Debunking the ‘seasonal’ allergy myth and reducing exposure year-round

(BPT) – Seasonal allergens are a popular scapegoat for a multitude of reactions: sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes. During the summer months, pollen – one of the most common allergens – is floating around, even visibly so in some places. Researchers approximate that some 50 million in the U.S. alone believe themselves to be victims of seasonal allergies, and spring to be the season that most affects them.

But the idea that we’re more exposed to allergens during one time of year versus another is something of a myth, as the most common allergens are actually found indoors. Pollen is indeed lowest in wintertime, and this is especially true in colder climates. But we’re exposed to allergens throughout the year, mainly because many of the most common allergens are actually related to indoor villains like dust mites, animal dander and mold.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce your exposure to allergens, including some pretty unique ones, like washing your hair before bed! But the majority of effective measures focus on the circulation and quality of the air around you. While we can’t do much in the short term to improve the quality of the air outside, the most powerful means of tackling our exposure to allergens comes from addressing the air inside, which is up to five times more polluted than the air outside.

To reduce your allergen exposure throughout the year, consider the following steps:

Not all filters are created equally. The “filter triangle”, the amount of air flow a filter allows and how well it traps particles, must be in balance if the device is to do its job properly. If the filter blocks air flow, that will cause problems, as will one that doesn’t catch enough particles. A high efficiency particulate filter will improve the clean air delivery rate, or the amount of air (in cubic feet) stripped of all particles of a given size per minute. Make sure this measurement matches up with the size of the room, and of course take care to switch out filters in your furnace and air conditioning units as often as possible.

Adjust the humidity level indoors, ideally to less than 50 percent, via a humidifier. Dust mites and mold are the most common allergens indoors, and both thrive in humid environments. Dust mites eat the dead skin cells that we shed, and when the environment is damp, those softened skin cells provide a feast. To reduce dust mites, and the conditions in which they’re most comfortable, it is important to keep humidity levels below 50 percent, according to the AAAAI. The good news is that once an effective humidifier is up and running, most dust mite populations will disappear within a few days.

Purchase an air purifier. Air purifiers help improve the quality of air flow in the rooms of your home by filtering out pollutants, allergens and irritants like cigarette smoke. A purifier like the Atmosphere Sky Air Treatment System, which uses state-of-the-art technology to effectively remove 99.99 percent of particles as small as 0.007 microns as they pass through the unit, lessens exposure to these pollutants, allergens and irritants.

Consider your car. Allergens can enter through your car windows and sunroof, so roll everything up and set the vent setting to recirculate as often as possible. Allergens can also accumulate in your car’s air filters over time, so be sure to have them switched out frequently. Vacuum the seats and any other upholstered surface regularly, as dust mites can settle into the fabric. Be sure to clean up any spills quickly and thoroughly to prevent the accumulation of mold as well.

While it’s nearly impossible to completely rid the environment of pollutants, allergens and irritants, taking proactive, preventative measures can significantly reduce your exposure to common culprits like dust mites, pet dander and mold. Arm yourself with quality filters, the Atmosphere Sky Air Treatment System and a clean car to reduce your exposure to allergens year-round. After all, quality of air is quality of life.

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Organic is always non-GMO, but is non-GMO organic?

(BPT) – If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across ongoing debates regarding the term “organic” and what should go into your child’s body. But, what about organic versus non-GMO? A recent study from Perrigo Nutritionals revealed that more than half of moms didn’t know that organic is inherently non-GMO.

So, what’s the real difference? Organic is always non-GMO, but, unlike non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

* No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers.

* No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

* Support for organic farming practices and animal health and welfare.

* Regulated by the federal government under the USDA.

“It’s important to understand the difference between these labels so you can make the right nutritional decisions for you family,” says Jessica Turner, best-selling author and founder of the Mom Creative blog.

Looking beyond the non-GMO label doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, especially since purchasing all organic can add up. As a mother of three, Turner believes the following products are worth the extra splurge for organic instead of just non-GMO for your child.

Baby food

As a child starts eating solids, many organizations recommend going organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen,” such as apples, bell peppers, peaches, etc., to avoid pesticides. Purchasing baby food? Make sure you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, not just a non-GMO certified label, to avoid all those chemicals.

