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Monday, March 16 2020 15:41

Flu/Cold Prevention for Families

According to the CDC, 22 million school days are lost annually in the United States because of the common cold. Besides being miserable, colds spread easily through the air and surfaces, and although we think of them as inconvenient, they can lead to much more serious conditions like pneumonia. Similarly, the flu can be serious as well, killing around 56,000 people annually. Sometimes the prevalence of these diseases makes it seem inevitable that you and your family can't escape the same illnesses that hit everyone every year. But in reality, there are many things you can do to protect yourself and your family from sickness.

Neither colds nor the flu is entirely preventable. However, there are lots of simple ways you can decrease your risk. You can also lessen the severity and length of your illness when you do fall ill. Many of the methods for protecting yourself are simple lifestyle changes that can have a huge impact on your overall wellness. Read on for some of the top tips for preventing colds and flu in your family.

Get Your Flu Vaccine

Many people skip out on their annual flu vaccine. Some people hear that the vaccine is not 100% effective and decide that means it’s not worth the trouble to get vaccinated. This is absolutely not true. First, the flu vaccine reduces your chance of illness by between 40-60% percent depending on the year. The reason its effectiveness varies from year to year is that, like the common cold, the flu virus mutates every year, producing a slightly new strain that is just different enough to reinfect someone that has had it before. Either way, having the vaccine greatly reduces the likelihood you will develop the flu.

Further, even if you get the flu after taking the vaccine, this doesn’t mean getting the vaccine was a waste. On the contrary, you will likely develop a much milder form of the flu and your chances of recovery are much higher thanks to the vaccine you received. This is especially true for children, who are significantly less likely to be hospitalized for flu if they have received the vaccine before becoming ill.

Another common fear is that the flu vaccine can cause people to develop the flu. This is not true. The flu virus cannot cause you to develop the flu because it is made from an inactivated virus. This means that a flu virus is grown in a lab, killed, and then used to make the vaccine. Because the vaccine is made of dead flu germs, it cannot cause disease. While the virus can cause mild fatigue, fever, pain at the injection site, or body aches, this does not mean that you have the flu, and these symptoms are much less severe than the actual flu itself.

Eat Nutritious And Varied Foods

One of the most important steps for staying healthy is to eat a balanced diet. For one thing, eating 10 or more servings of fruits and veggies per day has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease by 24%, your risk of stroke by 33%, your risk of cardiovascular disease by 28%, and your risk of cancer by 13%. Chronic, preventable diseases wear down your immune system, so preventing these conditions is an important step to fighting other illnesses like the common cold and flu. Healthy food also provides more energy to power your immune system.

Varying the kinds of fruits and veggies you eat adds an extra bonus to your healthy eating. Try to choose fresh produce from across the color spectrum because foods of different colors tend to contain different nutrients. By eating lots of different colored foods, you are more likely to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals, decreasing your chance of a deficiency.

Beyond fruits and veggies, some other foods can also help boost your immune system. Foods like green tea can lower your blood pressure, making your body run more efficiently. Other foods like berries that are naturally high in antioxidants help fight unnecessary inflammation in your body. And foods high in zinc—such as meat, fish, and nuts—can help your immune system remain stronger. Zinc can even help you recover faster from some illnesses like the common cold.

Get Enough Sleep

You’ve heard this before, probably many times. But sleep really is one of the most important ways to reduce your risk of contracting a cold or the flu. During sleep, our body repairs small amounts of damage it sustained during the day. Without these repairs, our body becomes weaker at fighting germs.

Beyond keeping us healthy, getting sleep actually aids our bodies in recovering from illness as well. When our bodies fight illness, they release proteins called cytokines. These cytokines help cells communicate, coordinating our immune system’s response to germs. But lack of sleep suppresses the release of cytokines, meaning different parts of our immune system don’t communicate as well as they could.

Although getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night is important, researchers say another important factor is getting good quality sleep. When you don’t get good quality sleep, your body may not go through its complete sleep cycle, meaning your body doesn’t reap the full benefits of sleep. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends), introducing a soothing bedtime routine, and keeping your bedroom a comfortable temperature are all things that can improve your quality of sleep, helping you resist illness or improve more quickly when you do become ill.

Exercise Regularly

Many people underestimate the role that exercise plays in keeping their bodies fighting fit against germs, but regular exercise has a huge impact on a person’s overall health. Not only does exercise help prevent many common diseases that can weaken a person’s overall well being, but it may actually help expel bacteria and viruses from the body. For instance, heavy breathing from working out aids in flushing the airways, and an increase in body temperature exercise can slow or prevent the growth of some bacteria. Regular, moderate exercise is enough to help regulate the immune system, making your body more resistant to both cold and flu.

