Archive for March, 2015

As we head into spring many of the wonderful green vegetables come into season and are readily available. These green powerhouse foods are the foods most strongly associated with reducing chronic disease risk and are described as green leafy and cruciferous. Plants produce phytochemicals like antioxidants, flavonoids, phytonutrients, flavones, and isoflavones. Green plants specifically produce the phytochemical lutein which has been shown to benefit eye health, cancer prevention, and heart health. Included in this food group are: kabr sproutsle, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, artichokes, and collard greens. The phytochemical beta carotene is not only found in dark orange foods, it is also found in the rich green founds of spinach, collard greens, kale, and broccoli. As we have often heard, beta carotene benefits the immune system, vision, and skin and bone health.

Cruciferous vegetables like: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, collards, and watercress are members of the “Cruciferae or Brassicaceae Family”. Plants in the Cruciferae family have flowers with four equal-sized petals in the shape of a cross. Many of these cruciferous vegetables are found to be “cancer fighting machines”, according to Fruits and Veggies More Matters. Studies show they lower the rates of prostate cancer and may even stop the growth of cancer cells in the lung, colon, liver, and breast.

Another reason to fill up on colorful vegetables is they may help you to age well. Foods rich in antioxidants (like leeks, lettuce and kale) can help fight free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that contribute to the aging process.

Many of the power house green vegetables will soon be available in farmers markets but if you would like to start your own in a container garden follow these links to resources to get you started. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1647.html or http://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/herbveggie.cfm.

Try planting: spinach, leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, peppers, herbs, or cucumbers to start your own patch of power house green foods. container garden

Writers: Lisa Barlage and Michelle Treber, Extension Educators, Family and Consumer Sciences.

Reviewer: Liz Smith, SNAP- Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Photos by: Michelle Treber and Lisa Barlage.


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Spring has arrived!  Imagine warmer days, flowers blooming and the smell of fresh cut lawns!  It’s also the perfect time to take inventory of our health.

  • Schedule appointments and health screenings.  Talk with your doctor to determine a health plan that works for you.
  • De-clutter your medicine cabinet.  Medication should be stored in a dry, cool cabinet.  Check the expiration dates of all medications.   Check with the drug stores or police departments to learn how to dispose safely of old medications.
  • Discard old makeup.  Most products have a one year shelf life.  Throw out products that have an odor or separation of ingredients.
  • Find your calm.  Learn to decrease stress instantly.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, envision a place that is peaceful.
  • Choose in-season, local produce.  Visit a farmers’ market and gain nutritional benefits with spring produce.
  • Go outside-talk a walk and benefit from physical activity and the wonders of the arrival of spring.
  •  Improve your happiness – get rid of clothes in your closet that don’t flatter you.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t want.  Research reveals that helping out others improves our happiness.

Take these steps to help improve your overall health and enjoy spring!

Author:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD,LD.  Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/spring-clean

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If you haven’t already registered for our Spring Email Wellness Challenge – now is the time!

Who can participate? Any adult wanting to live healthy life with support from Ohio State University Extension.

What is it? A “Spring Clean Your Wellness Routine” email challenge, which provides you with two emails a week on a variety of health topics.

Where? In the convenience of your own home, office, or pocket.

When? March 30 through May 10, 2015

How do I participate? Click on http://go.osu.edu/sp15ross to register.

Why?  We work better together.  Supporting one another in living a healthy lifestyle is a smart and fun thing to do.

Participants will learn about these topics or wellness behaviors:

Vegetables and Fruits—Find ways to eat vegetables and fruits on half your plate.

 Fitness Focus—Ideas to move more.

Roasted Vegetables—Try new recipes for veggies and fruits.

Local Foods—Visit a Farmer’s Market or the local foods section of your store.

Gardening with Herbs—Plant an herb, vegetable or fruit in a container or plot garden.

Seasoning with Herbs—Use herbs instead of salt to season foods.

Stress Relief—Manage stress and maintaining a positive attitude.

Contact: Lisa Barlage, barlage.7@osu.edu for additional information.

The program is funded by Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners Cooperating.

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Frequently, college students may not select or purchase the most healthful options while at school. With the major shift in environment and academics, students can put the focus of nutritious eating on the back burner. As a result, several college students tend to gain weight.

Many factors can explain why students may not eat healthfully, including a lack of nutrition and diet education, social pressure, taste, and a lack of exposure prior to coming to college. Students may go for the most appealing, accessible, and easy options which can frequently include energy-dense, nutrient-poor, high-sodium, and high-fat products.

Let’s set the scenario: you are an incoming freshman with an unlimited meal plan. Back home you may have been used to eating home-cooked meals or what your parents provided you, but perhaps for the first time in your life you make all of the selections of what you eat every day. As many dining hall operate, you can basically treat each meal as an all-you-can-eat buffet. The choices are endless and calories never cross your mind. Breakfast could be a healthy choice such as fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt with almonds or it could be bacon, sausage, pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and toast. Which would you choose?

