Archive for April, 2015

Consuming more fatty acids may reduce symptoms of dry eye

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Spring weather may bring warmer, humid air, but millions of people still experience discomfort associated with dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is a condition where tears lack sufficient moisture and lubrication, which is necessary to maintain good eye health and clear vision. Tears not only wash away dust, but also soothe the eyes, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea and help defend against eye infections by removing bacteria.

The frequency and severity of dry eye varies but may include irritated or gritty eyes, redness, burning, a feeling that something is in your eyes, blurred vision and even excessive watering. This condition has a multitude of causes but generally stems from the following factors:

* Age: As people age, eyes naturally become drier. Typically, people older than 65 experience some dry eye symptoms.

* Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eye with hormonal changes during pregnancy, while using oral contraceptives and following menopause.

* Medications: Decongestants, antihistamines and antidepressants are among numerous medications that can reduce tear production.
* Medical conditions: Health issues associated with arthritis, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome and thyroid problems can produce dry eye symptoms.

* Environment: Dry climates and exposure to wind and smoke may trigger dry eye.

* Eyewear/surgery: Contact lenses may cause dry eye or make eyes less comfortable if they are dry, and eye surgery may lead to a temporary decrease in tear production.

* Cosmetics: When the lid margin is coated with heavy makeup, it can block the openings of the oily glands, which help lubricate the eye.

Treatment for dry eye syndrome varies depending on the severity. Several new studies have confirmed the correlation between fatty acids and an improvement in dry eye syndrome. Salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and other cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, enhance tear production and support the eye’s oily outer layer, as well as provide health benefits for your cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems.

Additionally, some people can use artificial tears or ointments that simulate the action of tears. There are also oral capsules that can maintain tear production and guard against future tear loss. Experts recommend consulting an eye doctor to diagnose the condition and discuss proper treatment. They also recommend adults have yearly eye exams.

Be aware of food allergies when bringing treats to school

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

As the school year gets underway, parents, teachers and school staff need to keep in mind children who have food-related allergies, both in the classroom and in the school building. Food is a very important part of the school day – from snacks and treats to the lunch served, but children with food allergies could face extreme consequences if they come in contact with certain foods.

All states have laws governing how schools protect students and employees with allergies and asthma, but these laws vary from state to state. Some have comprehensive public policies supporting people with asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis risk and related allergic disease, and those states are recognized by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) State Honor Roll of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools. AAFA’s State Honor Roll identifies how states either excel or don’t yet make-the-grade for these policies. Check out what laws and policies have been established in your state at

Also keep the guidelines from your state in mind as you purchase or make treats for your child’s classroom, from Halloween all the way to Valentine’s Day:

* Check with the classroom teacher and the school first about foods that should not be brought into the school building. Some children have extreme allergies, such as to peanuts, and can react to minimum contact like touching a door handle that had been previously touched by someone handling something with nuts. Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish allergies are some of the most common. If purchasing a snack, read the ingredients list carefully, and double check it against the allergy list provided by the school.

* When preparing the foods – or shopping at the grocery store – make certain the items you’ll be taking to the classroom don’t come in contact with foods that are barred from the school. This includes washing pots, pans and utensils thoroughly before blending ingredients when baking at home.

* If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, consider making special treats he can enjoy without worrying about the snacks containing the foods he’s allergic to. Also develop an allergy action plan with your child’s doctor, teacher and the school nurse. A free asthma/allergy action card is available from AAFA on the State Honor Roll website, which helps you outline what foods to avoid, what medications to keep (an epinephrine auto-injector is the best first-line emergency treatment), what to do in case of emergencies, who to contact and more. The AAFA site also has many other pages of free information and tips about food allergies.

Encourage your children to enjoy special treat time at school. But also encourage them to be aware that some of their classmates may have serious reactions if they are to come in contact with certain foods. And when preparing a special treat for the classroom, keep food allergies at the forefront of your thoughts, and the celebration will be much more fun for everyone since children with food allergies won’t have to worry about the foods they’re eating.

Simple steps to packing a better school lunch

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

“Packing the perfect school lunch is about ensuring all five food groups are covered, choosing foods within those groups that kids like and adding variety to the lunch box to keep kids interested,” says Elizabeth Somer, a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and author. “Getting kids involved in the lunch packing process isn’t just a great way to ensure kids are getting a lunch they’re excited about, it’s also a good opportunity to begin to teach children about nutrition and health.”

