Thursday, June 30, 2016

Heat Safety

It is officially summer and the days of high temperatures have just begun! Many people take these sunny days as opportunities to enjoy nature, go for walks, jogs, or just simply lay on the beach. While basking in the sun can be a very enjoyable experience, it can also cause physical harm, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, so here are some tips on preventing, and protecting against, sun and heat related illness.

Be aware of the weather forecast. Keeping an eye on the predicted temperatures can help you make educated decisions on your exercise choice for the day. Both exercise and high temperatures can raise your core body temperature. While sweating is your body’s way of keeping cool, in high humidity perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly from the surface of your skin, making it more difficult to cool down and subsequently raising your heart rate. If the forecast shows high humidity, it would be smart to scale back on the workout, or switch it to a day that is less humid.

Pick weather appropriate clothing. Sun protection begins when you wake up and get dressed. Light colored and sweat-wicking clothing helps keep you cool in hot weather, whereas dark, heavy clothes can make you even hotter.

Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach! Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out on those particularly sunny days to protect against sunburn, which can decrease your body’s ability to self-cool. Opt for water-resistant sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 for the best results.

Replenish, replenish, replenish. Hydration is essential all year round, but it is particularly important during the summer months when you can be losing water through perspiration, perhaps without you realizing! You can easily lose a few pounds of water weight while sweating. Fortunately, you can replenish this loss through drinking more water. One tip is to weigh your self before and after workouts, replacing each pound lost with 3 cups of water.

Sometimes it’s too late for prevention, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which are caused by exposure to high temperatures and dehydration.  Signs of heat exhaustion include, but are not limited to: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache and cool, moist skin. If untreated, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke, a more serious heat-related illness. With heat stroke, look for the following symptoms: dry, hot skin without sweating, confusion, a body temperature of above 105*F, rapid and weak pulse, seizures and unconsciousness.

Hopefully this information will help to prevent heat related illness. Just remember, making smart choices with high temperatures will help make a more enjoyable summer experience!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bug Munchin'

            With all the cicadas flying around it seems more than appropriate to talk about eating bugs. “No, that’s gross” my family and friends tell me, but there are around 2 billion people worldwide that eat bugs as a staple in their diet according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Entomophagy, or eating bugs, is very common in other nations with beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets being the most common insects eaten. There are actually over 1900 edible insects, so I guess goat meat isn’t that strange after all. The authors of this article go on to explain how eating insects could combat obesity, but the more important message is to be open to new foods and find a way to create a varied diet. When given an opportunity to try something new don’t shy away! Metaphorically grab the beetle by the horns and give it a try.

            One last thing.. I don’t want to ruin your view on the sweet delight that is chocolate, BUT below you’ll see that, according to the Defect Levels Handbook by the FDA, a little bug is good:

            The organization states that it is acceptable for 100 grams of chocolate to contain up to 60 "insect fragments" within six 100-gram samples, while peanut butter can contain up to 30 insect fragments per 100 grams.

So, enjoy that chocolate peanut butter cup.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Think Fast: The Deal on Intermittent Fasting

            There has been a lot of celebrity attention and support in favor of intermittent fasting, but before you jump on the bandwagon, it may be best to know what this wagon ride is like. Intermittent fasting involves fasting for a variable amount of time, then feeding during preselected times. The kick is that the fast can be for hours, or even days. One common practice is to “fast” during the work week, and then feed during the weekend, while others may chose to fast for 16 hours and feed during the 8 hour eating window. For example, 8 PM to 12 PM exists as a fasted window and 12 PM to 8 PM is the allotted time to eat. During a fast, some choose to drink water only, while other may eat, but only 500 calories or so.

            It sounds a bit outlandish, but intermittent fasting may have some benefits such as decreasing LDL cholesterol and inflammation, and increasing insulin sensitivity. As Valter Longo, PhD, explains, during the fasting periods many cells die, and stem cells are “turned on” and give way to the production of new, young, and better functioning cells.

