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9 tips to maintain eye health

(Family Features) When considering making changes to positively impact your well-being, many aspects of health may jump to the forefront, from taking care of mental and emotional health to ensuring a well-maintained body from head to toes. However, one sometimes overlooked area is your eyes and the importance of vision care.

Despite nearly 4.2 million Americans over the age of 40 suffering from impaired vision, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it’s an aspect of daily health that is sometimes neglected.

To better care for your eyes, consider these tips that put the focus back on eye health:

Schedule an exam

While focusing on enhancing care for your eyes is a productive idea regardless, it’s also important to have your vision and eye health checked regularly by a professional. This can help detect diseases and conditions that cause vision loss and blindness, many of which show little or no symptoms in the early stages, and a doctor can help create a care plan that preserves your eye health.

Understand your family history

Genetics can play a major role in eye health, so talk to family members about their vision history. If anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition that impacts their eyesight, knowing can help determine if you are at a higher risk for developing a hereditary trait.

Use proper lighting

While there are many everyday ways to maintain eye health and function, there is one simple yet overlooked way to take care of your sight: reducing eyestrain.

While three out of four Americans suffer daily from eyestrain, according to an online survey conducted by Russell Research, some people may not realize the lighting they use at work and home may be contributing to the problem.

One way to achieve a reduction in eyestrain is to use indoor lighting such as the OttLite Wellness Series, a line of lamps that closely matches the spectrum of natural daylight to reduce eye fatigue and eyestrain by 51 percent. The line includes four models featuring stylish designs with ClearSun LED technology, high-quality diffusers for clear illumination and multiple brightness settings, all intended to help reduce eyestrain by providing “good” lighting, which means providing enough natural daylight-quality illumination to see clearly without being blinded by excessively high light levels or glare.

The lamps also feature adjustable necks and shades to help direct light to fully illuminate an intended area and adjust for glare from reflective surfaces and smart features like USB ports to conveniently charge your devices. Find more information at OttLite.com.

Clean contact lenses

If you wear contacts, make sure to take proper precautions, which includes cleaning and rinsing each time you wear and remove the lenses. When cleaning, use cleaners approved by an eye doctor, and don’t wear lenses longer than recommended.

Maintain overall health

Living a healthy lifestyle overall can have a positive impact on your eye health, too. For example, maintaining a healthy weight can help avoid risks like diabetes, which can lead to vision loss from diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. In addition, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables aids eye health, along with fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Wear sunglasses

Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration and blurred vision. It’s important to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays when you’re outside by wearing sunglasses that block out 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Shield your eyes

While sunglasses help block out the sun, protective eyewear like safety glasses and goggles can help shield the eyes while conducting physical activities like yard work or playing sports. Be sure to use safety glasses specifically intended for the use you’ll wear them for, as some varieties are designed for certain activities.

Limit evening screen time

The blue glare from traditional lighting and electronics (TV, cell phones, computers, tablets) used before bed may disrupt sleep patterns and circadian rhythm, and may even lead to sleep disorders, depression, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Take a break

Your eyes work hard when you put extended focus on a computer screen or other activity. Take periodic breaks to avoid eye fatigue. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, shift your gaze to something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Optimal Eye Health

Your eyes are your window to the world, so protecting your eye health is an essential component of your overall wellbeing. Symptoms like headaches and drowsiness can be signs of eyestrain, a feeling of discomfort caused by issues like poor lighting.

Keep your eyes in optimal condition and avoid problems like eyestrain by ensuring you’re utilizing proper lighting within your home and workspaces. Natural daylight renders colors most accurately, which offsets the potential mood and energy level impact that occurs when you’re not able to perceive colors correctly.

However, when natural light isn’t practical while working at a desk or reading inside, rely on lamps that simulate natural light and have a high Color Rendering Index, such as those from the OttLite Wellness Series, which use diffusers to evenly distribute illumination and protect against glare with dimmable options for users if a lower light level is necessary. To find more information, visit OttLite.com.

