Archive for the ‘Healthy People’ Category


I recently re-read an older study that found those who had watches had higher levels of stress and heart disease. The conclusion was that those who checked their watches were more worried about being places, being on time, etc. This study reminded me of my behavior when I lost my watch, and felt lost for a while. In fact I kept checking my wrist to see what time it was. I can’t say that I was less stressed without my watch, or at least from my recollection. I wondered if the watch example relates to other monitoring, or checking activities we do every day like weighing ourselves, setting alarms, checking e-mails, getting dings on each new text, traffic alerts of a broken down car ahead, using a steps counter, monitoring heart rate, sitting time, blood pressure, or blood sugars? There are even devices that measure stress! Are all of these “feedback” devices important and necessary to our health and quality of life?

As a type 1 diabetic, I check my blood glucose about 3 times per day and make adjustments to what I eat, do, or how much insulin I take. I’ve been considering a continuous blood glucose monitor that will check my sugar automatically every 5 minutes so that I would be better able to manage diabetes. It should make me healthier, right? This watch study keeps popping into my mind as I contemplate purchasing this device. I should have better blood sugar levels, but what about my stress? Will my obsession with blood sugars numbers outweigh any gains with improved bio-metrics?

Like anything in science, we have to be careful about overgeneralizing one study and applying the results to other things in life. Comparing the stress of obsessing over time to blood sugar monitoring might be a stretch, but I think we need to be concerned about the broader context of the impact of technology on our mental health. Is it really important to know how many steps I got in before noon, or the sleep patterns that a Fitbit monitors? Do all of these things help us be healthier, or more stressed, and prone to anxiety and depression?

Mental health experts are all asking these very questions. Mindfulness exercises might be an approach that can help us deal with the frenzied pace of life, and the constant feedback that many of these devices offer. Mindfulness is a mind and body practice that centers on the connections between the brain, mind, body and behavior. Benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety and rumination
  • Improved attention, memory and the ability to focus
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Increased immune system
  • Relationship satisfaction and promotion of empathy and compassion

Take a break from your  “devices” and practice the following:

  • Breathing exercises can be done individually, or by listening to an instructor or an audio guide of a breathing exercise. Unlike when breathing is an automatic function, this mindful technique encourages taking a moment to be present, and focus on completely inhaling and exhaling air in and out of the lungs. Afterwards, this exercise usually leads to the healthy default of deeper, slower breathing.
  • A Body Scan simply means noticing each part of the body without judgement. It can be done sitting or lying down and helps with awareness of each part of the body and how it feels at the moment.
  • Imagery exercises help picture a calming place for relaxation. This technique, also called visualization, focuses on a positive mental image to replace negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation includes tensing and relaxing different muscle groups of the body to decrease physical tension in the muscles. The tensing and releasing encourages letting go of physical stress.
  • Yoga, tai chi or other physical activity that helps focus on the body and current movements offer a physical focus on the meditation. They offer physical benefits as well as mental relaxation.
  • Mindful Eating promotes taking the time to slow down to enjoy food by using all the senses. This can encourage feelings of gratefulness, fullness and greater enjoyment of food.

Consider other stress management techniques and consider taking “digital device holidays,” immerse yourself in nature, go hiking, camping but be sure to unplug every now and then. Take off your watch, step counter, turn off your phone, TV, computer, and everything else that involves electronics. Set a goal to unplug a few times a week or month.

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

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


Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). OSU Factsheet HYG 5242 “Stress Coping Methods” found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Levine, R.V., Lynch, K., Miyake, K. et al. J Behav Med (1989) 12: 509. doi:10.1007/BF00844822

Powers-Barker, P. (2016).  OSU Factsheet HYG-5243-0 “Introduction to Mindfulness” found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243-0 

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essential-oils-1433694_1920Increasingly, I hear friends and relatives talking up the benefits of essential oils. So, what are essential oils, and what makes them so magical?

Essential oils are oils extracted from plants. They come from various plant parts including roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits, although not all plants produce essential oils.

Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for centuries, and while there is little published research on them, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers 160 essential oils “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) when they are used as intended.

Essential oils have a variety of purposes. They may help with:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Appetite suppression
  • Skin conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • … and more!

