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The secret to sticking to your resolutions just may lie in your Medicare benefits

(BPT) – Despite our best intentions, 80 percent of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions by mid-February. Determined to make this year different? If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you might be surprised to learn that your benefits could give you an edge in your quest to stay motivated and on track to attaining your goals for the year ahead.

Read on to learn how maximizing your Medicare benefits could help you achieve some of the most common New Year’s resolutions.

Resolution No. 1: Lose weight and get fit.

Exercise is a key part of the equation if you want to finally get out of those elastic-waist pants and back into your jeans. Only problem is, most of us can come up with a whole host of excuses for not making exercise part of our daily routine, with the expense of a gym membership one that’s frequently cited by people living on a fixed income.

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare supplement plan, you might not be able to use that excuse anymore. Many plans include a gym membership as part of their plan benefits, giving their members access to fitness centers in their area at either no extra cost or a discounted rate.

“Regular exercise can help you lose some weight after over-indulging during the holiday season, but it’s important all year round to help improve your well-being and maintain your independence,” said Efrem Castillo, M.D., chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “Taking advantage of your plan’s fitness benefits could have you well on your way to a trimmer and more energized you by spring.”

Resolution No. 2: Make 2018 your healthiest year yet.

Medicare is designed to make it as affordable as possible to get the preventive care you need. And that can make a huge difference to your health and well-being by catching health issues early, when they’re usually easier to treat.

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) covers an annual wellness visit as well as some preventive screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Your annual wellness visit is a good opportunity to sit down with your doctor and develop a plan to help you achieve your best health in the year ahead. In addition to services covered under Original Medicare, many Medicare Advantage plans provide additional benefits, such as a full annual physical as well as dental, hearing and vision coverage.

Resolution No. 3: Save more money/Get out of debt.

All those gifts you bought over the holidays may have left your credit card statements extra-lengthy. And life can get expensive any time of year, particularly as our health care costs creep up as we get older. Fortunately most people can save money on health care in a variety of ways.

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, keep the following tips in mind:

* Take advantage of cost savings on prescription drugs. Many plans offer home delivery pharmacy benefits that can be a great way to save money — not to mention trips to the pharmacy. And if your doctor prescribes a high-cost medication, ask if a cheaper alternative is available that could work just as well, such as a generic or a drug on a lower tier of your plan’s formulary (the list of covered drugs).

* Choose doctors and hospitals that have a relationship with your plan. Staying in-network when you need care is one of the best things you can do to manage your health care costs.

* Look for extra plan discounts on everyday health care items and services such as vitamins, hearing aids and alternative medicine services like acupuncture.

Resolution No. 4: Less stress. More happiness.

More and more Medicare Advantage plans are taking a keen interest in helping their members manage their emotional well-being given the direct correlation between our mental health and our physical health. Check to see if your plan offers any resources to help members manage their stress.

Resolution No. 5: Kick the habit.

If you smoke, you know you should quit. Make 2018 your year! Medicare covers up to eight face-to-face visits per year with a doctor or other health care practitioner who can provide counseling to help you make cigarette and other tobacco use part of your past. That personalized, one-on-one attention can make a big difference. So if you’ve tried to quit on your own in the past but struggled, consider taking advantage of these free counseling sessions.

The secret to sticking to your New Year’s resolutions may just lie in your Medicare benefits. So rather than rely on sheer willpower alone, put those benefits to use to help you stay on track toward your goals. When you close out 2018 as a thinner, happier and healthier version of yourself, you’ll probably wonder why you waited so long to make Medicare your secret weapon in conquering your resolutions once and for all.

Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies. For Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans: A Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. Enrollment in these plans depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.

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Twinings Perfect Cup of Tea-4500

5 tips from a tea expert to brew the perfect cup

(BPT) – For most of us, a little evening downtime is not a luxury — it’s a necessity. After a hectic day of work, commutes, kids and dinner prep, we deserve to take a moment to slow down and enjoy some hard-earned “me time.”

