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The sun shining behind a tree in winter.

The Winter Solstice occurs the moment the sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, which is the maximum tilt away from the sun. The significance of this event is that, in terms of sunlight, everyone living in the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and longest night of the year. This typically occurs around the 21st or 22nd of December every year.

In meteorological terms, the Winter Solstice marks the official start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, the Winter Solstice will take place on Wednesday, December 21st (at 4:48 PM to be exact).

Here are four ways you and your family can observe and celebrate the Winter Solstice, indoors and outdoors:

Winter shadows in the snow.

1. Look At Your Shadow
If it is a sunny day, go outside around noon and check your shadow on the Winter Solstice. Even better, measure your shadow and remember how long it is. You can measure your shadow on other days of the year, but it will never be as long as it is on the Winter Solstice. This is because the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and therefore, casts the longest shadows of the year. Visit this NASA link to see a beautiful image that shows how the sun moves across the sky throughout the year and creates a fascinating pattern called an analemma.

2. Attend a Winter Solstice Celebration
Many parks, nature centers, and other outdoor venues hold Winter Solstice events. For example, in southwest Ohio, Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve holds an annual sunrise celebration. On the morning of the Winter Solstice, the sun strategically rises through a gap in the Fort Ancient earthworks. In central Ohio, OSU Chadwick Arboretum hosts an annual candle-lit labyrinth walk in the evening. For events close to you, try a quick internet search to find a Winter Solstice celebration near you.

3. Read About the Winter Solstice
Make a trip to your local library to find children’s books about the Winter Solstice. Snuggle up, light a fire or a candle, drink hot cocoa, and read a book together. Some book suggestions are:

  • The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer
  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
  • The Solstice Badger by Robin McFadden

4. Rest and Reflect
Paying attention to nature and the four seasons is a healthy way to be mindful. It gives you an opportunity to be fully present in the moment and recognize that life is about change. We change and the seasons change. Pausing to recognize the shift that occurs at the Winter Solstice can connect us to the people, traditions, and memories that have come before us. The cold days and the long nights are perfect for rest, reflection, and setting your intentions for the new year and the next season of life.

Wishing you a wonderful and cheerful Winter Solstice! May the coming days bring warmth, light, and peace.

Winter Solstice Greetings image

Written by: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, powers-barker.1@osu.edu.

Sources:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2007, June 17). Astronomy Picture of the Day. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap070617.html

Stanton, L. (n.d.) Mindfulness. Ohio State University Extension, Warren County. go.osu.edu/mindful-warren-co

Stanton. L. (n.d.). Nature matters. Ohio State University Extension, Warren County. go.osu.edu/nature-matters

Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E. & Richardson, M. Mindfulness and nature. Mindfulness (9), 1655–1658 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0883-6

Photo Credits:

© Björn Buxbaum-Conradi. Sun shining behind a tree in winter. Adobe Stock.

@ Lizzy Komen. Winter shadows in the snow. Adobe Stock.

@ Teddy and Mia. Winter Solstice greeting. Adobe Stock.

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Little boy with brown hair wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt running though a sprinkler. 
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Actor, Leslie Jordan shared in his book, How Y’all Doing?, “Happiness is a choice. Happiness is a habit. And happiness is something you have to work hard at. It does not just happen.”

Is this true? Can you coach yourself to be happy(ier)? According to Drs. Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term Positive Psychology in 1998, yes you can. By focusing on “strengths and behaviors that build a life of meaning and purpose…emphasizing meaning and deep satisfaction, not just on fleeting happiness,” you can work to enhance your happiness through gratitude (Psychology Today, 2022).

Gratitude is strongly associated with one’s level of happiness. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis (Harvard Health, 2021).

