Good sleep habits help weight loss and cardiovascular health

by American Heart Association


Improving one’s sleep health is something everyone can do to improve their cardiovascular health
DALLAS - People who reported getting regular, uninterrupted sleep did a better job sticking to their exercise and diet plans while trying to lose weight, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023. The meeting will be held in Boston, February 28-March 3, 2023, and offers the latest science on population-based health and wellness and implications for lifestyle and cardiometabolic health.

"Focusing on obtaining good sleep — seven to nine hours at night with a regular wake time along with waking refreshed and being alert throughout the day — may be an important behavior that helps people stick with their physical activity and dietary modification goals," said Christopher E. Kline, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of health and human development at the University of Pittsburgh. "A previous study of ours reported that better sleep health was associated with a significantly greater loss of body weight and fat among participants in a year-long, behavioral weight loss program."

The researchers examined whether good sleep health was related to how well people adhered to the various lifestyle modifications prescribed in a 12-month weight loss program. The weight-loss program included 125 adults (average age of 50 years, 91% female, 81% white) who met criteria for overweight or obesity (body mass index of 27-44) without any medical conditions requiring medical supervision of their diet or physical activity.

Sleep habits were measured at the beginning of the program, at 6 months and at 12 months, through patient questionnaires, a sleep diary and 7-day readings from a wrist-worn device that recorded sleep, waking activity and rest. These measures were used to score each participant as "good" or "poor" on six measures of sleep: regularity; satisfaction; alertness; timing; efficiency (the percentage of time spent in bed when actually asleep); and duration. A composite sleep health score of 0-6 was calculated for each participant, with one point for each "good" measure of sleep health, with higher scores indicating better levels of sleep health.

Adherence to the weight loss program was measured by percentage of group intervention sessions attended; percentage of days in which each participant ate between 85-115% of their recommended daily calories; and change in daily duration of moderate or vigorous physical activity. Participants had an average sleep health score of 4.5 out of 6 at the start of the study, at 6 months and at 12 months. Participants self-reported their caloric intake each day using a phone app and researchers measured participants’ physical activity with an accelerometer worn at the waist for one week at a time at the start of the study, at 6 months and at 12 months.

After adjusting the sleep health scores for age, gender, race and whether or not there was a partner sharing the bed, the researchers found that better sleep health was associated with higher rates of attendance at group interval sessions, adherence to caloric intake goals and improvement in time spent performing moderate-vigorous physical activity. They found:

  • Participants attended 79% of group sessions in the first six months and 62% of group sessions in the second six months.
  • Participants met their daily caloric intake goals on 36% of days in the first six months and 21% in the second six months.
  • Participants increased their total daily time spent in moderate-vigorous activity by 8.7 minutes in the first six months, however, their total time spent decreased by 3.7 minutes in the second six months.
  • The decrease in group session attendance, caloric intake and in time spent in moderate-vigorous activity in the second six months was expected, Kline said. "As one continues in a long-term behavioral weight loss intervention, it’s normal for the adherence to weight loss behaviors to decrease," he said.

    Additionally, while there was an association between better sleep health scores and an increase in physical activity, it was not strong enough to be statistically significant, meaning that researchers cannot rule out that the results were due to chance.

    "We had hypothesized that sleep would be associated with lifestyle modification; however, we didn’t expect to see an association between sleep health and all three of our measures of lifestyle modification," he said. "Although we did not intervene on sleep health in this study, these results suggest that optimizing sleep may lead to better lifestyle modification adherence. "

    The study’s limitations include that it did not incorporate any intervention to help participants improve their sleep, that the study sample was not recruited based upon participants’ sleep health characteristics, and that the overall sample population had relatively good sleep health at baseline. The sample was also primarily white and female, so it is unclear whether these results are generalizable to more diverse populations.

    "One question of interest for future research is whether we can increase adherence to lifestyle modifications – and, ultimately, increase weight loss – if we improve a person’s sleep health," Kline said.

    A second question for the researchers is how such an intervention would be timed to improve sleep.

    "It remains unclear whether it would be best to optimize sleep prior to rather than during attempted weight loss. In other words, should clinicians tell their patients to focus on getting better and more regular sleep before they begin to attempt weight loss, or should they try to improve their sleep while at the same time modifying their diet and activity levels?" Kline said.

    Improving one’s sleep health is something everyone can do to improve their cardiovascular health and is a key component of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8. Sleep was added in 2022 as the eighth component of optimal cardiovascular health, which includes eating healthy food, being physically active, not smoking, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year in the U.S. than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined, according to the 2023 Statistical Update from the American Heart Association.

    "There are over 100 studies linking sleep to weight gain and obesity, but this was a great example showing how sleep isn't just tied to weight itself, it's tied to the things we're doing to help manage our own weight. This could be because sleep impacts the things that drive hunger and cravings, your metabolism and your ability to regulate metabolism and the ability to make healthy choices in general," said Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., MTR. Grandner is director of the Sleep and Heath Research Program at the University of Arizona, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at the Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, and was a co-author of the Association’s Life’s Essential 8 cardiovascular health score. "Studies like this really go to show that all of these things are connected, and sometimes sleep is the thing that we can start taking control over that can help open doors to other avenues of health."

    Hernias, there are more than one kind to worry about

    by Tim Ditman
    OSF Healthcare

    ALTON - When watching a basketball game on television, you may hear coaches and announcers say the star player is missing time with a hernia.

    A sports hernia is different than a hernia suffered in everyday life, says Raman Kumar, MD, a colorectal surgeon and general surgeon at OSF HealthCare. But each should be taken seriously.

    Hernia

    Dr. Kumar says a hernia is when an internal organ or piece of fat goes through a hole in the abdominal wall. The most common type – around 80%  – is an inguinal hernia, when a part of the intestine pushes through the abdominal wall in the lower belly (also called the groin). Anyone can get a hernia, even newborns. But Dr. Kumar says they are seen more in older men. Symptoms include a bulge or swelling in the abdominal area and pain when moving.

