Archive for the ‘Healthy People’ Category

Nothing is better than a fresh Ohio tomato grown in season!  Add fresh onions, peppers, and cilantro and now it’s fresh salsa!  Salsa is a versatile dish, used as a fresh vegetable dip for tortilla chips or added as a topping to grilled fish and meat dishes. 

Consider growing a salsa garden this year.  A salsa garden requires only four plants- tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and peppers. If your garden space is limited, skip the onions, and grow tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers.

Spring is the best time for planting a salsa garden.  A salsa garden may be planted on a patio in containers, raised beds or in a garden.  Be sure the garden spot receives at least six hours of sun daily.  Start planting once the danger of frost has passed.

If you are container gardening, choose deep pots for tomatoes and peppers.  Cilantro may be planted in a shallow pot, in a larger size as they need plenty of room to grow and expand. Be sure to use supports for the tomatoes and peppers whether in a container, raised bed or garden to prevent sprawling of the plants,  avoids breakage and keeps pests and disease away. Use potting soil with a 50/50 blend of potting soil and compost.

Choose tomatoes with:

  • Thick flesh (limits moisture in salsa)
  • Different varieties to produce throughout the season.
  • Prune tomatoes regularly to prevent the plant from growing out of control.
  • Trim off the lower branches to encourage air circulation around the base of the plants.

Peppers are the most challenging of the group to grow with their finicky heat requirement.  Here are a few tips for growing peppers for salsa:

  • Select between sweet and hot peppers or mix the two varieties according to your preference.
  • Peppers change color as they are ripe, pick them at any color stage.
  • Be careful with the seeds and pale colored flesh inside the hot peppers when they ripen.  Be sure to wear single use gloves when handling hot peppers to protect your hands.  These are extra hot and only add them to the salsa if you like the heat.  Otherwise, clean out the inside of the pepper and wash your hands carefully.
  • Support your peppers to protect them from wind damage.


  • Grows well in a shallow pot that is larger allowing it space to expand.
  • Thrives in warm weather, bring the cilantro inside when it gets cold outside.
  • Harvest frequently to prevent the plants from flowering and going to seed.

Caring for your salsa garden:

  • Water plants when there has been no rain.  Apply water at the soil level to avoid getting the plant foliage wet and water deeply to encourage plant roots to grow deep.
  • Plant marigolds around the salsa garden to keep pests off the plants.
  • Feed the plants with a good fertilizer once a month.

Health Benefits of Garden Salsa

  • Tomatoes, onions, lime juice are rich sources of Vitamin C.
  • Fiber is found naturally in plants and helps stabilize blood sugars.
  • Tomatoes contain lycopene which is linked to reducing the risk of cancer.
  • Hydrating tomatoes are 95% of water
  • Low in calories – two tablespoons of salsa is 10 calories or less
  • Healthy for your heart- cholesterol free as it is made from plants containing no cholesterol.

Make salsa with your fresh grown harvest.  It is easy and delicious.  Here is a great recipe for fresh salsa.  Anothe recipe to try is Pico de Gallo.  Enjoy growing an easy salsa garden this spring and have a salsa party this summer!

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

Reviewed by:  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County, jenkins.188@osu.edu


MyPlate | U.S. Department of Agriculture



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The days are getting warmer and after being cooped up for so long, I am excited to get outside and enjoy delicious food on the grill.

Grilling is a healthy cooking option and isn’t just for meats. Grilled veggies are a family favorite and are perfect foil wrapped or in a grilling basket. Regardless of what you put on the grill, it is important to keep it food safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Food safety starts at the grocery store. Especially on warm days (70 degrees and above), remember to take a cooler with you to keep meats cold on the way home. Keep the cooler in the passenger area of the car as it is air conditioned and will not be as hot as the trunk.
  2. Store meats in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use them. If you plan to grill a frozen product, plan ahead and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or defrost it in the microwave just prior to grilling. Never thaw frozen meat on the counter.
  3. Be mindful of marinades. If you intend to keep the marinade for later use, be careful not to contaminate your marinade by touching the utensil to the meat and then placing it back into the marinade container. If you plan to use the marinade you have applied to the meat as a dipping sauce or topping, it must be heated to a boil.
  4. Use a thermometer to check that meats are done. Foodsafety.gov provides a list of minimum internal cooking temperatures for a wide variety of foods.
  5. Use a clean plate for cooked items; never use the same plate for raw and cooked products.
  6. Remember to use separate cutting boards for raw meats and items that will not be cooked. For example, prepare your hamburger patties on one cutting board and your sliced tomatoes and onions for on your hamburgers on another cutting board. If you only have one cutting board, make sure to wash, rinse, and sanitize the cutting board after working with meats and before preparing ready to eat items.

