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Improve home health and wellness with these 10 plants

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Improve home health and wellness with these 10 plants

By: Andy DeSantis RD MPH


With spring finally upon us it truly time for homeowners to start thinking about their gardens and plant life.

Whether or not you garden out of necessity or passion, today’s article is all about the versatility of plants and the fact that they serve much more than an aesthetic purpose.

Studies in older adults show that the presence of plants in their living space can contribute to an improved sense of wellbeing.

It doesn’t end there either. Different plants can serve different purposes in your home.

Some are superb bug repellents, others exceptional air purifiers while some are great choices for those living with allergies.

Air Purifying Plants


Most of us spend the vast majority of our lives indoors, which means we spend most of our lives breathing indoor air.

What you may not have heard, however, is that everyday indoor items give off low levels of air pollutants such as formaldehyde.

Although it’s hard to quantify the actual effect these pollutants have on our health, there are certain varieties of plants that are known to be particularly effective at absorbing these pollutants from the air.

Bamboo Palm

Bamboo Palm is an excellent choice for homes, or areas of homes, that get a ton of natural light. They are an incredibly aesthetic plant and grow quite tall and are known to be able to absorb a variety of indoor pollutants.

Peace Lily

A smaller plant better suited for shady areas, peace lilies will flower all summer long and enhance a room with their natural fragrance. They may not be appropriate for those who are bothered by pollen though and should be kept away from pets and small children.

Other candidates: Garden mum, Boston fern.

Bug Repellent Plants


I don’t think anyone truly enjoys an excessive insect presence in their gardens.

And while growing certain varieties of insect-repellent plants in itself is not the only step you need to take to prevent a mosquito invasion, it can help.


Lavender is an excellent example of a multi-purpose plant. It helps to repel flies, mosquitoes and moths.

Lavender can be utilized both in and outdoors, provides a beautiful fragrance and is extraordinarily aesthetic. The oil from its leaves can also be extracted for use as an essential body oil with healing effects.

Other candidates: mint, basil, parsley

Hypoallergenic Plants


Allergies are annoying but can be controlled by selecting the right plants for our garden.


Roses are red, violets are blue and they happen to be plants that won’t bother you!

How’s that for a nursery rhyme? No pun intended.

In all seriousness, violets are a classic selection that are among the least allergenic garden plants and make an excellent choice for those living with allergies.

Other candidates: Summer hyacinth.

There you have it folks, a plant for every purpose!

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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Laugh for your life

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Laugh for your life

It is quickly spreading into many different areas as people come to realize how the benefits can improve their lives. Its mission is to provide good health, joy and create a world without pain and illness. It helps people to deal positively with mental, physical and emotional stresses that can otherwise lead to a breakdown in the workplace and in their private lives.

Modern day stressors, worries and lifestyle changes have increased the rate of heart diseases, which are a major cause of death and despair.

Even as doctors and patients try to minimize the risk factors, scientific studies have proved that laughter is the simplest answer to a healthy heart. An extended hearty laugh is one of the fastest ways to accelerate heart rate and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and heart massage.

Dr. Michael Miller, a leading heart researcher and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center, discovered that laughter expands the blood vessels, promoting circulation and reducing blood pressure.

Laughter yoga offers the opportunity to feel refreshed, stress-free and confident any time, providing all the physiological and psychological benefits of laughing without the necessity of telling jokes or even feeling good to start. In the workplace, absenteeism is reduced and job satisfaction increases. The good communication and positive relations that result support an effective workforce.

Simple, repeatable, and easily learned, laughter-communication games are powerful tools for achieving employee satisfaction, boosting morale while opening lines of communication. People who laugh together are more likely to collaborate, to offer helpful suggestions, and to dissipate tensions that can otherwise accumulate on the job. We can enjoy the experience of laughter, but what we don’t see is how beneficial it is for our internal body chemistry. Love and laughter are the twin building blocks that hold life together, Miller says. It seems to make a lot of sense that the pleasant feelings and images that emerge through laughter alter your body chemistry in a good way — supporting your immune system.

