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Archive for November, 2014

microbes2Many of us learned about cells in high school biology class. We learned that bodies are made up of different kinds of cells—skin, muscle, blood, etc. But most of us did not learn about the trillions of non-human, microbial cells.

Those cells, or “microbiome,” are important for maintaining human health; if things go wrong with our microbes it can contribute to our risk for disease. But what is the microbial make-up of a healthy human being? What types of microbes are present, and what are they doing?

Microbe communities can be very different from one person to another. There is even a difference from one location to another on the same individual. Our microbial genomes record what we have eaten, where we have lived, and who we have been in contact with. We literally have microbial “ecosystems” in and on different parts of our bodies that differ drastically from one to another and supply a wide range of functions.

The scientific study of microbiology grew out of society’s desire to control pathogens and infectious diseases. Doctors always thought microbes were bad things to be gotten rid of, such as measles or strep throat. But most microbes do NOT make us sick. We are starting to recognize that microbes also keep us healthy, unless they become unbalanced. “Unbalance” can occur because of antibiotic usage, an unhealthy diet, or other variable. The end result may be an increased risk for chronic disease or health conditions such as:

• Acne
• Asthma
• Autism
• Cancer
• Autoimmune disease
• Diabetes
• Inflammatory bowel diseases
• Obesity

The study of microbiome is still in its infancy, but major strides have been made since the inception of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) in 2005. “Knowing which microbes live in various ecological niches in healthy people allows us to better investigate what goes awry in diseases that are thought to have a microbial link,” such as Crohn’s disease, ulcers and obesity, said George Weinstock of Washington University in St. Louis, one of the project’s principal investigators.

For example, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found fewer types of vaginal microbes in pregnant women (as opposed to non-pregnant women). The take-away? A pregnant, female body naturally reduces the diversity of her microbial species in the weeks leading up to birth so that the newborn — who developed in a sterile womb — can be exposed to the proper intestinal and vaginal bacteria when it goes through the birth canal. Exposure to mother’s bacteria is the signal to the infant’s immune system to start. A baby born by C-section does not get the same exposure to mom’s microbiome, and because of this difference, may be more likely to develop allergies and asthma.

Over the next year, we will examine the influence of “gut bugs” on nutrition, health, and behavior. Hopefully you will learn a lot more about your personal microbes and how food choice affects microbial levels and your risk for chronic disease.

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Bridgette Kidd, Healthy People Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, kidd.149@osu.edu

Sources:
http://biofrontiers.colorado.edu/news/five-things-about-the-microbiome

http://genome.wustl.edu/projects/detail/human-microbiome-project/

http://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/research/research-strengths/host-microbiome-initiative

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Schools in your area may be assessing students’ health, collecting BMIs, or providing nutrition and physical activity education. What does all this mean and why is this becoming more common?

So what exactly is a BMI?

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a method to measure body mass based on a person’s weight and height. Weight and height are plugged into a standard formula which can then be compared to a range or norm. The Center for Disease Control states that a BMI calculated result is a reliable body fatness indicator for most teens and children. Although BMI does not measure body fat directly, it can be used as an indirect measure. An example of a direct measure of body fat would be underwater weighing or the Bod Pod (air displacement plethysmography). BMI is useful as a screening tool to help identify weight concerns and implement prevention education.

After the BMI number is obtained, the number is plotted on the boy’s or girl’s BMI-for-age growth chart. A percentile ranking is determined and this percentile is used to assess growth patterns of the individual child. Comparison is done with children of the same sex and age. Four different categories of weight status are used to categorize the child or teen. These include underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control recommend the use of BMI to screen children beginning at the age of 2.

Why BMI in Schools?

BMIs in schools vary per state and district. According to a comprehensive study in Preventing Chronic Disease, 20 states were requiring BMI or body composition screening with 9 additional states recommending the screening as of 2010. BMIs are designed to provide information and initiate conversations regarding ways to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices.

Many factors must be taken into consideration with BMI and it is crucial to remember that BMI calculations are not perfect. Age and gender are important to consider in this assessment. The healthy level of the child or teen varies for age month by month and as his or her height increases.

Expert organizations still recommend using BMI surveillance as an effective screening tool. Although there needs to be more studies evaluating the effectiveness of these programs, with the proper use of guidelines and resources, BMI screening could become a more common, accepted, and useful tool in assessing and triggering interventions for obesity among children.

The BMI can be most useful when it is considered one additional tool in the toolbox. It is not the only tool, but one that can be a starting point for healthy conversations. BMI’s may be effective in evaluating the effectiveness of health programs.

Knowledge is power toward healthy behaviors.

girl on scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html

Nihiser AJ, Lee SM, Wechsler H, McKenna M, Odom E, Reinold C, Thompson D, Grummer-Strawn L. BMI Measurement in Schools. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 2009. 124;589:597.

http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/diet-weight-loss/should-body-mass-index-be-measured-in-schools-115934 (photo)

Written by: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic Intern/ Liz Smith, MS, RD, LDN, Ohio State University Extension, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, smith.3993@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu.