For more information about grilling safely, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education. Enjoy safe and delicious food every time you grill!

Writer: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Tuscarawas County, kendle.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Four Steps to Food Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html. Accessed April 20, 2023

Partnership for Food Safety Education. Grill Master. https://www.fightbac.org/grill-master/. Accessed April 20, 2023.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Minimum Internal Cooking Chart. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-internal-temperatures. Accessed April 20, 2023.

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Simply put, life is complicated. Whether your kids have basketball practice at 6pm or a dance recital at 7pm, often evenings come and go before you know it. With this goes the chance to help your child spend dinner time building a healthy relationship with their food. All meals, especially dinner, are great learning opportunities for parents to teach children what a healthy plate looks and tastes like. While it may seem like one extra task on your do-to list, the benefits of encouraging your children to participate in meal time will outlast any evening life hustle and bustle. To help family meal time run smoothly and relieve some of your stress, here are some quick and simple tips to get your children in the kitchen!

Child helping mix
  • Allow children to help build the week’s menu. Take into account your child’s food preferences by allowing them to have input in what is made. If you need inspiration, consider looking through cook books and online recipes together. Kid-friendly examples to try include these turkey quesadilla and pita pizza recipes.
  • Take children to the grocery store or local farmer’s market when shopping. Once there, let them choose a new fruit, vegetable, or meat to try with meals for the upcoming week.
  • Provide children with age appropriate utensils and assign them tasks that develop their kitchen skills! Examples of this include allowing toddlers to measure ingredients, knead dough, and place pizza toppings. As children get older other responsibilities such as washing fruits and vegetables, whisking eggs, filling muffin trays or cake pans, and helping with clean-up may be right for them. Keep in mind that children are more likely to try a new dish that they helped prepare so any task that they can lend a hand with will be beneficial.
  • Taste test together. Just like helping with preparation, children are also more willing to try new foods that they see others eating. Therefore, adults should model healthy eating behaviors such as filling their plate with fresh fruits and vegetables and trying ingredients they have never eaten before.
  • Don’t be discouraged, even if a child does not like a new ingredient the first time. Research shows that it can often take a child 10 exposures (or even more) to a new food before they accept it. Continue offering the ingredient in small portions with well-liked foods to increase chance of acceptance.
cooking together

Take some time this week to involve children in the kitchen by encouraging them to try new tasks and sample new ingredients. Not only will this help them develop a well-balanced diet and healthy relationship with food, but allowing them to prepare their own food strengthens self-esteem, teaches them life skills, and gives children a sense of accomplishment!


Brickley, L. (2020). Cooking tasks kids can help with at every age. Food Network. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/recipes-for-kids/cooking-with-kids/best-cooking-tasks-kids-every-age

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Turkey quesadilla. Nutrition. https://www.nutrition.gov/recipes/turkey-quesadilla

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Pita pizzas. Nutrition. https://www.nutrition.gov/recipes/pita-pizzas

Author: Samantha Farnsworth, Marshall University Dietetic Intern at Ohio State University Extension, Washington County

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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Sometimes we get so consumed or caught up in the daily grind that we don’t give much thought to what drives us. Being intentional and living life with purpose can bring a sense of direction, meaning and contentment.

Surprisingly, only about 25% of American adults say they have a clear sense of what makes their lives meaningful, according to one study in The New York Times. Another 40% either claim to be neutral on the subject or report they don’t have a clear sense of purpose.

Why Do You Need a Sense of Purpose?

Feeling like what you do matters can contribute to life’s happiness. Purposeful living can also be good for your physical and mental health. A study published in Applied Psychology reported that individuals with a sense of purpose live longer and have better health outcomes, such as better sleep, stronger immune system and reduced risk of strokes, heart attacks and dementia.

Finding meaning and purpose is good for your brain! Living out your purpose can help encourage new cells and pathways in your brain. Having purpose can keep you motivated to take steps to improve other aspects of mental health.

When is the last time you gave thought to your purpose? Have you ever written it down?

One way to find your purpose is to ask yourself: What drives you? Have you experienced something that touches you so deeply that it drives you? Often, a powerful purpose is borne from powerful pain.

