Archive for January, 2017

Breakfast is more than the first meal of the day for kids

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

A significant percentage of elementary and an even greater percentage of middle and high school students skip breakfast daily or a few times a week. On a given day, up to 30 percent of teens in the U.S. skip breakfast. As they get older, homework, jobs, sports teams, the arts and the Internet result in all-too-short nights for students, and the need to catch a few more moments of sleep in the morning.

Breakfast allows students to break the fast of nighttime, reigniting brains and concentration abilities. “It’s everything you’ve heard about in terms of it being a critical meal of the day,” says Sue Moores, a registered dietitian and consultant to schools in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. “Miss or skip breakfast and you start the day playing catch up.”

According to Moores, many kids already lack important body-strengthening, body “building” nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein and fiber. Without breakfast, which is a meal that can easily offer all of these, there’s extra pressure to fill the nutritional gaps with snacks and other meals. Including carbohydrates in the morning meal (whole-grain carbs, says Moores) is key, as carbs are the preferred source of energy for the brain. Add in a bit of protein to help distribute the energy carbohydrates offer, and you have the start of a great meal.

Skipping breakfast may not only put students behind the eight-ball for morning nutrition, adds Moores, it may also set them back by way of poor food choices for the rest of the day. Some studies show breakfast-skippers actually crave salty, higher fat, sweet foods throughout the day compared to people who eat a morning meal. What they eat in place of breakfast is far from nutritious fare.

Beginning this school year, school breakfasts are required to meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s new food-based meal pattern, which outlines increased amounts of fruits/vegetables, grains and milk food components.

Amy Harkey, a registered dietitian and director of Child Nutrition Operations with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina, says that this fall the Universal School Breakfast Program is being implemented in her district, meaning that more than 140,000 students will receive a balanced morning meal at no charge. Previously, these breakfasts were offered to all students based on their eligibility.

“We want to remove any misperceptions that breakfast is only for those children who are economically disadvantaged,” says Harkey. “It’s important for all students to ‘break the fast’ and get the nutrition they need to begin their busy academic days.”

Harkey explains that they provide a variety of “Quick Bites for Breakfast,” offering both hot and cold options that meet the complete school breakfast requirements. “We learned in our pilot test of the program this spring that the students are reacting positively to our breakfast menus. They enjoy having the menu board outside the cafeteria so that in the afternoons they can see what will be offered the next morning,” says Harkey.

Companies have stepped up to the plate, delivering whole grain and protein-rich options that, when paired with a calcium-rich, low-fat milk, provide a solid start to the day. Schwan’s Food Service offers the new Beacon Street Cafe (TM) 51 percent whole grain Sausage, Egg and Cheese Sliders this fall, with 8 grams of protein, 11 grams of whole grains, 0 grams of trans fat and only 160 calories per serving (two pieces).

“Whether students catch a brain-boosting breakfast at home or at school, it’s important to find a way to fit nutrient-rich foods in for a good day of learning,” says Moores. “It may seem inconsequential to skip a morning meal, but results in the classroom show that breakfast is key.”

Surprising ways hot tubs heat up relationships

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

(BPT) – On average, working adults spend less than an hour per day socializing and relaxing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s American Time Use Survey. Yet a host of research – and common sense – tells us that spending time together in a social, relaxing way is essential to building and maintaining healthy relationships.

Recreating that spark or special connection with your spouse or significant other, free from the distractions of everyday life, isn’t as difficult as you may think. The answer can actually be found in your own backyard when you add a hot tub to your outdoor living space.

The therapeutic benefits of hot tubs are well documented – 79 percent of owners say they value the therapeutic health benefits their hot tubs present, according to a survey by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) – but many owners point to another significant benefit: the ability to spend more time with their partners.

Seventy-seven percent of owners say their hot tub is one of the few things that can truly take them away from the day-to-day stresses of life and allow them to reconnect with their partner.

Here are three surprising ways hot tubs can add some spice to your relationship:

* No distractions

The relaxed atmosphere of a hot tub promotes meaningful interaction, owners reveal. Hot tub owners typically say they use their hot tubs as a way to connect, and 82 percent say they are extremely satisfied with the level of relaxation it provides. Relaxing together outdoors, enjoying nature and each other’s company without the distraction of ever-present digital devices, is a great way for couples to rediscover the things that drew them together in the first place.

* Stress soothing

Life can be pretty stressful. Countless studies tell us that too much stress is harmful on a number of levels – physically, mentally and socially. Common stressors such as money are leading causes of strife in marriages and even lead to divorce. The warm water and effervescence of hot tubs relieve stress and soothe sore muscles, allowing couples to refocus on what’s most important in their lives: each other.

* The vacation effect

Something about vacation spells romance for couples. While taking a trip more than once or twice a year isn’t always practical – the average American family spends about $1,180 per person on vacation travel according to an American Express survey – a hot tub can create the vacation effect in your own backyard, and allow you to experience that special feeling of romance every day.

Spicing up your relationship begins with the right tub, and finding the right hot tub starts with a professional you can trust. APSP Certified Professionals adhere to the highest standards of service, performance and ethical conduct. Visit the APSP website to find a professional near you.

