Farming program helps neighbors in rural America fight hunger

(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.”

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Farming program helps neighbors in rural America fight hunger

(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.”

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heatlh-tech

Using technology to empower people with diabetes

(BPT) – Technology has influenced virtually every aspect of our lives. Arguably one of the biggest areas of change is in health care. From advanced surgical tools to early disease testing, every day new technology emerges in an effort to help people stay healthy and live longer. Wearable technology now puts information directly in the hands of the patient, helping people do everything from tracking steps to counting calories. Now, smartphone apps are getting even smarter, allowing physicians, patients and their loved ones if they choose, in-depth access to important health information in just a few finger taps.

Those in the diabetes community are embracing this new mobile technology enthusiastically to better manage their condition.  Keeping a written logbook can be time-consuming, confusing and frustrating for patients. Now, critical diabetes information is easier to manage and understand with the Accu-Chek Connect(R) Diabetes Management System.

With test results automatically sent from the Accu-Chek Aviva Connect meter to an app on your smartphone and an online portal, people with diabetes are able to log, view and share data anytime, anywhere, without ever writing in a logbook. Thus, never worrying about forgetting to bring this information to their physicians for important visits. Rarely do we forget our phones. They can be lifelines in more ways than one.

“The Accu-Chek Aviva Connect helps to create a sense of confidence for the person who is trying to self-manage their condition,” says Dr. David Robertson, MD of Atlanta Diabetes Associates. “It can help demystify diabetes and bring a sense of order to a very complex condition that is a constant burden to patients.”  

The system allows users to have text results sent automatically, plus you can attach meal photos, view trends and even use the app’s insulin calculator. Considering 91 percent of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach, it’s simple to track important information quickly and efficiently.

Beyond patient empowerment, technology like this better facilitates the patient-doctor relationship. Because the system loads all information into an online portal stored in the cloud, it can be accessed at any time by the physician if the patient chooses. This means a snapshot of the bigger picture is always available, whether in-person at an appointment or while the patient is on the other side of the world.

What’s more, the doctor can activate an insulin calculator in the app, the Accu-Chek Bolus Advisor, which makes it simple for patients to calculate how much insulin is needed at each meal. That means patients can enjoy their meals without worrying about the math.

“Perhaps no community is better suited for this type of advanced technology than the diabetes community,” says Dr. Robertson. “Knowledge is power. This detailed information is incredibly helpful to physicians so we can spot trends and make informed decisions along with the patient. Technology here is the tool to success.”

Learn more about how technology is transforming the diabetes community by visiting accu-chek.com/connect. Accu-Chek Connect is available at Walgreens, Rite Aid and select Kroger locations.

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kiwi

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Kiwifruit

(BPT) – When it comes to fruit, kiwis are often overlooked. But that’s a shame, because these tiny orbs pack big nutritional, culinary and palate-pleasing surprises.

Here are seven little-known facts about kiwifruit:

1. There’s no need to peel kiwifruit.

Kiwifruit is the perfect portable snack because it is easy to eat. Just cut in half with a knife and scoop with a spoon. That’s it — just cut, scoop, and enjoy. But before you cut, make sure it’s ripe. Hold a kiwifruit in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently. A ripe kiwifruit will give to slight pressure. Once kiwifruit is ripe, you can pop it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (assuming you can resist eating it on the spot).

2. Not all kiwifruit is green and hairy.

Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit has a smooth, hairless skin and a juicy, yellow flesh — quite different than the fuzzy green kiwifruit to which most Americans are accustomed. Their taste is tropical-sweet, like a cross between a mango and a strawberry.  

3. Kiwifruit can help stabilize blood sugar.

The glycemic index, or GI, measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar. Fruits with a glycemic index (GI) less than 55 are considered low GI, meaning they produce a gradual rise in blood sugar levels that’s easy on the body. Kiwifruit’s low GI scores (green kiwifruit is 39 and SunGold is 38) and high fiber content allow for a slower rise in blood sugar levels than other fruits, providing energy and helping to fend off blood sugar spikes and crashes.

