Enchantment Abounds at Puerto Vallarta’s ‘Rhythms of the Night’ Dinner Show

Written and Contributed By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

Rhythms of the Night is an immersive dinner show experience like none other, transforming your night into an enchanted evening on a mystical land. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise across the Banderas Bay where complimentary snacks and cocktails are served. As the sun sets across the sky, you will be rewarded with a stunning light display along the coastline, as the sun sets and the moon starts to rise. This picture-perfect setting is a primer for the experience ahead. As your cruise ship ports at the secluded Las Caletas cove, you will be greeted with a beautiful starry night, a torch–lit pathway, and mysterious islanders coaxing you to your initial destination.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

As if the nautical journey to this tranquil cove was not enough, your evening will only get exponentially better. The fire-lit path will guide you to an exceptionally romantic outdoor dining area right along the coast. Nature provides the perfect setting for this outdoor dining experience, as a light wind from the Pacific Ocean blows in the air and through the decorative palm trees. Light from the torches and litany of candles scattered about flickers on the water. The sounds of nature are intertwined with table-side serenades from talented musicians wandering through the dining area. The atmosphere alone transforms dinner into a mesmerizing experience.

Guests are then treated to a full-service buffet that includes thoughtfully prepared food selections to accommodate any dietary preference. The buffet includes grilled chicken, fish and steak, along with a delicious display of vegetables, salads, and, of course, tortillas that are hand-made exhibition style. The dessert buffet is equally tantalizing, with cakes, pies, flan and brownies among the many offerings.

After dinner, you will be beckoned to the outdoor amphitheater where talented local artists will perform a spectacular theatrical performance amid the backdrop of a pyramid adorned with candlelight. Through fire, acrobatics, dance, song, music, comedy and magnificent costuming, the performance proudly reenacts some of the ancient customs that highlights the rich history of this region.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

At the conclusion of this perfect enchanted evening, you will receive a final toast as you dance the night away as the cruise ship transports you back to the port with music bumping and cocktails flowing. As with the ride to the cove, the return trip also provides scenic views unique to this part of the world.

Overall, this enthralling evening offers the opportunity to have a relaxing, peaceful and exciting night filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes you will not soon forget. Whether you are looking for the quintessential romantic dinner experience, a fun-filled family adventure, or are planning a group event, an evening with Rhythms of the Night is a magical journey sure to impress. This mesmerizing experience will captivate your heart and leave you spellbound.


As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority–a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She identifies and reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at
www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

BANANA WAVE Bananamilk an ‘A-peeling’ Non-Dairy Option

Written and Contributed By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor 

Banana Wave Bananamilk.  Photography Courtesy of Banana Wave Fresh Start Beverage Company.

Banana Wave Bananamilk. Photography Courtesy of Banana Wave Fresh Start Beverage Company.

Move over almond, soy, coconut and other non-dairy milk alternatives….there’s a new and decidedly tasty milk substitute in the supermarket aisle:  BANANA WAVE bananamilk. This natural, plant-based, non-dairy beverage is perfect for those people who dislike—or are just bored—with the standard milk alternatives on the market. It’s also a particularly excellent choice for anyone who cannot drink, or simply doesn’t like, non-dairy milks derived from nuts or for anyone looking for a delicious drink that’s purely vegetarian and vegan.

Indeed, aside from its tropical fruit-driven deliciousness, the newly-introduced BANANA WAVE bananamilk is a nutrient powerhouse created with nature’s superfoods: fruit, grains and seeds. Each 8-ounce antioxidant and fiber-rich serving contains 330 milligrams of potassium (as much one small banana) as well as 29 vitamins and minerals and 1200 milligrams of heart-healthy Omega-3s. What’s more, BANANA WAVE bananamilk is gluten-free, certified GMO-free by Greenleaf Non-GMO, and Kosher. It’s also no surprise that there are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Beyond its bevy of health benefits, BANANA WAVE bananamilk tastes really, really, really good. It’s smooth, creamy texture and naturally sweet flavor is derived from an ancient multi-generational African recipe ultimately passed down to the brand founder, Neter Alkebulan, by his own Grandmother.

