A resource for wellness
And Stress from www.worksmartlivesmart.com
It’s 3 o’clock in the
afternoon, you are irritated, your head is fuzzy and your eyes are having
trouble focusing. You would love to find a corner and go to sleep, but there is
no time. How about a coffee or a chocolate bar?
Most of us
instinctively reach for sweets or caffeine to give relief from the morning
sluggishness or afternoon slump. We use sweets as a way of helping ourselves
through stressful times. Those strategies might help, temporarily, but there is
a downside to these methods.
Many people choose
sweets and caffeine as a substitute for proper nutrition. Poor eating
strategies affect our brain chemistry and cause fatigue, apathy, apprehension,
edginess and the blues. The brain has first call on the body’s available supply
of nutrients, therefore, the first effects of nutritional deficiencies are
often mental symptoms.
Research shows that
low levels of protein in a diet have a negative impact on the body’s production
of neurotransmitters, which directly affect our mood and energy. Deficiencies
in vitamins B1, B6, C, A, essential fatty acids, folic acid, niacin, magnesium,
copper and iron also affect the fine balance of these neurotransmitters.
and Mineral Deficiencies In Mental Health:
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine
is drained by simple sugars. B1 helps convert blood sugar into fuel. Without
it, we can experience fatigue, depressive symptoms, irritability, anxiety,
memory problems, insomnia and even thoughts of suicide.
Research has found a
strong correlation between vitamin B6 deficiency and depressive symptoms
A lack of B12 can lead
to mood swings, paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia, hallucinations
Folic Acid assists in
the creation of many neurotransmitters and can cause fatigue and dementia
Low levels of Vitamin
C can produce depressive symptoms
We know that food has
a profound effect on our mood, but what other simple steps can we take to boost
our energy, lift our mood and help us to focus?
Simple Strategies To Avoid The Sugar Blues
1. Eat breakfast,
lunch and dinner. Smaller balance meals are preferable to large meals
2. Use exercise or
stretching to increase energy and lift the ‘fog’
3. Eat protein earlier
in the day – we metabolize proteins in a way that we get the full energy from
them up to 5 hours later
4. Include fish in
your weekly diet as the essential fatty acids they contain increase energy and
5. Eat complex
carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables instead of simple sugars
found in chocolate bars and candy, which give the quick high but a low plunge
6. Don’t confuse
thirst with hunger. Drinking a cool glass of water can boost energy in the
middle of the afternoon slump
7. Avoid food
additives such as colorants and preservatives which can have a negative
allergic reaction in the body
8. Don’t buy foods
high in sugar. If it is not sitting in the cupboard or desk drawer you are less
likely to make snap decisions
9. Have healthy snacks
readily available. Plan ahead and keep them in desk drawers, lockers or even in
the glove box of your car
10. A daily supplement
may be helpful, but don’t rely on it to replace healthy eating. Eat a variety
We have all heard the
saying ‘We are what we eat’, but most of us connect this with the body’s physical
reactions. Our brain is just as dependent on the food that we consume. Healthy
food choices help us avoid the erratic blood sugar levels and associated mood
swings, which can keep us mentally healthy.
Easing Brain Fatigue with a Walk in the Park
by Gretchen Reynolds (in
print on 04/02/2013, on page D5 of the New York Times edition with the headline: Brain
Fatigue Goes Green.
Scientists have known for some time
that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be
overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living,
sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue.
With brain fatigue, you are easily
distracted, forgetful and mentally flighty — or, in other words, me.
But an innovative new study from
Scotland suggests that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a
The idea that visiting green spaces
like parks or tree-filled plazas lessens stress and improves concentration is
not new. Researchers have long theorized that green spaces are calming,
requiring less of our so-called directed mental attention than busy, urban
streets do. Instead, natural settings invoke "soft fascination,” a beguiling
term for quiet contemplation, during which directed attention is barely called
upon and the brain can reset those overstretched resources and reduce mental
But this theory, while agreeable,
has been difficult to put to the test. Previous studies have found that people who live near trees and parks have lower
levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their saliva than those who live
primarily amid concrete, and that children with attention deficits tend to concentrate and perform better on cognitive tests
after walking through parks or arboretums. More directly, scientists have
brought volunteers into a lab, attached electrodes to their heads and shown
them photographs of natural or urban scenes, and found that the brain wave
readouts show that the volunteers are more calm and meditative when they view the
But it had not been possible to
study the brains of people while they were actually outside, moving through the
city and the parks. Or it wasn’t, until the recent development of a
lightweight, portable version of the electroencephalogram, a technology that
studies brain wave patterns.
