Archive for June, 2013

The trend to “go green” with using cloth reusable shopping bags is a good one.  But how safe is it to reuse cloth for food products?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the materials used for reusable shopping bags can get contaminated with germs from food items.  The microorganisms Salmonella and E. coli are two of the main culprits found on food items that can be left behind in the reusable bags.

Keep you and your family from getting sick by following a few simple steps:

  • Wash cloth bags in the washing machine often.????????????????????????????????????
  • Plastic lined reusable bags should be washed and dried by hand.
  • Use separate bags for different food products.  Designate separate bags for meats, fruits and vegetables and ready-to-eat foods.  This will help prevent cross contamination.
  • Use your grocery bags just for food products.  Don’t use the same bags for books, movies, toys or other items.

More information about using reusable shopping bags can be found at:  www.foodsafety.gov/blog/reusable_bags.html

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewed by:  Elizabeth Smith, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


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Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. Not only is it a fun outdoor activity but is also a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity, which can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. It can also lead to improved health for people with diabetes and heart disease. In fact, research indicates that swimmers have about half the risk of death compared with inactive people.

Another positive aspect swimming is that people report enjoying exercising in water more than on land. It is a fun way to get your family participating in physical activities and getting the exercise they need for a healthy lifestyle. For older family member, or people with chronic diseases, swimming is a good choice because they can exercise longer without increased effort or joint or muscle pain. This is especially true for people with arthritis or osteoarthritis, because exercising in water can improve affected joints without worsening symptoms.
Why Swim?
• Have fun with your family
• Exercise in a way that is relaxing and doesn’t hurt your joints
• Decrease the risk of chronic illnesses
• Aerobic exercise in a fun way

While swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life, precautions must also be taken. Americans swim in many places including pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs/spas each year and most people have a safe and healthy time enjoying the water. However, there are also precautions that need to be taken to ensure safety while swimming.
Be safe this summer!

Check out the tips from Center for Disease Control on water safety.
Remember the basics:
• Watch your children at all times – don’t leave them alone for a minute.
• Wear sunscreen and be aware of the dangers of sunburn.
• Don’t get distracted by your phone or books – be aware of drowning risks.
• Practice Water Safety (use life jackets, teach your children to swim).
• Be aware of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI).
• Avoid swallowing pool water or even getting it in your mouth.
• Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.

The Center for Disease Control has information regarding tips to keep your family safe in the water this summer. This information can be found at their website, http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Be active, healthy, and happy! In Chapter 2: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits. Last verified on December 23, 2009.
Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. 2008. Swimming and all-cause mortality risk compared with running, walking, and sedentary habits in men. Int J of Aquatic Res and Educ. 2(3):213-23.
Lotshaw AM, Thompson M, Sadowsky S, Hart MK, and Millard MW. 2007. Quality of life and physical performance in land- and water-based pulmonary rehabilitation. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehab and Prev. 27:247-51.

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, green.1405@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu.

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Fruits and Vegetables

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day.

Health organizations recommend eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day to decrease the risk of cancer and other diet related diseases as well as to help maintain weight. According to the 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio adults on average are only consuming about half the vegetables and fruits their bodies need. In fact, 40% of adults reported eating less than one serving of fruit per day, and 26% reported eating less than one serving of vegetables per day.

So why are vegetables and fruits so good for us? Fresh vegetables and fruits are packed with antioxidants, nutrients and fiber, yet are low in calories. One of the best ways to get fresh vegetables and fruits is from local farmers markets. There are many advantages to buying locally. Buying local produce benefits the consumer, the economy and the environment.

Foods grown and sold locally are more likely to be fresh. Many growers pick their produce right before selling, allowing the food to have the fullest possible flavor. Buying local foods keeps dollars in your own community, supporting the local economy. Additionally in many cases, you are supporting the strong American tradition of the family farm. Buying local also helps the environment. Because these foods are sold close to where they are grown, they do not have to be shipped long distances, diminishing the environmental impact.

To find farmers markets in your community, check your local Ohio State University Extension office in your county or your local chamber of commerce and ask if they have a local foods guide. Some great websites to check out to find local farmers markets in your area include:

The Ohio Market Maker: Connecting willing markets and quality sources of food from farm and fisheries to fork in Ohio. http://oh.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/

The Ohio Farm Bureau: The Our Ohio Buying Local Directory connects customers to the farms and farmers that produce local foods, plus agritourism opportunities, plant nurseries, wineries and Christmas tree growers. http://www.ourohio.org

What fresh vegetable or fruit are you going to buy local this week?