Understanding risks is half the battle against breast cancer

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

With one in eight women projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, understanding what affects your risk and how to catch any warning signs early – not only for your own sake, but for the sakes of your loved ones- is more important than ever. There may not be a cure for breast cancer yet, but there is so much you can do to raise awareness and lower your risk.

1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

You can reduce your risk for breast cancer by leading a healthier lifestyle – including exercising regularly, making healthier choices when it comes to eating and drinking, and limiting your exposure to tobacco and alcohol. The changes don’t have to be drastic – start with simple changes, such as swapping one sugar-sweetened beverage a day for water, adding fruit and vegetables to your diet or taking the dog for an extra-long walk.

2. Know your history and how to detect the symptoms

Despite a healthy lifestyle, if you have a family history of breast cancer, that adds to your risk. So, it’s crucial to know if any of your close relatives have had the disease. In addition, there are factors you can be on the lookout for as warning signs at almost any age. Doctors recommend starting routine self-examinations in your 20’s, so you can report any changes or concerns to your health care provider.  You can also visit for more information. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40.

3. Support research and the mission to find a cure

Great work has been done to improve the treatment of breast cancer and researchers are working tirelessly towards a cure. In order to continue their intensive and innovative research, they need the support of organizations, such as The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), to help fund their work. BCRF, for example, directs more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to breast cancer research and awareness programs.

There are simple ways for you to get involved – from buying products that support these types of organizations to hosting a fundraiser with friends. Nestle Pure Life brand bottled water is a great example, spotlighting breast cancer awareness on its packaging during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).  For every specially marked “pink ribbon” package produced, the company will donate 10 cents to BCRF (minimum donation of $350,000). The funding will support a BCRF grant directed to researchers who are working on innovative ways to prevent, treat and cure all aspects of breast cancer.

For more information on how to get involved in raising awareness and on the latest research and breakthroughs, visit There are even more tips on precautions you and your loved ones can take to reduce your risk and get involved.

Toddlers and tech: reasons to share your smartphone

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

A lot of things change when you become a parent. The shows you watch, the restaurants you go to and the concept of sleep as you once knew it all evolve when your family structure transforms from a “me” to a “we.” And increasingly, personal gadgets like smartphones are following the same trend.

“One day I looked at my phone and realized I had almost as many apps on it for my daughter as I did for myself,” says Kat Holmes, principal designer for Microsoft’s Windows Phone. “My smartphone had stopped being just mine.” In fact, a recent study conducted by shows that 75 percent of moms regularly hand over their smartphone to their kids.

But even with smartphone use among kids on the rise, concerns remain over how to keep curious fingers from navigating where they shouldn’t. This concern is what inspired Kat and the team at Microsoft to build new parent-friendly features into the company’s latest Windows Phone products. The most notable is Kid’s Corner, a space within your phone just for kids where they only have access to the apps, games, music and videos selected for them. So you can hand your phone over and let them explore while your personal stuff is safe and password protected. Kid’s Corner also disables browsing, calling and purchasing, so you won’t have any surprises on your phone bill later.

In addition to working full-time at Microsoft, Kat is also a mother of two small kids so she’s familiar with the challenges of creating balance in a busy week. “Tech plays a role in helping our family stay connected – keeping track of our schedules, our to-dos and each other,” says Kat. “And yes, sometimes letting my kids watch a video on my phone gives me a few moments of quiet to catch my breath.”

We asked Kat for a few more tech tips for creating balance as you share your smartphone with your kids. 

*Partner with your kids to curate their mobile experience: To make mobile time fun, set aside time with your kids to choose new mobile content together, including new apps, music and videos. You’ll have peace of mind knowing what your kids are looking at, while giving them a sense that there is a space that’s just for them.

*Smartphones can be a simple way for kids to create and share: Smartphones aren’t just about apps, they’re also a way for kids to capture and share the world from their point of view.-”My kids like to make little video messages for me and post them for me to find later,” says Kat.-”They can’t accidentally send or upload photos from Kid’s Corner, so I know everything they make is just going to stay on my phone.” For other creative outlets with tech Kat suggests Kid’s Draw Free – an ad-free app that lets kids create and share their everyday masterpieces.

*Technology is more than entertainment, it can be educational too: A recent Qualcom survey found that 74 percent of parents have downloaded a mobile app for their kids. While many apps out there are solely for fun and entertainment, there are hundreds of great educational apps that can help kids hone their skills – everything from drawing to spelling to memorizing. A few of Kat’s favorites include:

Animal Memory – with pictures and sounds of wild animals and farm animals, this matching game helps kids hone their memory skills

Connect the Dots – this hand-drawing free app also teaches kids how to read the names of the pictures they’re drawing

*Turn that fighting into a lesson on sharing: As a mother of two, Kat has learned that sometimes one phone isn’t enough, noting, “With more than one kid in the room, it’s pretty common to have fights over whose turn it is. Try uploading a stop watch or timer like the Six Stop Watch app to your device and encourage your kids to engage in 5- to 10-minute increments, and then hand it over to the next in line.”