    Dr. Raman Kumar

    “A lot of chronic heavy lifting,” can cause hernias, Dr. Kumar says. “Other things weaken the abdominal wall such as diabetes and smoking. Being obese causes a lot of weight hanging down on the abdominal wall. If you’ve had surgery in the past, that’s also a risk factor.”

    So be mindful when lifting objects, Dr. Kumar advises. Lift with your knees, not your back, and don’t try to lift heavy items. Get a cart or a partner to help. Eat healthy and exercise to avoid obesity and diabetes. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.

    Dr. Kumar says an exterior wrap known as a hernia belt or abdominal binder can be a short-term solution. But surgery is often the endgame.

    “If you have a hole or defect, it needs to be closed,” Dr. Kumar says. “The reason we fix hernias is because we don’t want a loop of intestine or bowel to get into the hernia, twist off and die.”

    That would make a person very sick and possibly threaten their life, Dr. Kumar says.

    Sports hernia

    Dr. Kumar says a sports hernia is a muscle tear in the groin area. They’re seen in athletes due to all the twisting, turning and bending that comes with competition.

    “Stretch before you do any type of activity. Work and develop your core muscles, including your abdominal and hip muscles.” Dr. Kumar says. “If the muscles are strong, they are less likely to tear.”

    Athletes who complain of groin pain should immediately leave the competition and get checked out by a trainer or doctor. Resting and icing the groin will help, but a combination of medication, physical therapy or surgery will likely be needed to fully heal.

    Be proactive

    If you have symptoms of a hernia or sports hernia, see a health care provider right away.

    “Nine times out of 10, we can determine you have a hernia just based on a physical exam,” Dr. Kumar says.

    But for more complicated cases, your doctor may order an ultrasound or CT scan. Then, the provider will develop a treatment plan.

    Fighting Illini tennis team opens Big 10 schedule with shutout over the Nittany Lions


    URBANA - The Fighting Illini men's tennis team dominated Penn State with a quick 4-0 decision to kick off their Big 10 campaign on Friday at Atkins Tennis Center.

    Illinois locked down the double point barely 35 minutes after the opening serve. Sophomore Karlis Ozolins and partner Hunter Heck were the first to finish on the doubles court, cruising past Penn's Charl Morgan and Malik Bhatnagar, 6-3. Mathis Debru and Oliver Okonkwo secured the doubs competition with a 6-2 victory over Loren Byers and Sam Bossem, representing the Nittany Lions.

    Chicago Latin alum Nic Meister chalked up the first singles win of the evening for the Illini defeating Bhatnagar, 6-2, 6-1.

    Playing on the top court, Ozolins consistently pounded out 120+ mph serves, frustrating Morgan to a 6-1, 6-4 finish.

    The Illini earned their fourth point after Okonkwo took down Penn State's Stefan Simeunovic, 6-2, 6-4.

    The Illini, now 1-0 in conference play, face national tennis powerhouse Ohio State on Sunday at noon.

    BOX SCORE

    Illinois 4, Penn State 0

    Doubles
    1. #49 Karlis Ozolins/Hunter Heck (ILL) def. Charl Morgan/Malik Bhatnagar (PSU) 6-3
    2. #56 Mathis Debru/Oliver Okonkwo (ILL) def. Loren Byers/Sam Bossem (PSU) 6-2
    3. Alex Petrov/Kenta Miyoshi (ILL) vs. Stefan Simeunovic/Miko Eala (PSU) 5-2, unfinished

    Singles
    1. #33 Karlis Ozolins (ILL) def. Charl Morgan (PSU) 6-1, 6-4
    2. Alex Petrov (ILL) vs. Loren Byers (PSU) 6-0, 5-2, unfinished
    3. Hunter Heck (ILL) vs. Miko Eala (PSU) 3-6, 1-4, unfinished
    4. William Mroz (ILL) vs. Sam Bossem (PSU) 4-6, 3-2, unfinished
    5. Oliver Okonkwo (ILL) def. Stefan Simeunovic (PSU) 6-2, 6-4
    6. Nic Meister (ILL) def. Malik Bhatnagar (PSU) 6-2, 6-1

    Two healthy snack options for families on the go

    Healthy snack for kids
    Photo provided

    Family Features - School days offer nearly endless opportunities for learning and exploration in the classroom, but education doesn’t have to end with the final bell. Parents can ensure their students feel energetic, creative and confident by inspiring snack choices that are as smart as they are fun to make together.

    Whether you’re whipping up a snack to send to school or your little learners need an energy boost before starting afternoon homework, creative snacking can help encourage inspiration. As a trusted ally with better-for-you and convenient whole-fruit lunchbox snacks kids can enjoy, Sun-Maid offers these easy tips and ways to embrace the fun side of snack time.

    • Keep It Simple: Look for recipes with five ingredients or less so your children can show their artful nature without becoming overwhelmed. Plus, this often leads to a more budget-friendly at-home treat.
    • Shop Together: Gathering ingredients and equipment is an important part of any recipe, and bringing your future chefs along helps them feel like it’s their creation from start to finish. Additionally, some important life lessons can be learned along the way, like how to navigate the store and compare costs.
    • Provide Kid-Friendly Instructions: There are many ways kids can lend a hand in making their own snacks, like mixing ingredients, washing produce or arranging a plate or platter. However, some steps are best left to the adults – make sure to do any cutting, slicing or dicing before letting children take the reins, for example, then just enjoy the creative fun.

    With childhood favorites like crackers, marshmallows and vanilla yogurt covered raisins, Gimme S'mores Trail Mix offers a perfect way to get young minds thinking in the kitchen. A little guidance is all it takes to teach them each step of the recipe to make a crafty, delicious treat. Plus, with only a few simple ingredients that just need to be mixed together, it’s a low-stress, low-mess way to cook up creativity.

    For a healthier version of a snack time superstar, Apple Nachos combine sweet apples like Honeycrisp, peanut butter and versatile, whole-fruit Sun-Maid Raisins. Naturally made with nothing but grapes and California sunshine, these sweet raisins have been trusted as a better-for-you snack for kids and grown-up kids alike since 1912.

