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A bird on a snowy tree branch.

Winter is right around the corner. It is important to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. During the colder months it gets darker sooner resulting in people spending more time indoors with limited social and physical activity. Establishing a self-care routine is one way to reduce these issues and stressors.  

Self-care is the act of taking care of one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. You may be asking, “Why is self-care important?”. Self-care is a great way to relieve stress. Poor self-care can lead to poor health. The establishment of self-care lies in realizing your body’s needs.

It is important to create a self-care environment. Follow these tips to spruce up your environment.

  1. Buy candles, rooms sprays, or essential oils with scents that relax you.
  2. Select a mug or a cup that is comforting to you. Enjoy the moment with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.
  3. Keep a stash of beauty and health products such as sugar scrubs, bath bombs, masks, and lotions.
  4. Keep comfort foods or baking items on hand to cook for those moments of culinary self-care.
  5. Keep coloring books, journals, and art supplies available so creative self-expression happens easily.
  6. Don’t forget to use the simple art of moving, stretching, and walking to awaken and soothe your body.

Self-care routines should be adapted and changed for different seasons. Self-care helps to keep us happy and healthy daily. Here are some tips for self-care during the winter months.  

  • Transition from summer routines to meet the needs of the winter months.
  • Bundle up with warm clothing.
  • Make the most of the sunlight to prevent Seasonal Affective Disease. Try opening your curtains, windows, or blinds to let in natural light.
  • Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Try including yoga, shoveling snow, and gyms to remain active during the winter months.
  • Try to keep a daily routine. A consistent sleep schedule is important.

Resources

Combs, S. (2022, February 3). Self-care tips in the winter months. Outreach Health. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.outreachhealth.com/2022/02/self-care-tips-in-the-winter-months/

Landgraf, B. (2022, February 2). The ultimate winter self-care guide. Carex. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://carex.com/blogs/resources/the-ultimate-winter-self-care-guide#step2

Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Self-care tips during winter. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201912/self-care-tips-during-winter

Written by: Megan Taylor, FCS/4-H Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Union County, taylor.4411@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Mackenzie Mahon, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Clermont County

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Woman cooking with a skillet, surrounded by thought bubbles including the phrases "Small bites", "Slow down:", "Remove distractions" and "Use your senses".

What exactly is mindfulness? The definition would include a description of being conscious and aware or fully aware of yourself in the present moment. Therefore, mindfulness can also be incorporated into mealtimes. As the holiday season has commenced and festivities surrounding food are plentiful, practicing mindful eating can help you get through the feasts, focusing more on how you feel rather than what you are eating.

Unlike typical diets, mindful eating focuses on the sensual awareness and experience of food rather than restricting or removing it. Practicing mindful eating is about becoming more aware of your eating habits and listening to signals the body provides, such as feelings of hunger, fullness, and satiety. When practicing, you consciously choose to be fully present with your meal—paying attention to the process of eating and how you feel in response, without judgment. Eating should be a pleasant experience, and meals should be enjoyed, especially during the holidays. Mindful eating encourages you to be fully engaged during mealtime, allowing the moment and food consumed to be savored and reducing the negative feelings associated with restricting or overeating.

While the chaotic holiday season can frequently lead to binge eating, overeating, and stress eating. However, if you allow yourself to be fully present at mealtimes, you will be more likely to appreciate the food on your plate, take more time to eat, and be more in tune with the body signaling its satiety. If you are interested in the practice, consider the following techniques gathered from research on mindful eating:

  • Eat slower – take more time to chew and take breaks between bites to evaluate your feelings and thoughts on the meal.
  • Eat away from distractions such as the television or other electronics – distractions can cause mindless eating. Removing them can aid in determining triggers and allow for reflection.
  • Become aware of your body’s hunger cues and let those guide your choices on when to begin and stop eating – our brains may not signal fullness for up to 20 minutes, so take time to determine your level of satisfaction before going back for seconds or dessert.
  • Use all your senses when eating – focus on the appearance, smell, and flavors of all foods you eat to appreciate the nourishment you are providing your body.

