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3 milk in glass containers with a blue background

What were once considered to be novelty products, plant-based milk alternatives are now a norm in the grocery store. Whether you choose to consume plant-based milk alternatives due to health complications, personal beliefs, or purely based on preference, deciding on the best plant-based beverage for you or your family can be challenging. There are a lot of factors to consider  such as  protein and calorie content.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on the main contenders: rice, soy, oat, and almond milk. Furthermore, we will only be focusing on the nutritional components of these products. Please keep in mind that taste and price are factors to consider when choosing a plant-based beverage.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is commonly sought out by consumers who are allergic to both soy and nuts. Rice milk is relatively comparable to cow’s milk in terms of calories, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.1 Rice milk is actually higher than cow’s milk in terms of iron content.1 However, one drawback of rice milk is that it lacks an adequate amount of protein. Rice milk contains 1 gram of protein per 8 oz serving.1

Soy Milk

Soy milk compares to cow’s milk in terms of the amount of protein found in soy milk. An 8 oz. serving of soy milk offers 7-8 grams of protein.1 Soy milk is also rich in calcium, vitamin D, and iron.1 Soy milk also contains vitamin B12,2 a vitamin often under consumed in vegans and vegetarians.

Oat Milk

If iron is of main concern to you, then consider oat milk. Oat milk (1.8 mg) is higher in iron compared to cow’s milk (0.05 mg) and other plant-based beverages. When comparing calcium content, oat milk contains more calcium (350 mg) than cow’s milk (293). Oat milk is also rich in vitamin’s A and D, but is lacking in terms of vitamin B12. Lastly, oat milk is low in the category of protein content (4 g/ 8 oz. serving)

Almond Milk

bowl of milk with almonds next the bowl and a yellow napkin with various almonds

If you are looking for a low calorie plant-based milk alternative, almond milk is the option for you.1 Almond milk is also a good source of calcium (450 mg) compared to cow’s milk (293 mg).1 Almond milk is also a comparable option in terms of vitamins A and D. However, if you are looking for a beverage that is a good source of protein, almond milk is not the product for you (1 gram protein/8 oz. serving).

Bottom Line

Plant-based beverages are not a “one size fits all” for consumers. There is not one plant-based beverage that will meet will every consumer’s needs. It’s important to do your research on plant-based milk alternatives in order to ensure that your beverage of choice meets your personal nutritional needs because not all plant-based milk alternatives are created equal.

Figure 1. Comparison of plant-based beverages to 2% cow’s milk.1

Note– 2% milk was used as the cow’s milk comparison

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Brittany Kralik, BGSU Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension Office.

Reviewer: Margaret Jenkins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clermont County

Sources:

  1. Bridges M. Moo-ove over cow’s milk: the rise of plant-based dairy alternatives. Practical Gastroenterology. https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/06/January-18-Milk-Alternatives.pdf. 2018 Jan. Accessed: 2019 Jan 28.
  2. Wright KC. The coupe in the diary aisle. Today’s Dietitian. 2018 Sept;20(9):28. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0918p28.shtml

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Today is often considered the “unofficial” start to summer. That means longer days and warmer weather for getting outside. However, this summer brings a new and unsettling guest: COVID-19. To help you stay safe while you are outdoors, the Ohio Department of Health and the National Recreation and Park Association have made the following recommendations:

  • Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on personal hygiene. Wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, and stay home if you have any symptoms.
  • Follow recommendations for face masks and physical distancing.
  • Only go outdoors with those who live under the same roof.
  • Visit places that are close to your home. Refrain from travel that requires you to stop along the way or be in close contact with others.
  • If a parking lot is full or blocked, move on. Do not park in grass or on roadways.
  • Warn others of your presence and step off trails to allow others to pass safely.
  • Expect public restrooms to be closed.
  • Bring water or drinks. Drinking fountains should not be used.
  • Bring a bag for trash and leave no trace.
COVID-19: Physical Distancing in Public Parks and Trails

Plan Your Trip Before Heading Out

Currently, most outdoor spaces in Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests, natural areas, and preserves are open. This includes trails, dog parks, docks, fishing piers, and boat ramps.

At this time, state lodges, visitor centers, playgrounds, and rest rooms remain closed. Visit Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for the most up to date information about what state facilities are open and closed.

If you plan to go somewhere other than an ODNR facility, do some research before leaving. Most places have a website or a Facebook page with updated visitor information.

Expect places to be crowded. If you step off a trail, avoid poison ivy or tall grass that might have ticks. Practice sun safety to protect your skin and your eyes.