For the new study, published
this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at
Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh attached
these new, portable EEGs to the scalps of 12 healthy young adults. The
electrodes, hidden unobtrusively beneath an ordinary looking fabric cap, sent
brain wave readings wirelessly to a laptop carried in a backpack by each volunteer.
The researchers, who had been
studying the cognitive impacts of green spaces for some time, then sent each
volunteer out on a short walk of about a mile and half that wound through three
different sections of Edinburgh.
The first half mile or so took
walkers through an older, historic shopping district, with fine, old buildings
and plenty of pedestrians on the sidewalk, but only light vehicle traffic.
The walkers then moved onto a path
that led through a park-like setting for another half mile.
Finally, they ended their walk
strolling through a busy, commercial district, with heavy automobile traffic
and concrete buildings.
The walkers had been told to move at
their own speed, not to rush or dawdle. Most finished the walk in about 25
Throughout that time, the portable
EEGs on their heads continued to feed information about brain wave patterns to
the laptops they carried.
Afterward, the researchers compared
the read-outs, looking for wave patterns that they felt were related to
measures of frustration, directed attention (which they called "engagement”),
mental arousal and meditativeness or calm.
What they found confirmed the idea
that green spaces lessen brain fatigue.
When the volunteers made their way
through the urbanized, busy areas, particularly the heavily trafficked
commercial district at the end of their walk, their brain wave patterns
consistently showed that they were more aroused and frustrated than when they
walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative.
While traveling through the park,
the walkers were mentally quieter.
Which is not to say that they
weren’t paying attention, said Jenny Roe, a lecturer at Heriot-Watt’s School of
the Built Environment, who oversaw the study. "Natural environments still
engage” the brain, she said, but the attention demanded "is effortless. It’s
called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the
same time allowing scope for reflection,” and providing a palliative to the
nonstop attentional demands of typical, city streets.
Of course, her study was small, more
of a pilot study of the nifty new, portable EEG technology than a definitive
examination of the cognitive effects of seeing green.
But even so, she said, the findings
were consistent and strong and, from the viewpoint of those of us over-engaged
in attention-hogging urban lives, valuable. The study suggests that, right
about now, you should consider "taking a break from work,” Dr. Roe said, and
"going for a walk in a green space or just sitting, or even viewing green
spaces from your office window.” This is not unproductive lollygagging, Dr. Roe
helpfully assured us. "It is likely to have a restorative effect and help with
attention fatigue and stress recovery.”
What Plain Old Water Can do For Your Health
By Marcia Hammond (Written in Healthy Living on April 9, 2013)
There are many reasons why water is good for your health - from aiding weight loss to preventing cancer. It will also keep your skin clear, boost energy levels, banish fatigue and prevent diabetes. Learn what water can do for you and how to benefit.It’s fat-free, has zero calories, is always ‘on tap’ (literally) and is essential to life. We’re told to drink more of it, but is it really so good for our health? Water makes up 60% of our body weight and is vital for essential functions such as maintaining blood pressure, eliminating waste products and preventing delicate mucous membranes in our nose, mouth and lungs from drying out. But apart from the essential stuff, what else can it do for us?
Heart Health - Research found those who drank five glasses of water a day were less likely to have potentially fatal heart disease, compared with those drinking two glasses.
Digestive Health -
Water absorbed by fiber passing through the digestive system, bulks out
stools making them softer and easier to pass. (Many laxatives work on exactly
this principle by drawing water into the stool). So not drinking enough water
is likely to cause constipation.
