Tag: healthy living

How to Make Your Favorite Foods Healthier

After the whirlwind of the holiday season, the season of resolutions takes over. Many people to resolve to live healthier, and they may not have to give up their favorite foods to do so. Research from the National Institutes of Health suggests American adults between the ages of 18 and 49 gain an average of one to two pounds every year. Grazing and overeating tends to increase when the weather cools down. A 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, in the fall, people tend to consume more calories, total fat and saturated fat. In the spring, people seem to prefer more carbohydrates. In addition, less powerful sunshine in winter coupled with people bundling up translates into less vitamin D being absorbed by the body. Some researchers believe there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain as well. To ensure that certain foods do not sabotage healthy eating plans, people can employ some easy modifications and make healthier versions of the foods they like to eat.

• Choose crunchy foods. Those who are prone to snacking can reach for noisy foods. These include crunchy items like apples, carrots and pretzels. Scientists say that when people listen to what they are chewing — called the “crunch effect” — they eat less of that item.

• Tone down the cream. Delicious dishes like fettuccine alfredo typically are made with lots of butter and cream. Replace cream sauces with a healthier base made of low-fat milk thickened with flour. Increase the flavor with favorite spices.

• Fry with care. Use healthy oils like olive or coconut sparingly. Many foods that are traditionally fried also can be lightly coated with cooking spray and baked for a crunchy texture.

• Choose sodium-free seasonings. The USCA recommends limiting sodium to less than 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Try options like fresh herbs or lemon juice to add some sodium-free flavor.

• Increase fiber content. Fiber helps one feel fuller longer and can also be helpful for digestion and heart health. Choose the “brown” varieties of rice, pasta and breads.

• Replace meat with leaner forms of protein. Lean chicken, turkey and pork can replace red meats in many recipes. Some traditional meat dishes, such as burgers, also can be modified using vegetables or seafood. Lean meats dry out quickly, so keep foods moist by watching cooking times.

• Stock up on yogurt. Greek and other varieties of yogurt can replace sour cream and mayonnaise in many dishes.

Resolving to eat healthier can be easy by making some simple swaps when preparing your favorite foods.

Foods That May Help Fight Cancer

People concerned about their cancer risk may find that switching their diets can do a world of good. Certain foods may reduce cancer risk, according to various cancer experts, including the MD Anderson Cancer Center. In addition, some foods might increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. Knowing what to put on the table come breakfast, lunch and dinner can go a long way toward reducing one’s cancer risk. Some foods show cancer-fighting properties, although it is impossible to currently say one food or another can actually stop cancer from developing. Studies have shown that diets filled with colorful fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Cancer Research UK points out that some foods, such as red meat and salt-preserved foods, can increase a person’s risk of developing some cancers, while vegetables, fruits and foods high in fiber have the opposite effect. A comprehensive review of thousands of studies on physical activity, diet and weight conducted for the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that plant-based foods are the best at fighting cancer. Broccoli, berries and garlic showed some of the strongest tendencies to prevent cancer. According to research associates at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a variety of chemicals from plants known as phytochemicals protect cells from harmful compounds in food and in the environment. Phytochemicals prevent cell damage and mutations. When making their grocery lists, people who want to eat healthy and lower their cancer risk can include as many of these foods as possible.

Garlic

Studies suggest that garlic can reduce the incidence of stomach cancer by attacking bacteria associated with some ulcers and belly cancers. Sulfur compounds in the food may stimulate the immune system’s natural defenses against cancer and could reduce inflammation and tumor growth.

Broccoli

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and kale contain glucosinolates. These are phytochemicals that produce protective enzymes that activate in the intestines. One particular compound, sulforaphane, is strongest and found in broccoli. Protective properties are highest in raw or steamed broccoli.

Blueberries

Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize the unstable compounds, called free radicals, that can damage cells and lead to cancer.

Tomatoes

The red, rich coloring of tomatoes comes from lycopene. In laboratory tests, lycopene has stopped cancer cells, including breast, lung, and endometrial cancers, from growing. Researchers speculate that lycopene protects cells from damage that could lead to cancer by boosting the immune system.

How to Make School Lunch Healthier

The benefits of a healthy diet are clear and well documented. In addition to providing the nutrients a growing body needs, consuming a balanced diet helps children maintain a healthy weight. Obesity continues to be a growing problem among school-aged children and can contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and many other adverse medical conditions.

Children attending school will eat at least one meal away from home each day. A healthy lunch provides sound nutrition to give students energy to do well in school and for the rest of the day. Children who do not eat well at lunch may have difficulty concentrating, while others may feel sluggish or tired.