Instead of using this time to stream your favorite show or scroll through social media, try a gentle and relaxing activity that puts your focus on the present moment and makes this time truly enjoyable.

“For a relaxing end-of-day activity, there’s nothing quite like preparing and savoring the perfect cup of herbal tea,” says Stephen Twining, whose family founded the world-famous tea brand, Twinings of London, in 1706.

The steps we take to prepare and enjoy our perfect cup of tea can help us unwind and feel refreshed, Twining says. Tea releases pleasing scents, the warm brew makes comforting sensations as we wrap our fingers around the mug and take sips, and there’s the deep and satisfying flavors of the tea itself.

Of course, when we’re engaged in a mindful activity, it’s that much easier to let go of daily stress and transition into a more relaxed state. Follow these five tips from Twining to brew your favorite cup of herbal tea, and try making this a part of your end-of-day ritual.

1. Start fresh: The perfect cup of tea starts with a clean mug and a clean kettle of fresh, cold water. Never reuse water that’s already been boiled, because that can weaken the tea’s flavor, Twining says.

2. Don’t over-boil: As soon as the water reaches a boil, it’s time to remove the kettle from the heat source.

“I never let the water over-boil because in doing so, you will cause the oxygen in the water to be reduced, making the tea taste ‘flat,’” Twining says. For that reason, he recommends not using a microwave to boil the water.

3. Savor the moment: Set the tea bag in the mug before you add hot water, pouring it directly onto the tea bag. Just then, it starts releasing its herbal scent, so make sure you take a moment to inhale and relax while enjoying the aroma. Twinings offers a range of herbal teas each expertly blended to provide the perfect balance of taste, flavor and aroma. For example, Buttermint has a refreshing blend of peppermint leaves combined with the creamy flavor of vanilla for a smooth taste and rich aroma, perfect for helping you unwind.

4. Wait for the perfect flavor: Many people make the mistake of thinking that once the brew darkens, it’s ready to drink. However, Twining says color merely washes off the tea leaves early in the process, so don’t let the appearance mislead you. To make sure the flavors fully develop, know how much time your tea needs to brew, and keep an eye on the clock. Herbal teas should steep for a full four minutes.

5. Customize and enjoy: Hopefully, you will find your perfectly brewed cup of herbal tea needs no embellishment because the expertly blended herbs and flowers will provide all the flavor you need. But as Twining says, “The best cup of tea is the one you like the most,” so feel free to make adjustments. The recommended add-ins for herbal teas are honey, sugar or a squeeze of lemon — do not add milk or cream. For a deeper flavor, let the tea steep a minute or two longer.

After a long day, you definitely earned this moment, so make sure you take time to enjoy it. If you’re interested in exploring Twinings’ complete line of herbal teas, visit twiningsusa.com.

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Why probiotics should be part of your routine in 2018

(BPT) – At the turn of the calendar, many people begin taking action on what they plan to accomplish in the new year. Some have resolved to take up a new hobby, to save more money, to travel and, of course, to improve their health.

New eating plans and gym memberships are common steps people take toward their health goals, but there are other effective ways to improve your health — like adding probiotics to your daily regimen. You’ve likely heard of probiotics before, but do you know how they benefit your health and how to select the right one for you? This article can help.*

What is a probiotic?

Before delving into how probiotics can help your body, let’s first explain what they actually are. In the simplest terms, probiotics are the good bacteria (live microorganisms) that live inside your digestive tract and help your body to function properly. There are many different types of probiotics, and each one performs a different function in your digestive system.*

The billions of bacteria that live inside your digestive tract are often called “microflora,” or more correctly, “microbiota,” and the environment that they work together to create inside the body is called the microbiome. Maintaining proper balance within your microbiome is crucial for overall health.*

How do probiotics help?

The beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract are influenced by a variety of factors such as stress, medication use, traveling and poor diet. Therefore, it is important to prioritize diet and lifestyle to maintain proper gut ecology. Probiotics are also effective for maintaining healthy populations of beneficial bacteria. Numerous clinical studies have shown probiotics have positive effects on health, including assisting in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients and contributing to immune system health. Some studies have suggested that certain beneficial strains may also support brain function.*

Probiotics in your diet

Probiotics are found in many foods you may enjoy every day including yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut. However, due to food processing and packaging, maintaining the stability and potency of the live beneficial bacteria in these foods can be a challenge. Including probiotic supplements in your routine ensures a consistent dose to help you and your family maintain optimal health.*

Finding the right probiotic supplement for you

Probiotic supplements can help support health at any age — from infancy to adulthood. When it comes to selecting the probiotics for you and your family, the best options are those that are formulated based on clinical research. Genestra Brands offers a comprehensive line of clinically studied, effective probiotic strains that have been recommended by doctors for more than 20 years. With more than 25 gluten-free, non-GMO formulas, Genestra Brands’ probiotics offer personalized support to help make your New Year’s resolution of becoming a healthier you that much easier.*

Before you begin taking any type of probiotic, speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist about whether they are safe and right for you.

To learn more about probiotics designed with you in mind, visit genestrahmf.com.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Better Sunshine Breakfast Sushi-4200

3 formerly misunderstood foods now a part of a well-balanced diet

(BPT) – Throughout history, misconceptions, misinformation and popular culture have influenced Americans’ eating habits. Many foods that were previously eaten daily are now considered unhealthy. Conversely, some foods that were thought to be “bad for you,” are now considered nutritious.

“Nutrition is exciting. Just about every day there is new research about how certain foods work in our body,” says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “Over time as research is done, foods that were once considered unhealthy can be found to actually play a key role in healthy diets.”

What historically “unhealthy” foods are now considered wholesome? Blatner provides some examples:


Shunned for many years, eggs were believed to be bad for heart health due to high cholesterol levels. However, numerous studies have shown that intake of dietary cholesterol has little influence on blood cholesterol levels. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health states that the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet — not the amount of cholesterol you take in from food.

Today, eggs are part of a healthy diet — so much so that recently the country’s leading weight loss service announced that eggs are now included on its zero points list. Keep in mind, though, that not all eggs are created equal. When shopping for eggs, look for Eggland’s Best eggs, which have significantly more nutrition than ordinary eggs.

“Many health and nutrition organizations are finally recognizing eggs for the nutrient powerhouse they are,” says Blatner. “Eggland’s Best eggs have six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 of ordinary eggs, making them the best egg option to maximize your nutritional intake.”


Snacking on nuts today is typically considered a healthy way to keep hunger pangs at bay, but it wasn’t always that way. Nuts used to have a bad reputation for being high in fat and calories, and were often avoided, especially for people who wanted to lose weight.

Today, many nuts are considered the ideal nutritious snack as they contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. For example, the versatile almond is relatively low in calories when compared to other nuts and has more calcium than other varieties, according to Health.com. Plus, almonds are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an important antioxidant.

“Nuts can make a great snack or wonderful addition to recipes,” says Blatner. “The one thing to be mindful of is sodium intake. Opt for raw nuts or dry-roasted varieties. These are minimally processed and typically won’t contain the salt and oils you’ll find in other varieties.”


Due to empty calories and low nutritional value, cutting carbs has been at the heart of diet fads for decades. The problem with this is that it assumes all carbs are equal, which is false.

“The important thing to realize is there are high-quality and low-quality carbs,” says Blatner. “Instead of shaming all carbs, focus on high-quality sources of carbohydrates that fuel the body and give you energy — skip the refined grains like white bread and focus on whole grains.”

Want to try a recipe that uses some of these formerly misunderstood foods? Blatner shares one of her favorites.

Eggland’s Best Spinach & Avocado Egg Sushi

Makes two servings.


