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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

The last couple of weeks have been spent moving from a home with 20 years accumulation of “stuff” to a new home. While it has been exciting, it has also been exhausting.  I realized a few days ago that I was staying up later than usual to unpack and rearrange items and then not falling asleep when I did go to bed. My mind kept racing thinking about everything I needed – or wanted – to do the next day. The result was a tired, somewhat grumpy version of me!

Eating well and being physically active are two basic activities that we think of when we discuss being healthy.  Something that is often overlooked is the importance that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health. Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us have heard that all adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. That generally holds true but it is important to remember that the quality of your sleep is just as, if not more, important than the quantity!  You should feel rested when you wake up in the morning. It is important to listen to your body’s biological clock which is set by the hours of daylight where you live. This should make it easier for you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

There will be times that you find it more difficult to fall asleep than others. If you are under stress, experiencing pain from an injury or illness, consuming excess caffeine or alcohol, you may find that falling and staying asleep are difficult. In that case, recognizing the reasons and making some adjustments to your daytime activities should help you sleep more soundly.

Some suggestions for improving your sleep:

  • Create a comfortable, calming sleep environment. This could include room darkening window coverings.
  • Avoid electronic devices in your bedroom – computers, tablets, games, etc. should be shut down before bedtime.
  • Establish a routine that you follow each evening to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Have a consistent bed time – even on the weekends.

There are small changes you can make to your daytime activities that may lead to better sleep.

  • Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
  • Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the evening.
  • If you nap, limit yourself to 20 minutes or less.
  • Avoid both caffeine and alcohol close to your chosen bed time. Do some experimenting to find the cut off time for you – everyone will be a little different!
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine in cigarettes can make sleep more difficult.

If you continue to have sleep problems, it might be wise to visit your doctor to be sure you don’t have a more serious sleep disorder.

While sleep is not a guaranteed cure all for you, it doesn’t hurt anyone to establish sleep habits that help you consistently get a good night’s sleep!

 

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

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

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/10/cover-sleep.aspx

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep

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“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

 – Elizabeth Lawrence

Searching for more quality time with family and children?  Might they be your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or students?   Want to “unplug” and become more physically active?  Are you looking to practice better health habits and eating?  Well, you can “plant these seeds” and teach children life skills, values, family history, health and other things as “more than a seed is planted in a garden.”

The benefits of gardening with children include:

  • Increasing responsibility, independence, leadership, empathygarden pic, teamwork, and problem solving as they plan, plant, and grow their garden.
  • Creating an awareness of where food comes from as they participate in the processes of growing, transporting, storing, and preparing foods.
  • Developing an understanding and appreciation of nature by interacting with soil, seeds, leaves, stems, plants, water, sun, pollinators, animals, and insects.
  • Strengthening bones and muscles by working in the garden.
  • Creating real-life experiences and connections between gardening, health, cooking, food preservation, local foods, grocery stores, farmers markets, and community kitchens.
  • Reducing stress by appreciating the “colors,” “air,” and “morning.”

School programs can benefit from gardening with youth as well. In fact, research and studies about School Gardens show the following:

  • Education acquired in the garden can increase students’ overall academic performance and learn more effectively..
  • Students who engage in school gardens show significant gains in overall grade point average, specifically in math and science.
  • Teachers believe that implementing new learning styles can help students
  • Students expand their ways of thinking or habits of mind to include curiosity, flexibility, open-mindedness, informed skepticism, creativity, and critical thinking.

You can create a “learning laboratory” by gardening with children, which will teach them about themselves, their families, communities, and life.

Some final thoughts:

“You have the chance to plant a seed of something very special in the hearts, minds, and spirits of your children as you garden together.”  – Cathy James

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”  – Robert Brault

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  – Audrey Hepburn

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Sources:

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.  Gardening with Children, Every Child Belongs in a Garden.
https://ceinfo.unh.edu/Community-Gardens/Gardening-Children

Colorado State University Extension.  Department of Human Development & Family Studies.  Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Gardening with Children.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/grg/feature/gardening.html

University of Illinois Extension.  The Great Plant Escape
urbanext.illinois.edu/gpe/links/index.html

Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  Learning Through the Garden.
https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1211/

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Why Hobbies are Important!

Did you know it is good for your physical and mental health to have a hobby? Sometimes we get so busy with work or our family that we forget to have time for ourselves, which usually allows the stress in our lives to build. Hobbies provide physical and mental health benefits by giving us an alternative place to focus our time and mental energy, reinvigorating us. Other benefits from hobbies may include:

  • A Sense of Accomplishment – If you are having trouble finishing a difficult task at work, you may find satisfaction by completing a project on your own like a quilt, painting, finishing a book, or a 5K.
  • Social Support System – Often hobbies involve things you can do with others, be it volunteering with Relay for Life or Habitat for Humanity, or joining a just for fun sports league like softball.
  • Preventing Burnout – A hobby may provide fun and something to look forward to after a hard day at work or a stressful time taking care of family members.
  • Improved Physical Health – Studies show that when you engage in enjoyable free time activities you have lower blood pressure and a lower Body Mass Index (or BMI) even if the hobby isn’t necessarily active.
  • Better Work Performance – Studies also have found that employees who have creative hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and are often more creative with work projects.