Buy Local Buy Fresh http://www.buylocalbuyfresh.net/displaysection.php?section=About

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/State-Indicator-Report-Fruits-Vegetables-2013.pdf

Local Harvest http://www.localharvest.org

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.
Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

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June is a good time to remind men, fathers or not, to take some simple steps to improve health habits. Habits can keep us stuck and on a path to poor health and ill-being, or they can move us toward better health and well-being. How many of the following healthful habits, identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are you putting into everyday practice?Man and Child Having fun in the park.

• Eat a healthier diet. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, and smaller servings of lean protein. Reduce sodium intake and saturated fats.

• Find ways to manage your stress. To prevent stress levels from pushing you past your control point, find a support system and time do things you enjoy. Support may come from family, friends, co-workers, religious groups, or belonging to something (think a running group, civic group, band, etc.). Take some time each week to enjoy a relaxing hobby like walking the dog (through the park), listening to music, reading, playing with your children or grandchildren, building or restoring things, fishing or hunting, or play chess or cards.

• Tame your tobacco habit. If you haven’t already, it is never too late to quit smoking or using tobacco. This is one time it is absolutely OK to be a quitter! Doing so will reduce your risks of heart disease, cancer, and other lung problems.

• Be more physically active. Find a way to exercise for at least 30 minutes on five or more days a week. Remember you can divide this time up, 15 minutes at lunch and 15 minutes after work. Increased exercise may help with weight loss, control of diabetic symptoms, prevention of cancer, cholesterol control, stress management and can improve mood.

• Be safe. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatal accidents for men, so wearing a seat belt or motorcycle helmet, following traffic laws, and not using alcohol while driving can prevent serious health problems for men and their families.

• Get regular health check-ups and tests. Make sure to get your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels checked. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and get that free flu shot they offer at work. If you notice a change in your health, talk to your doctor – waiting can often make things worse. For a list of regular check-ups and screenings for men go to the US Department of Health and Human Services at http://go.osu.edu/menshealth.

What are you going to do to improve your health?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/.

Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mens-health/MC00013.

US Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/healthy-men/healthy-men.pdf.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Kirk Bloir, Program Director, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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In 1903, the “chew and spit” diet was the newest craze. In order to lose weight you would chew your food 32 times and then spit it out. The year 1925 brought about an even better diet: the cigarette diet. Not surprisingly, Lucky Strikes was behind the idea to “reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.” This led to doctors actually prescribing cigarettes to patients hoping to lose weight.

These diets seem ridiculous to us now. Imagine your doctor today writing you a script to purchase cigarettes. It’s thought provoking. How many insurance companies would cover that? It’s safe to assume these can be classified as fad diets. The trend came and went, just like ripped jeans in the 1980’s and yo-yo’s in the 1990’s.


While these particular fads have passed, fad diets themselves are becoming increasingly popular. Whether trying to fit into those new jeans or your old wedding dress, fad diets are appealing to many people. Offering quick weight loss with minimal effort, it’s no surprise they attract the attention of those hoping to shed a few pounds.

Unfortunately, relying on a quick fix for a lasting problem is a poor approach. While the diet may produce initial results, the effects are typically short lived. Often , fad diets are overly restrictive, commonly eliminating one or more food groups. These diets are not sustainable over a lifetime which will lead to eventual weight regain. If the practice is continued for a lengthy time, it can lead to health complications and nutrient deficiencies (think Ashton Kutcher and his fruitarian diet).

Although it may seem less exciting, the best path to long term health, wellness, and sustainable weight loss can be summed up by author Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

This sounds a lot like My Plate. Fruits and vegetables should take up half the plate, one quarter should be whole grains, and lean protein should fill up the remaining quarter. Don’t forget to include a serving of  low-fat dairy as well!

Next time you hear about the best way to lose weight, ask yourself several questions:

  • Does this diet eliminate  food groups?my plate
  • Are there promises of quick and extreme results?
  • Can this way of eating be sustained over a lifetime?

The answers can help you determine whether the next best thing is a path to a healthier life or if you’re “reaching for a Lucky instead of a sweet.”

Sources: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Author: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu and Ryan Leone , Adolescent Obesity Prevention Project Manager,  Ohio State University Extension, County, leone.92@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

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Tired of drinking just water? Are you a tea drinker? Do you enjoy iced tea in the summer? Well, pour a cup of tea and enjoy. It’s good for you.cup of tea

Benefits from tea include:

• May lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some other chronic diseases.

• May lower your blood pressure as drinking just one cup of black tea daily lowered blood pressure levels in men in one study.

• Drinking green tea helped increase bone formation in postmenopausal women.

• Green tea increased activity in the part of the brain used for memory processing showing promise that it may prevent the formation of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

• The caffeine plus L-theanine in tea helps reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

• Encourages healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Most of these benefits come from the “flavonoids” in tea. Flavonoids provide beneficial antioxidant and biochemical effects.