2 Eggland’s Best Eggs (Large), 1 tablespoon milk, 1 dash of salt, 1 dash of ground black pepper, 1 large whole wheat tortilla (12 inch), 1/2 avocado (mashed), 1 cup fresh baby spinach

For the spicy sauce:

Mix 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce) and 1 teaspoon milk in a small bowl.


Coat a 10-inch nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat on medium-low heat.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture into pan and cover with a lid. Do not scramble! Cook until set (about 3-4 minutes), flip and finish cooking (about 1-2 minutes).

Lay tortilla flat and spread with avocado, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges.

When eggs are finished cooking, place in the center of the tortilla and top with spinach.

Start at one end and roll tightly, but gently.

Coat the same skillet with nonstick spray and warm on medium-high heat.

Place roll seam-side down on skillet and brown slightly on both sides. Remove and allow to rest for 1-2 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, slice 1-inch pieces, drizzle with spicy sauce and serve with chopsticks.

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Do you know all of your psoriasis treatment options?

(BPT) – Dru Riddle of Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the estimated 7.5 million people afflicted with psoriasis across the United States. A nurse anesthetist and university professor, Riddle understands first-hand the importance of receiving the proper treatment as quickly as possible and treating the condition with safe, effective medicine. Diagnosed with psoriasis in 2003 and psoriatic arthritis (PA) in 2010, Riddle underwent the treatment trials and errors common to many sufferers of PA before he was connected with a health care provider who prescribed a more aggressive plan that included biologics. Before doctors put him to a biologic therapy, Riddle suffered for several years with skin lesions and joint pain. “Finally I was switched to an injectable biologic medication,” Riddle says. “Those medications have really helped control my disease and the symptoms.”

A condition that is more than skin deep

Psoriasis often presents as patches of itchy, flaky skin, while PA — which affects about a third of psoriasis patients — results in joint swelling and pain, which may cause permanent damage. Both conditions are a product of the body’s immune system attacking itself instead of the foreign invader that should be its target.

PA can usually be identified by psoriasis-like skin inflammations. However, sometimes the joint pain and swelling appear first. This can make it difficult for doctors to properly diagnose the condition.

Initially, Riddle’s condition was treated topically with little to no effect. The relief he found with the right medicines was life-changing and he has vowed to help others with PA find the right care.

“I recommend anyone with PA be extremely aggressive with their treatment,” Riddle says. “The risks of not treating your PA are so much greater than treating it.”

Understanding biosimilars

In his quest for the right treatment regime, Riddle was diligent about his self-care and joined a number of clinical trials for the types of biologics that have been so integral to his treatment plan. It was thanks to his proactive approach to treating his condition that he started learning more about biosimilars.

Biosimilars are safe, effective and affordable alternatives to conventional biologic medicines, similar to generic offerings in other medicinal categories. Widely used in Europe, biosimilars have faced a biologics-dominated market in the United States that has so far been successful in limiting their availability. Expanding the biosimilars market in the United States will require manufacturers, the government and regulatory groups to work together to craft new policies, making access to these potentially life-changing treatments their top priority.

Riddle applauds the option of safe, effective and affordable biosimilars for patients.

“The expense of the biologic medication can be prohibitive — they’re very costly,” Riddle says. “So some people may benefit from a more affordable biosimilar medication. That medication has the same efficacy, meaning it works just as well as the biologic.”

Learning more about your options

“There’s no need to be afraid of the medicine,” says Christine Simmon, Executive Director of The Biosimilars Council, a group working to support the broad components of the biosimilar industry and enabling increased access to safe, effective and affordable biosimilar medicines. “Learn more about your options, talk to your doctor and make sure you’re receiving the medication that is the most effective treatment for your condition.”

If you have psoriasis and/or PA, you deserve to know all of your options, including biosimilars. Your doctor can provide you the information you need on these treatment options. To prepare for your next doctor’s visit and have your initial questions answered, visit http://biosimilarscouncil.org/ today.