To make the school lunch packing process fun and easy, Somer and Horizon Organic, a leading organic dairy brand, partnered to create a back-to-school resource called “5 Lunch Needs and 50 Ways to Please.” So what are the five lunch needs and why are they important? Somer outlines the essential food groups and explains why kids need all five for a balanced lunch.

Low-fat milk and calcium-rich foods (recommended 2 to 3 cups per day)

Why milk? Bones are the body’s “bank account,” and deposits can only be made until the early 30s. After that, it’s withdrawals only. So, the bigger the calcium bank account, the better off you are later in life. The biggest benefits come in the early years when the body is able to deposit the most calcium into the bones. A great option in this group is Horizon Organic Milk with 32 mg DHA Omega-3 Single Serve Milk Boxes, which are the only milk boxes with DHA Omega-3, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that has been studied for its role in supporting healthy brain development.

Whole grains (recommended 4 to 7 ounces per day)

Why whole grains? Diets that are rich in whole grains and fiber help fill kids up. Unlike processed refined grains, many 100 percent whole grains are low in fat, high-fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals. Between 100 percent whole grain bagels, tortillas and hamburger buns, there’s something to please any kid’s palate.

Vegetables (recommended 1 to 3 cups per day)

Why vegetables? It’s hard to have a healthy lifestyle without a plate heaped with colorful veggies. Veggies are where kids get things like vitamin C and folate, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. With significant numbers of phytonutrients now identified in veggies and fruits, these foods are important components of a child’s diet. Steamed edamame makes a great lunch box finger food.

Fruits (recommended 1.5 to 2 cups per day)

Why fruits? Fruits are also packed full of fiber, vitamins and minerals like veggies, but they come in a sweeter package. For example, a handful of dried apricots have more iron than a half cup of cooked mustard greens. Kids still need veggies, but on days when they turn up their noses at asparagus, slipping in a few more servings of fruit can make up the difference. Creative melon pieces thanks to fun-shaped cookie cutters are always a hit.

Meats, eggs, and legumes (recommended 3 to 6 ounces per day)

Besides protein, the foods in this group are sources of minerals, such as iron and zinc, and vitamins, such as B vitamins. Fatty seafood, such as salmon, contains omega-3 fats which are associated with brain development in children. It’s best to stick to lean and minimally-processed meats to cut back on saturated fats and sodium. Mini sliders made with organic, ground chicken or turkey and 100 percent whole-wheat buns are a great lunch box alternative to sandwiches.

The full “5 Lunch Needs and 50 Ways to Please resource,” is available at

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

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

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 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 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

Dressing for success on campus: a guide to college fashion

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Building off fashion staples

“For both guys and girls, jeans, jackets and T-shirts are, of course, all staples for a college student’s wardrobe,” says Peggy Blum, fashion program coordinator at The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston.

Blum says that this fall, “blue is heralded as the new black.” Warm reds and oranges, pastels, taxi cab yellow and loden green are also trendy hues.

And while skinny jeans still rule the denim world, expect to see them in neon colors, or with printed or bleached treatments. Blum recommends that students seeking a more comfortable fit choose a “boyfriend” jean, which features more relaxed styling.

Blum suggests that college students invest in bold-striped T-shirts, with stripes that vary in width. She adds that prepster-style shirts are a fresh look for both men and women this fall.

Also in style – wide-leg jeans and an overall masculine look, says Emilia Valle, program coordinator for fashion at The Art Institute of Houston-North, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston.

“The look for the returning college student is definitely a coat or jacket with a strong masculine look. From pastels – yes pastels even in fall – to traditional men’s fabrics and some punk flair, this upcoming season is full of overcoats to complete a strong polished style,” Valle says.

Accessorizing: from shoulder bags to footwear

Army style, denim and long shirt-style jackets are an easy way to accessorize an outfit, according to Blum. “For girls, pink coats are predicted to be a hit this fall straight from the runways.”

Other must-have accessories include printed smartphone cases, sporty sneakers or cut-out oxfords and strong gold-tone neckpieces to complete the look while complementing a summer tan.

Blum adds that college students are trending away from backpacks and moving toward all-day bags. “A streamlined multipurpose tote will fit any student’s daily must-haves and is appropriate for campus to work or travel.”

Valle mentions that choosing a large leather tote will add a touch of class to a student’s overall look. “A large leather tote will work fab and still keep you in style.”

Thrifty looks: fashion on a budget

Students on a tight budget might wonder how they can incorporate fashionable pieces into their wardrobe. Valle suggests mixing old and new to create a fresh, budget-friendly look.

