Archive for March, 2013

Feeling thirsty? You may want to talk to your doctor about that.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Feeling%20thirsty%3F%20You%20may%20want%20to%20talk%20to%20your%20doctor%20about%20thatBack pain, headaches and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms many people discuss with their doctors during routine checkups. Yet one symptom many patients overlook is dryness, especially dry mouth. If you think dry mouth isn’t serious enough to mention to your doctor, think again.

Are you drinking lots of liquids and yet your mouth still feels dry? Do you have difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing? If so, you could be experiencing dry mouth. While dry mouth may seem manageable on your own, it could be more serious than you think. In many instances, poor oral health can be an indication of a more serious medical condition, like Sjogren’s syndrome, which affects millions of people.

Sjogren’s is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks and destroys the moisture-producing glands in the body. Often, the condition leaves patients with chronic dry mouth as they experience a decrease in saliva. Many patients also frequently experience a dry or a gritty, sandy feeling in their eyes. Both dry mouth and dry eyes are the hallmark symptoms of Sjogren’s. Other symptoms may also include joint pain, fatigue, a change in taste or smell, or tooth decay.
“Now is a great time to make an appointment to talk to your doctors about dryness,” says Steven Taylor, CEO of the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation. “Every doctor will tell you that no symptom is insignificant, so speak up and Defy the Dry by visiting DefytheDry.com for more information about dry mouth and Sjogren’s. You can even download dryness screeners to help you assess your dryness symptoms.”
Need more motivation to speak up about dry mouth? The average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis of Sjogren’s is almost seven years. One reason for the delay may be that patients wait months (and even years) before discussing their symptoms with their doctors. Additionally, patients may not connect their symptoms, like cavities or cracked lips, with dry mouth and many of them may not describe their dry-mouth symptoms thoroughly when they finally do speak to their physicians. If this sounds like you, visit DefytheDry.com to download the Sjogren’s symptoms checklist and bring it to your next doctor appointment to help guide you and your physician through a productive and accurate conversation about your symptoms.
“By increasing the conversation around dryness symptoms and Sjogren’s syndrome between doctors and patients, we hope to decrease time to diagnosis by 50 percent in the next five years,” adds Taylor.
While there is no cure for Sjogren’s, treatment options are available to help manage symptoms. For more information on Sjogren’s and its symptoms, visit DefytheDry.com.



Courtesy of BPT

Tips for making homework less work for both kids and parents

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Some parents are shocked when their first-grader comes home from school with homework. The reality is children are learning more at a younger age and take-home assignments are increasing. Parents play an important role in engaging children and providing a positive homework environment, but knowing what is best for kids can be as confusing as the assignments themselves.

How much homework should the average student have? The National PTA recommends 10 to 20 minutes per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter. For example: 20 minutes for second grade, 120 minutes for 12th grade. Some older students may have more depending on their class load.

Balancing school, homework, extracurricular activities and family life is important for good childhood development. This year as part of its back to school campaign, Lance Sandwich Crackers has partnered with Colleen Burns, The Mom on the Run parenting expert and mother of five boys, to provide practical advice for parents to help them make homework a positive experience for everyone.

Give them time to unwind
Unwinding is an important preparation step. Your kids have been sitting and learning all day – minus the walk, car or bus ride home. Give them 15 to 20 minutes to blow off some steam and run around outside before they start their homework. Everyone needs a little break.

Positive reinforcement
A positive attitude goes a long way. Shower children with positive reinforcement. For larger homework projects completed over several days, reward each step as well as the overall completion. It’s important for kids to understand that progress is being made.

Keep snacks on hand
Remember hungry kids are distracted kids, so offer them a wholesome snack while they work. Lance Sandwich Crackers, which are available in 19 varieties, including whole grain, 100-calorie and reduced-fat options have zero grams of trans fat, no preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup, making them a sensible snack any time of day.

Get help when needed
Feeling stumped with your child’s homework question? You’re not the first parent to feel that way. When your child asks a question you don’t know how to answer, show them that mom and dad sometimes need help too. These are some great resources to help parents help kids:
* www.dadmath.com
* www.scholastic.com/kids/homework
* www.niehs.nih.gov/health/scied/students/homework
* www.thinkfinity.org/parents-and-kids

Set the stage for success
Set aside a space or corner that is the designated space for completing homework. All family members should recognize that when someone is sitting in that area, they should not be disturbed unless they ask for help. Don’t underestimate the importance of a comfortable chair and proper lighting when it comes to making homework time a pleasant experience. Set household homework rules. Mom, dad and other siblings should not be watching TV in or near someone completing homework. All house or cell phones should be “parked” – this goes for mom and dad also.

Create a homework kit for each child
Prepare a “homework kit” with all the necessary supplies your children will need to complete their assignments. Contents vary by age, but usually include pencils, pens, highlighters, ruler, crayons, markers, glue sticks, erasers and a pencil sharpener. Older children might need a calculator or other electronic items.

