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Dry January: the benefits of abstaining from booze

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After imbibing liberally over the holiday season, many people decide to give up drinking in January. Whatever your reasons for taking on this challenge, here are some benefits that are likely to come from abstaining from alcohol.

1. General health
Excessive drinking can have a devastating impact on your health. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, liver disease and certain cancers are all potential consequences of long-term alcohol abuse. If you’ve been drinking more than you should, quitting for a month won’t turn back the clock, but it’s unlikely to do you any harm.

The biggest health benefit of abstaining from alcohol, however, is that it allows you to assess how you feel without it and reflect on your normal consumption habits. A month without booze may be the ticket you need to help you reset.

2. Sleep
Cutting out alcohol is likely to help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule. This, in turn, could allow you to feel more energized, which will help keep you motivated to go to the gym and eat well.

3. Immune system
There’s no evidence to suggest that abstaining from alcohol for a month will boost your immune system. However, being intoxicated temporarily suppresses it and leaves you vulnerable. In addition, long-term alcohol abuse causes inflammation throughout the body.

Drinking less is likely to trigger a domino effect leading to better sleep, more exercise and an overall healthier lifestyle, which together will have a positive influence on immunity.

4. Your relationship with alcohol
Once Dry January is over, you’ll be able to take stock of how you felt, both physically and psychologically, without alcohol. You might notice that you’re more energetic and motivated without the hangovers. Or, you may notice you don’t feel any different.

Remember that a month of abstinence won’t be much help if afterward you return to excessive consumption. Overall, it’s far better for your health to be a moderate drinker than one who fluctuates from one extreme to the other.

If you feel like you rely on alcohol to function, talk to a healthcare professional. Abruptly quitting on your own could cause potentially serious withdrawal symptoms.

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How to get rid of dust mites

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Have you recently been diagnosed with a dust mite allergy? Here’s how to evict them from your home.

Bedroom
Dust mites nest in fabrics and are often present in large numbers in the bedroom, particularly in bedding.

Bedding should be cleaned weekly and tumble dried on high heat for at least one hour. Curtains should be cleaned regularly, and the room should be vacuumed two to three times a week.

In addition, avoiding rugs and using dust mite-proof encasements for mattresses, pillows and duvets will drastically reduce allergen exposure.

Other rooms
Furniture with wooden, leather or vinyl surfaces will reduce the dust mite population, or at least ensure they don’t nest there. Note that vacuuming isn’t enough to get rid of them. Use a wet cloth to remove dust from the surfaces around the house. Finally, try to keep the relative humidity below 50 percent, as dust mites thrive in humid environments.

Controlling the dust mite population in your home will drastically reduce the intensity of any allergy symptoms. For additional advice, consult a health care professional.

What are dust mites?
Dust mites are microscopic members of the arachnid family that feed on dead skin and other particles. Their excrement is the cause of our allergic reactions.

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Spotting spoiled food: beyond the best-by date

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Is it safe to eat? While best-by dates are useful indicators, your senses are a much better way to gauge freshness. Here’s how to determine whether food is safe to eat.

• Dairy. Milk, yogurt, sour cream and other high-humidity dairy products should be chucked if they’ve separated, smell sour, have curdled or are showing even a hint of mold.

• Cheese. Hard and semi-soft cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar are fairly resistant to mold. If there’s only a little bit on the surface, you can cut off one inch around the affected area and eat the rest. Moldy soft cheeses should be discarded.

• Bread. Since mold spores can penetrate the porous surface of bread, a moldy loaf should be thrown out.

• Potatoes. Throw out any potato with green flesh. This is due to an accumulation of solanine, a toxic chemical naturally produced by potatoes. If the green coloration doesn’t extend below the skin, the potato is safe to eat once peeled. Make sure to remove eyes and sprouts and to throw out soft, moldy potatoes.

• Fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and veggies, like carrots and bell peppers, are too dense for mold to penetrate past the surface, so these are safe to eat once the affected spot is removed. Slimy, discolored and thoroughly moldy fruits and veggies should be thrown out.

• Eggs. Conduct a water test to determine freshness. If the egg sinks, it’s good. If it floats, toss it.

• Canned food. Throw out rusted or bulging cans, as well as those that have been punctured.

• Meat and fish. Minor discoloration is nothing to worry about. However, a slimy texture or an unusual smell are indicators of spoilage. The same is true of fresh fish, which should never smell fishy. Deli meats with a slimy coating should also be discarded.

Remember, best-by dates are indicators of freshness, not safety. However, if in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

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5 unexpected signs of heart disease

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Every February, the American Heart Association organizes Heart Month to help raise awareness about the warning signs and risk factors of heart disease. Though there are a number of more commonly recognized symptoms in¬cluding chest discomfort, dizziness, fainting and shortness of breath, here are five lesser known indicators of this type of disease.

1. Frank’s sign
Diagonal creases on the earlobes have been linked to having a higher risk of heart problems. This sign was first described by American physician Anders Frank, and it’s associated to arteriosclerosis, which is the buildup of pla¬que in the arteries, a common cause of heart attack.

2. Fatty bumps
Yellow, fatty bumps called xanthomas, which can appear on the knees, elbows, eyelids and buttocks, are a sign that someone has exceptionally high levels of lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. The medical conditions that cause them to form lead to the generation of fat deposits in arteries, which is why they may be an indicator of heart disease.

3. Nail clubbing
Digital clubbing is when the fingernails and tips of both hands become thicker and change shape. This occurs when there’s not enough blood reaching the extremities and the body reacts by producing a growth-promoting factor to compensate.

4. Iris halo
Nearly 45 percent of people over the age of 40 have a fatty ring around their iris. This number goes up to 70 percent for people over 60. These rings are associated with well-established coronary disease risk factors.

