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Gluten and Food Labeling: FDA's New Regulation

September 30, 2013 2:39 am

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a regulation that defines the term "gluten-free" for food labeling. This new standard, which is voluntary for use by food manufacturers, provides consumers the assurance that "gluten-free" claims on food products are reliable and consistent across the food industry.

For those consumers seeking a gluten-free diet, the new regulation also eliminates uncertainty by providing a standardized tool for managing their health and dietary intake.

"Gluten-Free" Labeling is Critical for Some Consumers
What is Gluten? Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains. Foods that typically contain gluten include breads, cakes, cereals, and pastas. Gluten is the ingredient that gives breads and other grain products their shape, strength, and texture. But for someone suffering from celiac disease, consuming gluten can have serious health consequences.

Celiac Disease is a Chronic Illness: As many as three million Americans may have celiac disease – an inherited, chronic, inflammatory auto-immune digestive disorder. It is often silent, latent or misdiagnosed. When someone afflicted with celiac disease consumes gluten, his/her body's natural defense system triggers the production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. This damage limits the ability to absorb nutrients and can lead to other very serious health problems.

Definition of "Gluten-Free": FDA has set a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods that carry the label "gluten-free." This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods, and most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. The new regulation also applies to foods labeled with the terms "no gluten," "free of gluten," and "without gluten."

Timing for Label Compliance is One Year: Many foods that were labeled as "gluten-free" prior to the new regulation may already meet the federal definition. For those that do not yet comply, manufacturers have until August of 2014 to make whatever changes are needed in the formulation or labeling of the foods bearing a gluten-free claim in order to legally market them in the United States.

Source: US FDA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Picking the Right Water Heater for Your Home

September 30, 2013 2:39 am

There are more than enough brands, shapes and sizes of water heaters around. The fuel types and energy ratings vary as well. There are also tank and tankless heaters. Review tips provided by top rated plumbers on how to find the most efficient water heater for you and your family or business.

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters
The first step is to understand the workings of an average water heater. Know the best kind of fuel source to use. The gas heater produces a flame and emits fumes through vents. It is a popular system because it heats water quickly and maintains heat for hours.

Natural Gas, LP Gas and Electrical Water Heaters
Due to the use of gas, this heater must contain safety features that prevent the ignition of flammable fumes. An electric water heater does not require vents and works as long as there is electricity.

Solar Water Heaters May Qualify for Rebates and Tax Incentives
A solar water heater may seem expensive, but it saves thousands of dollars in annual energy bills. This system draws in heat from sunlight that hits solar panels on the roof. For the greatest energy efficiency, use a solar heater along with a traditional gas or electric heater to reduce the utility bill. Overall, choose the right fuel source based on your location. If natural gas is easily available, use this source. Living in a hot, sunny area with little rain is ideal if you want to use a solar heater.

Tankless Water Heaters Provide Unlimited Amounts of Hot Water
A tankless water heater makes hot water as needed and does not have a storage tank that must be heated and reheated until there is a demand. There is either a point-of-use model that works attached to a sink or other fixture, or a whole-house model that heats water for the entire house. The point-of-use heater is small enough to appear under a sink cabinet.

The tankless heater has a number of advantages for the homeowner. Since it is more energy efficient than the tank model, look for tax savings. The tankless unit heats water continuously so that hot water never runs out. They are often warranted for more than a decade and with maintenance, can last more than 20 years.

To choose the right home water heater, the homeowner and plumber should analyze the hot water needs of you and everyone in the house. Compare the energy efficiency ratings and customer reviews. A tankless heater usually lasts longer than a tank one. Consider the size of the heater and where you plan to install it. Review all the choices you have when it comes to the modern water heater.

Source: Silverstate Plumbing

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How To Winterize for Immediate Savings and Year-Round Efficiency

September 30, 2013 2:39 am

Fall is the ideal time to tackle home improvements, and the last chance to get your home ready for winter weather.

"Thanks to new technologies, a few projects can significantly improve home safety, efficiency and convenience," says Tom Kraeutler, home improvement expert and syndicated radio show host of The Money Pit.

