Win with water [Video]

(BPT) – Whether it’s to quench your thirst or to help keep your energy up, drinking water is always the best choice. Watch this video to learn why.

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American Legion Auxiliary aims to improve veterans’ lives

(BPT) – Eva Wallace never enlisted in the U.S. military, has never been on active duty and never endured life-altering injuries protecting American freedoms. However, as a military spouse she has found another important way to serve our country — advocating for veterans’ rights.

Each February, Wallace and more than 500 other members of The American Legion Family, descend on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., to meet with Congressional representatives and their staff. American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) members share and discuss pressing issues and legislation that affects veterans and their families, including increasing support of homeless veterans, upholding and expanding the advancements made by the GI Bill and improving Veterans Affairs hospital care for veterans in need. Members of the Auxiliary also appear alongside The American Legion before a Joint Session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs to advocate for key issues and promote accountability for legislative actions.

“The military community is constantly evolving and changing, so the veteran community is changing along with it. Returning from the conference, members are armed with new information on important issues that we can share with those who are interested in making a difference in the lives of veterans,” says Wallace, whose husband served for 24 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. “We return to our communities ready to shine a light on the true veteran experience.”

Last year, ALA advocacy helped preserve programs for disabled veterans and veterans’ widows. They also played a role in helping make care for veterans more accessible, especially for those who live hundreds of miles from their Veteran Affairs medical facility.

“The conference encourages important conversations with policymakers and explores new ways to collaborate and promote the mission of the ALA,” says Carol Harlow, director of the ALA Washington, D.C office. “When members depart Washington, D.C., they leave feeling empowered, inspired and ready for new challenges.”

The ALA is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization and one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of veterans’ rights. The nonpartisan organization, founded in 1919, helps to advance the mission of The American Legion and provides service to veterans, military and their families.

The ALA encourages non-military members to also get involved. To learn more about the legislative bills the ALA supports visit: legion.capwiz.com/legion/issues/bills/.

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Knowing your options if you are denied the cardiovascular medicine you need

(BPT) – As we approach American Heart Month, one important topic must be addressed: improving access to innovative therapies for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

When prescribed a medication by a physician, most individuals expect to receive the medication without jumping through hurdles. However, for many people affected by cardiovascular disease across the country, this is increasingly not always the case. According to Symphony Health Solutions, commercial payers deny up to 90 percent of initial claims submissions for patients with CVD, with the final rejection rate for patients at 73 percent.

Many of these patients who are rejected have high cholesterol and/or familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is an inherited form of significantly high cholesterol and one of the most common genetic diseases, affecting at least one in every 200 to 500 people. Thus, these patients are exploring new treatment regimens because they have not been able to get their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), or “bad” cholesterol, under control despite treatment with a statin — the current standard of treatment. Additionally, many patients living with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which is caused by a build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque in the arteries, are unable to get their LDL-C under control with current treatment options.

With CVD being a major public health concern in the U.S, it is imperative to lower bad cholesterol for patients who have already had a cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke, as well as patients with FH who require additional treatment options to lower their LDL-C levels along with their statin. Yet, there is a growing concern that many patients with uncontrolled LDL-C levels continue to face challenges in accessing PCSK9 inhibitors their physicians have prescribed based on the approved indication. PCSK9 (or proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9) inhibitors are human monoclonal antibodies that block the protein PCKS9, which prevents the body’s natural system from eliminating “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL-C) from the blood.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration carefully determined which patients would be appropriate for PCSK9 therapy given the clinical trial information, many payers have implemented restrictive prior authorization processes using stringent utilization management criteria, which is resulting in many patients being denied access. This is not unique to PCSK9s though; we have seen these restrictive authorization practices affecting patients seeking hepatitis C and heart failure treatments as well.

Being denied access to the medicine you are prescribed is tremendously frustrating and can leave patients feeling hopeless. However, it is important to know that, as a patient, there are certain things you can do to take action if this happens to you:

* Talk to your doctor. If you are denied access to vital treatment, talk with your physician about what you can do to receive the therapy you need.

