. You’re constantly hearing you need to eat more fruits and vegetables, so make it easy by including them in whichever kind of salad you choose. Peppers, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes are all popular salad staples, but no matter which vegetable you crave, feel good knowing that it’s a natural fit on your salad plate. And if you’re trying to up your fruit intake, you’ll find plenty of reasons to add strawberries, grapes and other delicious treats to your salad serving.

* A window of opportunity. If the idea of a salad seems same old same old, it’s time to get creative. And it’s so easy. There are virtually no rules when it comes to whipping up a salad, so don’t always settle for what you think “just has to go in there.” Seize the day and mix in what you truly want, instead. The inclusion of seafood is an easy way to add both a lean protein and the omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your body. Plus, seafood flat-out tastes great. Salmon, shrimp and crab are all excellent options.

* Easy, carefree meals. With so much to do during the summer, your life is constantly on the go. When you don’t have much time, a salad can be your best friend. Simply toss those ingredients together and grab a fork. It’s the perfect quick fix when you just want to relax after a fun-filled summer day.

* Loaded with health benefits. You already know salads are an easy, scrumptious way to satisfy your recommended vegetable intake, but did you know they can also be your path to numerous other nutritional benefits? Adding spinach to your salad, for instance, has been proven to support your need for vitamins A and K, which help your bones and your vision. Meanwhile, romaine lettuce has been shown to lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and arugula can reduce the chance you’ll get diabetes.

* New tastes every single day. Even if you don’t consider yourself the creative type in the kitchen, you can still enjoy the limitless options that salads present. The web is loaded with unique salad recipes, allowing you to sample a tasty combination you may have never tried before. For example, you can start your summer salad stretch with this inventive Island Coconut Shrimp Salad.

Island Coconut Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

1/2 of 18-ounce package of SeaPak Family Size Jumbo Coconut Shrimp

2 packets orange marmalade sauce (included in coconut shrimp package)

2/3 cup bottled ranch salad dressing

1 package (10 ounces) bagged mixed salad greens (or 1 head of lettuce, chopped)

1 mango, peeled and sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

4 tablespoons macadamia nuts or pecan halves (if desired), chopped

Directions

Prepare coconut shrimp according to package directions. In small bowl, whisk together the orange marmalade sauce and salad dressing.

Divide the salad greens, mango slices and diced peppers among 4 serving plates. Evenly top each plate with shrimp.

Pour the salad dressing mixture over each serving of the coconut shrimp salad.

Sprinkle chopped nuts over the salads and serve immediately.



5 surprising facts about dairy you should know

6/7/2017

(BPT) - Have you ever stopped to think about what a delicious cheeseburger, the dressing on your salad or your morning extra-foam latte have in common? They’re all undeniably dairy! From cow care to nutrient-packed punches, here are five facts you may not know about dairy:

1. Dairy farming is a family affair.

Every day, nearly 42,000 dairy farmers across the U.S. work hard to care for the cows that produce the milk that becomes the many dairy products everyone loves. The majority of all dairy farms — 97 percent — are family owned. Many dairy farms have been in the same family for generations, and each new generation of dairy farmers brings something new and innovative to the family farm.

2. Milk is "green" and that’s good!

Sustainability and cow comfort are priorities for today’s dairy farmers. In fact, producing a gallon of milk today takes 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than 60 years ago, according to a study by Capper et al in Journal of Dairy Science. Dairy farms reuse their water, recycling it an average of three to five times a day, and even cow manure doesn't go to waste. Many farmers reuse manure to fertilize crops, and some farmers even capture the methane produced from manure to power their farms and the neighboring communities.

3. Dairy offers more nutritional benefits than just calcium.

Dairy’s reputation as a calcium powerhouse is well established, but did you know it offers additional nutritional and health benefits? For example, one cup of milk has the same amount of protein as 1 1/3 eggs. Milk also contains B vitamins - B12, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which can help give you energy. From cheese, you can also get phosphorus, and yogurt provides zinc, too. Following a low-fat diet? Good news — lower fat versions of favorite dairy foods contain less fat but all the same nutrients of whole milk and dairy products.

4. It’s all about caring for the cows.

It makes good business sense to take the best possible care of the animals that produce your livelihood, and dairy farmers are constantly improving how they care for their cows. Cow nutritionists help determine the perfect balance of feed ingredients in cows’ diets to ensure the health of the animals. Dairy farmers also use technology to monitor the health of their cows with sophisticated collars, bracelets or ear tags that track key behaviors like activity levels, body temperature and milk production for each individual cow.

