Archive for August, 2011

For most of us dairy is an important source of calcium, protein, potassium and (depending on the dairy food) Vitamin D. However, some people have problems with eating diary and then we hear of other concerns.  So are dairy foods healthy or not?

Bones – Milk critics have believed that eating animal protein, including dairy protein, causes our bodies to leach calcium from our bones.  However, several studies have shown that people who eat more animal protein have higher bone mineral density than those eating the least protein.  Studies by the USDA and the University of Connecticut found that eating diary foods does not make women lose calcium more.

Neutral – Dairy foods do not appear to harm bones.

Colon Cancer – The World Cancer Research Fund and the American institute for Cancer Research concluded recently that “Milk probably protects against colorectal cancer.”  (This finding was not applied to yogurt or cheese.)  They have concluded that those who drink at least one cup of milk a day have a lower risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer than those who rarely drink milk.

Plus – Milk seems to protect against colon cancer.

Prostate Cancer – According to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research milk and dairy products show limited evidence as a cause of prostate cancer.  The evidence is inconsistent which makes it difficult to make recommendations to men.

Maybe Minus – Evidence is inconsistent.  There have been too few studies to make firm conclusions.

Blood Pressure – Research has shown that dairy products have a modest effect on lowering blood pressure.  This modest effect may help prevent some people from progressing to full-blown hypertension from pre-hypertension.  In the Women’s Health Study those who averaged at least two servings of low-fat dairy foods a day had about 10% lower risk of developing high blood pressure over those who averaged two or less servings a week.  Calcium supplements had no effect on lowering the risk.

Plus – Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy and low in saturated fat lowers blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension or hypertension.

Weight Loss – Although you may have heard many commercials about how diary helps you lose pounds a new study concluded that including dairy in a weight-loss diet does not help you lose more pounds or fat than just cutting calories.  The study did find that the group that consumed the least dairy saw a loss of bone mineral in the hip as well as markers of bone loss.  The group who eat a high-dairy diet didn’t have the bone loss.

Neutral – Dairy does not help you lose more weight or fat while you cut calories.

Conclusions – Dairy foods help lower blood pressure, seems to protect against colon cancer and don’t harm our bones (may help our bones as in study under weight loss).  Dairy does not help with weight loss and the jury is still out on prostate cancer. For most of us dairy foods are an important source of calcium, protein, potassium, and Vitamin D.  (Reference:  Schardt, D. [2011].  Dairy- Hero or Villain? Nutrition Action Healthletter, 38 (6), pp.9-11)


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If you pay much attention to health and nutrition news, you’ve probably heard about probiotics.  But for those of you who aren’t familiar with probiotics, here is a basic primer.

Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria in foods that we commonly consume.  The bacteria pass into our digestive tract and promote health by helping digest our food, synthesizing vitamin K, and maintaining the immune system. Although research is still being done, some studies have also shown that probiotics may help regluate inflammation and decrease the incidence of colitis and  inflammatory bowel disease.

Healthy bacteria, or microflora, are frequently found in yogurt and fermented foods such as kefir, buttermilk and sauerkraut.  The most common microbes used as probiotics include lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.  However, some yeasts and bacilli are also used in probiotics.  Since our intestines contain several different species of bacteria, many people believe supplementing that bacteria will help form new colonies of microflora that further benefits health.  In contrast, prebiotics are not bacteria but are typically non-digestible carbohydrates such as soy beans, raw oats, or unrefined wheat which help stimulate the growth of bacteria in the gut that is also beneficial to health.

In addition to fermented dairy/food products, live probiotic cultures are also available in a tablet, capsule, or powder form.  Be sure to check with your medical professional before purchasing a probiotic .   Products vary in quality and purity, as with any supplement.  Check with your physician or the manufacturer for research to support any health claims made by the company.

Source:  Department of Public Affairs, Children’s Hospital, Boston

Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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 Did you know that arthritis and chronic joint symptoms are the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 and over? Seventy million Americans (one in every three adults) are estimated to have some type of joint pain. Arthritis interferes with the everyday activities of over seven million Americans, making it difficult for them to walk, dress, or bathe themselves.

How can you cope?