An enthusiastic and infectiously positive speaker, Kathryn Kimmins directs unforgettable laughter experiences. Her sessions dissipate stress while refocusing participants. Cheeks get rosy, eyes clear and twinkle, impish grins are everywhere and the room rapidly fills with friendly smiles. Her educational and experiential class boosts self confidence, brain health, improves retention, increases heart health, encourages team building, motivation, imagination and creativity.



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Healthy eating starts now

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Healthy eating starts now

NEWS CANADA — When you’re hungry and in a hurry, sticking to your New Year’s resolution can get tricky. Plan ahead and beat your cravings with these power crunch snack bars, made with Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop microwaveable popcorn. The popcorn is 100 per cent whole grain, high in fibre and now made without any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

On-The-Go Power Crunch Bars
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 24

No-stick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 mini bag (34 g) Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop microwaveable popcorn
3/4 cup (175 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) margarine
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (175 mL) dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray 15×10-inch shallow baking pan with cooking spray. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all un-popped kernels; set aside.

Combine brown sugar and margarine in large bowl using electric mixer on high speed. Add water and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture; blend well. Reduce speed to low and add cranberries. Cover hands with plastic gloves or sandwich-size plastic bags. Incorporate popped corn into cookie dough. Spread mixture in pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool before cutting into 24 bars. Store in tightly sealed container.

Crispy Peanut Butter Chocolate Popcorn Squares
Craving something sweet and salty? These tasty popcorn squares are the perfect treat and great for snacking on during movies or serving at your next get-together. Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Serves: 18

No-stick cooking spray
1 bag (82 g) Orville Redenbacher gourmet buttery microwaveable popcorn
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter or margarine
1 pkg (10 oz) large marshmallows
1/2 cup (125 mL) creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry roasted peanuts, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) milk chocolate chips

Spray 13×9-inch glass baking dish and wooden spoon with cooking spray; set aside. Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all un-popped kernels. Place popped corn in large bowl.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows. Heat 5 minutes or until marshmallows melt, stirring frequently. Add peanut butter and peanuts; stir until well combined. Pour over popcorn; mix well with greased wooden spoon. Place popcorn mixture in greased glass dish and press evenly using back of spoon. Sprinkle chocolate morsels evenly over popcorn mixture. Microwave on high 1 minute or until chocolate begins to melt. Refrigerate 1 hour or until chocolate is set.

Cut into 18 squares with serrated knife. Store in tightly sealed container up to three days.

National Popcorn Day
Snackers will have a reason to celebrate this January 19, as a beloved treat steps into the spotlight. Popcorn has been around for centuries, providing foodies with a satisfying crunch, enveloping aroma and savoury goodness. Popcorn is also a 100 per cent whole grain which is high in fibre.

Here are a few ways to celebrate this year.

Dress your popcorn: Mix things up by adding some seasonings. A pinch of chilli powder can provide some smoky heat, if you like spice. If not, try adding some cinnamon and sugar for a sweet and savoury delight.

Share your popcorn: Share a bowl of aromatic delicious popcorn with your family during a favourite movie to enjoy a warm sense of comfort and connection. For a wholesome snack, Orville Redenbacher has a new recipe of its microwaveable popcorn with no artificial colours, flavours and preservatives in most flavours so you can share a snack that your entire family will love.

Find more suggested seasonings and recipes online at https://orville.conagrafoods.ca/


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Get ready for cold and flu season

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Get ready for cold and flu season

(News Canada) — Influenza, or the flu, is a very contagious infection caused by viruses. We all know it can cause a mild to severe infection in the nose, sinuses, throat and lungs. But there are some misconceptions on what the flu is, how you can catch it and how to treat and prevent it. With the risk of infections increasing in the fall and peaking in the winter, The Lung Association shares some essential information on this seasonal headache.