Besides promoting better enjoyment and appreciation for food, mindful eating has been proven to aid in weight management and provide various health benefits. Studies have also suggested positive outcomes for those with chronic disease and eating disorders, but practicing mindfulness is advantageous for everyone!

Trying anything new for the first time can be difficult. Mindful eating is a practice that requires patience and continuous training to develop, but there are resources available to help you progress. While beginning your practice of mindful eating to prepare for seasonal gatherings is an ideal starting point, you will likely develop long-lasting skills and habits that will benefit you long after the hectic holiday season ends.

Sources:

Cleveland Clinic. (2022). What is Mindful Eating? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mindful-eating/

Mathieu, J. (2009). What Should You Know about Mindful and Intuitive Eating? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(09)01699-X/fulltext

Nelson J. B. (2017). Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes spectrum: a publication of the American Diabetes Association. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556586/#:~:text=Mindful%20eating%20(i.e.%2C%20paying%20attention,carbohydrates%2C%20fat%2C%20or%20protein.

Written by Kylee Tiziani, Bluffton University dietetic intern, with edits by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

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The holidays were always a big event in my family with lots of food, fun and family togetherness. I never realized how much time and effort it took my parents to get ready for the holidays until I had a family of my own. The weeks leading up to the holidays can be stressful, so here are three simple ideas I do to help prepare and I hope it helps you too.

Declutter and Clean

Over the course of a year, we gather a lot of junk that takes up space. Before cleaning, consider purging instead of jumping right into cleaning. During November, I take time each day (only 20 minutes a day) to declutter my desk, small closets, and even the refrigerator to make room for holiday foods. Seeing a clean space feels very motivating! Once decluttering is done, let the cleaning begin! You don’t have to tackle everything but basis like dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the toilets can be done in a short amount of time.

In the Kitchen

The kitchen usually becomes more important during the holidays since we spend time baking and cooking. If you will be preparing this holiday season, consider making a menu, then create a list of everything you need before making a trip to the grocery store, saving both time and money. Check your cupboards to see what items you already have! For more tips on planning for the holidays, here is a great, 30-minute webinar.

Decorating Main Spaces

Finally, it’s time to decorate! I tend to feel overwhelmed with this task and began decorating only the main living and dining areas. The bedrooms usually get a holiday throw pillow or blanket and a candle. In the kitchen I use seasonal dish towels and placemats. And of course, my holiday wreath on the front door!

The weeks ahead can be hectic. Following these simple tips and being mindful of your time beforehand can help ensure that you will be able to enjoy your family time together.

Written by Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Barledge, L., Gallup, S., Lowe, J. (2022). Webinar. Set the Table: Plan for Both Wellness and Savings. Webinar: https://go.osu.edu/giftsweb2.

Carter, S. (2017).  Stretch Your Time and Money This Thanksgiving. https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/11/13/stretch-your-time-and-money-this-thanksgiving/

Center for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/cope-with-stress/

Marrison. E. (2021). Homemade Cleaners: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/11/01/homemade-cleaners-healthy-wealthy-wise/

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As aging occurs many experience the loss of strength, power, and balance, but why? The reason is sarcopenia

An elderly person sitting with their arms in their lap, hands clasped together

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is a medical term for muscle loss. This naturally occurring muscle fiber loss starts around the age of 30. Muscle loss may begin at a rate of 3-5% and can gradually increase by 10% per decade. By the age of 80, up to 50% of limb muscle fibers can be lost.

Why is it important to understand muscle loss?

Muscle loss plays a key role in many day-to-day activities from climbing stairs to opening cupboards. Our limb muscles provide us with strength and stability to complete those tasks. Muscle strength is also a key component of balance. Maintaining muscle strength throughout life can prevent falls, the number one accidental cause of death in adults over the age of 65. Muscle strength also helps older adults maintain independence and quality of life.

How can one prevent muscle loss?