5. Dairy brings joy to summertime dishes.

Whether it's topping your burger with a slice of cheddar or enjoying fresh berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, dairy is the ingredient that makes a variety of summertime dishes so enjoyable. So next time you gather with friends and/or family, tap into a little nostalgia with this Blueberry Hand Pie recipe:

Blueberry Hand Pies

Ingredients:

2 9-inch, store-bought, ready-to-bake pie crusts

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-fat milk

Directions:

In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with flour. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Toss to combine. Set aside.

Allow store-bought crust to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour a work surface and roll out the warmed pie crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into eight rectangles about 3-by-4 inches in size. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the blueberries into the center of four dough rectangles. Place the remaining dough rectangles over the top of each blueberry filling. Use a fork to seal the edges of each pie and transfer pies to the prepared baking sheet.

Pierce the tops of the pies with a paring knife a few times and brush with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Allow pies to cool completely before icing. Use a fork to stir together the confectioner’s sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Drizzle over cooled hand pies. Serve with a glass of cold milk.

For more ways to enjoy dairy this summer, and to learn more about America’s farm families and importers, visit UndeniablyDairy.org.



Tips for managing prostate cancer

6/6/2017

(BPT) - Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men other than skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates 1 in 7 men will have prostate cancer detected during their lifetime. The disease can strike any man at any time; men who are over the age of 60, have a family history of prostate cancer, are African-Americans, or were exposed to Agent Orange have an increased risk for diagnosis.

"Hearing the words 'you have prostate cancer' can be devastating and the treatment options overwhelming. Men need to learn about and fully evaluate their options with their treatment team," says Jamie Bearse, CEO of ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer. "Our organization provides an extensive number of tools men and their loved ones can use to help them understand what a diagnosis means and navigate the treatment journey, including website content covering screening to survivorship and our case management patient support and navigation program, ZERO360."

Many people find it helpful to bring someone with them to their doctor appointments to take notes or record the session. It can be difficult to focus during conversations about the diagnosis, so having caring partners in the room can be advantageous when later trying to recall.

Tips to consider for managing prostate cancer:

P: Prepare a list of questions for your doctor. Anything and everything is okay to ask.

R: Reach out to others and learn from their experiences.

O: Outline a schedule to stay on top of your treatments.

S: Share your news with family and friends. Don’t go it alone.

T: Take time to process the news, then act.

A: Act as your own advocate throughout your treatment process.

T: Tap into activities that will help you to maintain a positive outlook.

E: Explore treatment options and act now. Innovations in care have changed the way prostate cancer is managed.

In many respects, Scott Silver was like other retired men his age. He spent time fishing, golfing and teaching, and had an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. When his PSA level rose to 3.68 (low risk) and a biopsy revealed he had prostate cancer, Scott decided to explore his options.

Says Scott, “It was important to me to identify a treatment that I believed would eliminate my cancer and minimize my chance of developing complications such as impotence or incontinence. After conducting extensive research and speaking with family and friends, I had a conversation with my doctor. Together, we decided that treatment with the CyberKnife(R) System was the right option for me. It’s been 11 years since my treatment and I continue to do well. And while each person’s experience is different, I’ve had no complications or side effects from treatment.”

Prostate cancer treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or active monitoring. Each man should consult his physician regarding his specific diagnosis and treatment options. Among the considerations that a doctor will factor into a treatment recommendation is the man’s prostate cancer classification, often referred to as his “risk” profile. One of the more innovative radiation treatments is stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which the American Society for Radiation Oncology supports as an option for low- to intermediate-risk prostate cancer.

SBRT is a radiation treatment that combines a high degree of targeting accuracy with very high doses of extremely precise, externally delivered radiation, thereby maximizing the cell-killing effect on the tumor while sparing healthy surrounding tissue. Prostate SBRT is generally five treatments delivered over one or two weeks.

The CyberKnife System is a radiation therapy device designed to deliver SBRT. The tracks and automatically corrects for movement of the prostate in real time throughout the entire treatment session. Visit www.cyberknife.com for more information.

For Important Safety Information, please visit http://www.accuray.com/safety-statement.



Taking the Mystery Out of Cancer Clinical Trials

6/5/2017

(BPT) - In 2012, Donna Fernandez was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer—a disease that claims the lives of more than 150,000 men and women in the United States each year. She went through multiple rounds of various medicines, but her disease progressed. Her doctor offered her a choice: start a new chemotherapy regimen or enroll in a clinical trial for a new type of treatment called immunotherapy.