Kick Unhealthy Habits

Unhealthy habits can wreak havoc on your immune system. Smoking, for instance, introduces unhealthy chemicals into the body that suppress its natural immune response. Additionally, smoking damages the small hairs in your nose that filter out pollen dust, and germs. Without these hairs, more of those contaminants will enter your body, making it easier for germs to enter the body.

Smoking is not the only habit that can weaken your immune system. Drinking too much alcohol can damage some of the cells that power the immune system, leaving your body less able to fight off bacteria and viruses that find their way inside. In fact, the effect of alcohol on the immune system is so strong that some studies show that vaccines are less effective in heavy drinkers .

Some studies suggest that over-indulging in sugar can have a negative effect on the immune system’s ability to fight off infection. When bacteria or viruses enter the body, the immune system releases phagocytes, a type of cell that “cleans up” the body by removing damaged cells and waste. The phagocytes also destroy germs, too. However, immediately after consuming sugar, the body’s phagocytes become less able to perform their job. While this effect does wear off, consuming large amounts of sugar over time can leave your body more prone to infection, as well as more prone to diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that leave your body more vulnerable to the cold and flu.

Practice Hygiene And Cleaning Habits That Remove Germs

Good personal hygiene can go a long way toward keeping your body healthy. Bathing or showering daily helps remove bacteria and viruses from your body, but even simply washing your hands can make a huge difference in your likelihood of catching that bug that everyone else has. Always use soap and (when possible) warm water. Lather and rinse your hands for a total of 20 seconds, or for approximately the length of the “happy birthday” song. Soap helps removes the natural oils on your hands that provide a nice home for bacteria, and good old fashioned soap and water are actually much more effective than hand sanitizer.

Another part of healthy hygiene habits is wearing clean clothes daily and washing clothes in laundry detergent. Wearing the same clothes for multiple days may reintroduce your body to the same bacteria and viruses over and over, increasing the chances they will find their way inside your body. But using soap specifically designed to clean clothes will not only remove bad germs but also your body oils that harbor bacteria just like on your hands.

When in public, practice habits that will help keep other people healthy, too. If you must sneeze or cough, use disposable tissues or your elbow to prevent germs from spreading. You can also excuse yourself from heavily-peopled rooms. At home, clean hard surfaces regularly. White vinegar diluted with tap water is known to kill both bacteria and viruses while being safe for pets and children, but many common cleaners work well, too. Another way to keep your home healthy is to use an air cleaner with a HEPA that can reduce or eliminate infectious agents in the air.

Don’t forget to carry these cleaning habits over to other areas of your life, too. Over half of American workers eat lunch and snack at their desk, yet the typical desk has 100 times more germs than the average kitchen table. Often employees don’t even think about the cleanliness of their office environment, but as most adults spend the majority of their waking day at work, this is also often where they encounter the largest number of germs.

Take Wounds And Injuries Seriously From The Start

The body’s first line of defense against illness is actually its skin. Unbroken skin keeps out most of the germs we come in contact with throughout the day, which is why any breaks in the skin should be treated seriously. This means cleaning the wound with soap and water, treating it with antibacterial ointment, and covering it until healing begins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends removing old bandages and checking for signs of infection every 24 hours. By following these steps, you can limit the number of germs that enter the body and tax your immune system.

You Can Improve Your Resistance To Colds And Flu

By taking simple steps to be healthy and maintain your immune system, you can decrease your chance of developing a cold or the flu. Following through on healthy habits and caring for your body in practical ways go far in making your body better at fighting off infections and recovering more quickly when you do fall ill. Much of it simply comes down to awareness and establishing good habits.

Just about any parent you ask has run into this struggle: with the busy schedule of parenthood, working out tends to fall by the wayside until exercise becomes a boring and time-consuming chore. This leads many parents to skip or completely forego exercise altogether. However, this doesn't have to be the case; there are plenty of ways to fit regular exercise into your day without it feeling like extra work. Try a few of these strategies to stay strong and in shape, even with the stresses of parenting.