Not only is this dairy-free bananamilk delightful and refreshing on its own as a snack or meal replacement, but it is also great in smoothies, on cereal and as a secret ingredient in cooking and baking. Plus, it is a nice option for anyone with an on-the-go lifestyle, active kids, athletic lifestyle and, of course, for those who are bonkers for bananas.

So give those traditional nut-based milk subs the slip and hop on the banana boat. You’re likely to love the new BANANA WAVE bananamilk a bunch!


Merilee Kern

Merilee Kern

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority—a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews. 

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or sponsored at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

The Sacramento Dentistry Group Replies: Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?

Patients ask if there is such a thing as brushing too much. The truth is that even a good thing can be done to excess. Various factors are involved in deciding how much is too much, and these are discussed in this article.

Brushing your teeth every day is recommended by the dentists at the Sacramento Dentistry Group. But can you brush your teeth too much? The answer is yes, excessive brushing does damage the teeth.

I Can Brush Too Much?

Excessive tooth brushing creates at least two common complications. First, overbrushing leads to irritated gums. Irritated gums get inflamed and then recede. This eventually leads to root exposure, decay and tooth loss. Secondly, almost all toothpastes contain some abrasives to encourage plaque and stain removal. But even mild abrasives start to wear away significant portions of enamel if they are applied too often throughout the day. Add in the use of an electric toothbrush and enamel can quickly be worn away beyond the body’s ability to replace it.

How Much is Too Much?

The question of when a person is going overboard depends in part on two things: 1) how abrasive is the toothpaste and 2) is the toothbrush manual or electric? Whitening toothpastes are especially abrasive and should probably not be used beyond twice a day. The less abrasive the toothpaste, the more it can be used without damage. As for toothbrushes, while an electric toothbrush is recommended for ordinary usage, combine it with obsessive toothbrushing and the hundreds of RPM far exceed what can be done by hand. With toothbrushing, there simply comes a point when a patient is no longer cleaning, but actually destroying.

So How Often Should I Brush?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes each time. Flossing is recommended once per day, usually before going to bed. Additional brushing and flossing after meals is fine, but beyond this becomes excessive. Also, brushing immediately after drinking or eating acidic beverages and foods is guaranteed to damage the teeth by etching them with acid. Simply rinsing the mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum after consuming such things is sufficient until the saliva has neutralized the acid, usually after twenty to thirty minutes.

During semi-annual visits to the dentist, it is readily apparent if a patient is overbrushing. Always follow the recommendations of health professionals if they suggest reducing the amount of daily brushing. For most people, that would be a welcome change in their routine!

A Modern Step Debuts Exclusive Upscale Flooring Boutique In Austin’s Hyde Park

By-Appointment-Only Flooring Retailer Targets Discerning, Ecologically Conscious Buyers

Aaron Lindsey and Kacey Samiee.

A Modern Step announced on Tuesday, the grand opening of Austin’s first upscale, by-appointment-only flooring boutique and gallery-style showroom at 505 West 38th Street in the Capitol City’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood.

“All of our flooring choices are ecologically responsible and sustainable,” said Kacey Samiee, co-founder of A Modern Step. “Flooring is more than something to walk on; it is integral to the look and feel of the entire home or work space. We want our customers to fall in love with the concept that flooring can be a primary design element in their homes, as well as a tangible source of pride and joy.”

“Visits to our showroom are by appointment only,” said co-founder Aaron Lindsey. “That enables us to give each customer our complete attention, allowing ample time to explore their preferences and tastes, and guide them toward the particular flooring choices that will ignite their passions, enhance their environment and align with their moral aesthetic.”

Samiee and Lindsey conceived A Modern Step as a showroom experience unlike anything else in Central Texas. They regard flooring design as an art unto itself and pay meticulous attention to every aspect of the shopping adventure. A Modern Step carries only ecologically sensitive, first quality products that are forward-thinking in design. The one-of-a-kind, high-end boutique caters to both residential and commercial customers.