At the time, Donna was not familiar with clinical trials or immunotherapy, but now, five years later, she is a passionate advocate for clinical trial participation and the power of immunotherapy and serves as an “ImmunoAdvocate” for the Cancer Research Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding lifesaving immunotherapy research and discovery.

The basics of cancer immunotherapy clinical trials

Cancer immunotherapy treatments harness and enhance the innate powers of the immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is widely considered to be the most promising new cancer treatment approach since the development of the first chemotherapies in the 1940s. Currently, only six immunotherapies have been approved to treat cancer, but there are hundreds of new and promising cancer immunotherapy treatments in development—only available to clinical trial patients.

Clinical trials are research studies that enable scientists and physicians to assess new treatments. For people living with cancer, clinical trial participation may have the potential to extend and improve quality of life.

“Many patients don’t know where to start when it comes to clinical trials and don’t know if or when to discuss them with their physicians,” said Donna. “I was surprised to learn that only 3 percent to 6 percent of cancer patients who are eligible for clinical trials participate, which means that more than 90 percent of cancer patients may be missing out on potentially lifesaving new treatments.”

Navigating clinical trials to find the right one

“We aim to help patients kick-start the clinical trial process. With hundreds of immunotherapy clinical trials under way at any given time, understanding eligibility criteria is an important first step for patients when searching for an appropriate clinical trial for their unique set of circumstances,” said Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute. “Cancer immunotherapy clinical trials are critical to bring new treatments based on cutting-edge science to more patients with more types of cancer, and may represent the greatest hope for patients currently facing the disease.”

Matching patients with the right clinical trial can be a complicated process, which is why the Cancer Research Institute works to provide the Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder as a free resource to help patients and their caregivers quickly search for clinical trials that match a specific cancer diagnosis, stage, and treatment history. The Clinical Trial Finder has a brief questionnaire to help narrow the list of potential trials and patients are also able to speak confidentially with a Clinical Trial Navigator about the clinical trial process and even opt-in to receive updates as new trials are added.

Key questions to ask before enrolling in a clinical trial

Donna encourages all cancer patients to ask their physician about their eligibility for open cancer immunotherapy clinical trials for their type of cancer. It is important to ask about the short-term and long-term risks and benefits compared to standard treatment, as well as the clinical trial treatment protocol and site location, any potential impact on daily life, and ask about associated costs related to the trial, tests or treatments. In addition to providing this valuable information right at the start, physicians are also able to help patients identify resources that might be able to assist with certain barriers to participating in clinical trials—like costs and travel expenses.

“Today, cancer immunotherapy clinical trials have the potential to provide new hope to many patients facing the same situation that I was—a diagnosis that was previously considered incurable,” said Donna. “By participating in an immunotherapy clinical trial, I had the opportunity not only to access a lifesaving treatment, but also to help advance research to bring new immunotherapies to more patients in the future. I hope that more patients participate, gain access to revolutionary research and help uncover cures for all cancers through immunotherapy research.”

For more information on cancer immunotherapy and how to match with an open clinical trial, visit the Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder at https://www.cancerresearch.org/patients/clinical-trials.



Tips to help families cope with Alzheimer's, mitigate tensions and relieve stress

6/2/2017

(BPT) - Receiving an Alzheimer's diagnosis is never easy — it's life changing, not only for the person receiving the diagnosis but for their family members as well. The disease can exact a devastating toll on family relationships unless everyone pitches in to support caregivers and take steps to secure the financial future of the person with Alzheimer's. These are a few important takeaways from a new survey by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The survey of more than 1,500 American adults, including current and former caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s, found that while 91 percent agreed caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia should be a team effort, too many caregivers feel they’re not getting the support they need. Eight-four percent of caregivers said they would like more support, particularly from family, and 64 percent felt isolated and alone.

Family stresses

“Caring for someone living with Alzheimer's can be overwhelming and too much for one person to shoulder alone," says Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Without help, caregivers can end up feeling isolated, undervalued and lacking support from the people they want to be able to turn to for help.”

The survey found relationships between siblings to be the most strained, stemming from not having enough support in providing care (61 percent) as well as the overall burden of caregiving (53 percent). Among all caregivers who experienced strain in their relationships, many felt like their efforts were undervalued by their family (43 percent) or the person with the disease (41 percent). Contributing to the stress were a lack of communication and planning; 20 percent of survey respondents said they had not discussed their wishes with a spouse or other family member, and only 24 percent had made financial plans to support themselves post-diagnosis.