4. Kiwifruit can ease digestive discomfort.

Feeling a bit backed up? Kiwifruit can aid digestive concerns in several ways. For constipation, researchers believe the soluble and insoluble fibers in kiwifruit can promote laxation. For bloating, both green and SunGold have actinidin, an enzyme unique to kiwifruit that helps break down protein and streamline digestion.

5. Kiwifruit is good for your gut.

Kiwifruit provides prebiotic “food” for probiotics, the good bacteria that live in our digestive systems. So when you consume kiwifruit, you’re also feeding the 100 trillion little helpers in your gut, which support immunity, mood regulation and metabolism. Give yourself a perfect pairing of probiotics and prebiotics by enjoying yogurt topped with chopped kiwifruit.

6. Kiwifruit = delicious source of nutrients.

Kiwifruit is tasty, but that’s not all. A serving of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit has three times more vitamin C than an orange and as much potassium as a medium banana, and a serving of green is high in fiber and a good source of folate.

7. Kiwifruit makes a mean meat tenderizer.

The actinidin in kiwifruit that can help beat your bloat also makes the fruit a great meat tenderizer. Make your own marinade with two green kiwifruit, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Simply marinade for 10-15 minutes before tossing your beef, chicken or fish on the grill.

Not all kiwifruit is created equal. With Zespri, growers put a focus on quality, and you can really taste the difference. Interested in trying Zespri Kiwifruit? Hurry to your local retailer as both Zespri Green and SunGold kiwifruit are in stores now through October.

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artery-health

Four facts about artery health

(BPT) – Did you know that you could be slowly getting sicker with artery blockage, even if you are symptom free and not diagnosed with heart disease?

Your gender, age and whether you have diabetes all affect the prevalence of certain kinds of peripheral vascular disease, which is a condition that affects the blood vessels, according to a new study led by researchers at New York University Langone Medical Center. This study analyzed data from 3.6 million patients who were screened by Life Line Screening.

This insight could help doctors have a better understanding of who is at risk for which diseases.

Younger women: Peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease is a narrowing of the blood vessels to the limbs, especially the lower limbs, caused by an increase of fatty deposits in the arterial walls. Most patients describe numbness or pain in the calf, hip, thigh or buttock, but up to 40 percent of people who are diagnosed do not feel any symptoms. Though often associated with older age groups, the NYU study found a distinction in younger age groups: The disease is actually more prevalent in younger women than younger men to a dramatic degree. Screening for peripheral artery disease can be as simple as comparing blood pressure in your ankle as your arm, known as an ankle brachial index.

Older men: Carotid artery stenosis
A narrowing of the arteries that carries blood to the brain is known as carotid artery stenosis, usually caused by an increase of fatty deposits. Most commonly, symptoms are not apparent until the patient has a stroke. The NYU study found a more pronounced and higher prevalence of this blockage in older men than in older women. If a patient does opt for screening, a non-invasive method is recommended, such as one offered by Life Line Screening, which uses ultrasound to visualize the arteries.

Men and women: Abdominal aortic aneurysms
The aorta is a major blood supply line to your body, running from your heart to your abdomen. When an aneurysm occurs, an area in this vital artery become enlarged and could eventually grow and rupture. These ruptures are serious, as they are life threatening and difficult to operate on. Causes are not known, but researchers have found a correlation with tobacco use, a hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure. Most people are unaware of having this condition, but a major symptom is a feeling of pulsation from the navel. According to the NYU study, prevalence of abdominal aortic aneurysms was similar across all age groups. Annual screening can be done with a simple ultrasound.

