Hot Tub Wellness

Quality Health Plans Genetic Disorder Healthy Habits Students in Need Weight Loss Cold & Flu Season Stamp Out Childhood Cancer

Soak Your Way To Wellness

(NAPSI)—A growing number of people are now using a hot tub as part of their personal wellness routine. They find the time they spend in warm water can soothe sore muscles, relieve stress and help them enjoy a better night’s sleep.

This focus on personal wellness represents something of a change. Once primarily a location for socialization, hot tubs and spas have become personal sanctuaries.

Much like the blender was originally a tool to make margaritas and daiquiris, evolving into a wellness appliance for making healthy smoothies, today’s hot tub has undergone a similar metamorphosis, becoming a private wellness sanctuary used throughout the year.

While any time of year is a great time for a soak in a hot tub, some say the fall is the best, since it gives you a chance to enjoy the combination of warm water and cool air.

A Wellness Appliance

There are a number of wellness-related benefits that make owning a hot tub and incorporating it into your daily routine a smart decision:

• Reduce stress

• Rejuvenate the body and mind

• Increase circulation

• Improve sleep.

One of the most popular brands is Hot Spring. In existence for more than 35 years, this industry leader is the only company to have sold more than 1 million hot tubs.

High-performance Hot Spring features include:

• Exclusive to Hot Spring spas, the ACE® Salt Water System—The combination of salt and water automatically generates cleaners, allowing owners to spend less time on water maintenance

• The unique Moto-Massage® for a sweeping massage up and down your back

• Industry-leading warranties on parts, heater, cabinetry and shell

• The new NXT line sets a higher design standard, with a sleek exterior that appears to float above the ground.

To learn more, visit or call (800) 999-4688.

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Picking Quality Plans

by Patricia Smith

(NAPSI)—Every year, millions of Medicare beneficiaries must decide which Medicare Advantage plan to enroll in. During Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, October 15-December 7, you can change Medicare Advantage (MA) plans or enroll in one for the first time. Important factors to consider include premium costs, choice of doctors and plan benefits. But there is one other important question: What is the quality rating of the plan?

Quality is important because it means better health care and the best value for your money. Medicare uses a system called Star Ratings to assess the quality of plans, awarding plans from one to five stars. These ratings are based on many factors, such as how well the plan does in keeping people healthy and preventing illness, how quickly you can get an appointment and see specialists, and how the plan responds to your complaints and concerns.

I’m proud of the fact that seven of the 11 MA plans earning five stars this year are members of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, an organization representing high-quality health plans.

You can learn more about MA plans using the Medicare Plan Finder at The National Committee for Quality Assurance also evaluates quality in MA plans at

• Ms. Smith is the CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans,

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Know Your Family’s Risk Of A Rare Genetic Disorder And The Resources Available To Help You

(NAPSI)—There may be a rare genetic disorder in your family that you don’t even know about, but the good news is that a genetic counselor can provide the information, guidance and support to help you understand the chance of passing the condition to your children and options to help your child manage the condition.

The Disease

The condition is called hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED)—also known as anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia and Christ-Siemens-Touraine syndrome. It’s estimated that at least one in 5,000 to 10,000 newborns has it. Seventy-five to 85 percent of boys with HED have the X-linked recessive form called XLHED.

The Signs

Common symptoms of XLHED include a reduced ability to sweat, because babies affected by XLHED have no, or fewer than normal, sweat glands or they don’t sweat sufficiently. People with the disorder are missing or often have pointed teeth (hypodontia). They experience sparse and slow-growing hair on the head and body and also have drier than normal linings or membranes in the nose and mouth. In addition, breathing problems such as asthma, increased respiratory tract infections (colds, pneumonias, etc.) and scaly skin are common.