A Modern Step’s carefully curated, sophisticated collections of national and international flooring lines can be seen by appointment only in its 1,570 square-foot gallery-style showroom. Customers browse through a range of quintessential Scandinavian hardwoods, known for their beauty and exceptional stability, including offerings by Junckers, Karelia, Kahrs and WOODlife. Canadian and American lines include Appalachian Flooring, Kentwood/Metropolitan, Eco-Timber and Valencia Hardwoods. Samiee and Lindsey are especially proud to present the largest selection of reclaimed wood flooring from barns, vineyards and boats in the Austin area, including Vintage Timber and Reclaimed Design Works. Even their carpeting and rug options, featuring rare patterns and textures from America, South African and the United Kingdom, have minimal environmental impacts and reduce homeowners’ exposure to toxic chemicals. Hardwood choices range from $6 to $50 per square foot.

Both long-time Austinites, Samiee’s and Lindsey’s creative, artistic backgrounds led them to create the type of innovative retail experience A Modern Step presents. Samiee is trained in high-end architectural lighting design, has deep roots in acting and film, and teaches musical improv at a local theatre. Lindsey hails from the design side of technology, specifically human interaction design and user experience. He holds a patent defining a video-based interface that lets users chat with each other in social media.

Samiee and Lindsey created a showroom for A Modern Step that feels like a gallery, with a floor shopping experience somewhat akin to selecting a work of art. The customer service experience is high-touch and catering in a space that is little-known and tucked away, underscoring the progressive, uniquely Austin nature of the enterprise. The goal is to instill in clients the sense they are acquiring something special – a functional design element that properly conveys the aesthetic they want in their home or work space.

About A Modern Step

A Modern Step is an Austin-based upscale flooring boutique offering exclusive collections of carefully curated, sophisticated and sustainable flooring options for the discerning, ecologically conscious buyer. The store aims to elevate and refine the experience of customers shopping for superior quality flooring, offering options ranging from quintessential Scandinavian hardwoods to the largest selection of reclaimed woods in Central Texas. A Modern Step’s gallery-style showroom is located at 505 West 38th Street, Unit B. To reserve an appointment, call (512) 514-0738. For more information, visit http://www.AModernStep.com.

The 411 on HVAC Energy-Efficiency Ratings and Terms

Whether you’re looking to lower heating and cooling costs, or have a passion for protecting the environment, maximizing the energy efficiency of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is a smart move. The more energy efficient your system, the less you’ll spend running it every year, and the smaller your home’s environmental footprint will be.

Efficiency ratings are intended to help you decide which products are best for your home, so it’s important to understand what all the related terms mean. HVAC systems manufacturer Luxaire, which has received ENERGY STAR’s highest rating for two components, offers some guidance on interpreting energy-efficiency ratings and terms.


Launched in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the ENERGY STAR program is a voluntary labeling system designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient products. ENERGY STAR rates products in more than 70 categories. Over the past 20 years, ENERGY STAR-rated products have helped consumers save $362 billion on energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons.

“Products that earn the ENERGY STAR rating are proven to operate using less energy. For example, in order to earn the highest rating, the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation, Luxaire’s Acclimate AC8B Split System Air Conditioner and Echelon HC8B Split System Heat Pump demonstrated performance levels of up to 20 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and 12.5 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling and heating performance, and 10 Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) for heat pumps,” says Ken Ely, product manager, Luxaire heating and cooling.

EnergyGuide label

Federal regulations require heating and cooling equipment to carry an EnergyGuide label that provides an estimate of how much energy the equipment will use. The label also compares the unit’s energy use to that of similar products, and gives an estimate of how much it will cost to operate the equipment in a year.

In addition to energy efficiency labeling, it’s important to know some measurement terms. Generally, for all these terms, a higher number equates to better efficiency.


SEER measures the energy efficiency of air conditioning systems and heat pumps. The ratio measures the amount of cooling provided by an air conditioner in comparison to the amount of energy the system uses — measured in watts per hour — over a hypothetical season. SEER can give you an idea of how energy efficient a unit will be under average conditions. However, a number of factors, such as how you use and maintain a unit, can influence energy efficiency, so it’s important to realize a unit might perform differently in your home.