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6 tips that may help manage your eczema

(BPT) – Your eczema (atopic dermatitis) may be a part of you, but it doesn’t have to define you. Living with eczema might take some effort, like changing your lifestyle and working with your physician to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

1. Avoid dry skin. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but dry skin is a common eczema symptom.1 Try to avoid cold, dry air and situations where you might overheat.2 Limiting bathing time to 5-10 minutes with warm, not hot, water may also help.3,4

2. Be mindful of your diet. For some people, eczema may flare when they’re exposed to different triggers.4 Certain foods, or a food allergy, could trigger a flare.1 If you suspect a certain food is affecting you, share your experiences with your doctor and talk about your treatment plan. One option to manage symptoms may include avoiding a certain food group.4

3. Recognize your triggers. Food, as discussed above, may be a trigger, but a change in the environment, certain soaps/detergents, sweat or stress may also trigger symptoms.2,4 Pay attention to when your eczema flare is most noticeable and record possible triggers. Jotting down a few quick “notes-to-self” in the moment could help identify triggers. The better you recognize what is causing your eczema to react the way it is, the easier it may be to avoid any situations that may cause a flare.

4. Make moisturizers a priority in your daily routine. If you have eczema, moisturizers can help keep your skin hydrated.3 There are so many kinds of moisturizers—who doesn’t love options!—including ointments, creams, lotions, gels, and oils.3 No matter which moisturizer your doctor recommends, following a routine and applying it soon after bathing will help keep your skin hydrated.3,4

5. Be mindful of your wardrobe. Clothing is often an important part of your identity, but when it comes to your eczema, the clothing you wear can make a difference. Wool or rough fabrics can be irritating on the skin and could trigger your eczema.4 Also try cutting the tags off your clothes and covering any irritating inner seams. These easy tricks can help reduce irritation without sacrificing your unique style.

6. Speak with your doctor about your options. One of the ways to treat eczema is to use a topical therapy. If you’re looking for a topical prescription therapy, take a moment to talk with your doctor about your options. EUCRISA® (crisaborole) ointment, 2% is a steroid-free ointment for people with mild-to-moderate eczema (atopic dermatitis) and can be used on all skin tones from face to feet, for adults and kids as young as 2 years old.5 It can be applied to the skin, including the face. Do not use in the eyes, mouth or vagina.5 EUCRISA is a topical treatment that works both above and below the skin to treat eczema.6 The specific way EUCRISA works is not well defined.5 For more information about EUCRISA, visit www.EUCRISA.com.

The strategies above, along with the treatment regimen that you and your doctor decide upon, may help give you a better understanding of your eczema. If you have additional questions, be sure to speak with your doctor.


Do not use EUCRISA if you are allergic to crisaborole or any of the ingredients in EUCRISA.

EUCRISA may cause side effects including allergic reactions at or near the application site. These can be serious and may include hives, itching, swelling, and redness. If you have any of these symptoms, stop using EUCRISA and get medical help right away.

The most common side effect of EUCRISA is application site pain, such as burning or stinging.

EUCRISA is for use on skin (topical use) only. Do not use EUCRISA in your eyes, mouth, or vagina.

EUCRISA is a prescription ointment used on the skin (topical) to treat mild-to-moderate eczema (atopic dermatitis) in adults and children 2 years of age and older.

See Full Prescribing Information at EUCRISA.com.

For more information, call 1-866-EUCRISA (1-866-382-7472).

This article is sponsored by Pfizer Inc.

1 Akdis CA, Akdis M, Bieber T, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of atopic dermatitis in children: European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology/American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology/PRACTALL Consensus Report. J Allerg Clin Immunol. 2006;118:152-169.
2 Oszukowska M, Michalak I, Gutfreund K, et al. Role of primary and secondary prevention in atopic dermatitis. Postep Derm Alergol. 2015;32(6):409-420.
3 Eichenfield LF, Tom WL, Chamlin SL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 2. Management and treatment of atopic dermatitis with topical therapies. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71(1):116-132.
4 Bieber T. Atopic dermatitis. Dermatol. 2012;1(3):203-217.
5 EUCRISA® (crisaborole). Full Prescribing Information. December 2016.
6 Jarnagin K, Chanda S, Coronado D, et al. Crisaborole topical ointment, 2%: a nonsteroidal, topical, anti-inflammatory phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor in clinical development for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. J Drugs Dermatol. 2016;15(4):390-396.

