Antoinette Antonio of WCVB’s 5 tips for becoming a morning person

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Antoinette Antonio’s alarm goes off every weekday morning at 1:45 a.m.

You read that right.

The WCVB NewsCenter 5 EyeOpener anchor goes on the air at 4:30 a.m., so she’s had to become a morning person.

“I don’t even consider my hours morning hours; they are middle-of-the-night hours,” Antonio said with a laugh during a phone call following her Monday morning shift. She goes on the air again each weekday at noon full-on late in the day by her standards.

After working as a morning anchor for the past 15 years, Antonio has developed a routine to help her feel and look her best. She said the practices have helped even more so in recent years, now that she’s mother to 2-year-old Greyson and 4-month-old Weston.

Antonio said the following five tips will help you become a morning person, too.

1. Stick to a routine

Antonio begins preparing for her day the night before. With two young sons, she said it’s hard to get to bed as early as she thinks she should (at 7 p.m.), but she never goes to bed without preparing for the next day.

“I lay out my clothes, my bags are all packed for work, my lunch is made, my coffee is set on a timer,” Antonio said. “It’s all about the routine for me.”

Antonio said that taking steps to prepare the night before helps her mornings run smoothly.

“I put all my bags in one place so there’s no thinking in the morning,” she said.

She never strays from her routine, and has it calculated down to the minute. That’s not an exaggeration: She leaves her house in Canton at 2:52 a.m. to drive to WCVB in Needham.

“I know how many minutes it takes to dry my hair,” she said. “I keep my dress shoes at work so I don’t have to think about shoes. I keep all of my jewelry in my bag so I’m not hunting and pecking all over the house looking for it. It’s all in one place.”

Once you’ve got your routine set, it’s best not to deviate from it, she said.

“I’ll be laying in bed and think to myself, ‘Oh, I’ve got to bring x, y, z with me to work tomorrow,’” Antonio said. “[But if I don’t do it right away], it doesn’t happen. If it’s not visually there, it doesn’t happen. Because I’m in such a routine.”

2. Don’t hit snooze

“Granted, it feels so good to have that power over your alarm clock and hit snooze over and over again,” Antonio said. “It just doesn’t help you in the long run.”

According to Antonio, sleeping until the last possible minute deprives you of crucial waking-up time. For Antonio, that’s the time she spends catching up on all the news that happened while she was sleeping, which she needs to do her job as a news anchor. She immediately checks her email and social media before getting into the shower. That and her beloved cup of coffee (more on that later) help her feel ready to get going.

“When I used to just get up and go, if I didn’t give myself enough time to wake up, I wouldn’t be awake enough when I got to work,” she said. “Waking up is a process.”

Antonio said early morning “me time” can include checking your phone, meditating, or watching TV in bed.

“Give yourself a few minutes to wake up,” she said. “And do something that’s just for you.”

3. Eat breakfast

Antonio’s morning shift is over before many people even wake up — she’s on the air from 4:30 to 7 a.m. But she’s learned not to wait to eat.

“A lot of people tend to totally skip breakfast,” said Antonio, who added that she’s been guilty of doing this in the past, too.

“I find that having that little snack helps me through,” she said.

During commercial breaks, she’s been known to nibble on granola bars, yogurt, English muffins, and even a bowl of cereal. She said she also needs a cup of coffee every morning. Her husband sets the coffee maker for 2 a.m. each night. She always adds French vanilla creamer to the cup before taking it on her commute.

“It’s waiting for me when I get downstairs, and it always brings a smile to my face,” she said. “When the coffee hits my lips, I’m awake for the day.”

WCVB anchor Antoinette Antonio in the makeup room getting ready to go on the air. —WCVB

4. Tend to your skin

As for looking your best at such an early hour, Antonio said good skin care plays a big role.

“Everyone looks a little fresher when your skin looks good,” she said.

She takes care of her skin by removing her makeup each night and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Antonio, who does her own TV makeup, has also picked up some helpful makeup tips through the years.

