Health and Wellness

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 the Unpredictability of Multiple Sclerosis in the Heat

7/19/2017

(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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.” However, July is unofficially recognized as Sarcoma Awareness Month by the thousands of patients and their families impacted by the disease.

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.”

Raising awareness of sarcoma symptoms can help lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment and support for sarcoma patients and their caregivers. A total of 100,000 signatures are needed to officially designate July as Sarcoma Awareness Month. To show your support for sarcoma patients and survivors like Janice, sign the petition by July 28, 2017.

To learn more about STS, and for resources on the disease, visit the Sarcoma Foundation of America (CureSarcoma.org).



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.



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.



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.



'BPA-Free' meets 'fake news'

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.

The label is deceptive because you could never be harmed by something that is not present, but you could be harmed by something that is present. In that light, a BPA-Free label might be viewed as equivalent to a label that declares buyer beware, although a product manufacturer would never use that label.

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.

It’s not only product manufacturers that are interested in BPA-Free. Many scientists have recognized an unexplored field that is ripe for research and are now conducting studies on substances that are said to be alternatives to BPA. If BPA-Free were a substance, it’s now being studied — and that’s the origin of the fake news.

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 and amplified by the media, 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 that 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.

In spite of the shortcomings of the research, and the media coverage that lacked much fact-checking, the theme of the study reveals two underlying truths. First, 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. You’ll probably never even come into contact with it.

A better question is whether you should be worried about products that contain BPA or are labelled as BPA-Free? The choice is yours, but keep in mind that BPA is well tested and confirmed to be safe. The replacements, well, not so much.



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 that 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 take action.

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 CyberKnife(R) 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(R) System is a radiation therapy device designed to deliver SBRT. The system’s unique ability to continually track and automatically correct for movement of the prostate in real time throughout the entire treatment session provides distinct advantages when treating a tumor, which can move as much as 10 mm in as little as 30 seconds. Visit www.cyberknife.com for more information.

Two CyberKnife System prostate SBRT studies have recently reported on long-term (five-year) outcomes. These are the largest prospective multi-institution studies conducted to date and provide robust clinical data supporting the safety and efficacy of the system for men like Scott with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer.

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.”



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.



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.



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 simple ways parents can make the world gentle for baby

5/25/2017

(BPT) - The big day has finally arrived and your newborn is here. Your baby is as perfect as you imagined and you’re filled with a love you never knew existed. Even before she or he arrived, you started making more careful choices and looked for gentle alternatives with natural-based ingredients for your little bundle of joy.

One thing that needs to be considered when seeking out gentle options for babies is their skin — and that starts with the precious threads in babies’ clothing, according to pediatric dermatologist Dr. Jody Levine.

“As a pediatric dermatologist and mother of five, I know that babies’ skin can go through many changes throughout infancy, and the majority are perfectly normal,” Levine says. “There are simple ways parents can protect babies’ skin from irritants, such as pre-washing clothes before first wear and choosing gentle fabrics.”

Levine offers parents some tips on how to keep the world gentle for your little one:

1. Moisturize when needed.

Peeling skin around the wrists and ankles is a normal part of a baby’s development, and requires no treatment. However, if dry or sensitive skin persists after the first few weeks of life, special care may be needed. Keep baths short, use water that’s warm, but not hot, and a small amount of gentle cleanser. For babies with dry skin, moisturize twice daily using an ointment or a cream, preferably one with many ceramides.

2. Choose the gentle fabrics.

Infant skin is definitely more sensitive than adult skin, so the fabrics you put against your baby’s skin can affect her comfort and skin health. Choose light, comfortable clothes that are free of pleats or seams that can put unnecessary pressure on a baby’s skin. Fabrics should be soft and absorbent, such as cotton or cotton blends like cotton polyester or cotton spandex.

3. Wash clothing before using it for the first time.

"Nine out of 10 dermatologists recommend parents wash baby’s clothing before wearing it for the first time, according to a survey by Dreft laundry detergent and I agree," Levine says. While 97 percent of parents surveyed by Dreft said they believe it’s important to pre-wash baby clothes, just 40 percent actually do so every time. New clothing can harbor dirt, excess dyes and processing chemicals, so it’s important to pre-wash clothes using a gentle, yet effective detergent like Dreft purtouch that is 65 percent plant-based and made from naturally derived ingredients. Wash your newborn’s clothing separate from the rest of the laundry.

4. Use products specifically made for babies.

When choosing a skin care product for your baby, such as sunscreen, look for one specifically designed for use on infants. These baby products have been tested and proven to be gentle and less irritating to a baby’s skin. For example, baby sunscreen, which parents should start using after a baby turns 6 months old, usually contains physical blocking elements like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, rather than the chemical blockers used in some adult sunscreens.

5. Do your best at diaper duty.

The diaper region requires extra attention since it’s prone to wetness and irritation. Change your baby’s diaper frequently, especially when it’s wet or soiled. A more absorbent diaper will help keep moisture away from baby’s skin longer. Always dry the diaper area well after cleaning or a bath. If your baby is prone to diaper rash, try a zinc-based diaper cream with every diaper change to help soothe and protect skin.

“All parents want to care for their baby in the best way,” Levine says. “Little things, like prewashing new baby clothing in a gentle baby detergent and moisturizing as needed, can help keep the world gentle for your little one and his or her skin.”



When that nagging cough is actually something more

5/25/2017

(BPT) - Working mom Betsy had a fulfilling career and a loving family. The only thing standing in the way of her ability to fully enjoy her life was a persistent cough that just wouldn’t stop. Eventually, instead of doing the things she enjoyed, like spending time with her twin boys or going to dinner with friends, her life became something else entirely. That nagging cough — over and over again — coupled with difficulty breathing and fatigue made her feel weaker and weaker.

Betsy had a history of spontaneous lung collapses and a cough that would come and go, but her symptoms gradually became worse and began to impact her life. After a visit to her doctor, Betsy was diagnosed with bronchitis and given remedies to soothe her coughing. When weeks passed and she saw no improvement to her health, she knew she had to find answers.

“I tried to read my boys books at night and it was a real struggle just to get through the book without coughing... Not knowing what was happening to me, nobody being able to give me any answers, it was really scary.”

As Betsy’s coughing and fatigue became progressively worse, her doctor ordered a CAT scan and a sputum culture. The results of these tests provided an answer for Betsy and her doctor — she had a chronic and progressive lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM.

About NTM

NTM lung disease is an infection caused by bacteria that is inhaled through the nose and mouth. NTM bacteria can be found in a variety of environments, from tap water to soil in parks and gardens. In fact, one study across 25 states showed that NTM bacteria was found in nearly eight out of ten water samples. Everyone comes into contact with NTM bacteria during their daily lives, but not everyone is at risk of getting NTM. Most people do not become infected because their lungs are healthy enough to get rid of NTM bacteria.

However, people who have conditions such as bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are at greater risk of NTM infection. That’s because damage caused by lung conditions makes them more vulnerable to infection. People with NTM infection tend to be middle-aged and have existing respiratory conditions.

With signs and symptoms similar to those of other respiratory conditions, like cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, NTM is sometimes misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Diagnosis can be delayed because people assume their symptoms are associated with a lung condition they already know they have.

Prevalence of NTM

There are an estimated 86,000 cases of NTM lung infections in the United States — a number that continues to grow more than eight percent each year. In particular, NTM infections are growing among people over 65 years old, a population that's expected to nearly double by 2030. Unfortunately, many people who have NTM infection may not even know they have it.

Talk to your Doctor about NTM

Because NTM is a chronic and progressive disease, it is important to make a definitive diagnosis as soon as possible. Delayed diagnosis can lead to delayed treatment, which may lead to a worsening of symptoms and existing respiratory conditions. As the condition gets worse over time, NTM can result in severe and permanent lung damage.

If you think you could have NTM, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Visit AboutNTM.com for information about NTM and talk to your doctor to see if getting tested for NTM might be right for you.



Access to mental health care may be just a virtual visit away

5/24/2017

(BPT) - Mental health disorders impact thousands of people every day, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness and is aware of the toll it can take on individuals, families and communities. Mental health challenges do not discriminate — they affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.

While stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders impact an estimated 43 million adults nationwide each year, the World Health Organization reports that only about one in four people with a diagnosed disorder is likely to pursue treatment.

Unfortunately, barriers prevent people from getting the mental health care they may need. The reasons are many. Consider these statistics: 4,000 areas in the U.S. have only one psychiatrist for 30,000 or more people; the average waiting time for a first psychiatric visit is 25 days; and stigma is the fourth highest-ranked barrier to help-seeking.

The good news is that people who access care more quickly may be more likely to engage in their treatment and have a better outcome. With the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery.

For some people, that best first step may be a virtual visit with a mental health provider via a mobile device or computer. For many, access to virtual care may already be available as part of their health care benefits.

Virtual care can shorten wait times for an appointment, fit work and personal schedules, and eliminate travel time and expense. An appointment conducted in the safe, comfortable environment of home may reduce stigma. And, research shows that outcomes of a virtual visit with a mental health provider are similar to in-person sessions for multiple disorders.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues are keys to supporting well-being within our communities. Today, people can access effective, proven treatment in a variety of formats, including using video-calling technology. It’s up to all of us to reach out and encourage our friends, neighbors and family members in need to access these available resources.

For more information and links to recovery support resources in your area, visit www.optum.com/recovery. To learn more about available health care benefits, call the number on the back of your health plan identification card.



Staying Healthy While Traveling Overseas

5/23/2017

(BPT) - Each year, travelers from the United States (U.S.) head to popular destinations. And while many have Zika on their mind while traveling, and are aware of the need to bring sunscreen, bug repellant and other travel necessities, many don’t know that cholera may be a bigger threat than they thought and most don’t take the necessary measures to protect themselves from it.

Cholera – an infection that affects the intestinal tract and can cause severe watery diarrhea is currently estimated to be present in over 60 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Of the top 20 international travel destinations for U.S. travelers, five are to cholera-endemic countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, China, India and the Philippines. Mild forms of cholera can be mistaken for traveler’s diarrhea, which can leave travelers in an uncomfortable state due to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and mild to severe dehydration and ruin travel plans. You can get cholera by eating or drinking contaminated food and water.

Every year, millions of people around the world become ill due to cholera. However, fewer cases are reported to health authorities than the global estimates. There are more than 8 million U.S. travelers per year going to countries where cholera is endemic. In recent years, there has also been a re-emergence of cholera in Ecuador, Haiti, Cuba and Mexico. However, despite the recent re-emergence, cholera remains underreported.

Still, plans to go abroad don’t need to be canceled or changed to avoid getting sick. You can protect yourself from cholera (and other food and waterborne illnesses) by drinking clean (filtered or bottled) water, washing hands frequently and eating foods that are from sealed packages or cooked well. However, almost 98 percent of travelers do not comply with these guidelines.

Getting a vaccine before travel may also help to ensure that your travel plans are not inconvenienced by illness. The CDC recommends that adult travelers (ages 18-64) who are going to areas of active cholera transmission get vaccinated for cholera.

If you are traveling abroad to an area where cholera is present, make sure you are prepared by talking to your doctor or pharmacist at least two weeks in advance about getting vaccinated for cholera.



The eyes have it: 4 things your eyes may communicate without you knowing it

5/23/2017

(BPT) - Your eyes: you stare with them, wink with them and roll them. You use your eyes to communicate your thoughts and feelings every single day. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your eyes can speak volumes about who you are and what you feel. But could your eyes be sending the wrong message?

New findings from Allergan’s “A Look at Eye Language” online survey of 1,019 adult Americans reveal that approximately half of respondents (53 percent) say the first facial feature they notice about another person is their eyes. Patti Wood, a body language expert with over 25 years of experience in the field of human behavior, says our eyes can convey all sorts of messages — both intentionally and unintentionally. “Eye language is the messages we send to others with our eyes,” Wood says. “These eye behaviors include rubbing the eyes, extended eye contact, averted gaze or eye shifts. Our eye language can say a lot about us, revealing our emotions, confidence level and, at times, even if we’re telling the truth.”

Curious what your eyes are telling other people? Wood provides four eye language examples.

* Eye contact: Too much of a good thing. You’re taught early on to look at someone when they’re talking to you; it's a sign of respect and shows you’re listening. In fact, the survey, conducted in conjunction with Kelton Global, revealed that for those who see the value in maintaining eye contact, holding a direct gaze makes them feel respected (53 percent) and understood (45 percent). However, Wood says if your gaze becomes a continuous, unrelenting stare throughout an entire conversation, it may signal to the other person that you’re trying to assert your dominance. This can be problematic in many situations, particularly in the workplace, so make sure you’re being attentive but not overly aggressive with your eye contact.

* Certain conditions can alter your eye contact. Sometimes, you send messages with your eyes without realizing it. For example, Chronic Dry Eye disease symptoms, like red, itching, burning or watering eyes, can send the wrong message — one you don’t intend. It’s important to understand the messages your eye language might be sending to others. Talk to your doctor or visit Eyepowerment.com to learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for Chronic Dry Eye.

* Liars look away? Not always. You’ve heard the old saying that a person who looks away is lying. But in many cases, that isn't true. Research shows the eye contact you make while lying is partially determined by your personality. Wood says that introverts tend to have more trouble maintaining eye contact while lying, whereas extroverts may go over the top and increase eye contact while lying more so than they would otherwise. Additionally, Wood shares that an action like rubbing your eyes can convey a lack of interest, fatigue, disagreement or disbelief in the speaker — or even deceit.

* The amount of eye contact you display can show how you feel about things. Research shows that eye contact can demonstrate attraction or attentiveness. You actually make more eye contact with people and things you like and less eye contact with people or things you don’t like. Wood notes that our eye language makes us look at things that are new or interesting, especially faces, or look away from things that we find distasteful. So if you’re curious about how a certain person feels about you, pay attention to how much they look at you.

When it comes to nonverbal communication, your eyes are one of the most expressive parts of your body, even if don’t realize it. In fact, Wood says that research shows we can read not only the six basic emotions — sadness, disgust, anger, joy, fear and surprise — but also over 50 different mental states such as curiosity, interest, dislike or boredom, in another person’s eyes.

That’s why it's important to pay attention to your eye language. Certain conditions, such as Chronic Dry Eye disease, have symptoms that may be sending the wrong message — one you don’t intend. To learn more about Chronic Dry Eye symptoms and treatment options, talk to your doctor and visit Eyepowerment.com.



The eyes have it: 5 things you can do to reduce your child's exposure to harmful blue light

5/22/2017

(BPT) - A generation ago, limiting a child’s screen time meant putting restrictions on how much television they could watch in a single day. "No more than two hours a day and don’t sit too close to the screen." Those were the rules, and while enforcing them was a challenge, it was easy to remember.

Times have changed.

These days, the challenge parents face regarding their children’s screen time has grown exponentially and protecting their eyes from too much blue light exposure is more important than ever.

Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hosted a national conference involving more than 10,000 pediatricians. The focal point of discussion was children and screen time. Concerned about the effects of screen time — and blue light — on young children’s eyes, the AAP officially recommends:

* no screen time for children 18 months and under.

* one hour per day for children ages 2-5.

* limited screen time for children ages 6 and above.

Prolonged exposure to blue light (the blueish glow emitted from digital device screens), has been shown to cause headaches, dry eyes and even hamper sleep, so it's no surprise the AAP would recommend limits for children. Monitoring your child’s overall screen time can be easier said than done, so don’t try to go it alone. For parents, however, there are things you can do besides simply monitoring your child's time in front of their favorite device:

* Plan for breaks. Consider recording shows and then allowing your children to watch them with the expectation that their session will end at the show's completion rather than continue on into the next program. If computer/smartphone use is the problem, consider using parental controls within the device settings to limit usage. If that's not an option, you can install apps that set off an alarm at pre-timed intervals to inform your little one it's time to do something else.

* Discuss your child’s screen time with your eye doctor. Just as you would consult the pediatrician for a question regarding your child's general health, your optometrist is there to answer any questions you have about your child's eyes. If a trip to the optometrist isn't covered under your current insurance plan, VSP Individual Vision Plans, a national family and individual vision insurance provider, can help. VSPDirect.com offers affordable access to high-quality eye care and eye wear, and people who use individual or family vision plans typically save hundreds of dollars on their eye exams and glasses.