Prevents Cancer -
A study in men found those drinking
10.5 glasses of water a day were 24% less likely to develop bladder cancer, while another
showed the risk of certain types of bladder cancer to be halved in men
who drank 11 glasses a day. Large quantities of water may be quickly washing
cancer-causing agents out of the body, so they cannot accumulate.
Women have also been shown to be at
lower risk of cancers affecting the bladder and kidneys the more
fluid (of all types) is consumed - water
straight from the tap having the strongest effect.
It has also been shown that drinking
four to five glasses of water a day compared with two or less, reduced rates of
colon cancer by 45% in women and 32% in men.
Other research showed a greater
reduction in men: 92.4% for rectal cancer and 42% for colorectal cancer. Water
increases the rate at which stools pass though the bowel, reducing contact time
between cancer-causing agents and the bowel lining.
The risk of breast cancer is also affected by
drinking water - a study showed risk was reduced by 79% in post-menopausal
women and by 33% in premenopausal. This demonstrates the importance of water to
normal functioning –at low levels cells are less able to filter out toxins.
Avoid Diabetes - By drinking water
Not drinking enough fluid has also been found to increase risk of developing
high blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes.
In a study, those drinking less than half a liter a day were more likely to
develop high blood sugar than those drinking a liter or more. The link here is
a hormone (vasopressin
or ADH) secreted by the brain when fluid levels are low. It leads the kidneys
to retain water, but causes the liver to release glucose into the blood. So the
more vasopressin released due to dehydration, the higher blood sugar levels
Weight Loss -
Drinking plenty of water helps you
feel full, making you less likely to indulge in calorie-laden snacks between
meals. In addition,
many dieters have realized that
drinking a glass or two before meals, curbs appetite, so you’re less likely to
Energy Levels -
Being dehydrated by as little as 1-2% has been shown to
reduce energy levels. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks will also
prevent the energy slump that inevitably follows a high sugar load.
Many people experience headaches as a result of dehydration, although the
precise mechanism is not known. It may be that the balance of substances in the
blood is affected by a drop in the amount of water in the bloodstream, and that
the brain is very sensitive
to these changes.
Better for teeth
and gums - Drinking water and swishing it around the mouth will help to dislodge food
and plaque around the teeth, which lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Replacing
sugary drinks with water will also be better for tooth and gum health.
Fitness and Tone -
You are better able to exercise when
not dehydrated, as lack of fluid can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue.
Skin Quality -
Skin health is dependent on removal
of toxic waste produced by cells, and water is essential for this process
So it’s not surprising that drinking
plenty of water has long been associated with a clear skin.
How Much and How Often to Drink - There is no ready-made answer to the
question of how much water we should drink, although experts seem to agree that
it is better to drink small amounts regularly, rather than large quantities
infrequently. Many recommendations regarding how much to drink ignore the
differences body size and weight
will make. They also do not take into account that in high temperatures and
when exercising we all lose fluid through sweat, so have more need to replace
it. We obtain water from food as well as drinks other than water, but
ironically some drinks can lead to a loss of water. Caffeine and alcohol cause
more vasopressin to be released, so we lose more water by producing lots of
So the general rules are to drink
water steadily through the day, producing pale-coloured urine, and increase
intake when sweating a lot.
Health experts advise drinking more
water before, during and after exercise to maintain hydration
throughout. The message is don’t wait until you’re thirsty – that’s way too
Breakfast: Your Secret Weapon
By Leslie Fink, MS,
RD (Reprinted from WeightWatchers.com)
What do bagels,
bran cereal and bananas have in common? They're good-for-you breakfast foods
that might help keep you on the weight-loss straight and narrow.
shown that people who skip breakfast may not be as successful with weight
management as those people who eat breakfast regularly. Why? Eating breakfast
may help you reduce snacking and avoid overeating.
Food is fuel
Eating breakfast is like filling up a gas tank. When you wake up in the
morning, your body is low on fuel, like a car running on empty, explains
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, director of nutrition for WebMD. A morning meal
can kick-start your engine by giving your body energy.
Zelman warns that
skipping breakfast may make you more likely to overeat later in the day to make
up for the missed meal.