“I’ve learned how to do my makeup in a way that makes me look more alert,” she said. “I wear false eyelashes. Sometimes false eyelashes or mascara can help give you that more awake look.”

5. Wake up your positivity

Your mental state plays a big role in how you feel about your morning, Antonio said.

“Attitude is totally part of it,” she said. “Think about the things you appreciate about whatever it is [you are doing] — going to work, going to school, being a stay-at-home mom. You’ve got to find that glass half full.”

Though Antonio enjoys her weekends with her husband and young children, she’s happy to go to work on Mondays because that’s her “adult time,” she said.

“A lot of people dread Mondays,” she said. “I look forward to Mondays. I look forward to what I do because I like what I do.”

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Leon Medicare patients to be treated at some Baptist hospitals

Baptist Health South Florida and the Medicare Advantage plan of Leon Medical Centers announced Monday that the plan’s approximately 45,000 members can go to some of Baptist’s hospitals starting next year.

Under the arrangement, patients enrolled in Leon Medical Centers Health Plans, an HMO in partnership with Cigna HealthSpring, will be able to be treated at Baptist Hospital, South Miami Hospital, Doctors Hospital, West Kendall Baptist Hospital, and the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, effective Jan. 1.

While Baptist Hospital’s Miami Cancer Institute is part of the Leon plan, the doctors at the Institute are not included in the Leon network, said a Baptist spokesperson.

Open enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries started Monday and runs through Dec. 7. In 2018, there were 44 million Medicare beneficiaries — or 15 percent of the U.S. population. In Florida, there are more than 4.3 million, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Baptist partnership “has been a milestone for us,” said Benjamin Leon Jr., founder and chairman of Leon Medical Centers, which has been operating in Miami-Dade since 1996.

Brian Keeley, president and chief executive of Baptist Health, said the partnership will help seniors in deciding which Medicare Advantage works for them.

“Each year, as patients review their options for Medicare Advantage plans during open enrollment, the choices of physicians and hospitals included in the various plans become a determining factor in their selection,’’ Keeley noted.

The doctors who are affiliated with Baptist but maintain their private practices will decide individually whether they will be part of the plan.

Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, are offered by insurance companies as an alternative to traditional Medicare. About 20 million seniors nationwide are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans; Florida has more than 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in these plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Medicare Advantage plans include both HMOs and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs). Under an HMO, the insurance company contracts with hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation facilities and doctors; members can go only to those who are listed on the plan.

Prior to the partnership between Leon and Baptist, Leon members could go to Jackson Memorial Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center, the University of Miami Health System, and the four Tenet hospitals in Miami-Dade: Coral Gables Hospital, Hialeah Hospital, North Shore Medical Center, and Palmetto General.

Those hospitals will still be part of the Leon plan, said Roymi Membiela, Leon’s vice president and chief consumer officer. Leon members will be able to choose between these facilities and Baptist.

Leon operates seven medical centers in Miami-Dade County, in Miami, Westchester, East and West Hialeah, Kendall, and the West Flagler and West Bird Road areas.

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Mom nearly died after botched tummy tuck left her with life-threatening infections

A woman who lost nearly 100 pounds and had a tummy tuck to remove the resulting folds of saggy skin has told how she was left dicing with death after a flesh-eating bug ate huge chunks of her stomach.

Weighing over 300 pounds at her heaviest and determined to lose weight, events planner Laura Franks, 36, had gastric bypass surgery in 2013, but looked “like an empty bag” when her sudden weight loss left aprons of excess flesh hanging around her tummy.

Wanting to restore her confidence once and for all, Franks, of Atlanta, Ga.,  paid $5,000 for a tummy tuck, liposuction and Brazilian bum lift at a clinic in Cali, Colombia, in February this year.

But, instead of getting a dream body, she caught a flesh-eating bug, which ravaged her stomach, saying: “I was convinced I’d be going home in a body bag.”