* Share your story. Patients and physicians should feel empowered to speak out and engage with their networks, sharing their stories to help drive attention and awareness to the issue.

* Engage advocates. Seek out advocacy groups and patient networks that have resources.

Now is an opportune time for patients to be aware of the options available, especially when they are denied access to treatments prescribed by their physicians. In keeping with the spirit of American Heart Month, make wellness a priority. If you or a loved one suffers from CVD, talk with your physician to ensure you are receiving the appropriate medical care. For more information, please visit www.advancecardiohealth.org.

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Enjoy your life again: Fix your hearing

(BPT) – Think what it would be like, if after a lifetime of enjoying the taste of your favorite meal, seeing your children smile, smelling blooming flowers, or feeling the comfort of fresh, soft sheets on your bed, you lost one of your senses. You’d probably be devastated, and want to pursue every option for recovering at least part of what you lost. Yet, when it comes to beloved sounds like music or lively conversation, the common response is to wait years before treating hearing loss or to ignore it entirely. Why isn’t the loss of hearing — a sense just as important to quality of life as the other four — as much of a motivator to seek help?

Hearing loss is sneaky

Rather than an abrupt, noticeable loss like one you may experience from a cataract, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) steals hearing a little at a time. It’s easy to miss that you can’t hear quieter sounds anymore, such as your car’s turn signal. By the time you (or a family member) notices you’re unable to hear the television or struggling to keep up with conversations, you’re likely to have developed subconscious coping mechanisms, such as lip reading. Even after it’s obvious that you’ve lost a significant amount of hearing you might not realize just how many sounds you’re missing, because it’s been so long since you heard them clearly — or at all.

Coping with hearing loss

People deprived of their sense of taste simply have to resign themselves to never enjoying eating like they used to again. However, if it’s your hearing that’s diminished, you can develop workarounds like depending on a family member to serve as your de facto translator at restaurants, performing tasks like repeating the server’s questions. Or you might start avoiding social situations, such as going to a bar or restaurant with friends, altogether. Maybe you think you’re managing fine, but in reality you’re placing limitations on your life that keep you from fully enjoying it.

Cost of treatment versus price of not hearing

Whenever there’s a discussion of why people don’t get hearing aids, someone inevitably points to expense as a significant factor. It’s true that one of the reasons glasses are ubiquitous is that they’re available in a wide range of prices, and many types are effective and affordable even when insurance doesn’t cover them. However, a comparison of glasses to hearing aids doesn’t bear up under scrutiny. Even the most expensive glasses have limited functionality and components, and correcting vision typically doesn’t require more than a single annual visit to an eye doctor.

Conversely, hearing aids are high-tech devices loaded with miniaturized components that do much more than magnify sounds. Hearing is a complex sense to correct, requiring not just appropriate volume adjustment but addressing an individual’s specific frequency loss. If you have tinnitus (unexplained ringing in the ears) that adds yet another layer of complexity. Hearing aids also have to adapt to your changing surroundings by detecting and distinguishing what you want to hear and reducing background noise. They’re also capable of advanced functions like wirelessly streaming audio from Bluetooth(R)-enabled devices.

Many hearing care professionals offer hearing aids at a wide range of price points. It’s very possible that your hearing loss could respond well to a pair of hearing aids that are far more affordable than you might expect.

You don’t have to simply accept a loss of hearing. Talk to a hearing care professional today and learn what options are available to restore this vital sense.

Signia, one of the leading hearing aid brands, has a compelling offer. They are producing an internet reality series this fall and are looking for Americans who have hearing loss but have never worn hearing aids. If you are selected, you will receive your hearing aids at no cost. You will have to agree to be filmed during the process for their series.

Signia is selecting just three participants, and there is no guarantee you’ll be one of them, but you have nothing to lose. If you are interested, you can read about the contest at castingcall.signiausa.com/.

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Over 50? You’re at Increased Risk for Shingles

(BPT) – A few years ago, a Harris Interactive-sponsored poll* found that Americans consider 50 to be the “perfect age” to live forever in good health. For many, the half­-century mark can be a time when experience and opportunity balance perfectly — as told by the saying “50 is the new 30.” At 50 there may be more time to spend on your hobbies or other activities that interest you.