Kraeutler and co-host Leslie Segrete recommend the following for winterizing and protecting any home.

Improve attic insulation
"Up to 70 percent of home energy is used for heating and cooling, so trim costs by heading up to your attic and installing Owens Corning AttiCat Expanding Blown-In Insulation," says Segrete. "Using the bagged insulation and blowing machine, you can reach into tight spots and insulate an entire attic in less than four hours." AttiCat won't settle, maintains its R-value, provides sound control, and produces less dust.
Illuminate for security

"Now that days are getting shorter, nighttime security lighting is a must," says Kraeutler. "The Heath Zenith Secure Home 240-Degree LED Motion-Activated Security Light gives you peace of mind and intruders nowhere to hide." Advanced Dual Zone technology provides blind-spot-free coverage, and the Dual Brite system offers energy-efficient illumination without annoying on-and-off.

Smarter garage access
"Ever been far from home and wondered if you left the garage door open? You don't have to worry with Chamberlain MyQ Garage," says Segrete. "It installs with your existing garage door opener, and the MyQ Home Control App allows you to connect and control via smartphone." MyQ Garage works with most garage doors manufactured after 1993, and its WiFi hub connects to your home's wireless router.

Generate standby power
"Power outages are inevitable in the season ahead, and a Kohler Automatic Standby Home Generator can protect your home and keep systems going in an emergency," says Kraeutler. "Unlike portable units, it's permanently installed and connects directly to your home's electrical system, starting automatically whenever there's an outage." The Kohler Automatic Standby Home Generator gets systems and appliances up and running in 10 seconds or less, and can be monitored remotely from a laptop.

Wireless network support
"Even with wireless internet access and all your data in the cloud, a power glitch can be a major inconvenience," says Segrete. "But if you add the APC Back-UPS Pro 500 to your home network, you'll stay connected through any outage." The Back-UPS Pro 500 monitors network connection and automatically cycles power to its Smart Outlets to reboot frozen devices. It's placed wherever gateway equipment is located, and may be controlled from a web-enabled wireless device.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


10 Ways to Freshen Up Household Odors

September 27, 2013 2:39 am

Little is more annoying than waking up to a house that smells like kitty litter or the remains of last night’s dinner. But there’s no need to run right out and load up on expensive deodorizers.

Home improvement guru Bob Vila suggests ten common household items that can help freshen and deodorize your home in record time:

• Green tea in the litter box – A box or two of dry green tea leaves sprinkled into the litter box will keep the cat john area smelling fresh.
• Dryer sheets in the trash bin – Stomp out persistently foul-smelling garbage bins with the same disposable dryer sheets you use in the laundry. Toss one or two in the bottom of the bin and the fresh scent will take over.
• Apple cider vinegar in the drains – Pour half a cupful into offending drains to get rid of yucky smells.
• Vanilla extract in the freezer – Freshen up the freezer by soaking a cotton ball in vanilla extract and wiping it around the inside.
• Lemon juice in the sink – Douse the odor in your sink or garbage disposal with a cup or two of lemon juice poured in. The disposal can take the lemon rinds, too.
• Onions in the basement – Musty smell in the basement after the rain? Believe it or not, a raw onion halved and left there overnight will banish any mold or mildew odor.
• Coffee grounds in the fridge – If your refrigerator tends to smell like spoiled food, fill a nylon stocking with fresh ground coffee and toss it in the back of the fridge,
• Baking soda for sneakers – sprinkle baking soda into foul-smelling sneakers to make them smell fresh and new again. Tap the powder out in the morning, and you and your shoes are ready to go.
• Salt and cinnamon for stovetop spills – If the soup’s boiled over, spatter a mixture of salt and cinnamon over the spill while it is still warm. Sponge off the residue after it’s cool, and no burnt smell will survive.
• House plants all around – To keep your home smelling fresh, let a few houseplants do the work. Scented geraniums and Arabian jasmines, in particular, can help banish household odors.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips and Tools to Stay Safe in the Face of Disaster

September 27, 2013 2:39 am

Over the last 12 years, natural disasters such as major storms, floods, earthquakes and fires have affected 2.9 billion people. With alarming stats like these, it is important to be amply prepared should disaster strike.

