March is National Nutrition Month, an awareness campaign held by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating practices, and committing to physical activity habits.
The theme for 2020, “Eat Right, Bite by Bite”, promotes eating a variety of nutritious foods daily and planning & creating healthy meals each week. “Developing healthful eating habits does not mean undertaking drastic lifestyle changes,” said nutritionist Jerlyn Jones, a national spokesperson for the Academy based in Atlanta, GA.
Eat Right, Bite by Bite campaign health tips for 2020:
Eat a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Watch portion sizes. Get out those measuring cups!
Drink plenty of water.
Reduce added sugars.
Get to know food labels.
Explore more foods and flavors
National Nutrition Month is a great time to “spring clean the diet plan” and remember every bite counts.
Everyone coughs, some more than others. Many people have experienced a cough caused by a cold or flu, the kind of cough that comes on strong for a few days during an illness, and then tapers off as we start to feel better. What if the cough just won’t go away? While having a cough is not normally harmful, there are times when it could be hinting at other serious conditions.
What is a nagging cough? A nagging cough is often a persistent dry cough that has lasted 3 weeks or longer. The cough can hang around after the cold and flu symptoms have resolved. A nagging or lingering cough is a frustrating symptom that can affect work, sleep, and social or recreational activities.
A cough is considered “acute” if it lasts less than three weeks and “chronic” if it lasts longer than eight weeks. Some causes of a nagging cough include: • Postnasal drip • GERD • Treatment with ACE inhibitors • Heart failure • Psychological disorders • Asthma • Smoking
The fatigue and discomfort of a nagging cough are annoying enough without scheduling a doctor’s appointment. However, lingering coughs could hint at a more serious illness. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if a cough lingers for weeks, especially one that brings up sputum or blood, disturbs sleep or affects school or work.
Knee pain is a common issue, and most people will experience it at some point in their lives. Many learn to live with knee pain. However, if the pain becomes so severe that daily activities become hard to perform, knee replacement surgery might become the only option.
Preparation for knee replacement surgery begins several weeks before the date of the surgery. Everyone who has this surgery must follow a fairly strict regimen of therapy and rest to heal properly and avoid complications. It is important to prepare for the surgery physically, but it is equally important to make sure the home is ready as well. Before going to the hospital for surgery, there are some things that need to be checked to make sure the transition from hospital to home is as smooth and comfortable as possible. Below are a few ideas to help prepare the home:
Set up a bed on the first floor if possible.
Have a bathroom or portable commode on the same floor where most of the day is spent.
Stock up on canned or frozen easy to fix meals.
Make sure everything is within reach without getting on the tiptoes or bending low.
Have medication within easy reach.
Use a walker, cane, shower chair, and other helpful devices during recovery.
Recovering from knee replacement surgery can make doing the simplest tasks a challenge. Ask a loved one to stay throughout the recovery period. Additionally, ask your doctor about sending home health. Home health can help with wound care, medication management, pain management, fall prevention, and more.
Facemasks or surgical masks might help protect against cold and flu season – or in times of an outbreak, like the coronavirus. But how much protection do the masks provide?
Surgical masks are loose-fitting and disposable masks approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as medical devices. Doctors, dentists, and nurses often wear them while treating patients. These masks prevent drops of body fluids that may contain viruses from escaping via the nose and mouth. The masks also protect against splashes or sprays from others, such as sneezes and coughs. The downside is that these masks don’t prevent the inhalation of small, airborne contaminants.
With everyone on edge about the current outbreak of 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV), how effective are the facemasks? Wearing a facemask might help prevent influenza as the virus spreads droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. A mask could protect a person from inhaling these droplets if it were worn consistently and fully covering the mouth and nose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the facemasks are for people who are sick with a virus or believed to be infected, and for those who live with or care for them. There is no recommendation for the general public to start wearing facemasks for coronavirus. CDC advises washing hands frequently to prevent the spread of illness such as the flu.
Oh, what a glorious feeling to give and receive love. Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on chocolate, and it’s a safe bet that Valentine’s Day accounts for a decent percentage of the total. While a heart-shaped box of chocolates seems like the opposite of healthy, hundreds of studies have found chocolate – especially dark chocolate – keeps the heart and blood vessels in good shape.
Here is a “sweet” heart tip: According to Katherin L. Carson, PhD, State Program Leader for Food Safety and Nutrition and Janis G. Hunter of Clemson University, dark chocolate provides some specific health benefits that other varieties of chocolate do not. It may help to: • Lower blood pressure • Improve blood flow to the heart • Lower “bad” LDL cholesterol • Improve insulin resistance • Promote feelings of relaxation
The trick of choosing the healthiest dark chocolate is to check the label for 60 to 70 percent cacao. The darker chocolate has a smaller amount of sugar added, but a healthy amount of flavanols makes it a good choice for the sweet tooth craving. When it comes to dark chocolate or cocoa, the American Heart Association suggests one to two ounces a day for the general population. Keep in mind that about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate is about the size of ¼ cup of chocolate chips.
While supporting American Heart Health month, show some love and give dark chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is a heart-healthy food that tastes good, so enjoy in moderation!