At 50, the last thing anyone would want is to be blindsided by illness. Yet risks of certain medical conditions increase with age. For example, shingles is a condition caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — a virus that 98 percent of adults have had according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even after recovery from chickenpox, the virus never leaves the body. At some point later in life, it can unexpectedly reactivate and emerge as shingles — a painful blistering rash that can last for 30 days.

When Edwin DePeiza discovered he had shingles, he learned the meaning of the adage: “You don’t miss something until it’s gone.” DePeiza, who is in his 60s and resides in Massachusetts, first noticed a burning sensation on his torso. By the time he saw his doctor, a rash had developed. Upon seeing the rash, his doctor quickly diagnosed it as shingles.

DePeiza, a passionate guitar player, witnessed how shingles can interrupt the moments that matter in life. His guitar playing had taken him all over the world, but the intense pain of shingles forced him to put his passion on hold.

“The things I love to do most I couldn’t do, like playing in the band and spending time with [my wife] Marylou,” DePeiza recalls. “The sensation of having shingles for me was like being scalded by hot water, [or] having hot cereal spill on you. I have never experienced that kind of pain or burning sensation.”

According to the CDC, one in three people will get shingles in their lifetime, and every year, about 1 million cases are diagnosed in the United States. Adults aged 50 and older are especially at risk for shingles, as the risk increases with age due to naturally declining immune systems. There is no way to tell who will get shingles, nor how severe the case will be.

Shingles most commonly surfaces on a single side of the torso, but it can appear anywhere on the body — even the face. For most people, after the shingles rash and blisters heal, the pain and itch subside — though some people may experience permanent scarring even after the rash heals. In some cases, shingles can cause complications like postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a long-­term nerve pain that can last for months or even years after the blisters heal and the rash disappears.

Speaking with a healthcare professional to understand one’s personal risk for shingles is important. Learn more about Edwin’s shingles experience, and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about a vaccine that can help prevent shingles. For more information go to www.ShinglesInfo.com.

* Poll was not sponsored by Merck

VACC­-1148024-­0019 – 12/16

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The best ways to support veterans in 2017

(BPT) – As the new administration and Congress settle into office, many organizations are working hard to put America’s 21 million veterans at the top of the nation’s “to-do” list.

“Veterans share a common thread — regardless of where they served or for how long — they are driven to protect our country and ensure freedom for all citizens,” says DAV (Disabled American Veterans) National Commander Dave Riley. “At the same time, they face unique challenges, from health problems related to their military service to translating their job skills into meaningful employment opportunities. It’s our nation’s duty to support veterans once they return home.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that 20 percent of veterans who served since 9/11 are estimated to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Twenty veterans take their lives every day, most of whom never seek help from the VA, and many veterans struggle to find employment, often leading to homelessness.

To help change the lives of countless veterans and their families, DAV has suggested three priorities for our country’s leaders in 2017:

* Ensure veterans have access to quality and timely health care, including effective mental health services. Changes in the health care system for veterans are critical according to leading veterans service organizations like DAV and VFW, as well as bipartisan leaders in Congress. They all agree the best path forward is to create local, high-performing health care networks, led by the VA, which combine the best of VA with the best of community care.

* Give needed benefits to the caregivers of veterans. While caregivers for veterans who served after 9/11 receive benefits and resources, caregivers of veterans who served in earlier conflicts, such as World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, do not receive them. This law must be amended and made inclusive.

* Educate employers about the value of hiring veterans, particularly those with disabilities. A recent survey of employers released by DAV, Monster.com and Military.com reveals 30 percent of employers worry about hiring veterans with PTSD. However, the vast majority of employers who have hired veterans with disabilities report it’s been a positive and productive experience.

You can support U.S. veterans.

You can be a positive voice for veterans and support changes in your communities. Start by speaking up on important veteran issues and write your elected officials in Congress. Volunteer with your local VA hospital or drive veterans to medical appointments. And, if you own a business or are a hiring manager, be sure your organization considers veterans’ unique talents and strengths.