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turkey on tableAs we move into the holiday season, think about the special memories that they hold for you. Can you remember your first Thanksgiving dinner? Who prepared the turkey? Did you have pumpkin pie? Or, was there a special activity reserved just for this day? Were you a part of the annual football game after dinner? These special memories are part of your family traditions.

Traditions are a key to strong families because they build strong relationships between generations. It may be by sharing the preparation of a special recipe. The important part is the conversation that takes place about who first made it and how this recipe tradition got started. Be sure to share your special memories with your children, grandchildren and friends. Traditions also make the holidays special just by bringing people together. Even though traditions are important, they can cause stress as well. Don’t be afraid to bend them a bit if necessary. Include traditions from all family members, even those who are new to the family and bring with them traditions that may seem foreign to you. Don’t become stressed by a tradition, make it fit your situation.

Here are some ideas for your Thanksgiving or other holiday traditions:
• Just because grandma made all the food from scratch doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t feel guilty about buying foods for a special meal, especially if time is a constraint.
• Use recipes that are simple or ones you are familiar with.
• Serve fewer foods.
• Let family members help, when someone offers to bring part of the meal, say yes.
• Remember others who are less fortunate than you by volunteering to serve a holiday meal, donating your time to a food pantry, or hosting a food drive.

Author: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Liz Smith, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, North East Region

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buffetAs we enter the holiday season, we are often participating in pot-luck celebrations at work and dinners with family and friends. What are some steps we can take to help avoid food borne illnesses at these happy occasions?

If you are the one preparing the food, remember the four basic food safety rules: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. By following these four simple rules, you can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria which could make your family ill and make your holidays less than jolly!

  • Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that countertops, cutting boards and utensils are clean by washing with hot soapy water. Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.
  • Separate. Help prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for these raw foods and another for salads and ready to eat food.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to tell if a food is cooked to a safe temperature – just going by color is not sufficient. Always bring sauces, soups, etc to a rolling boil when reheating. If using a microwave oven, cover, stir and rotate the food to ensure even cooking.
  • Chill.  Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°F., use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter. After the meal, chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling.

If you are participating in a pot-luck lunch at work or school, there are some things to keep in mind for food safety. The most important rule to follow is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Avoid the “danger zone”! It is often a good idea to appoint one person to make sure that foods are being kept at a safe temperature.

  • Foods that are to be served hot should be kept above 140°F.
  • Cold foods should be kept below 40°F.
  • Make sure that the surfaces where food will be served are clean.
  • Do not allow food to sit out for over 2 hours.
  • Any food that has not been kept at a safe temperature should be discarded after 2 hours.

So enjoy the holidays and the events that accompany them while keeping yourself, your family, friends and co-workers safe from food borne illness.

Sources:

Safe Food Handling Factsheets http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling

Be Food Safe   www.befoodsafe.org 

EXTENSION CONNECTION: Keeping Food Safe (pot luck party tips) http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/news/community/extension-connection-keeping-food-safe-potluck-party-tips-1.56092?page=2 

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Reviewer: Linette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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I can almost smell the celery and onions sautéing as they await grandma’s stuffing recipe… Mmmmmm… Have you also been thinking about your Thanksgiving meal, either what you will prepare or what you will eat? Food is an important part of most holiday traditions and memories, especially Thanksgiving. This year, maybe there is a way to take your traditional favorites and lighten them up a bit. Here are some great tips from USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov:

Tweek the Sweet – How about serving fruit as a colorful healthy option for dessert? Try a crustless pumpkin pie.

Cheers to Good Health – The best low calorie drink ever is water! You can add a special “twist” with a slice of lemon or lime or raspberries. Another alternative is seltzer water with a little 100% fruit juice for flavor.

Bake Healthier – Did you know you can substitute unsweetened applesauce or any fruit puree for the butter in recipes? Try replacing butter with ½ fruit puree and ½ canola oil to reduce the saturated fat and increase the fiber.

Spice it up – Use spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and you can reduce the amount of sugar in a sweet recipe. Use more herbs and less salt in savory dishes.

2013-11-28 09.20.52Brighten your meal – Let the rainbow of colors found in vegetables and fruit brighten the buffet table, fill (at least ½) your plate with high quality nutrition and fiber and even help you control your weight and blood pressure.

Skim the fat –Use evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream in all your holiday baking.

Swap the grains – Add a little whole grain to your buffet. When I make bread in my breadmaker, I usually use half white flour and half whole wheat flour. You can sneak whole wheat flour into other recipes as well.

Go easy on the gravy – Think “drizzle” instead of “drown”. You can also try putting a few tablespoons on the side of your plate and dipping your turkey into the gravy.

Enjoy leftovers – Leave some for later! Be creative in how you use leftovers… turkey in wraps or soups and veggies in omelets. It’s fine to continue enjoying your leftovers up to five days after the holiday, then freeze for later use.

Focus on family and fun – After your meal, go for a walk, toss a ball around, MOVE a little. Just standing up (as opposed to sitting) allows your digestive system to work a little better.