Franks is speaking out about her nightmare experience just as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)  issued a stark warning about Brazilian bum lifts, following the death of two women who’d had the procedure.


But, far from having surgery on a whim, Franks, whose boyfriend is a rapper and actor who goes by the name of Solo Styles, researched everything thoroughly before proceeding.

“I looked at places all over the world, including here in the USA,” she said.

“I wasn’t set on going anywhere, in particular, I just wanted what was best for me, but I eventually found a place in Colombia that looked great,” Franks said. “That’s a decision I now regret every single day.”

“But the pictures of other patients looked fantastic and people sounded really happy with what they’d had done,” she said. “I contacted the clinic and got a reply right away. While surgeons from different clinics had ignored me, this felt like a really personal, professional reply.”

Franks was an active youngster but had started gaining weight at university –  leaving her desperately self-conscious about her size when she hit 300 pounds.

Discovering she was eligible for a gastric bypass, where surgical staples are used to create a small pouch at the top of the stomach, which then connects directly to the small intestine, she happily went under the knife.

To her delight, her weight plummeted – but she was left with saggy skin more unsightly than the fat it had replaced.

“I was left with an awful lot of excess skin,” she said. “I worked really hard to try and tone up but, while the muscles underneath were getting stronger, the skin stayed put. It was difficult to have lost all that weight, then be dealing with another body confidence issue.”

“I looked like an empty bag, and whatever I tried, the skin wouldn’t tone up,” she said.

Eventually, Sparks decided surgery was her only solution and spent over a year thoroughly researching where to go, pouring over online reviews and testimonials and following the journeys of other patients via Instagram.

And in February this year, despite her boyfriend warning her against it, she headed to Colombia.

“My boyfriend told me I was beautiful the way I was, and that I didn’t need to change anything, but I went ahead anyway as I had this planned from before I’d met him,” Sparks said. “Now I wish every day that I had listened.”


Following blood tests at a nearby hospital, Sparks arrived at the clinic on February 28 this year, describing it as a “beautiful, welcoming building.”

Changing into her surgical stockings and gown, everything seemed fine, but when she was taken down to the operating room, doubts began to creep in.

“I looked around and things just didn’t seem right. There were plastic patio chairs in the room and personal items, like the staff’s bags,” she said. “Panic was setting in when I felt the prick of a needle, as the anesthetic was administered. People say to me now, ‘Why did you go ahead? Why didn’t you say something?’ They don’t understand is how quickly this all happened.”

“I had literally minutes to take it all in and was out cold before I could tell them to hold on,” Sparks said. “I actually remember waking during the surgery and feeling intense pain. I tried to shout out, but I was so sedated that I’ve no idea if I was making any noise. It was horrendous.”

After coming to, Sparks was taken to a recovery room and, for the next couple of days, she felt surprisingly well.

However, five days after her operation, her bandages were removed for the first time, revealing a large red blotch across her stomach.

Initially, she said she was told that it was just her body needing to oxygenate, and was sent for hourly sessions in a hyperbaric chamber –  where patients’ natural healing processes are enhanced as they inhale 100 percent oxygen.

Sparks said she was convinced she would die abroad after she started experiencing agonizing pain. 

Sparks said she was convinced she would die abroad after she started experiencing agonizing pain. 
(PA Real Life)

Over the coming days, though, she felt worse and worse, and her skin around the zone of her tummy tuck began to blister and die.

Following debridement surgery – a procedure to remove the dead and damaged tissue – she was also fitted with a wound vac to seal off the area and help it heal quicker.

“I literally felt like I was dying,” she said. “When I got no better, I was transferred to another hospital, where they immediately put me in isolation. I was screaming out in pain. An infectious disease expert came in and tried to calm me down by talking to me about home and family he has in the USA.”

“He also told me that I had a very serious infection and needed surgery,” she said. “I couldn’t see a way of getting better, though.”

Three bouts of surgery to cut away her dying flesh and, hopefully, stem the infection, later, on March 29 – more than a month after arriving in Colombia – Sparks was allowed to fly home on the proviso she went straight to another hospital.

