MetLaw Now Available to Arizona School Districts

MetLife has teamed up with partners Valley Schools Employee Benefits (VSEBT) to offer school district employees throughout Arizona access to MetLaw services.  VSEBT is a not-for-profit organization and free to join.  By joining, school districts can access low group rates through joint purchasing.

Legal issues effect nearly every worker at some point, whether they be traffic infractions, contract disputes, wills, foreclosure, bankruptcy, debt collection, or advice on consumer fraud and protection.  The list of issues are as diverse as the workforce.  The legal issues cause both absenteeism and presenteeism.  That is employees either miss work completely, or show up, but are so distracted they have little or no productivity.


Left to right: Crimson Turner MetLife Client Services Consultant, Daniel Park Glezman MetLife Marketing Consultant, Eric Eaton MetLife Account Executive, Andrea Billings, VSEBT Administrator, Dennis Cyga MetLife Regional Sales Manager.

Both employers and employees benefit through MetLaw from MetLife and VSEBT.  The employer pays nothing, but is able to offer their employees low cost pre-paid legal or discounted legal fees.  The employer gets happier and more productive employees as a result.  Employees get the peace of mind of knowing their basic legal needs are taken care of, and they can get a good referral if they need specialty attorneys.

Congratulations on this new partnership to bring MetLaw to so many needy teachers and other school district workers.

Here is a one page brochure to explain further:

One Page Plan Description (2)



AFLAC, VSEBT and HPACT Bring Specialized Site to Members

The latest and greatest in individualized information is the “micro-site.”  Instead of sending members to one huge, jumbled corporate site that speaks in generalities, cutting edge organizations are now setting up “micro-sites” specifically for individual groups of covered members to look, in detail at their benefits.

AFLAC, the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) and the Health Plans For Arizona Cities and Towns (HPACT) have teamed up to provide a micro-site for their members who enroll in critical illness and critical injury policies.  This site is available to their members to get current, accurate and detailed information about their specific plans, costs and coverage.  Great work in customer service.

Here is a link to the site so you can see one in practice.

More insurers and trusts should provide such uniquely personal experiences for their members.

Game for Healthy Living

There are several new personal improvement sites, and Arizona Health Spot will feature one per week for the next several months.  The first is Mind Bloom.  Through a simple online game, you set goals for each branch of your life tree and get rewards as you fulfill them.  The thing is, the game is about your own life and goals, and helps your nurture your own life so you are a winner in the game of life yourself.

mindbloom tree

Each area of your life is represented, so you “water” and tend each one.  They are shown above.  You might want to check it out.




Eating Berries Benefits the Brain

Berries Benefit Brain By Clearing Toxic Protein Accumulation, Animal Study Finds

Posted: 04/27/2013 9:56 am EDT  |  Updated: 04/29/2013 10:51 am EDT

Berries Brain

Berries could play an important role in clearing the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain, according to a new study in mice.

The research, presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting, showed that the brains of rats that consumed berries for two months were better protected against radiation, which is meant to induce accelerated aging in the mice.

Specifically, researchers found that the berry consumption was linked with increased autophagy, which is the natural process the brain undergoes to clear out accumulation of toxic proteins. They noted that phytonutrients — plant chemicals — in berries may be responsible for this effect; berries are known to be high in anthocyanins.

Researchers said that the findings could be especially meaningful if they also apply to humans, since diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease involve accumulation of toxic proteins. The next step is a study, currently being conducted, on humans ages 60 to 75 to see if berries’ have the same sort of effect.

Even though the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal — and thus should be considered preliminary — a past study from Harvard researchers showed that eating berries regularly could help slow cognitive decline in older people, HuffPost’s Catherine Pearson reported.

Reduce Arthritis Pain with Certain Foods

Tasty Ways to Get Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids can help lessen joint pain. Here’s how to get more of them in your rheumatoid arthritis diet.

Reduce Arthritis Pain: Tasty Ways to Get Omega-3s

Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet won’t cure rheumatoid arthritis, but it just might help relieve some of your worst symptoms, like joint pain and stiffness. Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fatty acids because your body needs them but can’t make them. That means it’s up to you to make sure they’re part of your diet. Shortchange yourself, and you could experience memory loss, heart problems, and even depression.

“Research shows these fatty acids may decrease your risk of heart disease, and people with rheumatoid arthritis are at significant risk for heart disease,” says Elaine Adams, MD, a professor of medicine and rheumatology at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. “There are also good studies that show omega-3s can reduce some of the joint pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis.”