EER is very similar to SEER, except instead of measuring efficiency over a season, EER tells you how efficient an air conditioning unit might be when operating at a typical temperature.


HSPF is meant to help you understand a heat pump’s energy efficiency over a season. It’s typically referenced alongside SEER to give a better picture of a system’s probable energy efficiency. The HSPF formula uses BTUs (British Thermal Units, a measurement of heat) to estimate the useful heat output divided by the total electricity (in watts per hour) the heat pump uses during a heating season.


One more energy measurement to know is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating. The AFUE measures average efficiency for furnaces, boilers and water heaters. Like SEER and EER, the measurement is for a theoretical heating season.

To learn more about energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, visit www.luxaire.com/greensavings and follow @LuxaireHVAC on Twitter. For more information on the ENERGY STAR program, visit www.energystar.gov. To learn about how to read the EnergyGuide label, visit www.energy.gov. (BPT)

Preparing for Baby

4 tips for choosing the right car seat 

As a parent, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing an infant car seat. The process of purchasing and correctly installing a car seat can often feel like an overwhelming task.

To help give parents that extra layer of confidence they need before baby’s first car ride home from the hospital, the safety experts at Car Seats for the Littles offer these tips for proper car seat installation and car seat use.

Keep Children 2 Years and Younger Rear-Facing

Babies have heavy heads and fragile necks. The neck bones are flexible and the ligaments are loose to allow for growth. When a child rides rear-facing, his or her whole body is cradled by the back of the safety seat in the event of a crash, which is why you want to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your baby rear-facing until at least 2 years old. 

Ensure Correct Car Seat Installation

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 49 percent of infant car seats are installed incorrectly. Faulty installation can result in preventable injuries, so it’s important the infant car seat is properly installed. First, ensure the car seat you purchase works in your vehicle and read the manufacturer’s instruction manual. A car seat with a simple installation process, like the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX Infant Car Seat, can help eliminate some of the installation guesswork. The base offers hassle-free installation using either the vehicle’s seat belt or a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. In three simple steps, parents will hear an audible “click” and feel confident the car seat has been securely installed. This seat also features a four-position, one-hand adjustable recline with an easy-to-read bubble level indicator to determine the proper recline level. Find more information at gracobaby.com. 

Properly Position Newborns in Car Seats

Be sure the newborn’s bottom is all the way back with no space behind him or her and that the child isn’t slouching. Additionally, check to make sure the seat is sufficiently reclined to prevent the baby’s head from falling to his or her chest and potentially blocking the airway.

Test for Proper Installation and Security

Before placing baby in a car seat, perform the “1-inch test.” Give the seat a firm shake at the belt path with your non-dominant hand. If the seat or base moves less than 1 inch, the installation is secure. Once baby is properly positioned in the seat, make sure the harness straps are properly tightened using the pinch test. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, your child is properly secured.

One of the most cautious drives you’ll ever take is the first one home from the hospital, but with the right infant car seat, proper research and installation practice, you can feel more confident from the moment you leave the hospital and every drive after. (Family Features)

Sea Oats Group Announces $1.3 Billion Expansion of Cinnamon Shore on Texas Gulf Coast

Phase II of Cinnamon Shore Will Quadruple the Vacation Community’s Size and Bring Distinctive New Home Designs, Amenities to Mustang Island

As originally published by Lynn Darden of The PR Boutique.

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Sea Oats Group announced recently a $1.3 billion, 300-acre expansion of Cinnamon Shore, Mustang Island’s premier new urbanism vacation community, featuring distinctive new home designs and a wide array of appealing amenities.

“Cinnamon Shore North has been enormously successful, with over $200 million in sales, and is now 85 percent sold out,” said Jeff Lamkin, CEO of Sea Oats Group, developers of Cinnamon Shore. “The phase II expansion will take place over 15 to 20 years and will more than quadruple the size of the existing community.”