Find New Places to Explore

If you need help finding new places to explore, try these tips:

  • Start local. Ask neighbors and friends to recommend their favorite places to explore. A quick internet search can help you find local destinations, depending on what you want to do. Try a search such as “places to hike near me” and you will quickly find destinations, reviews, and images.
  • Visit Ohio Trails Partnership. Click the “Find a Trail” tab to find destinations based on geographical regions.
  • Diversify your destinations. In addition to state wildlife areas, forests, and nature preserves operated by ODNR, there are also private nature centers and preserves. For recommendations, try a search such as “nature areas near me.”

Get Outside and Experience the Great Outdoors

Remember to be safe and do some homework before leaving home. Be sure to check the CDC, ODH, and ODNR websites since COVID-19 updates happen frequently. Then, get outside, breath in some fresh air, and reap the physical, mental, and psychological benefits of being outdoors. Enjoy!

Sources:

Cloth Face Coverings (Masks) COVID-19 Checklist. Ohio Department of Health. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/checklists/english-checklists/cloth-face-coverings-covid-19-checklist

Dolesh, R.J. and Colman, A. (2020, March 16). Keeping a Safe Physical Distance in Parks and on Trails During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.nrpa.org/blog/keeping-a-safe-social-distance-in-parks-and-on-trails-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Ducharme, J. (2019, February 28). Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here’s What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health. Retrieved from https://time.com/5539942/green-space-health-wellness

Social Distancing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

Symptoms of Coronavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

WRITTEN BY: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County.

REVIEWED BY: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension.

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A person using a laptop with a smart phone within reach

If there has ever been a time when we have realized the communication opportunities and flexibility that online platforms can provide, it is now. Many of us who are working from home are now using technology in ways we would never have dreamed of just a few short weeks ago. For some, telehealth visits have replaced traveling to see doctors and specialists in their offices. And many have been keeping in touch with friends and family using mobile phones or tablets. 

But even with all the productivity while staying at home, you have most likely experienced technology overload as well. Each year during the first week of May, the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood promotes “Screen Free Week.” In response to our current situation, this year they have instead changed to “Screen Free Saturdays,” encouraging families to rest their eyes and minds from the screens of televisions, tablets, laptops and phones. 

Some call it unplugging. Some refer to it as digital detoxing. Whatever the name, it is a purposeful act of refraining from or limiting our exposure to digital technology for a specified time. Dr. Scott Becker is the director of the Michigan State University Counseling Center and specializes in researching the impact of digital technology on mental health. His research has found that the overuse of digital technology can impact sleep, memory, attention span, capacity to learn, stress, identity and relationships.

The overuse of digital technology can impact sleep, memory, attention span, capacity to learn, identity, intimacy and empathy.

Here are some practical ways to be intentional and mindful about your use of electronic devices this season:

  • Take some time to reflect on the ways you use technology in your daily life. What kinds of habits do you have now that you didn’t three months ago?
  • If you are on a screen often during your workday, follow the 20-20-20 rule from the American Optometric Association. Every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain. You could set a timer or there are apps like “Break Time” on Google Chrome that will pop up on your screen to remind you take a break. 
  • When you are indoors, mimic natural outdoor conditions by exposing yourself to bright light during the day, dim light in the evening and darkness at night. Our bodies are designed to respond to light in this way. Studies show you could improve your sleep by staying off electronic devices close to bedtime. And check out the settings on your phone or tablet to automatically adjust to a warmer color at night.
  • Increase productivity and focus by managing your phone use and email response. While at work, turn off email notifications and establish certain times to check and respond to email rather than immediately responding to that urgent ding. Designate times to check your phone, especially while working on important projects.
  • Set times in the evening or on the weekend that you could designate as screen-free, choosing to spend time outside, with family, or engaged in a hobby instead of a screen.

Here’s wishing you Digital Wellness this coming week!

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood https://commercialfreechildhood.org/

Stateside Podcast (2017). Just about everyone is addicted to screens. What can we do about it? https://www.michiganradio.org/post/just-about-everyone-addicted-screens-what-can-we-do-about-it

American Optometric Association (2016) Save your vision month: Counsel patients about digital eye strain in the workplace. https://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/save-your-vision-month-counsel-patients-about-digital-eye-strain-in-the-workplace-

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2012). Light from self-luminous tablet computers can affect evening melatonin, delaying sleep. https://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/3074

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May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Did you know that every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke?

Every stroke and TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack, aka “mini-stroke”) is a medical emergency. If you know the warning signs of a stroke and act FAST, you could save a life. FAST is the acronym for noticing the major warning signs of a stroke and taking action:

Face Drooping – one side of the face is drooping or numb. Ask the person to smile and look for this sign.

Arm Weakness – The arm is weak or numb. Ask the person to raise both arms to the side. One arm may drift down.

Speech Difficulty – The speech may be slurred or difficult to understand. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, such as “the sky is blue”.

Time to call 9-1-1 if any of these signs are present.