It is estimated that between 10 to 20 per cent of Canadians are infected with the flu each year, causing 175,000 emergency room visits, 12,200 influenza-related hospitalizations and even 3,500 influenza-related deaths. That’s why now is a good time to consider how a simple shot could go a long way with your health. In Ontario alone, every year the flu shot eliminates approximately 30,000 visits to hospital emergency departments and prevents approximately 300 deaths.

For people aged 65 years and over, the risk for influenza-attributed death is 12 times greater among those with chronic lung diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 20 times greater among those with both chronic heart and lung conditions.

After stroke and congestive heart failure, influenza and pneumonia (a complication of influenza) are the leading causes of catastrophic disability — a devastating illness or accident that can leave you requiring extra assistance that you didn’t need before. The flu shot is highly recommended for high-risk groups with the highest influenza rates, including children ages five to nine, adults 65 years and older, and those with underlying medical conditions. Different vaccination options are available for seniors. Here are common ways you can get infected with the flu virus, so you know what to avoid:

  • When someone infected with the flu talks, sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets of secretions become airborne. These droplets can land in your nose, mouth, sinuses or lungs and cause an infection.
  • Touching a surface that is infected with the flu virus (door handles, light switches, hand rails) and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
  • Sharing infected objects (utensils, cups) with someone who has the flu infection. Find more information online at lungontario.ca/vaccines. Coughing, fever, sweats, chills and feeling unwell are all symptoms of the flu. They should not be taken lightly.

Although flu infections can occur at any time throughout the year, the risk increases in the fall and peaks in the winter. Two or three strains make the rounds every year. Not only is the viral infection vicious, it can be lethal in otherwise healthy people. Experts say the best way to guard against the seasonal scourge and influenza-related pneumonia is to get the flu shot. But it isn’t a one-and-done deal. Influenza is cunning and constantly mutates, potentially dodging last year’s vaccine. That’s why anyone over six months old who lives, works or attends school in Ontario should get an up-todate shot each year.

The Lung Association especially recommends the flu vaccination for people who are at higher risk and those who have regular contact with people at higher risk. Those at higher risk from the flu include very young children, seniors, pregnant women, Indigenous peoples, residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, and people with health conditions such as lung diseases.

Getting the flu vaccination also helps reduce the risk that you will spread the flu to others in your family and community who may be at a higher risk of serious complications. The more people who get the shot in your community, the less risk to everyone of getting the flu. This is called “herd immunity” or “community immunity.”

In individuals aged 65 and older, the immune system response to the flu vaccine is not as strong as it is in younger people. If you’re in that age group, you may get more benefit from the high-dose flu vaccination, which has four times the usual dose.


With flu season upon us, the question of whether to get vaccinated or not is one many people are trying to answer. Here, The Lung Association clears up some myths to help you make an informed decision.

  • Even if you had the flu shot once, you need it again. The viruses that cause the infection can change slightly each year, so the vaccine must also change to match them. A person’s immune protection from vaccination also declines over time.
  • There’s more than one flu shot available. Those 65 and older should speak with their healthcare provider to find out which vaccine is right for them, as this age group typically doesn’t respond to vaccines as well as younger adults.
  • Getting the flu shot will not give you the flu. The vaccine you receive either has an inactivated virus or does not contain one at all and therefore cannot give you the flu. If you develop influenza within two weeks of getting your shot, it is likely that you already had the virus prior to vaccination. It can also be a result of your body’s immune response to a foreign substance. However, the most common reactions to the vaccine itself are less severe than symptoms of the actual flu.
  • You need the shot even if you are healthy. If you’re 65 or older, your immune system is weakening naturally, making you more susceptible to the virus. If you’re younger than 65, getting the shot also helps protect more vulnerable populations like pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses from contracting the flu from you.
  • The flu shot is 50 to 60 per cent effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults. Although some people who get the vaccination may still get sick, the flu tends to be milder than if they didn’t, which reduces the risk of serious complications. Find out more information online at http://lungontario.ca/protect-your-breathing/vaccines/



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Be kind to your heart

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Be kind to your heart

(News Canada) — With heart failure on the rise, it’s important not to confuse it with other heart conditions.