Tips to help families navigate Alzheimer's

Despite its seriousness, some families grew closer following an Alzheimer's diagnosis, according to the survey. More than a third of those surveyed said caregiving actually strengthened their family relationships, and two out of three said they felt the experience gave them a better perspective on life. Relationships between spouses/partners benefited the most.

The Alzheimer’s Association online Caregiver Center offers wide-ranging resources to help families navigate the many challenges associated with the disease. During June — Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month — the Association is offering tips to help mitigate family tensions and relieve caregiver stress, including:

* Communicate openly — Establishing and maintaining good communication not only helps families better care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s, it can relieve stress and simplify life for caregivers, too. Families should discuss how they will care for the person with Alzheimer’s, whether the current care plan is meeting the person's needs, and any modifications that may be warranted.

* Plan ahead — In addition to having a care plan for how to cope as the disease progresses, it’s important to have a financial plan as well. The survey found 70 percent of people fear being unable to care for themselves or support themselves financially, but only 24 percent have made financial plans for their future caregiving needs. Nearly three-quarters said they would prefer a paid caregiver, but just 15 percent had planned for one, even though Alzheimer’s is one of the costliest diseases affecting seniors. Enlisting the the help of qualified financial and legal advisers can help families better understand their options.

* Listen to each other — Dealing with a progressive disease such as Alzheimer's can be stressful and not everyone reacts the same way. Give each family member an opportunity to share their opinion. Avoid blaming or attacking each other, which can only cause more stress and emotional harm.

* Cooperate and conquer — Make a list of responsibilities and estimate how much time, money and effort each will require. Talk through how best to divide these tasks among family members, based on each person’s preferences and abilities. If you need help coordinating the division of work, the Alzheimer Association’s online Care Team Calendar can help.

* Seek outside support — Families can benefit from an outside perspective. Connect with others who are dealing with similar situations. Find an Alzheimer’s Association support group in your area or join the ALZConnected online community. You can also get around-the-clock help from the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline at (800) 272-3900.

"Having the support of family is everything when you’re dealt a devastating diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s,” says Jeff Borghoff, 53, a Forked River, New Jersey, resident who has lived with younger-onset Alzheimer’s for two years. “My wife, Kim, has been my rock as we navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s. It’s easy to want to shut down following a diagnosis, but that’s the time when communication within families is needed most.”



Hey guys. Is your good health a perception or reality?

6/1/2017

(BPT) - When it comes to health, perception is not always reality. This is especially true when considering how men care for themselves when faced with a health condition. In fact, while most men would say they are more focused on their health than they have been in the past, physicians report a different truth. This difference is especially concerning when it comes to treating chronic conditions, because failure to follow treatment regimens may lead to bigger health problems in the future.

Missed appointments and opportunities

According to research from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which surveyed its member physicians, one in five doctors said up to half of their male patients failed to fill a prescription. In addition, one in three doctors said that up to half of their male patients did not take a prescription as directed. Four in ten reported that up to half of their male patients failed to follow up with a regular routine test when ordered for their condition.

In addition, nearly a quarter of surveyed doctors said up to half of their male patients failed to show up for planned follow-up visits.

These missed opportunities come at a time when chronic conditions among men continue to rise. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Survey, diagnoses of three common, yet potentially severe, conditions all have increased year over year. The data shows that cases of high blood pressure (4 percent increase), high cholesterol (5 percent) and diabetes (2 percent) have all seen notable increases.

“People may not take these conditions seriously because they don’t have any noticeable symptoms, and that’s a big mistake,” says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the AAFP. “High blood pressure and high cholesterol have been called ‘silent killers’ for a reason. If they aren’t controlled, they can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. In addition to these complications, uncontrolled diabetes also can cause blindness, nerve damage and loss of limbs.

“So it’s vital that men see their doctors, get preventive care and follow instructions for any chronic diseases they may have.”

Finding solutions for ongoing care

Fortunately, taking a more proactive approach to health care is easier than most men think. A visit to your family physician is the first step toward taking charge of your health and identifying any health issues. Your family physician will help you learn about any chronic conditions you might have and how to treat them. For health information that is easy to understand, visit familydoctor.org. You’ll find a men’s guide to preventive health care, and information about healthy diets and weight control. Follow the advice provided here, as well as your doctor’s recommendations, and you’ll turn your goal for good health from simple perception into reality.