“Natural disasters can strike at any given moment and while it might seem difficult to prepare for the unknown, there are a number of standard supplies that should be easily accessible in the face of an emergency," said Sport Chalet’s Chris Burston.

To further help consumers navigate their survival gear needs, Burston has compiled the following top 10 tools to ensure preparedness:

1. Regardless of the emergency, storing a supply of safe drinking water is absolutely essential. Store water in 55 gallon (BPA free) drums, and always have a high capacity water filter, water purification tablets and/or a handheld UV water purifier.

2. When temperatures drop and shelter or heat is no longer available, survival blankets are a compact, lightweight way to keep body temperatures warm.

3. Food may be scarce. Dehydrated food buckets and #10 Cans are easy to store and have a shelf life of up to 25 years.

4. Since medical help is not always accessible, be sure to have a well-stocked first aid kit to keep loved ones safe and healthy. Adventure Medical Kits, a company started by actual explorers and doctors, offers the best quality first aid kits and survival items on the market, which include essentials such as bandages, wound cleanser, wound repair (Quik Clot), splint, pain reliever, scissors and more.

5. Storms and earthquakes can often leave homes without electricity for days, or even weeks. Always keep flashlights, headlamps or lanterns, along with plenty of batteries on hand, such as Princeton Tec Headlamps, which are lightweight and long-lasting, or Goal Zero products, which includes solar recharge kits and lighting.

6. The serious preppers know it's always good to have an evacuation bug out route, should a quick escape be necessary. To assist in an efficient getaway, keep a handheld GPS or compass handy to avoid taking a wrong turn.

7. Cellphones cannot always be relied on to call for help, so keep an emergency radio on hand, such as the Eton FRX 3 Radio, a solar and hand turbine powered AM/FM weather radio that glows in the dark and allows a 30-second emergency phone call.

8. When assembling a survival kit, don't forget about stocking an extra supply of personal needs, such as medicine, glasses, sunscreen, bug spray with DEET and any other daily essentials.

9. Many people overlook the fact that they might be caught without heat or gas, making food prep difficult. Fire starters, ready fuel and lightweight portable stoves alleviate this problem.

10. In extreme circumstances when proper shelter is lacking, there could be the possibility of confronting dangerous wildlife. Just in case, it's a good idea to have personal defense items on hand, such as Sabre bear spray.

Source: Sport Chalet

Published with permission from RISMedia.


New Survey Finds Small Decor Changes in Your Home Can Affect Your Mood

September 27, 2013 2:39 am

A new survey released by HomeGoods found that the décor in your home can impact your mood. According to the survey findings, 93 percent of Americans felt a room’s décor can positively or negatively affect someone’s mood, of which 77 percent had at least one room in their home that needed attention.

Released in time for fall decorating and holiday entertaining, the survey found that boosting your mood doesn’t have to come at a price; great news for the 54 percent of Americans who haven’t made the décor changes they want because it’s too expensive. In fact, nearly all (99 percent) of people surveyed felt that simple décor updates – improved lighting, stylish organizational solutions, decorative accents – could make them feel happier without breaking the bank.

Through these survey insights, HomeGoods has created six happy home resolutions to demonstrate easy and affordable ways to incorporate small changes that can boost your mood.

Happy Home Resolutions:

• Incorporate Personal touches: Half (50 percent) of Americans surveyed said they had at least one room in their home that felt unfinished even though it is fully furnished. Choosing décor touches that reflect your personal style will help create a finished look that will make you smile every time you walk into the space.

• Bedrooms can benefit most from small changes: The bedroom most negatively impacts people’s moods. Nearly half (48 percent) of survey participants who’d like to improve their décor felt that the bedroom would benefit most from small changes. Think about easy updates that don’t involve excessive amounts of time or money. Refreshing your bedding, changing lighting or just adding some colorful pillows can help make your room a happier place without breaking the bank.