How It’s Diagnosed

A change in a gene called EDA may result in XLHED. This gene controls the production of a protein (a molecule the body needs for growth) that starts the development of skin, hair, nails, teeth, and sweat glands. However, when the gene is changed, there is not enough protein for typical development of these tissues and organs. XLHED is often diagnosed after birth or in early childhood based on several physical features. Diagnosis can also be made through family history and genetic testing.

How It’s Inherited

XLHED is caused by a change in a gene that is passed from parents to children on the X chromosome. Chromosomes are “messengers” that carry “instructions” (genes) to the body in cells. Women have two X’s; men have an X and a Y. A girl gets an X from each parent, a boy gets an X from his mom and a Y from his dad. Since the gene is only on the X chromosome, the daughters of a man affected by XLHED will all be carriers and his sons will not be affected. A woman with XLHED, or who is a carrier, may have some symptoms, but because women have two X chromosomes, these may be less severe. There’s a 50 percent chance a woman with XLHED will pass the gene to a son who will be affected by XLHED and a 50 percent chance her daughter will be a carrier.

Genetic Counseling

It’s possible for prospective parents to be tested to see if they’re carriers, and this is most often done when there is a known family history of XLHED. Understanding the testing options available can be challenging. Genetic counseling is a discussion between a patient or family and a health care provider trained in genetics and communicating genetic and medical information to families. Families that talk to a genetic counselor gain a better understanding of the condition, their family history, test results, clinical trial opportunities and potential treatment options. Free genetic counseling services are available to families that have or suspect they have XLHED. The counseling is from InformedDNA, a phone-based, confidential, genetic counseling service. Experienced, board-certified genetic counselors are available at (617) 758-4300. You just make an appointment that works for your schedule.

Knowledge Is Power

Understanding your family’s experience with XLHED can help identify other family members who may develop the condition or have the chance to have a child affected by it. There are currently no specific treatments available for XLHED; however, there are ongoing clinical trials of a new drug that could potentially treat the symptoms of XLHED. Furthermore, doctors and patients have found ways to manage the challenges of living with the disorder. Research options are advancing every day and this information may determine if you or your family member is eligible to participate in ongoing clinical trials. Free genetic counseling services provided by InformedDNA are funded by Edimer Pharmaceuticals. The information you provide during the genetic counseling session will be strictly confidential and will not be shared with the pharmaceutical company. Using the service in no way obligates you to participate in genetic testing or any clinical trials.

Learn More

To hear from families that have experience with the disorder and to access additional resources and advice, you can go to the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias’ website,, and visit the XLHED Network’s online community at To learn about clinical trials, visit and search for Edimer.

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Three Top Reasons to Make Chia a Healthy Habit

(NAPSI)—Here’s food for thought: Adding a serving of chia seeds to meals every day offers a more natural way to improve health and well-being than consuming multiple nutritional supplements, vitamins and energy drinks.

Eating nutrient-dense whole foods is a tasty and natural way to boost health from the inside out. Chia, widely considered a “superfood,” contains essential fatty acids, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein and antioxidants.

Good reasons many make chia a daily health habit include:

1. Appetite control. In addition to delivering a nutritional boost, chia can be used to curb appetite and increase energy. The seeds absorb many times their weight in water, helping to slow digestion and ward off cravings and sugar crashes. The dietary fiber in chia seeds also supports healthy digestion naturally.

2. Healthier hair, skin and nails. Beauty-boosting Omega-3s are “essential” polyunsaturated fats that contribute to improved circulation and cell function. Because the body is unable to produce these fats, the only way to get them is from food. Omega-3s include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which comes from plant sources. Chia is a more potent plant source than flaxseeds.

3. Easy to use. Chia seeds are very versatile. You can sprinkle them onto cereal, add them to smoothies and shakes, or cook and bake with them to boost the nutrition of favorite recipes. Unlike flax, chia seeds do not need to be ground. Mixed with water or almond milk, they swell up to create a gelatinous base for all kinds of desserts and beverages.