    With zero grams of added sugars, they give parents the confidence they need to choose snacks that provide both great taste and nutrition for a happy and healthy family. As a household staple, they can be enjoyed as part of tasty recipes or as a standalone treat kids crave and parents approve.

    Find more sweet ideas to inspire confidence and creativity at sunmaid.com.

    Gimme S’mores Trail Mix

    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Servings: 6

    • 1/2 cup Sun-Maid Vanilla Yogurt Covered Raisins
    • 3 cups graham crackers, assorted flavors
    • 1 1/2 cups colored mini marshmallows
    • 2 cups slivered almonds
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    1. In large bowl, mix raisins, graham crackers, marshmallows, almonds and chocolate chips.
    2. Serve immediately, or store in airtight container up to 1 week.


    Delicious apple nachos

    Photo provided

    Apple Nachos

    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook time: 1 minute
    Servings: 4

    • 5 sweet apples, such as Honeycrisp
    • lemon juice (optional)
    • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup Sun-Maid California Sun-Dried Raisins
    1. Wash and slice apples.
    2. Arrange one layer of sliced apples on serving plate. To keep apples from browning quickly, squeeze lemon juice on top, if desired.
    3. In microwave, melt peanut butter about 30 seconds until smooth.
    4. Drizzle 1 tablespoon peanut butter over first layer of apples. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup raisins.
    5. Repeat with remaining apples, peanut butter and raisins.
    SOURCE:
    Sun-Maid Raisins

    8th Grade Honor Roll announced from Unity Junior High School


    TOLONO - Unity Junior High School announced the 8th grade recipients achieving Honor Roll and High Honor Roll status for their academic performance during the third quarter. Congratulations to all the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.


    High Honor Roll

    Dominic Russell Baxley
    Alex Martin Bromley
    Clare Faustina Bryant
    Cadence Marie Chandler
    Caleb Benjamin Coy
    Hudson Lee DeHart
    Danika Ann Eisenmenger
    Allison Renee Fenter
    Journey Maddison Gabbard
    Bailee Mae Gadeken
    Colton Ray Harmon
    Dustin Rose Harris
    Avery Nicole Kamradt
    Kathryn Clara Knoll
    Brooklyn Marie Mumm
    Evan Alexander Puckett
    Adam Lucas Reedy
    Ethan Daniel Schaefer
    Lane Edward Sexton
    Allyson Lynn Shaw
    Evalyn Alexandra Skibbe
    Piper Estelle Staley
    Grace Lynne Tempel
    Leah Marianne Watson
    Elizabeth Johnna Wayne
    Grace Ann Wherley
    Rylan Kade Wolf


    Honor Roll

    Grace Michele Bickers
    Wyatt Leon Blanchard
    Paige Nicole Bradley
    Matthew James Brady
    Maddix Jacob David Briggs
    Kydie L Cain
    Berkley Jane Cloud
    Noah Seyha Conde
    Ryan Joseph Cunningham
    Braedyn Lucas Dalton
    Addison Tyler Davis
    Austin Michael Drewes
    Reese Bella Frye
    Ava Nicole Grace
    Olivia Ashlyn Hall
    Walker Dale Hall
    Ava Fay Jones
    Hailey Anne Keck
    Rush Matthew Little
    Cash Cohen McCann
    Carson Wesley McCune
    Audrey Claire McDaniel
    Landrey Michelle Mohr
    Nicole Elizabeth Paeth
    Sadie Jane Polonus
    Max Warren Rossi
    Austin Paul Scott
    Alyssa Renae Shields
    Isaac Benjamin Siegwald
    Gabrielle Marie Spanglo
    Jacob Michael Ward
    Jonathan Dean Warren
    Maggie Jean Weckle
    Camden William Wood
    Addison Danielle Wyatt
    Joel Mitchell Yergler
    Kendal Lea Zerrusen

    Unity Junior High 7th Grade Honor Roll


    TOLONO - Last week, Unity Junior High School announced the names of seventh-grade students who achieved honor roll and high honor roll status after the third quarter. Congratulations to the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.


    High Honor Roll

    Joseph William Willard Baird
    Patrick Benjamin Baxley
    Beckam Krystopher-Wayde Brown
    Brilynn Creola Cain
    Jackson Christopher Cheely
    Shamya Merari Davis
    Soren Lovell Davis
    Andrew Patrick Donovan
    Dillon Michael Ellars
    Kaylee Grace Estes
    Carson David Fairbanks
    Reagan Elizabeth Lisle Fisher
    Mackinzee Brooke Gumm
    Hallie Lynn Handal
    Jordan Stephen Harmon
    Tessa Lynn Horn
    Karleigh Grace Jamison
    Lincoln Banner Johnson
    Joseph Brooks Kamradt
    Khison Able Kern
    Tatum Anne Kirby
    Bryan Michael Kleiss
    Nolan Mark Tempel Meharry
    Dalton Robert Moose
    Rhianna Olivia Ocasio
    Kandace Lachelle Reed
    Mia Lynn Reifsteck
    JaNiyla Nicole Robinson
    Caleb Arthur Saxon
    Carter Charles Schmid
    Sophia Grace Seidlitz
    Ian James Skibbe
    Lillie Jean Vanderpool
    Kole David VanSickle
    Gavin James Warren
    Sawyer Allen Franks Weller
    John William White
    Austin James Wiersema
    Olivia Ann Williams
    Olivia Ruth Witheft
    Aydrean Wood
    Cole Thomas Zorns


    Honor Roll

    Cameron Pierre Barnes
    Cooper Charles Beckett
    Brayden Michael Burke
    Sadie Jo Carpenter
    Madison Grace Castor
    Skyler Andrew Chilton
    Kinzey Nicole Duitsman
    Nolan Myles Elliott
    Haley Elizabeth Ennis
    Cohen Fincham
    Zoe Margaret Fish
    Shae Lin Fournier
    Brady Cullen Harris
    Roman James Hastings
    McKenzie Kathryn Heiple
    Brooke Raelynn Henson
    Joel Ryan Hoewing
    Jax Hunter Logsdon
    Tysen Mac McConaha
    Clint Michael McCormick
    Payten Renee Niles
    Larissa Marie Parr
    Clayton Wyatt Pruitt
    Journee Lynn Ring
    Lillian Yvonne Ring
    Riley May Schendel
    Caleb Joshua Siegwald
    Bradley Scott Smith Jr
    Adilynn Michelle Wilson
    Reece Earl Winfrey
    Makaylah Winland

    Unity Junior High 6th Grade Honor Roll


    TOLONO - Last week, Unity Junior High School announced the names of sixth-grade students who achieved honor roll and high honor roll status in the third quarter. Congratulations to the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.