As part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the United States National School Lunch Program was revised to guarantee healthy, nutritionally sound choices, as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for lunch. America’s school menus were altered to be healthier than ever, including more fruits and vegetables while limiting calories. Despite some controversy through the years, including some students saying the smaller portions and food choices aren’t always satisfying, states suffering from high child obesity rates have seen marked improvements.

Canada is one of the few leading industrialized countries that does not have a national nutrition strategy to implement healthy school lunches. It’s estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of Canadian children have access to school meals. These meals are not provided by a well-funded national program, but by a patchwork of individual volunteer efforts, some provincial government funding and corporate donations.

Whether students purchase lunch from school or bring lunch from home, there are ways to guarantee a more diverse offering and better nutrition. Here are some guidelines to follow.

* Offer nutrient-dense foods. Foods should contribute to the daily recommended amounts of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Provide a selection of foods, such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, that will give children the nutrients they need. Nutrient-dense foods also help kids feel fuller, longer.

* Limit fat intake. Avoid foods that do not get their fat from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Saturated fats can lead to obesity and clogged arteries. The American Heart Association recommends kids get no more than 25 to 35 percent of their calories from fat. Fish, nuts and olives are healthy fat sources.

* Let kids choose some of their food. Allow kids to pick some of the healthy foods they will be eating. Giving kids a say in their diets will make them more likely to enjoy their lunches and cut back on snack foods. Eating meals regularly will keep energy levels up during school and make kids less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks to fill hunger gaps.

* Make small changes that add up. Switching from white bread to whole grain breads, and opting for low-fat dairy products instead of full-fat dairy products can make a world of difference. Kids may not notice a change in texture or flavor, and many of kids’ favorite foods, such as chicken nuggets, pizza and macaroni and cheese, can be made with healthier ingredients.

* Remember, beverages count, too. Giving children a healthy lunch and then packing a sugar-filled, high-calorie drink negates your efforts. Calories from beverages can quickly add up. Water is always the best option for a healthy drink. Low-fat milk and real fruit juice consumed in moderation also make healthy alternatives to sugary beverages.

Offering healthy school lunches is an important step to raising healthy kids. New guidelines and offerings make it easier for kids to get the nutrition they need for their growing bodies.

How to Avoid Unhealthy Habits at the Office

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, working professionals spend an average of 8.5 hours per day at work. Many professionals spend much of their time at work sitting down in front of a computer, which can be detrimental to long-term health.

Staying sedentary for long periods of time can contribute to a host of health ailments, including being overweight and obese. But professionals who work in offices can take various steps to ensure all that time at work is not having an adverse affect on their overall health.

· Get out of your seat. Modern workplaces are built around sitting, so workers must find some time to stand up and stretch. Sitting too long can compromise posture and lead to craning of the neck for looking at the computer screen. Get out of your chair, walk around the office and get the blood moving in your body.

· Pack your lunch. Bringing lunch to work puts you in greater control over the foods you are eating. You can pack a healthy and diverse selection of foods. Don’t forget to also bring some snacks that offer a healthy mix of protein and carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. Otherwise, you may succumb to the temptation of the lunchroom snack machine.

· Take frequent breaks. Stale air inside an office environment can make you feel fatigued and less productive. Also, spending too much time behind your desk may contribute to feelings of stress and tension. Use every opportunity possible to get up and leave your office. Instead of sending an instant message or making a phone call to a coworker, visit him or her in person. Use your lunch hour to get outside instead of eating at your desk. Plan a brief, mid-afternoon walk outside of your office to clear your mind and get some fresh air.

· Disinfect surfaces often. Oftentimes, when one person at the office gets sick, many others soon follow. Colds and the flu can spread rapidly in close quarters. Keep your desk drawer stocked with some alcohol swabs or disinfecting spray and routinely clean your keyboard, mouse, touchscreen, and desk surfaces. You also can wipe off door handles and knobs around the office if you want to be proactive.

· Rest your eyes. Close your eyes and look away from the computer monitor every 20 minutes. Focusing on objects of varying distances can help keep the eyes strong and reduce fatigue.

It’s not difficult to remain healthy at work. Breaks, exercise and watching what you eat can help.

Recognize & Avoid Youth Sports Injuries

Children benefit in various ways from their involvement in youth sports. Being part of a team fosters feelings of belonging, inspires collaborative play and strategy and can be an excellent form of exercise. Still, despite the benefits, parents often worry about the injury risk their children face on the playing fields.