* Be aware of when they use devices. In some cases the amount of screen time a child has isn’t as important as when they have it. Research shows that blue light exposure shortly before bed delays REM sleep, leading to poorer sleeping habits. Eliminate screen time a couple of hours before your child goes to bed and they’ll wake up more rested.

* Adjust device settings. Some easy settings you can adjust to make your child’s screen more readable are increasing the font size, reducing the screen brightness or increasing the contrast of the screen. And the easier it is for children to use the device, the less they’ll feel they have to get their nose right against the screen.

* Be the alternative. The easiest way to protect your children from the risks of digital eye strain is to give them something to do that takes them away from the device altogether. Engage them in a board game, a trip to the park or a visit to the mall. Just make sure you do it together and device free — for both of you — and you’ll have a great time in a way that’s healthy for the entire body.



Simplifying baby nutrition: Expert advice for your infant's first foods

5/22/2017

(BPT) - Your cooing, curious, incredibly cute baby is now 6 months old and you've got the go-ahead from your pediatrician to start solid foods. You both are excited to begin this new adventure, but when you head to the store you are suddenly confused by a sea of options.

Which foods are safe for your new little eater? Which offer the most nutrition? How do you know what is the best for your baby? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

In research conducted by ORC International and Stonyfield, at least one-third of parents admit to feeding confusion during baby’s first months, and just over half (53 percent) feel overwhelmed by the varying opinions of early childhood nutrition.

Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP and mother of three, sees many parents who are unsure about best first foods for infants. To help guide parents and caregivers, she offers five important pieces of advice.

Seek safe dairy options for babies under 12 months.

You might think it’s safer to avoid dairy products until infants are at least 12 months old. However, dairy is packed with essential nutrients (such as calcium and vitamin D) for growing bodies, and can be an important part of baby’s diet.

The good news is babies as young as 6 months can begin eating yogurt, even if they’re breastfeeding. Not only is it a healthy option for their little bodies, you’ll find infants love yogurt. Choose a brand made with organic whole milk, like Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt, the No. 1 Pediatrician Recommended yogurt for babies between 6 months and 2 years old among refrigerated yogurts. (Source: IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15 - 09/30/16)

Expose baby to healthy foods early.

Introducing baby’s first solids is a stressful time for parents. To keep it simple, reference a list of trusted foundation foods to ensure your baby is receiving the proper nutrients. Remember to check with your pediatrician before feeding your baby any new food groups and modify as needed to accommodate any food allergies.

Some great foundation foods are eggs, prunes, avocados, fish, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, chicken, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables, whole grains and water. Mix and match these foods as your baby becomes more comfortable with solids.

Protect baby’s gut health.

Did you know gut health is the foundation for overall good health? To help protect your baby’s gut health, you want to ensure they’re getting enough probiotics. While naturally found in breast milk, probiotics are also found in yogurt.

Stonyfield recently added the probiotic BB-12 (registered trademark of Chr. Hansen) to its YoBaby Yogurt. BB-12(R) has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and regular, soft stools.

Understand natural sugar vs. added sugar.

Sugar is receiving a lot of attention in the news recently and many parents are looking more closely at labels when grocery shopping. In doing so, it's important to understand the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.

Wholesome foods like milk, yogurt and fruit have naturally occurring sugars that are part of a healthy diet. Many yogurts come in both plain and flavored varieties, and if you’re looking to control the amount of sweetness, you can purchase unsweetened yogurt to which you can add your own mashed fruits.

Get adventurous with finger foods.

Don’t be afraid to put down the spoon and let your little one try feeding themselves with some nutritious finger foods. Not only will baby explore new flavors and textures, but it's an excellent way to practice fine-motor skills.

A simple and nutrient-packed first finger food is berries cut into small pieces. The soft berries are easy for babies to pick up and they feel gentle against their gums.

Introducing first foods to your baby doesn't have to be a confusing process. By working with your pediatrician and keeping this information close at hand, you'll be ready to expose baby to a whole new world of flavors.



Unlock the secret to healthy aging by improving your health in three key areas

5/22/2017

(BPT) - You’re still just as active as you were in your thirties and forties, but as you continue to add those candles to your birthday cake each year, you can feel the effects of aging starting to take a toll on your body. As you age, your body needs a little extra care to maintain optimal health; that’s why you go for your morning walk and eat a balanced diet. These things can help you support your overall well-being, but there are other factors to consider if you want to live a healthier, more active lifestyle as you grow older.

“Many people don’t realize how much of an impact hormone, heart, and bone and joint health can have on their day-to-day lives,” says Dr. Andrew Halpner, vice president of science and technical services at Douglas Laboratories. To maintain this ideal lifestyle, he offers his advice on ways you can support your health in each of these key areas.

Supporting your hormone health*

Properly balanced hormone levels are one of the most important factors when it comes to staying healthy as you age. Healthy hormone levels support healthy sexual function, body weight, sleep and glucose metabolism. When your hormones are imbalanced, you could experience fatigue, weakness and muscle loss, and may even find daily activities difficult to complete.

Establishing a healthy diet, ensuring sufficient sleep and making time for recreation are great first steps toward supporting your hormone health. It is also important to consult your healthcare provider to discuss regular blood work to monitor your hormone levels.

Finally, to help maintain healthy glucose metabolism and tissues, add a nutritional supplement, such as Wobenzym Plus, to your daily regimen.*

Paying special attention to your strongest muscle

Heart health is an important part of any healthy aging plan. You’re already monitoring your lipid profile diligently, but what else can you do?

Lipid levels are important, but maintaining glucose homeostasis and cytokine balance is just as important to supporting proper heart health.

A healthy diet that focuses on fiber and regulates carbohydrate intake has been proven to support healthy glucose levels. Consider complementing your diet with regular exercise and nutritional supplements to further support good health.*

Healthy advice for the things that move you

Maintaining healthy bone and joint function is critical for both men and women. When bones are weak or joints are stiff, it can be difficult to keep up your desired level of activity.

Bone health is directly impacted by vitamin D levels. To support these function areas, boost vitamin D by spending brief periods of time in the sun — with sun protection, of course — or consult your healthcare provider about taking a supplement to achieve optimum vitamin D levels.* Additionally, adding a nutritional supplement such as Wobenzym Plus can help provide temporary relief from everyday aches and pains to ensure that when you want to be active, your bones and joints are ready to keep up with you.*

Take the first step to support your health today

A balanced diet and moderate exercise are the building blocks of any health regimen, but as the years pass, your body may need additional support. Remember your hormones, heart, bones and joints when tailoring your health plan and consult your healthcare provider before introducing any new products into your routine. For more information on how to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, visit douglaslabs.com/healthyaging.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



Wireless connectivity: What it is and why it matters

5/22/2017

(BPT) - All electronics used to require wires to conduct sound until 1989, when Swedish conglomerate Ericsson Mobile created the short-link radio technology we now know as Bluetooth(R). Applications for this groundbreaking invention quickly expanded and Bluetooth became the standard wire replacement protocol due to its comparatively low power consumption and broadly effective communication system. Today, it’s used to untether hearing aid wearers from audio sources by effectively transforming these medical devices into wireless headsets. Here are some of the challenges wireless hearing aids can help wearers overcome.

Challenge #1: Telephone conversations

Some wearers find their hearing aids whistle when they hold a phone receiver to their ear. Others find it hard to follow conversations. Hearing aids that use Bluetooth streaming enable wearers to route telephone conversations directly into their hearing aids. This is often accomplished through an intermediary accessory that pairs hearing aids to smartphones. The wearer can then hear a caller’s voice through both hearing aids for greater speech understanding, even if they’re outside or in noisy surroundings.

As for landlines, more advanced hearing aids have programs that are activated by a magnetic signal as soon as you hold a receiver against your ear. The hearing aid worn in the ear next to the receiver picks up the speaker’s voice and transmits it wirelessly into the hearing aid in the other ear. Again, the wearer can hear the speaker’s voice in both ears, which makes it clearer and easier to understand.

Challenge #2: Single-sided deafness

Some people have no hearing in one ear but hear normally or partially out of the other. Wireless solutions known as CROS and BiCROS can help amplify hearing. Here’s how they work: a hearing aid transmitter is worn on the unaidable ear, which then detects sound and wirelessly transmits it to the hearing aid on the ear with better hearing, allowing wearers to hear sounds from both sides (a CROS solution). If some hearing loss is also present in the aidable or “better” ear, the hearing aid will receive sound from the unaidable side, mix it with its own input, and amplify the combined signal (a BiCROS solution). With either solution, the signal is processed to promote speech clarity, sound quality and spatial perception.

Challenge #3: Hearing announcements and alerts

Even with perfect hearing, deciphering announcements made via public address (PA) systems is challenging. Those who are hard of hearing often find it impossible, which can lead to missing trains, going to the wrong gate at airports, or worse — missing emergency alerts. The US is sadly behind on using induction loops in transportation hubs. These sound systems use a loop of wire wrapped around a building to produce an electromagnetic signal to transmit sounds. An induction loop enables hearing aid wearers to use their hearing aid's telecoil (T-coil) setting to pick up PA announcements wirelessly through their hearing aids.

Induction loops can also be found in auditoriums, concert halls, movie theaters, places of worship and similar venues. Hearing aid wearers and others using handheld or wearable devices (usually offered at looped locations) can tap into the transmission and hear lectures, music, soundtracks and other audio clearly despite crowd noise or being situated a distance from an audio source.

Challenge #4: Utilizing apps

Most manufacturers now offer smartphone apps that can be used as remotes for controlling volume, switching audio sources and changing other hearing aid settings. Apps provide an extra level of discretion, as to others it appears the user is simply checking their texts.

Even more exciting are telehealth apps that allow wearers to connect to their hearing care professional, who can make minor remote hearing aid adjustments or answer questions via chat, thus reducing the need for in-office appointments. Telehealth apps also help wearers adapt more quickly to their hearing aids with the use of gamification, usage tracking, subjective ratings of listening experiences, and much more.

Challenge #5: Direct connection without intermediary devices

Not all hearing aids require accessories for wireless connectivity. Some now use Bluetooth to connect wearers directly to their iPhone(R) and other electronic devices. Advantages include enabling hearing aids to react to the wearer’s changing environment through the use of iPhone sensors that register the wearer is in motion. The hearing aids automatically adjust to better hear a conversation partner at the wearer’s side or from the back while maintaining awareness of sirens and other environmental sounds, which improves listening comfort and safety. Calls and music can also be streamed directly into hearing aids for greater convenience and clarity.

Wireless technology allows hearing aid wearers to stay connected to their favorite electronic devices, listening environments and people. If you’re in the market for a pair of wireless hearing aids, talk to your hearing care professional about all the advanced features available.



The NFL concussion settlement gives former NFL players a chance for a better life

5/17/2017

(BPT) - After years of waiting, the NFL concussion settlement affecting thousands of retired NFL players is now open for registration, which means former players, their family and their representatives can begin to take advantage of the benefits the settlement provides. To be eligible, all retired players and their representatives must register by Aug. 7, 2017 by visiting www.nflconcussionsettlement.com.

The NFL concussion settlement provides benefits to thousands of retired NFL players who joined the league because of their unrelenting “love of the game.” However, after a career playing in the NFL, many of these retired players left the game with lifelong devastating brain damage due to the many concussions, “dings” and other hard hits they sustained while playing on the field.

Today, these retired NFL players suffer daily from neuro-cognitive illnesses that often leave them bedridden and unable to recall some of their most sacred memories. At the same time, their loved ones are forced to watch them suffer from these debilitating brain injuries while simultaneously grappling with significant medical bills. Unfortunately, even though these retired players dedicated their blood, sweat, and tears to the game, most do not have the financial support or assistance they need to deal with these conditions.

Though it is too late to reverse what happened to these retired players, the NFL concussion settlement provides a lifeline to those who suffer from neuro-cognitive illnesses today. It provides immediate compensation for those who are struggling or those who had struggled with conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS without having to prove their diagnosis was a result of NFL football. Family members or representatives of deceased retired players who suffered with such conditions may also be eligible to submit a claim.

The settlement will also help and give peace of mind to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future. For instance, eligible retired players will be provided with a free “baseline assessment,” which is a battery of tests to see how they are doing so they can keep tabs on their neurocognitive health and better understand if symptoms start to emerge. They will be eligible for compensation if they develop a qualifying condition within the next 65 years.

Those who may remain skeptical after enduring other benefits programs can find comfort in the fact that the settlement is not run by the NFL. Instead, the settlement’s benefit programs will be run by independent administrators and qualified doctors, working under the court’s supervision. The NFL will not decide who is eligible for benefits under this agreement.

If you are a retired NFL player or a relative of one, remember that registering for the settlement is a required first step to receive any benefits at all. Registration is a requirement to submit a claim for a potential monetary award or receive a baseline assessment. Failing to register before the Aug. 7, 2017 deadline will make you ineligible to receive any settlement benefits. Again, to register for the settlement with step-by-step instructions, or to learn more about its benefits, please visit www.nflconcussionsettlement.com.



Breathe easier: 7 ways to improve your home's indoor air quality

5/17/2017

(BPT) - More than 6 million American children — nearly 9 percent of all kids in the U.S. — have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, asthma attacks send more than a million people to emergency rooms, including approximately 24,000 children younger than 15, the CDC reports. Yet health experts agree many of those asthma attacks could be avoided through a range of tactics, including by improving air quality inside homes.

“Most people can control their asthma and live symptom-free,” the CDC reports. Knowing how to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens and irritants inside the home could help people avoid at least some asthma attacks.

Asthma and kids

More than 47 percent of all asthma attacks occur in children, according to CDC data. KidsHealth.org says asthma is the leading cause of chronic absence from school, and the chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room most often.

Many factors can trigger allergy attacks, including exposure to allergens inside the home. As the weather warms and parents open windows to bring fresh air into their homes, the breeze that enters can be full of pollen, mold spores and other airborne irritants. What’s more, irritants already inside the home such as pet dander, dust mites, smoke, bacteria and viruses can contribute to asthma symptoms.

Improving indoor air quality

Your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems play a critical role in the air quality inside your home. HVAC manufacturer Coleman, which makes ventilator systems, air cleaners and ultraviolet irradiation systems to support indoor air quality, offers some tips for ensuring your HVAC system works to clean the air inside your home:

* Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to ensure all components are working efficiently. A well-maintained system can dramatically improve air quality.

* Change air filters regularly, and choose a filter with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The higher the rating, the better the filter will be at capturing airborne particles. Clogged or low-MERV filters may not effectively remove particles from the air, leaving them for your HVAC system to recirculate. In fact, HVAC systems can recirculate contaminants an average of five to seven times per day, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.

* Vent bathrooms and laundry rooms directly outside the home, and ensure vent fans are always working well.

* Any equipment that creates combustion and exhaust, such as fireplaces, heaters, stoves, range tops and furnaces should also vent outside to keep harmful fumes from re-entering your home's HVAC system.

* When you vacuum, turn on your home’s HVAC system. Vacuuming stirs particles into the air, and your running HVAC system can catch those particles and filter them from the air.

* Monitor and control the humidity in your home. Bacteria and viruses, which can contribute to asthma symptoms, thrive in very dry environments. Consider adding a whole-home humidifier, like Luxaire’s Acclimate Whole-Home Humidifiers, to your HVAC system. Through the use of natural evaporation, the humidifiers help maintain optimum humidity throughout the entire house, without the limitations of portable humidifiers that can only affect a single room.

* Air cleaners can support your HVAC system in removing irritants from the air. Like single-room humidifiers, however, portable air cleaners have limited effect. Consider incorporating a whole-home air cleaner that operates as part of your existing HVAC system.

Visit www.colemanac.com/IAQ to learn more about products available to improve the indoor air quality in your home, and to find a local contractor. You can also follow the company on Twitter at @ColemanHVAC.

Studies show the number of people with asthma is growing worldwide. Health experts from the CDC to the National Institutes of Health agree that controlling indoor air quality in homes could benefit children with asthma, as well as asthma sufferers of all ages.




Home health services help maintain senior independence

5/17/2017

(BPT) - Staying healthy and out of the hospital is a top priority for the majority of seniors. However, as you age, you may need additional care to meet your medical needs after an illness, injury or exacerbation of a chronic health problem. Fortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean a long hospital or rehab stay, thanks to home health service options.