    High Honor Roll

    Kenny Wayne Adcock
    Lilly Annabelle Bailes
    Brooklyn Blair Bates
    Ethan Earl Bent
    Elizabeth Joanne Berkey
    Katherine Elaine Berkey
    Konnor Lewis Bletscher
    Sylvia Lola Cahill
    Kale Boden Cowan
    Trevor Daniel Coy
    Alec Joseph Daly
    Amelia Marie Good
    Hayden Bradley Grussing
    Aubrie Paige Gumm
    Jordan Elizabeth Hamilton
    Kynedy Ashlynn Hoel
    Alivia Krall
    Adeline Marie Marinelli
    Lilly Madelyn Meharry
    Ellery Merkle
    Jacklynn Kay Alexandra Moore
    Kelvin Justus Moose
    Holden William ONeill
    Carolina Maria Pagaduan Popovics
    Luc Sandor Marcelo Popovics
    Maxwell Douglas Powers
    Marina Ray Price
    Maya Alexis Rawdin
    Bella Rose Robbins
    Skylar Grace Savona
    Vivian Rosalie Shunk
    Jasper Lee Souza
    Dylan Robert Stierwalt
    Olivia Jane Styan
    Jack Christopher Terven
    Deklyn James Thomas
    Hayley Olivia Thompson
    Cassandra Pearl Thweatt
    Charles Reider Watson
    Quentin Stephen Webber
    Hallee Ann Weber Patterson
    Henry Joseph White
    Ethan Matthew Wishall
    Ashton Jace Wolf


    Honor Roll

    Kelsey Marie Adcock
    Carter Ryan Bickers
    Christian Cremeens
    McKenzie Lynn Deakin
    Emma Nicole Denney
    Sophia Hope Dillman
    Evan Matthew Donaldson
    Jase Charles Eisenmenger
    Levi Amari Flowers
    Ian Robert Gaines
    Jaxson Edward Glad
    Samuel Bentley Hollett
    Owen Dean Hottman
    Kaiyanna Renee LeForge
    Cora Dee Leonard
    Jauniyah Rosemarie Lisanby
    Russell Patrick McCabe
    Scarlet Rosemary McCann
    Lane Lucas Meharry
    Tatum Faith Meharry
    Baeden Edward Millsap-Moore
    Lillian Calen Mohr
    Hayden Andrew Moore
    Alexis Nicole OBryan
    Marley Rae Parks
    Jaxon David Pendleton
    Henry Scott Ritchie
    Madelyn Olivia Roth-Robertson
    Sophia Isabella Schuckman
    Connor Allen Schwartz-Rouse
    Austin David Shafer
    Hayden Dale Smith
    Tucker Douglas Stierwalt
    Virgil Laurence Summitt
    Jayden Michael Terven
    Lucas Neal Williams
    Olivia Lynn Wilson
    Adam Scott Wolken

    Smart devices are triggering a real pain in the neck for some people

    by Paul Arco
    OSF Healthcare

    ROCKFORD - Technology is all around us. From our laptops to tablets, many of us are consumed with our gadgets for hours on end. In fact, various reports say the average person in the United States spends between five and 10 hours each day on their smartphones, computers, video games, and TVs.

    But with all this screen time comes potential health problems. A condition known as “tech neck” is the stressing of the muscles while looking down at items such as phones or computers for long periods of time.

    “Technology which is affecting your neck is the best way I can put it," says Dr. Nandini Chattopadhyay, a family practice physician with OSF HealthCare. "Technology can mean phones, iPhones, tablets, computers and their overall effect on the neck, shoulders, upper back, which has been a problem in the recent years and that’s what tech neck is all about.”

    Some are calling this problem the new carpal tunnel syndrome.

    “In tech neck, we see the neck being affected because of the technology," says Dr. Chattopadhyay.  "More often than not, it's the nerves which are running from the back of the head to your neck and shoulders, which becomes weak because of the way that people do these activities and looking at technology devices. The relationship between nerve and pain in terms of neck is now called the new carpal tunnel of this era.”

    Tech neck affects both adults and children, but symptoms vary and can be different for each person, says Dr. Chattopadhyay, who has treated patients as young as five. The repetitive strain on the bones, nerves, and muscles caused by looking down at a phone or laptop, for example, can cause joint inflammation, pinched nerves, arthritis, and even herniated discs.

    So if I started at the head, then it can be headaches, changes in vision and needing glasses at a much younger age than what you would usually need," says Dr. Chattopadhyay. "Then it’s a lot of neck stiffness, then weakness of your upper back. A lot of tension of the muscles on the upper back. Gradually the pain goes all the way down to the lower back and then you feel numbness and tingling in your arms. These are some of the common symptoms that I see.”


    Nandini Chattopadhyay, MD

    There are ways to prevent tech neck, such as maintaining good posture, using a smartphone holder, investing in a monitor stand and asking your doctor about physical therapy. The good news is there are treatments that can be effective for tech neck. There’s no need to live with pain if it can be treated, says Dr. Chattopadhyay.

    “The management of this comes with the awareness," she adds. "So daily exercises, making sure you're moving around, and have the ability to take breaks from technology devices. That's very important if you're working on the computer every day, then take one or two hours just to yourself to do regular exercises where you're not looking at the computer screen.”

    Our phones and other devices are important tools and there’s no reason to give them up, Dr. Chattopadhyay adds. But she does recommends holding the phone at eye level to help reduce the strain. But if you continue to experience any pain, it might be time to visit your doctor.