Learn the signs of stroke. Face. Arms. Speech. Time to call 9-1-1. cdc.gov/stroke

More than 40% of Americans cannot recall the major warning signs of a stroke. If you are one of them, now is the time to commit them to memory! Recognizing these signs could save a life because every moment counts when someone is having a stroke. Unfortunately, emergency rooms across the country are reporting declines in the number of non-coronavirus patients they are seeing, and doctors are worried that coronavirus fears are keeping patients from calling 9-1-1 when they need help. A stroke is not something to “tough out” at home. Recognize a stroke for what it is – a medical emergency – and encourage friends, family members and love ones to seek help when needed.

To prevent strokes from happening in the first place, make healthy lifestyle choices – like eating nutritious food and getting enough physical activity– and encourage friends, family members and loved ones to do the same. The CDC estimates that up to 80% of strokes are preventable. If you have suffered a stroke, making healthy lifestyle changes is still worth the effort, as they can help prevent future potentially more serious strokes from taking place.

A healthier you starts with change. Change starts with you. What changes will you make to become a healthier you? Take action today to avoid falling victim to a stroke, and commit the FAST acronym to memory to help save the lives of others.

Written by: Loretta Sweeney, Senior Series Program Assistant, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

SOURCES:

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An important seasonal topic that can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic is growing and eating fresh local produce. Good news: whether you grow a garden or not, local Ohio farmers are committed to supplying us with fresh produce during the growing season.

Vegetable gardening offers easy access to fresh, in-season produce for all ages and abilities. Ohio State University Extension suggests:

  • It’s OK to dream big and start small. Whether you grow in containers on a patio, in a school or community garden plot or in your front or back yard, make the best choices for your growing space, interest and goals.
  • Learn about the plants you would like to grow.
  • Know your local resources like your county Extension office.
  • Be familiar with potential challenges and possible solutions. Your county Extension office might have a Horticulture Hotline. If not, there’s a state-wide Ask A Master Gardener site.
  • Use food safe practices in the garden, from the garden to the kitchen and in the kitchen.
  • Enjoy yourself and your fresh produce.
  • Share your success stories and share your extra produce.   
Bee in Nasturtium

While vegetable gardening is a timeless topic, we will note a few things special to the 2020 growing season:

  • Please respect social distancing and other recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health. This is especially important at community places such as stores to purchase supplies and also when visiting and working at community garden sites.
  • Follow all previous recommendations for food safety. Although Covid-19 transmission from food has not been shown, everyone should continue to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods. 
  • Most likely, different local services as well as national and international ones will be disrupted due to COVID-19. For example, we encourage gardeners to do a soil test but sites like University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory share the following message: “All onsite work at the Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Lab has been temporarily suspended due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  We are not accepting new samples for analysis at this time.  Current turnaround time is not known.”  The OSU Extension FactSheet on Soil Testing includes a list of both private and public labs and some of the labs are accepting soil samples. Please reach out directly to the labs for their current hours and services provided. Reach out to local stores and greenhouses to know their current shopping and sale practices as well.
  • Gardening offers many benefits. In 2020, we hope that your garden can offer some stress-reduction, fresh air and tasty treats!

Writer: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Links from post:

Beam, B. (2020). Directory of Lucas Food Producers. Ohio State University. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from  https://u.osu.edu/localfoodproducers/

Boggs, J.. Meyer, C., Gao, G. and Chatfield, J. (2017). Soil Testing for Ohio Lawns, Landscapes, Fruit Crops, and Vegetable Gardens. Retrieved 05/08/2020  https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1132

Darnton, J., and McGuire, L. (2014). What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening? Michigan State University Extension. Retrieved 05/08/20 from

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Food Safety for Consumers, Specialty Crop Producers and Marketers during Covid-19 (2020). Retrieved 05/08/2020 from

https://fcs.osu.edu/news/covid-19-updates-and-resources/food-safety-consumers-specialty-crop-producers-and-marketers

Hill, M., (5 May 2020). Considerations for vegetable gardening. Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from https://wayne.osu.edu/news/considerations-vegetable-gardening

North Carolina State University, (2020) Handling Covid-19, Guidance for Community Gardens. Retrieved 05/08/20 from https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/COVID/OSU_Community%20Gardens_COVID-19_042120.pdf

Powers-Barker, P. (2018). Fresh, Safe Garden Produce, Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from  https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/powers-barker-1osu-edu/fresh-safe-garden-produce/

Photos: pixabay and Lawrence, E. (2020)

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Today we are reminded of the importance of a healthy immune system.  Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system.  Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system.  Eat well by choosing nutrient rich foods, such as the following to boost your immune system:

  • Choose more orange and brightly colored foods. like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli. These foods contain the antioxidant Beta Carotene which has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection fighting methods.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries and tomatoes. Start the day with a grapefruit, add sliced peppers to a sandwich at lunch and enjoy a cup of berries for a snack.
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs and spices contain ingredients that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give your immune system a boost. Try garlic hummus or raw ginger tea, or add oregano and rosemary to salads, roasted vegetables, and tuna salad to increase your intake of herbs and spices.
  • Get your Vitamin D. Found in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Add mushrooms to salads, stir fry’s and soups to increase your Vitamin D intake.
  • Zinc is key to optimal immune function but intake tends to be lower in those who are older, vegetarians, vegans and those who take antacids. Foods containing zinc such asmeat, seafood, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics  is good bacteria that promotes health.  It is found in cultured dairy products like yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
  • Protein from both animal and plant-based sources including, milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.