America made a promise to care for its veterans, those men and women who sacrificed for everyone’s freedoms. Now the nation’s leaders must live up to that promise. For more information about important veteran issues and how you can help, visit www.dav.org.

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Longer battery life gives patient with heart condition a new outlook on life

(BPT) – By the time Emily H. turned 27, she had received her third life-saving heart device. While she was happy to be alive, she couldn’t help but question why the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) surgically inserted in her chest needed to be replaced with such frequency. At this rate, she would undergo three more surgeries and pay nearly $30,000 in out-of-pocket medical bills before she reached her 35th birthday.

“I found out I had a hereditary heart condition just before entering my sophomore year of college,” she recalled. “I knew my life would never be the same after receiving my diagnosis, but I couldn’t have imagined the physical, emotional and financial toll that my dependency on a cardiac device would have on me and those who love me.”

Emily was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a thickened heart muscle, at the age of 19. The condition makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood and could eventually cause sudden cardiac arrest. In order to prevent sudden death, Emily’s doctor implanted an ICD to continuously monitor her heart rhythm and deliver a life-saving shock, if necessary.

Her first device battery lasted just five years. It was at that point Emily faced the reality that the batteries that power ICD devices do not last indefinitely. When her second device had to be replaced after only two years, she began to worry, wondering how many more devices she would need and how much money she would have to save for the next inevitable, yet unpredictable, replacement procedure.

“With my condition, my savings account isn’t just dedicated for unexpected home repairs, a winter vacation or my children’s college funds,” Emily said. “I have to always be ready for future device replacement surgeries, and the weight of the financial burden that accompanies those surgeries is huge.”

Emily talked with her doctor when she was due for her third device and learned that medical device companies have been working to advance technology to extend the life of ICD batteries and lessen the burden on patients who need them.

Now, at age 33, Emily has a Boston Scientific ICD that her doctor expects will last up to 11 years – nearly three times as long as the four-year average of her previous devices.

“I’m so grateful for the improved battery technology that Boston Scientific offers because it’s truly impacting not just my life, but the lives of my husband and two small children,” Emily said. “I am optimistic about my future and glad my doctors have access to this device that gives me and my family peace of mind.”

Potential questions to ask your doctor about ICD’s:

* What device options do I have available to me and how do they differ from each other?

* How long will the device battery last and how soon should I expect to undergo a replacement procedure?

* What resources can I review to gather additional information about the procedure and/or recommended device?

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Heart Racing? How Being Informed and Taking Action Can Stop a Common Heart Condition

(BPT) – For some, simple activities that others often take for granted – like walking around the neighborhood or doing chores around the house – can make them feel tired or dizzy. They may feel their heart racing or like a hummingbird is flapping its wings in their chest.

These symptoms may point to atrial fibrillation, or Afib.

Affecting nearly 3 million Americans, Afib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causing a quivering or irregular heartbeat. Without treatment, Afib can double the risk of heart-related deaths and increase the risk of stroke by five times. It is estimated to be responsible for more than 80,000 deaths each year, but it doesn’t need to be left untreated.

“Many of my patients are unaware that Afib is a serious condition and don’t know how to manage it,” says Dr. Larry A. Chinitz, Professor of Medicine and Cardiac Electrophysiology and Clinical Director of the Leon Charney Division of Cardiology at the New York University School of Medicine. “The sooner that people learn about Afib and receive treatment, the greater the chance of stopping the condition before it leads to more serious complications. That’s why diagnosing Afib and getting the proper treatment is imperative.”

An online survey by Harris Poll on behalf of Biosense Webster, Inc. of more than 200 U.S. adults who had been diagnosed with Afib found that 63 percent of people surveyed felt they were extremely knowledgeable about their treatment options. However, when asked specifically, many were not familiar with all of the different types of available treatments.