If you’re interested in using essential oils, be sure to do your research as you choose which oils to use and how to apply them. Essential oils can be applied to the skin, inhaled or ingested, but methods of application vary in effectiveness and safety from one oil to another. For example, while wound care often involves topical application of oil to the skin, some oils require dilution before topical application or they will cause irritation. Additionally, ingestion is typically not recommended in the United States; oils should not be ingested unless you are directed to do so by a qualified health care provider. If you have children at home, make sure to keep essential oils out of their reach to avoid accidental ingestion. Use extra caution and talk with your doctor before using essential oils around children, while pregnant, or if you have a chronic condition like asthma, high blood pressure, cancer or severe allergies.

If you are new to essential oils and think you’re ready to give them a try, consider starting out by diffusing a common oil such as lemon or lavender throughout a room in your home. Depending on the oil you choose, you may experience its invigorating, relaxing or uplifting aroma while also reaping certain healing properties.


Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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



University of Maryland Medical Center (2011). Aromatherapy. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/aromatherapy.

University of Minnesota (2016). What Are Essential Oils? https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-are-essential-oils.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2016). Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.20.

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I had a recent health issue that reminded me to pause and take time for my health. My knuckle on my right hand hurt and was swollen. Yes, it bothered me every day but I did not think too much about it. I saw a bone and joint specialist and they took x-rays. I was to follow up with them but a different health scare (which required a minor surgery) became the priority for me. That health event turned out fine and I moved on with my life. The holidays came & went and I still had discomfort in my hand. Fast forward to a visit with my primary care office. I mentioned my finger was still bothering me. The nurse practitioner looked in my test results and said, “No wonder it still hurts, your finger was broken”. I went back to the specialist and they buddy taped it to my other finger. My finger feels better but it is still swollen and I tape it most days. I will follow up with the specialist next week and will see the next steps.smallstepsournationshealth_infographic

Why do I share this story? Because even though I spend part of my workday promoting health and wellness through my job as a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, I missed an important health event in my own life. I decided to share this story in hopes that you will make time for your health.

What can we do to improve our health?

  • Eat more veggies and fruit. Research tells us that eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Move more. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. What if you think you don’t have time for 30 minutes? Break it up into 10-minute segments. Add variety to help keep it interesting.
  • Get a family doctor. Center for Disease Control and Prevention fast stats tell us that nearly 88% have a place to go for medical care. That is awesome news! If you do not have a primary care doctor, I would encourage you to get one. They get to know you, your body and illnesses and can assist you in maintaining your health status.
  • Do not ignore your body signals. Just like my broken finger, do not ignore signals from your body. My sister survived a heart attack – even though she had chest pain, she thought it was from her breast cancer reconstruction surgery.

There are other things that we can do to improve our health. Reduce stress, quit smoking, get adequate sleep, control our weight, monitor blood pressure, know our numbers (cholesterol & glucose) and get routine health screenings. Now that I’ve shared my little story, what can YOU do to “Make Time for Your Health”?

Post your comments on this blog.

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

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu


Cancer Prevention Recommendations,  American Institute of cancer Research.  http://www.aicr.org/can-prevent/what-you-can-do/10-recommendations.html

Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults, American Heart Association. http://heart.org/healthyliving/physicalactivity

Treber, M. (2016) I thought it was just my compression bra, I didn’t think it could be a heart attack. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/09/06/i-thought-it-was-just-my-compression-bra-i-didnt-think-it-could-be-a-heart-attack/








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I know many people do not feel like they have the time or space to garden, but they love the taste of fresh vegetables and herbs in the meals that they prepare at home.

Container gardening is a great way to make this possible with minimal expense, space, and time.  This type of gardening is ideal for apartment balconies, window sills, small courtyards, patios, decks, and areas with poor soil.  They provide an ideal solution for people with limited mobility, in rental housing, or those with limited time to care for a larger landscape.  Container gardening is a way to introduce children to the joy of gardening while allowing them to experience the feeling of contributing to family meals with what they harvest.