Omega-3 fatty acids get high marks because they block inflammation and improve blood flow throughout your body. It’s important to know though that omega-3s aren’t a magic bullet for rheumatoid arthritis, and they’re not a first-line rheumatoid arthritis treatment. “The studies are good, but the evidence is still scant, and the effects are modest at best,” cautions Dr. Adams.

It’s also important not to expect instant results. A review of 17 studies on the effects of omega-3s on a variety of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis found that people did report benefits, including less joint pain and fewer minutes of that all-too-familiar morning stiffness, but it could take three to four months to really notice a difference.

Great Sources of Omega-3s for RA

The best way to get your omega-3s is through the foods you eat rather than a supplement. “A good example of a healthy diet for rheumatoid arthritis is the Mediterranean diet because it relies on lots of olive oil, fish, and vegetables,” says Adams. “Even if this diet doesn’t directly affect your joints, it will help you maintain a healthy weight that will take pressure off your joints.”

There are no hard-and-fast guidelines for exactly how much omega-3 you should have in a diet for rheumatoid arthritis, however, great foods for a rich omega-3s boost include:

  • Coldwater fish. These are the fatty fish — think sardines, salmon, herring, swordfish, tuna, and mackerel. A 4-ounce serving of sardines will give you about 1.8 grams of omega-3s.


  • Wheat germ and oat germ. Get the benefits of fiber along with omega-3s with these good sources. It takes 100 grams (about 3 ounces) of either wheat germ or oat germ to give you about 1 gram of omega-3.
  • Nuts and seeds. The oils in nuts and seeds are some of the best sources for omega-3s. Just 1 ounce of walnuts serves up 2.6 grams of omega-3s, and 1 ounce of flaxseeds will give you 1.8 grams. Grind them up and sprinkle on as a topping for yogurt, for instance. Almonds, pecans, pistachios, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are other versatile and tasty omega-3-rich seeds and nuts. Just watch portion sizes because these are all nutrient-dense foods that contain a fair amount of calories.
  • Soybeans and greens. Soybeans and tofu are good sources of omega-3, and many leafy green vegetables are, too. Try spinach, lettuce, chard, turnips, kale, collard, and mustard greens. Many are also sources of calcium. “Getting enough calcium is important because people with rheumatoid arthritis are at [increased] risk for osteoporosis,” says Adams.
  • Oils. One reason the Mediterranean diet is so good for your heart is that at its base is olive oil. Oils made from olives, as well as soybeans, walnuts, and canola, are all good choices. The highest source of omega-3 is from flaxseed oil at 6.9 grams per tablespoon — try it in homemade salad dressings and marinades. Fish oils are also a good source.

olive oil

Omega-3 Supplements and Safety Issues

If you don’t like fish or nuts, but want to try boosting your omega-3 intake, consider supplements, typically capsules made from fish, seaweed, and nut oils. The maximum recommended dose is 3 grams of any omega-3 supplement.

“To get 3 grams … you may need to take 10 capsules or more,” Adams says. “This can cause a bad taste in your mouth, an upset stomach, and bloating. There is also some danger that very high doses of omega-3s can cause bleeding.”

Omega-3 supplements may also cause diarrhea. If you are on a blood-thinning medication, be sure to check with your doctor before taking any omega-3 supplement. Your blood may get too thin and you could run into bleeding problems if you combine high doses of omega-3s with medications like aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital part of every diet, but they may be even more important if you have an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Explore the foods rich in this essential nutrient and you’re likely to find that this is one addition to your rheumatoid arthritis care plan that you can really enjoy.

Madison Elementary School District Joins VSEBT, saves Big!

The Madison Elementary School District (MESD) recently joined the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) resulting in large savings in many areas.  For life insurance coverage alone, the savings is 50% over previous costs.  VSEBT was created by school districts, for school districts, in 1986 as a professional trust manager to provide the opportunity for school districts to work cooperatively in purchasing for better rates.  During those years, school districts have experienced millions in savings each year.

madison logo

The Madison Elementary School District (MESD) has a long history of providing high quality education to its students, maintaining high test scores, and being a great place to work.  By looking for innovative ways such as VSEBT to save money, MESD continues to provide these services to the community while remaining within the increasingly small education budget funding per pupil.


The Madison Elementary School District Board, Left to right: Sasha Glassman, Sarah Speer, Kendra Tollackson, Robin Stamp, and Scott Holcomb

Congratulations to MESD and VSEBT on this outstanding joint venture which will benefit the children, the staff, and the taxpayers with lower costs for benefits!