For Yoko and Kenneth Gilbert, both age 84, home health services provided important care when they needed it the most. After an injury caused by a fall Yoko needed nursing care for her wounds. She also needed physical therapy to regain her ability to get around. Her husband's help could only go so far, but he could not provide the professional care that she required, so at her doctor's advice, she decided to get home health services.

What is home health care?

According to Medicare.gov, "Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF)."

Every home health plan of care is individualized based on the person's unique medical needs and abilities. The goal is to treat the person's medical condition at home so that he or she can enjoy a high quality of life while receiving professional services designed to restore health, self-sufficiency and independence.

For Yoko, this gave her important peace of mind. She decided to work with Brookdale Home Health for her specific needs. "They came every week, changed my dressing and catheter," she says. "Everything was just great."

When are home health services used?

For seniors residing at home or in a senior living community, both medical and non-medical home care are options. The people most likely to need home health services are those recently diagnosed with a new illness, those who have been injured in a fall or other event, and those who have experienced a major change in health condition such as the worsening of a chronic disease process.

To provide these services, a health care professional will come to your place of residence. This may include a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a home health aide or a medical social worker. Because these professionals come to you, you're able to remain in the comfort and security of your own home. Receiving care at home enhances your physical and mental well-being and promotes dignity and independence.

For Yoko, part of her home health care services were provided by a physical therapist named Barbara. “Barbara was wonderful," she says. "She took care of me, she pushed me and because of her I can move around better.”

Yoko's husband, Kenneth, says the services were more than just health care. “Brookdale Home Health helped her a lot. Her therapists really lifted her spirits," he adds.

How can you get home health services?

Before Yoko could receive home health care, she got a referral from her doctor. A doctor is in charge of determining whether you are a candidate for home health services. If you think you are a candidate, it's important to have an honest conversation with your physician to see if home health is the right option for you.

If your doctor decides that home health is right for you, begin to research options in your area. With a doctor's prescription, the Brookdale Home Health team of experts can provide care based upon your unique medical needs in the privacy of your home. Learn more by visiting www.brookdale.com.

Is home health covered by insurance?

Home health services are often covered by health insurance, but you should verify the details with your particular plan provider. Many plans offer 100 percent coverage if certain conditions are met. For example, Brookdale Home Health services may be covered by 100 percent of your Medicare Part A benefit if your doctor determines that you are homebound and that home health services are medically necessary to treat your illness, injury or change in medical condition.

Yoko saw great improvements in her condition through home health services. However, she eventually experienced additional medical complications that require 24 hour care. Her husband could not keep up with the demands and sought respite care in a Brookdale community. After receiving respite services, they have decided to move in to a Brookdale Senior Living community full-time.

“My wife got sick and there was no way I could take care of her," says Kenneth. "We moved into a Brookdale community on Valentine’s Day and we’ve been here ever since.”

Today they are permanent residents of Patriot Heights in San Antonio, Texas, where they receive the full-time care they need, enjoy a full social calendar and have made many new friends.



Simple ways to add physical fitness to your daily routine

5/17/2017

(BPT) - Being resourceful with your daily routine can deliver big payoffs when it comes to increasing your activity level. Incorporating physical fitness into your everyday activities can save you time and also burn calories, and it doesn't have to take much time or effort.

“For many people, the biggest obstacle to getting more exercise is time,” says Danielle Johnson, physical therapist and wellness physical therapist for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. “People feel stretched between their career, child care demands and family commitments. Thinking of spending an hour extra at the gym may feel overwhelming.”

If you don’t have time to fit in a scheduled workout, try using daily tasks to incorporate fitness, Johnson advises. “You’ll still be able to reap the benefits of exercise by using small bouts of movement throughout the day. Two 10-minute walks, a few sets of stairs and some five-minute intervals of bodyweight squats, lunges or push-ups can add up to big health benefits.”

Here are some tips to get moving throughout the day:

Turn chores into exercise.

* Mow the lawn or do some gardening. The physical benefit is good for your health, plus gardening can enhance your mood, and the food you grow offers great nutritional benefits.

* Try bicycling to run errands. Leave the car in the garage and bring out your bike for a quick run to the grocery store.

* Turn household cleaning into a mini workout. “For example, mopping floors gives your shoulders and back a workout, and can burn more than 100 calories in just 30 minutes,” Johnson says.

Find fitness opportunities with friends.

* Instead of going out for dinner or drinks with friends, do something physical, like taking a walk, going for a bike ride or engaging in a physical activity like tennis or bowling.

* Take your dog to the park, or play with them in your own backyard. A game of fetch is not only great exercise for your furry friend — it works your muscles, too.

* Join or start a sports team with your friends. Whether it's softball, basketball or soccer, taking part in a sport you enjoy will improve both your physical and mental well-being.

Stay curious and improve upon what you’re already doing.

* Do you already walk daily? Try walking faster or choose a challenging route with hills.

* Take up a new summer outdoor sport, such as canoeing, paddle boarding or inline skating.

* If there’s a cause you feel passionate about, try training to participate in a run or walk to raise funds.

* If you play golf, walk the course and carry your own clubs instead of using a cart and caddy.

“Every little bit counts,” Johnson says. “Research suggests that as little as 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity can make a big difference in your health and fitness measures. I often equate health to putting away money for retirement. Putting away savings, even in small amounts, will add up big over time. The same can be said for your health. Investing in opportunities to be active, even for short periods of time, adds up. The key is to be consistent.”



3 cornerstones to a longer, healthier, happier life for your pet

5/16/2017

(BPT) - Your pets are members of the family. They are the source of some of your best memories, they are your travel companions, your confidantes and your evening snuggle partners. You love them and you want them to live the longest, healthiest and happiest life possible.

Like it is for you, achieving the healthiest, happiest life for your pet is directly tied to the cornerstones of preventive care, nutrition and exercise. To provide insight into how each of these can benefit your pet, Dr. Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer for Purina, offers this advice:

Regular veterinary exams

Your veterinarian and his/her team are the experts when it comes to the health and well-being of your pet. Prevention is a key component of regular vet visits; the earlier a potential problem is identified, the easier it is to treat and the greater the chance of success. The physical examination, routine diagnostics, vaccinations, heartworm prevention and parasite control will help keep your pet in tip-top shape. You can also work with your veterinarian to create a tailored health plan for your pet that takes into account their age, activity level and any medical considerations.

Nutrition

In a recent Purina survey, three in five dog and cat owners (60 percent) would consult their veterinarian for food safety and quality advice, while just about half refer to their pet food companies’ websites. Furthermore, when it comes to nutrition, it is important to work with your veterinarian to select the ideal diet for your pet that is appropriate for their life stage (i.e., puppy vs. adult) and lifestyle (couch potato vs. sporting dog). It is also important to look beyond just the ingredient list and marketing claims on the bag.

The nutrients inside should also meet or exceed AAFCO, USDA and FDA standards. Many pet owners are unaware of the rigorous process that goes into ensuring quality and safety in pet food, with three in five pet owners admitting they didn’t know about the process after learning more about what goes into the pet food quality-checking process. For pet owners, it’s also important to take the time to look at the company’s manufacturing reputation, along with safety and quality standards. Ask these key questions when evaluating different pet foods:

* Who formulates the food and what are their credentials? Look for brands with nutritionists and veterinarians on staff to formulate the diets. Purina has over 500 pet experts globally, including nutritionists, veterinarians, behaviorists and immunologists who use their expertise to improve pet nutrition and care.

* What are the company’s quality and safety standards? Purina conducts more than 30,000 quality checks involving ingredients, packaging, receiving, processing and packing in a typical 24-hour production period.

* Where is the food produced? Does the company own their manufacturing facilities? At Purina, 99 percent of our food sold in the U.S. is made in our own facilities.

Exercise and enrichment

An appropriate amount of daily exercise can help reduce the incidence of common behavioral problems in pets. This includes excessive barking, inappropriate chewing and general hyperactivity. In addition, exercise — combined with appropriate diet quality and quantity — can reduce the incidence of obesity and associated health conditions, such as osteoarthritis in dogs and diabetes in cats.

Physical exercise can take on a variety of forms, from leash walks to ball fetch to playtime at the local dog park. For those dogs with a predilection for the water, swimming can offer a fun and effective alternative. And don’t forget that mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Obedience training, food puzzle toys, chew toys and trick training — such as roll over or paw — are all beneficial for pets.

Before starting any exercise regimen with your pet, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to find answers to your questions and learn what activities would best support your pet based on their breed, age and needs.

Taking steps to improve your pet’s health today

Your pet gives you so much and you naturally want to return the favor. You can do so by following the three simple suggestions above. Do so and you and your pet will be able to live a longer, healthier, and happier life together.



5 nutritionist tips to start eating and living healthier

5/11/2017

(BPT) - When you need to fix your car, learn the latest tech or finish a major home improvement, what do you do? You turn to the experts, those with in-depth knowledge on how to accomplish these tasks in the most efficient and effective way. And when you’re looking to improve your overall health by focusing on improving your diet, it’s also time to turn to the experts.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the thought leaders when it comes to improving your eating habits. So to learn from the professionals, we asked Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner to offer her tips on how you can improve your nutrition and start living a healthier life today. She offers this advice:

*Get organized. Your environment can work for you or against you. Having an organized refrigerator can be the key to success on the journey to weight loss. Keep produce where it is easily visible and accessible. Storing foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken breast and roasted vegetables at eye-level can really help to make smarter meal choices. Clear food containers will also help to keep already prepared meals top of mind and lessen food waste, which means saving money in the long run.

*Practice superfood swaps. Don’t cut out food cravings — embrace them! Eat the flavors that you crave but swap out overly processed stuff for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Avoid products with chemicals, refined sugars and flours, artificial flavors and preservatives and it will naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle. When you fill the house with healthier foods, you’ll automatically eat smarter when hunger strikes.

*Eat your “green base.” It can be difficult to make the right nutrition choices all the time. So when you are eating more decadent food like fried chicken, Chinese or pizza, put it on a base of leafy greens like spinach, spring mix or kale. That way you will get to eat what you want, but you’ll fill up more on your superfood greens and eat less of the high-calorie foods.

*Set the table. One of the simplest ways to start naturally eating less and enjoying food more is to eat all meals and snacks at the table. When you put food on a plate, eat at a table and sit in a chair you’ll eat much less than if you were eating while working on the computer, watching TV, standing in the fridge or driving!

*Build a better breakfast. A healthy diet starts with a nutritious breakfast. Think whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods high in calories and packed with preservatives. Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which can be perfect for maintaining heart health. They also contain 25 percent less saturated fat, six times more vitamin D and 10 times the vitamin E of ordinary eggs. Plus, they taste great. Get your day started with this amazing recipe and you’ll be happier and healthier all day long.

Spinach, Grape Tomato and Cheddar Frittata

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

8 Eggland's Best eggs (large)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.

Heat cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute spinach until wilted and then add half of the grape tomatoes.

Pour eggs slowly into pan.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and spread remaining grape tomatoes evenly over the egg mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove skillet from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

To find more delicious recipes, tips and tricks to celebrate 25 years of a more nutritious egg, sign up for the EB newsletter, http://www.egglandsbest.com/newsletter/.



4 things you can do to protect your drinking water

5/10/2017

(BPT) - Water is something many of us tend to devote little time thinking about, not because it is unimportant but because we take our clean, safe drinking water for granted. That is, until something occurs that shifts our focus and shows us how potentially fragile our water infrastructure really is.

News headlines from across North America have brought the threat of poor drinking water to the forefront and caused many people to be curious about their own water. Research from Culligan International shows that 75 percent of survey respondents said they were worried about the water they drink, while 73 percent had never had their water tested.

“For years we’ve taken the safety of our water for granted,” says Rick Cook, manager of industry and regulatory affairs for Culligan. “But our aging infrastructure has heightened the risks of harmful impurities such as lead and iron contaminating our water supply.”

Preserving safe drinking water is not something that can be left to chance. To protect yourself and your family and to ensure the water running in your home is safe to drink, Cook offers these tips.

* Know where water contamination can occur. Water impurities are not just limited to the water source. They can also occur in the distribution system. While many naturally occurring chemicals and impurities can be filtered at the source, it’s still possible for unsafe amounts of lead to enter your water. These issues are more common in older homes — those built before 1986 — which commonly feature lead pipes and fixtures.

* Educate yourself on the filtration system currently in place at your home. Water treatment solutions, including water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and specialty filters, can eliminate specific impurities in your water. However, charcoal pitchers and refrigerator cartridges cannot.

* Pay attention to the warning signs. Corroded plumbing fixtures, unpleasant odors, disagreeable taste, discolored water and even shortened appliance lifespan are all signs that something is wrong with your water. If you notice any or all of these occurring in your home, it's time to get your water tested.

* Schedule a test to identify impurities in your water. Because water contamination can happen unexpectedly, through a municipality, your own well or your own pipes, it’s important to have your water tested by a water expert who can determine what harmful impurities — if any — are present and how to eliminate them. While testing can be done at any time, Culligan recommends scheduling a water test after you move into a new house, if you have appliances that are burning out or if you notice a change in the taste, odor or appearance of your water. If you have well water you should also have it tested whenever the water becomes cloudy or changes in taste or smell.

For more information about Culligan water treatment products, or to find your local Culligan representative, visit culligan.com.



Healthier kids, healthier communities: 4 ways to get involved

5/5/2017

(BPT) - It’s no secret that experiences in early and middle childhood are extremely important for a child’s healthy development and lifelong learning. Yet schools — the places where kids spend the majority of their time outside of the home during the week — often lack the resources and support needed to enable and inspire students to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The solution is within reach; it rests in the hands of parents and other concerned community members who make investments (even small ones) in kids inside and outside of school to help build healthier communities and a healthier world.

Dominique Dawes, an Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time Olympian and child nutrition advocate, shares her tips on how caregivers can get involved in manageable, meaningful ways to impact change within their children's schools and communities.

1. Understand you’re not alone. Look to organizations with a footprint in your community, and seek out ways to volunteer. There’s a great organization called Action for Healthy Kids. With the help of sponsors like GoGo squeeZ, their volunteer network works to improve the health and wellness of students in schools nationwide and highlight the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning. They even have an “Every Kid Healthy Week” to celebrate the great effort schools are making. Programs like these are impactful resources for parents, students and teachers alike.

2. Reach out to your local parks and recreation department. Chances are, they’re looking for volunteers. You may be able to help out with something on a recurring basis — a wellness or athletic program of particular interest to you. Also, ask about other ways you can serve your community. They may have park cleanup programs or other projects that can get your whole family moving and contributing.

3. Make it fun. Talk to the administration at your child’s school about activities and competitions to help students take ownership of their own health. Action for Healthy Kids offers free online activities to help improve physical activity and nutrition in school, but you can also encourage your school to apply for a grant to expand your local resources. Sponsors like GoGo squeeZ fund new grants every year!

4. Don’t underestimate your own abilities. Did you grow up learning gymnastics? Speak to the parents of your kids’ friends about organizing a gymnastics workshop at the park one weekend. Do you have a passion for making (and eating) healthy food? Volunteer to bring easy, nutritious snacks to a local after-school program, sports group or camp whenever you’re able. Bonus: nothing builds new friendships faster than food!

“I talk to so many people who care about the issues we’re facing with childhood health and wellness but don’t know how to get their foot in the door,” Dawes says. “My best advice is to start small, but start somewhere. Just one small change can make a significant difference in the life of a child and the health of a community.”



Hepatitis C: Why baby boomers should be tested immediately

5/4/2017

(BPT) - If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you could be one of more than 3 million baby boomers living with hepatitis C in the U.S. and not even know it. Despite only making up 27 percent of the U.S. population, baby boomers account for more than 75 percent of hepatitis C cases in the U.S.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by a virus primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. While some people only experience a short-term infection, 70-85 percent of those with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which can lead to liver cirrhosis (or scarring), liver cancer and even death. Hepatitis C is often referred to as a “silent epidemic,” since a person can have the condition for decades without any symptoms.

Why should boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, be tested today?

The CDC estimates boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than the rest of the population. Hepatitis C rates peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when boomers may have been exposed to infected blood before certain safety precautions were adopted for medical procedures, body piercings and tattoos.