And always remember, homework is about practice – it will take some children longer than others to get the hang of it. With the right preparations and materials on hand, you can ensure that homework time in your household is effective and enjoyable for the whole family.

Courtesy of BPT

Tell diabetes ‘not me’ this winter and holiday season

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Each winter, the cold weather and holiday festivities can bring special challenges to the nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes – and the 79 million with pre-diabetes who are at grave risk of developing it.

With the season fast approaching, experts caution people with diabetes and pre-diabetes to take extra care to avoid cold-related illnesses, stay physically active and maintain a proper diet during holiday gatherings and the long winter months.

“The winter holidays bring family and friends together to celebrate, but for some, this time of the year means a decrease in physical activity, tempting ‘no-no foods,’ and an increase in weight gain, all of which can make blood sugar more difficult to manage,” says Dr. Deneen Vojta, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA). “Fortunately, there are simple precautionary steps that people with diabetes and prediabetes can take this winter and holiday season.”

Here are 10 simple ways Dr. Vojta and the DPCA say people can tell diabetes “NOT ME” this winter and enjoy the holiday season without risking their health. “NOT ME,” from the DPCA, is an employer- and community-based initiative aimed at tipping the scales against the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity.

Keep yourself and your gear warm: Dress appropriately for the cold weather, which means wearing layers and keeping your head and extremities covered. And be sure to keep your diabetes medications and supplies insulated and well-protected.

Avoid winter weight gain: Watch your caloric intake, look for holiday treats that are lighter in sugar and carbohydrates, and make sure to keep exercising during the cold winter months.

Don’t get cold feet: Keep your toes covered and warm in the cold weather.

Get vaccinated: Studies have shown that people with diabetes are three-times as likely to die from influenza or pneumonia, and five-times more likely to be hospitalized due to flu complications. So be sure to get vaccinated at the very start of cold and flu season.

Wash your hands: Another good way to avoid getting colds or respiratory viruses over the holidays is to wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap and/or an antibacterial product.

Eat thoughtfully and be merry, but watch the drink: Alcoholic beverages dilate blood vessels and accelerate the loss of body heat. Alcohol can also mask the signs of low blood sugar, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. So be mindful of alcohol intake, especially at office holiday parties and family gatherings.

Seek counseling if you’re feeling blue: Several studies suggest a correlation between diabetes and depression, a disease which is also known to spike each year around holiday time. If you’re feeling low, sluggish, devoid of energy, or sad, do not be afraid to reach out for help.

Check in on the elderly: Seniors with diabetes are even more susceptible to succumbing to the effects of the cold due to a reduced ability to control body temperature and a decrease of subcutaneous fat. Check in on your elderly friends and neighbors this holiday season, especially those that live alone.

Stay hydrated. Alternating exposure to outdoor cold weather with indoor heating systems is a recipe for dehydration, which can raise blood glucose levels and cause dry skin and eyes. Drink lots of water and liberally apply alcohol-free moisturizing lotion throughout the winter months.

Strive for a stress-free season: Stress has been shown to affect blood sugar levels, so find ways to make your holiday season a little less hectic whether that means managing your social calendar or making detailed shopping lists in advance.

These tips can help people with diabetes and prediabetes stay healthy this winter; however, national data suggests that more than 27 percent of adults with type 2 diabetes and more than 90 percent of individuals with prediabetes may not even be aware of their condition. To learn the warning signs of prediabetes and assess one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes visit the DPCA’s interactive self-identification quiz at notme.com/dpca.

Additional resources on managing and preventing diabetes can be found by visiting the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) and the National Diabetes Education Program (ndep.nih.gov/resources). UnitedHealth Group also offers helpful tips and information on the disease at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/diabetes.

Courtesy of BPT

How to put together a casual, yet professional look

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

When the directive comes down from management that your workplace is moving to a casual dress code, it’s usually cause for office-wide celebration. More and more companies these days are recognizing the importance of keeping their employees comfortable, and are adopting looser standards for their corporate dress codes.

If your company goes casual, it doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to your professional appearance. Take advantage of the relaxed standards of a more casual dress code, but try to avoid some of the pitfalls that might cause you to look sloppy and unprofessional.

Play the situation

When you’re spending the day in the office, casual attire that fits into your dress code is totally appropriate. But the dress code doesn’t always apply to every situation you might run into during the course of your workday. If you have an important meeting with an associate from another company, more formal attire is appropriate, whether it’s spelled out in your dress code or not.

Keep it clean

No matter how relaxed the dress code is, it’s never a good idea to wear jeans with holes in them or a coffee-stained shirt. Like it or not, wearing frayed or worn clothes will negatively affect how co-workers perceive you.