Black sign with white letters that says "Good Vibes Only" 
Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash
  • Keep a gratitude journal. There is no right way or wrong way to journal. List the people, places, and things for which you are grateful, or write about them in a story-telling fashion.
  • Write letters and thank you notes. When you express your gratitude by writing a letter, you are being an active participant in your happiness, investing in seeking out the goodness and joy that surrounds us.
  • Thank someone mentally. If you are on a time crunch and don’t have time to write a personal letter, just thinking about the person or action you are grateful for helps to maintain the pattern of reflecting on the positive impacts on your life.
  • Practice mindfulness. According to Psychology Today, “Monitoring your ongoing experience may make you feel happier by helping you slow down to appreciate things or to notice more of the happy things that are going on around you.”
  • Count your blessings. Spend just a few minutes each day listing all the blessings you have encountered. Cultivating this state of appreciation creates the habit of focusing on what you have rather than what you do not.

You do have the ability to impact your overall level of happiness! Practice the simple steps of gratitude on a daily basis and see if you find more contentment, joy, hope, and happiness in your life!

Sources:

Azar, B. (2011). Positive Psychology Advances, with Growing Pains. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/04/positive-psychology#:~:text=Positive%20psychology%20%E2%80%94%20a%20term%20coined,the%20cover%20of%20Time%20

Carter, C. (2005). Count your blessings. . Greater Good in Action: Science-based Practices for a Meaningful Life. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/count_your_blessings

Greenberg, M. (2020). The Surprising Reason mindfulness makes you happier. Psychology Today. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/202001/the-surprising-reason-mindfulness-makes-you-happier

Harvard Health. (2021). Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier#:~:text=In%20positive%20psychology%20research%2C%20gratitude,adversity%2C%20and%20build%20strong%20relationships.

Jordan, L. (2001). How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived. Harper Collins Publishers; New York. ISBN 978-0-06-307619-8

Psychology Today, (N.D.). Positive Psychology. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/positive-psychology

Sutton, C. (2019). Letters of Gratitude: How to write a message of appreciation. Positive Psychology.  Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-messages-letters-lists/

University of California, Berkeley, (2022). Gratitude Journal. Greater Good in Action: Science-based Practices for a Meaningful Life. Retrieved on December 12, 2022, from https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/gratitude_journal

Written by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County 

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People of various ages baking

The holiday season is referred to as “the most wonderful time of the year” in a popular holiday song. While it can be a time of joy, gathering, cheer, and giving, it is also a time when many of us eat more, especially sweets. These treats may partially explain why we enjoy this time of year so much. We not only enjoy eating them, but making tasty treats with friends or family likely brings happiness and fond memories. While having sweet treats every now and then can be part of an overall balanced diet, eating too many sweets or eating them too often can derail a healthy eating plan and lifestyle.

A couple months ago I had my yearly health screening for our insurance. For the past few years my hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) has been climbing. This year it was 5.9 which puts me in the prediabetes category. Now, you might wonder, how can someone whose job it is to help others lead a healthy lifestyle have numbers that are high? Well, many factors can lead to elevated glucose (blood sugar) levels which cause HbA1C to be elevated. Some of these include:

  • Family history
  • Lifestyle factors including obesity/overweight and lack of physical activity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Gene mutations
  • Hormonal diseases
  • Damage to or removal of the pancreas
  • Certain medicines

My father has and most of my uncles had type II diabetes, as well as a few other family members. Additionally, I have not been nearly as active the past couple years as I have been previously, especially when it comes to resistance exercises. Nor am I getting any younger. In addition, while it’s not necessarily a risk factor, stress can impact the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, and I have definitely had more stress the past year or so. With my youngest child graduating and heading off to college and now my husband and I building a new house, my stress level has been higher than usual. My daughter has adjusted well and is doing fantastic, despite a hard course load, so that has helped me to adjust better to the empty house. I have also been trying to exercise more, though I still need to get back to doing resistance exercises.

Dog licking his snout with dog bisquits on table in front of him

In addition to striving to be more active again, I have been watching the amount of carbohydrates, especially added sugar, in my diet. As I have reduced the amount of carbs, especially processed ones, I notice I don’t crave them as often and smaller servings satisfy. I do not have any symptoms of diabetes or prediabetes, and I am encouraged and motivated to be more proactive to keep it that way.