Diabetes patients: Peripheral vascular disease
Patients with diabetes are often screened for heart disease, just because of the great risk factors present in these patients. But the NYU study results indicate that doctors might want to consider the onset of peripheral vascular disease in their diabetes patients as well. Patients with diabetes were at a very high risk of developing peripheral vascular disease in the lower extremities or the carotid artery — even if they were not diagnosed with heart disease, according to the study.

Future study is needed to see if screening could lead to better health for diabetes patients, says senior investigator Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger, an associate professor in the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Langone.

“We know that if you have carotid artery stenosis, you’re at an increased risk for stroke, and we know that if you have lower extremity arterial disease, you’re at increased risk for significant impairment in your daily activities like walking, and even amputation,” he says. “What these studies show is the power of large data sets to provide insight into the prevalence of and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

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Why you need vitamin E – and how to get your daily dose

(BPT) – You get your fill of vitamins C and D by eating oranges and soaking in a little sun each day, which is good for your body and mind. Small habits like these can have a big impact on your overall health and help you feel your best each day. However, vitamins C and D aren’t the only vitamins your body needs to thrive. Take vitamin E, for example. This overlooked vitamin is essential to our well-being and yet, many people don’t know anything about it. Let’s take a moment to learn about the super vitamin, and what you can do to get your daily intake.

What are the benefits of vitamin E?

Vitamin E, like vitamin C, is an antioxidant and therefore helps improve immunity levels. Here are the possible benefits of vitamin E, and how it can specifically enhance your health. 

* Fights summer colds: Winter isn’t the only time you can catch a cold. In the summer, vitamin E can boost your immunity to prevent sickness during the warmer months. 

* Extends cell life: What’s the secret to aging well? While there are many factors that can influence aging, vitamin E can extend cell life to keep skin in great shape for years. 

* Repairs damaged cells: With vitamin E oil, you can also repair damaged cells. Specifically, vitamin E can be used to treat sunburns and scars. 

* May reduce risk of heart disease and cancer: There’s still much to be discovered about vitamin E. Currently, doctors and scientists are testing whether vitamin E can reduce the risk of serious health conditions, like heart disease and cancer. 

* Reduces risk of cataracts and other eye issues: Maintain eye health and prevent serious eye diseases by getting your daily intake of vitamin E. 

* May slow down cognitive decline: Studies have found that a higher intake of vitamin E in older individuals can reduce cognitive decline and can even slow down the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

How can I get more vitamin E in my diet?

The US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E in individuals 14 years and older is 15 mg. Instead of taking supplements to get the recommended daily dosage, however, save your money and add vitamin-rich foods to your diet. “The simplest way to increase your vitamin E intake is to follow a healthy diet that focuses on eating vitamin E-rich vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and lean forms of protein,” says Lyssie Lakatos, a registered dietitian. Lakatos lists these five foods as examples of what you can include in your vitamin E-rich meal plan.

* Pistachios: A protein-packed snack, pistachios are also a rich source of vitamin E you can take on-the-go. 

* Spinach: When preparing salads, toss some spinach into the mix. This dark, leafy green is also high in calcium. 

* Eggs: Eggland’s Best eggs contain 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs, which is equal to 25 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin E. They are also packed with omega-3s, vitamins like B12 and D, and contain 25 percent less saturated fat than other eggs. 

* Avocados: Add an avocado to your salad or make guacamole to get the benefits of this healthy, vitamin E-rich fruit. 

* Olives: Whether you like to eat olives as a snack or use olive oil when cooking, you can expect to increase your vitamin E intake by including olives in your diet. 

Making Vitamin-E focused meals is simple and delicious. Here’s one recipe you can try at home today!

EBLT Bowl

Ingredients:

*2 Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs

*1 bag spinach

*½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

*6 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked and chopped

*1 avocado, sliced

*salt & pepper to taste

*½ cup whole grain croutons (optional)

Dressing:

*1/4 cup light mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)

*1 tablespoon water

*1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

*Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

*In a large bowl combine spinach, onion and tomatoes. 