If you were any of the new college students around the country (that are not exactly focused on health), you may have chosen the latter. It’s often hard to keep nutrition and portion sizes in mind when there is such a selection in front of you. What students may not realize at the moment is that making these food choices into their usual dietary behaviors can become an unhealthy habit over time. These poor dietary habits can persist through adulthood, affecting their and their family’s health. Not only do poor dietary choices tend to carry over into adulthood when established at a young age, but they can also affect academic performance in college students. Many studies have found this to be true, noting the extreme importance of a healthy balanced diet while in school.
Social marketing and nutrition advertising in the dining halls have become emerging strategies in influencing students’ dietary choices. These tools can be used to increase awareness and motivate students to select healthier food choices. But, beyond these techniques what can we as parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and other adult role models do to encourage these young adults to prevent poor eating habits and weight gain. We all know how difficult it can be to lose the weight once it is gained, so prevention is key.

Talking with your young adult and encouraging some good habits early may lead to healthier choices. Some of these include:

• Encouraging calorie free beverages. Many teens and young adults do not realize the number of calories they are consuming simply from their drinks. Encourage water, unsweetened tea, sugar-free sodas, low-fat dairy, or other calorie-free beverages. This simple change can make a huge difference.

• Talk about ways to increase fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. Snacks can be great ways to incorporate more of these daily. Teens and young adults often tend to love dips. Encourage low fat or low calorie dips with fruits and vegetables as a healthy way to snack. www.choosemyplate.org is a fantastic site that offers a plethora of tips on healthy eating as well as a SuperTracker that can help students plan, analyze, and track their diet and physical activity with personalized goal setting, virtual coaching, and journaling!

• Be physically active. This can be easier for young teens and adults on a college campus due to the amount of walking between buildings. Often times the college has a great facility for physical activities to be tried and sustained. Encourage the use of these facilities and ask your teen or young adult about this.

• Finally, talk to your teen or young student about portion sizes. College can be a great social experience and time to try new and different foods. Talk to them enjoying new tastes, but doing so in moderation.

We can all do our part in encouraging healthy behaviors and preventing weight gain. Helping our young adults do that can make a difference in the present and future.

Authors: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic intern/student, Bowling Green State University

Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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


Peterson S, Duncan DP, Null DB, Roth SL, Gill L. Positive changes in perceptions and selections of healthful foods by college students after a short-term point-of-selection intervention at a dining hall. Journal of American College Health. 2010;58:425-431.

Wald A, Muennig PA, O’Connell KA, Garber CE. Associations between healthy lifestyle behaviors and academic performance in U.S. undergraduates: A secondary analysis of the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment II. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2014;28:298-305.


Photo credit: kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/college/freshman_15.html


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Pants getting tight in the waist? Did you know waist circumference is a better gauge of heart disease risk than body mass index (BMI)? When researchers compared people with the same BMI but different waist sizes, they found people with larger waists were more at risk.

Measurements that signal you are at high risk for heart disease are a waist of 35 or more inches for women and 40 or more inches for men. bmi To accurately measure your waist, wrap a measuring tape around your bare abdomen just above your belly button. Exhale and don’t suck in your stomach or pull the tape real tight.

Why is waist size so important? Generally, as your waist size increases so does the visceral fat you have in your body. Visceral fat surrounds your organs and having more increases your risk of heart disease.

Visceral fat produces hormones and other factors which promote inflammation. Inflammation is a key player in the accumulation of cholesterol plaque inside your arteries. More plaque inside your arteries means higher risk of heart disease.

You have probably heard that people who are pear-shaped (carry more weight in their hips and thighs are less at risk for heart disease. Whereas, an apple-shaped (people who carry their weight in the abdominal area are a greater risk.
Why do some people acquire more visceral fat? For some it is genetic, ethnic, and gender related. Mutations in a particular gene can cause your body to produce more visceral fat than people without that gene. Groups of people with a higher propensity for abdominal fat include natives of India and South Asia. Black women and white men also have a tendency to accumulate more visceral fat.

How do you shed visceral fat? Visceral fat is the first fat you lose when losing weight. If you lose 7% of your excess weight, it will help you lower your risk of heart disease. The best way to reduce visceral fat is to eat fewer carbohydrates and be more physically active. To cut back on foods rich in carbohydrates eat less bread, crackers, potatoes, pasta, rice, cakes, cookies, and candy. These foods trigger your body to produce more insulin which signals your body to store fat.

For physical activity, a combination of strength training and aerobic movement is best. dumbbell-pair-299535_1280 Participate in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. Brisk walking and strength training are good examples of activity. Exercises like sit-ups or other abdominal exercises are great, but won’t help get rid of your belly.

So, be physically active and cut back on carbohydrates to reduce your visceral fat and your waist measurement. This will help reduce your risk of heart disease, the number one killer of American women and men.

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

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, West Region, Ohio State University Extension


Harvard Medical School, [2015]. Harvard Heart Letter, 25(7) 4.

