Bluffton contractor Jeff Ballard and his wife, Joye, are passionate about bringing hope to the lives of young children in need.

The Ballards have spent the past 10 years working to improve the lives of orphans in Russia’s Far East region, where government orphanages have a reputation for being stark and joyless.

Many people that visit picturesque Daufuskie Island do so to get away from the stress of daily life. That’s why many island residents were surprised to see their island with no bridge listed among the nation’s “most stressed out” ZIP codes.

US Airways magazine featured a 54-page spread of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton in the December issue of its in-flight publication. The cover of the magazine featured the familiar image of the lighthouse at Harbor Town, the 18th fairway of Harbor Town Golf Links and Calibogue Sound.

Boys-girlsclub1American Idol. The Voice. America’s Got Talent. These popular future star discovery shows need to move over.

Bluffton has its own stage for promising recording artists of the future at the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton, which recently unveiled its new hi-tech recording studio.

The studio features two sections, one a large green and orange room loaded with Apple Macs and a keyboard synthesizer. The adjacent room, about 5-by-8 feet, is fully soundproofed and features overhead microphones and equipment for professionalquality vocal recordings.

MicrobreweriesSouthern Barrel Brewing Co. recently broke ground in Buckwalter Place, where it is building its 12,500-squarefoot flagship headquarters. This is Bluffton’s first microbrewery. The state-of-the-art facility will feature a 10,000-square-foot production facility, a 2,500-square-foot tavern serving food and an outdoor beer garden.

The facility is slated to open in February 2015, with beer production starting before the facility opens to the public. Southern Barrel will begin crafting eight separate types of beer including lager, amber, IPA, stout and wheat beers. Once the facility is up and running, some of those beers will be aged in barrels formerly used to house bourbon, rum, tequila and wine.

We’re not sure why Christmas lights are a thing, but it doesn’t really matter because they’re cool, and things that are cool don’t need an explanation. They just are.
Anyone who has lived on Hilton Head Island for a while still remembers the magic of Dove Street lighting up the holidays. The Dove Street lights went dim several years ago, but they are back this year in a new location.

The Beaufort County School District recently held ground-breaking ceremonies for the construction of May River High School, a ninth through twelfth-grade school in the New Riverside area of Bluffton.

Hilton Head Island High School sophomore golfer Andrew Orischak has verbally committed to play collegiate golf at the University of Virginia. Orischak, 15, is currently ranked No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings for the Class of 2015.

Chase Allen, resident artist of the Iron Fish Gallery on Daufuskie Island, is the winner of the prestigious 2014 “American Made Audience Choice Award” national competition sponsored by Martha Stewart Living.

The megatrend is alarming: More than half of all Americans will have diabetes or prediabetes by the year 2020, at a cost of $3.35 trillion unless something drastically changes in U.S. health trends.

Diabetes is an inflammatory disease that damages blood vessels and threatens blood flow to the legs and the body’s most vital organs — the kidneys, heart and brain. Every year millions of diabetics suffer heart attacks, and almost as many suffer strokes — life-changing, irreversible injuries that often result in serious disabilities and death.

Genetic mutations that cause diabetes must be “turned on” by the environment, and America offers the perfect breeding ground. Our foods are grown with pesticides, thoroughly processed and wrapped in plastic, shelf-life guaranteed. In food factories, Mother Nature’s living flavors are exchanged for artificial ingredients and eye-catching colors, and promoted on a grocery aisle with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon.
 
In addition, we are stressed and exhausted and over-stimulated by 24-hour news channels that advertise the next new drug for the same old illness. We don’t move enough, we don’t get outside and we feel apathetic about the consequences.

Better lifestyles habits could prevent 90 percent of Type 2 diabetes, estimates Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. One of the most obvious but underutilized weapons in our healing arsenal is nutritional therapy.

We haven’t evolved to efficiently metabolize the processed and refined foods sold in our supermarkets. Refined foods contain less water and fiber and more added fat, salt and sugar than fresh foods, making them less filling, more fattening and prone to raise blood glucose and insulin which can lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

8 tips to extinguish the fire

1. Stop eating processed foods. If it comes from a package, it was made in a factory and likely contains ingredients that are toxic. Headaches, heart aches and hormonal imbalances like hyperglycemia are caused by chemicals in our food. When you crave potato chips, cookies or a zesty marinade, make them from scratch. Spend time preparing your food, or lose time feeling ill.
 
2. Eat whole foods filled with color. Plants are filled with antioxidants, phytochemicals and living enzymes. These are the micronutrients that keep digestion, immunity and brain function running on all cylinders. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are also filled with fiber, essential to keep the digestive track moving and clean, which in turn strengthens the immune system.
 
3. Drink 5-8 glasses of water a day. This maximizes cellular activities, promotes detox and keeps your skin glowing.
 
4. Stop drinking soda pop. It is now being recognized as the biggest contributor to obesity and diabetes (newly coined as diabesity). Regular colas contain high fructose corn syrup, which spikes the blood sugar and leads to insulin immunity. Since fructose is only processed in the liver, it also leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver, and severely inhibits the function of that organ.  Diet colas have saccharine or aspartame, and regardless of the source, these chemicals promote carbohydrate cravings, increase hunger and can lead to neurological damage.
 
5. Eat organic as much as possible, especially meat and dairy. Factory-farmed animals are given growth hormones to maximize their size and minimize the lifespan it takes to mature so they can be harvested sooner. Those are not hormones you want in your body! Factory farms consume 70 percent of our nation’s supply of antibiotics in an attempt to prevent the diseases that naturally arise in filthy living conditions. (No one can clean a chicken coup with 60,000 chickens in it!) These antibiotics affect your gut flora and digestive health and lead to antibiotic resistance.
 
6. Eat less meat and dairy, if only to make room for more vegetables because you need them. Make the main course plant-based and include only small portions of lean meat. Minimize cheese. Experiment with coconut, almond and soy milk; try hummus, avocado and cashews for creams. Your taste buds will adapt to whatever they think is “normal.” If you want a piece of cheese, eat it with joy and savor the flavor. Otherwise, skip it.
 
7. If you have high cholesterol, go vegan. Our bodies are able to synthesize all the cholesterol we need, so any excess comes from food. Plants don’t have any. Work with your doctor as the results come fast (within weeks, you can be off medication)!
 
8. Find a movement that you enjoy, and do it outside as often as possible. Every day, take several 5-minute breaks to breathe 10 deep breaths. Make them slow and controlled; match the inhale to the exhale. Direct your mind to focus on the sound, the sensations and finding tension to release. If you are forgetful, plug a reminder into your phone. In as little as 5 minutes, you will reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels, and induce a sense of peace, empowerment and well-being.

Questions for Beaufort Memorial Hospital President & CEO Rick Toomey:

Question: Given the remote possibility of an Ebola infection here in the Lowcountry, and that the CDC lacks the authority to mandate requirements for handling the disease, is the hospital required under any state law to follow precautions for such an outbreak?

Answer: The hospital is not mandated to follow CDC guidelines but we have written policies and procedures that specify we would follow the CDC’s recommendations as the leading U.S. authority on infection control and prevention, as well as other resources, including the local expertise from our military community in training staff and managing bio-hazardous conditions.