Get The Kids Involved

While the kids are younger, it can be tricky to keep them involved with your workout. Once they've gotten into school, though, there's a good chance that they'll develop an interest in sports or other active extracurricular activities. Not all schools will have athletics available to all ages, particularly if your child doesn’t go a private school, which only make up 25% of schools in the United States. That being said, if your child shows interest in athletics, do what you can to get involved in their activity of choice at home. For example, if your child is interested in tennis, take them to the local park to play with them on the tennis court. Playing tennis for fun can burn around 208 calories in 30 minutes for an average man, making it a great exercise for both you and your kids. 

Plus, exercising is always more fun when you do it with your kids. 

Try Something New

If your kid doesn't seem interested in athletics, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. You don't need to bring your kid with you to enjoy a new activity or sport, and there are some sports that are best done while the kids are still at school. Try something new and exciting while the weather's still nice and the kids are busy at school. As many as 19.6% of Millennials participate in water sports; why not try swimming at a local gym? If you live in a big city, you can probably find a local rock climbing gym. Making your exercise into an adventure and an opportunity to get out of the house for a break in routine could be what it takes to keep you active.

Look For Something Laid Back

If consistent exercise is a struggle because it seems like too much additional stress, maybe what you need is a way to work in exercise and relaxation at the same time. Recently, yoga and other isometric exercises have seen a surge in popularity, and for good reason. Yoga can be a great way to meditate and unwind from the stress of parenting while also strengthening your muscles and improving flexibility. Nowadays, there are about 36.7 million yoga participants in the United States. It might be worth seeing if there's a class near you to try it out, but if that's too much of an investment, you can always give this type of exercise a try in your own home while the kids are at school.

Use Daily Tasks As Exercise

If there's really no time in your schedule to squeeze in activity, why not turn your existing routine into your workout? Instead of taking the elevator next time you head to the office, try taking the stairs. Try to complete some of your regular chores around the house a bit faster to turn it into a cardio exercise. There are plenty of opportunities to be more active from day-to-day if you look at your regular routine in small pieces.

Staying active as a parent can sometimes be a challenge, but by looking carefully at your daily routine and integrating activity where you can, you'll soon be exercising on a daily basis without even realizing it. How do you stay active as a parent, and what activities would you recommend for staying healthy?

The number of fast food restaurants throughout the U.S. has doubled since the 1970s, but more and more Americans are thinking a lot harder about the foods they consume. If the increased emphasis on vegan diets, gluten-free meals, antioxidant-rich foods, and other specialty plans is anything to go by, most of us are looking for ways to improve our health and overall well-being.

That said, some of these trends are more rooted in marketing schemes than scientific evidence. And even more concerning is the fact that these supposedly health-conscious recommendations could actually end up hurting a vital part of your body: your teeth.

In 2017, roughly 127.5 million American adults visited a dentist. While you might brush and floss every day, there are essential dietary components of good oral health, too. Before you delve into the latest health food craze, you might want to double check to make sure it won't end up causing damage to your pearly whites. Here are just a few trends you might want to enjoy in moderation (or avoid altogether).

Juice Cleanses

In 2015, Americans consumed roughly 6.6 gallons of juice per capita. And while juice isn't necessarily bad in limited quantities, it does contain a lot of sugar without the fiber you'd get from eating whole fruit. What's more, there's really no evidence that a juice cleanse is good for long-term health; in some cases, this practice can be detrimental. Not only will your body naturally handle cleansing itself, but engaging in juice cleanses can also increase your risk of tooth decay. Highly acidic juices can soften your tooth enamel, as well. The same goes for apple cider vinegar, which is often seen as a cure-all for a number of conditions. These health trends really don't hold water, but if you do want to partake in them, you'll need to increase your dental care to compensate.

Non-Dairy Milk

According to recent research, 67% of millennial customers say they love ordering healthy options at restaurants -- and it stands to reason that this extends to cafes and coffee shops, as well. Although almond and soy milk may be a welcome alternative for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, it's important to be careful when using non-dairy milk alternatives. Many of these options are actually sweetened, so you'll want to make sure you're buying the options that have no added sugar to promote better dental health. And if you're not into using dairy milk, you might be missing out on calcium. Although many non-dairy milks are calcium fortified (and almonds naturally contain calcium), you should aim to use milk alternatives that contain at least 120 milligrams of calcium per 3.4 fluid ounces to ensure your teeth stay strong. These changes might be subtle, but you may reap the benefits at your next dentist appointment.

Fresh Produce

Of course, your diet should contain lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. But you might want to alter your produce changes based on your proximity to a toothbrush. That's because, like it or not, many fruits and veggies can stain your tooth enamel. Beets, for example, have become a popular addition to restaurant menus in recent years, but they contain strong pigment that can certainly stain. Blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranates are lauded for their health benefits, but they can result in staining, as well. The same can be said for tomatoes. You don't need to avoid these foods, but you may want to invest in an electric toothbrush and hydrate to keep your mouth cleansed of acids.