“Remember, consignment and thrift stores can make a fashion budget stretch longer, and of course you can help out the planet in the process by recycling someone else’s retro fashion pieces,” she adds.

And the runway trend toward disheveled grunge styles should be helpful to those seeking recycled pieces. “A nod to grunge every now and then works this season,” states Blum.

The do-it-yourself trend is also extremely popular with fashionable, budget-conscious college students. “Thrifting at second hand shops, yard sales, or swapping clothing is a cost-effective way to remain fashionable on a budget,” she says.

Looking fashionable while attending college doesn’t have to be time-consuming or budget-breaking. By choosing a few staple items and adding colorful accessories, students can make it to class on time and on-trend.

How to get a good night’s sleep

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

A good night’s sleep can do wonders for you. It can help you to concentrate better at work, school and throughout your day. It helps you to remain alert, potentially avoiding accidents or other problems. With better sleep comes the ability to think clearer and to make better decisions. It is also good for your heart and your overall health. As important as getting a good night’s sleep is, many people toss and turn in their beds. It could be the cheap mattress or it could be external factors affecting their level of sleep quality.

Sleeping on Discount Beds?

Perhaps the most common problem people have when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep is their inability to sleep on a mattress that is properly designed for them. Many people purchase the most affordable beds they can get, without thought to what this can do to the back, neck and other areas of pressure on the body.

- Choose a firm and supportive mattress. These are able to provide your body with enough support to remain in proper form throughout the night.

- Consider memory foam mattress options. These foam mattresses will allow your pressure points to be relaxed because they adjust to the shape of your body. They are supportive but very comfortable.

- If you have a bed that is too soft, this could cause problems in terms of lack of support. If the bed is too firm, you are uncomfortable which means you will likely spend some of your night tossing and turning.

Consider the mattress you have. Is it the best solution for you?

External Factors

Getting a good night’s sleep is something you need to do on a regular basis. Most people have external stresses and situations that can take away from this. Consider the following:

- Did you know that sleeping normal hours, when it is dark, will improve your sleep quality? The body’s internal clock releases hormones when there is sunlight to keep you up and, when darkness falls, hormones help to put you to sleep. Add to your modern bedroom furniture some modern drapes which can block out sunlight if you are unable to sleep “normal” hours.

- Select the right type of bed. Buying affordable bedroom furniture is important but if that set is falling apart, chances are good your comfort level is going to be very low.

- Consider the room’s décor. Remove the television or hide it within the bedroom furniture. Keep distractions to a minimum. You want your body to identify your bed as a place to sleep. By removing these distractions, you can improve your ability to sleep.

All of these things put together will help you to have a good night’s sleep.  But if you are not giving yourself enough time to sleep each day, even the best mattress out there is not going to be able to improve your quality of sleep. Structure your day around a healthy amount of sleep and chances are good you will accomplish much.

by: Ben Weissman

Secrets to an enjoyable and fuss-free sundae bar for fun entertaining

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

* Build the bar. A colorful, organized sundae bar will not only look great, but it will make it easier for guests to find exactly what they want and for you to clean up when the party is over. Start with a brightly colored disposable table cloth. Fill a galvanized tub with ice and put the ice cream in the tub, to keep it cold. Put your bowls, spoons and napkins next to the ice cream tub, followed by your toppings.

* Designate a scooper. Assigning someone to scoop the ice cream will make it easier for guests to pick their toppings and create their sundaes. This will keep people moving through the sundae bar and hands clean at the same time.

* Top it off right. The best part about a sundae bar is the variety of toppings offered. For a unique touch, try putting some of your sundae toppings in old-fashioned glass mason jars. From chocolate sprinkles, cookie crumbles, cherries and strawberry fruit topping, it’s an appealing way to showcase toppings and a simple way for guests to pick their favorite combinations.

* Hot fudge without the mess. Your sundae bar doesn’t have to suffer from spills, reheating jars, messy hands and disappointing flavors. Choose easier topping options, like Breyers Toppings, that are available in squeezable pouches and are made with real fruit. These toppings deliver all the flavor, freshness and quality associated with the leading ice cream brand, and all the fun of traditional sundae toppings without the mess. Log on to to learn more.

* Party themes. To add an extra touch to your get-together, add ingredients to your sundae bar to match the party occasion. For a fall bonfire get-together create a s’mores sundae with vanilla ice cream, marshmallows, hot fudge and graham cracker crumbs.

A sundae bar is a fun and creative idea for great entertaining. With some advanced planning and the right products, you can pull off a unique dessert experience that all your guests will enjoy.