Milk

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse when it comes to your child’s nutrition with vitamin D, calcium and protein, but it can sometimes contain not-so-good ingredients. Organic milk brands have no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything. Going organic also supports a better life for the cows since they have access to pastures.

Infant formula

The Perrigo Nutritionals study said 43 percent of moms purchased organic foods for their babies when they started eating solids, but only 10 percent purchased organic infant formula. So why not choose organic for your baby from the very beginning? Choosing organic brands may be worth the extra investment since it will ensure you are avoiding pesticides and hormones.

Skin care

Skin care products, like lotion, diaper cream, shampoo and soap, are being absorbed into a baby’s bloodstream. Since their skin is more porous than adults’ skin, products from organic/natural lines may be worth the extra splurge to ensure your child is being exposed to the fewest chemicals.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, err on the side of buying organic since organic is always non-GMO, plus more. For more information on organic versus non-GMO, visit www.choose-organic.com.

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Running with Purpose: Athlete Hits Her Stride, Despite a Surprising Asthma Diagnosis

(BPT) – With temperatures becoming more comfortable, there’s a good chance Brooke Curran is logging miles on a run through her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. Though her training often requires her to run dozens of miles each time she laces up, Curran wasn’t always a serious runner. In her mid-twenties, she was a stay-at-home mom with three young kids. She took up running then as a way to get out of the house and steal a few moments for herself each day.

“Even if it was just a few miles a couple times a week, it gave me such a sense of accomplishment,” said Curran.

Following the shock of September 11, 2001, she decided it was time to get serious about checking items off her bucket list, and right at the top was running a marathon.

During one of her marathon training runs, Curran experienced shortness of breath and a painful burning in her chest. Having always considered herself pretty fit, she was concerned about the onset of these new symptoms and immediately made an appointment to see her respiratory specialist. He diagnosed her with asthma and exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB).

“People often think EIB and asthma are just the same thing. But even though the symptoms are similar, asthma and EIB are actually very different conditions,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network. “As runners begin to lace up their sneakers and get outdoors this time of the year, it’s important to know the difference. EIB symptoms are temporary and can be triggered by aerobic activity – like running – while asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation of the large and small airways of the lungs. Many people with asthma also have EIB.”

Though surprised by her diagnosis, Curran’s doctor reassured her that EIB is a treatable condition. After discussing her symptoms, Curran’s doctor prescribed an inhaler with a dose counter so that she could keep track of how much medication she had left. To prevent EIB symptoms, Curran uses her inhaler 15 to 30 minutes prior to each workout or race, as directed by her doctor.

Since then, EIB hasn’t stopped Curran from hitting her stride. Around the time of her diagnosis, she decided she wanted to unite two of her greatest passions – running and her local community – and launched the RunningBrooke Foundation. Since 2009, Curran has run over 100 marathons, including at least one on every continent – including Antarctica – and at least one in every state, to raise money for her foundation. To date, she has raised more than $1 million for at-risk and underserved kids in Alexandria.

And Curran has no plan of slowing down, now that she is able to manage her EIB symptoms.

“As I travel the world to compete, it’s crucial that I know how many doses remain in my inhaler and if I need to refill before I hit the road for my next run,” said Curran. “Thanks to my dose counter, I can keep track of the medicine that helps me keep running for the kids who need it most.”

To learn more about the RunningBrooke Foundation, visit RunningBrooke.org. For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com.

Ms. Curran has been compensated for her time in contributing to this program.

July 2017

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Metastatic breast cancer patients tell their stories through art and photography


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(BPT) – This post is brought to you by Eisai Inc.

When most people think of breast cancer, they think of the pink movement, and often times, “beating” the cancer. A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), a late stage of the disease in which the cancer has spread beyond the breast, is different. There is no cure and, until recently, the number of people living with MBC in the United States was basically unknown. A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates more than 150,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Although the MBC population is larger than ever before, an estimated 17 percent increase from 2000 to 2010, the implication is positive as it means people are living longer in spite of their diagnosis and sheds light on the increased need for more services and research focused on MBC.

The NCI study brings attention to a growing community of people with MBC whose meaningful lives and stories are largely unheard. To give voice to those living with MBC and bring to life the reality of living with MBC, #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was created by METAvivor, an organization dedicated to funding research focused on the metastatic breast cancer, in partnership with Eisai Inc. #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project uses art to empower people with MBC to share their experiences, educate others about this disease and encourage donations for more MBC research.