    Illinois tennis programs have four remaining home matches this season

    URBANA - Tonight, the nationally ranked Fighting Illini men's tennis team host the Penn State at Atkins Tennis Center. The action starts at 6pm.

    This is just one of four home Big 10 matches for Illinois, who were ranked 19th in the country by the ITA after beating unranked Baylor and Abilene Christian, dropped to #21 after surprising 4-1 loss to Texas Christian University last Sunday.

    If you can't make tonight's contest, the Illini are back on the court at noon on Sunday to face rival Ohio State. So far, the Buckeyes (13-4) posted a 2-1 record during the month of March and hope to drive east unscathed by the 15-7 Illinois program led by long-time head coach Brad Dancer.

    The Illini are at home again on Friday, April 14, at 6pm against the Wisconsin Badgers and face Nebraska for Senior Day on Sunday, April 16, at noon.

    The women's program also has four home Big 10 matches remaining this season. Ranked at #35, the Illini women (10-5) split its Spring Break matches against Arizona (#57) and New Mexico State at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona, a week ago this past Tuesday.

    Illinois faces Michigan State on March 31 and Michigan on April 1 for hard-hitting tennis action at Atkins. Their home Big 10 schedule conclude with a twin bill weekend against Nebraska on April 11 and Iowa at noon on April 23.

    Admission to both tennis team's home matches is free. Illinois tennis matches are great opportunity for high school and local recreational players of all ages to enjoy high-level play and the energy of collegiate tennis.

    Guest Commentary | Addictions and mental illnesses are issues that people are afraid to address

    by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


    Honesty is not always the easiest path but it’s usually the most loving path.

    Let’s say you have a loved one or friend who is diabetic but they eat crazy stuff every day from pizza to cookies to soda pop without regard for personal health. Is it best for you to treat them to treats containing white flour and sugar every chance you can or to have a talk with them? Of course, you run the risk of hurting feelings or making the person angry but chances are they are going to die sooner than they should. It’s best to try to save the person’s life by being honest. You don’t have to cut the person’s head off with a verbal assault or face slapping rhetoric.

    Love doesn’t attack people. You shouldn’t get preachy because this runs most people away. Simply preface your remarks by saying, “I’m your friend. I care about you and your life. I want you to live a long time. However, if you don’t stop eating what you eat all the time you are probably going to shorten your life.” This could pertain to any negative activity or addiction.

    Having serious conversations with people is not easy. We are all busy. We aren’t close enough to most people to be this direct. Plus, we really have to care a lot about someone to be lovingly honest. We run the risk of the friendship becoming strained or evenly totally severed. The bottom line is do you care enough to be honest? Plus, don’t ever start making life recommendations to someone unless you truly love the person and are willing to help the individual work through the issues.

    It’s easier to let people continue on their negative path to self destruction. Fast food and unhealthy food items are unfortunately much more affordable. It’s not cheap to eat healthy. It’s not cheap to be sick either. Medical bills can pile up quickly. Trips to the doctor are expensive. Diabetic medications are expensive. Kidney issues result in dealth for many Americans every year. Funerals are expensive. Giving up a good friend or family member is life changing.

    Disease happens to us all in some way. These bodies are very vulnerable to cancer, diabetes and so on.

    Chances are you may have tried. Most likely you have talked your head off to someone you love but they continue in their negative behavior. It seems many people under 50 can’t fathom sickness or death. The consequences of their behavior seem remote or even impossible. Thus they continue on their way.

    Of course we all have to look in the mirror. We all wrestle with our private and public demons. Most of us know we aren’t perfect and if we take a serious inventory of our lives and habits we realize we all come away short of perfection, this is especially true of me. I have lots of personal work to do and it’s all I can do to try to do my own daily diagnosis and repair work. This is why we don’t take the time to try to help others; we have enough problems of our own.

    Therefore, this is why you have to really care a lot about someone to take the time to try to help the person.

    If you had the gift of premonition and could keep someone from being killed in an accident you wouldn’t hesitate to speak with them about it. So, why, if you can help someone address personal issues/addictions that might be deadly, wouldn’t you try? Unfortunately, addictions and mental illnesses are issues that people seem to be afraid to address. If someone you love was inside a burning building, most of us would risk our own lives to rush in and save them.

    Why is it so hard to risk hurt feelings to save a life?


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    Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of Grandpa's Store, American Issues, and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.

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    This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


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    Is your small business ready for the next pandemic lockdown?

    Photo: Tetiana SHYSHKINA/Unsplash
    SNS - As the lasting effects of COVID-19 become more and more apparent, many business owners are asking themselves how they might prepare for the next pandemic. For this reason, it is important that business owners have a plan in place for the future.

    This can include a variety of different solutions. Most of them involve optimizing existing practices in addition to developing new strategies. With a solid strategy in place, you can ensure the company is able to ride out any disruptions.

    Furthermore, businesses can take proactive measures now and remain proactive throughout any further lockdowns. This will allow them to mitigate their losses and decrease the overall impact of any future pandemic. That is why, In this article, we'll take a look at some helpful guidelines to keep in mind as you prepare for potential pandemics.

    1. Review Your Business Operations

    Reviewing your business operations is a critical step in preparing for a potential lockdown. Assessing your business model to ensure it's sustainable during a lockdown, identifying which products or services can be offered remotely, and evaluating how your supply chain may be impacted can help you determine which aspects of your business need to be adjusted to maintain operations.

    Assessing your business model involves taking a close look at how your business functions and what changes may need to be made in order to continue operating during a lockdown. This is especially important if you are running a small business. For example, if your business relies heavily on foot traffic, you may need to consider new marketing strategies or offering online services to continue generating revenue.

    Photo:Microsoft 365/Unsplash

    2. Examine Your First Reaction to COVID-19

    How did you handle prior lockdowns, and where did you make mistakes?

    The first thing you must do is to revise your pandemic preparations if necessary. If you can identify the points at which your company's response is stalled, you can take steps to fortify your business continuity plan. Vaccines, for example, are more readily available today than in 2020. However, since the window of opportunity to receive the vaccine is small, vaccinating your staff now can be a good first step in preparing for the next outbreak.