“Heart failure is not the same as a heart attack,” explains Dr. Gavin Arthur of the Heart & Stroke Foundation. “And it is vital to know the difference.”

Heart failure is an incurable condition that happens when the heart itself is damaged or scarred. Unlike a heart attack, heart failure is not a sudden medical emergency. Instead, over time heart failure causes the heart to become progressively weaker. It can no longer pump adequate blood around the body. The signs are not sudden and can be subtle. There is no cure yet and without medication and careful attention to diet and lifestyle the prognosis is very poor.

Tracy Bawtinheimer, a 51-year-old executive, knows from experience how easy it is to ignore the signs. After months of dizziness, extreme shortness of breath and unexplained weight gain that she attributed to stress and travel, she finally went to the emergency department. She was diagnosed with a heart rhythm disorder that was damaging her heart. Bawtinheimer now lives with heart failure, daily medication and an acceptance that she can’t always be as active as she once was.

“Pay attention to changes in your health and listen to your intuition,” she says. “It’s always better to consult a physician than assume you understand the cause of unexplained changes.”

“Recognizing heart failure early is the key to slowing down the progression so you have the best chance of staying out of hospital and living longer,” says Arthur. The warning signs include shortness of breath, especially when lying flat; sudden weight gain; bloating; cough or cold symptoms that last more than a week; extreme fatigue; loss of appetite; increased urination at night and swelling in the ankles, feet or abdomen.

“If you see any of these signs, talk to your doctor,” notes Arthur.


Heart failure is a growing epidemic in Canada with one in five people developing the condition during their lifetime. But you can easily make some tweaks to your everyday lifestyle to improve your heart health now.

“Each year, 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with heart failure, and depending on the severity of symptoms, age and other factors, half of them will not survive five years,” says Arthur. “There is no cure yet, but if it is caught early, lifestyle changes and appropriate drug treatments can help you lead a normal and active life, stay out of hospital and live longer.”

One reason heart failure it is on the rise is that more people are surviving heart attacks and other acute heart conditions — but not without some lasting damage to their hearts. This damage, over time, makes them more susceptible to heart failure.

“Heart failure can greatly impact quality of life — many people face repeated hospitalizations and are unable to do everyday tasks,” notes Arthur. “Even a walk to the corner can become very difficult for many. However, progression of symptoms can be slowed if it is treated early with appropriate medication and careful attention to diet and lifestyle.”

To stay on top of your heart health, choose nutritious meals with lots of produce, find a fun physical activity to keep you active and work on maintaining a healthy weight. Learn more about heart failure, including the warning signs to watch for, online at heartandstroke.ca/heartfailure.


A diagnosis of heart failure can be devastating, especially for those without a support network. But it turns out dancing — whether it is ballroom, tap or line dance — might be a key to living better and longer.

According to Arthur, keeping active at any age is important, but for people with heart failure, it is even more so. Just be sure to check with your doctor first.

“Choosing physical activity that has a social component is particularly great for people living with heart failure. Often people who are diagnosed with this disease can experience isolation and depression,” he explains. “Being involved in a group activity can help strengthen social and emotional connections, an important aspect of taking control of this condition.”

That’s why heart failure patient Jerry Alfonso has made line dancing his passion. “I started because I wanted to be doing something in the evening. I learned a few dances, then one thing led to another and now I teach several classes every week,” he says. “I reach out to people to get up and exercise and while they come and dance with me I try to talk with them and encourage them to eat a healthy diet.”

Alfonso’s enthusiasm is infectious, and now his classes range from beginners through to advanced line dancers. He knows that having a strong support network can be a safety net for people living with heart failure, and encourages everyone — whether you are living with heart disease or just looking to keep active — to think about joining a class or community group.

