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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Periodontal Disease and Heart Health
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.)
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A NEW VIEW OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY:
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:
THE BENEFITS OF REGULAR 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:
A MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERN:
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.
WHAT IS A MODERATE AMOUNT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY?
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): +
EXAMPLES OF MODERATE AMOUNTS OF ACTIVITY:
* 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.
PRECAUTIONS FOR A HEALTHY START:
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.
STATUS OF THE NATION – A NEED FOR CHANGE:
Adolescents and Young Adults
High School Students
IDEAS FOR IMPROVEMENT:
This report identifies promising ways to help people include more physical activity in their daily lives.
SPECIAL MESSAGES FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS:
People with High Blood Pressure
People Feeling Anxious, Depressed, or Moody
Regular physical activity improves mood, helps
People with Arthritis
Regular physical activity can help control joint swelling
People with Disabilities
Regular physical activity can help people with chronic,
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