Tips for managing summer stress

5/31/2017

(BPT) - Each summer we look forward to the sunny weather, schools closing and the vacations. However, managing your or your family’s play, travel and work schedules can be stressful.

According to United Health Foundation’s 2016 America’s Health Rankings, the average number of days per month adults unfavorably assess their mental health ranged from 2.4 days in South Dakota to as high as 4.7 days in Arkansas and West Virginia. The national average is 3.7 days.

Poor mental health days can affect every aspect of one’s day, from your drive to work to running errands before your child’s soccer practice. So what can be done about managing stress and preventing tough days ahead?

First, we must understand that stress is here to stay — a modest amount of stress, offset by periods of relative calm and security, is normal. But high levels of stress can be dangerous to your health, leading to headaches, back pain, fatigue, upset stomach, anxiety, depression and heart problems.

Recognizing stress

Stress is a physical and psychological response to a demand, threat or problem. It stimulates and increases your level of awareness, also known as the "fight or flight" response. The response occurs whether the stress is positive or negative. Positive stress provides the means to express talents and abilities. But continued exposure to negative stress may lower the body's ability to cope, which may lead to prolonged health issues.

Your signs of stress may be different from someone else's. Some people get angry. Others have trouble concentrating or making decisions, and still others will develop health problems. The good news is that stress can be managed, according to Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., National Director of Health Strategies at UnitedHealthcare.

O’Brien offers these five tips to help manage stress:

Take care of yourself Eat healthier, engage in moderate exercise and get enough sleep — all of which can improve your health.

Figure out the source Monitor your mental state throughout the day. Keep a list of the things that create stress. Then develop a plan for dealing with these common stressors.

Do things you enjoy Go to a movie, meet a friend for dinner or participate in an activity that provides relief. Give yourself a break and take time to care about yourself.

Learn relaxation techniques Deep breathing is helpful. Meditation as well as “mindfulness techniques” are becoming increasingly popular at home and in the workplace. You can practice mindfulness while sitting in a quiet place or walking. The key is to focus on your breathing or your steps. The technique may be simple, but achieving the desired result takes practice.

Welcome support Let close friends or relatives know you’re dealing with stress. They may be able to offer help or support that may make a difference.

Remember, stress is your body’s natural defense mechanism, but being under stress for too long can have a serious negative effect on your health. If you notice stress is becoming an issue for you, talk with your doctor.

For more health and wellness tips, visit UHC.com.



Tips to help save money on prescription drug costs

5/31/2017

(BPT) - Modern medications can work wonders, improving quality of life, curing illness and even saving lives. However, those miracles can come at a high cost, as anyone who’s had to pay for branded prescription medication knows. In fact, spending on prescription drugs has increased 73 percent in the past seven years, according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).

What’s driving the increase

The Health of America Report found prescription drug spending by Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members increased 10 percent annually since 2010. High costs of patent-protected drugs account for the lion’s share of the total increase.

Generic drugs account for 82 percent of total prescriptions filled, but account for just 37 percent of total drug spending. By contrast, patent-protected prescription drugs comprise less than 10 percent of all prescriptions filled but account for 63 percent of total drug spending, the report found.

“Experience and past price trends suggest drug costs will continue to rise in the future,” says Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for BCBS. “The need for more affordable generic alternatives to costly patent-protected brand-name pharmaceuticals is urgent. As prices continue to rise, more consumers will be looking for ways to curb the cost of their medications.”

What you can do

It is possible to lower your drug costs while still taking the medications your doctor has prescribed to help your health. BCBSA offers some guidance:

* If your doctor prescribes a costly name-brand medication, ask your physician or pharmacist if a generic version is available. Generic drugs are identical to their brand-name equivalents in dosage form, safety, strength and quality, how you take them, performance and intended use, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Generics typically cost less than name-brand medications. The BCBSA report shows how costs for medicines like Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Avapro (irbesartan) plummet when generic alternatives become available.

* It may be possible for your doctor to prescribe a higher strength than you need of a particular medication and allow you to split the tablet or pill to get the lower dose you need at a lower cost. In fact, many pills that can be safely split come pre-scored with an indentation that makes it easier to cut them in half. However, not all prescription medications can be safely split, so be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it’s safe to split your medications.