Wanting to be near her family, she flew to Denver, Colo., where her loved ones had organized a team of surgeons to be ready for her arrival.

After testing her wound, medics confirmed she had contracted three different types of dangerous bacteria – two of which had not been seen in the U.S. before.

“Doctors believe the bacteria came from contaminated equipment,” she said. “Of course, I don’t know for sure, but my opinion is that it came from the clinic, as I was already having symptoms before being transferred anywhere else.”

As the bacteria was so drug-resistant, it seemed at first as if nothing would be able to save her.

Then, at the 11th hour, a specialist drug was flown in through the Centers for Disease Control.

“I called it my unicorn juice,” she said. “It thankfully worked, and my insurer picked up a lot of the costs, but, as it was so expensive and I needed a large dose, I have been left with considerable medical bills of around $10,000 myself.”

Now Sparks, who has since had a skin graft using flesh from her thighs to help patch up her stomach, has set up a GoFundMe page, and hopes kind strangers will help her to settle her sizeable bills.

She is also speaking out to warn others not to take online reviews as gospel, as she believes companies often delete or edit negative ones.

“I never saw anything worrying when I did extensive research.  I know now that it wasn’t an informed decision – I was simply seeing what somebody else wanted me to see,” she said. “But I don’t even want to tell people to do thorough research. I want them to realize that surgery simply isn’t worth it. You must learn to love yourself. I wish I had.

“I now live with daily pain, but I am also happy to be alive, and want what I’ve been through to help others,” Sparks said. “When this happened to me, I hadn’t even told my family what I was doing. They thought I was just on a vacation, so when everything went wrong I had to make a very difficult call home, telling my parents it may be the last time I ever spoke to them.”

“I am incredibly thankful to be alive, and I really want to encourage others to love themselves as they are,” she said. “I’ve learned the hard way that surgery won’t change the way you, or anybody else, looks at you. It’s just not worth it.”

“The risks traveling abroad for plastic surgery can be significant,” Dr. Renato Saltz, president of International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), said. “One of the most important things a prospective patient can do is educate themselves about the many aspects involved – the actual plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon who would be performing the procedure, the actual medical facility that the procedure will be performed at the actual cosmetic procedure itself.”

“In deciding to have a cosmetic surgery abroad, potentially with a surgeon that you have never met, it is extremely important that you do your homework on who they are, what their credentials and experience are to perform that specific cosmetic procedure, as well as the medical facility where the procedure is being performed,” Saltz said.  “For anyone considering having plastic surgery abroad, we recommend that you start your journey by visiting our website to find out more about cosmetic procedures and review our member directory to find an ISAPS plastic surgeon.”

“All ISAPS members have undergone a rigorous application review process by their peers to be accepted and are board-certified in aesthetic plastic surgery or their equivalent) in their country,” Saltz said.

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Prescription drugs, lower taxes, power J&J 3Q beat

A jump in prescription drug sales and a sharply reduced tax bill boosted Johnson & Johnson’s third-quarter sales and profit, which beat Wall Street expectations.

The world’s biggest maker of health care products on Tuesday also slightly raised its profit forecast for the year.

The New Brunswick, N.J., maker of baby products, biotech drugs and medical devices reported net income of $3.93 billion, or $1.44 per share. That was up 4.5 percent from net income of $3.76 billion, or $1.37 per share, a year earlier.

Earnings, excluding $1.7 billion in one-time gains and costs, came to $2.05 per share, or 2 cents better than expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue was $20.35 billion, up 3.6 percent, which also exceeded analyst forecasts for $19.91 billion.

J&J;’s prescription drug business posted sales of $10.35 billion, up 6.7 percent, mainly due to higher sales of its cancer drugs, including Darzalex, Imbruvica and Zytiga.