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6 ways to help a grieving friend or family member

(BPT) – When someone you know loses a friend or family member, it’s not easy deciding when and how best to respond. You may find yourself unsure of what to say or do. Sometimes a simple phrase such as, “I’m sorry for your loss,” can be extraordinarily meaningful.

Here are six helpful tips from 1-800-Flowers.com’s Celebrating A Life online resource on how to console a loved one during their time of grief:


Allowing a grieving person to express how they feel can be a huge help. Try to listen without offering advice or interrupting. Letting people share memories and talk about their loved one can be a part of the healing process.

Be specific when offering help

Make a specific commitment to being with the person who needs you. Offering assistance with day-to-day matters can be very comforting, but be sure to offer something specific, such as, “I’m coming over with groceries on Saturday.” That way, you’re offering help without placing the burden on the grieving person to figure out what to bring and when.

Navigate social media appropriately

When acknowledging the news of a loss, stick with the communication medium through which you initially received the information. If the news came by phone call, return the call. If you learned about the death through social media, it is appropriate to reply on social media, just be sure to keep your message brief on public pages. More detailed expressions of sympathy should be conveyed in private posts.

Be patient

It is normal for people who are grieving to experience a range of emotions. It takes time to heal, so be patient and allow them to grieve at their own pace.

Send a card

Show your concern and support by sending a card. Take the time to put your own personal message inside.

Don’t minimize their pain

It is important to keep the focus on the grieving person. Resist the urge to share stories of times that you’ve lost a loved one. Let your friend or family member share their own stories and memories.

1-800-Flowers.com has been helping customers express sympathies for more than 40 years. Now, the company has created an online sympathy hub for tips and advice, directly from experts, on how best to express sympathy and condolences. Topics include Appropriate Sympathy Etiquette Across Different Religions, How to Write a Eulogy, How to Create a Memory Garden, and Sympathy Etiquette and Social Media.

The site serves as a resource for people in their time of need and is intended to make their experience a little easier to manage. People need to have a greater understanding of how to help their friends, family and co-workers in coping with a loss.

For more information, visit www.1800flowers.com/sympathyadvice, or call 1-800-Flowers.com’s Sympathy Customer Service line at 866-538-2259.

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Baby on the way? Here are some tips

(BPT) – It’s only a matter of time now. Your little bundle of joy is on its way, and for the first time you are about to be a parent. Think you’re ready? Many people do and then the reality of parenthood strikes them. Remember your friends who said being a parent is nothing like they expected? They were right.

Parenting is a wild ride, but it’s also one of the — if not the — most rewarding things you’ll ever do in your life. Just don’t expect it to be smooth sailing right from the get-go. It’s going to be challenging, but there are things you can do to prepare before your life changes forever.

To give you the leg up you so desperately need, Dawn Dais, author of the parenting book “The S— No One Tells You,” offers this advice:

* Take advantage of your freedom. If this is your first baby, you need to maximize every second of freedom you have left. Go to the movies, order an appetizer and a dessert at dinner, travel, decide to leave the house and then do so 25 seconds later. Watch television shows with cuss words.

* Sleep now. Earlier this year, Dais and Store Brand infant formula released a “Baby’s First Year” survey that found 25 percent of new moms confessed their biggest fear before their baby’s arrival was never sleeping again. You will sleep again, but it might not be for a few months, so it’s important to get it in while you still can!

* Do your research. Make sure to discuss important topics before the baby arrives, such as feeding. The survey found infant formula is the last topic researched by new moms while pregnant, but the No. 1 topic researched after their baby arrives. A lot of new parents don’t think about this because they just assume they will breastfeed. They are told that it is the most natural thing on the planet and so it’s not even a consideration or option not to breastfeed. But what people don’t tell you is that breastfeeding can be hard and there may be challenges. The survey also found that more than 50 percent of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby, with low breast milk supply being the top concern. So, knowing your feeding options before baby arrives is vital.