Children benefit from hobbies by having a higher self-esteem, learning patience and social skills, and developing critical thinking skills and creativity. Encourage 

younger children to try several activities as hobbies – think something physical, creative, and mental (geocaching, crafting, music, cooking, or even magic). While some children may consider gaming to be a hobby, encourage them to have other hobbies that don’t use a computer or TV to limit screen time.

Hobbies provide both physical and mental health benefits to adults and children. A hidden benefit for adults may be that companies report looking for employees who have hobbies. They feel these employees are more balanced, less stressed, and more creative at work. What hobby is your favorite? Comment below. Personally I’m a reader, reading is food for my soul.

Sources:

United States Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/

 

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

Reviewer: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County.

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TomPuppy2

My brother-in-law and sister had to put their beloved dog to sleep a few months ago. Needless to say, this was a sad time for them. Tom (my brother-in-law) recently shared an observation about his weight during this time. When . they had to put their dog, Chippy to sleep, his average weight was 199. He noticed a weight gain of 9-10 pounds after this time. Since they brought home a new puppy, Chummy, his weight has dropped by 5 pounds!

What does this have to do with your health? According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet – a dog, in particular, can be good for your heart health.  This article supports the findings that my brother-in-law recently shared with me. The CDC also reports that having a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels and decrease your feelings of loneliness.

These factors may contribute to his recent weight loss:

  • Taking a walk at least twice a day with Chummy
  • Enjoying the social interaction with the new puppy
  • Spending time with the puppy which makes it easier to avoid snacking

If you can’t have or don’t want a pet, what can you do to improve your heart health? Go back to the basics:

Enjoy physical activity most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. It is fine to break up the 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions. Adults should aim for 150 minutes per week.

Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Enjoy a wide variety of nutrient rich veggies & fruits. Be creative with the way you add them to your day. Start the day with a fruit or veggie for breakfast (think smoothie, veggies added to eggs, or a piece of fresh fruit).

Need more help? Visit MyPlate’s SuperTracker to customize your food and activity plan. It is free and easy and will help you on your wellness journey.

While you are enjoying the health benefits from you new (or old) pet, don’t forget basic cleanliness habits to keep you and your family from becoming ill. One reminder from CDC is to wash your hands after handling your pet, pet food or treats or if you pick up their stools.  Not sure how to wash your hands? Here are the basics on handwashing from CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do you need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them

Are these good reasons to get a pet? Yes! Remember that if you are ready for a new furry family member, it just might help your health!

Sources:

http://heartinsight.heart.org/Fall-2017/Is-Owning-a-Pet-Good-for-You/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/dogs.html

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/resources/pet-food-tips_8x11_508.pdf

https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/myplan.aspx

Writer: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

 

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What do the grapefruit, tapeworm, cotton ball, and baby food diets all have in common? They do not work long-term and some of these diets can be extremely dangerous.  With fad diets quick and hefty weight loss may be experienced, but the pounds tend to come back and lead to greater gain.  A healthy lifestyle need not be difficult and not cause additional stress.  One healthy eating pattern that is not a “diet,” is the Mediterranean diet, and it can become a positive lifestyle.

med1

May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, a promotional campaign since 2009, and was started by the Oldways Mediterranean Foods Alliance. Unlike fad diets, the Mediterranean diet is good for you, and it can help reduce the risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.medppyramid

The image shows that being physically active is an important part of this diet.  In addition, the base of the pyramid includes: fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices and olive oil. Every meal should include foods from this section.

Fish and seafood have heart healthy benefits and are an important part of the Mediterranean diet as well.  The diet calls for fish and seafood at least twice a week.  Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt can be consumed anywhere from daily to weekly.  Red meats and poultry are at the top of the pyramid indicating they should be consumed less often.  Water and wine are also a part of the diet.  Wine can be consumed in moderation; however, it is not recommended that a person who does not currently consume alcohol start.  Wine can have some health benefits that include heart health and cancer prevention.  Foods at the top of the pyramid should be eaten less, because they may have higher fat, sugar, and sodium. med3

Healthy fats from fish, seafood, and oils are a big part of the Mediterranean diet.  Opinions on the consumption of fats and oils are always changing. We hear, “Saturated fat is good. Saturated fat is bad. Coconut oil is the perfect fat.”  The science changes so often it is hard to keep up with recommendations.  While recent research shows that saturated fat, including coconut oil, may not be strongly linked to heart disease, it is still suggested that we do not overconsume it.  It does not have any health benefits, and it is low in nutrients. The Mediterranean diet’s recommendation of olive oil relates to its low saturated fat level and being high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats we need.

As with any eating pattern, it is best to start slow. If this healthy plan sounds good, start by making small changes.  Make Monday meatless and consume smaller portions of the meat you do eat.  Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts or seeds.  Eat more fruits and vegetables, and add other healthy options each day or week. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Sources:

Oldways: Inspiring Good Health through Cultural Food Traditions. International Mediterranean Diet Month. https://oldwayspt.org/programs/mediterranean-foods-alliance/international-mediterranean-diet-month

Today’s Dietitian. Heart-Healthy Oils: They’re Not All Created Equal. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/021115p24.shtml

Image: flickr.com

Written by: Jessica Wright, Intern with Wood County Extension FCS, BGSU Graduate Student in Food and Nutrition, and Susan Zies, FCS Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County.

Reviewed by: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D. L.D, Program Specialist, SNAP- Ed , OSU Extension Northwest Region Office

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

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

What can we do to improve our health?

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

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

Post your comments on this blog.

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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