            One issue that arises with intermittent fasting is that individual’s focus primarily on the calories they consume rather than to quality of food being consumed. This is often because low calorie foods such as egg whites and black coffee or tea can be consumed during fasting periods, while during the eating window it’s a reason to splurge on oodles of calories and less desirable foods. The hunger that one may experience before the eating window may also cause a large binge on the less desirable foods. Fasting for long periods may also impact mood and functioning - especially if not acquainted to this eating pattern. 

            So, yes, intermittent fasting can be beneficial for some folks and even produce weight loss, but it’s important to recognize that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Warning: Before considering intermittent fasting it is important to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Tips and Tidbits to Break your Busy Day Bad Habits

Do you find yourself constantly snacking on foods like potato chips? Are you overloading on caffeine to have the energy needed to just make it through the day? Do you find yourself constantly in fast food restaurant drive-thrus? Do you live a busy lifestyle, constantly on the go? These are some bad habits busy people tend to form, but luckily there are some tips that can help to break these habits.


Tip No.1: Be sure to eat a well-balanced breakfast! Starting your day with a good breakfast will give you the energy needed to get through your busy day.  A balanced breakfast includes lean protein, a whole grain, and fresh or canned vegetables. An example of a good breakfast to kick start your day includes oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, almonds, and blueberries. Yum!

Tip No.2: Cut back on the Caffeine! Trust me, I love my coffee and feel almost lost when I don’t get a fresh cup of Jo in the morning, but coffee can cause you to feel jittery, lose sleep, and even lose energy later in the day. In order to limit your caffeine intake try switching over to decaf, drinking tea, drinking water, and eating small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep consistent energy levels all day long. Also, try limiting yourself to three or less cups of coffee per day to decrease these unwanted side effects listed above.

Tip No.3: Meal Prep is key! A lot of people claim that their busy lifestyle constricts them for time, especially during meal time. This is concerning especially when discussing the preparation of well-balanced meals for the family.  Most families now a days tend to purchase fast foods when busy because they’re cheap and quick meals. Taking time on the weekend to prepare all or most of the meals for the week takes away this problem! Meal prep is a good solution for ensuring your family gets healthy meals when they’re on the go. It’s so easy to bake chicken or steam some vegetables on the weekend while you’re home and then to reheat them for whichever day you’d like during the hectic week.

Tip No.4: Eat at a variety of fruits and veggies for your snack instead of that bag of potato chips. Fruits and veggies add a variety of color and flavor to your diet, not to mention numerous vitamins, minerals and fibers.  They are a perfect snack for busy families, because they take practically no prep time! There are so many different and exotic fruits and veggies you can try to spice up your life, as well. Fresh versions of these food groups are ideal, but if they are not available to you frozen options are just as good.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Could Eating Too Little Salt Cause Major Problems?

A study regarding the risks of a low sodium diet was recently featured in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal.  The study, conducted by Andrew Mente and colleagues, yielded surprising data, leaving the researchers questioning the current sodium recommendations.  It is commonly known that consuming high amounts of sodium may lead to increased risk of heart problems.  However, the data resulting from this study indicate that, compared with an average salt intake, a low sodium intake might increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death.  This raises the question: are the current guidelines too low? 

Currently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than 1 teaspoon a day, which is equal to 2,300 milligrams.  This number is fairly easy to achieve, which makes a strict low-sodium diet difficult to maintain.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top sources of sodium include: breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes, and snacks.  The CDC released a report disclosing that 90% of Americans consume more sodium than recommended.

For this study, Andrew Mente and his colleagues studied data from 130,000 people worldwide, focusing on the relationship between sodium intake and heart problems.  Regardless of high blood pressure, those who consumed low amounts of sodium (less than 3,000mg/day) had higher rates of heart attack, stroke, and death.  Only the hypertensive participants consuming a high sodium diet (more than 6,000mg/day) were subject to the risks of a high sodium diet.  After analyzing their findings, the authors believe the current sodium guidelines are too low, but recommend those with hypertension refrain from a high sodium intake.