* Babies are expensive, so know where you can save big. It’s important to note that all infant formulas are required to meet the same FDA standards. That means you can choose store-brand infant formulas that meet the same federal nutrient requirements for baby as nationally advertised brands, and in fact, cost up to 50 percent less!

Having a child is the most monumental change you can make to your life, but the joys that come with parenting make the process entirely worth it. Apply the tips above and you’ll eliminate some of those potential headaches. To learn more, visit storebrandformula.com.

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Dermatologist debunks top 5 skincare misconceptions

(BPT) – Figuring out what’s best for your skin can feel like solving a difficult mystery — everyone’s condition is unique, there are countless treatment options and people will do almost anything for a clear complexion.

“When it comes to your skin, there are many elements to consider,” says Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist, CEO and founder of Curology. “Clogged pores, acne and other common issues can be a result of age, genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. I often hear about common misconceptions that cause otherwise well-meaning people to make mistakes that trigger larger skincare problems.”

To help people better understand skincare and take control of their daily regimen, Dr. Lortscher shares the top misconceptions about skincare and acne.

Misconception: Exercise and sweat can cause acne.

Fact: Sweating while exercising doesn’t cause acne. The eccrine glands produce sweat and the sebaceous glands produce oil — so revving up the sweat glands doesn’t actually turn on the oil glands involved in acne breakouts. The truth is sweating and humidity can aggravate breakouts by giving the bacteria on the skin a better environment to grow.

Cleansing is key post-workout, but keep in mind vigorously cleansing your skin can also be a source of friction that aggravates acne. The best strategy is to splash comfortable-temperature water on your face and neck, then pat dry gently.

Misconception: Chocolate and greasy foods cause acne.

Fact: Many people have heard that chocolate and junk food are the worst foods for your skin, but modern science hasn’t found a direct link between acne and oily foods.

Diets are like acne treatments: highly individual. That’s not to say your eating habits can’t affect your skin. Eating simple carbs and sugar raises your blood sugar levels, causing your body to produce excess insulin, in turn stimulating oil production and leading to more inflammation and increased acne severity.

Misconception: DIY skincare and home remedies are good for your skin.

Fact: The DIY craze has extended to skincare routines, giving people ample ways to create their own remedies at home. However, it’s wise to be careful about the ingredients applied to your skin.

Some people try baking soda as a cost-effective scrub or mask. Baking soda is pH 9 and the pH of the skin is 4.5-5 or so. Therefore, scrubbing your face with a baking soda paste can be harsh and disturb your skin’s natural barrier, leading to red, raw and sensitive skin and leaving it susceptible to breakout.

Others suggest lemon juice as a home remedy for acne but it can cause significant dryness, redness and irritation. Lemon juice may have an exfoliating effect on the most superficial dead skin cells, but there are better ways to treat your acne.

If you’re fed up with DIY remedies and over-the-counter products just haven’t worked for you, you have options. Try custom prescription skincare like Curology, a service that gets you expert dermatology care from the comfort of your home. Just take a few photos and a skin quiz to get a prescription formula customized to your individual needs.

Misconception: You can make your pores smaller.

Fact: Most people want smaller pores, but in reality, you can’t change the size or force them “open” or “closed.”

Pore size is genetic; you can’t shrink them or make pores go away. To keep large pores from worsening, treat acne breakouts, don’t pick and use sun protection. Sun exposure breaks down collagen, which is the support structure surrounding the pores, so pores do appear larger as you age.

Misconception: You only need to wear sunscreen on sunny days.

Fact: It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or cloudy; if you plan to spend time outdoors, wear sunscreen daily. It is estimated that damage caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun is responsible for up to 80 percent of skin aging.

SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

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