• Better lighting makes a big difference: Of those Americans who have a room that negatively affects their mood, nearly half (46 percent) felt that better lighting could improve their moods. With shorter fall days and daylight savings time, the right lighting is key, so choose lamps with personality and style to boost your mood.

• Decorative accents can provide a boost of happy: Thirty-seven percent of those with a room that negatively affects their mood felt that adding decorative accessories would have a positive impact on their mood. Each room of your home is an opportunity to create a unique space – bring in bold decorative accessories that are unique and surprising to make a room feel fresh.

• Pops of color can boost happiness: Among those who have a room that negatively affects their mood, 39 percent felt that updating a color palette would have a positive impact on their mood. Instead of painting, adding color though pillows, glassware, wall art and accent furniture are simple and affordable ways to make a room feel cheerful.

• Stylish solutions to organizing your home: Among the 22 percent of survey participants who thought updates to décor would have a positive impact on their mood, the survey found that organizational solutions would have the greatest positive impact. Fashionable and functional storage solutions can lift your mood while making a significant style statement.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Seasonal Changes Can Bring Sleep Problems

September 26, 2013 2:39 am

Golden autumn afternoons, fall foliage and cooler temperatures are a welcome change for most people after a long hot summer, but families should be watchful that the change in seasons could lead to sleep problems and other behavioral troubles for adults, teens and children.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects an estimated six percent of the population. A person with SAD can experience unexplained fatigue as daylight hours grow shorter into the fall and winter months. Other symptoms could include increased irritability, increased daytime sleepiness (as opposed to most other forms of depression, which can cause insomnia), difficulty concentrating, and craving carbohydrates and sugary foods, so-called “comfort foods.”

“For some folks, autumn clearly presents something much more than just ‘great sleeping weather,’” says Dan Schecter, creator of “If families suspect they are affected by SAD, they should seek a proper diagnosis from a physician or mental health professional.”

Schecter said families can also take steps on their own to encourage healthy sleep patterns as the seasons change:

• Make seasonal adjustments, if necessary, but set regular sleeping and waking times and stick with the schedule, even on weekends.
• Get plenty of exercise, outdoors if at all possible, to maximize exposure to daylight.
• Ensure your home sleeping environment and bedding are clean and appropriate to the season.
• Eat a well-balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Five Ways to Build a Better Shower

September 26, 2013 2:39 am

(BPT)—The shower is a place to unwind from a stressful day, where you can forget your worries and pamper yourself. Remodeling the shower is extremely popular because it allows homeowners to create a spa-like experience in their own home, not to mention it's a good investment and can increase resale value. Before you start your remodel, here are five ways to create a shower that will give you some well-deserved peace and quiet.

1. Spacious shower

If you're gutting your bathroom, think about opening up the space to expand the size of your shower. Typically, showers are 36 inches wide by 36 inches deep; but now, luxury-style showers measure at least 48 inches by 96 inches. You can also create more shower space by selecting certain types of shower doors. Sliding glass doors can be a hassle to clean, as dirt can get into every little crevice. Hinged, glass doors, or if you have the space, a larger opening with no shower door at all, are better options for creating a modern, streamlined look.

2. Bring in the light

Do you have a small bathroom and don't have room for a spacious shower? Not to worry - make the shower look bigger with lighting. Adding a skylight above the shower will make it feel larger in size and give a sense of being in a high-end resort. The materials you use on the door can also brighten things up. Choosing a glass door lets more light fill the space while showing off a fancy showerhead or tile. The glass can be frosted for added privacy.

3. Showerheads in all shapes and sizes
Showerheads come in a wide variety of styles to add the desired look - and functionality - to your bathroom. From rainshowers to traditional showerheads and body sprays, the combinations are almost endless.

No matter what style or the number of sprays you choose, make sure to include a hand shower. It makes cleaning the shower a breeze, will help with washing the family pet, and gets all those hard to reach places during your daily shower.

4. A place to sit and relax
Shower benches and seats are becoming an essential component for rest and relaxation. It's a great way to add a spa-like element to your shower but also provides extra safety for your family. You can build a bench into the shower or attach one that folds up against the wall. Different styles and materials are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Teak is a popular choice in the shower as it withstands different temperatures, is resistant to bugs and humidity and is also easy to clean.