* Ordering prescription medications through the mail could lower drug costs, but it’s important to ensure you’re buying from your pharmacy benefit manager, typically listed on the back of an insurance card. The FDA recommends you only purchase drugs from organizations located in the U.S. and licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the company operates (find a list of state boards of pharmacy at www.nabp.info). The mail order pharmacy should have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions, require a prescription from your doctor in order to sell you medication, and have someone you can talk to directly if you have questions or problems.

* Another way to reduce drug costs is to ask your doctor to write your prescription for a 90-day supply so that you will get a three-month supply of the medication for the price of one co-pay.

* Finally, review your prescriptions with your doctor at least every six months to ensure you’re not taking any more medicines than you absolutely need. However, never skip doses of medicine, avoid refilling a prescription or stop taking medicine altogether without first consulting your doctor.

For more information about prescription drug costs, and to read the full Health of America report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners and used for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.



How One Company Used Virtual Reality to Educate Doctors about Adults with ADHD

5/31/2017

(BPT) - Have you ever struggled to explain what you were feeling to your doctor or healthcare professional? If so, you may have wondered if there was a way to help your doctor see the world through your eyes. Virtual reality technology is one way companies are working to help bridge the gap between what patients feel and what they are able to express, offering healthcare professionals a fresh perspective on their patients experiences.

Shire recently brought an immersive virtual reality experience to put healthcare professionals into the shoes of a hypothetical adult with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While onsite at the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) 170th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California attendees had the opportunity to experience ”A Day in the Life” simulation of an adult with ADHD in three settings.

“Shire has been committed to helping patients with ADHD and the healthcare professionals who treat them for the last two decades,” said Mark Rus, Head, U.S. Neuroscience Franchise at Shire. “We saw this incredible opportunity to help better educate healthcare professionals about adults with ADHD through this immersive technology, and hope that those who participated walked away with a better perspective and greater understanding and empathy for patient needs.”

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5(R)), ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity.

Some of the settings and daily realities the immersive virtual reality experience brings to life include:

*In the home, adults may often experience symptoms such as not seeming to listen when spoken to directly, forgetfulness in daily activities and losing things necessary for tasks and activities.

*After work, adults may have social activities and obligations. Adults may often experience symptoms such as difficulty sustaining attention in conversations, fidgeting with or tapping hands or feet, squirming in seat and interrupting or intruding on others.

*At work, adults may often experience symptoms such as failing to follow through on instructions and finish tasks, being easily distracted (including by unrelated thoughts) and exhibiting poor time management and organization.

These are not a complete list of ADHD symptoms. Having some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have ADHD. Only a healthcare professional can accurately diagnose ADHD.

Shire’s immersive virtual reality experience provided a first-hand look at how ADHD symptoms may impact adults with ADHD across different settings during their day. The experience reached more than 300 healthcare professionals at the meeting.



Young adults seek opioid alternatives for pain relief after wisdom teeth extraction

5/30/2017

(BPT) - Summer vacation is the time of year students of every age look forward to. Warm weather, no school or homework, and summer travels — there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the break from the classroom. However, it's not all fun and games, especially for college students. Summer break is also the busiest time of year for wisdom teeth extractions, and if complications arise, the procedure could be problematic long past summer’s end.

A common prescription

Those who have had their wisdom teeth extracted can attest that the pain associated with the procedure can be excruciating and long-lasting. Because of this, many dentists and oral surgeons also prescribe opioids to patients to help them manage their pain. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that dentists are among the leading prescribers of opioids. The research also finds that these medicines are most commonly prescribed for surgical tooth extraction for patients between the ages of 14 and 24.

Finding a better alternative

While opioids remain the popular course of pain relief in instances of wisdom tooth extraction, more and more oral surgery patients — and/or their parents — are becoming interested in non-opioid alternatives. The addictive properties of opioids are part of this concern, but increasingly there is also consideration being paid to their other side effects.

New research from Nielsen’s Harris Poll Online, sponsored by Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc., finds that 90 percent of survey respondents said they experienced adverse side effects after taking opioids. These side effects included nausea, vomiting, confusion or feeling “spaced out,” all of which impaired their daily activities. Respondents also reported being unable to drive, go to school, work or participate in sports for several days.

These experiences associated with opioids, in addition to potential addiction concerns, are motivating many to seek alternatives for pain relief after wisdom tooth extraction. The same study found 70 percent of oral surgery patients would choose a non-opioid medication for pain if they were given the choice. Eighty percent said they would be interested in an alternative even if it resulted in a higher expense.

However, despite the clear demand from patients, the industry appears slow to move forward. Seventy percent of respondents reported that they were prescribed an opioid after having their wisdom teeth out.