Only 14 percent of baby boomers report having been screened for hepatitis C, which is why the CDC recommends all boomers speak with their healthcare providers and request to be tested for hepatitis C.

Have YOU been tested?

The only way to know if someone has the virus is through a one-time blood test, yet testing among boomers remains low. Quest Diagnostics, a leading diagnostics company, has more than 2,200 Patient Services Centers with labs offering hepatitis C testing for boomers. Quest Diagnostics patient Robin Roth was diagnosed with hepatitis C following a routine doctor’s visit that changed her life.

Though she was symptomless, Robin asked to be screened for hepatitis C and tested positive for the virus. When her doctor explained the virus may have impacted her liver health, Robin asked for a biopsy, which confirmed she had liver cirrhosis. After receiving treatment for nearly a year, she became virus-free and cleared her cirrhosis.

Watch Robin’s journey from diagnosis to recovery to learn more.

Is there a cure for hepatitis C?

Yes, there are new and successful treatments that can cure the virus and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis and liver disease. The biggest barrier to treatment is diagnosis, given the lack of obvious symptoms. This barrier has been a contributing factor to half the cases of liver cancer in the U.S., which increased by 72 percent from 2003 to 2012.

For more information about hepatitis C and to assess your risk factors, visit KnowAboutHepC.com.



Need care today? Here are 4 choices to try before the emergency room

5/3/2017

(BPT) - A health concern rarely strikes when it's convenient for you, and in most cases it occurs at the worst possible time. When you need care and don’t have time to schedule an appointment, what do you do?

You head to the emergency room, of course. You wait in the long ER lines and pay the hefty bill that concludes your visit, all for a non-emergency situation that required immediate treatment. It's hardly the most efficient solution, and while your health is certainly your most important concern, there are ways to receive the same quality care without the long wait and extravagant expense of an emergency room visit.

Considering the three C’s

Years ago the emergency room was your only option when you needed immediate care, but today’s health care market is home to a number of flourishing alternative options. To find the right solution for your situation, consider the three C’s: care, convenience and cost.

* Care: Evaluate the severity of your symptoms and identify what services you need. An emergency issue should always be treated at the ER, but if the problem is not life- or limb-threatening, it can be treated somewhere else.

* Convenience: It’s a good idea to know what health care facilities are near you, as well as their hours of operation.

* Cost: Not every provider will be covered by your insurance, so it’s important to understand your coverage area as well as your pre-authorization requirements.

Finding the best health care option for you

If you face a serious health issue, you should head to the emergency room immediately. However, if the issue merits immediate care but is not life- or limb-threatening, the Urgent Care Association of America offers this quick guide to your on-demand health care options.

Urgent care centers

Urgent care centers are equipped to handle illnesses and injuries that require X-rays, intravenous fluids and/or on-site lab tests. With an emphasis on convenience, urgent care offers short wait times — often 30 minutes or less compared to four hours in the emergency room — and affordable care, made even more so because it is covered by most insurance providers.

Retail clinics

Otherwise known as walk-in clinics, retail clinics are commonly found in supermarkets or pharmacies and specialize in treating less serious conditions than urgent care centers or emergency rooms. If you have a minor illness or you need preventative care, like a vaccination, then a retail clinic is a logical stop for you.

Telemedicine

A product of the digital age, telemedicine connects patients with providers via virtual visits, resulting in lower costs and decreased travel time. Telemedicine services are an attractive option if you live in a rural community or for times when the treatment you require does not extend beyond a consultation. They are also a handy tool for follow-up appointments that do not require an in-person visit.

On-site clinics

Finally, you may consider an on-site clinic. This option is now offered by many employers as a way of providing increased health care access to their employees. Similar to retail clinics, an on-site clinic specializes in offering wellness and preventative services — though the specific services offered by each clinic may vary.

Finding the best solution for you

You’ve read all the care options above and you have a pretty good idea of the best solution for any care need. Match that need with the right treatment option above and you'll receive the same quality care without the long wait and hefty bill of that emergency room visit.

To find an urgent care center near you, visit www.whereisurgentcare.com.



6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

5/1/2017

(BPT) - Eight strawberries, a single serving, delivers on a surprising checklist of benefits for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Strawberries are much more than a sweet and delicious treat — they are a versatile fruit that's great for your health. What better time than National Strawberry Month to share six health benefits of strawberries that may be new to you. Grab a handful of strawberries and read on, because eating right has never tasted so good.

* Strawberries help you stay sharp. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

* Loaded with nutrients. Strawberries pack a lot of healthy properties into a small package. Each berry is full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fiber.

* Sweet without the sugar. The sweet taste of strawberries makes them a natural dessert topping, and strawberries are also low in calories and sugar — one serving of eight strawberries contains just 45 calories!

* A delicious source of vitamin C. When you think vitamin C, think strawberries. One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, topping out at 140 percent of the recommended daily value. It's the perfect power-packed boost that you can add to any meal or cold remedy.

* A healthy choice for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association has identified berries, including strawberries, as a perfect component of a diabetes meal plan. This is because strawberries have a low glycemic index and are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

* Cholesterol fighter. Lowering your cholesterol is a common goal for many Americans these days, and strawberries can help. In addition to being packed with antioxidants and fiber, strawberries are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels. In addition, the potassium found in strawberries may help control blood pressure and fight strokes.

It's easy to see why you should eat eight strawberries each day. Grab a handful today — your body and taste buds will be glad you did.

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries, visit www.californiastrawberries.com.



5 facts about strokes that could save your life

4/29/2017
Chances are you know someone who has had a stroke. An estimated 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite how common strokes are, there are a lot of widely believed misconceptions. Unfortunately, not knowing the facts can put a person at bigger risk for experiencing a stroke themselves, or, not being able to help someone else who may be experiencing a stroke.
To help separate fact from fiction, the medical experts at Life Line Screening share the truth about the top misconceptions about stroke:
Misconception: Strokes only happen to older people
Fact: Research found 61 percent of strokes happen in people over the age of 65. That means 39 percent of strokes happen to younger people.
Misconception: Strokes are not a problem in the United States
Fact: You may only know a few people who've had a stroke in their life, but someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S.
Misconception: A stroke will kill you
Fact: Approximately one out of eight strokes results in death within thirty days. The other seven instances leave the person disabled. Stroke is fatal in about 10 to 20 percent of cases and, among survivors, it can cause a host of disabilities, including loss of mobility, impaired speech, and cognitive problems.
Misconception: Strokes cannot be prevented
Fact: Up to 80 percent of strokes could be stopped before they start. Health screenings are an effective way to identify and understand risk factors so they can be properly managed.
Research shows nine out of 10 cardiovascular doctors support preventive health screenings for cardiovascular disease (plaque in the arteries) among patients with key risk factors. To learn more, visit http://www.lifelinescreening.com.
Misconception: Only a doctor can identify a stroke
Fact: Everyone can and should know the signs and symptoms of stroke. By taking quick action, you could save a life.
According to the CDC, the most common signs of stroke are:
* Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech.
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination.
* Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you or someone else has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Understanding the facts about stroke helps empower you to control your own health. Even if risk factors are present, you can take proactive measures to help prevent stroke for yourself and loved ones.


Transportation safety: How seniors can maintain independence outside the home

4/27/2017

(BPT) - It can be hard to admit your vision isn’t what it used to be, especially when it comes to driving. Maybe you’ve noticed some difficulties reading traffic signals, or you’ve found it challenging to drive at night.

If you’re a family member noticing these warning signs in a loved one, pointing out these challenges may seem like a daunting and delicate undertaking. But when it comes to being on the road, safety is one thing you can’t ignore.

Encouraging your loved one to prioritize safety can be hard, especially when it feels like their independence is at stake. That's why it's important to have an open and honest discussion to determine the best options for maintaining independence outside the home.

Step 1: Address driver safety

Vision is the most important sense for driving safety. Annual vision screening is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for older people, since the sensory data used for driving is predominantly visual.

For seniors still able to drive, a defensive driving class can be beneficial. These classes allow students to brush up on skills while gaining confidence and introduce them to alternative transportation options for the times and locations of their preference. What's more, many insurance companies provide discounts to seniors who complete these courses.

Giving up driving doesn't have to mean choosing between all or nothing. For example, start limiting driving to daylight only, non-rush-hour periods. Then look into supplementary transportation options that eliminate the need to drive while still allowing you to get where you need to go.

Step 2: Research transportation options

It's important to educate yourself or your loved one about locally available transportation options for seniors. When you know there are reliable, cost-effective transportation options available, it can help maintain a high level of independence for a trip to the grocery store or a doctor's appointment.

Rides in Sight is a nationwide, online database of senior transportation options built by ITNAmerica, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing sustainable transportation options for seniors. Visit www.ridesinsight.org and enter basic information like your state or zip code, and you can find the ride option that’s best for your situation. If you prefer to access information by phone, call 1-855-60-RIDES (1-855-607-4337).

Rides in Sight makes it easy to find customized transportation, no matter what a person's needs. For example, you can find wheelchair accessible transportation options or door-to-door driver assistance if that’s what you need.

Step 3: Implement a trial period

Giving up the keys is easier if you do it over a period of time. Pick a date and schedule your first ride with a transportation service during a time you normally drive. Any change takes time to adapt to, so try it out for a while before reassessing and making any necessary adjustments. After this trial period, you should feel more comfortable with someone else driving you, and you get to be in control of your mobility.

For older Americans, it's important to be able to maintain independence when they limit or stop driving. When they are encouraged to create their own driving transition plan, more emphasis can be placed on finding new passions and activities to engage with their communities. The result is a positive impact on people of all ages.

To have that impact, reliable, secure transportation is essential. Having the necessary conversations and researching appropriate transportation options helps keep everyone happy, healthy and safe.



Thinking about a career in health care? Consider this

4/25/2017

(BPT) - Medical professionals are in greater demand than ever before, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), by the year 2025, the United States could need as many as 90,000 more physicians than it actually has, and the demand for nurses and other health professionals could be even higher.

Given those numbers, the time couldn’t be better to consider a career in health care.

Historically, the path toward becoming a doctor or nurse has been a rigid one — and, as a student, you were either on that path or you weren’t. But today, new options are opening up, as even the best-established medical schools seek to expand their offerings and encourage a greater number of medically inclined students to enter the field professionally.

New options for health care-inclined students of all ages

Just take what Harvard Medical School is doing. This spring, the school — whose typical acceptance rate is under 4 percent — announced its first-ever online certificate program that’s open to all aspiring clinicians as well as the general public.

The program, called HMX Fundamentals, is designed to give students a taste of what a top-tier medical education entails, while building crucial expertise in four foundational subject areas: Immunology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. These highly immersive courses emphasize real-world applications and experiences, integrating real-life case studies and offering a first-hand look into real medical facilities — a significant step beyond the traditional, passive learning and slide-show presentations that are common in some other online programs. The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in a meaningful context, making the information as relevant as possible.

By offering wider access than ever before to some of the school’s top physician-scientists, Harvard Medical School is hoping to change the game, and encourage more health-curious students and professionals to explore medicine seriously.

Whether you’re a highly motivated high school student, a recent college graduate or a young professional considering a transition into health care, this summer’s HMX Fundamentals program could be the first step in your path toward a career in medicine.

Expanding access without sacrificing quality

While HMX Fundamentals courses are open to students at virtually any phase of their academic or professional career, they do require a basic understanding of chemistry, biology and physics. To ensure that students are prepared to succeed, prospective students are asked to submit a brief application, both to confirm they’ve completed the recommended prerequisites and to give HMX a sense of what they hope to achieve through the program.

Applications for the program will be accepted through May 30, and the inaugural summer installment program will begin June 20. Tuition for HMX Fundamentals courses is tiered, beginning at $800 for a single course or $1000 for a two-course bundle. Partial scholarships are available on a limited basis.



Too many with epilepsy are unaware of this uncommon but fatal threat

4/25/2017

(BPT) - For people with epilepsy—and for those who care for them—the side effects of the condition are well known. They know all about the seizures and they also know how best to care for themselves or their loved ones should a seizure occur. While the persistent possibility of a seizure is well known, many people living with epilepsy are unaware of another threat that, while uncommon, is fatal.

They are unaware of SUDEP.

What is SUDEP?

SUDEP stands for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. It is an uncommon but fatal complication that kills one in 4,500 children with epilepsy and one in 1,000 adults with epilepsy each year. In many cases of SUDEP, an otherwise healthy person with epilepsy dies unexpectedly. And while SUDEP may seem to strike from nowhere, new research is available to help patients and their families reduce their risk.

The American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society recently released a new guideline to help patients and their families better understand SUDEP and its risk factors. According to the guideline, the occurrence of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS), a type of seizure that involves the whole body, is one of the key risk factors for SUDEP. The guidelines also find that a patient’s risk of SUDEP increases as GTCS increases in frequency.

Likewise, seizure freedom from GTCS decreases a person’s risk of SUDEP.

Care guidelines for doctors, patients and caregivers

Given the clear connection that exists between the frequency of GTCS and their risk for SUDEP, reducing GTCS experiences remains the most effective way to reduce a person’s SUDEP risk.

For neurologists—the doctors who treat patients with epilepsy—this means increasing patient knowledge of SUDEP and letting people know that while the condition is uncommon, it can be fatal. This conversation can be difficult, but it is essential so patients can better understand their risks and how to protect their health. Actively working with patients who experience GTCS to manage their epilepsy therapies is the best way to reduce their seizure risk. Neurologists should also inform patients that seizure freedom, particularly freedom from GTCS—which is more likely to occur by taking prescribed medication regularly—is strongly associated with a decreased risk of SUDEP.

For patients, this report makes the conversations they have with their neurologist regarding their epilepsy treatment more important than ever. Patients must speak with their neurologist about their experiences and carefully follow the treatments set in place. Failure to do so could not only be seizure inducing, but life threatening. For those living with epilepsy and their caregivers, sidestepping the treatment simply isn’t worth the risk.

To learn more about SUDEP and the latest treatment guidelines available from the American Academy of Neurology and American Epilepsy Society, visit aan.com.



Think you're eating well? Misconceptions lead to nutrient deficiencies for many

4/24/2017

(BPT) - The good news? Americans think they are eating well; in fact, 60 percent say they eat a very healthy diet. The not-so-good news? Perception and reality may not be aligned.

Only 6 percent of Americans report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reveals recent research from supplement maker MegaFood. The discrepancy leaves a huge nutritional gap to fill.

The survey results highlight another knowledge gap between Americans and healthy eating — you can eat plenty of healthy foods, and still not get the recommended daily allowances of key nutrients.

For example, 52 percent of survey respondents say they think they get enough vitamin B6 in their diets. B6 is found in foods like bananas and avocados, plays an important role in producing fuel and energy, and is critical for optimal function of the brain, nervous and immune systems. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6.

Multiple studies have shown many Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of needed nutrients every day, yet two-thirds believe they can get all the required nutrients by eating a healthy diet, according to the MegaFood survey. As a result, the belief they don’t need a multivitamin is the top reason two in five people don’t take one.

“My experience consistently shows me that a large number of Americans live high-carb, high-sugar, caffeine-overloaded, stressed-out, no-exercise lives,” says Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s "Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More." “We may have good intentions when it comes to eating well, but the truth is that many of us fall short of an ideal diet — and even when we do our best to eat well, it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients we need on a regular basis with diet alone.”

What you can do

It is possible to take steps to improve nutrition. Dr. Low Dog offers these tips:

* Know the nutrients you should be getting and the recommended daily amount for each. The National Institutes of Health provide online tables for recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, based on age and gender.

* Do your best to eat a balanced diet; it delivers health benefits beyond vitamin sufficiency. Be sure to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

* Supplement your good eating habits with a quality multivitamin. Eighty-one percent of consumers realize that not all multivitamins are the same. MegaFood makes a line of multivitamins formulated to support the health of men and women during various phases of life. They’re made from real food from real family farmers. The line is gluten-, soy-, GMO- and dairy-free, and tested to be free of pesticides and herbicides.



The important role vaccines may play in helping keep children and adults healthy

4/21/2017

(BPT) - Every one of the nearly 12,000 babies born in the United States each day may be susceptible to infectious diseases. The good news is that vaccines can help protect children from some of these diseases.