Steps to finding purpose:

  • Find what drives you
  • Find what energizes you
  • Find out what you’re willing to sacrifice for
  • Find out who you want to help
  • Find out how you want to help

Perhaps a purpose can be found where you already donate time, money or talent. This could include volunteering for a nonprofit organization, donating money to causes you care about, or simply helping out the people around you on a day-to-day basis. Listen to feedback from others around you for insight about your passion. You might already be displaying your passion and purpose without even realizing it.

Keep in mind your purpose doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change what you’re doing already. Finding your life purpose is a lifelong journey. Your purpose may change over time and that’s okay! If you want to explore some more, check out this worksheet with additional questions to help you discover your passion.

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Tuscarawas County, kendle.4@osu.edu


Davis, T. “Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose.” Psychology Today. Dec 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201712/five-steps-finding-your-life-purpose

Morin, A. “7 Tips for Finding Your Purpose in Life.” Very Well Mind. Dec 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-finding-your-purpose-in-life-4164689

Scott, E. “The Link Between Happiness and Health.” Very Well Mind. Mar 2020. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-link-between-happiness-and-health-3144619

Smith, J. “How to Find Your Purpose in Life.” The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Jan 2018. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_find_your_purpose_in_life

Winona State University. Nov 2016. https://www2.winona.edu/resilience/media/questions-for-purpose-worksheet.pdf

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gardening gloves

Gardening can be more than just a hobby, it can have lasting benefits for your physical health, mental health, and can help fight against some chronic diseases and cancers. In a randomized, controlled study of community gardeners, those who gardened increased their physical activity by forty-two minutes per week and ate an average of 1.4 grams more fiber daily than those who did not. They also reported lower levels of stress and anxiety. A few of the ways gardening can benefit your health include:

Increased Exercise. The CDC categorizes gardening as exercise. Gardening can exercise all the body’s major muscle groups. Physical activity during gardening such as digging, hauling, watering and harvesting can improve your physical strength, heart health, weight, sleep, and immune system. Regular exercise can also improve your brain health. Exercise can improve memory and thinking skills by reducing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, and stimulating the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the growth and health of brain cells.

Improved mental health. Gardening can improve your mental health by encouraging feelings of well-being, calm, empowerment, and connection. Working in school, community, and family gardens can help people of different ages, abilities, and backgrounds expand and deepen their connections with each other. Working in a garden can help you take charge and feel empowered to meet your own needs for exercise, healthy food, and beautiful surroundings. Having a routine of regularly tending a garden can provide structure to your day and is linked to improved mental health. 

Increased Vitamin D production. A scientific review of the risks and benefits of sun exposure found that controlled exposure to the sun increases Vitamin D production in the body while limiting the risks of over exposure. Vitamin D can help lower the risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, if your vitamin D levels are low, you can have a greater risk of developing psoriasis flares, metabolic syndrome (a prediabetes condition), type II diabetes, and dementia.

Improved Diet. In the randomized, controlled study of community gardeners, in addition to increasing their daily fiber intake, the gardeners also increased their daily fruit and vegetable consumption. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume 2 ½ cups each of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients that promote health and prevent disease, including dietary fiber. Growing your own fruits and vegetables can help encourage you to eat more produce as you harvest your efforts from gardening. 

Gardening can provide many health benefits for both the body and the mind. Increased exercise and Vitamin D production, improved diet and fiber intake, and feelings of calm, empowerment, and connection all contribute to improved mental health, physical health, and an overall sense of well-being.  So, consider adding gardening to your list of hobbies today!    

Written by Julie Weinberg, Dietetic Intern and Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by Holly Bandy, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Stark County


Litt, J.S., Alaimo, K., Harrall, K.K., Hamman, R.F., Hebert, J.R., Hurley, T.G., Leiferman, J., Li, K., Villalobos, A., Coringrato, E., Courtney, J.B., Payton, M. & Glueck, D.H. (2023). Effects of a community gardening intervention on diet, physical activity, and anthropometry outcomes in the USA (CAPs): An observer-blind, randomized controlled trial. The Lancet Planetary Health; 7(1): E23-E32. doi: 10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00303-5. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(22)00303-5/fulltext

Litt, J.S., Alaimo, K., Buchenau, M., Villalobos, A., Glueck, D.H., Crume, T., Fahnestock, L., Hamman, R.F., Hebert, J.R., Hurley, T.G., Leiferman, J. & Li, K (2018). Rationale and design for the community activation for prevention study (CAPs): A randomized controlled trial of community gardening. Contemporary Clinical Trials; 68: 72-78. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2018.03.005. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963280/

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Let’s examine food safety during a power outage.