As you begin to plan and prepare to set up your container garden, there are several things to consider:

  • Containers – clay, wood, plastic, metal5850315405_5156f7292e_n
  • Containers for vegetable plants must:
    • Be big enough to support plants when they are fully grown
    • Hold soil without spilling
    • Have adequate drainage
    • Never have held products that would be toxic to plants or people
  • Sunlight – the amount of sun that your container will get may determine which crops you grow
  • Drainage – no matter what container you choose it is important to consider drainage because plants will not grow successfully in soil that is continually waterlogged
  • Soil – it should be free of disease organisms, insects and weeds
  • Watering – container gardens require more frequent watering than plants that are planted directly in the ground. Evaporation is more likely to occur due the exposed sides of the container
  • Fertilizing – it is recommended that you mix controlled-release fertilizer granules into your soil mix when planting

2826571981_b4c46fb904_nWith appropriate containers and proper handling, anything that can be grown in the ground can be grown in a container.  Texas A & M provides a great resource for those who are considering vegetable gardening.  This information will provide you with support as you begin to set up your container garden.

Did you know that gardeners eat twice as many servings of vegetables as people who do not garden?  This is an added bonus to the joys and benefits of container gardening.

Happy gardening!!!

Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu


Colorado University State Extension, http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/container-gardens-7-238/

Texas A & M Agrilife Extension,  http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/EHT-062-vegetable-gardening-in-containers.pdf

University of Illinois Extension, https://extension.illinois.edu/containergardening/choosing_material.cfm

University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6L3FFbKYjlI


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Vitamin D is well known for contributing to strong, healthy bones. Did you know that it also contributes to the health of many other parts of the body? Vitamin D is important to your immune system, muscles, heart, brain and respiratory system. It can help fight infection, keep your cells communicating properly and even fight cancer. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with aches and pains, tiredness and frequent infections, and it has been linked to a number of health problems including:

  • Bone Conditions (e.g. rickets and osteomalacia)
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease

While most vitamins are obtained through the diet, the best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight.  Your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D each day with 15 minutes-2 hours of exposure to sunlight. The daily amount of sunlight needed for your body to produce Vitamin D varies by:

  • Skin tone – pale skin makes Vitamin D more quickly than dark skin
  • Age – our bodies have a harder time producing Vitamin D as we age
  • Location – the closer you live to the equator, the easier it is for your body to produce Vitamin D
  • Altitude –Vitamin D is produced more quickly at high altitudes when you’re closer to the sun
  • Weather – our bodies produce less Vitamin D on cloudy days than on sunny days
  • Air pollution – your body will make less Vitamin D if you live in a highly polluted area
  • Time of day – your body makes more Vitamin D if when your skin is exposed in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point
  • Skin Exposure – the more skin you expose, the more Vitamin D you produce

Keep in mind that high sun exposure can increase risks for skin cancer.  Sun screen and protective clothing/hats are recommended for protection from the sun, even though reduced sun exposure may inhibit the body from producing Vitamin D as quickly.

In the fast-paced world we live in today, the average American does not consistently get exposure to the amount of sunlight needed to produce optimal levels of Vitamin D.  If you suspect you’re not getting enough sun exposure for your body to produce Vitamin D, you can get vitamin D through diet and supplementation.  The recommended dietary allowance (i.e. the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people) is 600 IU. Foods high in Vitamin D include milk (120 IU per 8 ounce serving), salmon (450 IU per 3 ounce serving), canned tuna (150 IU per 3 ounce serving) and fortified orange juice (140 IU per 8 ounce serving).

Additionally, the Vitamin D Council recommends Vitamin D supplementation as described in the chart below:

Vitamin D recommendations Vitamin D Council
Infants 1,000 IU/day
Children 1,000 IU/day per 25 lbs of body weight
Adults 5,000 IU/day

According to the Vitamin D Council, Vitamin D toxicity can occur, but it is rare and unlikely: for example, a person would need to take a daily dose of 40,000 IU for a couple of months or longer to experience toxicity, or take a very large one-time dose such as 70,000 + IU. If you’re concerned about Vitamin D deficiency or toxicity, ask your doctor to test the level in your body.

Author: Brooke Distel, DTR, Dietetic Intern and graduate student

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, MPH, RD, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu


Brinkman, P. (2016). Keeping Sun Safe. Ohioline. http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hsc-7. 

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (2016). Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

Vitamin D Council (2017). About Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

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Is exercise contagious? In a sense, yes it is, and so are other health behaviors!