During the quarter, Imbruvica won U.S. regulatory approval for a new use, treating a rare cancer called Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, and the Food and Drug Administration also approved a three-drug combination pill for treating HIV, Symtuza. J&J; also applied for U.S. and European Union approval of its closely watched experimental drug esketamine for treatment-resistant depression. The nasal-spray drug works much more quickly than typical antidepressants and likely will be a big seller if approved.

Sales of consumer health products such as Tylenol and Band-Aids edged up 1.8 percent to $3.42 billion.

The medical devices and diagnostics business, which is being restructured, reported a 0.2 percent sales dip to $6.59 billion. Sales were driven by Acuvue contact lenses, surgical implements and wound-closure products.

U.S. and international sales both rose about 3.5 percent, to $10.66 billion and $9.68 billion, respectively. J&J; noted that unfavorable currency exchange rates reduced revenue by 1.9 percent.

J&J;’s effective tax rate plunged to 11.1 percent, barely half the 21.4 percent rate in the year-ago quarter, reducing its tax bill by $537 million to $489 million.

“We are pleased with our strong third-quarter performance, which reflects continued above-market growth in our pharmaceutical business, accelerating sales momentum in our consumer business and consistent progress in our medical devices business,” J&J; CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.

The company said it now expects full-year earnings in the range of $8.13 to $8.18 per share, with revenue in the range of $81 billion to $81.4 billion. In July, J&J; forecast 2018 earnings per share of $8.07 to $8.18 and revenue of $80.5 billion to $81.3 billion.

J&J; shares are down 4 percent this year.


Follow Linda A. Johnson at


Portions of this story were generated by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on JNJ at

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Johnson & Johnson profit beats, lifts forecast on cancer drug demand

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday reported quarterly profit above estimates and raised its full-year forecast, as demand for its cancer drugs Zytiga and Imbruvica helped offset decline in sales of blockbuster drug, Remicade.

The Johnson and Johnson logo is seen at an office building in Singapore January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White

J&J said it now expects adjusted 2018 earnings per share to be in the range of $8.13 and $8.18, up from its previous range of $8.07 to $8.17.

Sales of rheumatoid arthritis treatment Remicade fell 16.3 percent to $1.38 billion in the quarter as pressure from biosimilars intensified. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.36 billion, according to Barclays.

As Remicade faces increased competition and the company’s consumer and medical health businesses come under pressure, J&J has been inking deals and spending more on its drug pipeline to beef up sales.

The healthcare conglomerate’s net earnings rose to $3.93 billion, or $1.44 per share, in the third quarter, from $3.76 billion, or $1.37 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.05 per share. Analysts on average expected $2.03 per share, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

Sales rose 3.6 percent to $20.35 billion, above analysts’ average estimate of $20.05 billion.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Arun Koyyur

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The Best Resistance Bands For Your Home Workouts

Frankly, no home gym is complete without a set of resistance bands. And they should absolutely be the first bit of fitness equipment you pick up when you decide to extend your home workouts beyond bodyweight.

That’s because resistance bands are cheap, effective to use in a variety of ways, and easy to use without putting yourself at any risk of injury. A set of bands won’t cost you more than £20 and you can use them to build strength, do rehab after an injury, increase your mobility, and in many other ways.

Resistance bands usually come in a set of three or five different resistances, with the colour of a band indicating how heavy it is. Generally yellow bands have less resistance, blue and black bands have a high level of resistance, and red and green bands are in the middle. But there is a lot of variation between brands, and special colours are often thrown into the mix – gold bands in particular are usually very strong.

The standard band options are open-ended strap bands, looped bands, or tube bands with detachable handles. Generally strap bands are good for mobility work and stretching, and can be tied off to create a loop, but proper looped bands are usually better for strength sessions, while tube bands with handles are the easiest kind to use for high-resistance strength workouts.

Given the low cost of resistance bands, we reckon it’s worth having a few different types to hand for your workouts. Here are the best available right now.