  • Lose weight, if recommended
  • Exercise daily with gentle stretching and relaxation. Strengthening (resistance) and cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises are helpful for most people. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  • Pace yourself, rest, and understand your limitations.
  • Be aware of how a joint moves, and carefully monitor any twisting motions.
  • Don’t remain in the same position for long periods of time.
  • If lifting or pushing, distribute the weight to as many joints as possible. For example, use both arms to lift a package.
  • Use warm and cold treatments such as ice packs or heating pads as recommended.
  • Try a muscle ointment to alleviate morning stiffness.
  • Utilize your library, hospital, and outreach programs for current information regarding arthritis and treatments.
  • Be realistic and optimistic.
  • Learn effective ways to manage pain by recording activities that cause excessive discomfort.

Living with arthritis can be frustrating and difficult.  If you are willing to work at it, taking control is with in your reach.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

For more information visit:  http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/pdf/0147.pdf

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mountain climbing
According to the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s family life information, our personal journey can be successful with effort. It is not something that happens by accident but requires work and making many daily choices. The information from the website http://www.arfamilies.org highlights seven topics to consider and work on along the path as we strive to complete our journey.
*Let’s start with Enjoy Today! In the daily grind of life do we focus our attention on the obstacles along the path or do we focus on the beauty that is around us? How much more fun is seeing beauty rather than a roadblock?
* The second topic looks at the gems in our past. This area centers not only around finding the gems, but on cherishing those past gems. Remembering the good aspects of your life history rather than the negative or disappointing aspects can help lead us on that positive life journey.
* A third point deals with the future. Being excited about the future and hopeful about what is to come can be difficult. Looking for and expecting to find good things often leads to finding good things. When we are tempted by anxiety and fear, the more hopeful we are, the better the outcome usually is.
*Really examine your strengths and weaknesses. When we use our strengths and manage our weaknesses we challenge ourselves to do the things we love to do.
*Service can certainly lead us on the path to happiness. When our focus is primarily ourselves, our world becomes narrow and limited. When we turn our energy and attention to others the satisfactions of our lives expand.*Growth and continuing to grow is a sure sign of progress in life. Finding new projects, experiences and ideas to fill our life rather than stagnate and get stale is critical to happiness.
*Finally, our compass must accompany us on our journey. This is our conscience. The Arkansas site defines the compass as the compassion, honor and kindness we hear from that little voice in our head.
Taking the time to make these choices helps us create the best possible choices. For some writing is helpful in this process. More information and sample journal pages for use are available at the website http://www.arfamilies.org. Start on your life journey today and expect more happiness to await you.

Source: http://www.arfamilies.org

Author: Elizabeth Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

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Late summer and early fall tends to be a popular time to attend community festivals and county fairs where I live. Even the cities nearby have events and festivals almost every weekend – all the way from international festivals, like Italian or Irish, to art shows and Rib Fests. Each of us has a different reason to attend these events – it is a tradition, you are participating in an event there, socializing, enjoy the music, purchasing something there — or a favorite of many — love the food!! If you have been working to lose weight or maintain fitness you may wonder how you can attend these events and not overdo it.
Here are a few ideas that may help –

  • Make sure you eat healthy in the days leading up to your fair or festival trip, or for your breakfast before you go.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes to encourage burning off any extra calories you take in. The Fashion Police won’t be checking to make sure you have cute sandals on that look great, but kill your feet.
  • Pack a bag or small insulated cooler with water bottles, fresh fruit, cereal bars, pretzels, nuts, and fresh veggies in it. If you have a healthy snack, you won’t be so tempted to over-do at meal time. I usually freeze blueberries and pack them in an insulated bowl as an easy finger food to carry along.
  • Find out if you can refill your water bottle someplace at the festival – you will save lots of money and calories that way.
  • Scout out all of the food choices before you decide what to eat — by making a walk around the area you will burn more calories, and find out all of your choices, you may be surprised what they are serving. At one fair I attend there is a group who always sells fresh melon – which tastes great on a hot day!
  • Try your best to skip the fried foods. Do you really need to try the fried, batter covered cookie, buckeye, candybar, coke, cheese??
  • If you have decide that you really need to try the new fried food, or maybe you haven’t had fried veggies in the four months since you attended your last festival – be sure to share or split the portion. Most funnel cakes will probably serve 4 to 6 people.
  • Look for a main dish or sandwich that is grilled or broiled. While you aren’t going to get a whole serving veggies by doing it, make sure you have the lettuce and tomato on your sandwich, it all adds up.
  • Skip the sundae or large milk shake this year and look for a fruit smoothie made with real fruit. But be sure to get the small size without any whipped cream.
  • Look around to see if there are any unique salads available. For the last 3 years I have enjoyed a Corn, Blackbean and Tomato Salad at the Ohio Proud Taste of Ohio Cafe at the Ohio State Fair. This recipe is very similar to it: http://www.ohioproud.org/ohioproud/recipes/cornsalad.pdf.
  • If you will be attending the fair or festival for several days – try not to overdo every day. A week of overeating can pack back on several pounds that you worked hard to get or keep off.

