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Archive for April, 2015

What goes into the body dictates what comes out. Did you know your poop may actually be a useful reference tool for you to judge the quality of your diet? Take some time to look into the toilet before you flush; you may be surprised at the contents.

Poop

Poop is an important indicator of health. Your food choices have a lot to do with whether or not you make good poop or bad poop. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes healthy bowel function because of the presence of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber eases the elimination of waste products.
Drinking enough water or fluids is also essential to making good poop. Adding fluids helps regulate bowel movements and aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

What’s in your poop?
restroom
Poop is about 75% water. The other 25% includes fiber, bacteria, and mucus. Soluble fibers you eat, such as the white part of an apple or pear, turn into a gel-like substance that helps hold your poop together. Insoluble fibers (seeds, strings, peels, pulp, bran) are harder to break apart and may actually come through your poop partially undigested.

Color

An unusual color of poop (not brown), may be caused by something totally normal; or an indication of a more serious problem.
• Red: Eating beets, cranberries, red gelatin, or red velvet cake may cause red poop. However, bright red poop may also signal bleeding in your digestive system. Common reasons for that include hemorrhoids, a stomach ulcer, or colon cancer.
• Green: Green food coloring, green leafy vegetables, iron supplements, or a C dif infection.
• Yellow: Yellow poop can indicate problems with the gallbladder and/or liver. Bile salts from the liver give poop its brown color, so when there is a lack of bile, your stool may be yellow.
• White or gray: White or gray poop may reflect a lack of bile, which can indicate serious problems such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, a blocked bile duct, or pancreatitis.

Shape

If your poop is small and hard-to-pass, you are most likely constipated. Common reasons include a lack of fiber and water in your diet. Stools too loose? You might be suffering from celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, bowel cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation of the pancreas, or just have a viral, bacterial or parasite infection. If your poop is pencil-thin, the reason may be something as simple as constipation, or as serious as a bowel obstruction. Healthy poop is usually 1-2 inches in diameter.

Weight

Poop should sink to the bottom. If your poop floats instead of sinks, it may be trying to tell you there is too much fat in your diet. It might also mean you have an issue in your pancreas that’s preventing digestive enzymes from breaking down the fat in your food. Or, it could just be a food allergy or infection that is damaging the lining of your intestine.

Smell

If your poop smells like rotten eggs (sulphur), and you have diarrhea, you may have a parasitic infection called giardia. Other odiferous contributors include colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and celiac disease.

Time

Digestion can take anywhere from 24-72 hours. There is no “normal” when it comes to how many times one should poop daily. Your body develops its own routine, and that is normal for YOU!!

Farting

Farting is a sign that good bacteria is breaking down and fermenting your food. Passing gas 10-18 times per day is normal.

Bottom Line

If there is anything that looks a bit unusual about your poop or pee, please consult your doctor for a proper assessment of your health.

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

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/stool-color/expert-answers/faq-20058080
http://www.webmd.com/women/features/digestive-problems
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003132.htm

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Safe, high quality home canned foods begin with the right equipment, used properly.  Why risk losing your time and food dollar through spoilage?  Check and assemble good equipment before the season begins, then maintain it well.

Check jars and bands.  Discard chipped jars and rusted or distorted bands.

Have pressure gauges checked.  Check with your local Extension office for Food Preservation Workshop or pressure canner gauge testing dates/times.

Check seals on last summer’s produce. canned foods

Make plans to use up last summer’s produce (both frozen and canned) to make room for new products and to prevent waste of food.

Check files to make sure your food preservation information is complete and up-to-date.

HOME CANNER’S QUESTIONS

  1. I have several peanut butter, pickle and quart-sized mayonnaise jars which I would like to be able to use for canning. Is it safe to use these jars in a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner?
  2. NO! Use only standard canning jars for home canning as these jars have been specially annealed to withstand the heat necessary in the home canning process. However, these make good refrigerator storage jars, are a perfect solution for your picnic packaging  needs, or can be recycled at your local recycling center.
  3. How long is it safe to store canned food?
  4. For optimum quality of food, plan to use home-canned food within one year. After 1 year, quality of food goes down, but is still safe as long as the seal is still intact and there is no sign of spoilage.  Whatever the age, ALWAYS boil low-acid, pressure canned food a full 10 minutes.  Twenty (20) minutes for corn, spinach and meats) to destroy any botulism toxins.  DO NOT taste prior to boiling.
  5. Which pressure canner is more accurate– the kind with a dial or the one with a weight control?
  6. Both are accurate if used and cared for according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some people like numbers on a dial; others prefer the sight and sound (“jiggling” noise) of the weight control.
  7. Do I have to use a pressure canner to can low acid foods such as green beans, corn, potatoes, etc.?
  8. YES, YES, YES!!! Low-acid foods must be canned in a pressure canner. Whether food should be processed in a pressure canner or boiling-water canner to control botulinum bacteria depends on the acidity of the food. Acidity may be natural, as in most fruits, or added, as in pickled food. Low-acid canned foods are not acidic enough to prevent the growth of these bacteria. Acid foods contain enough acid to block their growth, or destroy them more rapidly when heated. The term “pH” is a measure of acidity; the lower its value, the more acid the food. The acidity level in foods can be increased by adding lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar.