Theraband Resistance Bands

These straight bands are great for mobility and rehab exercises and come in a wide range of lengths and resistance levels, so you can get exactly what you need, whether that’s a 1m-long light resistance yellow band or a 5m max resistance gold band, which will be handy for flinging rocks at castle during sieges even if you never summon up the strength to use it in your workouts.

Buy from Amazon | £2.49-£40.98

AmazonBasics Resistance and Pull Up Band

A long looped band is useful for hooking around your shoulders and feet for exercises like squats, and can also be used to assist with pull-ups until you progress enough to tackle the exercise unaided. Amazon’s own-brand bands come in three different levels of resistance, with the lightest being purple (Amazon have gone rogue there) and the heaviest being blue, with green in between.

Buy from Amazon | £12.99-£18.99

COREZONE Resistance Loop Bands

There are six bands in this set, which offers a resistance range from 4.5kg to 18kg to cover all the bases that beginners are likely to need covered. The bands also come with a lifetime guarantee, for those who have any concerns about durability, and an online workout guide to show you how to use the bands.

Buy from Amazon | £10.95

Protone Resistance Bands Set

This comprehensive set will fulfil all the resistance band needs of even those used to lifting heavy free weights, because you can double, triple, quadruple or even quintuple up the bands using the detachable handles to increase the resistance if required. The set also comes with a carry case and attachments so you can anchor the bands to a door or post for certain exercises.

Buy from Amazon | £19.99

Bytomic Figure Of 8 Resistance Band

Figure-of-eight resistance bands don’t offer the same range of uses as straight, loop or tube bands, but they are handy for exercise like rows where their short length and large handles are a bonus. The Bytomic bands come in three levels of resistance, ranging from the lightest yellow through red to black.

Buy from Amazon | £7.98-£8.98

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Asics DynaFlyte 3 Running Shoe Review: An Impressive All-Rounder

Since the first edition of the DynaFlyte launched in 2016 the aim of the shoe has been simple: to deliver the ideal balance of speed and cushioning to make it suitable for all kinds of running. In the years since the shoe has been refined and improved to make it lighter and more responsive, while still retaining enough cushioning and support to make it suitable for long runs. I tried a variety of runs in the DynaFlyte 3 and although it undoubtedly has strengths and weaknesses, it does work as an impressive all-rounder shoe that most neutral runners will find fits the bill for training of all types as well as racing.

Key to that is the FlyteFoam Lyte midsole, which provides enough cushioning to protect you from the impact of logging big distances while still being light enough not to be much of hindrance on fast, short efforts. I say not much of a hindrance, because the DynaFlyte 3 is not an out-and-out racer. Its 257g weight (men’s size 8) is lightweight for a daily trainer, but it’s not as explosively responsive or lightweight as a shoe like the Adidas Boston 7 or Nike Zoom Fly. I tried a track session and a tempo run in the DynaFlyte 3 and while it’s no slouch, these aren’t the shoe’s strongest area. There’s little pop off the toe and the hefty stack of cushioning at the back of the shoe is noticeable and a little cumbersome when sprinting.

However, the track isn’t really where the DynaFlyte 3 is designed to spend its time, and when you take it out for longer efforts on the road it shines. The ride has a firm feel that’s quite different to the raft of bouncy shoes that have followed the trail blazed by Adidas’s Boost foam, and while I do love running in a bouncy shoe, that difference is no bad thing. The FlyeFoam Lyte cushions the impact of running without you losing the feel for the ground. The heel-to-toe transition is smooth and when you get into a rhythm at a good pace over long runs, the DynaFlyte quickly disappears on the foot.

It’s a shoe that would work well for marathon and half marathons in particular, but it’s also comfortable to wear when you’re taking it easy over long distances.

The upper on the DynaFlyte 3 also impresses. The flexible Adapt Mesh 2.0 fabric stretches to accommodate the foot nicely without sacrificing too much support. Opt for the LiteShow version of the trainer and the fabric has reflective details woven throughout to make you more visible at night.