Considering there are little to no calories, a tea leaf is very high in flavonoids. Using hot water to steep the tea will provide you with the most flavonoids. Other methods of tea such as cold-brewed glass of iced teaand powdered mixes don’t usually obtain the same flavonoid levels. Sun tea brewing is not recommended as molds or bacteria on the tea leaf are not destroyed as they would be with using hot water. Tufts University recommends using 175⁰ to 185⁰ Fahrenheit (F) water to brew green tea, 195⁰ F to brew oolong tea and 212⁰ F (boiling water) to brew black tea. Adding some lemon or other citrus juice adds little calories and reduces the risk of flavonoids loss through the digestion process.

One caution: Although tea has only about half the caffeine of coffee, if you are caffeine sensitive you may have to be cautious. If you can’t handle caffeine try the decaffeinated teas or herbal teas that don’t contain caffeine. Most of the flavonoids are still intact in the decaffeinated teas.

Calorie Caution: Some sweet teas have as much added sugar as a soda. Try unsweetened tea with fruit or juice added.

Enjoy tea or iced tea this summer and don’t be afraid to try some of the new flavors of tea. There are many different teas with additional flavors that make delicious iced tea. I really enjoy brewing my own flavored iced green tea to sip on during the hot days of summer.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Ohio State University Extension


Tufts University, [2013]. Drinking Tea Protects Your Head, Heart and Bones, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2013, Vol. 31 (2) p 4-5.

Tufts University, [2013]. Green Tea Protects Brain Cells, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2013, Vol. 31 (4) p 7.

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There are maMP900202043ny wonderful reasons to be involved with gardening and especially to involve children. Children love digging in the dirt, looking for worms and insects, watering the garden and themselves! Besides having fun, there are many benefits to gardening with children.

The National Gardening Association has documented that teachers and youth leaders describe how gardening benefits kids’ health and well-being, their attitudes towards learning and the environment, their connections to community and so much more.

What other activity can you think of that can help us eat healthier, provide strength and cardio training, increase flexibility plus relieve stress! Gardening can provide all of these plus so much more.  Vary your gardening activities to keep your interest and to broaden the range of benefits.

By introducing children to the joy of gardening at an early age, you are exposing them to what can become a lifelong passion and healthy habit!  Children will also enjoy the special time they are spending with an adult in the garden – someone who is encouraging their creativity and curiosity.

Gardening – check out some of these Hidden Benefits:

  • Stress Reduction
  • Physical Activity
  • Connecting with Others
  • Exposure to New and Different Foods
  • Pride and a Sense of Well-being

Healthy Eating

While many children and some adults will not eat a variety of vegetables,  they are much more likely to at least taste something that they have grown themselves. Gardening provides fresh fruits and vegetables and the encouragement to eat them. These foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other compounds that help fight disease.

The most recent USDA Dietary Guidelines which are pictured on MyPlate recommend that ½ of our plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables. (2 ½ cups veggies, 2 cups fruit) Most Americans are only eating about ½ of the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day.  By increasing the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables that we are eating, it can help with the current obesity epidemic that we and our children are facing.

Both Physical and Mental Wellness

As many adults can attest – that first day in the spring working in the garden can bring sore muscles the next day! As the summer goes along, our muscles are strengthened and we find that we are able to do more than we imagined on that first day out! Our endurance also increases as the season goes along.

Many children lack opportunities for physical exertion. Sometimes they don’t have safe places to play outside or they just aren’t interested in “exercise”.  Gardening provides the opportunity to encourage children to walk away from the computer, TV, video games, etc. and introduce them to a fun and productive activity.   Gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity. Active people are less likely than inactive people to be obese or have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death.

Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles. You can burn 150 calories by gardening (standing) for approximately 30-45 minutes. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. If you have been inactive, start out with just a few minutes of physical activity each day. Gradually build up time and intensity.

Gardening also can help reduce our stress levels. Relaxation and stress reduction are one of the biggest hidden benefits of gardening. Research has shown that working in a garden can help create a more positive outlook by the participants.

We sometimes forget how much stress children can have in their lives. Spending time in the garden – focusing on the garden even if just for a short time can help them relax and rejuvenate.

Gardening can also increase the feeling of belonging. Again, many children do not have that sense of being an important part of their community. By working together in a garden, that sense of community develops and children can begin to appreciate that they can contribute to their community in a meaningful way.

We don’t want to forget that one of the most important benefits from gardening with children is the opportunity to have fun. You have probably heard  the phrase of having “good clean fun”.  Well, gardening may not be clean, but it surely can be fun and good for us at the same time!




Writer:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Franklin County, Ohio State University Extension, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Ohio State University Extension, treber.1@osu.edu

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