Low-acid foods have pH values higher than 4.6. They include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes.  For more information – check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.

Resources/References:

OSU Extension’s page on food safety:  http://fcs.osu.edu/food-safety.

National Center for Home Food Preservation – www.http://nchfp.uga.edu/.

Written by:  Cynthia R. Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA.

Reviewed by:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA.

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7066102771_036ffa76ba_nWe’ve all heard that “April Showers bring May Flowers” but those same showers are ushering in allergy season. Some experts are saying that this might be an especially bad season for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies. We had a long, cold winter and suddenly warm weather has arrived and many trees, shrubs and grasses are blooming at the same time increasing the pollen in the air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at least 17.6 million people suffer from hay fever – so you are not alone!

So what can you do to minimize the sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat? Several useful tips are provided below.

It’s important to keep pollen out of your personal environment.

• Leave your shoes at the door. Pollen coming into the house on shoes, clothing and even your pets can worsen your symptoms.

• Wash your hair and change your clothes before going to bed. If you sleep in the same shirt you wore outside, all of the pollen that has attached to the shirt will surround you all night!

• Control the air inside your home. Close windows and doors on high pollen days. Utilize your air conditioner or furnace and remember to change the air filters!

• When you are in your car, use the recirculate option with the air conditioner. Keep windows and overhead vents closed.

• Dry your clothes in a dryer – don’t hang them outside.

See your doctor. Many people are helped by over the counter medicines but others may benefit from visiting an allergist for testing and treatment.

You can be proactive with your allergies – check the daily pollen count and then plan your activities. Pollen counts are usually lower in the evening so that might be a good time for outdoor exercises such as walking. If grass pollen is especially bothersome to you it might be worth it to hire someone else to mow the lawn for you!

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Sources:
Spring Allergy Season Could be a Bloomin’ Nightmare
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=188018

Allergy Relief Tips Wherever You Go.
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-relief-10/seasonal-allergy-checklistt

Allergies and Hay Fever.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm#

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Arthritis affects more than 1 in 5 people, or 52.5 million U.S adults. The word arthritis means joint inflammation, and can be associated with over 100 million rheumatic diseases (1). The diseases can vary in severity and can affect many joints, organs, and a person’s immune system. Someone can develop arthritis at any age, and some arthritis types are more common in women, the elderly, and people with a family history. A few common signs and symptoms of arthritis are painful joints, swelling and stiffness, and fatigue.

There has been research to determine whether or not diet and lifestyle can improve arthritis pain and flare-ups. Diets have been researched that eliminate dairy, red meat, sugar, caffeine, fats, nightshade plants (tomatoes, eggplant), and salt, with positive results. Another research study shows a vegan diet, with polyunsaturated, and omega-3 supplements have a mild benefit to people with arthritis (2).

skeleton with arthritis

“Pain-Safe Foods” are known to rarely contribute to arthritis. These foods include brown rice, cooked green, yellow or orange vegetables, water, and cooked or dried fruits (except for citrus fruits). People have different trigger foods, and slowly eliminating different types of foods can help you determine which is encouraging the inflammation. Some common trigger foods include dairy, corn, meats, eggs, citrus, potatoes, tomatoes, coffee, nuts, and wheat, oats, and rye (2).

berries

The Arthritis Foundation recommends regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight to lessen inflammation in a person with arthritis (4). Today, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Studies show that weight loss relieves pressure on a person’s knees, lessens body pain, and lowers inflammation levels in the body (3). The CDC recommends people under the age of 65 to have 150 minutes or moderate intensity activity and muscle strength training at least 2 days a week. For people over the age of 65, the same recommendations are listed, but with the addition of balance activities at least 3 days a week (5).

Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating disease. With lifestyle and diet modifications, pain can be lessened and daily activities can be enjoyable again. Begin with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and follow a Doctor’s medication recommendations, and you are more likely to live a life with less pain!

stretching

Author(s):  Jennifer Even, OSU Extension Educator, FCS/EFNEP, Hamilton County; Tia Jackson, Dietetic Intern, University of Cincinnati.