Charcoal Toothpaste

A good toothpaste can also help to fight staining, but not all products are created equal. Although charcoal toothpaste, for example, was all the rage last year for its supposed whitening properties, it may not be making a comeback anytime soon. That's because a recent study has revealed that charcoal toothpaste can actually cause permanent tooth discoloration and decay. According to researchers, the addition of activated charcoal in toothpastes has been proven to be nothing more than a "marketing gimmick," especially since these products have high levels of abrasives and most lack any fluoride whatsoever. Even more worrying is the fact that charcoal can end up absorbing essential nutrients the body needs -- and its whitening properties are virtually nonexistent, despite that 96% of charcoal toothpastes included in the study made whitening claims. If you fell victim to the plethora of Instagram influencers applauding these products, you'll want to discontinue using them and opt for a traditional toothpaste, instead.

Since oral health is a good indicator of overall wellness, it can really pay off to pay attention to our dental needs. Ultimately, it's way better to follow your doctor's or dentist's orders than to regard the internet as a reputable source of what your body really needs.

Approximately 40 million Americans, or 18.1% of the entire population, suffer from anxiety disorders. That's a startling statistic, although one that is understandable; nearly 80% of Americans suffer from debt, putting a lot of additional strain on day-to-day life.

Everyone has their own techniques and strategies to deal with the stresses and anxieties of their lives, but there are a few things that have been found to be universally calming. It's certainly true that many people need more than just additional relaxation in their lives, but discovering what soothes your stresses -- even if it's only in a minor way -- is absolutely worthwhile. Let's take a look at three easy-to-obtain sources of serenity.

Cannabidiol Oil

Cannabinoid products are being sold all across the nation. Cannabidiol (CBD) accounts for 40% of the plant's extract and has been considered a viable treatment option for those suffering from anxiety, cognition problems, movement disorders, and pain. Though science has yet to prove the legitimacy of these claims, 80% of users report that they've found CBD products to be "very or extremely effective."

CBD oil can be found in everything from soap to tea. One of its most popular uses is for anxiety; the phytocannabinoid targets 5-HT1A, a receptor for serotonin that is believed to play the strongest role in anxiety disorders.

Puzzles

Research has shown that puzzles activate our brains while relaxing us psychologically, putting our brains into a meditative state. Many people might be surprised by this fact, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it; when we focus on puzzles, we start paying attention to patterns.

"That's what a huge bit of the cortex is primed to do -- to spot [patterns]," explains Neuroscientist Daniel Bor. "Once we spot them we can assimilate them into our pyramid of knowledge and build more layers of strategy, and knowing how to do that makes us incredibly successful at controlling the world."

That out-of-control feeling contributes to most anxieties and stressors; by stimulating our ability to strategize, we feel more in control and therefore relaxed.

Plants

Recent studies have proven that having plants in an office space actually boosts productivity and employee satisfaction. It makes sense that the same effects would occur at home; the addition of just a few green houseplants can improve mood, concentration, and reduce stress levels. All you have to do is find species that work best for you. If you're terrible at caring for things, select a plant that needs little water and care, such as a succulent. If you're environmentally-conscious, opt for a bamboo plant -- the highly renewable resource grows to maturity in just three to five years.

There are many things you can do and changes you can make to help manage your anxiety and stress levels. If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, give the above options a try; you'll never know if they make a difference unless you give them a chance.

Facial hair has been "in" for the last few years, with both men and women favoring the distinguished-yet-slightly-unkempt hipster vibe. But some people have been totally left out of the trend due to their inability to grow luscious locks on their chinny-chin-chins. That is, until now. According to reports, thousands of British men are finally able to achieve the beastly beards of their dreams after using a popular balding medicine on their faces, rather than on the tops of their heads.

We often discuss the media messages women receive relating to physical appearance, but it seems that lots of men are also self-conscious about not being able to live up to certain ideals. Clean-shaven faces aren't necessarily "out," but there's certainly something special about a gentleman who can grow a beard. Men aren't the only ones embracing hairier crazes, either. Bold brows have been en vogue for a number of years, while many of the most popular 75 million pet dogs that reside in the U.S. are renowned for their thick coats. So it stands to reason that men who are physically unable to grow much more than peach fuzz might be a bit envious.