“The metastatic community really wants to be involved in research. The more people we can educate about metastatic disease, the more money we can raise for research that will ultimately help us to live longer and better-quality lives,” said Leslie Falduto, who lives with metastatic breast cancer and participated in the project. “Participating in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was a very powerful moment for me. I felt confident. I felt like art. I felt good about what I was doing for my community and I felt good about myself.”

The 16 people living with MBC chosen to participate in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project tell their stories through the powerful and artful combination of body painting and underwater photography. Created by Ren and Keith Dixon, a married couple who have both lost loved ones to metastatic breast cancer, the storytelling begins in an interview with Ren Dixon, the body painting artist. After discussing their MBC experience, Ren visually represents each person’s experiences through the use of vivid color and symbols painted directly on their body. Next, Keith Dixon captures the mood and emotion of the patient’s personal journey through underwater photography.

“It is important for women and men to see that you can live a life, a fruitful and loving life, with metastatic breast cancer,” said project participant Sheila McGlown. “I think #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project brought out the boldness in me. It allowed me to express myself and my life experiences in a way I never thought I would be able to and it made me proud — proud of being a voice for young women, proud of being a voice for African-American women, proud of being a voice for veterans and proud of being a voice for the breast cancer community.”

From July 2017 to October 2018, one patient a month will be showcased, through images and video from the photoshoot, on MBCinfocenter.com and METAvivor’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (@metavivor). The images will also be featured at an art gallery reception in New York City and made into a calendar. These calendars are available for free with a donation to METAvivor, which can be made at www.metavivor.org/store/. Donations will go to METAvivor to support research specifically for metastatic breast cancer.

A fundamental component of #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project is the belief that women and men with MBC should live their lives as fully as possible and take advantage of all resources available to them. Many educational resources and helpful information about metastatic breast cancer exists at MBCinfocenter.com. To support METAvivor’s ongoing commitment to funding MBC research, which could help those living with this disease, consider making a contribution at https://secure.metavivor.org/page/contribute/thisismbc.

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Breathe easier with smart tips for an allergy-free home

(BPT) – Stuffy and runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes — having fall allergies can be miserable. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies, and nearly 70 percent of U.S. households are affected by indoor allergens.

While you can’t control Mother Nature, you can help control the indoor environment. On average, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, where the concentrations of some pollutants are two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

Your home should be a haven for you and your family, not a trigger for allergies and asthma. To help everyone breathe easier and increase indoor air quality, consider these smart and simple ideas:

Be smart with bedding

To ensure you sleep well and can breathe easy all night long, invest in allergen-barrier bedding and pillow covers. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F to kill dust mites and remove allergens, recommends the Mayo Clinic. For items that can’t be washed (e.g., some children’s stuffed toys), place in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 F.

Buy confident and seek certification

From vacuums to cleaning products, flooring to humidifiers, look for the asthma & allergy friendly(R) Certification Program seal of approval. The program, administered by AAFA in partnership with the international research organization Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify products that are better for people with asthma and allergies.

Install a whole-home air cleaner

Home air cleaners work with your existing duct work to filter out nearly all allergens. For example, CleanEffects(TM) whole home air cleaner from Trane(R) removes up to 99.98 percent of allergens like household dust , mold spores and certain bacteria and viruses so you don’t have to worry about breathing in harmful bacteria or allergy triggers. What’s more, it’s the first whole home air cleaner to receive the asthma & allergy(R) Certification.

Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum often

No matter the type of flooring in your home, vacuum regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum to remove the maximum amount of allergens possible. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends vacuuming daily in high-traffic or pet areas, vacuuming twice weekly in medium-traffic areas and vacuuming weekly in light-traffic areas, using attachments at carpet edges.

Hire professional carpet cleaners

Many people with allergies choose to remove carpets and replace them with hardwood or tile flooring that doesn’t collect allergens as quickly. However, this is not always possible, so if you have carpet in your home, regularly hire professional carpet cleaners to deeply clean carpet to remove embedded particles and other allergy triggers lurking within.

Choose VOC-free paints

Craving a new wall color? When buying paint, look for VOC-free options. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and these can trigger allergies. To ensure nobody in your family gets itchy eyes or a runny nose when they spend time in your remodeled space, shop smart and always choose VOC-free paints.