When choosing chia, it’s important to consider the quality of the seeds to ensure nutritional consistency. For example, unlike generic chia seeds, one tablespoon of white Salba Chia whole seeds provides 800 percent more Omega-3s (ALA) than salmon and less than a gram net carbohydrate per serving.

Salba Chia is the only form of chia for which there are positive published health and medical studies. Grown under strict conditions, these white seeds are gluten free, contain no trans fats and are Non-GMO Project Verified.

Learn More

For recipes and further information, visit

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Helping Teachers Reach Students In Need

(NAPSI)—Many teachers say it’s not uncommon to find they have students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia in their classrooms. Fortunately, if they have not received tools or training in how to teach those students, teachers do have an ally they can rely on.

Since 1948, national nonprofit Learning Ally has supported those who learn differently to ensure academic and lifelong success. In addition to being the world’s leading provider of human-narrated audiobooks for students with learning and visual disabilities, the organization has become a critical resource for parents, families and teachers.

Learning Ally recognizes that in order to address America’s overall reading and literacy problems, resources must be expanded to support millions of students who have dyslexia—the most common learning disability, affecting up to one in five individuals.

With this in mind, Learning Ally delivers training sessions, webinars and technology equipping teachers to help students with dyslexia; and it has also built up networks of highly qualified tutors and specialists who can provide assistance for parents seeking help for their children.

For parents, Learning Ally also provides a vibrant community of support—online, on the phone and in person—to help them navigate the many challenges that come with raising a child with reading and learning issues.

Resources In Colorado

An example of the contribution Learning Ally can make in a school setting can be seen in its Denver Public Schools program, where nearly 3,000 students in over 150 schools are receiving support. More than 50,000 audiobook pages have been read by students on mobile devices; thousands more pages are being read via PCs or Macs. Funded by a private donation through the Denver Foundation, the program’s goal is to reach over 5,000 students within the next year.

Lauren Sabo, a multi-intensive special education teacher at Manual High School in Denver, has been using the program’s resources for over three years to accommodate her students.

“We use Learning Ally for students who have a specific learning disability in reading, which could be dyslexia, and also students with cognitive delays or low reading skills,” Sabo says. “We have a group of students who have critical need of additional tools to help them in the classroom, so this is a really great program for us.”

Expanding In Ohio

Since it was introduced into the reading program at Loveland Middle School in Ohio, use of Learning Ally has expanded into five of six schools across the district, and after only one year, 81 teachers are using the audiobooks with their students. Speech language pathologist Susan Mechler, who championed the program in the district, says, “Learning Ally makes students independent. It’s user friendly enough that they can access it themselves. It opens up their world.”

To learn more, visit

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Online Program Leads To Fast Weight Loss

(NAPSI)—Paul Hart, 26, a single father in Las Vegas, struggled with his weight for years. As he passed the 250-pound mark, Hart decided it was time for a change. He didn’t want to develop Type 2 diabetes like his parents and he wanted to be active and healthy to enjoy playing with his 6-year-old daughter. So when Hart stumbled on an ad looking to test a new online personalized health tool for weight loss, he decided to give it a try.

Hart joined nearly 1,000 people across the country to try ph360, a new online wellness program that provides a personalized guide to the best food, fitness, environment and lifestyle for each person based on individual body measurements, family history and other health information.

Matt Riemann, CEO of ph360, explained: “ph360 uses scientific calculations of gene expression and epigenetics—the external factors that affect our genes—to determine the specific diet and exercise regimen most likely to work for each person’s unique body chemistry. ph360 harnesses the latest technology to turn complex science into a simple guide for each person’s optimal weight loss and wellness.”

Hart was nervous at first to measure his body but found that the process was easy with just a tape measure and he only needed to answer a few health questions. He was shocked when in less than 30 minutes he received a personalized list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, a tailored exercise plan and lifestyle tips created specifically for him.