In fact, a study
published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that
breakfast eaters fall prey to impulse snacking less often than non-breakfast
Not all fuels are created equal. Most people will get more mileage from a small
bran muffin and a cup of fat-free milk than they do from a large glass of
juice. That's because the sugar in the juice is a much more rapidly used energy
source than that derived from the muffin and milk.
breakfast is based on carbohydrate and protein," says G. Harvey Anderson,
PhD, professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of
Toronto. He theorizes that the most satisfying breakfasts deliver a quick shot
of energy (by raising blood sugar levels rapidly) and then a longer term energy
boost from high-fiber, complex-carbohydrate, protein-containing foods that slow
What does that
mean for your sugar cereal? Toss a handful into a bowl of low-fat yogurt and
then mix it up with some fiber-rich fruit. Other tag-team breakfasts include:
cheese and tomato slices on a whole-wheat English muffin
cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk and dried or fresh fruit
butter and jelly on multi-grain bread
or scrambled eggs (or egg whites) with a couple of wheat crackers
yogurt and a grain-rich cereal bar
- A banana and
a small handful of peanuts or almonds
I don't have time to make myself breakfast. The only things
available to me at work are doughnuts and cookies from the vending machine.
When time is of the essence, think portable. Try a hard-boiled egg (keep a few
in the fridge at all times) and a couple of crackers or string cheese and a
piece of fruit. And for those real crunch times, keep packets of instant
oatmeal, high-fiber breakfast bars and mini boxes of raisins stashed in your
Excuse: I just can't eat before 1:00 p.m.
You don't have to eat when the roosters crow, but it is a wise idea to eat
within several hours of waking up. If you can't stomach much, try a few grapes
or a wheat cracker and half a glass of juice. After a few days, your body might
naturally look forward to this a.m. fuel-up and you can try more substantial
Excuse: I'd like to eat breakfast but I'm
afraid it will set my hunger into overdrive.
Many people experience less erratic eating patterns (like mid-afternoon and
after-dinner munchies) when they eat several small snacks and meals throughout
the day. Anderson says that in addition to being leaner, frequent nutritious
mini-meal eaters — as opposed to those who eat one to two big meals per day —
are often associated with cleaner bills of health.
Break Out That Jump Rope!
A new study from researchers at the University of Buffalo found that
children ages 8 to 12 were more physically active when they had a greater
number of "active” toys to choose from. Giving kids a variety of active toys, such
as a beanbag toss, mini indoor basketball and jump rope, boosted both the
length and intensity of active play sessions, especially for girls. The researchers
speculated that being given the power to choose their own recreation motivated
the children to be even more active.
Farmers Markets -- Locally Grown Produce at Your Fingertips
It's never easier to shop locally and add healthy produce to your diet than during summer when farmers markets bring fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables to your neighborhood. We've discovered a handy guide to help you decide what to buy and when based on Illinois' growing season. Before you head out with your reusable shopping bag, read up on what's in season and plan your meals around these farm-fresh foods. Here's an easy recipe to get you started.
Network’s Blueberry Blast Smoothie
cup non-fat or 1% low-fat milk
cup non-fat plain yogurt
Put all ingredients into a blender
and blend until smooth. Yields two servings.
Exercise in the Great Outdoors
It's tempting to skip the gym when warm weather rolls around, but your exercise regimen doesn't have to suffer. You can get a great workout in the great outdoors. Try these moves next time you need to burn some serious calories.
When Water Won't Cut It
We all know the importance of staying hydrated when temperatures soar, but let's be honest -- sometimes 8 glasses of water just doesn't sound appealing. Good news! You can supplement your intake with delicious foods high in water content. Here are some fresh and fruity alternatives to H2O.
Multiple Sports Helps Beat Teen Obesity
Being a team player may help teens tackle rising childhood obesity rates. A new study shows that teens who play on three or
more sports teams are up to 39% less likely to be obese. Click here to read
Plug In to Slim Down -- New Apps Aid in Weight Loss
If you've got a smart phone, you've got easy access to weight-loss tools. Here are a few apps to consider:
With this app, enter how many pounds you want to lose to find out how many daily calories you can consume and the day you'll meet your goal, assuming you stick with the plan.
Use this app with a heart monitor to track your steps, stairs climbed, calories burned and more.