Cason, K.L., & Hunter, J.G. (2015, February 26). When it Comes to Chocolate, Choose Dark. Retrieved from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/when-it-comes-to-chocolate-choose-dark/
People love eating treats such as cake, cookies, and ice cream that were sweetened by sugar. When sugar is mixed into foods and beverages to enhance flavoring and longevity, it is referred to as added sugar. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a daily intake of added sugar less than ten percent of daily calorie intake. Consuming too much added sugar can lead to various health problems which may eventually lead to death. A high intake of added sugar can cause heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain. Sugar also occurs naturally in healthy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains.
Here are a couple of tips on how to stay healthy by cutting back on added sugars:
• Read the labels. Check the nutrition facts label on the packaging of your food. It typically gives you information about its added sugars. There are various types of added sugars that could be listed. The amount of sugar in your food, often measured in grams, is also listed on the nutrition facts label. • Have a healthy diet. Find healthier alternatives to the sweet food and drinks with added sugar. Replace beverages such as soda with water and low-fat or fat-free milk. Satisfy sweet cravings with small amounts of whole foods. Talk with your doctor or caregiver about the recommended foods and beverages to include in your healthy diet.
Sugar may taste sweet, but the health effects are less so.
Over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house for the holidays. A time for families to gather and enjoy each other’s company – and of course EAT! Delicious meals, cookie swaps, company parties, smorgasbord of buffets, it’s no surprise extra pounds have crept up on the waist lines. The last few months of the year can test the most disciplined weight watcher.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American’s weight increases 0.2% over Thanksgiving and 0.4% over Christmas. This averages out to about one pound gained during each holiday season. Researchers also found the bulk of this weight gain occurs in the 10 days following the Christmas holiday. Perhaps the holiday cheer throws people’s diet equilibriums into a tail spin?
However, gaining a pound might sound like a small price to pay for all the gingerbread and holiday treats, but the fact is that many people are unlikely to lose the extra pound year after year.
The holidays are over and it’s time get on the healthy eating bandwagon. Here are 5 diet tips to help lose that festive weight. 1) Drink water! 2) Get more active. 3) Use a smaller plate. 4) Set realistic goals. 5) Enjoy healthier foods. If you have put on a bit of weight after the holidays, that’s okay. With a little dedication, healthy food choices, and exercises, holiday weight loss is possible. Start off the new year with a new you.
New Year’s resolutions are easy to make but even easier to break. Some of the most common resolutions are losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, eating healthier, and getting better sleep. People tend to challenge themselves by setting unrealistic goals, and they become frustrated and give up. Any resolution is obtainable by setting small goals that are easily reached. New Year’s is an opportunity to think about healthy choices and setting realistic goals to achieve them.
Having a weight loss resolution to begin the new year is a great start. Breaking down the resolution into mini-resolutions will help stay on target and meet goals. Here’s how:
Set measurable goals: Commit to a 30-minute exercise class or take a walk at break time. Trade in the soda for sparkling water. Treat yourself to a star sticker each time a goal has been accomplished.
Take it week to week: Each week, assign a new goal such as trying a new vegetable dish, adding a new spice to a recipe, and engaging in physical activity. Remember to give each goal achieved a gold star!
Find a group or buddy: Having support from peers is one of the keys to success for losing weight.
Whatever your fitness goals are for 2020, create a realistic plan, stick to it, and then benefit from all the hard work along the path for a healthy change.
Cold and flu season has arrived. Family members and coworkers are beginning to cough and sneeze in unison. It’s just a matter of time before you join in the phlegmy chorus. However, there are ways to supercharge the immune system to help fight off viral and bacterial infections, and other annoying bugs.
Home treatments and natural remedies can help boost the immune system during the season of colds, flu, and sniffles. Try a few of these natural ways to boost the immune system: • Eat a well-balanced diet. Try a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps support the body’s defenses to function properly. • Exercise. Moderate exercise can help maintain a healthy immune system. • Get plenty of sleep. If you get enough sleep, it will help your body fight off sickness. • Increase vitamins. Immune boosting vitamins are vitamins B6, C, and E. Some foods that are rich in these vitamins are eggs, bell peppers, spinach, and almonds.
So become a supercharged immune fighting machine by, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and eating fruits and veggies. Your friends will be asking you why you never seem to get sick.
Cranberries are small, tart, bright red berries that are a popular treat, as well as a holiday staple. They are packed with antioxidants and provide many health benefits. Cranberry juice has a reputation for preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), though research is inconsistent. Is there a benefit to taking cranberry pills?
What are cranberry pills? They are a small tablet or capsule made from dried, powered cranberries and may contain additional ingredients such as vitamin C or probiotics. One benefit of taking cranberry pills is that they may help prevent UTIs, however there have been conflicting research.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November 2016, looked at 185 older women living in a nursing home. The group of women taking cranberry supplements saw a decrease in the number of bacteria in their urine in the first six months. The study did not show a decrease in UTI frequency in the first year.
According to Pennington Biomedical Research Center, cranberry pill health benefits include: • May help with chronic disease • May help treat stomach ailments • High level of antioxidants
While cranberry pills are thought to be safe, there are a few mild side effects such as: • Stomach pain • Potential to cause kidney stones (if you are susceptible to them) • May increase affects of blood thinning with some medications
If you think you may have a UTI, contact your general practitioner.
Juthani-Mehta M, Van Ness PH, Bianco L, et al. Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2016;316(18):1879–1887.
Roy, Heli J. “Cranberries.” Pennington Nutrition Series. Pennington Biomedical Research Center LSU. 41(2014)