Poor diet and physical inactivity are risk factors for sarcopenia. Eating a nutrient-rich diet to support healthy aging and remaining physically active can go a long way toward preventing muscle loss. Although the body needs many nutrients to run efficiently, the following nutrients are specifically useful for preventing muscle loss and promoting healthy aging:

MyPlate
  • Protein – Takes care of cell repair and regeneration
  • Folate / Folic Acid – Decreases risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease
  • Vitamin B12 – Assists folate to reduce risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease
  • Vitamin D – Aids in calcium absorption, helps repair the nervous system, and aids the immune system
  • Calcium – Aids in blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction and blood clotting
  • Iron – Transports oxygen through the body, works with folate and vitamin B12 for DNA synthesis and protein transportation
Two older adults doing dancing or doing tai chi in a park

Exercise is important as well. There have been many studies done to determine which types of exercise are most effective for older adults, and Tai Chi has been identified as an effective way to maintain muscle mass because it helps with balance and skeletal strength. Other beneficial activities include swimming, yoga, Pilates, bodyweight training, and cardio training like walking or running. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and walking 30 minutes five times a week is a good starting place. Exercise routines should be based on your personal needs and your primary care physician’s recommendation. Any activity is better than none!

Written by: Angela Manch, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University and Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Sources:

Acclimate Nutrition (2022). Sarcopenia. https://sites.google.com/view/sarcopeniabasics/home

Fielding, R. (2021). Muscle Loss in Older Adults and What to Do About It. https://now.tufts.edu/2021/02/09/muscle-loss-older-adults-and-what-do-about-it

Lobb, J. (2021). Smart Eating for Healthy Aging. Ohio State University Extension. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/ss-207

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf

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a child holding a toothbrush

Concerned about your child’s teeth? If so, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States. Even kids who have had early intervention and brush well may be susceptible to oral health issues at some point. However, following these tips may significantly impact your child’s overall health and wellbeing.

Many parents wonder “what is the right age to take my child to the dentist”?  According to America’s Pediatric Dentists children should visit a dentist when their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. A routine visit should become part of your child’s wellness schedule just like going to the pediatrician.  Prior to the first visit parents can wipe their baby’s gums with a soft, clean cloth to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, do not allow your child to sleep with a bottle of anything other than water.

Once your child’s teeth emerge, use an infant toothbrush which will have soft bristles and just a smear of fluoride toothpaste. After age 3, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used when brushing. Talk to your dentist about the need for additional protection including fluoride treatments.

Children younger than age 8 should continue to be monitored while brushing to ensure they are reaching all teeth and not swallowing toothpaste. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing is a good start to fighting cavities (AKA dental caries). KidsHealth also suggests limiting sugary sticky foods like gummies which can cause bacteria buildup and erode enamel.

If your child has an accident that involves the mouth or teeth, call your dentist right away. Because injuries to the face and teeth are likely to increase each year from age 1 to 6, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Always use a properly sized car seat for your child.
  • Child-proof sharp corners of tables and windowsills.
  • Place safety railings on beds and put gates in front of stairs.
  • Prevent injuries by moving furniture out of the way to make clear paths for walking. One of the most common areas for injury is a coffee table.
  • Make sure your child uses a mouth guard for sports such as in-line skating, bike riding, soccer, basketball, football and scooters.

It’s never too late to start caring for your child’s teeth. Regular dental visits and preventative care can help your child to have a healthy smile for a lifetime!

Writer: Heather Reister, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

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

Sources:

All about fluoride: Updated clinical report covers caries prevention in primary care, November 2020, American Academy of Pediatrics, https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/7429/All-about-fluoride-Updated-clinical-report-covers

Children’s Oral Health, April 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html

Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy, June 2018, Nemours KidsHealth, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/healthy.html?ref=search

Why is Dental Health Important?, July 2021, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/d/dental-health

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At a recent professional development conference for the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina I was able to take part in an in-depth tour of a family operated produce farm in Princeton, North Carolina. While I attended many great sessions at the conference, it was a tour “Locally Sweet: Understanding Local in a Global Food Market” that I told everyone about when I returned to Ohio. We were fortunate to have a tour of the Kornegay Family Farms & Produce facility by Kim Kornegy LaQuire. At this multigeneration operated family farm they grow sweetpotatoes, watermelon, corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, and butternut squash on 6,000 acres. Kim told us that she is a farmer “who sits behind a desk.” She runs the farm’s human resources, payroll, labor compliance, public relations, and food safety programs. Her brother does more of the physical farming labor.