Access more than a thousand exercises with photos by muscle group using gym equipment, dumbbells or body weight with this app.
Find Your Motivation in the Closet
You're 16% more likely to work out for an hour or more if you buy new exercise apparel, according to a recent study.
What Would It Take?
Ever wondered how much exercise it would take to burn off the calories in your favorite food? We've got the answers ...
Activity to Burn Calories
IAPD Member Agencies Offer
60 minutes of fast dancing
Hundreds of Zumba classes
40 minutes of dog walking
More than 60 dog parks
30 minutes of biking
More than 1,000 miles of bike trails
25 minutes of vigorous swimming
More than 420 swimming pools
Hot fudge sundae
75 minutes of Spin class
More than 160 health clubs & rec centers
45 minutes of jogging
More than 650 miles of jogging trails
Here's Another Way To Think About It:
Maybe walking is your only exercise. So how far would you have to walk to burn off the calories you consume? Let's think of walking in terms of the length of a football field (120 yards, including end zones).
|1 Plain M&M
||1 Football Field|
|1 Peanut M&M
||2 Football Fields|
|1 Potato Chip
||2 Football Fields|
|1 Chocolate Chip Cookie
||8 to 10 Football Fields (depending on cookie size) |
|1 12-ounce light beer
||36 Football Fields|
|Big Mac, french fries & shake
||240 Football Fields|
Controlling Stress-Induced Weight Gain
When you're under stress, you may find it harder to eat
healthy. Also, during times of particularly high stress, you may eat in an
attempt to fulfill emotional needs — sometimes called stress eating or
emotional eating. And you may be especially likely to eat high-calorie foods
during times of stress, even when you're not hungry.
To prevent weight gain during stress and reduce the risk of
obesity, get a handle on your stress. When you feel less stressed and more in
control of your life, you may find it easier to stick to healthy eating and
Try these stress management techniques to combat
stress-related weight gain:
the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle
eating, ask yourself why you're eating — are you truly hungry or do you
feel stressed or anxious?
you're tempted to eat when you're not hungry, find a distraction.
skip meals, especially breakfast.
comfort foods and keep them out of your home or office.
a record of your behavior and eating habits so that you can look for
patterns and connections — and then figure out how to overcome them.
problem-solving skills so that you can anticipate challenges and cope with
relaxation skills, such as yoga, massage or meditation.
in regular physical activity or exercise.
encouragement from supportive friends and family.
If you try stress management techniques on your own but they
don't seem to be working, consider seeking professional help through
psychotherapy or counseling. [From MayoClinic.com]
Nighty, Night ... Sleep Tight
Don't let insomnia sap your energy and add to your stress level. A few simple changes can mean a more restful night's sleep.
- If you're not getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier. It's a small change that will create a new pattern and gradually increase your rest.
- Worried about something? Jot it down on a notepad. It will give you peace of mind and ready your brain for sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep -- a dark, quiet and cool environment is ideal for rest. Turn off the television, and turn on the fan. You'll be more relaxed.
Deserts' in Chicago Down 40%
Limited access to
grocery stores, farmers markets and other fresh-food sales is gradually
improving, new studies show. Click here to read more.
Park Districts Make a Difference
The Batavia Park District is encouraging its community to get active and take advantage of the opportunities available to them, including Kamp Kaleidoscope, their summer kids' camp. Click here to read more.
Raising Active Children
Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a parent, you can help shape your child's attitudes and behaviors toward physical activity, and knowing these guidelines is a great place to start. Throughout their lives, encourage young people to be physically active for one hour or more each day, with activities ranging from informal, active play to organized sports.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.
- Make physical activity part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
- Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
- Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
- Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities.
- Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play.
- Instead of watching television after dinner, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes.
- Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.