5. Blue lips
Lips can turn a blueish color in people with a heart problem. This phenomenon is called cyanosis, and it’s caused by the failure of the heart to provide oxygenated blood to tissues in the body.

Though all of these symptoms of heart disease can have benign causes, if you notice any of them, it’s time to visit your doctor.

Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. It’s the leading cause of death in the United States.

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4 foods for healthier skin

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In winter, your skin is routinely exposed to the effects of cold temperatures, indoor heating, pollution and sunlight. Here are four foods that can help allay the effects of these stressors.

1. Fatty fish. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, fish such as salmon and mackerel help preserve your skin’s elasticity, reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. Adding them to your diet will mitigate the negative effects of sunlight on your skin and provide essential antioxidants.

2. Avocado. An excellent source of healthy fats and vitamin C, this popular fruit helps skin maintain its elasticity and protects it from irritants. It’s also highly versatile and can be enjoyed in salads, smoothies, sandwiches and on its own.

3. Nuts. The amino acids in nuts are essential to our skin’s health. They promote its natural regenerative processes while improving blood circulation. Add them to salads and baked goods or eat them as a snack.

4. Berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries all contain very high concentrations of antioxidants, which slow skin aging and contribute to your overall health. Add them to your cereal and smoothies or munch on them as a low-calorie snack.

Other skin-friendly foods include olive oil, green tea, garlic and red grapes. As a bonus, adding these to your diet will diversify it and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Keep fit and enjoy life!

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It’s not because you’re retired that your days have to stretch into a succession of endless hours. It’s just the opposite! Now is the time to enjoy life. Here are some tips to help you stay in shape for years to come.

• Watch your diet. It’s important to eat well to prevent obesity and its harmful effects on your health. The revised American Food Guide is a good reference tool that contains recommendations for the different age groups.

• Exercise. Walk, dance, swim, bike, play golf, or do Tai chi. In other words, stay active. And don’t just exercise your body; your brain also needs a workout. Keep your mind sharp by doing crossword puzzles or playing memory games.

• Relax. You’ve lived a full life; now take the time to relax. Reduce stress through meditation or yoga, or relax with a good book.

• Have fun. To be in good shape is also a matter of well-being, because to stay fit you have to stay happy. That is why it’s important to keep busy. Retirement is the perfect time to indulge in the passions you’ve always neglected or to explore and discover new ones. Seize every opportunity to laugh and have fun with your loved ones.

Follow the recommendations of your doctor; take your medications, stop smoking, relax, and enjoy Mother Nature and all that wonderful fresh air. In other words, take care of yourself and make the most of life!

Explore all your options; you may discover some new passions.

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The benefits of bandages and tapings

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Physical therapists use elastic bandages and tapings to help speed up the recovery of in­jured patients. These devices aid in stabilizing joints, reducing inflammation, strengthe­­ning muscles, increasing circulation, relea­sing muscle spasms and alleviating muscle and joint pain.

Support bandages can be used to stabilize the movement of certain joints, while compression bandages are applied to help reduce swelling during re­covery.

A neuro-proprioceptive taping (or K-Taping), on the other hand, is a relatively new technique in physical therapy. It in­volves applying elastic tape to the affected body part. This helps to reduce pain, increase circulation — which speeds up healing — and improve the in­teraction bet­ween muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves.

Commonly used by athletes, this type of taping is water-resistant and can last up to five days. It’s normally used for shoulder subluxations, tendonitis, posture correction or to re­duce pain during an activity. Consult a physical therapist to learn more about the different types of bandages and tapings and their associated benefits.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
51°
Sunny
06:5817:54 EST
Feels like: 47°F
Wind: 8mph NW
Humidity: 25%
Pressure: 30.36"Hg
UV index: 3
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50/28°F
39/19°F
40/24°F

Upcoming Events

Feb
19
Wed
8:45 am Reaching Out Now Career Day @ Skyline Middle School
Reaching Out Now Career Day @ Skyline Middle School
Feb 19 @ 8:45 am – 2:30 pm
Reaching Out Now Career Day @ Skyline Middle School
Reaching Out Now (RON) together with Skyline Middle School to host its 1st annual Career Day, “Passport to Success.” Joining with area business leaders, Warren County Public School, as we come together to empower our[...]
2:00 pm Rotary Club Blood Drive @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Rotary Club Blood Drive @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Feb 19 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Rotary Club Blood Drive @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
All are invited to the Rotary Club of the Shenandoah Valley (The Area ONE|ders) blood drive on Wednesday, February 19th, from 2pm-7pm, at the Front Royal United Methodist Church (1 W. Main St. Front Royal)[...]
Feb
20
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 20 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
Feb
21
Fri
9:00 am Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Feb 21 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Are you considering independent, corporate, or social entrepreneurship, or being groomed to take over a family business? Then, this workshop is for you! Topics to be covered: Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur The Importance of[...]
Feb
22
Sat
10:00 am Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths In this beginner level class, you will learn some basic crochet stitches and pattern reading to make pretty dishcloths for your home. Instruction will be for right-handed crochet. Please pre-register!
11:00 am Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars is a special needs art discovery program. This program is for ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 22. Participants should have a caregiver or attendant present in the program.
12:30 pm Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop Do you have a crochet project you need a little help with? Already bought the supplies, but need help reading the pattern? All skill levels are invited to this Bring Your Own Project[...]
1:00 pm Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Stop by Petco located at 2580 S Pleasant Valley Rd. on Saturday, February 22, between 1 and 4 PM. Meet the amazing Petco adoption team from the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke, learn more about[...]
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Local magician Kevin Owens will entertain the whole family with his amazing magic show, which always includes audience participation and lots of laughter!