While several effective options for treating Afib do exist, people frequently aren’t fully equipped to make informed health decisions. This gap between perceived knowledge and actual understanding of specific treatments is what many doctors specializing in heart rhythm disorders, including cardiologists and electrophysiologists, are trying to close.

Treatment options

The most appropriate treatment often depends on the type of Afib, how long someone has had the condition, severity of symptoms and the underlying cause. Generally, treatment goals include reducing the risk of complications including stroke and restoring a normal heart rhythm.

One treatment option, which only half of surveyed Afib patients were familiar with, is known as cardiac/catheter ablation. This minimally-invasive therapy provides an alternative for those who don’t respond to, or can’t tolerate, drug therapy.

Catheter ablation selectively targets areas of the heart causing heart rhythm irregularities. During the procedure, doctors insert a catheter through a small incision in the groin, where it is then guided to the heart through a blood vessel. Once it reaches the left upper chamber of the heart (atrium), radiofrequency energy is delivered to the heart wall to block faulty electrical impulses that can cause heart rhythm disorders.

This type of treatment is helping doctors more accurately target areas of the heart. Now, with products like the THERMOCOOL SMARTTOUCH SF Catheter with contact force technology, electrophysiologists are able to precisely measure the amount and direction of force being applied to a delicate heart wall.

These technological advances have led to improved results and shorter procedure times for patients, without compromising safety. A multicenter, prospective study of the THERMOCOOL SMARTTOUCH technology demonstrated a success rate of greater than 74 percent after a one-year follow-up. In the study, success was defined as freedom from abnormal heart rhythm for 12 months.

Raising awareness

Afib is a progressive disease, and over time, repeated incidents can lead to issues including irreversible heart rhythm abnormalities, blood clots, chronic fatigue, stroke and heart failure. For people with this condition, knowledge can quickly translate to better health. Oftentimes, simply the lack of information may prevent them from taking the first steps to a healthier life.

Talk to a local doctor who specializes in heart rhythm disorders or visit www.GetSMARTAboutAfib.com to learn more about how to identify and manage this condition. The sooner you’re able to learn about available treatment options, the sooner you or your loved one can get back to leading a healthy, fulfilling life.

As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. Only a cardiologist or electrophysiologist can determine whether ablation is an appropriate course of treatment. There are potential risks including bleeding, swelling or bruising at the catheter insertion site, and infection. More serious complications are rare, which can include damage to the heart or blood vessels; blood clots (which may lead to stroke); heart attack; or death, are rare. These risks need to be discussed with your doctor, and recovery takes time.

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Top college football coach’s journey to #TackleEpilepsy

(BPT) – The year 2000 brought a new millennium, and for college football coach Jerry Kill, it was a year that would change his life forever. One of the most respected names in college football, Kill has coached at the collegiate level for more than 20 years, rising all the way to the Big 10 where he was named Coach of the Year in 2014 as the head coach of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

But the coaching success is only part of Kill’s story; his battle with epilepsy dates back to the night in 2000 when he experienced his first seizure. While he wouldn’t be officially diagnosed for five years, the year marked the beginning of Kill’s life with epilepsy.

Today, Coach Kill is a passionate advocate for epilepsy, and even with the demands of his new position as offensive coordinator at Rutgers University, he devotes much of his time to supporting those living with epilepsy and raising awareness of the disease. In
2016, he was presented with the Hero of Epilepsy Award from the Epilepsy Foundation. Kill frequently speaks at conferences, founded the Chasing Dreams Epilepsy Fund, and, most recently, has teamed up with UCB and EpilepsyAdvocate on the social media campaign #TackleEpilepsy to help raise awareness of epilepsy during the football post season. Approximately one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lifetime.

Early memories

Long before Kill’s journey led him to become an inspirational epilepsy ambassador and advocate, it began with a seizure.

“I was alone in my bedroom when it occurred,” Kill remembers. “At that time I didn’t know I’d experienced a seizure, because I wasn’t sure what a seizure was.”