You may think that the extra walking you do at those fairs and festivals makes up for eating any fried foods or sno-cones – but remember that most of us only burn 100 calories, maybe a little more, for each mile we walk. Do you really want to have to walk over 2 miles to eat fried cheese or 4 miles for the fried candy bar?? You might be able to do it, if you only eat 1 of these items, 1 time – but most of us are tempted more than that.

While it doesn’t have anything to do with food – don’t forget the sunscreen before you head out to the festival too.


Walking off the Midway Munchies, Alice Henneman, University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension,  http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftj-j07.shtml.

Walking off Muchies, Janis Hunter & Katherine Cason, Clemson University, http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/dietary_guide/hgic4033.html.

How to Eat Healthy at a Fair, Paula Robinson, University of Illinois Extension, http://web.extension.illinois.edu/regionwc/lessismore/0908news.pdf.

Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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  • Fruits & Veggies

    Fruits & Veggies

  • We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  How do we do it?  It takes a little planning to make it happen.   Here are some tips to help you increase your number of servings.   One of the best things to do is to take the time to clean and cut up vegetables when you get home from the farmer’s market or store.  Place them in small bags or containers so they are portable and easy to use.  I routinely cut up celery and carrots and place them in small bags.  It makes it easy to pick up a bag for a snack or for my packed lunch.  Here are some additional tips to help you.

At Breakfast

  • Begin with a piece of fresh fruit, 100% juice or fresh fruit cup
  • Add veggies to omelets or other egg dishes.  Try peppers, onions, spinach, broccoli or asparagus for a new twist.
  • Top cold cereal with berries, peaches, or dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, etc.)
  • Mix additional fresh fruit into fruit flavored yogurt.
  • Top pancakes or waffles with cut up fresh fruit such as strawberries and bananas.  You can also add diced fruit or berries to your pancake batter.

At Lunch

  • Try a veggie pizza.
  • Enjoy cut up vegetables or fruit with a low fat dip.
  • Enjoy a bowl of vegetable soup. 
  • Enjoy a salad with lots of different vegetables and fruits.  Use low calorie dressing or a small amount of oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Microwave a sweet or white potato.  Top with a little shredded cheese and broccoli.
  • Enjoy fruit as a dessert.  Look for fruits that are in season such as berries, peaches and melons.

At Dinner

  • Add shredded carrots or zucchini to meatloaf, casseroles.
  • Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce or lasagna (try shredded carrots or zucchini).
  • Replace part of the meat, chicken or fish in a casserole with cooked dried beans or peas.
  • Grill vegetable and fruit kabobs.

For Snacks

  • Keep cut up raw vegetables in a clear container in the refrigerator.
  • Have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter.
  • Make a smoothie from yogurt, a half cup of juice and a cup of berries or piece of fruit.
  • Try low sodium vegetable or 100% fruti juice.
  • Eat frozen grapes.
  • Make fruit kabobs with pineapple, berries, bananas, melons and grapes.

Remember that small steps help you achieve your goal of eating more fruits and vegetables.  Most are low calorie and full of nutrients,
vitamins and fiber.  Pick an idea that you like and make it part of your routine.   Once it becomes routine, try another idea. 
One positive lifestyle decision can motivate you to make another positive decision.  You will feel better as you begin your journey towards healthier living. 


Source:  University of Georgia College of Agricultural
and Environmental Sciences and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture cooperating.  Bulletin # 126-5.  August 2005.

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