If you are questioning my use of “sweetpotato” It is not a misspelling. According to the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commision, sweetpotato is one word. Sweetpotatoes are native to the Americas and different from yams. Yams are typically imported from Africa and have a white flesh. Sweetpotatoes can be a variety of colors including the typical orange to yellow, white, or even purple. Both vegetables can vary in size, but yams have been known to grow much larger – up to 100 pounds even.

North Carolina produces more than 65% of the nation’s sweetpotatoes. The farm I toured distributes sweetpotatoes globally across the United States, to Canada, and even Europe. The conference I attended was in September – during sweetpotato harvest, which lasts from early-September to the end of October. Sweetpotatoes are harvested by using special equipment that slides under the potatoes in the ground and pulls them to the surface. They are then gathered by hand into buckets, then dumped into large box of sweetpotatoescrates for transport and storage. Sweetpotatoes are cured after harvest and often stored for up to a year in huge climate-controlled storage buildings. When it is time to pack them in boxes for distribution, the potatoes are washed, sorted for quality, and packed into large 40-pound box for shipping. Unusual shaped, large, or small sweetpotatoes are sent to facilities where they are canned or turned into fries or even tater tots. Slightly damaged sweetpotatoes will become food for livestock.

The ideal sweetpotato can fit easily into your hand. One cup of cubed sweetpotato contains 114 calories; 12% of the daily recommendation of potassium; 27 grams of carbohydrate; 4 grams of fiber; Vitamins B6, C, A; and magnesium. After selecting your perfect sweetpotato from the garden, farmers market, or grocery – store them in a cool, dry place for the best quality. Avoid storing in the refrigerator where they will develop a hard core and bad taste. Sweetpotatoes are very versatile and can actually even be eaten raw like a carrot stick. My favorite uses are cubed in my chili or taco meat (just try it – it gives a sweet taste and cuts the acid of too much tomato), roasted, or as a cranberry sweetpotato bake that I will show below. My whole family requests this dish for holidays, over the marshmallow or sugar topped versions. I typically cut everything up for it the night before, and then place it all in a slow cooker first thing in the morning. Frees up oven space that is a premium. For other sweetpotato recipes check out https://ncsweetpotatoes.com/recipes/ where the options are almost limitless.recipe card

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

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

The North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission,  https://ncsweetpotatoes.com/.

Kornegay Family Farms & Produce, https://kornegayfamilyproduce.com/.

Much to Discover About North Carolina’s “Dirty Candy”, Coshocton Tribune, E. Marrison, https://www.coshoctontribune.com/story/news/local/coshocton-county/2022/09/25/much-to-discover-about-north-carolinas-dirty-candy/69509036007/.

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Picture of different noodle types

When asked what my favorite food is, my answer is always the same – Pasta! I love the variety of noodle types and ways it can be prepared. From pasta salad as a cold dish in the summer to warm chicken noodle soup in the fall and winter, pasta can be enjoyed at any time of the year!

Looking throughout history, it seems I am not alone in this love. Depictions of individuals making and eating pasta have been found all over the world, and in many different cultures. Artwork in a 4th century B.C. Etruscan tomb shows a group making a pasta-like food. Across the continent, people in ancient China were also making noodles around the same time as the Etruscans. Early colonists brought noodle-making to America, where they would cover their cooked noodles with cheese or a cream sauce.

Today, there are many alternatives to try in place of the commonly used noodle made of durum wheat. One popular method is making noodles from vegetables such as zucchini, summer squash, or spaghetti squash. These veggie noodles are created using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler and can have a similar shape and texture to traditional noodles, but are lower in carbohydrates and calories. They are also a great way to include more vegetables in your diet!