Their solution? A medication called minoxidil. It's used for hair loss, which is a condition that affects nearly 35 million men in the U.S. alone. Usually, it's applied to the head and is typically marketed as Regine; it stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles and widens the follicle itself to allow hair to grow longer and thicker than before. Originally, the medication was used to treat high blood pressure, but the unexpected side effect of hair growth prompted the company to market the drug as the answer to male pattern baldness. Since about 47% of hair loss sufferers reported they'd spend their life savings to have a full head of hair again, Regine was definitely in demand. Now, thousands of men in the UK are using it to grow fuller, more beautiful beards.

Adam Siddals, who co-founded a Facebook group dedicated to this very cause, began using the medication in 2016.

As he explained to the Daily Mail: "I had a very patchy jaw-strap, a bit more hair on the chin, a tiny bit under my neck and a very weak, straggly mustache... It really bothered me, I was insecure about my lack of facial hair. My friends always used to tease me for having no facial hair... It sounds silly but I felt I had to prove them wrong. I remind them all the time that they are the reason I started using minoxidil."

Siddals used the medication for two years before stopping in July of 2018. He experienced no undesirable side effects, but he cautions others to do their research and to discontinue use if they experience some of the more serious health concerns associated with the medication's use (such as dizziness, drowsiness, and heart palpitations). Although other users have experienced minor reactions like itchiness and redness, which might be worth being able to grow facial hair -- especially since the global skin care market, which will be worth $180 billion in 2024, likely has products that can alleviate any dry skin that occurs as a result.

Experts do point out that hairs will stop growing once use is discontinued, but Siddals says he hasn't noticed any change in the nine months since he stopped. And in his Facebook group, thousands of members have shared their before and after photos while providing ongoing encouragement for others.

While the medication won't work for those who simply have bare patches with no hair follicles to stimulate, Siddals's story has given thousands of Brits hope for their own facial hair. And even though reactions to the medication may differ from person to person, it's given a new lease on life to many men who might otherwise be destined for a lifetime of being referred to as "baby face."

Orangetheory Fitness is the new official fitness partner of the Chicago Cubs, one of the most historic franchises in Major League Baseball. As part of the partnership, Orangetheory Fitness will host the World’s Largest HIIT (high-intensity interval training) Workout at Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St., Saturday, May 18, inviting thousands of participants to raise funds for the ALS Association and the chance to beat the World Record for World’s Largest HIIT Workout.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Chicago Cubs,” said Brad Ehrlich, Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Orangetheory Fitness Illinois. “With now more than 50 Illinois locations, serving individuals from Wrigleyville to Springfield, we feel that our partnership will elevate the Orangetheory Fitness Illinois experience for our more than 40,000 members across the state. We are excited to work hand in hand with the Cubs to create engaging, experiential fitness events for Cubs fans everywhere and meet our goal to raise more than $500,000 for ALS.”

Planned activations and events for Orangetheory Fitness and the Chicago Cubs will include:

World’s Largest HIIT Workout at Wrigley Field – Saturday, May 18

On Saturday, May 18, Orangetheory Fitness and the Chicago Cubs will host the World’s Largest High-Intensity Interval Training Workout, with thousands of participants, comprised of Orangetheory Fitness members and coaches and members of the community at Wrigley Field. In an effort to raise funds for the ALS Association and break the World Record, guests will be invited to participate in a complimentary workout by providing a donation of their choosing.

ALS Awareness Night Presented by Orangetheory Fitness – Sunday, May 5

On Sunday, May 5, the Cubs and Orangetheory Fitness are teaming up to join the fight against ALS by offering fans a Special Ticket Offer for the Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field. In addition to a ticket to the game, fans who purchase a ticket through this offer will receive a Cubs and Orangetheory Fitness water bottle. A portion of net proceeds from the ALS Awareness ticket offer also will be donated to Augie's Quest, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for ALS.

Orangetheory Fitness-Style HIIT Classes at Gallagher Way

As the exclusive programming partner for HIIT workouts at Gallagher Way, Orangetheory Fitness will host outdoor classes at 7 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday, beginning May 13 and running through September 25. Guests of the classes will be able to get a full-body strength and cardiovascular workout with coaches in the heart of Wrigleyville.

Orangetheory Fitness to Team Up with Cubs Charities

Beginning in summer 2019, Orangetheory Fitness will partner with Cubs Charities in support of the Cubs Jr. All-Star program, which is designed to encourage kids be active and healthy while having fun playing baseball and softball.