These simple tips should dramatically impact your indoor air quality. That means every time your family is at home, everyone can breathe deep and feel their best.

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Meet today’s organic shopper

The organics category is growing in just about every measurable way: in volume, dollars spent and even in conversations in the media.
When consumers dabble in organic produce, they are more likely to purchase organic goods like organic snacks or organic cotton sheets. This means it is important for retailers that sell organic products across departments to pay attention to trends in organic produce.
The organic shopper
“Organics are becoming mainstream, and shoppers are beginning to choose organic items over conventional items,” says Michael Castagnetto, vice president of sourcing for Robinson Fresh. “In our survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce, we found that 51 percent of respondents purchased organic produce and of those, 73 percent purchased both conventional and organic produce during the same trip.”
Research indicated that the organic shopper of today is most likely under the age of 35 or has young children living at home. Organic purchases are also highly correlated to household income.
Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers all show a preference for organic produce.
Why organic is becoming mainstream
“In the past, purchasing anything organic was an emotional-based purchase,” continues Castagnetto. “However, for today’s casual shopper, organic purchases are increasingly becoming more of an impulse purchase. The way that produce is merchandised makes a difference in how consumers make purchasing decisions.”
How organic produce is purchased
Here are the main factors people cite when asked why they go organic:
* The freshness and quality of the produce: 73 percent of respondents ranked this as a top driving factor
* The price of the produce: 61 percent of respondents rank this as a top driving factor
* The packaging the produce comes in
* Whether the organic produce is locally grown
To learn about information on the buying habits surrounding conventional and organic produce, visit the Robinson Fresh website at www.robinsonfresh.com.

(BPT) –

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You need more fruits and veggies: 5 easy ways to get there

(BPT) – Most Americans understand the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables into their diets, but finding inspiration and fresh ideas for incorporating them into everyday meals can be challenging.

Research shows that only 10 percent of Americans are meeting the MyPlate recommendations for daily intake of fruits and veggies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a rule of thumb, half the foods you eat for any given meal should be made up of fruits and veggies — preferably ones incorporating a range of different colors and nutrients.

Daily meal planning is made easier if you turn to your freezer for a little help. Balancing your plate with frozen meals and pizzas and adding fresh side dishes is a simple solution that can help make you feel good about what you’re eating, even with a hectic schedule. Choose your favorite frozen prepared foods and pizzas as the foundation, add side dishes made with fresh fruit and vegetables and you have a balanced meal that is both delicious and nutritious.

Nestlé’s Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate frozen and fresh foods. The website, www.nestleusa.com/balance, provides information, tips and recipes to help consumers create easy, balanced meals that meet dietary guidelines.

Here are some quick and easy tips for including more fruits and veggies in your diet:

1. Chop, eat, repeat. Not into cooking? Simply buy whatever looks good, wash it, cut into slices and enjoy, perhaps dipping it into salad dressing or a yogurt dip.

2. Shop the frozen-food aisle. Delicious and easy-to-prepare frozen foods such as DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita pizza or Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli provide your family plenty of wholesome meals without requiring lengthy prep time. Simply pair with tasty side dishes made with fruits and vegetables for a balanced meal.

3. Divide and conquer. Each Sunday night mix your favorite veggies into a big salad bowl with a cover, combining Romaine and iceberg lettuce with darker green varieties and throwing in other tasty ingredients that will motivate you to want more; consider slices of grilled meat or shrimp, boiled eggs, or small amounts of nuts, cheeses, dried fruit, etc. Then divide the mix into individual plastic containers for the week’s lunches.

4. Top it off. As soon as your favorite frozen pizza comes out of the oven, boost its nutrient punch by adding pieces of fresh tomato, basil, pineapple, spinach or arugula.

5. Stir it in. Add complementary veggies to your favorite comfort food, like Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese. Suggested stir-ins: roasted broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots or butternut squash.

Nestlé’s Balance Your Plate offers two delicious side dish recipes that, when served with your favorite frozen prepared foods, create a perfectly balanced meal you and your family will love.

Arugula and Roasted Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Pairs well with DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita

(Recipe from Hungry Couple of Tasting Spoon Media)

Recipe

4 cups arugula

2 pears

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

* Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

* Slice the pears vertically and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Spread the walnut halves on one side of the baking sheet and layer the pear slices on the other. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, toss the nuts and flip the pears. Continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes.

* Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper.

* Assemble the salad by adding the arugula to a large bowl or platter. Top with the roasted pear slices, sprinkle on the walnuts and drizzle with the dressing.

Simple Kale Salad

Pairs well with Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli

(Recipe from Loop88)

Recipe

2 medium bunches kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

Sea salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

Dress kale with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and sea salt, then top with red onion, feta cheese and toasted walnuts.

For more recipes, information and meal ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance.

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Prevent falls this fall with a home safety checklist

(BPT) – After months of sticky heat and humidity, it’s time to put away the shorts and pull out the sweaters because the autumn season is finally here. But, late September brings us more than just cooler temperatures and a wardrobe change. If you or a loved one are over the age of 65, the change in seasons is also an opportunity to think about another kind of fall — the kind that impacts one in four older Americans every year — and the steps we can all take to help prevent them.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and account for the majority of emergency room visits for older adults. More than 75 percent of falls happen in or around the house, but fortunately there are ways to evaluate our loved ones’ homes and make them safer for everyday living.

Use the checklist below, based on suggestions from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help guide your review of the exterior and interior of the property. Many of the safety measures listed can be made at little to no cost, but more significant modifications could require a considerable investment.

Keep in mind, there are financial options available for seniors who want to modify their homes to meet their changing needs. Area Agencies on Aging, state and local governments, and some nonprofits offer grants, loans or other assistance programs for eligible seniors in need of home repairs and modifications.

Older homeowners may also want to consider using a reverse mortgage loan to convert a portion of their home’s equity into cash proceeds that can be used for many reasons, including home modifications and maintenance. Unlike a home equity loan, a reverse mortgage requires no monthly principal or interest payments and cannot be frozen or reset.

Borrowers do not have to repay the loan balance until the last eligible spouse permanently leaves the home, or if they fail to meet their loan obligations, which include staying current on property taxes, insurance and any condominium or HOA fees.

For a comprehensive overview of reverse mortgage loans and a Borrower Roadmap to the loan process, visit http://www.reversemortgage.org/Your-Roadmap, a free consumer resource created by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Home Safety Checklist

Start on the outside:

* Make sure the driveway and any paved walkways are smooth and stable. Seal any cracks before more damage is created. Crumbling or uneven concrete surfaces should be repaired.

* Porch and deck flooring should be flat, even and nonslip. Any loose or broken floorboards should be nailed down or replaced.

* Outdoor steps should have sturdy, easily graspable handrails.

* The porch and entryway should be well-lit and light switches should be easily accessible.

* Consider whether the doorway to the home can be converted to a no-step entrance way. There are many creative ways to achieve this.

Check out the inside:

* Floors should be flat and nonslip; floorboards should be stable and carpets should be free of holes and tears that could create a tripping hazard.

* Throw rugs should be fully fastened to the floor with tacks or double-sided tape, or taken out of the house.

* All stairs and steps should be flat and even, and clutter should be removed.

* Add nonslip treads to stairs that are not carpeted.

* Stairways should have solidly mounted handrails on both sides of the steps if possible, and should be well-lit.

* If you or your loved ones face mobility challenges and stairs are an obstacle to accessing different levels of the home, consider installing a chairlift that will enable them to enjoy all the rooms in the house again.

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Top 4 tips to help you get the sleep you need

(BPT) – If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough sleep. You could probably use a nap, and you’re not alone.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that about 70 million U.S. adults report sleeping six hours or less on average. This is well below the seven or more hours of nightly sleep that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends for optimal health.

It’s important for you to get the sleep you need. No matter the age, children and adults report improved alertness, energy, mood and well-being when enjoying healthy, consistent sleep.

However, with different sleep needs for each family member, making sure that everyone gets the sleep they need can be a real challenge. Therefore, families should make it a priority to adopt routines that fit each individual’s unique lifestyle and sleep needs.

Whatever your situation, these four tips can help you and your family get on a consistent sleep schedule, sleep better, and in the process, lead healthier lives.

1. Use a bedtime calculator. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has developed a bedtime calculator that can help you generate a customized sleep plan. Simply visit www.projecthealthysleep.org and enter your age and wake-up time. The calculator will tell you what time you need to go to bed to get an adequate amount of sleep. This personalized calculation can help you and your loved ones keep a schedule that allows everyone to get the sleep they need.