In addition to increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, you can protect your immune system by:

  • Minimize your intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Consumption of these foods may suppressthe immune system.
  • Practicing good hygiene and hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash produce before eating or using in recipes. Clean glasses, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria.
  • Manage stress. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music and writing are great ways to manage stress and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases that could weaken your immune system.
  • Getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns including a weakened immune system. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults and children need eight to fourteen hours depending on their age.

Take charge today of your health and add these tips daily to support a healthy immune system!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2020). Support your health with nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

WebMD (2019). How can my diet affect my immune system? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-can-my-diet-affect-my-immune-system

WebMD (2019). Super Foods for Optimal Health. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

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When my March 19th blog Certainty in Uncertain Times posted, I was unsure what was going to happen with my work, my community, our state, or our nation. With so many unknowns, I could not allow myself to go down the road of “what if’s”, so I chose to focus on things I knew were steadfast. Even as I wrote that blog, I realized I have many privileges. I have realized even more over the past several weeks just how fortunate I am.

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While we have learned a lot about Coronavirus and flattening the curve, there are still many unknowns. When will a vaccine be developed? How long will we have to maintain social distancing? Am I or my family going to contract the virus? How will the economy rebound? All these unknowns and more can cause anxiety and other emotions. It is important to recognize and try to manage these thoughts and feelings if we are to move through these challenges.

My husband and I are fortunate to work for organizations that are supportive of their employees and our overall health and well-being. My supervisor checks in with me regularly. We are encouraged to do things to take care of ourselves and our families. Rearranging our work hours if needed, taking time off, engaging in professional development opportunities (virtually of course), adjusting our workloads, and other reasonable accommodations are all possibilities.

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My children are older and can take care of themselves, do their own homework, and even help around the house, so I have been able work from home with little to no interruptions. Some colleagues and many of you have young children who need more time and attention. My kids understand the reasons for all the changes, though they are not happy about them. We have conversations about the different ramifications of our current situation and what the future might look like.

It was no surprise when our governor announced that schools will not resume this year. My high school sophomore daughter is not happy, but she is a high-performing student, so completing school on-line is not really an issue. This is not the case for many. The adjustment for her and my college sophomore son has been the hardest part for me. Neither of them expected to end the year this way, but at least they have two more. For the seniors and their parents, it’s a different story. They have not had the celebrations and the closure that comes from all the “lasts”.

As restrictions are starting to lift in several areas, many people may be anxious about transitioning back to work and back to the usual routines of daily life. I am co-chair of the Work/Life/HR sub-committee of the COVID-19 Transition Team for our college. The concerns of faculty, staff, and students about returning to work or school is critical to our planning. NAMI Ohio gives these tips to help with the transition back to work:

  1. IT’S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS
  2. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
  3. EMBRACE THE RETURN TO STRUCTURE
  4. GET SOME SLEEP, PET YOUR DOG

As our team and thousands of similar groups across the state and the nation begin to plan for a return to work, the health and safety of employees is at the forefront. Many organizations are considering the physical safety of their buildings, as well as the cultural and social aspects of returning to “business as usual.” These are just a few of the things our team will be considering as we provide recommendations to our Dean. While I must consider many unknowns as part of this team, I remain focused on the present and on the things I can do right now to help myself, my family, my colleagues, and my community to continue to be resilient in the face of the challenges we still face.

What have you found effective in coping with the COVID-19 changes?

Writer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Reviewer: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). How to Improve Mental Health https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=april_22_2020

Grabmeier, J. (2020). Survey shows how Ohioans’ views on COVID-19 have evolved. Ohio State News. https://news.osu.edu/survey-shows-how-ohioans-views-on-covid-19-have-evolved/

Harmon, M. (2020). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Johnson, A. (2020). Tips to Manage Anxiety When Returning to Work. NAMI Ohio. https://mailchi.mp/namiohio/helpathome-1389521?e=93084d4f8d

O’Neill, S. (2020). Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s OK To Grieve. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve

Allen, J. & Macomber, J. (2020). What Makes an Office Building “Healthy.” Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-makes-an-office-building-healthy

Scammahorn, R. (2020). A Time to Build Resilience. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/04/27/a-time-to-build-resilience/

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