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rainforestRainforests are Earth’s oldest living ecosystem. They cover only 6% of the Earth’s surface, yet they contain more than one half of the world’s plant and animal species. You may never get the opportunity to see a rainforest, but you are actually living very close to another type of ecosystem. It’s called a microbiome, and it resides primarily inside your gastrointestinal tract. It contains trillions of bacterial cells that help you digest food, as well as influencing your appetite, metabolism, immune system and mood. Your microbiome also affects your risk for disease, one of them being obesity. Your intestines literally house a “microbial ecosystem” that works hand-in-hand with your human cells. It is imperative that those two ecologies work in harmony and maintain a symbiotic relationship to support each other’s (and by extension your) health.

How can they do that?

The more diverse your microbiome, the easier it is to manage your weight. As humans, we share 99.9% of the same human DNA. But no two people share the same microbiome. We acquire different bacterial strains through our family, co-workers, pets, and perfect strangers. We also change it daily with our food choices. It is an ever-evolving process, and one that you actually have a lot of control over.

Research into the causes of obesity has shown that (1) composition of gut microbiome plays a significant role in weight gain. Obesity is also associated with (2) a decrease in the overall diversity of your gut bugs (even though the total number of “bugs” may remain the same). What essentially happens is that certain groups of (not-so-great) bacteria take the place of other (healthier) bacterial groups. The replacing bacteria are better at harvesting energy from food than the bacteria they replaced, thus resulting in increased calorie intake and an increase in weight.

Picture this: someone in your neighborhood builds a new home. To do that, the yard is ripped up while the home is being built. At some point, landscaping and new grass will be planted, but until that happens, you will probably see many weeds weedsgrowing in the dirt. That’s because the bad growth has lots of opportunity to survive with the good stuff gone. The same thing is true in your body. If you go on an antibiotic and kill off a lot of your good bacteria, it will give bad bacteria an opportunity to flourish. As well, if you make food choices that don’t support the colonies of good bacteria you need, others will take their place. That imbalance in your microbiome may ultimately make it easier to gain weight, and conversely, harder to lose it. Yikes!

What should I eat to maintain a healthy microbiome (and weight)?
The best food choices for a healthy microbiome are plant foods. Most whole plant foods contain decent amounts of fiber. Examples would be the seeds, strings, peels, skins, pulp, and bran present in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Those fibrous bits and pieces remain intact all the way to your colon, where they become food for the good bacteria that live there. Your gut bugs ferment them, break them down, and provide us with awesome byproducts such as butyric acid, acetic acid, and vitamins. Constantly eating fast food or foods high in fat and sugar may cause bad bacteria to bloom and good ones to disappear.

The Takeaway

If pressed, most of us would admit that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. They provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They are also low in calories, so including them in your meals or as snacks will enhance your efforts to lose weight. But plant foods are the primary fuel for our gut bugs, and improved bacterial colonies enhance our efforts to lose weight as well. Gut bugs and microbiome. Who knew??

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA.

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


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Could You Save A Life?

heartbeat-163709_1280Have you ever been in a situation where a teen or adult suddenly collapsed for no apparent reason? The leading cause of such a collapse is cardiac arrest which is usually caused by an abnormal heart rhythm. In these cases, the person has been breathing normally which means that there should be enough oxygen in the blood for the first several minutes. Every year, people in cardiac arrest die because bystanders, friends or family don’t know what to do and are afraid that they might hurt the person.
The chances for survival are nearly zero unless someone immediately takes action.

What would you do?

It is important to act quickly to keep blood pumping to the brain and heart which delivers oxygen to the lungs and blood. This can be accomplished by high-quality chest compressions until medical help arrives. This can be done by using CPR.

Many of us are aware of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Traditional CPR involves chest compressions and breathing into the mouth of the person needing help. Even those who had been trained in CPR were sometimes hesitant to help someone that they didn’t know.

In 2008, the American Heart Association recommended Hands-Only CPR which is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. Untrained individuals can use this to help save a person’s life until help arrives.

A national survey found that Americans who had not been trained in traditional CPR in the past five years would be more likely to perform Hands-Only CPR on a teen or adult who has collapsed suddenly. Performing Hands-Only CPR is easy to remember and effective.

So, what should you do if you see someone collapse or you come upon someone who is non-responsive?

1. Tap the person on the shoulder and shout “Are you okay?” At the same time, look for signs of breathing.
2. Call 911 or if someone else is there, yell for them to make the call.
3. Begin Chest Compressions.
4. DON’T STOP until help arrives.

To properly do chest compressions:
• Place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest
• Place the heel of the other hand on top of the first and lace your fingers together
• Keep your arms straight and position your shoulders directly over your hands
• Push hard and fast – the beat of the Bee Gees’ disco classic, “Stayin’Alive” is the perfect rhythm!

There are still some situations where traditional CPR is recommended such as with infants, children, victims of drowning, drug overdoses, etc. But even in those cases, Hands-Only CPR will not harm the person. Any attempt at CPR is better than none!

How can you learn how to do Hands-Only CPR?

There are online tutorials at both the American Heart Association and American Red Cross sites:

So remember – any attempt at CPR is better than none! Take a few minutes to watch the videos on the above sites and if the situation should ever arise, you may be the one to save a life!
Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

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

Sources: The American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/prepare/hands-only-cpr.
The American Heart Association http://go.osu.edu/heartorghandsonlycpr

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