Realigning on care options

“It’s evident that opioids continue to be the cornerstone of pain management following third molar extraction, despite their association with unwanted side effects and the risk for abuse or addiction,” says Dr. Pedro Franco, Immediate Past President of the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. “This research shows us that an overwhelming majority of patients — many of whom are likely exposed to opioids for the first time following an oral surgery procedure — would prefer a non-opioid option. I am hopeful that these findings will encourage clinicians and patients alike to be more proactive in their pain management discussions, especially as it relates to the availability of opioid alternatives.”

While patients — or their parents — may not be used to discussing such things with their health care providers, it’s an opportunity they can’t pass up. Discussing pain management options — including non-opioid options and long-acting local anesthetics — with your oral surgeon remains the most effective way to feel comfortable about your wisdom teeth treatment, both at the moment of the procedure and all along the path to recovery.

For a list of questions you can ask your oral surgeon prior to surgery, visit www.oralsurgeryprep.com.



Sore knees? 3 reasons to participate in a clinical trial

5/29/2017

(BPT) - Designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, clinical trials are the only way medical advances can move knowledge and science forward. In regard to knee pain, clinical trials offer the newest and latest ideas on finding better ways to treat pain.

People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. For Debra Tongue of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a clinical trial provided a chance for a life-changing opportunity. An active mother of three and grandmother of two, Tongue was devastated when she tore her meniscus — a tissue pad between the thigh and shin bones. As a personal fitness trainer and avid sports enthusiast, Tongue went from a very high activity level of biking, hiking and running to having immense knee pain during any kind of physical activity. She underwent a meniscectomy, the surgical removal of the torn meniscus, but constant pain and swelling in her knee persisted. She was told she was too young for a knee replacement.

At age 46, Tongue made the decision to participate in a clinical trial to receive the NUsurface Meniscus Implant — the first “artificial meniscus” designed to replace the damaged one in patients like Tongue with persistent knee pain due to injured or deteriorated meniscus cartilage. The implant, which is made of medical grade plastic and inserted into the knee through a small incision, can serve as an opportunity to treat knee pain and keep patients active until knee replacement surgery is a viable option. The clinical trial is part of regulatory process to gain permission to allow the device to be distributed in the U.S.

“After receiving the NUsurface Meniscus Implant and undergoing a 12-week rehabilitation program, I felt back to normal and ready to take on the world,” Tongue says. “In fact, I was even able to go on a trip to India with girlfriends for a two-week retreat at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. The NUsurface Implant gave me a second chance to enjoy life the way I did before.”

Are you suffering from knee pain and considering enrolling in a clinical trial? Here are three reasons it may be the right choice for you:

1. You’ll get access to treatment not yet available in the U.S.
If you enroll in a trial, you could have access to treatments that are not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but could potentially work better than existing options to reduce pain or manage a disease.

2. You’ll receive high-quality care.
There are strict rules for clinical studies that have been put into place by the National Institute of Health and the FDA. In addition, all U.S. clinical trials must be overseen by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to make sure patient risks are as low as possible and that proper trial procedures are followed. Patients in clinical trials are monitored closely by their doctor using advanced diagnostic techniques, and information about you will be carefully recorded and reviewed.

3. You’ll help advance science.
Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future who have their same condition. By participating, you can provide researchers with the information they need to continue developing new procedures, medical devices and treatments.

To be eligible for the NUsurface Meniscus Implant clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, have pain after medial (the inside of the knee) meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit www.activeimplants.com/kneepaintrial.



5 clever hacks to simplify any family's morning routine

10/26/2016

(BPT) - Getting the family out the door on time every morning is no small feat. Seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed, packing backpacks and making breakfast can quickly turn into chaos. Before you know it, you're running late and the kids haven't even eaten as you dash to the car.

Stop dreading the stressful start to the day and start taking control of your mornings. A few simple tips and tricks will turn the morning craze into smooth sailing. Plus, when you have a stress-free start, the rest of the day just seems to go better.

Select a week's worth of clothes Sunday night.
Instead of choosing outfits the night prior, supersize your time-saving efforts by doing this task just once on Sunday night. Involve kids in selecting their clothes for the week so they feel empowered in their choices. Then hang entire outfits in the closet or stack in one drawer dedicated to weekday wear. When mornings come, kids know exactly where to find the day's duds. Bonus: you don't have to worry about midweek laundry.