    3. Take Your Businesses Online

    As a precaution against the global spread of COVID-19, several nations have instituted mandatory lockdowns, requiring workers in many industries to work remotely. Because of this, now more than ever, we are dependent on technology to do our jobs. That's why there's been a surge in money spent on new technologies. Companies that want to survive have adapted by allowing their workers the flexibility to do some or all of their duties from the comfort of their own homes.

    This means that if you wish to prepare for the next pandemic, you have to create a hybrid work model. While this may seem like a bad thing, it is not. It will allow you to downsize and save money on rent. That said, if you decide to downsize and move your office someplace else, you should know about some challenges that can come during this process. 

    4. Use Technology to Augment, Not Replace, People

    Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, technology has allowed us to reevaluate how we go about even the most basic tasks. While the stock market's trading floors were closed, the market itself continued to function. For instance, the United Kingdom's Parliament now exists online.

    Virtual call centers are proliferating all over the globe, and some of them even utilize AI. They use it to keep up with the volume of calls and the quality of service they provide.

    These advances are remarkable, but many of the technologies and tools we are now getting a crash course in — like Microsoft Teams or Zoom — have the potential to allow us to achieve much more.

    Rather than integrating technology with the existing workforce, many companies' first instinct is to replace employees with machines. Company heads should take advantage of the current time to consider how their companies may better use technology to enhance human capabilities in order to boost productivity, enrich the lives of their workers, satisfy their consumers, and stimulate economic expansion.

    5. Devise a Lockdown Exit Strategy

    The gross domestic product of several countries has recently plummeted as a result of the pandemic. For this reason, Governments are seriously considering certain lockdown escape strategies. These strategies will enable them to reboot economies while minimizing losses.

    In a similar vein, companies will need to find out how to resume normal operations while still prioritizing the safety of their employees and coping with the immediate fallout of the lockdown. Planning is necessary for employees' eventual return to the office, as well as for any visits to customers' locations.

    Since few businesses would return to the same working and customer service habits they had before 2020, we can anticipate short-term effects on productivity, prices, and employee morale. Additionally, in order to switch vendors quickly and easily, businesses may need to make their supply chains more agile and flexible.

    6. Upskill and Cross-Train the Workforce

    If you want to prepare for the next pandemic, you must look at cross-training their staff to guarantee the smooth running of the firm. This will provide them with more adaptability and a quicker turnaround when redeploying personnel.

    That said, a skills audit may help firms gain insight into their staff's collective expertise. This tool can help you identify areas where your employees lack the necessary skills or where one person's absence could cause a coverage gap. With this information, you will be able to ensure that your business can function no matter what happens.

    Conclusion

    Now you know that if you want to prepare for the next pandemic, you need to plan carefully and have effective communication and flexibility. Reviewing your business operations, creating a contingency plan, investing in technology, and communicating effectively with customers and employees can help you weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

    By taking these steps, you can position your business for success even in the face of unexpected challenges. With the right preparation, your business can not only survive but thrive in the midst of a lockdown.


    Eye disease can affect more than just your vision, low vision can affect other aspects of your life

    Photo courtesy NAPSI
    NAPSI -- Eye disease affects more than your ability to see the world clearly. People with impaired vision face an increased risk of falls, fractures, injuries, depression, anxiety, cognitive deficits and social isolation. One of the best ways to protect yourself against vision loss from eye disease is to get regular eye exams.

    Ophthalmologists—physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care—have more tools than ever before to diagnose eye diseases earlier, and to treat them better. But these advances cannot help people whose disease is undiagnosed, or who are unaware of the seriousness of their disease.

    That’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends all adults receive a comprehensive eye exam by age 40, and every year or two after age 65.

    Here’s how low vision can affect nearly every aspect of your life:

    1. Depression and social isolation. Being unable to drive, read, enjoy hobbies or see loved ones’ faces is frightening and can lead some people to withdraw from life, leaving them feeling helpless or lonely. One study found that after being diagnosed with a vision-threatening eye disease, a person’s chance of experiencing depression triples.

    2. Dementia. Several studies suggest a connection between eye disease and dementia. While the cause is unclear, it’s possible some eye diseases interfere with the brain’s sensory pathways. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to prevent vision loss.

    3. Injuries from falls. People with decreased vision are more likely to misstep and fall. Every year, about 3 million older Americans are treated for injuries from falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these falls are caused by low vision. Luckily there are some changes around the house people can make, such as grouping furniture together and increasing lighting. Seeing an ophthalmologist regularly and making sure your glasses are updated with your latest prescription are important safety precautions as well.

    Can’t Afford an Eye Exam? EyeCare America® Can Help.

    For individuals age 65 or older who are concerned about their risk of eye disease and/or the cost of an eye exam, you may be eligible for a medical eye exam, often at no out-of-pocket cost, through the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America® program. This public service program matches volunteer ophthalmologists with eligible patients in need of eye care across the United States. To see if you or a loved one qualifies, visit www.aao.org/eyecare-america to determine your eligibility.

    Experts say environmental tests after Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine wasn't enough,

    New York -- Last month, Brenda Foster stood on the railroad tracks at the edge of her yard in East Palestine, Ohio, and watched a smoky inferno billow from the wreckage of a derailed train. The chemicals it was carrying — and the fire that consumed them — were so toxic that the entire area had to evacuate. Foster packed up her 87-year-old mother, and they fled to stay with relatives.

    With a headache, sore throat, burning eyes and a cough, Foster returned home five days later — as soon as authorities allowed. So when she saw on TV that there was a hotline for residents with health concerns, she dialed as soon as the number popped up on the screen.

    What she didn’t realize is that the page of test results that put her mind at ease didn’t come from the government or an independent watchdog.

    The people who arrived offered to test the air inside her home for free. She was so eager to learn the results, she didn’t look closely at the paper they asked her to sign. Within minutes of taking measurements with a hand-held machine, one of them told her they hadn’t detected any harmful chemicals. Foster moved her mother back the same day.