Don’t Skip the Eye Doctor

If you’re having trouble with your vision, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with an eye doctor. These symptoms specifically, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are reasons to see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Eye pain
  • Decreased vision
  • Double vision
  • Draining
  • Redness
  • Flashes of light
  • Floaters, or tiny specks that appear to float
  • Halos appearing around lights

 

Photo Courtesy of Getty Image (Main image Eye Exam)

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2018 |

A Healthy Way to Work

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Improve health and performance at the office

(Family Features) Between the hours staring at a computer screen and the nearly constant temptation of treats in the breakroom, most offices are not known for fitness and health. However, work is where most Americans spend at least one-third of their days, and it’s a place where simple changes can make a big difference.

Hunger is an important factor in managing workday wellness, from maintaining focus to making smart snacking choices. A survey on workplace snacking, conducted by Focus Vision and supported by the American Pistachio Growers, found that 92 percent of workers report becoming distracted from their tasks at work due to hunger before lunch. Eighty percent said they get hungry in the mornings before lunch and think about food often or every day.

Watching your eating habits and being more aware of your body’s physical needs can help promote a better office lifestyle. Take steps to improve your workday wellbeing with these tips from Dr. Mike Roussell, nutrition expert and adviser to “Men’s Health” and “SELF” magazines:

Keep healthy snacks on-hand. Sugary snacks can send you on a roller coaster ride of energy and focus. The right kind of healthy snacks can satiate your appetite as well as improve your health and performance at work. For example, the survey on workplace snacking showed a midmorning snack of pistachios can help improve concentration, and the right kind of snack at the right time can help give you a competitive edge at work.

Find time for activity. Being physically active can help control stress, recharge your brain and promote overall wellness. Being at work doesn’t mean that you must be sedentary. Break up lunchtime with a short walk or jump on board with a growing trend and conduct walking meetings. Next time you have a brainstorming or check-in meeting, take it to the streets and hold your meeting while walking around.

Feed your brain. A healthy body doesn’t just mean strong muscles and maintaining a healthy heart, but also nurturing a healthy brain. It is important to fuel your brain with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Research from Loma Linda University shows that eating pistachios stimulates brain waves associated with cognition, memory and learning. Lutein, an antioxidant found in pistachios, is also associated with improvements in executive brain function.

Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is not only important for athletic performance, but is also important for peak mental performance at work. Several research studies show that small levels of dehydration can decrease mental performance and negatively impact mood. To avoid becoming dehydrated, have a large glass of water with each meal or snack and at least one more glass between meals.

Take breaks to recharge. Engineers of one productivity app analyzed time logs from more than 5 million days of tracking to determine the behaviors of the most productive people. They found that when people worked for 52 minutes then took a 17-minute break they had the highest productivity levels. Setting periods of intense focus and then time off during your workday can help you be more productive and reduce stress.

Skip mindless eating. The office can be a nutritional landmine. Bowls full of candy and breakrooms with boxes of donuts make it all too easy to nibble without fully realizing all the calories you are accumulating. Taking a more proactive and conscious approach to snacking can help cut out unwanted extra calories while also curbing your appetite.

Explore more ideas for smart snacking at the office and at home at americanpistachios.org.

A Handful of Health Benefits

Increasingly, people with desk jobs are looking for healthier snack alternatives to typical choices like donuts and vending machine fare. A solution may be a simple handful away.

In a survey commissioned by the American Pistachio Growers, 1,000 American office workers who skipped breakfast consumed a snack of pistachios (about 1 1/2 servings) between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The midmorning snack proved to be just what they needed to power through the morning. Ninety-two percent of the participants reported the pistachio snack helped eliminate hunger and improved their concentration.

Reinforcing their role in mental acuity, in a separate study, pistachios produced strong gamma waves, which are critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.

“Pistachios are an ideal midmorning or midafternoon snack because of their unique nutrient package that not only promotes feelings of fullness and satiation, but newer studies show that it can promote an optimal mental state and more focus at work,” Roussell said. “Pistachios are a healthy snack that you can look forward to eating day in and day out.”