Boy oh Boy, has spring packed a punch! Here in Northeastern Ohio we have experienced many power outages already. Some communities have spent only a few minutes in the dark while others find themselves looking for glimmers of light after two or more days.

Picture this, the power is restored, hallelujah! You can finally make that fresh pot of coffee. You reach into the fridge with hopes of topping it off with a hint of cream or milk. Suddenly you wonder, “how long is too long? how room temperature is too room temperature?”

When it comes to food safety we have many kinds of opinions. Some of these opinions are based on who raised us or how we were raised. Either way, sometimes we find ourselves with lots of different advice about what to do with food. So, let’s talk about some important food safety measures to keep in mind when things do go dark and how to know, “how long is too long”.

Have a plan.

If you are expecting severe weather it never hurts to be prepared. Today, many refrigerators and freezers have digital internal thermometers. This is so convenient when we have power. The FDA suggests having thermometers on hand to place in your appliance when the possibility of a power outage is present. Refrigerators should be maintained at 40 ° F or less and freezers at 0° F or less.

Keep your appliance closed once the power goes out. If kept closed, refrigerators can stay cold for up to 4 hours.

Keep freezer packs or frozen containers of water in your appliance. This can help maintain cool temperatures. A full freezer will keep temperature for up to 48 hours; half full maintains for about 24 hours.

When the power is restored, determine what to safely keep.

The FDA shares a few bits of advice for us:

  1. If the thermometer placed in the freezer reads a temperature of 40° F or less or the food contains ice crystals, then you can safely refreeze the items.
  2. If there was no thermometer, check packages visually to try to determine if they are safe for consumption or if you can refreeze them. Use your senses to observe the odor and appearance of the product. Does the food smell foul or sour? Does it appear slimy, bubbly, or off color? Smell and appearance are not always good indicators of food spoilage, so remember what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “when in doubt, throw it out”.
  3. If the power has been out for 4 hours or less, as long as the refrigerator has stayed shut, food should be safe. Toss any perishable food items that have not been properly stored while the power was out. Perishable food includes meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, milk, or leftovers.
  4. Foods that have been above 40° F for 4 hours or more need to be thrown out. Perishable foods with temperatures that are 45°F or below (measured with a food thermometer) should be safe, but should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible.

After a power outage never taste food to test for safety. Perishable food items that have not been kept at adequate temperatures may cause food borne illnesses.

Click the link below to learn more about what to toss and what to keep:


Author: Holly Bandy, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Stark County

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


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2023). Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods. https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods

FoodSafety.gov (2021). Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save It and When to Throw It Out. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). Keep Food Safe After a Disaster or Emergency. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe-after-emergency.html

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letter blocks that spell the word stress

For the past 31 years, the month of April has been recognized and promoted as Stress Awareness Month. Health professionals had noticed that there is a correlation between stress and the wellbeing of the body, mind, and on our behaviors. Stress can affect the body negatively with symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, anxiety, constant worrying, substance abuse and having angry outbursts.

Stress can be positive or negative. Positive (eustress) stress happens when you are trying to meet a deadline or preparing to take a test, it can improve your focus and motivation. Examples of positive stress could also be getting married or having your first child. Negative (distress) stress happens when certain situations overwhelm our ability to cope. Negative stress can result from financial worries, illness, or having high expectations in the workplace. The problem with stress is when the small, manageable amounts start to build up on each other to create big problems, which can affect your health. A few different techniques that may help with decreasing stress levels are:

a green cup filled with coffee and words  for journaling and a pen
  • Journaling– Track your stress and how you reacted and coped with it.
  • Healthy lifestyle- Eating healthy while also getting in regular amounts of sleep and exercise.
  • Relaxation techniques- Practice methods such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or getting a massage.
  • Setting time aside- Finding the time within your day to “simplify” and enjoy the little things.
  • Healthy relationships– Continue to build and strengthen interpersonal connections that will have a positive impact in your life.

Don’t let stress continue to negatively impact your body, mind, or behaviors. Start using stress relief techniques to help manage the stress in your life.