Advances in foam technology have resulted in a lot of brands making lightweight shoes that still carry a comfortable stack of cushioning to support you over long distances, and the DynaFlyte 3 is one of the best available on that front. If you’re looking for a running shoe to carry you through a lot of of training that’s also fast enough to help you impress over 22.1km or 42.2km come race day, it’s certainly a shoe to consider.

Buy from Asics | £135

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10 natural ways to boost your fertility

The royal wedding caused a vast global interest with 18 million viewers tuning in. But a royal baby by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would certainly beat those stats in no time. Well, Prince Harry, 34, and Meghan, now 37, announced just today the best news ever, they are expecting a much anticipated spring 2019 B-A-B-Y.

Meghan got pregnant in virtually no time, but it’s not always that simple for women over 35, the age at which fertility begins to decline, according to experts.

Here, Rick Hay, Healthista’s Nutritional Director, takes us through the maze of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and greens that could help boost fertility.

‘After the age of 35, conceiving can become difficult due to declining sperm and egg quality. Good nutrition and supplementing your body for optimum fertility health could be the answer’ explains Rick.

1. Vitamin B6

This vitamin helps to regulate and promote healthy hormonal activity allowing to extend the luteal phase, which is the time between ovulating and your menstrual cycle by producing progesterone and in turn helping with egg development and improving the chances of conception.

Found in: potatoes, fruit, fish and lentils. The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is between 1.1 and 1.7 mg/day.

2. Vitamin B9 Folic acid

Low levels of this vitamin are linked to birth defects, in particular spina bifida, which is a defect in the spine. Folic acid will also provide normal maternal tissue growth and help with cell division processes that will determine foetal development. B9 helps with conception because it improves the overall sperm count and boosts sperm motility. The RDI is between 1.1 and 1.7 mg/day.

Found in: potatoes, fruit, fish and lentils.

3. Vitamin B12

Low levels of B12 may contribute to infertility and also have a role to play in multiple miscarriages. Oxidative stress is one of the main reasons for a decrease in male fertility through DNA damage, B12 provides a healthy production of sperm, motility and vitality. For women it can help prevent irregular ovulation and provide a healthier cycle and balance of hormones. Egg health is also developed and can increase chances of egg implantation.

Found in: red meat, eggs, milk, cheese, fish, yeast extract, fortified soya milks, fortified veggie burgers. The optimal dose is 2.4 µg/day.

4. Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant that has an important role to help protect our bodies from free radicals and preventing damage to the chromosome which can lead to difficulties in conception, birth defects or miscarriage. Male fertility can also benefit from selenium by aiding the quality of sperm and production.

Found in: Brazil nuts, sardines and tuna as well as green leafy vegetables. The RDI for Selenium is 60 µg/day for women.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another antioxidant your body needs for fertility. Again this vitamin will help with sperm development, protect against oxidative stress and increase chances of implantation. For women vitamin C looks after ovulation and egg health by producing ascorbic acid, this is needed to help collagen synthesis in the ovaries for follicle growth. The RDI is 45 mg/day.

Found in: citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens and fruit juices.

6. Vitamin E

Here is another important antioxidant to look after the cells from oxidative stress. Similar to vitamin C this can provide a healthier production of sperm with better motility and vitality to give more likelihood of implantation. For women this vitamin can also provide a longer luteal phase and improve chances of conception with better overall egg health. The RDI is 7 mg/day for female adults.

Found in: nuts, seeds, kale and olive oil.

7. Zinc

This mineral can help with normal fertility and reproduction by keeping a healthy balance in the hormones, oestrogen and progesterone to provide good egg cell health. It is important for men to make sure they have good levels of zinc as low levels may lead to poor sperm quality, decreasing the chance of implantation. The RDI is 8 mg/day for female adults.

Found in: seafood, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

8. Iron

Women will especially need this mineral due to demand doubling during pregnancy, if iron levels are deficient it can cause miscarriages. Taking iron will help with the formation of healthy red blood cells and provide an improved circulation to the reproductive areas. The RDI intake for female adults aged between 19 and 50 is 18 mg/day.