Those fears are justified. A Safe Kids Worldwide survey of emergency room visits found that a young athlete visits a hospital emergency room for a sports-related injury more than a million times a year, or about every 25 seconds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 2.6 million children 0 to 19 years old are treated in the emergency department each year for sports- and recreation-related injuries.

Some of the more common injuries young children face have to do with the skeletal and muscular systems of the body. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons stresses that children’s bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing, making them more susceptible to injury. Fortunately, with some education, many youth-sport injuries can be prevented.

Sprains and strains

Sprains are injuries to ligaments, or the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connect two or more bones at a joint. Strains impact a muscle or a tendon, which connects muscles to bones. Clinical research has linked acute strains and sprains to improper warm-up before sports, fatigue and previous injuries. Preparticipation conditioning and stretching can help reduce the risk of injury.

Periostitis

Periostitis is commonly known as “shin splints.” This is an overuse injury that occurs in athletes who are engaged in activities that involve rapid deceleration. Periostitis causes inflammation of the band of tissue that surrounds bones known as the periosteum, and typically affects people who repetitively jump, run or lift heavy weights.

To head off potential pain in the shins, young athletes can gradually build up their tolerance for physical activity. Supportive shoes or orthotic inserts may also help. Incorporating cross-training into a regimen also can work.

Repetitive use activities

Swimmers, tennis players, pitchers, and quarterbacks may experience something called a repetitive use injury. This is pain in an area of the body that is used over and over again. Inflammation of muscles and tendons may appear, but repetitive use injuries also may result in stress fractures, which the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines as hairline fractures in bones that are subjected to repeated stress.

Rest between exercises can help alleviate these types of injuries. Ice, compression, elevation and immobilization may be used if pain is persistent.

Growth plate injuries

Kids Health says growth plates are the areas of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in the legs and arms in children and adolescents. A growth plate produces new bone tissue. If the growth plate is injured, it cannot do its job properly. That may contribute to deformed bones, shorter limbs or arthritis. Growth plate injuries most often result from falling or twisting.

While there’s no surefire way to prevent growth plate injuries, getting proper and immediate care after an injury can help prevent future problems. An orthopedic surgeon has the expertise to diagnose and treat these injuries.

Youth sports injuries are common but preventable. Warming up, being in good physical shape and not overtaxing a growing body can help kids avoid pain and impairment.

Avoid Aches & Pains When Gardening

People who have not spent much time in a garden may not consider this rewarding hobby much of a threat to their health. But as veteran gardeners can attest, gardening can contribute to nagging aches and pains that can force even the most ardent green-thumbers indoors.

Gardening is a physical activity that, despite its peaceful nature, can be demanding on the body. Thankfully, there are several ways that gardening enthusiasts can prevent the aches and pains that can sometimes pop up after long days in the garden.

· Use ergonomic gardening tools. Ergonomic gardening tools are designed to prevent the types of aches, pains and injuries that can cut gardeners’ seasons short. Gardening injuries can affect any area of the body, but injuries or aches and pains affecting the back, wrists and hands are among the most common physical problems gardeners endure. Look for ergonomic tools that reduce the strain on these areas of the body. Even arthritis sufferers who love to garden may find that ergonomic tools make it possible for them to spend more time in their gardens without increasing their risk for injury.

· Alternate tasks. Repetitive-strain injuries can affect gardeners who spend long periods of time performing the same activity in their gardens. By alternating tasks during gardening sessions, gardeners can reduce their risk of suffering repetitive strain injuries. Alternate tasks not just on muscle groups worked, but also level of difficulty. Remember to include some simple jobs even on busy gardening days so the body gets a break.

· Take frequent breaks. Frequent breaks can help combat the stiffness and muscle aches that may not appear until gardeners finish their gardening sessions. Breaks help to alleviate muscles or joints that can become overtaxed when gardening for long, uninterrupted periods of time. When leaning down or working on your hands and knees, stand up to take breaks every 20 minutes or the moment aches and pains start to make their presence felt.

· Maintain good posture. Back injuries have a tendency to linger, which can keep gardeners indoors and out of their gardens. When gardening, maintain good posture to prevent back injuries. Gardening back braces can protect the back by providing support and making it easier for gardeners to maintain their posture. Tool pouches attached to gardening stools or chairs also can be less taxing on the back than gardening belts tied around the waist.

Gardening might not be a contact sport, but it can cause pain if gardeners do not take steps to prevent the onset of muscle aches and strains when spending time in their gardens.

Power of Positive Attitude

A balanced diet, exercise, genetics, and even certain medications can work in concert to make a person healthy. But a person’s demeanor also can factor into personal health.