Another alternative pasta includes chickpea noodles. Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are a type of legume called pulses – great sources of protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, pulses are considered to be in both the “vegetable group” as well as the “protein group.” Pasta made from chickpeas generally does not contain wheat flour and is often compatible with special diets such as gluten-free, low carb, and vegetarian.

Pasta dishes can be a way to bring more whole grains into your diet as well. Many common pasta shapes are also available in whole wheat options. When looking at pasta packages in your local grocery store, look out for the whole grain stamp. This yellow stamp on the box will tell you if the noodles inside contain at least half a serving of whole grains.  

Whole Grain Food Stamps

When making pasta for your next dinner, be sure to pair your noodles with healthier sauces, herbs, and vegetables. Visit the Celebrate Your Plate website for some great recipes and ideas.

What pasta dishes are your family’s favorites?

Written by:  Jessica Lowe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County, lowe.495@osu.edu

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

Sources: 

Celebrate Your Plate (2022). Recipes. https://celebrateyourplate.org/recipes?query=pasta

Garden-Robinson, J. (2017). Pulses: The Perfect Food. Northern Pulse Growers Association. https://www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/sites/default/files/2022-07/fn1508.pdf

Meehan, A. (2017). Oodles of Zoodles. Live Smart Ohio. https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/meehan-89osu-edu/oodles-of-zoodles/

National Pasta Association (n.d.). History of Pasta. https://sharethepasta.org/pasta-101/pasta-iq/history-of-pasta/

Oldways Whole Grains Council (n.d.). Identifying Whole Grains. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/identifying-whole-grain-products

Wheat Foods Council (n.d.). Classes of Wheat. http://wheatfoods.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/6classes.pdf

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an open laptop with a screen that reads "reset"

Recently, The Ohio State University added Digital Wellness to its Dimensions of Wellness to join the existing nine dimensions: career, creative, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual wellness. Although each of these dimensions is separately named, it’s important to recognize that they overlap and are interconnected. All the dimensions contribute to one’s overall sense of well-being. If someone is not digitally well, for example, their behavior could impact their physical, social, and emotional wellness.  

According to the OSU Office of Student Life, “a digitally well person considers the impact of virtual presence and use of technology on their overall well-being by taking steps to create sustainable habits that support their values, goals, community, and safety.” One way to do this is to set healthy boundaries and limits around your use of technology and screentime. Consider the following question: most days, do you feel like you are in control of technology, or is technology in control of you? If you would like to take action and set more healthy parameters around your technology use, the OSU Chief Wellness Officer offers the following steps to move toward digital wellness:

  • Set limits on screen time. You can track your screen time through the settings of many devices or by using an app designed for that purpose.
  • Stay grounded and connected. Take time to disconnect from devices and connect with others “in real life”.
  • Show your best self. Before posting on social media, think about whether the content is hurtful or appropriate for yourself or others. 
  • Avoid Zoom fatigue. Take “camera off” breaks and stand up whenever possible.

Our OSU Extension Live Healthy, Live Well team has been talking about digital wellness for the past couple of years. If you are already practicing these behaviors or are looking to learn more, check out our articles on:

Digital Minimalism – defined as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of activities that strongly support the things that you value, and then happily miss out on everything else”.

Digital Decluttering – much like a gardener regularly checks on and weeds their garden space, take the time to regularly stop and reflect on how your technology use contributes to your overall well-being and helps you to enjoy and find meaning in your social media use.

Digital Detoxing – regular, intentional unplugging to reap the benefits of technology while minimizing its harms.

However you practice or refer to digital wellness, take time today to assess how you use technology in your personal and professional life and how it contributes to your overall well-being, whether positively or negatively.