Connecting with people who understand can be a great source of information and support. In-person and online support groups can be very helpful to combat social isolation. Connect with others and find more information online at http://www.heartandstroke.ca/



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Tips to avoid catching a cold or the flu this fall

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Tips to avoid catching a cold or the flu this fall

(News Canada) — Ever wonder why you often get sick during the transition between fall and winter? Colds and flu are very contagious and can spread quickly and easily, especially as we move indoors and spend more time closer together. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and fight cold and flu this fall:

Get vaccinated: The best thing you can do to prevent the flu is to get your flu vaccine every year. Flu viruses change from year to year and experts create a new vaccine to protect you each flu season. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine.

Hand washing: Washing your hands is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. You can spread certain germs just by touching another person, and catch them when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch your face. Keep shared surfaces clean. Practice proper hand washing by using an adequate amount of plain soap, rubbing your hands together to create friction and rinsing under running water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

Sleep right: Have you ever gotten sick after a week or two of staying up late only to feel like you have yourself to blame? Sleeping well helps make us healthier and getting your seven to nine hours can do more for your health than you may realize. Sleeping the right amount keeps your immune system healthier, keeps stress levels down and helps your body repair itself.

De-stress: Long-term stress puts extra wear and tear on your body, dampening your immune system and diminishing your ability of fighting off illnesses. Studies show that a few simple behaviours can have amazing results in keeping your stress levels low. Unwinding with a hobby, exercising regularly and spending time with friends may help keep your stress levels in check.

Take antibiotics as directed by your healthcare provider: Remember that antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections and not cold and flu viruses. Taking antibiotics for a cold or the flu won’t help you get better and can contribute to antibiotic resistance. You can also reduce the risks of antibiotic resistance by preventing infection or the spread of infection. Wash your hands often, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, keep your vaccinations up to date and stay at home if you’re sick.

Find more information online at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza.html?utm_source=canada-ca-flu-en&utm_medium=vurl&utm_campaign=flu


Starting your child on a new medication can worry almost any parent. That’s why it’s important to make sure you get all the information you need when you talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

Doctors and nurse practitioners make sure the medicines they prescribe to children are safe and effective. But as a parent, it’s important that you have all the details you need to keep on top of any medical issue.

Here are some useful questions to ask when your child is starting a new medication:

  • Why did you choose this medication for my child?
  • If this medication works, how will it help my child?
  • Will we need to adjust the dose?
  • How soon can we expect to see improvement in my child’s symptoms?
  • Are there possible side effects? If so, what are they?
  • How long should my child continue to take this medication?

While it’s natural to be concerned when your child is starting a new medication, you shouldn’t have to think about whether you can afford it. Starting January 1, 2018, Ontario will cover the cost of over 4,400 medications for all children and youth aged 24 and under.

Enrolment in OHIP+ will be automatic based on age. Prescriptions can be filled free of charge at any Ontario pharmacy – all that’s needed is a health card number. OHIP+ represents the biggest expansion of Medicare in Ontario in more than a generation.

For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-about-ohip-plus



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Iconic Canadian foods we’re not sorry about

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Iconic Canadian foods we’re not sorry about

(NC) — Enjoy some classic national treasures the next time you visit a local restaurant, diner or food truck. Learn more about favourites we love eating again and again and get some patriotic inspiration for your next meal.


Created in rural Quebecois snack bars in the 1950s, this national staple is now adapted in many weird and wonderful ways, like Mexican-inspired pulled pork and guacamole variations. Data from mobile payments company Square shows that only about 20 per cent of poutine sold in Quebec is traditional style, with the most popular poutine twists being chicken and sausage.

Nanaimo Bars

Named after the city of Nanaimo, B.C. on Vancouver Island, sales data shows London, Ont. actually sells the most of these sweet treats. While British Columbians prefer the traditional layer of custard-flavoured butter icing, only 40 per cent of Londonites bought Nanaimo bars in the traditional style. Most prefer a mint flavour for the middle layer instead.