5. Storage in the shower

Finally, build niches in the shower wall to fit all the bottles used on a daily basis. Creating several built-in areas will eliminate reaching for bottles on the shower floor and make it easier for the family to stay organized. Make sure the shelves slope toward the shower to keep the areas from getting moldy or full of soap scum. If you aren't putting in new shower walls, you can also create more storage with a sturdy, corner shelf. Choose one with at least three shelves so Mom, Dad and the kids can each have their own shelf.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


9 Out of 10 Children Not Getting Enough Fiber in Their Diet

September 26, 2013 2:39 am

Moms know that fiber is an important part of their children's healthy diets, but what they don't realize is that few kids actually get the daily fiber they need. Nine out of 10 children do not get enough fiber in their diet, which could contribute to occasional constipation. Occasional constipation is reportedly the cause for almost 5 percent of all pediatric outpatient visits. Making sure your child has enough fiber in their diets may keep their stomachs happy by helping keep everything moving through their digestive systems. And kicking off each morning with a breakfast with fiber helps start kids on their way to getting the recommended amount of fiber, every day.

"Fiber plays a key role in maintaining good health," says registered dietitian Sylvia Melendez-Klinger. "Many people are not getting enough of it and don't realize just how easy it can be to add fiber to the diet. To receive the greatest health benefits, eat a wide variety of fiber foods – cereal can be a great breakfast to start your morning and get you on your way to the recommended daily amount of fiber."

Melendez-Klinger has provided a few tips to help Mom add fiber to her children's diet:

Fiber First: Breakfast is the perfect time to sneak fiber into the kids' diets – breakfast cereals are an excellent source of fiber that kids already love eating. Try adding in a few blueberries on top for that extra fiber punch.

Increase Hydration: While fiber is a great way to help keep everything moving through the digestive system, it is important to also increase water intake. By increasing your fiber intake gradually and drinking more water you will allow your body to adapt.

Make Tasty Treats: Fiber can also help prevent kids from snacking needlessly, filling up on empty calories. When looking for a tasty snack, include foods with a good source of fiber, such as a handful of almonds and dried fruit, to increase fiber intake.

Keep It Simple: When shopping for fiber foods that your kids will eat, focus on four main groups – bread, pasta, cereals, fruits and veggies – and try to incorporate a few into every meal. Foods vary in nutrient content so be sure to check the label for fiber content and look for at least three grams – a good source.

Source: Kellogg

Published with permission from RISMedia.


World's First Study on Food Addiction Concludes Addiction Contributes to Obesity

September 25, 2013 2:39 am

A new paper by Ph.D. student Pardis Pedram from the laboratory of Dr. Guang Sun, professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, shows that food addiction is an important contributing factor in the development of obesity.

"Our findings are the first of their kind in the world," said Dr. Sun, the senior author. "We have shown that food addiction is an important contributing factor in the development of the common form of obesity in the general population. The prevalence of food addiction was 5.4 percent in the entire study and increased concomitantly with obesity status defined by either body mass index (BMI) or body fat percentage."

This is the first scientific study of food addiction at the population level. A total of 652 adults from the Canadian province Newfoundland and Labrador - 415 women and 237 men - participated in this study. Food addiction was assessed using the Yale Food Addiction Scale and the macronutrient intake was determined from the Willet Food Frequency Questionnaire.

Furthermore the study found that the clinical symptom count(s) of food addiction (similar to the measurement of fasting blood sugar concentration in diabetic patients) is strongly associated with the severity of obesity. The study also revealed that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with food addiction than men.

"More remarkably, the food addiction scores are proportionally associated with adiposity measurements in non-food addicted people, or the remaining 94.6 per cent of the population," said Dr. Sun. "For some individuals not clinically diagnosed as food addicts, food addiction is potentially part of the cause of excessive body fat."

The findings of food addiction in the development of human obesity are a big factor for physicians, insurance companies and governments to consider in treatment method, insurance and government policy-making, similar to the history of smoking on human health, said Dr. Sun.

Source: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Published with permission from RISMedia.