Top Photo: Orangetheory Fitness Illinois via Instagram

When it comes to taking care of your family, one of the main things you want to do the right way is handling their medical needs. Most people recognize the importance of having a trustworthy doctor, but what about your dentist? Believe it or not, one in five U.S. children go without dental care. Dental care can be regularly looked over when it comes to maintaining overall health, but it's essential for keeping your kids as healthy as they can be.

So how do you find a dentist you can trust to provide the best care possible for your family? Dentistry is considered one of the ten most trusted and ethical professions in the United States, but you want the absolute best for your kids and loved ones; how do you sort through them all? Here are a few things you should consider when selecting a new family dentist.

Miracle cure, urban myth, or placebo effect? Here's what you need to know about these popular hangover cures.

For many Americans, alcohol plays a role in most major social events. But what might start off as a fun-filled evening can quickly turn into a morning full of regret. Despite all your best efforts, you wake up with a pounding headache and feel as if you've been run over by a truck. Now what?

Space is an unforgiving environment. Anyone who has ever seen The Martian or read up on the health hazards of weightlessness knows the risks astronauts take when they sign up for an extended stay on the International Space Station: from bone density and muscle loss to exposure to space radiation, the time spent on the massive station (its solar array wingspan is around 240 feet long) -- exciting though it may be -- is not without risk. But what about germs?

When Immune Systems And Solar Systems Collide

A great and many studies have been performed on how the human body reacts to extended time spent in the near-weightlessness of space, including how gravity impacts and distorts cellular fluids. For example, earlier experimentation found that spaceflight boosts the virulence (the disease-causing potential) of the food-borne germ Salmonella; since space travel already weakens astronaut immunity, this places significantly more risk on the health of the astronauts.

"By studying the effect of spaceflight on the disease-causing potential of major pathogens like Salmonella, we may be able to provide insight into infectious disease mechanisms that cannot be attained using traditional experimental approaches on Earth, where gravity can mask key cellular responses," explained Cheryl Nickerson, who made the discovery with her colleagues.

Vaccines In Space

Vaccines operate by pre-activating T-cells; they are able to react faster to block development of the disease because these killer cells are already geared up to protect us from invaders. Our immune systems are bolstered as a result, and -- as Nickerson proved -- are still a necessity even on the ISS, where astronauts are exposed to fewer pathogens.

The most common (and one of the most important) is the influenza vaccine: it's estimated that as many as 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations have been prevented since 2010 due to the efficacy of inoculations, and since there are no hospitals on the ISS, their administering is vital to its residents' health. By studying how the human body, living in zero gravity, responds to immunizations, further developments can be made regarding long-term space travel; the better we can safeguard the immune systems of astronauts, the longer they'll be able to stay in space.

Advancements That Could Take Us To Mars

Compounding on this immunology finding is the work of Dr. John Campbell, a lecturer at the University of Bath, and his team: they've discovered that living in space does not alter an astronaut's levels of B-cell immunity, the white blood cells that create antibodies to fight off infections. B-cells are companions to T-cells, so their unaltered state offers extra protection from outside invaders.

"Our results are good news for current astronauts aboard the ISS … and for all future astronauts who will attempt long-duration space missions," said Dr. Campbell, hinting at the possibility of a trip to Mars; since the flight takes three years to complete (around three times longer than the U.S. current record set by astronaut Scott Kelly), this kind of knowledge could take us one step closer.

New Year's resolutions are a staple to starting your new year off right. But when it comes to actually keeping your resolutions, it's common for your resolve to dissolve.

In fact, most people will break their New Year's resolution as early as January 12. That means that if you start on the first of January, you won't even make it two weeks before your resolve begins to crack.

And the numbers only get worse.

Garmin International and Disney are collaborating again, announcing the vívofit jr. 2 kid’s fitness tracker with Disney Princess-themed bands and mobile app. Aiming to be more than a fitness device, the vívofit jr. 2 provides kids with an interactive experience where activity unlocks adventure, helping to shape habits for lifelong health and fitness. The app provides goals which kids will want to tackle in order to unlock app adventures, games and step icons featuring Disney Princess characters Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan and Rapunzel. There's two Disney Princess-inspired design options available that are swim-friendly, feature a customizable color screen, and boast a battery life of over a year. Check it out in action via the just-released teaser below...

Six years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, noting that little bits had changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd. This was followed by updates in 2016 & 2017, and today I am posting once again, as it's the seven-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: As I've warned before, with each passing year, the targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...

March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.

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