Over the past decade, Port Aransas-based Sea Oats Group has been one of the most successful developers of coastal properties in any market nationwide, including the Texas Gulf Coast, where the value of its beachfront portfolio is unequalled.

Nestled behind 300 feet of protective dunes and just minutes from Corpus Christi, Cinnamon Shore is the ultimate expression of coastal living. The vibrant, master-planned new urban development on Texas’ Coastal Bend combines elegant housing, work spaces, retail amenities, parks and recreational facilities in a highly livable, walkable seaside resort community. Nearby activities include links-style golfing, unique shopping, parasailing and charters, all effortlessly booked for residents and guests through Cinnamon Shores’ exclusive concierge services.

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Sea Oats Group began developing the 63-acre Cinnamon Shore North, phase I of its incomparable Texas Gulf Coast vacation community, in 2007. Its $275 million buildout includes home sales on 200 lots, 75 of which are multi-family residences, with a median price point of $1 million. Single-family homes start at around $636,000 and beachfront homes are priced from about $2.5 million.

The more than 250-acre phase II expansion will encompass Cinnamon Shore South, an $800 million investment, and Cinnamon Shore Bay Shore, projected to be a $500 million buildout. Lamkin said Sea Oats Group envisions four primary pillars of distinction for phase II: (1) home craftsmanship and a lifestyle unrivaled on the Gulf Coast; (2) a dining district with dozens of restaurants to please any palate or mood; (3) enticing destination retail; and (4) a health and wellness center.

Phase II will include a 3,300-foot wide beachfront, maintained daily – almost three times the size of the beach at Cinnamon Shore North. Eventually, the development will lie on both sides of State Highway 361, about a mile south of Cinnamon Shore North, with a golf cart bridge enabling residents to easily access amenities on both sides of the highway. Plans include multiple swimming pools and lakes to provide refuge and enhance the landscape on both sides of the roadway. A key feature of phase II – an approximately 10-acre lake, one of the largest on the Texas Gulf Coast – will be encircled by a mile-long boardwalk. The development will also feature honeymoon cottages, a spa, town centers for retail within each phase and a boutique hotel opening in 2018. Site work is already underway, and Sea Oats Group expects to begin building homes on the property in mid- to late-2018.

“We are proud of the community we have created with phase I of Cinnamon Shore and gratified by how well it has been received,” said Lamkin. “We plan to build on what has been a very successful model with this major phase II expansion. Full details, including the master plan for phase II, will be released later this year.”

About Cinnamon Shore

Cinnamon Shore is a pedestrian-friendly planned community nestled behind the protective dunes on Mustang Island along the Texas Gulf Coast. It is the first new urbanism development for Sea Oats Group, which is fulfilling its vision of a traditional seaside village with a wide array of amenities and recreational facilities intertwined with beach cottages, luxury villas and vibrant town centers. Every detail of Cinnamon Shore is designed to embrace the natural ambience of Mustang Island and the slow-paced charm of a walking neighborhood. For more information, visit http://www.CinnamonShore.com, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@CinnamonShore).

About Sea Oats Group

Port Aransas-based Sea Oats Group is one of the most successful developers of coastal properties in any market nationwide, including the Texas Gulf Coast, where the value of its beachfront portfolio is unequalled. The firm is dedicated to creating traditional neighborhood developments that provide residents with the highest possible quality of life, while preserving the integrity of the resort landscapes they occupy. By combining living spaces with retail areas in a walkable, connected plan, Sea Oats Group weaves together beautiful places to live, work and play. For more information, visit www.SeaOatsGroup.com.

What You Should Know About Becoming a Landlord

So, you think you want to be a landlord? With the decline in homeownership over the past few years, the rental market seems to be holding strong; however, before you jump in, you need to know that property ownership is a lot different than being a landlord, so you’ll  want to make sure you’re aware of a few basics, as well as what you’ll be responsible for. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

How to determine returns

While managing a property can potentially be profitable, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework before investing.  If you haven’t already purchased property, you’ll not only want to research the current market, you’ll want to know which areas and locations will have the highest returns. Additionally, you’ll have to factor in how much you’ll need to charge in order to cover the expenses of maintenance, property taxes, the mortgage and the like.