Indeed, an option like pistachios is a healthier choice than many go-to snacks. They do not contribute to weight gain or body fat changes and can significantly improve dietary nutrient intake. Survey participants increased their consumption of nutrients such as thiamin, vitamin B6, copper and potassium after snacking on pistachios for four weeks.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Business people walking and talking)

November 28, 2018 |

3 Tips for a Healthy Baby

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(Family Features) When you’re a new parent, once you’ve successfully navigated the first car ride home from the hospital and the euphoria of this new little life begins to fade, you’re left with one resounding question: now what?

Over the years, you’ll have many responsibilities as a parent, but your most important focus in those early days, weeks and months is your child’s health and development, including his or her brain, gut and senses.

Brain

Numerous studies offer evidence that a child’s learning abilities are developed during early childhood, meaning before even heading off to school. That’s why it’s important to begin nurturing your baby’s cognitive development from the start.

That doesn’t mean you need to reach for the flash cards right away, though. Instead, focus on simply talking, singing and playing together. These activities can help develop vocabulary and other important cognitive functions. As your baby develops, pay attention to what captures his or her attention and encourage exploration of toys, textures and other items of interest.

Gut

When it comes to a baby’s gut health, the first six months are critical. It’s during this time period when babies have yet to be introduced to solid food that the immune system and metabolism are developing and being programmed for the future. Research published in “Cell” shows good gut bacteria during infancy, specifically Bifidobacterium, plays a critical role in establishing strong immune systems and metabolism.

“It’s important for infants to have an abundance of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, in their gut early in life,” said Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh, PhD, gut health expert for Evivo. “Unfortunately, as an unintended consequence of modern medical practices such as antibiotics and C-sections, it is estimated that nine out of 10 babies have exceptionally low levels of Bifidobacterium. This allows an overgrowth of bad gut bacteria, which is linked to short- and long-term health conditions such as colic, eczema, allergies, asthma, diabetes and obesity.”

There is, however, a way for parents to identify if their baby has high or low levels of Bifidobacterium by asking three simple questions. If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a good chance your baby’s Bifidobacterium levels are low.

  • Were you or your baby given antibiotics during pregnancy, childbirth or in the first six months after childbirth?
  • Were you or your baby born via C-section?
  • Does your baby have diaper rash or have 5-plus loose, watery poops per day?

If you’re concerned about your baby’s gut health, talk with your pediatrician about an option like Evivo, the first and only baby probiotic clinically proven to restore the levels of B. infantis, a specific strain of Bifidobacterium, in a baby’s gut and reduce bad gut bacteria linked to colic, eczema, allergies, diabetes and obesity by 80 percent.

Senses

Sensory cues are what allow your baby to take in information about surroundings. Exposing your baby to various sensory experiences funnels a wealth of information to help develop skills and better understand the visual, audible, olfactory and textural stimulants that he or she encounters.

As your child grows older, these early experiences can help him or her recognize different colors, sounds, smells and tastes, some of which may later distinguish likes and dislikes, such as an enjoyment of one type of food and distaste for another.

Find more information and ideas for ways to improve your baby’s health at evivo.com.

November 21, 2018 |

Now is the Time to Address Your Hearing Health

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(Family Features) If you find yourself constantly turning up the volume on the TV or asking people to repeat themselves, you’re not alone. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans – nearly 50 million people – ages 12 and older have hearing loss, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.

In addition, it takes 10 years, on average, for someone with hearing loss to seek help, according to a study published in the “International Journal of Audiology.” That’s 10 years of missed conversations with a spouse, compliments from a friend, secrets from a child and laughs with your family, all because many people aren’t sure where to go for care or have misconceptions about hearing aids.

As more people, especially younger people, are diagnosed with hearing loss, treatment has become easier to access. Hearing care professionals and hearing aid manufacturers, such as Beltone, have adopted advanced technologies and novel forms of care to treat an evolving patient population, ensuring that no one has to experience hearing loss alone. If you’re looking to make your hearing health more of a priority, now is the time as these advancements in technology can help improve your hearing and quality of life:

Clearer, fuller, richer sound. Newer hearing aids incorporate technology that enable advanced hearing capabilities, helping you understand more speech and hear the finer details in social and professional settings.

Rechargeable. Changing hearing aid batteries is a thing of the past. Now you can have hearing aids with a rechargeable battery (with some lasting up to 30 hours) and a portable charger.