Give to others – What better way to celebrate our abundance than by sharing it with those who have less? I have a friend that would make an extra Thanksgiving feast and deliver one to a shelter. That was a favorite memory and part of the holiday every year for her son.

Maybe I’ll sauté those celery and onions in a little olive oil instead of butter and use some extra sage and less salt. How will you make your holiday healthy this year?

References:

“Make Healthier Holiday Choices,” 10 Tips Series No. 32. 2013. USDA. www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet32MakeHealthierHolidayChoices.pdf

“MyPlate Holiday Makeover.” 2013. USDA. www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/infographics/2013-HolidayMakeover.pdf

Rodack, J. “9 Healthy Substitutions for Everyday Foods.” American Heart Association. 2014. https://www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/heart-healthy-cooking-tips/healthy-substitutions/

“The Natural Beauty of Fruits and Vegetables.” American Heart Association. 2014. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/SimpleCookingwithHeart/The-Natural-Beauty-of-Fruits-and-Vegetables_UCM_430112_Article.jsp

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Kathryn Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County

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A friend on Facebook wrote this, “The month of November is National Adoption Month. The best decision I EVER made in my life was opening my heart up to the possibility that I could be a mother without giving birth. So thankful to God.” It started me thinking.

More than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system are awaiting permanent families. National Adoption Month is a time to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care.

Some reasons people choose to adopt may include:

  • infertility
  • alternative way to grow their family
  • in order to add to their family
  • to help a specific child
  • for social justice reasons

If you’re thinking about adopting a child, there’s a lot to consider. 

  • If you’ve had infertility problems, are you ready to move on? Before you adopt, you may want to take the time to process your emotions about what you’ve been through in trying to have a baby.

Adoption awareness month 2014

  • Are you ready for the responsibility? Becoming a parent is a lifelong commitment. The responsibility doesn’t stop even when they are adults – it is just different.
  • Who do you want to bring into your family? Consider the child’s age, the child’s ethnic background and U.S. or international adoption options.
  • How long are you willing to wait? All adoptions involve paperwork, background checks, and waiting, but some take longer than others. Adopting an infant within the U.S. usually takes between 3 and 24 months; adopting older children from foster care usually takes 2 to 12 months. International adoptions can take up to 5 years, depending on the country.
  • Are you ready financially? The fees involved in adopting an infant in the U.S. typically run as much as $40,000, and in some instances, they may go higher. Make sure the initial estimate that you’re given includes all costs, such as a home study, background checks, travel expenses (if applicable), and post-placement costs; there shouldn’t be any additional or hidden fees. Check and see if your employer will pay part of your adoption fees, sometimes this is one of your benefits.
  • Do you have support? If you have a partner, are you both eager to adopt? If you already have kids, are they prepared for the family to grow?

 

If, after answering all these questions, you still feel ready to adopt, it’s most likely time to take the next step and contact an adoption agency.

Do your “homework”. There is much to be said on both sides of the adoption “coin”.

The legal definition of adoption is: the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family.

But, on a different level, many children have never felt the warmth and joy that comes from a forever family. Most have been placed in agency custody due to parental neglect or physical abuse. The good news is that the lives of these children can be brightened forever by just one person.  It has many facets and touches people in different ways—depending on their role and perspective.

This month gives us a time to reflect on the magnitude of the matter, ignite a discussion and explore resources that may be helpful to those wanting to consider the opportunity.

Some excellent resources are cited in The Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Parents

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/impact_parent/#whyadopt

Additional resource used for this information: Are You Ready to Adopt? http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/ready-to-adopt

Written by: Kathryn K Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County

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

Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

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Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness to others. Despite the importance of how people should wash hands many young and old forget. Germs are tiny microorganisms that exist all around us and are invisible to the human eye.

They are different types of germs and how long they can live on the surfaces. These germs are on handles, door, keyboards, cell phones, shopping carts and most things we touch daily. Touching one of these contaminated surfaces then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, a cut, or other opening in the body, can lead to an infectious disease.

Some germs live in body fluids like mucus, pus, and stool. Even the invisible drops released when people talk, cough, sneeze can carry germs. Some germs spread through the air when some one coughs or sneezes they can release germs. When harmful germs are inhaled, they can cause illness.

Communicable diseases are ones that we can spread from one person to another. Handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (think Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrhea and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. There are many vaccines to help us prevent many of these infectious diseases but for other illnesses the number one way to for prevention is HANDWASHING!

Start with Healthy Preventative Habits:

  • Wash Hands often. Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available. Rub hands together to make lather and scrub all surfaces. Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds. Rinse hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet. hands
  • Wash hands after using bathroom, playing with pets, being outside
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve- don’t cough into the air or on your hands
  • Handle and prepare food safely
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Don’t share personal items … like drinking from the same cup.

 Get Immunized: A process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. Protect yourself, your family, and friends.

Remember Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness to others. Reducing illness increases productivity, less time at doctor appointments and more time at work or school. Protect yourself today get immunized and wash your hands!

Writer: Marie Economos, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Western Reserve EERA, economos.2@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Resources:

Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

Ohio Department of Health: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/features/odhfeatures/handwashing.aspx

 

 

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