As we celebrate the holiday season, focusing on gratitude now and all throughout the year may help reduce how much we eat. I do intend to have some of the tasty treats that help make this time of year special, and I will plan my eating based on how I can indulge in treats while still keeping my ultimate goal of a healthy lifestyle a priority.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 30). All about your A1C. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Diabetes Diet, eating, & physical activity. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Symptoms & causes of diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Your game plan to prevent type 2 diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-type-2-diabetes/game-plan

Written by Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

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

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a person in bed

The coronavirus pandemic challenged our mental and physical health in a multitude of ways. Over the past two years, authors on our blog have addressed impacts of the pandemic such as grief and loss, anxiety and depression, pandemic paralysis, languishing, isolation and even weight gain (#quarantine15). One health effect we have yet to explore is the “tandemic” of Coronasomnia. Coronasomnia is insomnia that has been exacerbated or caused by the grief, stress and anxiety associated with living in a global pandemic. Dr. Abinav Singh, a sleep medicine physician, calls Coronasomnia a “tandemic”, which he defines as “an epidemic caused by, made worse by, and running in tandem with the pandemic.”

Prior to the pandemic, about one-third of Americans experienced regular sleep deprivation. That number jumped to about 40% during the pandemic. Regardless of whether you have a history of insomnia or whether you experienced sleep troubles for the first time during the pandemic, the good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your sleep.

If you have trouble falling asleep, start by working to improve your sleep hygiene with the following healthy habits that promote sleep:

Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Keep the same bedtimes and waketimes that allow for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and follow them every day, even on weekends.

Avoid long naps. If you take a nap to refresh and re-energize, limit it to no more than 20 or 30 minutes. Anything longer than that could make it harder to fall asleep at night.  

Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, cool and comfortable. A thick blanket, fan or noise machine may help provide comfort, depending on your preferences.

Clear your bedroom of clutter and anything that reminds you of work or that induces stress (a computer, work papers, bills, etc.). Experts recommend we reserve our bedrooms for sleep and sex.

Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption. Alcohol is a sedative, but it can disrupt sleep and may cause you to wake up early or sleep less restfully. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults of legal drinking age chose not to drink or limit their alcohol intake to one drink a day for women or two per day for men. Similarly, caffeine can disrupt sleep, so make sure to limit caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening.

Follow a bedtime routine to unwind from the day. Performing the same set of activities at night signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

Limit your use of electronics before bed. The blue light from cellphones, tablets and computers can disrupt melatonin, a hormone that is part of our natural sleep cycle. Instead of watching TV or using an electronic device before bed, enjoy an activity like reading, practicing mindfulness, listening to music or a guided meditation.

In addition to the habits above, establishing daily routines and getting outside at least once each day, ideally in the morning, can help reinforce your natural sleep-wake cycle. Finding ways to cope with stress is also important, as stress makes sleep difficult. Exercise, mindfulness practice and taking breaks from the news are all ways to reduce and manage stress. If you have particular trouble clearing your mind before bed, sleep medicine physician Dr. Ilene Rosen recommends trying a ritual where you take 10 minutes an hour or two before bed to write down all the worries on your mind. If desired, you could tear up the paper and throw it away as a symbolic act of dumping the thoughts.

Sources:

American Academy of Sleep Education (2020). Healthy Sleep Habits. https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/

American Medical Association (2020). 6 things doctors wish patients knew about Coronasomnia. https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/

Sleep Foundation (2021). Coronasomnia: Definitions, Symptoms, and Solutions. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/covid-19-and-sleep/coronasomnia

UC Davis Health (2020). COVID-19 is wrecking our sleep with Coronasomnia – tips to fight back. https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/covid-19-is-wrecking-our-sleep-with-coronasomnia–tips-to-fight-back-/2020/09

Written by: 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 

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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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