To learn more about the family-friendly features available on Windows Phone, including Kid’s Corner, visit

Feel the difference of a great hair day, every day

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Dove Hair gives women a great hair day by unlocking a few useful secrets women need to know in order to beat bad hair days. Celebrity hair stylist, Mark Townsend, offers these three easy tips for women to feel the difference of beautiful-looking hair every day.

Tip No. 1 – The foundation for a great hair day starts in the shower

Nearly half of women have a bad hair day when their hair feels weighed down. “The foundation to any great hair day starts when women choose a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that does not weigh hair down,” says Townsend, whose clients include many of today’s leading Hollywood stars. He recommends the improved Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner, a unique formula containing patented technology that does not weigh hair down with excess residue and delivers up to five times smoother hair, in just one wash. More information on these products can be found at

Tip No. 2 – Your blow dryer can be your hair’s best friend

Healthy hair looks shiny because the hair cuticle lays smooth and is able to reflect light. More than 80 percent of women feel more confident on a great hair day compared to a bad one, and one way to keep hair looking beautifully smooth is knowing how to properly use a blow dryer. When blow drying your hair, make sure that you angle the nozzle downward as you dry from the roots to the ends which helps keep cuticles flat and reduces damage. “Pointing the blow dryer directly onto hair with no angle can cause breakage and frizz,” says Townsend. He also warns against applying the hot air from a blow dryer on one area for too long; “it will dry out your hair, making it frizzier.”

Tip No. 3 – An effortlessly beautiful hair style

A smooth ponytail is a chic way to beat the heat outside. It will get your hair up and off your shoulders, which can often cause discomfort in hot temperatures. One of Townsend’s biggest style secrets is perfecting a frizz-free ponytail. First, spray a reusable mascara wand with extra hold hairspray. Then, comb the wand gently over the hairline once the ponytail is set, especially in front of the ears, to smooth the little hairs into the style. “I also like to spray hairspray directly on my hands and run them over the hair that is already pulled back,” says Townsend. “This tip ensures pesky flyaways are smooth, leaving hair looking polished and beautiful.”

Dove Hair understands the desire to have beautifully smooth hair and is helping women give their locks, and themselves, some love with the launch of the Dove Great Hair Affair. Now, women can visit to show-off their great hair day for a chance to win thousands of prizes.

Is your drowsiness dangerous? Sleep apnea evaluation urged for those at risk

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

As many as 12 million to 18 million American adults have untreated sleep apnea, and the experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are recommending the following steps for diagnosis and treatment to significantly improve overall health, mood and productivity.

Be aware of the risk factors

Your risk of sleep apnea increases between middle and older age and with the amount of excess body weight you carry. In general, men have a greater likelihood of developing the disease. However, menopause is a risk factor for sleep apnea in women. Your risk is also higher if family members have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Smoking is another significant risk factor, as well as being a detriment to your overall health.

In addition to these more commonly known risk factors, many people don’t realize that they’re in greater danger of developing sleep apnea if they already suffer from other common diseases.

“Seven in 10 Type 2 diabetics and 30 to 40 percent of adults with hypertension also have obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “As a result, patients with these conditions should pay close attention for potential symptoms and then seek necessary treatment.”

Watch for symptoms

While the symptom most commonly associated with sleep apnea is snoring, not everyone who snores has the disease. However, when snoring is paired with choking, gasping or pauses in breathing during sleep, it’s a more likely indicator of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea symptoms also may appear during the daytime and include morning headaches, excessive sleepiness, trouble concentrating, memory or learning problems and general moodiness, irritability or depression.

“Sleep apnea can make you wake up in the morning feeling tired, even though you believe you’ve had a full night of sleep,” says Badr. “During the day, you may feel incredibly fatigued because you’re actually waking up numerous times throughout the night and your body isn’t getting the rest it needs.”

Get evaluated and treated

If you suspect that you have the risk factors and symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important that you are evaluated by a board-certified sleep medicine physician right away. Left untreated, sleep apnea may have a serious impact on your overall health, even increasing your risk of death.

The sleep medicine physician will have the training and expertise to diagnose your condition. He or she will conduct a thorough physical examination and sleep evaluation, asking questions like whether or not symptoms began when you gained weight or stopped exercising – and whether your partner or roommate has complained that you snore or make choking noises in your sleep. If the sleep physician determines that you are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, then you will be scheduled for a sleep study. Objective sleep testing will provide the data that will enable the sleep physician to make an accurate diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, the recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides a steady stream of air through a mask to gently keep your airway open throughout the night – making it easier to breathe. In patients with moderate or severe sleep apnea, it’s estimated that CPAP therapy reduces the 10-year risk of heart attack by 49 percent and stroke by 31 percent.

“Treating sleep apnea provides all the benefits of improved sleep, including increased alertness during the day and improved memory and cognitive function,” says Badr. “Clinical evidence also shows that sleep apnea treatment lowers blood pressure – decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease – and improves nighttime glucose levels and insulin sensitivity among Type 2 diabetics.”

To find a sleep specialist or accredited sleep center in your area, visit