The AASM recommends that each age group get the following amount of sleep on a regular basis:

* Infants 4 to 12 months old: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)

* Children 1 to 2 years old: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)

* Children 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)

* Children 6 to 12 years old: Nine to 12 hours

* Teens 13 to 18 years old: Eight to 10 hours

* Adults: Seven hours or more

2. Limit your screen activity. It may be tempting to watch television and scroll through apps until you fall asleep, but this is one of the worst bedtime habits. The blue light emitted from phones, tablets and laptops resets your circadian clock and “tricks” your brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. Late-night screen time is one of the most common sleep hygiene violations, and a new study links binge-watching in young adults with poorer sleep quality, more fatigue and increased insomnia. To promote responsible screen time, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends setting an episode or time limit each night, using one of the apps for your computer, tablet and smartphone that filters out blue light, avoiding use of mobile devices while in bed; and turning off all screens at least a half-hour before your bedtime.

3. Implement a relaxing routine before bed. Studies have shown that children sleep better when they have a bedtime routine. Parents should develop a consistent, nightly routine that includes relaxing, calming activities, like reading a story before bed. Whatever your age, it’s important to turn off your computer or television at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Prepare to go to sleep by doing something relaxing, whether it’s reading, writing in a journal or taking a warm bath.

4. Add daily exercise to the routine. Many people lead busy lives that are mentally tiring but consist of little to no physical activity. This can be a recipe for a poor night’s sleep. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t have to do an exhausting workout to sleep better. Even small amounts of routine physical activity may improve your sleep and overall well-being.

Getting enough sleep isn’t just a matter of feeling well rested and alert; it’s a necessary component of good health. Sleeping six hours or less per night increases the risk of a stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Insufficient sleep is such a widespread problem that the CDC has named insufficient sleep a public health problem.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that healthy sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. If you’re having trouble sleeping, help is available at more than 2,500 sleep disorders centers that are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For more information, visit www.aasmnet.org.

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Four times you should choose organic when it comes to your child

(BPT) – If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across ongoing debates regarding the term “organic” and what should go into your child’s body. But, what about organic versus non-GMO? A recent study from Perrigo Nutritionals revealed that more than half of moms didn’t know that organic is inherently non-GMO.

So, what’s the real difference? Simply put, organic is always non-GMO, but, unlike non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

* No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers.

* No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.

* Support for organic farming practices and animal health and welfare.

* Regulated by the federal government under the USDA (non-GMO products are not regulated and can vary based on the company or third party making the claim).

“It’s important to understand the difference between these labels so you can make the right nutritional decisions for you family,” says Jessica Turner, best-selling author and founder of the Mom Creative blog.

Looking beyond the non-GMO label doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, especially since purchasing all organic can add up quick. As a mother of three, Turner believes the following products are worth the extra splurge for organic instead of just non-GMO for your child.

Baby Food

As a child starts eating solids, many organizations such as The Environmental Working Group recommend always going organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen” such as apples, bell peppers, peaches, etc. to avoid pesticides. Purchasing baby food jars or packets? Make sure you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, not just a non-GMO certified label to avoid all those chemicals.

Milk

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse when it comes to your child’s nutrition with vitamin D, calcium and protein, but unfortunately it can sometimes contain not-so-good ingredients. Organic milk brands like Organic Valley have absolutely no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything. Going organic also supports a better life for the cows since they have access to pastures (another thing not guaranteed by only purchasing non-GMO).

Infant Formula

According to the Perrigo Nutritionals study, 43 percent of moms said they purchased organic foods for their babies when they started eating solids, but only 10 percent purchased organic infant formula. So why not choose organic for your baby from the very beginning? Choosing organic brands like Earth’s Best or Honest may be worth the extra investment since it will ensure you are avoiding pesticides and hormones- something not guaranteed by just the non-GMO label.

Skin Care

Skin care products that go on a baby’s skin, like lotion, diaper cream, shampoo and soap, are being absorbed into their bloodstream. Since their skin is more porous than adults, products from organic/natural lines such as Burt’s Bees or Seventh Generation may be worth the extra splurge to ensure your child is being exposed to the least number of chemicals as possible.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, err on the side of buying organic since organic is always non-GMO, plus more. For more information on organic versus non-GMO, visit www.choose-organic.com.


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