Reviewer:  Marilyn Rabe, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/
  2. http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/foods-and-arthritis
  3. http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/losing-weight/benefits-of-weight-loss/weight-joint-pain.php
  4. http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/chronic/arthritis_disability_fs.htm
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pa_overview.htm

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Drinking a smoothie is an easy way to sneak in a serving or two of fruits and veggies towards your daily goal. A smoothie is great for breakfast, on the go meal, or a snack. Here’s how to blend a fruit- and veggie-packed smoothie that’s nutritious, satisfying and energizing.

 kalesmoothie

  1. Choose a Base Start with a liquid base such as low-fat milk, soymilk, or nonfat Greek yogurt that delivers protein, vitamins, and minerals with a sensible amount of calories. If using juice, choose 100% grape, orange, apple, or cranberry varieties and try adding just a splash of it to a milk base so you don’t miss out on the protein. Remember juice adds extra sugar and calories so watch portion sizes.
  2. Add Fruit When adding fruit, most fresh, frozen and canned fruits shine in smoothies. For calorie control and to cap added sugar, choose plain, unsweetened frozen fruit and drain canned fruit packed in water or light syrup to reduce excess sugar. Slicing bananas and freezing them works really well.
  3. Yes…you can add veggies! Even vegetables can be added to smoothies. Just remember to use mild-tasting veggies so their flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. If using a standard blender, you may need to chop them very finely or add a little water to help the blending process. Cucumbers, spinach, kale, and beets are popular options.
  4. Nutrient Boosters Super-charge your smoothie with flavorful and nutrient-packed blend-ins such as flaxseed, chia seeds, quick oats, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger), unsweetened cocoa powder, or powdered peanut butter.
  5. Less is More Remember to keep smoothie ingredients simple and take a ‘less is more’ approach. The more ingredients in a smoothie, the more calories it contains.

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana

1/2 cup coconut milk, skim milk, soymilk, nonfat Greek yogurt, or almond milk

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach

1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)

1 ripe banana, chopped

Water for desired consistency

  1. Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
  2. You can add a few almonds for extra protein if you would like!

For a great beet smoothie click here https://foodhero.org/recipes/un-beet-able-berry-smoothie.

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

www.realsimple.com

www.foodhero.org

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Sugar

Many people are consuming more sugar each day in foods and drinks then they realize. Added sugars contribute zero daily nutrient needs to our daily diet. A few things that most of us consume that have sugars include: regular soft drinks, sugars, candy, cookies, cakes, pies, fruit drinks, dairy desserts and sweetened milk. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they’re processed or prepared. These added calories can lead to extra pounds and have been cited to contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But the added sugar Americans consume as part of their daily diet can more than double the risk of death from heart disease, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon

How much sugar is just right for you? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. The AHA recommendations focus on all added sugars, without singling out any particular types such as high-fructose corn syrup.  For more detailed information and guidance on sugar intake limits, see the scientific statement in the August 2009 issue of Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association. According to the study, most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day.

For more tips on healthy eating, cooking and recipes: Simple Cooking with Heart www.heart.org/simplecooking

Resources:

Journal of the American Heart: Circulation, August 2009. http://circ.ahajournal

Writer Marie Economos, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Trumbull County, Western Reserve EERA

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

 

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While you can find an app for just about anything you want to track or organize… they are not all created equal. University of Missouri Extension has some tips to help you make SMART choices when selecting health and nutrition apps.

S: What is the source of the app? Is it a research-based source like a University or at least a non-biased organization? You can learn more about an app if it has a website associated with it. Look for things like or contradicting health information and incorrect grammar to indicate poor quality.

M: Does the app meet your needs? If you are tracking food, is the database of foods large enough to reflect the types of foods you eat? If recipes are part of the app, do they reflect the types of food you like to prepare and eat? Do you have the equipment the health app is requiring?

A: What actions will you take? Does the app require you to track something, or maybe encourage social media as a source of support? Does the app provide useful information?

R: What do the reviews say? Take some time to carefully review an app before you download it. What do the professional organizations have to say? Is the app user-friendly? For registered dietician reviews on nutrition apps, check out the Visit the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

T: Do you have the time? If the app requires tracking, is this something you will take time to do?

app

Check out this list of suggested apps from Extension research professionals in Missouri and Iowa. Before you spend your time and phone storage space, make sure the app is a SMART choice for you and your health goals.

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

Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County

Photo credit: Fairleigh Dickinson University

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