Healthy Snacking Made Easy
Snacking isn't "bad” if you do it in moderation and make healthy choices. Healthy, good-for-you snacks can be a part of a healthy diet – which you need to do to live healthfully. To snack the sensible way, the American Heart Association recommends choosing nutrient-rich snacks like those listed below:
Carrot and celery sticks
Green pepper sticks
Unsalted rice cakes
Unsalted sunflower seeds
Whole-grain breads or toast
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Low-fat or fat-free cheese
Plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Unsalted almonds, walnuts and other nuts
Unsweetened canned fruit
Thin slice of angel food cake
Dried fruit gelatin gems
Low-fat or fat-free unsweetened fruit yogurt
The True Cost of Obe$ity
What is obesity really costing our country? About $117 billion in medical expenses ($61 billion in direct costs and another $56 billion in indirect costs -- other medical expenses from diseases related to obesity).
Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Review the CDC's fact sheet for more information.
Did You Know?
By the age of 65, individuals who haven't engaged in exercise on a regular basis may incur a decrease in their muscular strength by as much as 80 percent.
Water, Water Everywhere
You can survive for a month without food, but only a few days without water.
- Water is the most important nutrient for active people.
- When you sweat, you lose water, which must be replaced. Drink fluids before, during and after workouts.
- Water is a fine choice for most workouts; however, during continuous workouts of greater than 90 minutes, your body may benefit from a sports drink.
- Sports drinks have two very important ingredients - electrolytes and carbohydrates.
- Sports drinks replace electrolytes lost through sweat during workouts lasting several hours.
- Carbohydrates in sports drinks provide extra energy. The most effective sports drinks contain 15 to 18 grams of carbohydrates in every 8 ounces of fluid.
What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. Learn more from the CDC.
Walk This Way
Studies have shown that healthy, active adults should aim for 10,000 steps a day. Purchasing a pedometer can help you track your steps and motivate you to move. Following are a few easy ways to increase your steps each day:
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park your car at the far end of the lot instead of closer to the door.
Take a walk during your lunch hour.
Walk to do your errands when you can.
Illinois has thousands of miles of trails to make walking outdoors easy and enjoyable. Check out your local park district's website for more information on what's available in your area.
No Bones About It - You Need Calcium Everyday
Many people do not get enough calcium needed for strong bones and proper muscle function. Lack of calcium can contribute to stress fractures and the bone disease osteoporosis.The best sources of calcium are dairy products, but many other foods such as salmon with bones, sardines, collard greens and okra also contain calcium. Additionally, some brands of bread, tofu and orange juice are fortified with calcium.
questions about calcium
By Dr. Suzanne Koven
| Globe Correspondent
March 18, 2013
from the In Practice blog at Boston.com.
questions come up frequently in my medical practice. Often these concern issues
that have been reported heavily in the media and/or about which there is
is the first in what will be an occasional series on this blog addressing some
of the questions my patients ask most often.
the things about which I’m asked most commonly is calcium. Some of the
confusion comes from the fact that our knowledge about calcium and health is
are a few of those questions , along with answers that reflect our knowledge —
a mineral element, is a major component of bones and teeth. Smaller amounts are
also necessary for normal function of the heart and other organs.
the best way to get enough calcium?
foods, including vegetables, fish, and dairy, are rich in calcium. Omnivores,
vegetarians, and vegans can all get enough calcium in food — though it requires
some effort and attention. Supplements are also available.
blood calcium level is normal — doesn’t that mean I get enough calcium?
The level of calcium in the blood is tightly regulated by various hormones, the
kidneys, and other organs. It does not reflect the store of calcium in the
bones. In extreme cases, lack of or excess calcium intake can lower or raise
blood calcium levels — both are dangerous.
are calcium supplements often combined with vitamin D?
vitamin D is required to absorb calcium in the intestines. Many people who live
in northern climates or who don’t get outdoors lack adequate vitamin D, since
sunlight is necessary to metabolize it. Various foods including fish, eggs,
fortified milk, and orange juice provide vitamin D. It is a little challenging
for vegans to get adequate vitamin D from food alone, but it can be done.
have osteoporosis (bone thinning), will increasing my calcium intake help?
inadequate calcium (and vitamin D) intake contribute to osteoporosis,
supplementing these nutrients may not cure the problem. A landmark study showed
that supplementation improved bone density, but didn’t significantly lower the
risk of fracture.
the down side to taking calcium supplements?
calcium intake can lead to kidney stones and constipation. Calcium supplements
can interfere with the metabolism of certain medications. Also, some data
suggest that calcium supplementation in men can cause heart disease and
prostate cancer — though other studies have shown a decreased risk of cancer.
what’s the bottom line?