As National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) approaches, it is timely to remember the role that vaccinations can play in helping to prevent certain diseases among infants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that routine vaccination of the nearly 4 million babies born in the US each year may help to prevent about 20 million cases of diseases that they could develop over their lifetime. In fact, over time, successful vaccination campaigns have contributed to the near elimination or elimination of some diseases in the U.S., like polio.

Vaccination is considered to be one of the greatest public health achievements since 1900. NIIW, which is held April 22 – 29 this year, highlights the importance of helping to protect infants from diseases for which there are vaccines and celebrates the achievements of vaccination programs in helping to promote healthy communities.

"Today vaccines can help to protect against 14 diseases before age two," explains Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., M.S., Executive Director, Merck Vaccines Global Health & Medical Affairs. "Failure to vaccinate may mean putting your children at risk for potentially serious diseases."

“In the U.S., most young children receive many of the recommended vaccines, but there is room to improve vaccination rates among all groups, including adolescents and adults," says Bresnitz.

In fact, the CDC has specific recommended vaccination schedules that cover children, adolescents and adults. Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines that may be recommended for you and your loved ones, and visit www.vaccinesandyou.com to learn more.

This information is provided by Merck.

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Proper nutrition is key to senior health

4/17/2017

(BPT) - Americans are now living longer than ever before. In fact, one of the fastest growing segments is people over the age of 85 who will represent 20 percent of the population by the year 2040. Because we are living longer, certain conditions specific to seniors are also on a steady rise. Dehydration, falls, fractures, cognition loss and attention deficits are now becoming more commonplace.

In a recent paper titled "Salt Appetite Across Generations" presented at a medical conference in Switzerland, Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa indicated that among seniors, a reduced sense of thirst could increase the increased risk of serious dehydration. They also noted that the appetite for salt does not diminish with age, and suggested that this could be used to help sustain hydration and prevent the dangerous symptoms that result from dehydration.

Another study published in the American Journal of Hypertension identified significant risks to cardiovascular health and longevity from consuming any less than 1, or more than 3 teaspoons of salt per day. Fortunately, most Americans, including seniors, when left to their own choice consume right in the middle of this range.

Seniors in assisted living centers can be especially susceptible to the dangers of low salt diets. In 2013 a task force of 12 professional medical, nursing, and nutritional organizations assembled by the Pioneer Network published the "New Dining Practice Standards." Their report concluded that low salt diets were contributing to malnutrition and weight loss among a significant percentage of seniors in assisted living facilities.

Low salt diets can also cause seniors to suffer from mild hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance in the blood which may not sound bad but can lead directly to walking impairment, attention deficits and a much higher frequency of falls. Several recent medical papers found a direct relationship between hyponatremia and unsteadiness, falls, bone fractures and attention deficits.

Falls are one of the most serious problems for the elderly and about a third of people over 65 fall at least once every year. Fall-related injuries in the elderly are associated with numerous psychological and physical consequences and are a leading cause of bone breakage and hip fractures, which can lead to complications and permanent disability or death. Some seniors do need a low salt diets but many do not, and it should not be assumed that they all do or benefit from when in fact the opposite may be the case.



Experts say alarming rise in STDs among young adults requires urgent action

4/13/2017

(BPT) - Lauren, a young woman from North Carolina, started noticing symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) after being with a new partner. As someone who typically took great care of her health, she knew it was important to get her symptoms checked out. She was surprised to learn that she had chlamydia.

"Luckily, I experienced symptoms, so I knew to get tested," Lauren says, "but not everyone experiences them." Since talking to her friends about what happened, she adds, "I'm surprised at how many of them have gone through the same thing. It's a lot more common than I thought."

Because she caught it early, Lauren was able to treat her chlamydia quickly with one course of antibiotics. She said she knows getting an STD isn't a punishment for having unprotected sex, but if you are having sex, getting tested is the best way to take care of yourself.

"I'm so glad that I didn't wait to be tested, because the real problem is when STDs aren't treated," Lauren says.

Lauren's experience is increasingly common among young adults. In fact, one in two sexually active people will get an STD by age 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet a recent study shows that fewer than 12 percent said they were tested in the past year.

Shattering the STD stigma

To spread the message about the importance of STD testing, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) has launched a stigma-shattering initiative - "YES Means TEST(TM)" - to educate and empower young adults who say "YES" to sexual activity also to say "YES" to getting tested for STDs.

"At ASHA, we understand there are plenty of reasons young people aren't getting tested," says Lynn Barclay, president and CEO of ASHA. "They're often in denial about the risk of STDs, aren't educated about their harmful effects or for some reason are too embarrassed to discuss them. We've got to reverse that stigma so people, especially young women, feel empowered to take ownership of their sexual health."

"YES Means TEST" launched with a video featuring comedian/actress Whitney Cummings, a creator of the hit TV show, "2 Broke Girls." The video is aimed at normalizing STD testing so young people will view it as a natural part of their health routine. The video reveals surprising statistics about the impact of STDs and asks young people why their generation isn't more comfortable talking about STDs and getting tested. All "YES Means TEST" activities direct people to www.YESmeansTEST.org, where they can locate nearby clinics to receive STD screenings.

Why testing matters now more than ever

People may not know they have an STD because many do not have symptoms, and they can cause serious health consequences if they are not detected and treated appropriately. For example, chlamydia left untreated can put a woman at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can lead to infertility. "YES Means TEST" was designed primarily to reach sexually active women ages 18-24. The CDC recommends annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings for this demographic.

STD testing can be confidential and free or low-cost, and common STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, are usually effectively treated with antibiotics. For more information about STDs, "YES Means TEST" or how and where to get tested, visit www.YESmeansTEST.org. Join the conversation online with #YESmeansTEST.



Fresh ways to enjoy pizza night and make a balanced meal

4/13/2017

(BPT) - You know a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is best for your health, but achieving that can be a challenge given everything you have to accomplish in a day. Daily meal planning doesn’t have to be such a chore if you turn to your freezer for a little help. In fact, starting with frozen prepared foods as the foundation of your dinner plate and adding side dishes with fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy can make it possible to serve a balanced meal that is quick and tasty. And that works for pizza night, too!

"Eating a balanced meal doesn't mean you have to give up favorite foods like pizza," says Bobby Parrish, Food Network personality and Today contributor. "It just means you need to be mindful of portion sizes and balance out your plate with a nutritious side dish of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains."

Research shows that Americans struggle with meeting recommended dietary guidelines. In fact, nine out of 10 people don’t get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. A simple way to improve the mix of foods you’re eating is by supplementing something you already enjoy — like pizza — with side dishes made up of other food groups.

Nestlé USA's Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate both 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.

By choosing your favorite frozen dishes, like pizza, as the foundation of your meal, you can build a more balanced plate with these tips:

* Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables. For example, if you have a slice of cheese pizza, pair it with a fresh salad or your favorite vegetable side dish.

* Figure out your portion by looking at the recommended Serving Size in the Nutrition Facts label. Here’s an easy idea for pizza portions: picture your hand as a pizza slice and plan to enjoy one or two hands’ worth.

* Don’t be afraid to mix vegetables right into or on top of your pizza. For example, top cheese pizza with fresh tomato and basil after it comes out of the oven.

* Bagged salad greens, spinach or salad kits are a great, speedy way to add greens to your plate.

Parrish, who partnered with DiGiorno to create original side dish recipes, offers these two nutritious and tasty salad recipes to pair with your favorite pizza to create a more balanced meal:

Quinoa and Grapefruit Herb Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

1 grapefruit

2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped and roasted (optional)

1-2 small carrots, grated

1 tablespoon each of fresh parsley and dill, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring 1 3/4 cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Add 3/4 cups of raw quinoa. Stir well, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Check the quinoa; the water should be absorbed and the grain should be fluffy. If the quinoa has not unraveled, add another 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water evaporates and the quinoa looks cooked. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool for up to two hours, or you can make ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.

Place the cooked, cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Using a knife, cut away all the skin from the grapefruit and cut all segments directly into the bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Check for taste; you may need to add more lemon juice. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Shaved Apple and Romaine Crunch Salad

Ingredients:

2 hearts of romaine lettuce

1 sweet apple, like gala or pink lady

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon fresh chives, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For the salad dressing:

3 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Zest and juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2-4 tablespoons water

Directions:

Use a slicer or mandoline to thinly slice the apple. Place the slices in a large bowl and squeeze some lemon juice over the slices to prevent them from turning brown. Slice the romaine thinly and add it to the bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.

For the dressing, add everything but the water to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add enough water to loosen the dressing so it's able to be poured. Check for seasoning; you may need a little more salt or lemon juice.

Keep the dressing and salad in the fridge until ready to serve. Right before you dress the salad, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a couple cracks of pepper to the romaine mixture. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat everything, making sure not to over-dress the salad. Once the salad is dressed, it must be eaten and cannot be stored in the fridge.

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



Unique ideas to be gutsier in life

4/11/2017

(BPT) - Being human takes guts, but a sense of bold confidence doesn’t come easily for everyone; and often requires you to start from the inside. You may need to overcome mental roadblocks and bulldoze through personal physical barriers that have held you back.

Now is the perfect time to break free of those internal boundaries and challenge yourself to live boldly and bravely. Here are some ideas to unlock your potential from the inside out, allowing you to live gutsier at any age:

Start with a gut check

To be your best self and have the “guts” to tackle whatever lies ahead, get your gut in check and reap the glory. According to a recent Renew Life survey, three out of four women (72 percent) report that they’ve experienced occasional digestive issues in the past 12 months, such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Not only may these all be signs your gut is in need of replenishment and balance, but they’re enough of a reason to sit on the sideline rather than experience a new adventure.

Nutrition experts like Ellie Krieger, RD, host of “Ellie's Real Good Food” show and author of several healthy cookbooks, agree that one of the most efficient and impactful ways to bring balance to the digestive tract for better digestive and immune health is with a daily probiotic like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics, recommended for their blends of multiple strains and billions of live cultures, which reflects the natural diversity in the gut.

Try something new

When you try something you've never done before, it stimulates the body and mind. Don't worry about failure — just keep an open mind and have fun. No matter the outcome, you'll create lifelong memories.

For example, even if you aren't crafty, sign up for a pottery class. Always wondered about yoga? Take an intro session. Want to make new friends? Attend that community function. When you get outside your comfort zone, you may be surprised just how much fun you have.

Eat new foods

Expand your nutritional palate with healthy items that aren’t staples on your daily menu — mix them with dishes you know and try them a couple of times. Training your brain to recognize new flavors and smells requires multiple exposures, and proximity to familiar favorites helps make things safe by association. You never know what might become your next favorite dish.

Some healthy foodie trends you may want to try include sea vegetables like dulse, a seaweed, and items that include probiotic cultures, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt. You might even consider signing up for a cooking class to learn new skills in the kitchen.

Take a spontaneous PTO day

Americans wasted 658 million paid vacation days, according to Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 report. That means more than half of workers (55 percent) left vacation time unused. Don't let precious time off slip away, and take a mental health day.

Call in on a random day and give yourself the gift of an unplanned day off. Maybe it's a particularly nice day and you can go hiking or you can surprise your best friend with lunch on her birthday. Take a "me day" and enjoy.

Reflect on and be a role model

Who do you admire for their guts? Is it someone famous or someone close to you? Think about what they do that inspires you. If you can, tell them why. For example, write your mom a letter about how she's impacted your life. It's sure to make her day.

While thinking about role models, reflect on how you can be a better one yourself. Whether you hope to inspire your friends, children or co-workers, be the best you that you can be. Always stand up for what you believe in and be true to yourself. One way to do this is to donate to a cause close to your heart.

Challenge yourself

Need extra motivation for living gutsier? Join a fun challenge that can both guide you plus provide a sense of community and support. Sign up for a 5K with a friend or commit your family to meatless Mondays for a month. When you do challenges in groups, it can be a lot of fun.

Check out the Renew Life Guts & Glory 14-Day Gut Challenge at www.RenewLife.com/gutchallenge that will bring balance to your gut; and as a result live the life you’ve always dreamed of. The challenge will provide plenty of ideas to #getgutsy and stay healthy, and one lucky sweepstakes winner will receive $2,500 to put toward any gutsy endeavor they choose (sweepstakes from April 6 – May 19, 2017).



Tips to reduce your health care expenses

4/11/2017

(BPT) - Health care costs are in the news all the time. You hear about them at work and when you’re with friends and family. The comments are always the same. Health care is getting more and more expensive and it seems to be outpacing the money you make.

Fortunately you’re not helpless when it comes to controlling your health care costs. While some treatments simply have to be done in order to support your health, there are other things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones while looking out for your pocketbook at the same time.

Employ these five tips today and you’ll enjoy the care you need without breaking your budget.

* Focus on your health first. When it comes to controlling your health care expenses, you actually have more control than you think – a lot more. The decisions you make every day – what to eat, whether or not to smoke, how much to exercise – all play a dramatic role in your overall health. So take charge, dine on fruits and vegetables, take a run and kick that nicotine habit for good. Each of these little decisions will benefit your health and your budget.

* Be decisive with your deductible. Your insurance deductible is a fixed cost and one you’ll pay every single year before receiving network coverage support. But once it's paid, you’ll enjoy the full coverage of your plan. Thus, if you have another treatment or procedure coming up, don’t put it off any longer than you have to. Undergoing additional procedures in the same year means you get more coverage while paying only one deductible. Many health plans also cover preventive services in full, without going against a deductible.

* Be smart about where you go for care. While health care facilities across the country are all capable of delivering compassionate, quality care, they are not all priced the same. According to a Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report, 29.8 percent of emergency room visits were for conditions that could have been treated in retail clinics. The same research also found consumers saved money on out-of-pocket costs by visiting retail clinics for routine services when compared to doctor’s offices, and the visits were much more inexpensive than receiving the same treatment in the emergency room, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

* Ask questions. Your provider may know best, but it's all about your health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, not only about the procedure itself, but about the price of the procedure and if there is anything you can do to reduce the expense. Sometimes there may be something you can do on your own that supports your health and lessens your costs at the same time.

* Embrace an HSA. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) provide a cost-effective way for people who don’t use a lot of health care services, to access care and pay for services up until they reach their deductible. Plus the money you save in your HSA can be used to pay for co-insurance payments or co-pays at your doctor’s office, and it's also an eligible tax write off, opening the door to further savings. There are ways you can manage your health care spending. Follow the tips above and be an active participant in your role as a health care consumer and you'll be surprised at how much you save. To learn more about the The Health of America Report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.



Simple ideas to get in shape for summer

4/10/2017

(BPT) - Getting in shape for summer is more than just feeling good in a swimsuit. It's being healthy so you can participate in all the fun activities that come along with the warmer weather.

From hiking to swimming, you don't want to miss out on any of the summer fun. Eating right is a great way to ensure you’re healthy and in shape for summer. Use these easy healthy-eating tips to work your way toward healthier living.

1) Eat a high-protein breakfast
A Tel Aviv University study found that adding whey protein to your breakfast can help you slim down. What's more, you'll feel satisfied for longer. Record-setting long distance runner Jordan Hasay eats the same whey-protein-powered breakfast before each of her races. Try out the recipe for yourself: French vanilla BiPro, cinnamon oatmeal, fresh fruit, peanut butter and flax seed.

2) Give your workout routine a jolt
A growing body of research shows that having caffeine before exercise can improve athletic performance, whether you’re lifting weights or doing an endurance workout. A study in the journal "Nutrients" found that cyclists who consumed caffeine were able to pedal for an average of 23 percent longer than other bikers. Another study, from the "European Journal of Sport Science," indicated that pre-workout caffeine can increase muscular force and power. More research from the "American Journal of Physiology" even shows that consuming caffeine before a workout can help accelerate fat loss!

3) Join a workout challenge
There are all kinds of great fitness challenges online, which offer nutritional tips and workout advice. One of the great things about a challenge is that it not only helps you learn more about nutrition and the gym, but it can also give you a concrete workout schedule. Check out the Summer Jumpstart Challenge at Info.BiProUSA.com/jumpstart.

4) Avoid late night snacking
One of the easiest ways to eat healthier is by cutting out unneeded snacks. If you watch TV at night, it’s pretty easy to grab a bag of chips or microwave a bag of popcorn to eat while sitting on the couch. Try to cut out these unnecessary calories. If you eat a protein-packed, healthy dinner then you shouldn’t feel the need to snack later.