The demands of Big Ten football

Kill was named head coach of the University of Minnesota’s football team in 2011, and though he was continuing to experience seizures, he refused to let them prevent him from coaching at the game’s highest level. However, the grind of being a Big Ten coach started to affect his health. “Being a college football coach is an extremely stressful job,” Kill says. “We work 16 hours a day, seven days a week during the season. In the off-season, we’re constantly on the road recruiting. I was often sleeping only two or three hours a night and I wasn’t eating properly.”

The grind finally took its toll, and in 2013, Kill was forced to miss a game for the first time in his career. Leading up to the team’s road game at Michigan, Kill estimates he suffered more than a dozen seizures over a two- or three-day period.

While his absence was taken hard by many, Kill chose to focus on the positive. He embraced the outpouring of support he and his family received from his players, fans and the state of Minnesota as a whole. And with his wife by his side, he began working with a specialist to get his epilepsy under control.

Going forward to #TackleEpilepsy

Today, Kill is able to continue to coach the game he loves and focus on staying healthy, managing his epilepsy, and raising awareness.

That’s why he’s partnering with UCB and EpilepsyAdvocate to support the #TackleEpilepsy campaign to raise epilepsy awareness. The #TackleEpilepsy campaign invites people to take a picture of their best “game face,” upload the photo to their Facebook pages using the hashtag #TackleEpilepsy, and tag friends to spread awareness. UCB will donate $26,000 to the Epilepsy Foundation in honor of #TackleEpilepsy participation. This represents the one in 26 people who will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lifetime.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder sometimes called a seizure disorder because seizures are the primary symptom. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide; more than 65 million people worldwide live with the disease, including an
estimated 3 million in the U.S.

Learn more about #TackleEpilepsy and check out some of the best game faces on the EpilepsyAdvocate Facebook page. You can follow Coach Kill on Twitter at @JerryKillCoach.

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Why eating breakfast boosts your health

(BPT) – Want to make 2017 the year you focus on your health? Wellness goals are admirable throughout the year, but too often well-meaning people make a common mistake that sabotages their efforts: they skip breakfast.

It’s a daily choice that millions of people shrug off as no big deal, but research proves breakfast is an important component in how you feel throughout the day. Fueling up solely on java may perk you up momentarily, but it doesn’t do the trick long-term.

Consider these five reasons why breakfast boosts your health and should not be ignored.

Awakens your metabolism

When you eat breakfast, you “break the fast” from your sleep periods and give your metabolism a wake-up call. When you sleep, your metabolism slows and you burn fewer calories while you rest. By eating a nutritious breakfast, you are sparking your internal engine so it burns calories and gives you more energy throughout the day.

Helps you focus

Hunger can make people irritable and it’s hard to focus on work when your stomach is grumbling. By eating a balanced breakfast of fat, protein and fiber, the food is processed into energy, allowing you to feel fuller longer.

Steadies the burn

When you skip breakfast, the body panics for nutrition, so come lunch you tend to overeat. This in turn overwhelms the metabolism and you end up with peaks and pits of energy throughout the day. For steady energy and efficient calorie-burning, eat a nutritious breakfast and other meals on schedule.

Encourages healthy choices

People who eat breakfast tend to make healthier choices throughout the day. According to MayoClinic.org, “People who eat breakfast tend to eat a healthier overall diet, one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. In contrast, people who skip breakfast are more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day, too.” Try starting the day with 100-calorie Thomas’ Light Multi-grain English Muffins.

Sets a good example

When you eat breakfast, it sets a good example for your family. Plus, sitting down to a nutritious meal is a positive way to start the day together. You’re helping your kids form healthy habits that will benefit them with increased focus and energy at school, ensuring they can do their best academically.

Try this easy 5-minute recipe to start your morning. For more nutritious breakfast recipes, visit thomasbreads.com/recipes.

Greek Yogurt English Muffin


1 Thomas’ Light Multi-Grain English Muffin
Plain Greek yogurt
Sprinkle of granola
Handful of blueberries
Honey for drizzling


  1. Split and toast English muffin. Let cool slightly, then top with yogurt, granola and berries. Drizzle with honey for an added touch of sweetness.
  2. Serve with more blueberries and strawberries, if desired.

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