Many health behavior theories incorporate the concept of “social norms”. Social norms refer to the way people typically act and believe they should act. In reference to health, social norms include people’s beliefs about how often healthy behaviors are practiced in society or among their families and friends. Health behavior theories suggest that people tend to make healthy choices when they believe that family, friends and others in their community are doing the same thing.

In a recent study of social norms among women living in Australia, those who perceived others in their community as active where more likely to engage in physical activity themselves. Similarly, those who stated that many people in their community were frequent consumers of fast food and soda were most likely to eat fast food and drink soda regularly, and those who stated that many people in their community were healthy eaters had the highest intakes of fruits and vegetables.

In a study out of Cornell University, individuals ate more unhealthy food and less healthy food when eating with or near an overweight diner. The study findings suggest that people may be less likely to make healthy choices if they don’t believe the people they are surrounded by are making similar choices.

Recently, I have been experiencing the positive pressure of social norms firsthand because I am Facebook friends with a few of the fitness class instructors at the studio where I go to work out. These instructors post encouraging messages before their classes, often tagging members of the studio to remind them to attend. After their classes, the instructors post photos of class attendees in action. As a result, every time I log into my Facebook account, I see pictures of people I know working out! These photos reinforce exercise as normal and expected, causing me to want to join in more often!


Do your friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers encourage you to make healthy choices by modeling healthy behavior? How about your social media contacts? If you need more positive behavior reinforcement in your social media feed, consider following the Live Healthy, Live Well team and the Live Smart Ohio blog on Facebook or Twitter! You may also want to check with your local Extension office to see whether they have a social media presence.

Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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


Ball, K., Jeffery, R.W., Gavin, A., McNaughton, S.A., and Crawford, D. (2010). Is healthy behavior contagious? Associations of social norms with physical activity and healthy eating. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity; 7(86). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018448/.

Rural Health Information Hub (2016). Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Theories and Models. https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/community-health/health-promotion/2/theories-and-models.

Shimizu, M., Johnson, K. and Wansink, B. (2014). In good company: The effect of an eating companion’s appearanfe on food intake. Appetite; 83, 263-268. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666314004450.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011). Social Norms. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-norms/.

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I grew up eating black raspberries as a child. They are very hard to find these days; most of the darker colored berries in the grocery store are blackberries.  Now, you’re probably sitting there scratching your head and asking “Whatchu talking about, Willis?” Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that there are two distinct “black berry” choices.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know there was a difference; even some food companies and nutritionists don’t realize that these are two different food items. Yes, they are both berries, and yes, they are both black. But there are distinct taste and nutritional differences between the two.



What they look like: Blackberries are bigger; with larger single cells that bulge out more than the cells in a black raspberry.  The berry top appears closed.  Blackberries are more shiny or glossy than a black raspberry.

How they taste: Less tart than a red raspberry and sweeter.

Health benefits: Blackberries definitely provide health benefits, but do not contain the same levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins as black raspberries.  They have higher levels of natural sugars, which can be an issue for people with diabetes. They haven’t been studied as much as black raspberries.

black raspberries


What they look like: Looks like a red raspberry only black.  Farmers call them “blackcaps” because when the berry comes off the bush, they are hollow inside (top appears open or hollow).  The individual cells of the black raspberry are much smaller than a blackberry’s and do not protrude or stick out.

How they taste: More fruity and less tart than a blackberry. They contain less sugar, so are not as sweet. A black raspberry has a unique taste that is not like other berries.

Health benefits: Black raspberries are one of the healthiest berries you can eat.  They are lower in sugar than other berries and provide a lot of fiber (about 8 grams per cup).  They contain large amounts of anthocyanins, with approximately three times the number of antioxidants found in blackberries.  They are also one of the most highly-researched berries, especially in the area of cancer prevention.

Berry Comparison

Nutritionally, plant foods can be measured to see how many antioxidants a specific serving of food will provide. Used by the USDA, it’s called an ORAC score, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (how many free radical cells can those antioxidants sweep up or absorb). Below is a chart comparing the antioxidant content of a variety of berries. Note which version is in first place.

ORAC berry score

Bottom Line

All berries are good choices to eat for optimum health benefits. But try to acquire some black raspberries this summer when you’re out at the farm market; your body will thank you.


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


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





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