Maple Syrup

A popular souvenir for tourists, Toronto surprisingly sells the most maple syrup in Canada. But getting your maple syrup here will is expensive, whereas if you’re in Quebec you get a better deal. In Quebec, most sales happen during the month of April, the sugaring season, whereas in Toronto most sales happen in the summer month of August. Drizzle some on top of your pancakes at brunch or ask for some to add to your salad for a little sweetness.


Your kids will think they are getting dessert when you pull out this fun treat made with bananas, nuts and honey. Simple and nutritious, it’s also perfect for entertaining or taking to work as a mid-afternoon snack.

When shopping for the ingredients, make sure to support locally produced foods by double-checking your labels. Try BeeMaid honey, packed by producer-owned co-ops that have been a part of the Canadian food landscape for over 60 years.

“Our over 300 beekeeper owners take great pride in their ownership, and take extreme care to provide the best quality honey,” explains CEO Guy Chartier. “We source it all from our owners, and this structure ensures that our honey is of consistent quality year after year, bottle after bottle.”

Honey Banana Pops

  • 1 1/3 cups (315 mL) ground toasted almonds, ground coconut, candy sprinkles and/or graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 just-ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (250 mL) honey
  • 8 popsicle sticks


  1. Spread your topping choices on a plate. Cut bananas in half crosswise. Insert a popsicle stick into each cut end.
  2. To assemble, hold each banana half over plate or waxed paper to catch drips. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of honey over banana, rotating and smoothing with back of spoon to coat all sides. You can also squeeze honey from a plastic honey bear container and smooth out with a spoon.
  3. Roll banana in topping of choice until coated on all sides, pressing with fingertips to help topping adhere. Place pops on waxed paper lined cookie sheet.
  4. Repeat with remaining bananas, honey and topping. Serve at once.



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Tips for taking control of body pain

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Tips for taking control of body pain

By News Canada

As much as we’d like to steer clear of long-lasting muscle, joint, back and arthritis pain, we may be unable to dodge these symptoms as time marches on.

So why does this happen? With age, muscle fibres shrink and weaken, which can contribute to fatigue and limit physical activity. At the same time, joints may stiffen and lose flexibility, resulting in pain, inflammation and, in some cases, arthritis.

Long-lasting body pain may be more common as we get older, but it shouldn’t stop us from enjoying life and accomplishing all we want to. Research has found that a combination of treatment methods, including physiotherapy, massage therapy and medications, show the best results when managing body pain.

“When we leave our 30s and enter our 40s and 50s, pain can become a regular part of life. Some of my patients complain that they have to rely on taking multiple doses of pain relievers in a day to cope,” says Dr. Jeff Habert. “Advil 12 Hour offers an option where just one pill keeps working for up to 12 hours.”

If you’re looking for an additional way to help get some relief, try applying icepacks to reduce inflammation and ease pain, or a warm bath to relieve aching muscles. As always, consult your health care provider with any health concerns.

Some pain can be episodic, kicking in after a physically strenuous activity. Or, it can be long-lasting pain, perhaps preventing us from participating in the activities we love. If you experience long-lasting pain that interferes with your ability to stay active or accomplish the things you want to, these simple tips can help you take control of your pain:

Stay active: Body pain may lead you to avoid physical activity. But low-impact activities like walking, stretching or light exercises can actually help manage pain and even increase strength and flexibility.

Get relief: To help gain control over your pain so you can accomplish everything you want to, try a non-prescription pain reliever.

Hot and cold: Direct heat from hot packs or a warm bath can help relax tight muscles, while ice packs can reduce inflammation and ease pain. These tips are suggestions. As always, consult your health care provider with any health concerns.


The long, sunny days of summer are returning, and that means it’s time to dust off those gardening tools. But if you experience long-lasting body pain, yard work might be easier said than done.

Gardening and weeding involve a wide range of motions, including kneeling, squatting, twisting and lifting, engaging many muscles and joints. These movements can exacerbate existing pain, including arthritis pain, if not done right.

Try these tips to minimize pain when gardening:

Limber up: Tend to yourself before tending to those precious flowers. Stretch your arms, back, wrists and hamstrings prior to planting — your joints and muscles will thank you.