Found in: pulses, organic eggs, meat, fish, and tofu.

9. Co-Enzyme Q10

This enzyme is used for producing energy in sport, it can also be used to create energy production at a mitochondrial level for egg health. Co-Enyzme Q10 also helps with embryo development and with the health of the mature egg from an older woman which requires a large amount of energy. For men it can help with sperm cell motility and health.

Found in: sardines, broccoli, spinach and sesame seeds.

10. Arginine

Arginine is a key amino acid that helps improve blood flow to the uterus, ovaries and genitals, this will provide more efficient function in the reproductive organs. The increased blood flow also helps to create an healthy environment for the embryo implantation.

Found in: peanuts, turkey, pumpkin seeds and algae such as spirulina.

This article originally appeared on Healthista and is republished here with permission.

For more on this topic, these are the 7 tricks Tiff Hall follows to keep her hormones balanced. And if you’re trying for a baby, scientists have revealed the best time and month to have sex.

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US wants drug prices in TV ads: ‘Patients deserve to know’

The federal government said Monday that it wants to force drugmakers to disclose prices for prescription medicines in their TV commercials.

The drug industry’s main trade group said drug companies are only willing to disclose the prices on their websites, not in commercials, and they’ll start doing that next spring.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar unveiled a proposal that would apply to all brand-name drugs covered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which is most medicines.

“Patients deserve to know what a given drug could cost when they’re being told about the benefits and risks it may have,” Azar said in prepared remarks. “They deserve to know if the drug company has pushed their prices to abusive levels. And they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV.”

Most Americans don’t pay the full price for prescriptions — one reason drugmakers have opposed disclosing the list prices, arguing that would just confuse the public. But insurance plans base their copayments on the list price set by drugmakers. And patients with high-deductibles plans or no insurance sometimes pay full price.

President Trump has long promised to bring down drug prices, and in May, his administration released a “blueprint” with vague proposals for doing so, including exploring listing prices in TV commercials.

Hours before Azar’s announcement, the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, said its 33 member companies agreed to include in commercials a website that would give the drug’s list price, the range of likely out-of-pocket costs and any available financial assistance. The group also plans its own website, where patients could look up drugs by name and find similar information.

“We appreciate their effort,” Azar said. “But placing information on a website is not the same as putting it right in an ad.”

PhRMA CEO Stephen J. Ubl and others in the trade group said they believe requiring list prices in ads would violate the companies’ First Amendment free speech rights. But Azar, speaking at a National Academy of Medicine conference, said there is precedence for such a move, pointing out that federal law requires automakers to disclose sticker prices for cars.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs has been allowed in the U.S. for two decades. Ads are required to list side effects but not prices.

Many details of the proposed rule still must be worked out, including whether it should be expanded to cover radio, print or internet ads. According to the proposal, TV commercials would have to state in legible type the list price set by the manufacturer for all drugs costing more than $35 per month or for a standard course of treatment, such as for an antibiotic.

If the rule is adopted after a 60-day public comment period, Azar’s department plans to publicize the names of drugmakers that don’t comply and could take legal action against them.

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the U.S. market will bear because the government doesn’t regulate medicine prices, unlike most other developed countries.

List prices have long been closely guarded, and those prices are the starting point for drugmakers’ price negotiations with middlemen, such as insurance companies and prescription benefit managers.

According to the government, the list prices for the top 10 prescription medicines advertised on TV range from $535 to $11,000 for a month or course of treatment.

Pfizer’s heavily advertised nerve pain drug Lyrica has a monthly list price of $669. Humira, AbbVie’s treatment for immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, has a list price of $4,872 per monthly injection. Both have nearly doubled in four years.

Patients for Affordable Drugs, an advocacy group funded by foundations, called PhRMA’s website choice “a transparent attempt to pre-empt full disclosure of list prices in ads,” adding that it doesn’t think disclosing list prices will reduce patients’ costs.


Follow Linda A. Johnson at—onPharma


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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