The importance of screening tenants

While you may not have to live with them or see them every day, you don’t want just anyone occupying your property. Poor credit, a history of eviction or criminal offenses, or employment are details you should want to know before handing over the keys to your property. Make sure you run a background and credit check, which should give you a solid idea of the person applying. In addition, why are you moving, why is your monthly employment, how many people will be living on the property and asking if they can provide references from employers or previous landlords are also good questions for landlords to ask potential tenants.

The necessity of being in close proximity to the rental property

It’s best if you live close to your property so you’ll be able to check in from time to time, assess repairs, or show the space to possible renters. If this kind of thing doesn’t sound so interesting to you, than you may want to consider hiring a property management company to take care of the those kinds of day-to-day details. However, if you are planning on being your tenant’s primary contact for any sort of issue, you probably won’t want to have to drive more than an hour to check out the problem or to supervise any sort of maintenance.

Learning the law

Depending on the state you live in, there are specific landlord-tenant laws which cover issues from access level, deposits and anti-discrimination. It’s important that you read the fine print as many new landlords skim housing laws and often miss some very important details that could potentially lead to legal disputes in the future. Make sure you know how much notice you need to give renters before showing up to inspect the property or how many days renters should be given to gather their belongings should you need them to vacate. Fair-housing violations go way beyond just discrimination, so make sure you’re aware of the details that pertain to your state and don’t end up in a trap. 

How to enforce timely rent payment

Make sure you set a good precedence when it comes to paying rent. Tenants should know exactly when rent is due, where it should be delivered, what form of payment is expected and the consequences for not paying on time. It’s usually good practice to require tenants to pay a late fee should they fail to deliver or for checks that bounce. Cultivating healthy relationships with renters doesn’t mean you have to be miserly, you just don’t want to get into a situation where you begin allowing partial payments for someone who lost a job and end up getting in tight financial situation yourself. Be friendly, but be firm.

Breathe Easier: 7 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

Help children avoid asthma attacks by improving home indoor air quality


More than 6 million American children — nearly 9 percent of all kids in the U.S. — have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, asthma attacks send more than a million people to emergency rooms, including approximately 24,000 children younger than 15, the CDC reports. Yet health experts agree many of those asthma attacks could be avoided through a range of tactics, including by improving air quality inside homes.

“Most people can control their asthma and live symptom-free,” the CDC reports. Knowing how to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens and irritants inside the home could help people avoid at least some asthma attacks.

Asthma and kids

More than 47 percent of all asthma attacks occur in children, according to CDC data. KidsHealth.org says asthma is the leading cause of chronic absence from school, and the chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room most often.

Many factors can trigger allergy attacks, including exposure to allergens inside the home. As the weather warms and parents open windows to bring fresh air into their homes, the breeze that enters can be full of pollen, mold spores and other airborne irritants. What’s more, irritants already inside the home such as pet dander, dust mites, smoke, bacteria and viruses can contribute to asthma symptoms.

Improving indoor air quality

Your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems play a critical role in the air quality inside your home. HVAC manufacturer Coleman, which makes ventilator systems, air cleaners and ultraviolet irradiation systems to support indoor air quality, offers some tips for ensuring your HVAC system works to clean the air inside your home:

* Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to ensure all components are working efficiently. A well-maintained system can dramatically improve air quality.

* Change air filters regularly, and choose a filter with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The higher the rating, the better the filter will be at capturing airborne particles. Clogged or low-MERV filters may not effectively remove particles from the air, leaving them for your HVAC system to recirculate. In fact, HVAC systems can recirculate contaminants an average of five to seven times per day, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.

* Vent bathrooms and laundry rooms directly outside the home, and ensure vent fans are always working well.

* Any equipment that creates combustion and exhaust, such as fireplaces, heaters, stoves, range tops and furnaces should also vent outside to keep harmful fumes from re-entering your home’s HVAC system.