Healthy Lifestyle: Stress Management. Mayo Clinic, Published 3/24/2021. Accessed 3/4/2023. Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior – Mayo Clinic

What is stress? My Brain Co. Published 11/21/2019. Accessed 3/5/2023. What Is Stress? Positive vs. Negative | Fight or Flight | Resilience (mybrainco.com)

Ohio State University Extension (2015) Have you tried “Journaling” your Stressors?? at Have you tried “Journaling” your Stressors?? | Live Healthy Live Well (livehealthyosu.com)

Ohio State University Extension (2012) S.I.M.P.L.I.F.Y- In Recognition of Stress Awareness at S.I.M.P.L.I.F.Y. – In Recognition of Stress Awareness | Live Healthy Live Well (livehealthyosu.com)

Bilodeau, K. Fostering Healthy Relationships. Harvard Health Publishing. Published 7/1/2021. Accessed 3/6/2023. Fostering healthy relationships – Harvard Health

Written by : Amy Cleland, BGSU Dietetic Intern working with Wood County Extension and Susan Zies, Extension Educator, FCS, Wood County

Reviewed by: Casey Bishop, MACP, Paulding County Extension Educator, FCS

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There is a recent report out that says the Earth’s climate is changing more rapidly than previously thought. We may reach the critical temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial times by the mid 2030s. We’ve observed that that our last eight years have been the hottest on record. We are also seeing more extreme droughts, flooding and hurricanes in other parts of the country and it’s only going to get worse. We also have the issue of pollution. Trash on roads, beaches, streams, campgrounds, and parks seems to be getting worse every year.

What can we do as consumers? Choose paper over plastic, recycle, buy electric vehicles? These actions might help but only a little since there are trade-offs. For example, paper bags can be composted and break down, but they degrade forests, and are more energy intense to transport. Only a small percent of what we try to recycle is actually recycled. And the issue with buying electric cars is that they also are resource intense to manufacture in terms of resources and water.

The best thing we can ethically do as consumers is to consume less- drive less, fly less, eat less, buy less, take shorter showers, use less electricity. We must consider needs versus wants. I’m a type 1 diabetic so I use a lot of single use plastics and insulin to manage my diabetes. I’m not able or willing to compromise my health. However there might be some other small changes I can do to offset. For example, I can eat less sweets so I won’t need as much insulin, and not use as much diabetes supplies.

Small, simple behavior changes especially related to “wants” versus the “needs” can make a big difference over time. For example, cutting your showers by a few minutes can save many gallons of water over a year, in addition to saving energy. If you need ideas for goals, please see our OSU sustainability resource page for ideas.

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Jessica Lowe, Extension Educator, Pickaway County


Diffenbaugh N.S. and Barnes, E.A. (2023). Data-driven predictions of the time remaining until critical global warming thresholds are reached. PNAS 120(6). https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2207183120

World Meteorological Association. (2023). Past eight years confirmed to be the eight warmest on record. Retrieved from https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/past-eight-years-confirmed-be-eight-warmest-record

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Person holding a phone and chatting with a bot.

Recently a co-worker and I were talking about ChatGPT – a new online bot that can respond to questions and comments from users in a conversational and “human-like” manner. We spoke about the pros and cons of this new technology, the effects it could have in education, as well as ways it could be used by individuals. After our conversation, I wanted to try chatting with the bot myself, and learn a little more about how it can be used by others.

ChatGPT was first launched in November 2022 and is currently available through a free research preview. The program does require a user to create a username and password to log in, but that hasn’t stopped many individuals – within three days of its launch, over one million people had signed up to use the site. Users can ask ChatGPT just about anything that comes to their mind, from meal planning help, ideas for a party, or a synopsis of a book or movie (and it even tries to avoid spoilers!). The chatbot rejects inappropriate requests and will challenge false assumptions – for example, if asked to talk more about Christopher Columbus’ arrival in America in 2015, it will first gently correct the user then treat the question as hypothetical.

As I was chatting, I wondered how artificial intelligence could be used as a support in other productive ways. So, of course, I asked ChatGPT itself:

ChatGPT's response to how artificial intelligence can be helpful.

As artificial intelligence technologies continue to improve, individuals may see it being used more in healthcare and medicine. One way it is used today is through wearable health devices (WHDs).  Many of these devices look like watches or bands and are able to track the daily health stats of the person wearing the device. This allows individuals to take charge of their own health and monitor their activity. Some WHDs are able to be remotely monitored by physicians, creating more communication between patients and healthcare professionals.

Even ChatGPT itself could play a role in community health. It can provide information on public health issues and answer questions about health promotion and disease prevention, including the importance of vaccinations, regular screenings, and ways to reduce risk factors. It can also provide information about health programs and services in the community, listing eligibility criteria for certain services and whether programs can be covered through health insurance. The are some limitations to what ChatGPT can do, however. It may not always be completely accurate due to the limitations of its data. Chatbots also do not have the same level of engagement with individuals as a human health educator would provide.