5) Make your desserts healthier
Ok, if you absolutely can’t go without having a late night snack then at least make it as healthy as possible. The recipe below is great because it satisfies your sweet tooth and each serving is just 30 calories.

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pops

Ingredients

1 cup of chopped strawberries
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of strawberry BiPro whey protein isolate
1-2 tablespoons of orange juice

Directions

Place 1/2 cup of strawberries, yogurt, strawberry BiPro and orange juice in a blender and puree until smooth.

Divide remaining strawberries into desired molds. Pour pureed mixture over chopped fruit.

Insert sticks and freeze for at least 5 hours.



5 simple steps to be your best at any age

4/10/2017

(BPT) - They say you’re only as young as you feel, and if you're an older American, the ability to feel young a little while longer is always appealing. Having a youthful state of mind goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal, but you can’t ignore the importance of solid physical health.

To improve your physical and mental health and prove age is just a number, apply these five tips from Mayo Clinic today.

* Find the perfect interval. If you’ve never participated in high-intensity interval training before, here’s a compelling reason to start. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found high-intensity aerobic exercise actually reversed some cellular aspects of aging. The research also found that the exercise improved muscle proteins, enlarged muscles and increased energy levels.

* The benefit of brain games. A sharp mind is every bit as important as a healthy body, and exercising your brain can be a lot of fun. Spend time learning new things on the internet, enroll in a class for that craft you've always wanted to master, go out with friends or sit down and play a board game. All of these activities can greatly improve your mental health. For example, a Mayo Clinic study found playing games decreased a person's risk of mild cognitive impairment by 22 percent making this enjoyable activity healthy as well.

* Supplementing your health. Health supplements should never completely replace whole food offerings, but they may offer you real health value as well. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, supplements may be ideal for vegans and vegetarians or those who consume less than 1,600 calories per day. People with a condition affecting the way their body absorbs nutrients and those who have had surgery on their digestive tract should also speak with their doctor about supplements that may improve their overall health.

* The importance of sleep. A good night’s sleep offers health benefits at any age, but getting enough rest can be more difficult as you get older. To get a better night's sleep, review your medications with your doctor to see if anything is impacting your rest. You should also try to limit your daytime napping (just 10 to 20 minutes per day is best) and avoid alcohol, caffeine or even water within a couple hours before bedtime.

* Focus on your sexual health. This topic may not be as widely discussed as your physical or mental health, but it is no less important. Men should talk to their doctors about their lessening testosterone levels, which drop about 1 percent per year after age 30. Women may experience a similar drop in estrogen levels as well and should consult their doctor for treatment options. Don’t be shy about discussing sexual health issues with your doctor, from STDs to annual checkups, having a thorough understanding of your current sexual health — and what you need to do to protect or improve it — will benefit every other part of your life.

With aging comes new challenges and the need to be more vigilant in maintaining your overall well-being. By incorporating some of the tips above from the experts at Mayo Clinic, you'll make sure the best years of your life are still to come. You can learn more about improving your health at any age through the advice offered in Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging, or visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle for more healthy lifestyle ideas.



The rising burden of Alzheimer's disease on health costs, caregiver health and 65+ population

4/8/2017

(BPT) - Kristen Beatty’s 78-year-old father, Ray, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 10 years ago. Since then, he has developed a sense of paranoia, insomnia and the delusion that people are stealing from him. Though Beatty and her brother constantly reassure their father to allay his fears, the daily struggle can take its toll. Beatty’s mother, Sue, had previously cared for Ray for about five years. In 2012, Sue died unexpectedly of a heart attack, or as Beatty puts it, she died of a broken heart.

“She was exhausted from the constant care and the pressure that came with it,” Beatty said. “She was eating super healthy, walking every day and taking very good care of herself, so I truly believe it was the stress. My brother and I feel guilty because we could have supported her better, but she wouldn’t ask for help. She wouldn’t consider moving him to a facility or going to support groups.”

The stress and the pressure Beatty’s mother faced is not unlike the experiences of millions of other Alzheimer’s caregivers around the nation, who primarily care for people with the disease because of their desire to keep their family member at home, their proximity to the person with dementia or their perceived obligation — all pressures that can lead to harsh consequences for caregivers.

For example, more than one in three caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias report their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared with one out of five caregivers for older people without dementia. And depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.

These findings are part of the Alzheimer’s Association "2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report," released recently. The report analyzes new research about cost, prevalence, incidence, caregiving, and mortality and morbidity. The report found a dramatic surge in deaths from Alzheimer’s — the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Meanwhile, deaths from other major causes are decreasing. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from heart disease decreased 14 percent, but deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 89 percent.

Another finding was the growing cost burden of Alzheimer’s. For the first time ever, it now costs over a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion) annually to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States — $56 billion of which is coming right from individuals’ pockets. According to the report, out-of-pocket costs for people affected by Alzheimer’s are startlingly high, despite support from Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, annual per-person payments for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are almost five times higher ($10,315) than those for seniors without these conditions ($2,232).

According to Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association, providing ongoing support for the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s will need to remain a national policy priority moving forward, as the population at risk for Alzheimer’s is projected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.

“As the number of people with Alzheimer’s continues to grow, so does the impact and cost of providing care to our health system and the millions of unpaid caregivers,” Kallmyer said. “While we’ve seen increases in federal research funding and access to critical care planning and support services, there’s still an urgent need to expand options and support for family-centered and community care and to fund more research that can bring us closer to effective treatment options and, ultimately, a cure.”

To read the full Facts and Figures report, visit www.alz.org/facts. For comprehensive information, support and resources on Alzheimer’s caregiving, visit www.alz.org/care/overview.asp.



Living with an autoimmune disease? Recognize that your voice matters

4/6/2017

(BPT) - If you are living with an autoimmune disease, you have most likely spent several years working with your doctor to find the right medication to manage your symptoms. Now that you've found a biologic treatment that works for you, what if at your next appointment, your doctor asks you to switch to a new medication? Would you speak up and share your concerns?

With biosimilars now available in the marketplace, you may be told you have to switch from an innovator biologic to a biosimilar - even though you may be stable and doing well on your current therapy. Biosimilars are not generic versions of biologics. Biologics - prescription medications made in living cells - are more complex than other medicines, such as aspirin; they are more difficult to make, and cannot be copied exactly.

If you are stable on your biologic, it is very likely that you have undergone a long journey. You may have tried several other medications - often over the period of many years - before achieving control of your symptoms with your current therapy.

It is important as a person living with an autoimmune disease to recognize that you have a voice in the matter. You have rights, and you can speak up to ensure the decision to switch medications remains one that is made by your physician, in consultation with you.

Finely Tuned is a new educational resource that features the stories of six individuals living with autoimmune diseases and their journeys to find the right therapy. Through these empowering stories, people who are stable on their biologic can gather tips for engaging in a conversation with their doctors about why they want to stay on their current therapy.

These videos, along with a guide for discussing this topic with your physician, can be found on FinelyTuned.com. If you or someone you love is living with an autoimmune disease, please visit www.finelytuned.com today to learn more about why your voice counts, and why it is so important in this matter.



Get safer drinking water

4/5/2017

(BPT) - Your home plumbing could be making you sick and costing you money. Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, may be directly contributing to the buildup of dangerous bacteria in your household pipes. This is a serious problem across the United States, especially when you consider that nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water.

Left untreated, the water you use to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables may actually contain more bacteria, and the problem isn't only in the kitchen. When you take a hot shower the steam you are inhaling can also contain the same microbial contamination that is in the rest of your plumbing, exposing you to bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire's disease.

Normally, the piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces that don't permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria.

Researchers at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University found bacteria may grow in pipes filled with both hard scale and soft scale at the same rate. This is important new information because some forms of water conditioning produce this soft scale.

The only solution is to remove both hard and soft scale in the pipes with a traditional salt-based water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water - as well as iron, manganese or radium ions - and replaces them with sodium ions.

A salt-based water softener doesn't just help protect your health, it protects your appliances, as well. Hard water scaling clogs waterlines and plumbing, forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. Hard water can reduce the efficiency of water heaters and increase electricity costs by as much as 48 percent, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute. Hard water also damages appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, shower heads and faucets. These must be repaired and replaced more often as a result.

Kitchens also benefit from soft water because it is up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers found that for clothes washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains from clothing was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water. In fact, soft water can reduce soap use by as much as half.

To determine if you have hard water, look for spots and scale buildup on fixtures. You can also test your water yourself to check for hardness with home water testing kits or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. For more information on water softening and salt health please visit www.saltinstitute.org.



World-renowned athlete scores big against Crohn's disease

4/5/2017

(BPT) - For world-renowned soccer player Brandi Chastain, having a game plan in place to achieve goals was second nature. Chastain is a former member of the United States women's national soccer team and a retired professional soccer player who was recently elected to the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. When Chastain’s now 10-year-old son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, she had to tackle a different type of plan. Chastain has partnered with AbbVie on My IBD Game Plan, a program designed to help people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), create a plan to help manage everyday life with these diseases.

The program encourages people living with IBD, and their caregivers, to proactively work with their doctors and support team to take control and manage the symptoms of these diseases. Program resources can be found at CrohnsandColitis.com.

“Being on a team is something that has always been very important to me, and when my son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I found myself on a new team,” said Chastain. "There are 1.6 million Americans who live with IBD daily, and CrohnsandColitis.com is a great resource for them to be able to find information, to ask questions and to talk to their doctor about an appropriate treatment plan."

As many as 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can be serious diseases that can get worse over time, with symptoms that may change in severity or change over the course of one’s life and it is important to talk to a doctor about any change in symptoms and appropriate treatment options.

People living with IBD usually go through periods of remission, meaning few or no symptoms, alternating with periods of more active disease symptoms. Common symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis include diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramping and rectal bleeding. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but there are treatments available that directly address the causes of the symptoms and can help achieve and maintain remission.

“The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can not only pose physical challenges but also emotional and social ones that can really interfere with everyday life,” said Eva Szigethy, Ph.D., M.D., M.S., an associate professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “There are tips on CrohnsandColitis.com, such as how to build confidence, manage social situations, tackle stress and find motivation, that individuals and their loved ones can put in place. Along with an individualized treatment plan, these tips and tools may help them gain control and better manage the challenges of IBD.”

In addition to information on how to build their own IBD Game Plan with their healthcare provider, CrohnsandColitis.com also features tools and information to help manage the physical, emotional and social challenges of IBD. It also features a Restroom Request Card that people living with IBD can use to discreetly request access to restricted restrooms when unexpected symptoms arise.

Please visit https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com/ for more information.



Cover your nutrition bases with this popular vegetable

4/5/2017

(BPT) - Whether you're on or off the field, it's important to fuel up wisely. Leading sports nutritionists across the country recommend potatoes as the go-to choice for fueling your body before or after a workout.

"To perform at your best, put potatoes on your plate," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, the nutritionist for the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. That's because the benefits of America's most popular vegetable go far beyond its delicious taste and versatility in the kitchen.

Up to bat and gearing up for a grand slam? Here's how potatoes can get you there.

First Base: Carbohydrate

Did you know that carbohydrate is the primary fuel for your brain and a key source of energy for muscles? Because your body's own stores of carbohydrate are limited and may be depleted even in a single session of intense and/or prolonged exercise it's important to replenish them for optimal mental and physical performance. With a medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato containing 26 grams of carbohydrate, potatoes are a nutrient-dense carb, containing as much, if not more, of several essential vitamins and minerals than spaghetti, brown rice or whole wheat bread (compared on a per-serving basis).

Second Base: Potassium

A medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato also contains 620 milligrams of potassium. That's more potassium than a banana! Potassium is an important electrolyte that aids in muscle, cardiovascular and nervous system function. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines mention potassium as an under-consumed nutrient of concern and recommends consuming foods with high levels of potassium, such as white potatoes.

Third Base: Energy

As we know, adequate energy supports optimal body functions, and it's critical to take in the appropriate number of calories to match the demands of your day. Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable, with a medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato containing 110 calories.

Home Run!

Whether you lead an active lifestyle or compete with elite athletes, there's an all-star potato option to fuel your body and brain throughout the day. Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, chef and dietitian for the Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies, keeps her potato dishes interesting with recipes like Smoky Maple Potato Bites, combining a crunchy panko crust with a creamy and satisfying potato center to create an easy make-ahead, post-workout (or in between inning) snack.

Smoky Maple Potato Bites

Created Exclusively for Potatoes USA by Katie Cavuto, MS, RD

Yield: 16 servings (2 bites per serving)

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds russet potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra as needed

3/4 cup diced leeks, white part only (one medium leek)

1/2 cup low-fat plain strained yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoons mild smoked paprika

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

3 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 large eggs, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, plus extra as needed

1 1/2 cups panko (regular or gluten-free)

Olive oil cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

1. Add potatoes to a large pot of water and bring them to a boil. Cook uncovered at medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, leeks and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, to soften. Place the cooked leeks in the bowl with the potatoes.

3. Add the yogurt, paprika, oregano, maple syrup, mustard, 1 egg, the pepper, and remaining salt to the bowl with the potatoes and leeks. Mash the potatoes, stirring periodically, until smooth.

4. Place the potato mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

6. Crack the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl and whisk.

7. Add the panko to another small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Make 2-tablespoon portions of the potato mixture and roll them into balls.

9. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the eggs, then dredge in the panko, pressing it to coat.

10. Place the balls on a baking sheet coating with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the tops of the balls with cooking spray as well.

11. Bake for 15 minutes and then, if needed, broil them for 2 to 3 minutes to brown. Serve immediately.

Per serving (2 bites): Calories: 136, Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 35 mg, Sodium: 273 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 2 g, Potassium: 386 mg, Protein: 5 g, Vitamin C: 9%



Are you more than tired? 5 symptoms you shouldn't ignore

3/29/2017

(BPT) - Do you fight to stay awake during the day? Is exhaustion part of your everyday life? If the urge to sleep is overwhelming and irresistible, it may be a sleep disorder called narcolepsy, a condition affecting approximately one in 2,000 people in the U.S. Narcolepsy is one of the most frequently diagnosed primary sleep disorders. However, it’s not always easy to recognize.

“There are five major symptoms of narcolepsy. Many of them can be confused with other medical conditions such as depression or epilepsy, making a narcolepsy diagnosis somewhat tricky,” says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, pulmonary and sleep specialist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. “Approximately half of the people affected by narcolepsy remain undiagnosed. A diagnosis can take up to 10 years to receive. We need greater awareness of narcolepsy to help expedite the diagnosis process for patients.”

Everyone with narcolepsy has excessive daytime sleepiness. That’s when you feel tired all the time, making it hard to stay awake and alert throughout the day. It can be described as feeling fatigued or irritable, having difficulty concentrating, poor memory, or mood changes. Patients say it comes in waves, like a “sleep attack.” These can happen during unusual situations, such as in the middle of a meal, a conversation or bike ride.

There are five major symptoms, but you don’t need to experience them all to have narcolepsy.

1. Excessive daytime sleepiness: As discussed above, this is when you have an irresistible urge to sleep during the day.

2. Cataplexy: The weakening of muscles when you feel strong emotions like embarrassment, laughter, surprise, or anger. Cataplexy can cause your head to drop, your face to droop, your jaw to weaken, or make your knees give way.

3. Sleep disruption: When you often fall asleep quickly but wake up frequently throughout the night.

4. Sleep paralysis: Feeling unable to move or speak for a short time when falling asleep or waking up. You may also feel like you can’t breathe.

5. Vivid dreaming: Often frightening dreamlike experiences that seem real and happen when falling asleep or waking up. You may experience hearing sounds or words when drifting to sleep or have unwanted visions. Sleep paralysis often accompanies these vivid dreams.

Narcolepsy occurs equally as often in men and women. The symptoms often start between the ages of 10 and 25, but it can take up to 12 years for narcolepsy to fully develop. Narcolepsy is a debilitating disease, as it can cause difficulties at work, negatively impact social interactions, lower self-esteem, and create challenges performing everyday tasks. Contrary to popular belief, people with narcolepsy do not spend more time sleeping than the average person.