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Exercising Daily Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk, Even If You Start Later In Life

Exercising Daily Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk, Even If You Start Later In Life

The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline could be reduced by engaging in daily physical activity, even in those who are older than 80 years. Leading author, Dr. Aron S. Buchman, an associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center, declared:

“The results of our study indicate that all physical activities including exercise as well as other activities such as cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These results provide support for efforts to encourage all types of physical activity even in very old adults who might not be able to participate in formal exercise, but can still benefit from a more active lifestyle. This is the first study to use an objective measurement of physical activity in addition to self-reporting. This is important because people may not be able to remember the details correctly.”


In order to track the overall amount of daily exercise and non-exercise physical activity, the researchers asked 716 people without dementia, who were on average 82 years old, from the Rush Memory and Aging Project to continuously wear an actigraph on their non-dominant wrist for ten days, which monitors all activity and records all exercise and non-exercise physical activity.

To measure memory and thinking abilities, all participants also underwent annual cognitive testing during the study period, in addition to self-reporting their physical and social activities. The Rush Memory and Aging Project is an ongoing, longitudinal community study of common chronic old age conditions. 71 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease over an average follow-up period of 3.5 years. The findings demonstrated that those who were classed in the bottom 10% of daily physical activity had more than a two-fold (2.3 times) risk of developing Alzheimer’s, as compared  with those who were classed in the top 10% of daily activity. The findings furthermore demonstrated that individuals in the bottom 10% of intense physical activity had a 2.8 times higher risk of developing the disease than those in the top percent of the intensity of physical activity.


Buchman explained: “Since the actigraph was attached to the wrist, activities like cooking, washing the dishes, playing cards and even moving a wheelchair with a person’s arms were beneficial. These are low-cost, easily accessible and side-effect free activities people can do at any age, including very old age, to possibly prevent Alzheimer’s.” In view that by 2030, the number of Americans older than 65 years of age will double to 80 million, Buchman concluded, “Our study shows that physical activity, which is an easily modifiable risk factor, is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. This has important public health consequences.”



Information received from the August 2012 Wellstyles Newsletter by the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) by Rebecca McGonigle

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Brushing Your Teeth Can Help Prevent Some Heart Disease

Periodontal Disease and Heart Health

Brushing and flossing may actually save your life.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

 If you’re worried about heart disease, you can easily spend thousands of dollars each year trying to prevent it, paying hand over fist for prescription medicines, shelves of healthy cookbooks, fitness machines for your home, and a gym membership.

Or maybe not. A number of recent studies suggest that you may already have a cheap and powerful weapon against heart attacks, strokes, and other heart disease conditions. It costs less than $2 and is sitting on your bathroom counter. It is none other than the humble toothbrush.

“There are a lot of studies that suggest that oral health, and gum disease in particular, are related to serious conditions like heart disease,” says periodontist Sally Cram, DDS, a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association.

So can preventing periodontal disease, a disease of the gums and bone that support the teeth, with brushing and flossing prevent heart disease?

The evidence isn’t clear yet, experts say, but it’s intriguing. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (also called heart disease). And one study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.

Evidence Links Periodontal Disease and Heart Health

When it comes to the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease, epidemiologist Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, is used to dealing with skeptics.

“One of the talks I give is called, ‘Investigating the Links Between Periodontal Infection and Vascular Disease: Are We Nuts?'” says Desvarieux, from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It’s not a connection that people naturally think of.”

Desvarieux was the lead author of a recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association that studied 657 people without known heart disease. He and his co-authors found that people who had higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth were more likely to have atherosclerosis in the carotid artery in the neck. Clogging of the carotid arteries can lead to stroke.

Atherosclerosis, also called “hardening of the arteries,” develops when deposits of fats and other substances in your blood begin to stick to the sides of your arteries. These deposits, called plaques, can build up and narrow your arteries, clogging them like a plugged-up drain. If these plaques ever block the blood flow completely, you could have a heart attack or stroke, depending on the location of the blockage.

(Note: Not all plaque is alike. The plaques in your arteries have nothing to do with dental plaque your dental hygienist scrapes off your teeth. Dental plaque is a sticky residue of bacteria, acid, and food particles that can irritate your gums and eat away at tooth enamel.)

To read more, go to:

Physical Activity Information

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Physical Activity and Health - A Report of the Surgeon General
Report HomeOrdering Information | Related Links | Contact Us

Nutrition and Physical Activity


The At-A-Glance is presented here in its entirety.
You may also download a PDF version (205K) for Adobe Acrobat Reader or a PostScript version (432K).


This report brings together, for the first time, what has been learned about physical activity and health from decades of research. Among its major findings:

  • People who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.

  • Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits.

  • Greater health benefits can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency, or intensity) of physical activity.


Regular physical activity that is performed on most days of the week reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death in the United States. Regular physical activity improves health in the following ways:

  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.

  • Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.

  • Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.

  • Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.

  • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.

  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.

  • Helps control weight.

  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.

  • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.

  • Promotes psychological well-being.


Given the numerous health benefits of physical activity, the hazards of being inactive are clear. Physical inactivity is a serious, nationwide problem. Its scope poses a public health challenge for reducing the national burden of unnecessary illness and premature death.


As the examples listed in the box show, a moderate amount of physical activity* can be achieved in a variety of ways. People can select activities that they enjoy and that fit into their daily lives. Because amount of activity is a function of duration, intensity, and frequency, the same amount of activity can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as brisk walking) as in shorter sessions of more strenuous activities (such as running): +


Less Vigorous, More Time

Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
Playing touch football for 30-45 minutes
Gardening for 30-45 minutes
Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30-40 minutes
Walking 1 3/4 miles in 35 minutes (20 min/mile)
Basketball (shooting baskets) for 30 minutes
Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
Pushing a stroller 1 1/2 miles in 30 minutes
Raking leaves for 30 minutes
Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 min/mile)
Water aerobics for 30 minutes
Swimming laps for 20 minutes
Wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes
Basketball (playing a game) for 15-20 minutes
Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
Jumping rope for 15 minutes
Running 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes (10 min/mile)
Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
Stairwalking for 15 minutes

More Vigorous, Less Time

* A moderate amount of physical activity is roughly equivalent to physical activity that uses approximately 150 Calories (kcal) of energy per day, or 1,000 Calories per week.
+ Some activities can be performed at various intensities; the suggested durations correspond to expected intensity of effort.


To avoid soreness and injury, individuals contemplating an increase in physical activity should start out slowly and gradually build up to the desired amount to give the body time to adjust. People with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, or who are at high risk for these problems should first consult a physician before beginning a new program of physical activity. Also, men over age 40 and women over age 50 who plan to begin a new vigorous physical activity program should consult a physician first to be sure they do not have heart disease or other health problems.



  • More than 60 percent of adults do not achieve the recommended amount of regular physical activity. In fact, 25 percent of all adults are not active at all.

  • Inactivity increases with age and is more common among women than men and among those with lower income and less education than among those with higher income or education


Adolescents and Young Adults

  • Nearly half of young people aged 12-21 are not vigorouslyactive on a regular basis.

  • Physical activity declines dramatically with age during adolescence.

  • Female adolescents are much less physically active than male adolescents.

      Physical Activity Levels of Adolescents and Young Adults, by Age and Sex


High School Students

  • In high school, enrollment in daily physical education classes dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 1995.

  • Only 19 percent of all high school students are physically active for 20 minutes or more in physical education classes every day during the school week.


This report identifies promising ways to help people include more physical activity in their daily lives.

  • Well-designed programs in schools to increase physical activity in physical education classes have been shown to be effective.

  • Carefully planned counseling by health care providers and worksite activity programs can increase individuals’ physical activity levels.

  • Promising approaches being tried in some communities around the nation include opening school buildings and shopping malls for walking before or after regular hours, as well as building bicycle and walking paths separated from automobile traffic. Revising building codes to require accessible stairwells is another idea that has been suggested


Older Adults

No one is too old to enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity. Of special interest to older adults is evidence that muscle-strengthening exercises can reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones and can improve the ability to live independently.


Parents can help their children maintain a physically active lifestyle by providing encouragement and opportunities for physical activity. Family events can include opportunities for everyone in the family to be active.


Regular physical activity improves strength, builds lean muscle, and decreases body fat. It can build stronger bones to last a lifetime.


Regular physical activity burns Calories and preserves lean muscle mass. It is a key component of any weight loss effort and is important for controlling weight.

People with High Blood Pressure

Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure.

People Feeling Anxious, Depressed, or Moody

         Regular physical activity improves mood, helps
relieve depression, and increases feelings of well-being.

People with Arthritis

          Regular physical activity can help control joint swelling
and pain. Physical activity of the type and amount
recommended for health has not been shown to cause

People with Disabilities

        Regular physical activity can help people with chronic,
disabling conditions improve their stamina and muscle
strength and can improve psychological well-being and
quality of life by increasing the ability to perform
activities of daily life.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, MS K-46
4770 Buford Highway, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3724
1-888-CDC-4NRG or 1-888-232-4674 (Toll Free)

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Box SG
Suite 250
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004