* When you vacuum, turn on your home’s HVAC system. Vacuuming stirs particles into the air, and your running HVAC system can catch those particles and filter them from the air.

* Monitor and control the humidity in your home. Bacteria and viruses, which can contribute to asthma symptoms, thrive in very dry environments. Consider adding a whole-home humidifier, like Luxaire’s Acclimate Whole-Home Humidifiers, to your HVAC system. Through the use of natural evaporation, the humidifiers help maintain optimum humidity throughout the entire house, without the limitations of portable humidifiers that can only affect a single room.

* Air cleaners can support your HVAC system in removing irritants from the air. Like single-room humidifiers, however, portable air cleaners have limited effect. Consider incorporating a whole-home air cleaner that operates as part of your existing HVAC system.

Visit www.colemanac.com/IAQ to learn more about products available to improve the indoor air quality in your home, and to find a local contractor. You can also follow the company on Twitter at @ColemanHVAC.

Studies show the number of people with asthma is growing worldwide. Health experts from the CDC to the National Institutes of Health agree that controlling indoor air quality in homes could benefit children with asthma, as well as asthma sufferers of all ages. (BPT)


5 Healthier, Dad-Friendly Snack Ideas

He may always ensure his kids have access to fresh fruits, lean protein and plenty of water, but Dad’s personal snacking habits might not be so healthy. If so, he’s not alone; chips are the snack food of choice for 63 percent of Americans, and 91 percent of us snack daily, according to a Nielsen report.

“Many dads who are diligent about providing healthy food options for their families could stand to do better for themselves,” says Dr. Michael Roussell, a nutrition consultant and nutrition adviser to Men’s Health magazine. “Good health is not a given for American fathers. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men, and the American Heart Association says nearly 10 million have been diagnosed with diabetes. The National Institutes of Health estimate three out of every four American men are overweight or obese.”

Unfortunately, many of Dad’s favorite snacks may be unhealthy, from chips and cookies to nachos and wings. Families can work together to help everyone ditch bad snacking habits and replace them with healthier choices that are still Dad-friendly, Roussell suggests.

Here are five better-for-Dad (and everyone) snack options that still offer the flavor, satisfaction and convenience fathers love:

Pistachios — “Pistachios should be a go-to delicious snack for your father,” says Roussell. “He might already snack on pistachios while watching the big game, but you should encourage him to add them as an everyday snack in lieu of traditional snack foods like cookies and chips.” Pistachios contain healthy fat, fiber and protein that contribute to a feeling of fullness and satisfaction between meals. Snacking on pistachios can also reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to research from Penn State University.

Jerky — Here’s a snack that might already be on Dad’s list of favorites. Beef jerky clocks in at 80-100 calories for a 1-ounce serving and also provides double-digit grams of protein. However, some types can have much higher sugar and sodium levels, so be sure to read labels.

Alternative chips — Traditional fried potato chips aren’t a great snack choice. Fortunately, better options are now available, allowing Dad to get his chip fix with a better nutritional profile. For example, baked potato chips can have significantly lower fat content than fried. Black bean or lentil chips can provide more protein and fiber. Plus, a better-for-you chip provides the same satisfying crunch as the fat- and calorie-filled varieties do.

Frozen Greek yogurt — Hey, it’s summer, and a man sometimes needs a frozen treat after yardwork or a workout. Rather than loading up on the fat and calories of ice cream, or the high sugar content of other frozen treats, look to frozen Greek yogurt for a more healthful cold snack. When frozen, Greek yogurt can compete with ice cream for creaminess, plus it’s rich in protein, calcium and a host of other vitamins and minerals. Many frozen yogurt makers now offer Greek yogurt versions of popular flavors.

Dark chocolate — It’s high time to set aside the stereotype of dark chocolate as a treat for moms. Dads can love it, too. While dark chocolate can be higher in calories and fat than some other snacks, it also has nutrients that have been linked to better heart health. You wouldn’t want him to eat a bar of dark chocolate after every meal, but a 1-ounce bar every now and then could help support Dad’s heart health — and the mental benefits of eating chocolate are a bonus! (BPT)