“I couldn’t believe how easy it was. ph360 told me exactly what and when to eat, what exercises to do, and offered specific advice, such as going to bed before 11 p.m. so my hormones could regulate,” said Hart. “I made some simple changes, such as cutting out beef and soda, drinking more water, adding asparagus and garlic to my diet, and changing my weight lifting routine so I was lifting less weight and doing more reps. I was amazed by how quickly I lost weight—30 pounds in just six weeks.”

Other testers like Hart were asked to follow their personalized health plans for one month while reporting weekly health changes. The results were surprising: The testers who listed weight loss as a primary goal experienced rapid, healthy weight loss of an average of 15 pounds in one month. Their bodies changed shape, too, often going down one to two sizes.

ph360 was developed over the course of a decade, with research and input from 10,000 patients. The results of the recent test group have been encouraging, with users reporting fast weight loss, better sleep, clearer skin, more energy, less bloating, and resolving health complaints such as headaches and joint pains. The majority of testers had frustrating experiences with traditional diet and weight loss programs in the past.

As Dr. Phil Wuth, a family physician who is recommending ph360 to his patients, puts it, “Weight loss trends are exactly that—trends. I tell my patients that the best way to lose weight is to discover what works for them. That’s truly preventative health. And ph360 is leading the way.”

About his experience with ph360, Hart said, “The program helped me believe in myself. I look in the mirror now and think: I feel good, I look good and I’m healthy. That’s real self-worth.”

Plans start at $19. Visit for more information.

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Medication Safety Tips For Cold & Flu Season

(NAPSI)—Every year, more than 126,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths in the U.S. are due to overdose or overuse of acetaminophen and NSAIDs, which are present in many prescription or over-the-counter pain medications.

Acetaminophen, which is an active ingredient in brands such as Tylenol® and NyQuil®, is safe when taken as recommended, but can lead to liver damage when taken in excess. NSAIDs, which are a class of pain-relieving drugs that include brands such as Advil®, Motrin® and aspirin, can cause stomach damage when overused.

During cold and flu season, misuse of OTC medicine can be common because people may be treating multiple symptoms—especially people taking medicines for chronic pain. It is important that you read medicine labels and only take one product at a time that contains the same active ingredient, even if it is for different ailments. For example, if you take Tylenol® for a headache and at the same time take Theraflu® for a cold, you are actually doubling up on acetaminophen, which can be harmful.

Gut Check: Know Your Medicine, a campaign from the American Gastroenterological Association, aims to educate consumers about medication safety. Learn more at

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Stamp Out Childhood Cancer A Footprint At A Time

(NAPSI)—Although 42 children on average are diagnosed with cancer every day, the encouraging news is that the five-year survival rate is now nearly 90 percent. Nevertheless, to these children and their families, the 5 percent of government funding for cancer research that goes to study children’s cancer is simply not enough. Fortunately, some major corporations are stepping up to help—and you can, too. Here’s how:

For 14 years, Aflac has produced a holiday version of its beloved Aflac Duck. These ducks are sold at participating Macy’s stores and at, with the net proceeds going to the nearest participating children’s cancer facility to where the duck is purchased. All told, these cute ducks have netted more than $3 million of the $92 million Aflac has raised.

Another key way you can help, according to Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos, is by helping build awareness. “We need to have a national discussion about childhood cancer in order to put an end to this disease once and for all,” Amos says. “The first step is to get involved, even if it’s something you may think is small. Together, it all adds up.”

That’s one reason Aflac has introduced Duckprints, a national, grassroots movement to raise awareness and money by honoring those who have left their footprints in the fight against childhood cancer—and by encouraging the public to get involved on social media. Along with the many doctors and nurses on the front lines, these heroes include Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and famed jewelry designer Kendra Scott, each of whom has quietly contributed their time and renown to the cause.

To be a part of the solution, post on Facebook or tweet using the hashtag #duckprints. For each post, Aflac donates $2 to the cause.

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