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Survey shows 41% of large employers offer wellness benefit

Forty-one percent of large companies and 10 percent of small firms nationwide are currently offering at least one wellness-related benefit or financial incentives to employees who participate in wellness programs, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

The survey also found that 18 percent of companies ask their employees to complete health risk assessments, sometimes tying financial penalties or rewards to employees who partake.

More than 34 percent of large companies (those with 200 employees or more) said the programs were designed to cut health care costs.  Being healthy not only benefits the individual but also the company as a whole.  Yet another indicator of the growing popularity of wellness-related programs.

But what is a wellness program?  The following are examples of what would be included in a company’s program:

• Company-wide weight loss programs

• Smoking cessation programs

• Lifestyle or behavioral coaching

• Gym membership discounts

• Nutrition classes

• Wellness newsletters

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Breast Milk Promotes Beneficial Growth

According to a new study published as an epub ahead of print in the journal Current Nutrition & Food Science this week, breast milk promotes more beneficial growth of gut flora.  These colonies of friendly bacteria that help absorb nutrients and develop the immune system may explain why it is better than formula at protecting newborns from infection and illness.

Senior author William Parker, associate professor of surgery at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, in the US, told the press: “Only breast milk appears to promote a healthy colonization of beneficial biofilms, and these insights suggest there may be potential approaches for developing substitutes that more closely mimic those benefits in cases where breast milk cannot be provided,” he explained.

This study has also established that breast-milk feeding reduces diarrhea, flu, and respiratory infections in babies, and lowers their risk of developing allergies, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other diseases later in life.

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9 Tips on How You Can Eat Like an Olympian

Now that the Olympics have come to a close that does not have to stop you from being inspired by the athletes who participated in the games.  Athletes are all too familiar with health incentives.  Their careers are based on health incentives, whatever they put into their bodies determines what they get out of their workouts, and how well they perform in competition.  Even for the average person looking to lead a happy and fulfilling life, the health incentives are everywhere.  Here are a nine tips on how to manage your diet and lead you in the direction to fuel your body like an Olympic athlete.

1) Avoid processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup.

2) Use whole wheat flour.

3) Stock up on sweet potatoes for long lasting energy.

4) Only eat cheese in moderation.

5) Bake, don’t sauté in oil & butter.

6) Eat fruit, then protein to refuel after a workout.

7) Reduce your salt intake.  You can create salt substitutes by combining other spices like paprika, onion powder, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and thyme.  Also try and add acidic foods like vinegar, lemon, or lime before salt.

8) Avoid cooking with olive oil because it loses its nutritional value.  Coconut and avocado oils maintain their nutritional value when cooked.

9) It’s okay to break the rules occasionally.  Set a number of rule breaking meals or snacks you allow each week.  The smaller the number the better.

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Exercise Helps Treat Depression in Heart Failure Patients

Exercise is not only a great way to combat weight loss, but it also can treat depression.  Up to 40% of people suffering from heart failure are clinically depressed.  Recent findings show that exercise can help battle depression for those people.  This is yet another example of exercise being an incentive for not only improved physical health, but in this case, improved mental health.

Lead study author James Blumenthal, a psychology professor at Duke University Medical Center, recently said that exercise has been shown to be safe for people with heart failure, and that exercise does not need to be strenuous or a huge time commitment for patients to see a difference.  “It doesn’t require intensive training for a marathon to derive benefits,” he said. “We’re talking about three, 30-minute sessions for an accumulated 90 minutes a week. And the results are significant improvements in mental health, reduced hospitalizations and fewer deaths.”

Blumenthal and colleagues warn that the improvements are “modest” for the most part, however results may vary from patient to patient.

Source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/01/more-evidence-that-exercise-may-help-treat-depression/#ixzz22JwcRZE9