I know I am amazed by the advancements of technology in the last few years. There is so much support that artificial intelligence can provide to help keep us healthy, however there are still some issues for programmers to solve. I am excited to see what the future will bring to better health and wellness!

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

Review by:  Dan Remley PhD, MSPH, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu


Biswas, S. (2023). Role of chat gpt in public health. Annals of Biomedical Engineering. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10439-023-03172-7#citeas

Bohr, A. & Memarzadeh, K. (2020). The rise of artificial intelligence in healthcare applications. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7325854/

Broom, D. (2022). Explained: what is chatGPT? World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/12/chatgpt-ai-bot-intelligent-conversation/

ChatGPT. (n.d.). https://chat.openai.com/chat.

Tyson, A. et al. (2023). 60% of American would be uncomfortable with provider relying on AI in their own health care. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2023/02/22/60-of-americans-would-be-uncomfortable-with-provider-relying-on-ai-in-their-own-health-care/

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Sharp-lobed Hepatica blooming, a spring wildflower

Monday, March 20th marked the first official day of Spring. Now is the perfect time to get outside and commit to increasing your daily dose of Vitamin N(ature). Why should you go outside? The health and wellness benefits of being outdoors are numerous. If you want to dive deep into these benefits, read Florence William’s book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. For now, you might want to watch her short video, What Happens When You Spend 5 minutes in Nature? Her advice: “Go outside. Go often. Bring friends. Breathe.”

Need ideas of things to do to increase your Vitamin N? Here are four activities to try outside this spring:

1. Search for spring wildflowers, also referred to as spring ephemerals. These early bloomers have been blooming for weeks and are a welcome sight year after year. Want to learn more about wildflowers? Visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildflower website to find the Spring Wildflowers of Ohio field guide, weekly wildflower bloom reports, videos, a wildflower checklist, and featured locations throughout the state.

2. Watch the stars, planets, and moon. Visit What’s Up: Skywatching Tips from NASA, an educational website with monthly highlights, daily skywatching guides, night sky news, and other educational resources about our galactic neighborhood. Have you ever seen the International Space Station in the night sky? You can enter your location on NASA’s Spot the Station website and get a calendar of sighting opportunities in your community.

Male Red-winged Blackbird singing

3. Look and listen for migrating birds to return to your yard and community. Have you noticed the return of the chatty Red-winged Blackbirds? They are often one of the first migrants of the season. The male birds, with their black body and yellow and red shoulder patches, returns to their nesting grounds before the dark brown, streaked females. Be on the lookout for migrating waterfowl, hummingbirds, and warblers. To learn about birds, visit All About Birds and eBird, two websites maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. These websites provide enormous amounts of information about different bird species, their migration patterns, their songs and calls, their behavior, and identification information.

4. Walk, stroll, or ride on the 1,523 miles of bike trails in the Buckeye State. To learn about the different trails and find a trail near you, visit the Ohio Bikeways website hosted by the Ohio Department of Transportation. This site features trail safety tips, a bikeways brochure, and a downloadable map.

Seedlings growing in an egg carton.

If you or someone you love has limited mobility or a difficult time getting outside, consider bringing nature indoors. Sowing seeds indoors is a fun and educational Spring activity. Using a cardboard egg carton is an easy, economical, and environmentally friendly way to plant your seeds.

Every day is an opportunity to get outside and get a healthy dose of Vitamin N. Even better, get outdoors and bring others with you. Be sure to get out and enjoy all that nature has to offer this Spring!

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

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu


Louv, R. (2016). Vitamin N: The essential guide to a nature-rich life. Algonquin Books.

Stanton, L. M. (n.d.) Nature matters. OSU Extension, Warren County.  go.osu.edu/nature-matters

Stanton, L. M. (2021, April 19). Get out! Celebrate nature on Earth Day and every day. Live Healthy Live Well.  https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Stanton, L. M. (2022, May 2). How’s your environmental wellness? Live Healthy Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/05/02/hows-your-environmental-wellness

Tedrow, S. (2022, March 8). Selecting and starting seeds. OSU Extension, Wayne County. https://wayne.osu.edu/news/selecting-and-starting-seeds

Williams, F. (2018). The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. W.W. Norton.

Williams, F. (n.d.). The Nature Fix: What Happens When You Spend Just 5 Minutes in Nature? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwQkTuhId-o

Photo Credit: All photos from AdobeStock.

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