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

Reviewed by Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Washington County

Sources:

Melnyk, B. M. & Carson, M. (2022). A guide to conquering the digital world. Ohio State Alumni Magazine. https://alumnimagazine.osu.edu/story/digital-world-wellness

The Ohio State University Office of Student Life (2022). Digital Wellness. https://swc.osu.edu/wellness-education-and-resources/ten-dimensions-of-wellness/digital-wellness

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Do you ever wonder why many doctors and dentists’ offices have an aquarium in their waiting areas? No, it’s not because doctors and dentists all happen to be hobbyists; it’s because there’s some evidence that aquariums have a calming effect and improve moods. Calm patients make easier patients, especially for a dentist! Aquariums have many potential health benefits including:

  • Improves mood
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves nutritional intake and body weight
  • Improves loneliness
  • Improves anxiety, relaxation and stress

One study found that increasing the amount and variety of fish in an aquarium was associated with greater reductions in heart rate, greater increases in self-reported mood, and higher interest. 

Aquariums can be expensive though depending on the type. They range from the inexpensive such as a simple bowl with goldfish to the most expensive option of a large saltwater aquarium with beautiful tropical fish, coral, and other sea creatures. There is also a brackish aquarium which contain fish and animals found in coastal rivers where there is mix of fresh and saltwater. Many pet stores can help you decide which might be the best option for you.

Depending on what you decide you will most likely need (besides the aquarium), lighting, a pump, a filter, a heating device (if tropical), rocks, gravel, and some cleaning equipment. If you go with saltwater, you will need a salt, a hydrometer, and possibly chemical testing equipment. Saltwater and brackish fish and sea creatures are also the most expensive and least hardy, but they are also colorful and interesting.

In any event, do some research if you think it might help you or your family become healthier!

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD. Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County

Sources

Cracknell, D., White, M. P., Pahl, S., Nichols, W. J., & Depledge, M. H. (2016). Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being: A Preliminary Examination of Dose–Response Effects in an Aquarium Setting. Environment and Behavior, 48(10), 1242–1269. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916515597512

Clements H, Valentin S, Jenkins N, Rankin J, Baker JS, Gee N, Snellgrove D, Sloman K. The effects of interacting with fish in aquariums on human health and well-being: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2019 Jul 29;14(7):e0220524. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220524. PMID: 31356652; PMCID: PMC6663029.

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Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, yet about 40% of cancers are preventable. Earlier this year, President Biden named April National Cancer Control month. Prior to the release of his proclamation, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) had named February Cancer Prevention month. Regardless of the month, it is never a bad time to focus on cancer prevention! If you visit the AICR website, you can take an online pledge to learn about and lower your risk of cancer. The AICR recommends these healthy lifestyle behaviors to prevent cancer and promote overall health:

dumbbells and gym shoes
  1. Be a healthy weight.
  2. Be physically active.
  3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  4. Limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods that are high in fat, starches, or sugars.
  5. Limit consumption of red and processed meat.
  6. Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption.
  8. Do not use supplements for cancer prevention.
  9. Do not smoke and avoid exposure to tobacco.
  10. Avoid excess sun exposure.
  11. For mothers: breastfeed, if you can.
  12. After a cancer diagnosis: continue to follow these recommendations, if you can.
a bowl of fresh fruit

In addition to preventing cancer, following these recommendations is likely to reduce intakes of salt, saturated fats, and trans fats. Together, all of these healthy lifestyle behaviors will also help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. 

Not sure where to start? The AICR has an online, interactive cancer health check tool where you can identify what you are already doing to prevent cancer and what you could improve.

If you want to participate in a structured program to establish better eating and exercise habits to prevent cancer, the Healthy10 challenge is a 10-week program to help you put the AICR healthy lifestyle behaviors into practice.

a doctor holding a clipboard

In addition to healthy lifestyle behaviors, it is important to have recommended cancer screenings. When cancer does happen, early detection through effective screening can reduce the chance of significant harm or death. Be sure to talk with your doctor about recommended cancer screenings.

Written by Heather Hadam, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University and Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Franklin County.

Reviewed by Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Warren County.

Sources:

American Institute for Cancer Research. https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/cancer-prevention-campaign

National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (2022). Screening Tests. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/screening/screening-tests

The White House (2022). A Proclamation on National Cancer Control Month, 2022. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/03/31/national-cancer-control-month-2022

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