    What she didn’t realize is that the page of test results that put her mind at ease didn’t come from the government or an independent watchdog. CTEH, the contractor that provided them, was hired by Norfolk Southern, the operator of the freight train that derailed.

    And, according to several independent experts consulted by ProPublica in collaboration with the Guardian, the air testing results did not prove their homes were truly safe. Erin Haynes, a professor of environmental health at the University of Kentucky, said the air tests were inadequate in two ways: They were not designed to detect the full range of dangerous chemicals the derailment may have unleashed, and they did not sample the air long enough to accurately capture the levels of chemicals they were testing for.

    “It’s almost like if you want to find nothing, you run in and run out,” Haynes said.

    About a quarter century ago, the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health was founded by four scientists who all had done consulting work for tobacco companies or lawyers defending them. Now known by its acronym, CTEH quickly became a go-to contractor for corporations responsible for industrial disasters. Its bread and butter is train crashes and derailments. The company has been accused repeatedlyof downplaying health risks.

    In since-deleted marketing on its website, CTEH once explained how the data it gathers about toxic chemicals can be used later to shield its clients from liability in cases brought by people who say they were harmed: “A carrier of chemicals may be subjected to legal claims as a result of a real or imagined release. Should this happen, appropriate meteorological and chemical data, recorded and saved ... may be presented as powerful evidence to assist in the litigation or potentially preclude litigation.”

    Despite this track record, this company has been put in charge of allaying residents’ concerns about health risks and has publicly presented a rosy assessment.

    It was CTEH, not the Environmental Protection Agency, that designed the testing protocol for the indoor air tests.

    And it is CTEH, not the government, that runs the hotline residents are directed to call with concerns about odors, fumes or health problems. Local and federal officials, including the EPA, funnel the scared and sick to company representatives.

    In a statement, Paul Nony, CTEH’s principal toxicologist and senior vice president, said the company has responded to thousands of incidents, and its environmental monitoring and sampling follows plans approved and directed by the incident commanders of each response. “Our highly skilled, certified specialists include Ph.D. toxicologists, masters in public health, industrial hygienists and safety professionals, as well as hazardous materials and registered environmental managers,” he wrote.

    He added that CTEH has been “working side-by-side” with the EPA in East Palestine “and comparing data collected in the community and in people’s homes to ensure that we are all working with the most accurate data.” Hotline callers receive information, Nony wrote, that is “based on the latest data collected by CTEH and EPA, vetted together to ensure the accuracy of the public health information provided.”

    The circumstances of the testing are unclear. The EPA said its representatives have, indeed, accompanied CTEH to residents’ homes, overseen the company’s indoor air tests and performed side-by-side testing with their own equipment. But some residents told ProPublica that even though multiple people came to their doors, only one person had measuring equipment. An agency spokesperson said CTEH’s testing protocol “was reviewed and commented on by EPA and state and federal health agencies.”

    Stephen Lester, a toxicologist who has helped communities respond to environmental crises since the Love Canal disaster in upstate New York in the 1970s, said he was concerned about Norfolk Southern’s role in deciding how environmental testing is done in East Palestine. “The company is responsible for the costs of cleaning up this accident,” Lester said. “And if they limit the extent of how we understand its impact, their liability will be less.”

    An EPA spokesperson said that the federal blueprint for responding to such emergencies requires responsible parties, in this case Norfolk Southern, to do the work — not just pay for it. But the agency has the authority to perform or require its own testing.

    The relationship between CTEH and Norfolk Southern wasn’t clear to several residents ProPublica interviewed. Before testing begins, people are asked to sign a form authorizing the “Monitoring Team,” which the document says includes Norfolk Southern, “its contractors, environmental professionals, including CTEH LLC, and assisting local, state, and federal agencies.” An earlier version of the form included a confusing sentence that suggested that whoever signed was waiving their right to sue. Norfolk Southern said that was a mistake and pulled those forms.

    In a written response to questions, Norfolk Southern said it “has been transparent about representing CTEH as a contractor for Norfolk Southern from day one of our response to the incident.” The company also pointed to a map on its website displaying CTEH’s outdoor air-monitoring results that says “Client: Norfolk Southern” in tiny type in the corner. “We are committed to working with the community and the EPA to do what is right for the residents of East Palestine,” a Norfolk Southern spokesperson wrote in an email.

    When told by a reporter that the contractor, CTEH, was hired by the rail company, Foster’s face fell. “I had no clue,” she said. Looking back, she said, the people who came to her door never said anything about Norfolk Southern. They didn’t give her a copy of the paper that she had signed.

    Before the derailment, East Palestine offered its 4,700 residents some of the best in small-town life. Its streets are lined with trees and charming houses. After school, kids played in the street, in the well-maintained park or in its affordable swimming pool. At Sprinklz on Top, a diner in the center of town, you can get a full dinner for less than $10.

    Everything changed after the Feb. 3 derailment and the subsequent decision to purposefully ignite the chemicals, sending a toxic mushroom cloud over the town. Dead fish floated in local waterways, and “Pray for EP” signs appeared in many windows. Furniture is piled up on the curbs. Foster said some of her neighbors are replacing theirs because of concerns about contamination. But the 57-year-old, who works shifts painting firebrick, says she doesn’t have the money to do that. So she has come up with a solution she hopes will reduce her exposure: She sits in a single chair.

    Tests May Miss Some Dangers

    From the earliest days of the disaster, CTEH’s work has been at the center of the rail company’s reassuring messages about safety. Norfolk Southern’s “Making it Right” website cites CTEH data when stating that local air and drinking water are safe. (An EPA spokesperson said the agency has not “signed off” on any of Norfolk Southern’s statements “with regard to health risks based on results of sampling.”)

    A video posted on Norfolk Southern’s YouTube account shows footage of a man in a CTEH baseball cap looking carefully at testing machinery. “All of our air monitoring and sampling data collectively do not indicate any short- or long-term risks,” a CTEH toxicologist says.