The right gear: Choose tools that help ease the burden on your body. Use a wheelbarrow to carry bags of soil and other heavy materials across the yard and wear kneepads to reduce the strain on those joints.

Relieve your pain: A non-prescription pain reliever can help you focus on your gardening tasks without your pain holding you back, and also relieve pain after a gruelling day in the soil.

Proper technique: Proper technique and positioning reduces strain on muscles and joints. Bend your knees when lifting heavy objects and alternate between heavy and light activities to avoid repetitive-motion injuries.

These tips are suggestions. As always, consult your health care provider with any health concerns.



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How To Get Your Kids Out Of The House And Into The Garden

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How To Get Your Kids Out Of The House And Into The Garden

By News Canada

Look up the positive effects of gardening and you’ll find a wealth of studies from educational and government institutions that support its impact on your physical and mental well being. But it’s not just adults who benefit from time in the garden. It’s a great way to spend time with your kids while teaching them about biology, food and geology.

Here, garden guru Frank Ferragine, aka Frankie Flowers (http://www.frankieflowers. com/), shares his tested and true techniques to get your kids in the garden.

Give them a plot of edibles: Your backyard garden can be a fantastic source of delicious fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and berries. “Letting the kids pick out and maintain edible plants or grow them from seed in their own plot will help foster ownership in the garden,” said Ferragine. “If you’re looking for something that will really get the kids and their tastebuds excited, the geniuses at President’s Choice have put together a strawberry trio that contains framberries, pineberries and seaburst strawberries.”

Give them their own tools: “A watering can, trowel, gloves and kneeling pad may be all it takes to get your son or daughter in the garden with you,” said Ferragine. “Their own set of tools will make them feel more grown up and more responsible.”

Create a miniature garden: Condo or apartment living shouldn’t keep your kids from learning about gardening. “PC Garden Centres have tons of fun planters and colourful pots for the balcony. Planting some microgreens or seasonal flowers in them is a wonderful way to teach your young ones about planting and watering,” said Ferragine. “Hanging baskets are another great choice for these smaller spaces, and the bright colours that are trendy this year will captivate your kids.”

Get connected: For younger generations who engage each other on social media, showing them gardening has its place online can go a long way. “Kids love taking photos, so why not give your little ones an assignment to take some gardening photos to share with you or their friends? It’s likely to spark more interest in the work you’re doing out there and you’ll make some memories to last a lifetime.”


With warm weather on its way, there’s never been a better time to start planning your garden. To help you get started this season, Ferragine has some thoughts on top gardening trends this year.

Big pops of colour: Last year we saw some contrast with loud hues married to more muted, pastel tones, but this year is all about bright colours. Calibrachoas will be this year’s showstoppers with brilliant purples and beaming yellows. Not only do they require little maintenance, but they’ll last from spring until first frost with masses of cascading branches full of petunia-like flowers. Expect to see a rainbow of vibrant impatiens with brighter reds, pinks and oranges in hanging baskets across the country.

Urban planting: This year, condo and apartment dwellers aren’t likely to miss out on the gardening fun. “Urban gardening is going to be bigger than ever,” said Ferragine. “Hanging baskets will be popular spring purchases and many gardeners are already excited about the wide selection of colourful pots from brands like President’s Choice to make a statement in their yards or on their balconies.”

Tough meets tender: A great way to keep your garden looking lush throughout the year is by mixing tough plants with tender ones. While softer, less hardy varieties like peonies, salvia and verbena look lovely, it’s a good idea to intermingle them with lower- maintenance resilient varieties like echinacea, roses and succulents that will keep your garden full in spite of harsher, dryer conditions.

Climate consciousness: Canada is huge and our climate is varied, therefore it stands to reason that a plant that grows well in Victoria may not fare so well in Winnipeg. Plant tags contain key information on plant hardiness zones and what type of plant will do best in specific zones or regions. Still, Ferragine says that “Canadians are more informed than ever about the role our climate can play in growing a successful garden.”

