According to probiotic entrepreneur Heather Holmes, the human body naturally contains trillions of good and bad bacteria that must stay in balance for optimal health.

This balance is fragile and often disrupted. Probiotics are beneficial inside the body and out.

Internal probiotics help send food through your gut, absorb nutrients and protect the body against potentially harmful invasions by bad bacteria, according to Rephresh. These beneficial probiotic strains can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and pickles, to name a few.


What to know about sickle cell disease

Tosin Ola never passes up the opportunity to share information about the sickle cell disease she faces, including these facts.

1. The disease can be eradicated just by knowing your trait. An SCD test is not run on adults unless you ask for it, so do so as part of your annual blood work. If you have the trait, educate yourself on how you can pass it on.

2. SCD patients are not pain medication seekers. As an “invisible” disease, the lack of objective methods to measure pain means emergency room staff are often skeptical and assume SCD patients are addicts. Facing disbelief and judgment, Ola sometimes even avoids the emergency room.

3. SCD is more than just pain. Patients may also suffer the destruction of red blood cells, fatigue and, in cases of chronic hemolytic anemia, hypoxia, vascular injury, progressive end-organ damage and premature mortality.

For information, visit www.sicklecellwarriors.com.


Shielding children from pesticides

If you’re a parent seeking to minimize your child’s contact with pesticides, consider the following, according to Stonyfield:

— Scrub and/or peel your produce. Remove pesticide residue from store-bought fruits and veggies by washing with tap water using your fingers or a stiff brush.

— Seek out organic health and beauty products. Look for organic versions of everyday items such as soap, shampoo and lotion.

— Check up on your drinking water. The EPA tests and regulates public drinking water sources, but not private wells. It recommends testing your private well annually, using a state-certified lab.

— Monitor pesticide use where your children play. Most sports fields and parks are treated with chemical cocktails of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.


Info on Medicare Part D’s donut hole

Medicare Part D, which helps cover prescription drugs, has its own terminology.

Most Part D plans have a coverage gap known as a “donut hole.” In 2019, you enter this donut hole once out-of-pocket costs (including deductibles, copays and coinsurance) for prescription drugs reach $3,820. While in the donut hole, you will pay a percentage of drugs’ cost.

In 2019, once out-of-pocket costs reach $5,100, you exit the donut hole and pay a smaller coinsurance. The donut hole’s days are numbered. Under a 2010 Affordable Care Act provision, the coverage gap has been shrinking. Beginning in 2019, the maximum you will pay in the gap for a branded drug is 25 percent of its cost. For generics, it is 37 percent, but in 2020, that will be reduced to 25 percent.

Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. To learn more, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com.

— Brandpoint