*Place all of your salad dressing ingredients together in a jar and shake until completely combined.

*Top spinach mixture with two hard-cooked eggs per bowl, sliced avocado and croutons. 

*Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

All vitamins, from vitamin C to vitamin E, are essential to your overall health. Visit Eggland’s Best to learn more about the nutritional benefits of vitamin E. 

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summer-excitement

Summer Excitement

(BPT) – By Sarah H., Living With Psoriasis

For most people, summer means warm weather, blossoming trees, and vacation. But as a young college student living with psoriasis, it brings on a whole different set of experiences and challenges. Even though it affects approximately 7.5 million Americans, many people do not know what psoriasis is. 

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation, redness, and itching of the skin, and is usually found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. So for me, warmer weather, short sleeves, and light dresses means my skin is more exposed than during the winter when I am buried under layers 

Psoriasis is a disease that causes an overproduction of cells that appear on the skin’s surface. These cells form thick scales on the skin, which can be dry, cracked, and red – and can be itchy and painful. Psoriasis doesn’t just “go away” – it is a chronic skin condition. 

Although there isn’t a cure for psoriasis, I have learned from my doctor that there are many ways to manage the skin symptoms. Lifestyle adjustments may also offer some relief, such as maintaining a healthy weight, minimizing stress, and following a healthy diet.  

In addition to making lifestyle changes, I’ve always worked closely with my doctor to find a treatment plan that works for me. Over the years, I’ve tried different medications, but never stuck to them for one reason or another. Eventually, my doctor and I decided I try Otezla® (apremilast; 30 mg tablets), a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis for whom phototherapy or systemic therapy is appropriate. Otezla is a pill – not a cream or an injection. Otezla was something that could fit into my daily routine. Based on my medical history, my doctor told me that the Prescribing Information for Otezla had no requirement for routine lab monitoring. As a busy college student, this was helpful! 

My doctor also made it clear that it may take some time to see if Otezla works for me. After four months, I saw an improvement in my plaque psoriasis symptoms and was glad that we decided to try Otezla. 

Otezla may not work for everyone. Before I started taking Otezla, my doctor had also discussed with me potential side effects. According to my doctor, people who are allergic to any of its components should not take Otezla. Otezla is associated with serious side effects like depression, weight decrease, and interacting with other medicines that can make Otezla less effective. The most common side effects of Otezla were diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, tension headache, and headache. My doctor also told me to read additional information in a brochure I received about Otezla, which also had the Important Safety Information and Full Prescribing Information for Otezla. 

While my psoriasis certainly presents me with challenges, I do my best not to let it keep me from doing the things that I love. My advice for others living with plaque psoriasis is to educate yourself about the disease and work with a doctor to develop a management plan that works for you. Summer is a welcomed time, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it! 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION 

You must not take Otezla if you are allergic to apremilast or to any of the ingredients in Otezla 

Otezla is associated with an increase in adverse reactions of depression. In clinical studies, some patients reported depression and suicidal behavior while taking Otezla. Some patients stopped taking Otezla due to depression. Before starting Otezla, tell your doctor if you have had feelings of depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal behavior. Be sure to tell your doctor if any of these symptoms or other mood changes develop or worsen during treatment with Otezla.  

Some patients taking Otezla lost body weight. Your doctor should monitor your weight regularly. If unexplained or significant weight loss occurs, your doctor will decide if you should continue taking Otezla 

Some medicines may make Otezla less effective, and should not be taken with Otezla. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines.  

Side effects of Otezla were diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, tension headache, and headache.  

These are not all the possible side effects with Otezla. Ask your doctor about other potential side effects. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.  

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or planning to breastfeed. Otezla has not been studied in pregnant women or in women who are breastfeeding.  

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-332-1088. 

Please click here for Full Prescribing Information. 

Otezla® is a registered trademark of Celgene Corporation. 

© 2016 Celgene Corporation 08/16 USII-APR160044(1) 

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