Patriotic plants: Red and white plants are already gaining a lot of attention in the gardening world. “Without a doubt, this year’s hottest flower is the Canadian Shield Rose,” says Ferragine. Made in Canada, this choice is a perfect way to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday. Named as 2017’s Flower of the Year by Canada Blooms, the Canadian Shield Rose (pictures) is is able to survive our rigorous winters from coast to coast. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Canada in your garden this summer.


We don’t all have a green thumb, but a beautiful flower garden doesn’t have to be difficult. Planting a little patch of colour can be easy and rewarding, not just for us, but also for pollinators like honeybees. By following these tips, anyone can turn their outdoor space into an area that looks beautiful and helps feed hungry honey bees all summer long.

Your garden is like a buffet for honeybees. Plants reproduce through pollination. This occurs when pollen is transferred from one flowering plant to another. Moving the pollen is where honeybees come in. They use nectar and pollen as food for their hives, but in their travels they can also spread the pollen. Make sure you plant bee-attractive flowering plants that will bloom in your garden at different times throughout the summer.

Plant wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or an apartment — whether it’s on your balcony, on a rooftop or in your backyard — a small patch of flowers can help feed honeybees in your community. Consider plants native to Canada like lance-leaved coreopsis, sneezeweed, New England asters, dense blazing stars and golden tickseed.

Choose the right seeds. Researching the best plants for your area doesn’t have to be a long and cumbersome process. Bees Matter offers free pollinator-friendly seeds with an online sign-up at http://www.beesmatter.ca. Using pre-packaged Buzzing Gardens seed kits can help make planting your garden quick and easy.



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For Your Eyes Only

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For Your Eyes Only

Lighting requirements change as we age.

The right lighting can make a big difference when it comes to age-related vision problems. As we age, the lenses in our eyes begin to harden and discolour, causing decreased vision and colour distortion. While brighter is often better for older eyes, the direction and the type of lighting, as well as its colour, are all important for optimal vision.


The advantages of using LED lighting, over incandescent or fluorescent lighting, far outweigh their high, upfront cost. LEDs emit an excellent quality of light in a range of colours and brightness. Not only do LED lights save on energy, but they don’t emit heat, nor are they damaging to the eyes.

Another simple fix, is to replace existing fixtures with lights that have a higher wattage, so that they bring more light to a space.

If you’re dealing with a limited range of movement, lower light switches to an attainable height, and replace the toggle switches with newer paddle ones. Strategically placed plugs can also help you to access them easier.

Automatic lights, that sense when someone walks into a space, are particularly helpful to illuminate outdoor walkways, dark closets, garages, and laundry rooms – especially when you need to be hands-free.

Install two- or three-way light switches at all entrances, exits and stairwells to save you from having to backtrack, and then move forward in the dark.


Many Canadians are choosing to age independently in their own homes. For your comfort and well-being, it’s important to evaluate your needs before the actual needs arise. If a renovation is in your future, make sure that you include a lighting plan. This is the best time to move switches and outlets, and add lighting where needed. In order to create uniformity and to avoid dark areas that can be disorienting, a good plan incorporates layers of ambient, task and accent lighting.

Pot lights can be added to an existing space with a minimal amount of damage, and add a wide area of general light. Track lighting is another easy-to-install option that features adjustable heads to direct the light exactly where you need it.


Task lighting targets specific areas. Affordable, easy fixes include adding a pendant light, or recessed lighting, over the sink, as well as undercabinet lights to distribute light evenly on work surfaces. If needed, consider LED strip lights that can be placed at the top of cabinets and on the toe kicks to help reflect light.

It’s imperative that stairwells and hallways are well illuminated. In addition to overhead lighting, step lights and recessed wall lights also help to create a lighted path that makes these areas easier to navigate.

The installation of correct lighting helps to prevent accidents for a safer, more comfortable environment.


Paul Lorefice is a master electrician and the owner of New City Electric Inc. in the GTA. NewCityElectric.ca.


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