“It’s normal to feel tired sometimes,” Dr. Dasgupta says. “But if the urge to fall asleep is interfering with your job or personal life, it might be time to talk to a sleep specialist.”

For more information about narcolepsy and to take the symptom screener, visit MoreThanTired.com.

This content is provided by Jazz Pharmaceuticals.



4 ways to become an empowered patient

4/3/2017

(BPT) - While the future of health care is still undetermined, one thing is certain: It's important for consumers to take steps to educate themselves about their health and well-being and become active participants in their plan of care. However, it can feel overwhelming to a patient to make complicated decisions that can impact their health (and finances) in the short and long term.

Rather than relying on health care providers or insurance companies, patients can take ownership of their own health care management. AAAHC, which works with health care providers to optimize patient safety and quality of care, offers four tips to help you become a more confident, empowered patient:

1. Make the Most of Your (Face) Time

With the advancement of health care technology and digital requirements, many doctors find themselves spending more of their time in front of a computer screen, with one study revealing doctors can spend less than one-third of their time with patients.

Health care professionals are, however, transitioning towards a more patient-centered approach to care that focuses on enhancing the holistic experience and needs of each patient. To make each interaction more meaningful, health care providers should discuss your medical history, lifestyle choices and other behaviors to get a better idea of how to tailor recommendations and treatments that support overall wellness.

“Remember to always be open and honest with your doctor, and come with a list of questions,” said Mona Sweeney, RN, of AAAHC Accreditation Services. “Having a list prepared helps you stay focused on getting the information you want, and taking notes will keep new information organized for reference later. If you’ve received a diagnosis that leads to a discussion of treatment options, it also can be helpful to have someone with you as a second set of ears. It’s hard to remember all you’ve been told if you’re under stress.”

2. Know Your Risks, Options and Personal Data

Many patients do not realize it is the health care provider’s responsibility to disclose important details of any treatment plan — including potential benefits, risks and alternative options — and confirm patient understanding prior to moving forward with care. This ensures patients can ask questions and make informed decisions. Remember, you are the driver of your care.

“Because patient-centered health care providers want patients to play a bigger role in their health and wellness, many are providing access to information and opening up new channels of communication,” said Sweeney. “These resources help patients develop stronger relationships with providers and have a better understanding of their care.”

Ask about access to wearable health trackers, online patient portals, telemedicine channels and social media apps to learn what is available from your provider.

3. Go Through the Dollars and Cents

Once you are familiar with the medicine side, you can tackle the costs — which can be tricky. It is well within your rights as a patient to ask for your treatment costs upfront. This will allow you more time to review the price and ask questions before committing to any specific treatment or approach to care, or have a point of reference when reviewing the bill after treatment.

A survey from one payment and claims company, Navicure, found 75 percent of health care providers offer cost estimates upon request, but less than 25 percent of patients request them.

4. Make Your Voice Heard

Helping patients become more engaged in their health care will benefit patients and providers. Health care organizations seek feedback from patients to learn how to enhance the patient experience — which in turn will help them improve the quality of care they deliver.

“Most providers have some formal means of asking for feedback via a survey or customer service portal. Most negative patient experience issues are not the result of poor care, but of poor communications. Be authentic when providing feedback; it’s the only way a health care team can know where they need to improve,” said Sweeney.

For more information on standards for safety and quality that your health care provider must follow in order to earn accreditation, visit www.aaahc.org.



New rotator cuff procedure helps tendons heal

4/3/2017

(BPT) - The rotator cuff is one of the most important parts of the shoulder, as it consists of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place and allow the body to lift the arm and reach for items. Unfortunately, rotator cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder pain and disability, affecting more than 4 million Americans annually, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A rotator cuff injury can greatly reduce quality of life, as it makes daily activities painful and difficult to do.

Those who suffer from rotator cuff disease often avoid surgery to repair the tear because they hear about painful, lengthy postoperative rehabilitation and time away from work. In addition, traditional procedures have focused only on biomechanical repair of the tendon without addressing the underlying biology, which can result in tears progressing and re-tears in the rotator cuff tendon after an initial repair.

A new technology is now available that helps tendons heal by stimulating the growth of new tendon tissue. The Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, which is about the size of a postage stamp, is inserted through a small incision during a short, minimally invasive procedure. Surgical staples hold the implant in place until fibers and tendons of the rotator cuff grow into the implant. The first-of-its-kind implant can provide a range of potential benefits, including shorter rehabilitation, faster recovery, prevention or slowing of disease progression, healing of partial-thickness tears, and decreased risk of developing a subsequent tear.

For people like Starr Boykin, a company executive of Mobile, Alabama, the implant can be life changing. Boykin, who is also involved in competitive fishing tournaments, was recovering from rotator cuff surgery in her right shoulder when, in physical therapy, her left shoulder began to hurt from what turned out to be another rotator cuff tear. Despite multiple surgeries on her left shoulder, pain persisted for over a year.

"My doctor told me there was nothing else they could do, that I needed reverse shoulder replacement," Boykin says. "Being a professional fisherwoman and having already undergone serious shoulder surgeries, this really upset me. I got a second and then a third opinion, and the two other doctors told me the exact same thing.”

After hearing about a physician in Florida who was using the Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, Boykin met with Dr. Christopher O’Grady at the Andrews Institute, who evaluated her case and told her shoulder replacement surgery was not her only option.

“Starr was a great candidate for the Bioinductive Implant because her injury wasn’t a technical problem, it was a biology problem,” Dr. O’Grady says. “The implant didn’t just temporarily repair her rotator cuff, it completely healed the injury and gave her the ability to achieve functional range of motion more quickly than a traditional, more invasive surgical treatment.”

Despite several previous failed rotator cuff surgeries, Boykin is making a full recovery and is back to competitive fishing.

“After the surgery I felt an immediate difference,” Boykin says. “After six months, I was back to fishing in tournaments and paddling in my kayak. I’m so grateful for the Rotation Medical technology, which gave me full use of my arm and shoulder and has given me my life back."

For more information about the Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant or to find a surgeon near you, www.rotationmedical.com. For important safety information, visit http://rotationmedical.com/our-solution/risks/.



5 health 'facts' that are actually myths

3/29/2017

(BPT) - Get eight hours of sleep at night, eat your vegetables, and an apple a day keeps the doctor away — these are all common health sayings you’ve heard and probably believe to be true. While commonly told health myths may have some truth to them, there are some that don’t hold up to further examination.

1.) Starve a cold and feed a fever. This one has been told for years, though most people can’t remember which one you starve and which you feed. However, according to WebMD, the best advice is to starve neither. You’ll recover from the flu or a cold more quickly with a healthy, balanced diet, so eat sensibly and you’ll be yourself again in no time.

2.) Soft toothbrushes make for an ineffective clean. This one isn’t true. The American Dental Association actually recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles to minimize the risk of gingival abrasion. Using a brush like Oral-B’s new Compact Clean provides a small brush head with soft bristles that can get to those hard-to-reach places and provide a precise clean. Because of its unique ultra-dense feathered bristles which offer multiple cleaning tips per filament, Compact Clean will also gently remove plaque in a comfortable, effective way. “As a hygienist, one of the biggest obstacles my patients face is finding the balance between using a brush that is soft enough and achieving an effective clean,” says Andrew Johnston, RDH. “Compact Clean's design allows you to remove plaque while keeping your teeth and gums safe against toothbrush abrasion.”

3.) Cold weather increases your chance of catching a cold. It seems to make sense, but it’s not true. There is no proof colder temperatures increase your chances of catching a cold, according to LiveScience.com. Instead, research shows the spike in colds during the winter months is actually due to people spending more time indoors, around one another, making it easier for the cold to spread from one person to the next.

4.) Reading in poor lighting is bad for your eyes. While it certainly makes it more difficult to focus on what you're reading, there is no evidence that reading under such conditions will cause any permanent structural or long-term damage to your eyes according to WebMD.

5.) An aerobic workout will significantly boost your metabolism all day long. Nope, but you will enjoy a nice boost while you’re actually doing the workout along with a small boost throughout the day, though only about 20 extra calories according to WebMD. If you want improved all day benefits, strength training is actually the better way to go because it conditions your body to burn calories more efficiently.

So the next time you’re tempted to starve your cold, or only read a book with lights blazing, remember that these five commonly held health myths are now debunked! To learn more about how Compact Clean can lead to powerful results, visit www.oralb.com.



5 tips to support your eye health

3/29/2017

(BPT) - Health is a hot topic for many Americans these days, as evident by the named diets, wearable fitness trackers and apps for every possible health measurable. Yet as people show an increased focus on their weight, their cholesterol level or their muscle tone, they often forget that two of their most important organs — their eyes — need to be supported as well.

Fortunately, it's easy to include support for your eye health into your overall fitness plan. If you're looking to protect your eyes during national Workplace Eye Health Month and every month afterward, follow these five tips.

* Understand your family’s history of eye health and other conditions. There is evidence that many people inherit common eye conditions including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Research also shows that more serious conditions including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration appear to be inherited in some cases. Talk to your family members about any conditions they may have related to their eye health. While these symptoms may not apply to you, this information can help you know what to look for and any potential risks to discuss with your doctor.

* Get the eye health support and treatment you need. Like the rest of your body, your eyes need regular check-ups and insurance can help you meet those costs. One in four people have vision insurance coverage through VSP, with individual or family vision plans that provide affordable access to high-quality eye care and eye wear, typically saving you hundreds of dollars on eye exams and glasses.

* Eat a healthy diet. A well-balanced diet is important not only for managing your cholesterol and weight but for supporting your eye health as well. Leafy vegetables, nuts, eggs, beans, pork and citrus fruits include essential eye health nutrients like lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and zinc. All of these nutrients have been proven to protect against vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.

* Schedule regular visits with your eye doctor. Just as you schedule regular wellness visits with your primary care doctor, you should do the same with your eye doctor. An annual trip to the optometrist ensures you can see your best, and can even lead to early detection of chronic diseases, like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

* Shield your eyes from the effects of digital devices. Prolonged exposure to blue light, emitted by digital devices, can lead to digital eye strain. The symptoms of this condition include blurred vision, dry eyes, headaches and neck pain. Ask your doctor about the best options to reduce eye strain, including lenses with coatings that reflect and absorb blue light.

Focusing on improving your health is a great idea at any time and any age — just make sure your initiative targets your total body health, including your eyes. To learn more about how VSP Individual Vision Plans can provide you with the vision care you need to support your eye health, visit vspdirect.com today.



Fiber: 3 simple ways to get more of it in your diet

3/24/2017

(BPT) - Eat more fiber.

If your doctor didn’t give you this advice at your last checkup, she probably should have: 97 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber they need to stay healthy. But what is fiber, and why is it good for you?

Dietary fiber, sometimes called “roughage,” is a plant-based carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as rice and wheat. Our bodies have a difficult time digesting fiber, which is actually a good thing — as fiber passes through the body undigested, it does a lot of good along the way!

Fiber has many proven health benefits. It has been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, decrease the risk of stroke, help you feel fuller longer, prevent constipation and boost digestive health and your immune system.

Experts like the Food and Drug Administration recommend we consume about 28 grams of fiber each day — which, it turns out, is a lot of food. Here are three ways to include more fiber in your diet.

Eat whole grains

Whole grains like whole wheat breads, cereals, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa are an excellent source of dietary fiber. There are a number of ways to add whole grains to your favorite meals. Start your day with whole grain cereal to boost your fiber intake at breakfast or bulk up your baking by substituting whole-grain flour for half or all of your recipe’s white flour.

Check your food label

The FDA has approved seven ingredients that can be taken as supplements or added to food to boost the amount of dietary fiber they contain. One of those ingredients is cellulose gel, or microcrystalline cellulose. Cellulose gel is derived from cellulose, an essential component of fruits, vegetables and trees. In fact, it is the most abundant organic compound on Earth! Cellulose gel offers the same great health benefits as the dietary fiber found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and can be found in foods such as yogurt, cereal bars and protein shakes.

Add nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great way to add more fiber to your diet and improve heart health. Better yet, nuts and seeds make for a satisfying on-the-go snack! Add a small handful of nuts to your morning smoothie or homemade trail mix or top your soup or salad with a handful of seeds to add extra fiber and healthy fats to your everyday diet.

To learn more about cellulose gel and other food ingredients that make our favorite foods better for us, visit www.foodsciencematters.com.



Is seaweed the next superfood?

3/22/2017

(BPT) - There’s a new superfood in town. And it’s not kale.

Seaweed may be a hot new food trend in the United States, but this leafy green from the sea has been used in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Not only is seaweed low in calories and fat, it’s also packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, B and C. Better yet? Research shows it’s a good source of antioxidants and calcium and can prevent and reduce inflammation.

You may know seaweed as a crunchy, salty snack or the wrap that holds together sushi rolls. What you may not know is that seaweed is an important food ingredient that improves the taste of foods, makes them better for us and benefits the environment.

For example, carrageenan, an ingredient naturally derived from red seaweed, makes our ice cream creamy, keeps chocolate milk from separating and is the reason the ground nuts in our nut milk don’t settle to the bottom of the carton. It can also be used instead of sodium in deli meats and to replace fats and sugar in other foods.

Some sweets, like puddings and gummy candies, get their unique texture from gelatin, an animal-based ingredient. But what about those who follow a vegetarian or kosher diet? Have no fear, seaweed is here! Plant-based carrageenan can be used in place of gelatin to make sure these tasty snacks are vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher.

Another way seaweed improves the foods we eat every day? Alginates, also a seaweed-based ingredient, are added to baked goods, such as bread, and even your favorite energy bars to make them taste better and stay fresh for longer. Alginates are also used to make beer foamy and replace the fat in low-fat ice cream.

But seaweed doesn’t just benefit the foods we eat; it’s also good for the environment and the people who farm it.

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly crops on the planet. It requires none of the fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals that are used in land-based farming. And seaweed sequesters carbon and cleans ocean water of phosphorus and nitrogen. Some scientists and researchers believe seaweed might even be the biofuel of the future.

More than 75,000 farmers around the world rely on seaweed farming to support their families. Before they started farming carrageenan seaweed, many coastal communities lived at or below the poverty level. With the income they earn harvesting carrageenan seaweed, these farmers are able to improve their homes, enhance their diets and send their children to school. And in some countries, seaweed harvesting provides a way out of poverty for women who do not have access to other jobs.

Seaweed isn’t just a healthy snack or ingredient that makes our favorite foods better tasting and better for us. It’s revolutionizing dinner plates and economies around the world, restoring our oceans and improving lives.

For more information about the benefits of seaweed, including how it is used in foods we love, visit www.foodsciencematters.com.



Additives or gifts from nature?

3/22/2017

(BPT) - Food labels are getting shorter. Why? Because the people have spoken: We want fewer, better ingredients in our foods. We asked, and the companies that make our food responded by replacing artificial colors and flavors with naturally derived ingredients.

But even though these shorter “clean” labels can still read like a technical manual, that doesn’t mean these ingredients aren’t good for you.

For instance, if you’re not familiar with cholecalciferol, it might sound a little scary. But cholecalciferol is just another name for vitamin D. You might not have heard of rickets, either; that’s because this once-common childhood disease became nearly obsolete when vitamin D was added to milk. (In addition to preventing rickets, vitamin D also helps our bodies absorb the calcium in milk.)

Another ingredient with a somewhat strange name is carrageenan. This seaweed-based ingredient makes some of our favorite foods more nutritious. It replaces the sodium in lunch meat and can take the place of fats, oils and sugar, which is why that nonfat yogurt you had for lunch tastes just as good as the full-fat option.

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) might look like a mouthful, but MCC — also called cellulose gel — is just cellulose derived from fruits, vegetables and trees. Cellulose, which is the most common organic compound on earth, is one of only seven FDA-approved sources of fiber. So when microcrystalline cellulose or cellulose gel appears on a food label, it means your food contains the same plant fiber found in broccoli and apples.

Other ingredients that might not ring a bell? Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that has been used as a medicine and spice in India for thousands of years. Modern science has shown it is also a powerful antioxidant that settles upset stomachs and may lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks, all while brightening your food with its deep yellow color.

Some of the unfamiliar ingredients on your food label might be found in your own backyard. Pectin, for example, comes from the peels of lemons or other citrus fruits and is commonly used to thicken jams and jellies.