The Mayo Clinic says that whether or not a person is an optimist or a pessimist can affect many areas of his or her health and well-being, and those who see the glass as half-full may ultimately be healthier than those who see it as half-empty.

Positive thinking can make it easier to manage stress. The body responds differently based on an individual’s mood, and it may produce stress hormones if a person’s outlook is negative. Such stress hormones can compromise the immune system, increase blood pressure and even reduce the body’s ability to burn fat effectively. Thinking negatively and being on edge also can increase a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and aging prematurely.

Conversely, maintaining a positive attitude can be good for your health. Studies have shown that thinking positively can lower rates of depression and anxiety, increase life expectancy and provide greater resistance to certain illnesses, such as the common cold. A 2012 preliminary study from researchers at Stanford University found that daughters of mothers suffering from depression were able to witness their own stress levels go down on a real-time brain scan as they switched from negative thoughts to happy ones.

Researchers are unsure why positive thinking has such profound effects. But in addition to limiting stress-releasing hormones, positive thinking may inspire people to live healthier lifestyles that make them more likely to get routine physical activity and eat a healthy diet. Happy people also may be less likely to use tobacco products or alcohol as a coping mechanism when dealing with elevated stress levels, and such people will not have to deal with the side effects that can come with these unhealthy behaviors.

Becoming a more positive thinker can take a little effort for those without a natural inclination for optimism. But because positive thinking boasts such significant health benefits, men and women might want to try the following methods to embrace their optimistic side.

* Exercise. Start an exercise regimen, as physical activity naturally reduces stress and can improve mood.

* Embrace humor. Surround yourself with others who bring a smile to your face. Look for ways to laugh as much as possible. Rather than go out to dinner or a bar with friends, head to a comedy club. Choose comedies at the movie theater and find humor in everyday happenings.

* Identify areas that need change. Think about moments in life that may bring you down or inspire negative reactions. If work is problematic, figure out ways to make it better and work toward improving the situation.

* Be supportive of yourself. Consider what you would say to others and then treat yourself the same way. Would you be overly negative or derogatory toward a complete stranger? Probably not, and there is no reason to be harsh with yourself, either. Push negative thoughts away.

* Volunteer. One way to see the world in a more positive light is to help others who may be less fortunate than you. Volunteering not only helps others, but it also can help you put your own problems in perspective. Volunteering also helps you feel good about your efforts, which can translate into positive thinking.

* Think like a child. Take a cue from youngsters and find joy in the little things. Let children be the leaders in activities and mimic what they do. You just may find yourself laughing more and enjoying yourself. Being silly for a little while is one way to recapture the feelings of youth.

Positive thinking is more than the subject matter of self-help books. It’s a viable way to improve personal health and live longer.


LS148382

Vitamin Deficiency in Kids & Pediatrician Links

Thanks to finicky eating habits and limited choices, many children are not getting the vitamins and minerals they need to grow up healthy! Although many foods are fortified with certain vitamins, they still may not be enough to provide the level of nutrition required for a growing body. Parents may be well informed of a child’s needs of vitamin C to boost immune system function, but they may not be as readily informed about other vitamins that are essential to human health.

* Vitamin A: Vitamin A promotes a healthy immune system and proper eyesight function. A child lacking in vitamin A may be tired and weak and experience weight loss. Other symptoms include dry eyes, skin scaling and respiratory infections.

* Vitamin B6: Hyperactivity and impulsiveness are often blamed on an underlying medical condition, such as ADHD. But such conditions may be the result of a deficiency in vitamin B6.

* Vitamin B12: Nervous system function is largely governed by proper levels of vitamin B12. Children who do not receive enough vitamin B12 may experience weakness, insomnia, edema, and abdominal pain.

* Vitamin D: Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in the body after exposure to the sun. Children who spend many hours indoors or wearing thick layers of sunscreen may not get enough vitamin D. Irritability, muscle cramps and even late teething could be tied to vitamin D deficiency.

Parents should consult with pediatricians about the proper levels of vitamins children need.

[FP135106]

doctorLocal Pediatrician Links:

*Keystone Pediatrics, Chambersburg  “Keystone Health is a full-service, family-centered, primary care facility providing quality, affordable, accessible health care.”

*Antietam Pediatrics, Hagerstown “At Antietam Pediatric and Adolescent Care, our primary goal is to ensure healthier lifestyles for the pediatric and adolescent populations. Responding to the needs of patients and their families is our highest priority.”

*The Children’s Doctor , Hagerstown/Boonsboro Our entire team is dedicated to helping you and your child feel at home from the moment your walk through the door. We’re proud to be members of the Hagerstown community and serve the needs of their children.”