Entertainment on demand. Wireless connectivity and Bluetooth technology have made their way to hearing aids. You can now make phone calls and stream TV, videos and more directly to your hearing aids. Some hearing aids, such as the Beltone Amaze, are also fully compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

Support is just a click away. Remote fine-tuning allows you to request and receive adjustments to your hearing aids from the comfort of your own home on a computer or from a smartphone.

Personal control. If you love restaurants, but hate the noise, an option like the Beltone HearMax app allows users to select personalized, preset environments, such as outdoor or restaurant.  The app’s geolocation option also automatically remembers when you’re in a favorite spot and can adjust your hearing aids automatically.

Personalized style. Like having your own stylist, hearing care professionals are typically experts in fitting hearing aids to meet your individual needs and tastes. Today’s hearing aids vary in size, color and special features so you can blend in or stand out.

Comprehensive customer care. Working with a hearing care professional is essential in treating hearing loss. For example, Beltone’s exclusive care program is available at most of the company’s 1,500 hearing centers nationwide. Follow-up service is just a push of the button away as an easy-to-use mobile app can connect you directly to your hearing care professional.

Locate lost hearing aids. This is a feature you’ll never want to use, but will be thankful to have should the need arise. Through the use of apps, you can track your hearing aids if you misplace them.

To learn more about the latest in hearing aid technology and find a hearing aid that meets your needs, visit beltone.com.

 

November 14, 2018 |

Preparing an Emergency Plan for Your Unique Needs

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Family Features) Disasters such as hurricanes, floods, fires and other emergency situations are all too common these days. In fact, about 4 out of 5 Americans live in counties hit by weather events since 2007, according to disaster declaration data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That illustrates how these events can impact nearly everyone and the importance of having a plan.

This is particularly true for older people and people with disabilities. Health issues, mobility concerns and use of assistive devices can create additional challenges during emergencies. However, there are simple steps everyone can take to prepare now for what may come later.

  • Discuss your plan. Talk about preparedness with friends, neighbors and family members. Contact your city or county emergency management office as well as service providers, such as meals programs. Discussing the topic can help you create a support network, find local resources for preparation and identify contents for a custom emergency kit.
  • Create a contact list. Make a list of people and places you can turn to for support in an emergency, including people you may need to help or notify of your safety. Include phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses. Also include insurance providers, health care professionals and medical supply companies. Keep one copy on hand and put another copy in a watertight container in your emergency kit.
  • Prep for power outages. Ask your health care providers about how to prepare for power outages, especially if you depend on medical devices that use electricity, such as oxygen, dialysis or a power wheelchair. Write down your plan, along with information about your devices, and keep a copy in your emergency kit.
  • Make a list of all medications and medical supplies. Keep a list of your medicines, including dosages and allergies, along with other essential supplies like extra eyeglasses, hearing-aid batteries and at least a week’s supply of all prescription medicines in your emergency kit.
  • Plan for transportation. Have a plan in place in case you need to evacuate or get to health care services during an emergency. Know what equipment you need and how you will transport it. Perhaps a neighbor or family member can include you in their evacuation plans. Set this up beforehand and plan how to coordinate in the event of a disaster.
  • Plan for pets and service animals. Include food, medications and other supplies your pets may need in your emergency kit, too.
  • Pack the essentials. In addition to your medical information and needs, don’t forget essentials such as non-perishable food, water, a weather radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, cash, extra clothing and personal hygiene items. Keep your emergency kit in an easy-to-access location.

 

Learn more about preparedness at acl.gov/programs/emergency-preparedness.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

November 7, 2018 |

Help Kids Falling Short on Nutrients They Need this School Year

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Milk is one of the most requested, but least donated items at food banks, meaning children in need may be missing out on essential nutrients

(Family Features) The school year should be filled with playing, learning and growing, but for many children who face hunger, even basic staples like milk are missing. According to experts, one out of two kids ages 9 and up fall short on calcium, vitamin D and potassium – essential nutrients they need to grow strong. Milk is the top food source for these nutrients, and the likelihood of kids missing out is even greater when they don’t have access to fresh, nutritious foods like milk.