Understanding what goes into our food is important. Rather than turn down a product with ingredients you don’t recognize, do a little research on the label. You might come to find those intimidating-sounding “additives” are actually delicious gifts from nature.

To learn more about what’s in your food, visit foodsciencematters.com.



A professional chef shares 7 kitchen essentials

3/22/2017

(BPT) - From spices and oils to gadgets and gizmos, there are always new, trendy items to add to your kitchen. Trying to separate the handy from the hype, however, can be a time-consuming and expensive process.

Professional chefs know not everything is worthy of space in their kitchens, but it's not always easy for home cooks to figure out what they need and what they don't.

That's why Devin Alexander, New York Times Bestselling Author and professional chef, gives a peek inside her kitchen. Find out what’s really worth your while as she shares the top items she uses.

Chef Alexander's top kitchen must-haves include:

Reusable oil sprayer: An oil sprayer allows you to cook with fats in a healthful and efficient way. You can fill the sprayer with your choice of oil — whatever suits your current taste preference and cooking needs.

Kitchen scale: You don’t have to weigh everything, but a countertop scale is a handy tool that can help you sustain your healthy eating goals. It's great for measuring portions of lean meats, seafood and cheeses, so you can stay in check while whipping up recipes or prepping snacks.

Truvia Nectar: My favorite liquid sweetener is blended with stevia leaf extract and honey, and has 50 percent fewer calories than sugar,” says Alexander. “It’s twice as sweet so you only need half as much when you’re adding it to tea or drizzling it on yogurt. I also love to use Truvia Nectar in salad dressings, marinades and cocktails.” Learn more at www.truvia.com/nectar.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal isn’t just a morning food, but a healthy way to add texture to recipes. Use it in meatballs and baked goods for a tasty, whole-grain boost.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is an extremely versatile pantry essential. Sprinkle the spice here and there to liven up your favorite beverages and recipes without too many added calories.

Cocoa powder: “I’m a huge chocolate lover! Using 100 percent cocoa powder, which has minimal calories and some fiber to boot, is a great way to get your chocolate fix while staying fit,” Alexander says. “You can add it to oatmeal and sauces, but the possibilities are endless.”

Instant coffee: Did you know instant coffee can be used for more than just your morning jump-start? It’s a quick and easy way to give your protein shakes a java-flavored makeover.

Stocking your home kitchen with these essential items is an important first step toward achieving your healthy eating goals.



Feel good about satisfying your sweet tooth

3/22/2017

(BPT) - With growing concerns about diabetes, obesity and dental health issues, many Americans are trying to limit their sugar intake and are turning to other types of sweeteners. But with so many alternatives out there, how do you know the choices you make to replace sugar are actually healthier options?

Customers may be wary of one particular non-sugar sweetener because of its complicated, chemical-sounding name. But erythritol is actually a naturally-derived, zero-calorie sweetener made from plant-based sugars that is not only a great alternative for taste and caloric reasons—it’s also proven to deliver oral health benefits and is easy to digest. That is why erythritol is starting to appear in everything from toothpaste and mouth rinse to gum and lollipops.

Erythritol: What the dentist ordered

Erythritol is often selected for products where dental health is key, such as toothpaste and sugar-free candy. A three-year clinical study by Cargill found that children who used erythritol products have less dental plaque, oral bacteria and tooth decay than those using two other common non-sugar sweeteners, xylitol and sorbitol.

The difference is even more dramatic when comparing the non-sugar alternatives with sucrose, or common table sugar. Why? Sucrose ferments in oral bacteria, leading to tooth decay, while erythritol does not ferment in oral bacteria.

Both erythritol-based toothpastes and candies are appearing in medical, pediatric and dental offices as doctors set them out as samples and refer patients to sugar-free sweets.

“Parents bring kids to their dentist hoping to reduce or eliminate dental decay,” said Dr. John Bruinsma, DDS, founder of Dr. John’s Candies and creator of THRIVE(TM) nutritional lollipops, the first line of natural, sugar-free lollipops that incorporate erythritol. “While parents could just say ‘No more sugar, period,’ that is awfully hard for kids to do. Erythritol-based options let kids enjoy sweet treats, without the negative side effects."

Dr. Bruinsma also has many patients, from children to adults, who complain of dry mouth. He finds erythritol can provide a solution.

“Many people turn to sugar candies when they have dry mouth—yet using sugar-based candies is like putting gasoline on fire, as both dry mouth and sugar are leading causes of tooth decay,” said Bruinsma. “Instead, erythritol-based candies stimulate salivary flow and help reduce dry mouth symptoms, without promoting dental decay."

An option for cancer patients

Avoiding sugar is important for everyone, but especially for those battling cancer. Dr. Bruinsma and the MaxLove Project have joined together to provide erythritol-based lollipops to children in cancer treatment.

“We have found that THRIVE lollipops work within the dietary guidelines of most pediatric cancer patients,” says Bruinsma. “Perhaps just as important, the sweets bring a moment of joy and smiles to these kids as they experience one of the simple pleasures of childhood—a lollipop.”

When it comes to sugar alternatives, erythritol is a powerful option that proves pronounceability isn’t as important as performance. Whether you want to satisfy a sweet tooth, address tooth decay, reduce sugar consumption or calories, relieve dry mouth or just brighten someone’s day, you can feel better about reaching for a product sweetened with erythritol.



7 reasons why millennials love gardening (and you should, too)

3/21/2017

(BPT) - The stereotype: Millennials spend more time interacting with the digital world than the natural world around them. The reality: Five million of the 6 million people who took up gardening in 2015 were millennials, according to the 2016 National Gardening Survey.

More millennials (people between the ages of 21 and 34) than any other age group are falling in love with gardening. As a hobby, gardening is a great fit for the millennial mindset and lifestyle that emphasize individuality, independence and value. However, the advantages of gardening that attract millennials are also relevant to every age group, and anyone who wants to begin growing a nutritious, healthful food garden.

Here are seven reasons why more millennials than ever are taking up food gardening, and why you should, too:

1. Gardening fosters better nutrition.

Millennials care about good nutrition and knowing where their food comes from. Multiple studies show members of the generation are health conscious, and understand the relationship between the food they eat, good nutrition and good health. Millennials know fresh vegetables deliver great nutrition, and millennial gardeners know that growing their own veggies and herbs also means they can put more nutritious food on the table. With transplant purveyors like Bonnie Plants offering more than 250 varieties of popular, heirloom, hybrid, new and tried-and- true vegetables and herbs, it’s easy to grow a garden full of healthy, nutritious, economical veggies and herbs.

2. You can save money in the grocery store.

Millennials are into saving money. Eighty percent have a budget, 72 percent are saving for retirement and 51 percent have an emergency fund, according to a TD Ameritrade survey. Gardening can allow you to spend less in the grocery store produce aisle — and that kind of saving savvy appeals to millennials as well as any other age group!

3. Gardening is good for the environment.

Awareness of environmental issues and a desire for healthful products that contribute to ecological balance are hallmarks of the millennial generation. A Nielsen study found millennials care about environmental issues and find ways to personally support a healthy environment. When you grow your own vegetables and herbs, "food miles," the distance a food item is transported from producer to consumer, shrinks substantially and includes only the distance from your kitchen to your own backyard. Choose plants in biodegradable containers, like those from Bonnie Plants, and gardening is even more environmentally friendly.

4. You can grow a garden anywhere.

While many millennials are city dwellers, others live in suburbs. The fact that they can garden anywhere — on a city balcony, urban patio or suburban backyard — makes gardening the perfect hobby for them. Using transplants from Bonnie Plants, all gardeners can create a backyard garden plot, a vertical garden in an alleyway between city buildings, or a container garden on a balcony or deck.

5. The garden is a great place to come together as a family.

It’s true that millennials make the most use of digital devices of any generation; they also value deep family relationships. Planting a garden with their children, significant others or friends allows everyone to spend enriching time together, working toward an enjoyable, shared goal.

6. Gardening can be a challenge anyone can achieve.

Working toward a goal, and having a vision, are very important qualities for millennials. Gardening takes time and effort but with the right resources and information, it’s something virtually anyone can succeed at. Millennials turn to online resources, like Bonnie Plants’ vegetable and herb growing guides, gardening how-to’s, videos and recipes to help them achieve and ensure success.

7. Gardening can be an adventure.

Sixty-four percent of millennials say they love to cook, and 75 percent enjoy eating cuisine from other cultures, according to a survey by Barkley. For a generation of adventurous eaters and cooks, gardening can be an opportunity to grow and try new things, from edible flowers and exotic herbs, to new types of vegetables, all the while saving money by growing their own.

With millennials now dominating the workforce, and many starting families and reaching their peak earning years, it’s likely their interest in gardening will continue to grow.



Pittsburgh woman builds strong support network to help with challenges of multiple sclerosis

3/20/2017

(BPT) - When Judy Metzler was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 54, she was in shock – she felt too young to have a chronic disease. Judy wanted to learn more about it, but didn’t know where to turn. That’s where her husband, Jeff, stepped in.

"Without Jeff, I wouldn’t have made it through those first few days and weeks,” says Judy. “He was there to keep me positive and help me research the disease.”

With her husband’s support, Judy was able to come to terms with her diagnosis, gaining confidence along the way.

MS affects about 400,000 people in the United States, often impacting people in the prime of their lives. Symptoms can range from numbness in the limbs to fatigue, pain and loss of vision.

The Importance of Support Partners

“For people living with MS, support partners play a key role in helping their loved ones build resilience, which helps them feel better about themselves,” says Tricia Pagnotta, a nurse practitioner and member of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN).

As Judy became more accepting of her new way of life, she began opening up to others for assistance. Her sister, Susie, has helped drive her to appointments and activities, like ballroom dancing classes for people with MS.

A few years after Judy learned she had MS, her cousin, Kim, was also diagnosed with the condition. Judy then made every effort to be a support partner to Kim.

“I understood how important it was to have someone there to help me overcome the initial shock of diagnosis, and I wanted her to feel that same level of support,” says Judy.

Today, Judy and her cousin share a deeper relationship than ever before – as support partners and women living with MS. It’s this unique bond that allows them to inspire each other through the ups and downs of living with a chronic disease.

Beyond building connections with others, Judy seeks out online resources to stay informed about MS. She recently discovered AboveMS.com, which provides tools, tips and inspiration from people living with MS and other expert contributors. The site features insights on topics ranging from diet and exercise, to work, travel and emotional health. Judy also volunteers with MSWorld, the largest all-patient-run MS organization worldwide, and participates in a monthly MS support group.

Throughout Judy’s experience, she has learned to find support from a number of places.

“I’m so grateful for family, friends and those I’ve met in the MS community for their constant patience, assistance and inspiration,” says Judy. “Having these people by my side – through the good and the bad – keeps me motivated, and I cannot thank them enough.”

While Judy has grown her support network, she continues to lean on her husband for his ongoing help and strength.

“It’s been thirteen years since my diagnosis, and he continues to be a true support partner to me,” says Judy. “Through the challenges of life with MS, he finds ways for us to continue to do the things we love.”

For insights from a range of people affected by MS, as well as additional educational resources, visit AboveMS.com.

Please talk to your doctor as a primary source for MS medical information.

This article is sponsored by Biogen.

2017 Biogen. All rights reserved.



3 steps to feel youthful and healthy no matter your age

3/20/2017

(BPT) - What will your life be like when you turn 100? A century ago that question would seem like a needless consideration, but today it's very real, as the percentage of people living to 100 has grown almost 66 percent in the last 30 years, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The MDVIP Health and Longevity Survey reveals that more than half of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers want to live past the age of 90. More than a quarter want to live beyond 100. The majority from both generations also believe advances in science and technology are going to keep more people alive past the age of 100.

However, these findings come at a time when the life expectancy of Americans has declined for the first time in two decades, and one in two adults is living with at least one chronic disease.

"To reach their longevity goals, Americans can no longer afford to put their health on the back burner," says Dr. Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer at MDVIP. "Most people don't wait until they're 60 to start saving for retirement. The same should go for their health, where making small investments today can pay big dividends many years down the road."

The key to greater longevity is prioritizing your health now — when you’re well — to prevent problems later on. You can start today by asking three questions:

What's your number?

When’s the last time you had your blood pressure or cholesterol levels checked?

Maintain a current record of your vitals and lab results along with your family history. Make sure you discuss these details with your doctor, who can help identify your risk for certain conditions and suggest lifestyle changes based on the results.

What's up, doc?

Going to the doctor is an essential component of maintaining good health, but choosing the right doctor directly affects the benefit of each visit. Surprisingly, the survey revealed that one out of three Gen Xers avoid going to the doctor out of fear of finding something wrong.

In the current healthcare environment, an appointment with a doctor is usually scheduled weeks in advance, and after a long wait in the waiting room, patients often feel rushed through the visit. Patients deserve better and you should shop around for a doctor whose goal is to build a relationship and keep you well.

What's the plan?

Whether your goal is to lose 10 pounds or to lower your blood pressure, you need a plan to get you there. “I tell my patients to think of it as a business plan for their health,” says Dr. Steven Wilson, an MDVIP-affiliated family practitioner in Redlands, California. “First determine your health goals and make them the focus of your attention. Discuss your goals with your doctor who can help you formulate a health plan for the next year and beyond.”

Once you have your plan established, it's up to you to execute it. Many people don't stick with a plan because it's hard to stay disciplined and easy to fall back into old habits. So don't be afraid to consult your doctor along the way. Your doctor is your partner in your health journey, and working together could give you a better chance at seeing exactly what your life will be like when you reach 100.

To learn more about MDVIP's national network of over 900 primary care physicians who focus on prevention and personalized healthcare, visit MDVIP.com.



Is hidden salt hurting your health? Five tips for taking control

3/20/2017

(BPT) - A typical soup and sandwich lunch can seem like a healthy meal. However, the bread, cold cuts and soup can be packed with something that can have a negative impact on your overall wellness: salt.

“Even meals that seem healthy, like a turkey sandwich with a side of cottage cheese, can have high levels of salt. It may not even taste salty," says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Meigs says one of the biggest mistakes people make is to assume if they aren't adding salt with a salt shaker, their sodium levels are under control. The truth: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates Americans get 77 percent of their salt from processed foods and restaurant meals, compared to 6 percent from the salt shaker at the table and 5 percent added during home cooking.

According to the CDC, the top 10 foods that contribute to a significant amount of the salt Americans consume are:

1. Breads and rolls
2. Cold cuts and cured meat (e.g., deli or packaged ham or turkey)
3. Pizza
4. Fresh and processed poultry
5. Soups
6. Sandwiches such as cheeseburgers
7. Cheese
8. Pasta dishes (not including macaroni and cheese)
9. Meat-mixed dishes such as meatloaf and tomato sauce
10. Snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn

Some salt is necessary for the body to function properly, but too much can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The CDC says most people should limit total salt intake to 2,300 milligrams a day or less.

"There are 2,300 milligrams of sodium — the chemical name for salt — in a single teaspoon of table salt," Meigs notes. "It's a real challenge to reduce salt intake, even for people who are highly motivated to do so."

Meigs offers some easy strategies to lower hidden salt intake and take control of your nutrition:

Know your numbers

Talk with a doctor about your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family health history and ways to prevent health problems before they start. Visit familydoctor.org to learn more.

Read nutrition labels

It takes mere seconds to read nutrition labels to see which items are high in sodium. Sometimes this information is even printed on the front of the package.

Keep in mind, different brands of the same foods often contain varying levels of salt. For example, a slice of white bread can range anywhere from 80 to 230 milligrams of salt. Salt levels in a can of chicken noodle soup can range from 100 to 900 milligrams per serving.

Be a smart diner

Dining out can still be a healthy treat with a little proactive effort. If nutrition information isn’t included on the menu, do some homework in advance by visiting the restaurant’s website. You may be surprised to find that items billed as “light or healthy fare” are often high in salt.

Opt for whole foods

Whether eating out or dining in, filling your plate with whole foods — items in their natural state or close to it — will help you lower your sodium levels. Non-processed fresh foods that are high in fiber are ideal, for example, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat and whole grains.

Prepare food at home

It's easier to regulate salt consumption by preparing meals at home. Not only can you select healthy ingredients and pack your plate with whole foods, you can control the salt you add to dishes by manipulating recipes and including flavor-enhancing alternatives like fresh herbs.



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."