Calcium is important for bone and general
health and most of us don’t get enough of it. Ideally, we’d get what we need
from food. If that’s not possible, supplements are available, but we can’t say
confidently that these are 100% safe for everyone or that they are a fix for
MyPlate Makes It Easy
The new food icon is easy to understand and teaches the components of a healthy diet. The interactive plate offers tools and tips for eating a well-balanced diet based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Balancing Calories to Manage Weight:
Balance calories - Find out how many calories YOU need for a day as a first step in managing your weight. Go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov to find your calorie level.
Enjoy your food, but eat less - Take the time to fully enjoy your food as you eat it. Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during and after meals. Use them to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough.
Avoid oversized portions - Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Portion out foods before you eat. When eating out, choose a smaller size option, share a dish or take home part of your meal.
Be physically active. Being physically active can help you manage your weight. Learn more about physical activity for a healthy weight.
Foods to Increase:
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables - Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk - They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
Choose a variety of protein foods - Eat a variety of foods from the protein foods group each week. This group includes seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Foods to Reduce:
Compare sodium in foods - Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no salt added."
Drink water instead of sugary drinks - Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets.
Cut back on solid fats - Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine or shortening); pizza; cheese; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.
Building Healthy Eating Patterns:
Create an eating pattern - Select an eating pattern that meets nutrient needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.
Be food safe -
- Clean: Wash hands, utensils and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
- Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won’t be cooked.
- Cook: Use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks.
- Chill: Chill leftovers and takeout foods within two hours and keep the refrigerator at 40°F or below.
- Rinse: Rinse fruits and vegetables (even those with skins or rinds that are not eaten) with tap water.
*Sources: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines) and ChooseMyPlate.gov (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov)
You would need to drink a quart of milk every day for three to four months to drink as much blood as your heart pumps in one hour.
Your heart is about the size of your fist and weighs about as much as a softball.
In the course of a lifetime, the resting heart will have pumped enough blood to fill 13 supertankers.
Your heart is the strongest muscle of your body and beats about 100,000 times in one day in an average adult.
Baby On Board: Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
Eating well can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Don't forget breakfast.
- Try fortified ready-to-eat or cooked breakfast cereals with fruit. Fortified cereals have added nutrients like calcium.
- If you are feeling sick, start with whole-wheat toast. Eat more food later in the morning.
Eat foods with fiber.
- Choose a variety of vegetables and fruits like carrots, cooked greens, bananas and melon.
- Eat plenty of beans and whole grains. Try brown rice or oatmeal.
Choose healthy snacks.
- Low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit
- Whole grain crackers with fat-free or low-fat cheese
Take a prenatal vitamin with iron and folic acid every day.
Iron keeps your blood healthy. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects.
Eat up to 12 ounces a week (2 average meals) of fish or shellfish.
- A 3-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards.
- Avoid fish and shellfish with high levels of mercury. Don't eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.
- If you eat tuna, choose canned light tuna. Albacore (white) tuna has more mercury.
- Common fish that are low in mercury include shrimp, salmon and catfish.
Stay away from soft cheeses and lunch meat.
Some foods may have bacteria that can hurt your baby. Don't eat:
- Soft cheeses like feta, Brie and goat cheese
- Uncooked or undercooked meats or fish (like sushi)
- Lunch meats and hot dogs unless they are heated until steaming hot
Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol.
- Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea.
- Drink water or seltzer instead of soda.
- Don't drink alcohol.
This information was compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Reductions Needed to Achieve Obesity Prevention Goals
study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in the American
Journal of Preventative Medicine, found that without changes to
eating and activity, more than one in five young people could be obese by 2020,
up from the current level of 17 percent. Furthermore, to achieve the federal
government’s national goals for obesity reduction by that year, children in the
United States would need to eliminate an average of 64 excess calories per day.
This reduction could be achieved by decreasing calorie intake, increasing
physical activity or both. Children with higher obesity rates would need to see
greater calorie reductions.