More than 46 million Americans – including 12 million children – are served by Feeding America® food banks each year. From the kitchen to the classroom, kids in your own community may be missing out on essential nutrients they need to be set up for success this fall.

Here are a few ways you can help kids facing hunger:

  • Give highly desired, nutrient-rich milk. Milk’s nutrition helps get kids ready to learn. Yet, on average, people served by Feeding America food banks receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. To help fill this need, The Great American Milk Drive and Feeding America – alongside America’s dairy farmers and milk companies – make it easy for people to donate milk directly in their communities. With nine essential nutrients, milk is an easy and affordable way to help ensure kids facing hunger have more access to nutrients they might otherwise be missing. By entering your zip code when you donate at milklife.com/give, you can ensure that the milk is delivered to a local Feeding America food bank in your very own community.
  • Collect food donations from friends and family. Hosting family dinners, football tailgates or Thanksgiving this year? You can benefit families in need by asking guests to bring something to donate to a food bank. While most people think of canned or dry goods, perishable foods like fresh produce and milk are harder to donate and often needed. Find your nearest food bank and check its immediate needs or any donation guidelines at FeedingAmerica.org.
  • Volunteer at your local food bank or food pantry. Gather your friends and family to fight hunger in your community by donating what many food banks may need most – your time. Spending a few hours sorting, packing or stacking food can make a big difference for the food banks and the families they serve. Visit FeedingAmerica.org and find a local Feeding America food bank near you.

Since it began in 2014, The Great American Milk Drive has delivered more than 1.8 million gallons of milk – more than 28 million servings – to food banks across the country. Learn more about milk’s nutrition and the need for milk in food banks at milklife.com/give.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

October 31, 2018 |

Waking Up to Go to the Bathroom Multiple Times Per Night?

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Waking up to go to the bathroom multiple times per night? It’s not because you’re ‘getting old’

 

(Family Features) It’s a common misconception: the older you get, the more frequently you need to use the bathroom at night. Did you know waking up more than once per night to urinate is a medical condition known as nocturia? Shockingly, 64 percent of American adults do not know.

A recent Harris Poll of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, endorsed by The Simon Foundation for Continence, National Association for Continence (NAFC) and the Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC), found that approximately one-third of them suffer from nocturia. Nocturia, which forces individuals to get up more than once per night to urinate, is a leading cause of sleep loss and can put one’s health at risk.

“Before receiving treatment for nocturia, I typically wound up making five trips to the bathroom each night, which I knew wasn’t normal,” said Jack Fagan, a 67-year-old resident of Sewell, NJ. “Treatment has made a noticeable impact on my quality of sleep. I find myself more refreshed and have the energy to enjoy time with family and friends.”

Most people living with nocturia (72 percent) reported they are negatively impacted by the condition at night; 43 percent of whom have trouble falling back to sleep, 12 percent indicated they wake up their partners and 10 percent expressed nervousness about tripping or falling while walking to the bathroom. The impact of nocturia-induced sleep loss can be wide-ranging, affecting physical and mental health. Sixty-one percent of nocturia sufferers experience daytime issues as a result of nighttime urination, including: drowsiness, irritability and reduced productivity and concentration.

Sixty-six percent of nocturia sufferers surveyed have never discussed their symptoms with a healthcare professional; half of respondents reported they thought it was a normal part of aging, and 27 percent believed nothing could be done to remedy the problem.

“We see patients who have suffered with nocturia for many years, as it slowly progresses from getting up twice to over four times per night to urinate,” said Roger Dmochowski, M.D., a nocturia sufferer and professor within the department of urologic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “In my personal and professional experience, nocturia can have serious implications for an individual’s emotional state and daily life, due to sleep disruption, if not diagnosed and treated. Up until recently, we didn’t have effective treatments.”

 

For more information on nocturia, visit www.whatisnocturia.com, or  www.simonfoundation.org/nocturia.

 

The Harris Poll survey was funded by Avadel Pharmaceuticals and Serenity Pharmaceuticals.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

October 24, 2018 |
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