Get the right fit

Even with casual items like jeans and polo shirts, finding the right fit can mean the difference between a crisp and well-put-together and stylish look and a drab appearance. Dark jeans present a crisper look that’s more appropriate for business settings and styles with a wider cut around the boot usually pair better with loafers, boots and casual dress shoes – even though your tennis shoes may be comfy, leave them at home for play time.

When shopping for work-appropriate jeans, wear shoes and a shirt you’d normally wear for work to get an idea of what style fits best with your work attire. Several clothing brands offer a number of work-appropriate jeans for men and women for less than $30 a pair. It’s important to note that you don’t have to break the bank for a professional yet casual look.

You should avoid certain styles of jeans in the workplace. Men: While your build and personal style might allow you to brilliantly pull off skinny jeans on the weekends, don’t be tempted to wear them in the office. Women: You might turn heads with the way you wear those low-rise jeans, but opt for something less revealing for the workplace.

Err on the conservative side

If you have to ask yourself if your outfit is too revealing, chances are it is. Women should refrain from low-cut blouses, just as men should resist the urge to ditch the t-shirt underneath that button-down shirt. If your dress code is casual enough to allow for T-shirts, refrain from wearing anything containing messages or images that could be deemed by anyone as offensive. You can impress your friends with your witty T-shirt on the weekends, but your peers – or superiors – may not share their sense of humor.

While there are certain things to avoid when composing your work-casual look, remember to enjoy the freedom and comfort allowed by your relaxed dress code. By keeping your wardrobe stocked with casual attire that fits your body well, looks clean and crisp and is appropriate for the workplace, you’ll maintain comfort while exuding professionalism and confidence. 

Courtesy of BPT

Feeling sluggish? Follow these three rules for maintaining energy throughout the day

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

As days become shorter and the weather cools, you may feel more sluggish than usual throughout the day. However, the busy nature of modern life leaves no time for hibernation. If you want to keep your health and energy levels up, some simple tricks can help keep you feeling your best no matter what life, or the weather, throws at you.

Kathy Kaehler, celebrity trainer, fitness expert, author and mother of three, has devoted her life to helping people live happy, productive and healthy lives. Working with celebrities like Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian, Kaehler knows how simple tricks can help keep you fit and energized. She suggests incorporating these three rules into your daily routine to begin feeling better every day:

Rule 1:  Exercise anytime
Exercise isn’t just for the gym. The day is filled with moments where you can work your muscles and help energize your body. For example, almost everyone’s day includes time at the office and time in the car.

At the office: A great way to grab some energy and get through the afternoon lull is to do a simple, yet effective exercise. Using a sturdy, non-rolling desk chair, practice standing up and then sitting back down.  Focusing on your legs and keeping your arms to your side, this easy exercise is fast, effective and great for the lower body. Not only will it elevate your heart rate and increase your breathing, but you are sure to feel its overall energizing effects throughout the day. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions to provide the burn you need to feel good.

In the car: All the minutes wasted stuck in traffic or waiting in the carpool line at school are perfect opportunities to flex some muscle power. While seated, squeeze your glutes (buttock muscles) as hard as you can. This will cause your body to rise and fall a few inches. After a set of eight to 10 reps, repeat the exercise, but this time focus on one side at a time.  

No matter where your day takes you, always remember to keep some fresh water or 100 percent fruit juice and healthy snacks with you in the car.  It will keep you fueled and hydrated and prevent you from loading up on carbs and fat at the nearest fast food restaurant.

Rule 2: Snack healthy
It’s important to keep your body fueled, but with the right kinds of foods, so skip the soda and chips. Instead, look for healthy foods that will keep you energized throughout the day. You can find a great low-fat, low-calorie snack packed full of flavor and crunch, leaving you satisfied and ready to move on with your day. Try to find something with no trans fats, saturated fat or cholesterol, it will be the perfect snack for at work or at home.

You can even add some pizzazz to your snacks and increase the nutritional value by pairing it with some healthy toppings and low-fat dips. Combine your favorite flavor with fresh-sliced cucumbers, rich hummus, zesty salsa, crisp apples or sliced cheese. Don’t be afraid to challenge your taste buds and get creative with your pairings.  The sky’s the limit when it comes to this satisfying, better-for-you snack. For additional pairing ideas and dip recipes, visit www.pretzelcrisps.com.

Rule 3: Prioritize sleep
Sixty-three percent of people say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. For many people, sleep is the first thing to get cut when their day gets too busy.

Getting enough sleep is crucial to losing weight, reducing stress levels and being more alert. Make time for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Don’t delay sleep by watching TV or playing on the computer.  Turn everything off an hour before your bedtime. Practice deep breathing, meditation or do some light reading. Skip food and any drinks that contain caffeine. Water is your best bet, but the majority of your liquid intake should be kept to during the day.

These healthy, better-for-you snack ideas and other tips will help you maintain your energy throughout the day, allowing you to feel your best and live each day to the fullest.

Courtesy of BPT