    According to the EPA, CTEH’s indoor air testing in East Palestine consists of a one-time measurement of what is known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These airborne chemicals can cause dizziness and nausea, and, over the long term, some VOCs can cause cancer. Vinyl chloride, a VOC that was carried by the derailed train and later ignited, can cause dizziness and headachesand increase the incidence of a rare form of liver cancer, according to the EPA. The machine that CTEH uses in East Palestine captures VOCs if they’re above 0.1 parts per million, but it doesn’t say which specific compounds are present.

    CTEH said that when VOCs are detected, the company then tests for vinyl chloride. According to the EPA, the indoor testing has detected VOCs in 108 buildings before Feb. 21 and 12 buildings after that. Follow-up tests found no vinyl chloride, according to CTEH and the EPA. CTEH’s Nony said, “CTEH has not considered conducting long-term VOC air sampling in the homes because real-time air monitoring results do not indicate a significant impact of VOCs related to the derailment in the homes.”

    But five experts on the health effects of chemicals consulted for this story said that the failure to detect VOCs should not be interpreted to mean that people’s homes are necessarily safe.

    “VOCs are not the only chemicals that could have been in the air,” said Haynes, the environmental health professor. Haynes also said that because the testing was a snapshot — as opposed to an assessment made over several days — it would not be expected to detect VOCs at most household levels.

    Many of the toxic chemicals that were airborne in the early days after the derailment, including pollutants that can cause cancer and other serious problems, may have settled out of the air and onto furniture and into crevices in houses, Haynes said. So she also recommended testing surfaces for compounds that could have been created by the burning of vinyl chloride, such as aromatic hydrocarbons, including the carcinogen benzene. Young children who play on the floor are especially vulnerable, Haynes added.

    Even a week after the derailment, Haynes said VOCs likely would have dissipated. “To keep the focus on the air is almost smoke and mirrors,” she said. “Like, ‘Hey, the air is fine!’ Of course it’s going to be fine. Now you should be looking for where those chemicals went. They did not disappear. They are still in the environment.”

    In addition, Dr. Ted Schettler, science director at the Science and Environmental Health Network, noted that some VOCs can cause symptoms at levels below 0.1 parts per million, which CTEH’s tests wouldn’t capture. Schettler gave the example of butyl acrylate, one of the chemicals that was carried by the derailed train. “The symptoms are irritation of the eyes and throats, headaches and nausea,” he said.

    In its statement, Nony acknowledged that some homes in East Palestine had the odor of butyl acrylate, but he said that “current testing results do not indicate levels that would be associated with health effects.”

    Health experts are particularly concerned about dioxins in East Palestine because the compounds can cause health problems, including cancer. The combustion of vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride, two of the chemicals that were on the train and burned after it derailed, have been known to produce dioxins.

    But, in his statement, Nony dismissed the idea that the incident could have created dioxins “at a significant concentration” and said testing for the compounds was unwarranted. The company based that assessment on air monitoring it did with the EPA when the chemicals were purposefully set on fire; they were looking for two other chemicals that are produced by burning vinyl chloride.

    Last week, the EPA said it would require Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins in the soil in East Palestine. And the agency has since released a plan for soil sampling to be carried out by another Norfolk Southern contractor. But some are arguing that the EPA should do the testing itself — and should have done it much earlier.

    Results Used to Deny Relief

    The results of CTEH’s tests in East Palestine were used at one point to deny a family’s reimbursement for hotel and relocation costs. Zsuzsa Gyenes, who lives about a mile from the derailment site, said she began to feel ill a few hours after the accident. “It felt like my brain was smacking into my skull. I got very disoriented, nauseous. And my skin started tingling,” she said. Her 9-year-old son also became sick. “He was projectile puking and shaking violently,” said Gyenes, who was especially concerned about his breathing because he has been hospitalized several times for asthma. “He was gasping for air.”

    Gyenes, her partner and son left for a hotel. At first, Norfolk Southern reimbursed the family for the stay, food and other expenses. The company even covered the cost of a remote-controlled car that Gyenes bought to cheer up her son, who was devastated because he was unable to attend school and missed the Valentine’s Day party.

    But the reimbursements stopped after Gyenes got her air tested by CTEH. Gyenes was handed a piece of paper with a CTEH logo showing that the company did not detect any VOCs.

    The next time Gyenes brought her receipts to the emergency assistance center, she said she was told that no expenses incurred after her air had been tested would be reimbursed because the air was safe.

    A post office clerk, Gyenes described her financial situation as “bleeding out.” Nevertheless, she continued to foot the hotel bill. “I still feel sick every time I go back into town,” she said.

    When she called the hotline, she got upset when she said a CTEH toxicologist told her that there was no way her headache, chest pain, tingling or nausea could be related to the derailment.

    ProPublica asked Norfolk Southern about Gyenes’ situation. A spokesperson said the company reimbursed her $5,000, including some lodging and food expenses, after the initial air tests even though the company said her home is outside the evacuation zone. It noted that Gyenes used “abusive language” when questioning the toxicologist. (Gyenes acknowledged that she called her a “liar.”)

    Norfolk Southern said it is working with local and federal authorities to arrange another test of the air in her home. “We’ll continue to work with every affected community member toward being comfortable back in their homes, including this resident,” a Norfolk Southern spokesperson said in an email.

    After ProPublica asked about the family, Norfolk Southern restarted payments.

    On Wednesday, when Gyenes returned to the emergency assistance center, she said that she was given $1,000 on a prepaid card to cover lodging, food and gas.


    ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

    CATsNAP benefit raises money to address cat overpopulation and pet healthcare

    Elena Negruta and Ingrid Kammin
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    URBANA - Vocalists Elena Negruta and Ingrid Kammin preform a classical piece at the The CATsNAP Benefit Concert on Sunday afternoon at the Rose Bowl Tavern. The three-hour fundraiser also featured performances from the Church Street Ramblers, the Peter Tijerina Quintet, and Tania Arazi Coambs Trio. CATsNAP is a local cat shelter whose mission is to reduce pet overpopulation and improve the welfare of animals in Champaign County. The organization offers referrals for a low income spay/neuter service, assists with pet adoptions, and provides educational material to help pet owners care for their furry family members.

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