Create a routine and set alarms.
Create a morning routine and stick to it. For example, kids wake at 7 a.m., eat breakfast at 7:15 a.m., get dressed and ready at 7:30 a.m., then out the door by 8 a.m. And if the kids need to share a bathroom, set a daily bathroom schedule with alarms to keep kids on track and avoid arguments in the morning.

Get ready before waking up the kids.
Trying to ready yourself for the day while helping the kids is a recipe for disaster. This is why waking before the rest of the family really makes mornings happier. Try getting up 30 minutes before the kids so you have time to get ready and enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll be fully awake, much happier and can focus on helping the kids stay on-task.

Create morning rules.
Just like you don't let kids eat dessert before dinner to ensure they eat well, set rules for the morning to keep things moving. For example, no TV until all morning tasks are completed. For teens, smartphones and other mobile devices must remain on the kitchen table until they are ready to go.

Sundays = meal prep.
Make a week’s worth of PB&Js on Sunday and put them in the freezer. This way lunch items are ready to go and the sandwiches will be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. For breakfast, make it easy for kids by setting out shelf-stable items they can make themselves. New Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread keeps mornings interesting. Set out a jar by a loaf of bread and kids can quickly make a tasty sandwich they'll devour. Learn more at jif.com.

Want to up the ante for breakfast without spending any extra morning time in the kitchen? Try this recipe for delicious overnight oats that can be made in the evening and customized for each family member.

Protein Power Packed Overnight Oatmeal Recipe
Courtesy of WhipperBerry.com

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Serves: 1-2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled-oats
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries
Large spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread (or Maple if you prefer!)
1 to 1-1/2 cups milk (basically cover what's in your jar)

Optional:
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey

Instructions:

1. In a large jar, layer your ingredients starting with about a 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats.

2. Then add about a 1/2 cup of your favorite yogurt, your favorite nuts and fruit.

3. Next, add a spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread

4. If you want, add chia seeds and a drizzle of honey and vanilla extract.

5. Cover with your favorite kind of milk. You can use cow, almond, coconut or soy milk.

6. Gently stir your ingredients, top with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, you'll have a jar full of yummy oatmeal ready and waiting for you. Choose to eat it cold or warm it up in the microwave.



Farming program helps neighbors in rural America fight hunger

10/26/2016

(BPT) - Although the United States produces much of the world’s food, 48 million people in the country are food insecure, lacking access to enough food to sustain a healthy, active lifestyle. What's even more surprising is that many of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are located in rural communities, the very places growing the bulk of this food.

According to Feeding America’s study Map the Meal Gap 2016, rural counties are more likely to have high rates of food insecurity than more densely populated counties. In fact, 54 percent of counties with the highest rates of food are in rural areas. Rural areas also account for 62 percent of counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity.

While shocking to many, these numbers don't surprise Michelle Sause, Assistant Director of Network Relations at Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha. Her work with the food bank covers more than 78,000 square miles and spans 93 counties.

"The majority of our counties are rural communities," says Sause. "We serve over 530 network partners that include pantries, meal providers and backpack programs, Kid’s Cafe and summer feeding programs."

Some of the challenges in providing food to food-insecure families are unique in rural locations compared to metropolitan areas. These pantries often have limited resources, supplies and volunteers, which makes it difficult to secure meals for people struggling with hunger.

"We have two main challenges — transportation and establishing partnerships with donors in our rural communities," she says. "With a service area that spans over 78,000 square miles, transportation can be a challenge."

Sause adds, "Another challenge is finding and securing relationships with donors. This challenge is partly because our communities really want to take care of their own and when a large agency from a bigger city is coming in, it can feel threatening."

There is a tradition of helping your neighbor in rural communities, including Sause’s. Invest An Acre is a program working hard to uphold that tradition.

Invest An Acre is a program of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, designed to engage farmers, agribusiness, and rural communities in the fight against hunger in rural communities across America. Farmers can donate a portion of their crop proceeds at their local grain elevator, by check or online. Donations are doubled by matching partners, and the full amount is distributed directly to eligible local food banks and pantries. This means 200 percent of what a farmer gives goes back to the local food back of that town, and the people who need it most.

Food Bank for the Heartland — just one of many organizations working with Invest An Acre to fight rural hunger — has received more than $50,000 through the program.

"At Food Bank for the Heartland, we have found the best support is locally sourced," says Sause. "Thank you to the generous farmers who have donated through Invest An Acre and who have encouraged fellow farmers to participate too. You are making a difference in the lives of hungry children, families and seniors."