Friday, June 28, 2013
People are constantly being told that “Fats are bad”, and many people will spend lots of time and money to completely rid their diet of fat. The truth is, that we need fats. Fat is actually necessary for you to lose weight. It all depends on the source of food you are getting it from!
The fats to avoid are trans fats and saturated fats. These fats are often found to be culprits in packaged foods such as french fries, margarine, cake mixes, and Ramen noodles. These fats will raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol). The reason these fats are so unhealthy is because most of them have undergone hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that food manufacturers use to keep the fat in packaged food from going bad. These trans fats are hard to catch on food labels because there is a law that allows the food manufacturers to label them as “0g of Trans Fat” if the product contains less than .5g.
Unsaturated fats such as omega-3, omega-6, oleic acid, and linoleic acids are the good fats! Incorporating these into your diet can actually help you lose weight! The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K all require fat so that they can be absorbed into the body. Without fat, you will not be getting any of these essential vitamins. Foods high in unsaturated fats such as avocado, can actually keep you feeling full longer because they can take a longer time to digest.
Low-fat diets can be very misleading because they are sending people the wrong message. The label, “low-fat” urges people to stray away from all fats completely, including the good fats that are needed to prevent illness such as heart disease. Also, when food producers take the fat out of a food they have to replace it with something else; which is usually a refined carbohydrate from sugar. These refined carbs can cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels because they are digested very fast. Hunger is a result of these high levels dropping down again. The hunger leads to overeating and weight gain.
Harvard School of Public Health provides us with 5 tips on how to choose foods with healthy fats.
1) Use liquid plant oils for cooking and baking such as olive or canola oil
2) Ditch the Trans Fat
3) Switch from butter to soft tub margarine
4) Eat at least one good source of Omega-3 fats each day such as salmon, tuna or walnuts
5) Cut back on red meat, cheese, milk and ice cream because they can be high in saturated fats. Choose chicken, fish or nuts instead.
Next time you consider buying a food product that is low-fat, think again! Aim for the unsaturated fats and stay away from saturated fats, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils. Remember that fat is not always bad!
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Do you often find yourself being anxious, stressed, or tense? Have you ever considered trying meditation to help you overcome these feelings? Meditation has been shown to improve mental health, physical well being, and achieve an overall feeling of inner peace. When taking part in meditation you will learn to let go of all thoughts and enter a state of consciousness. This state can bring you the serenity and clarity you have been searching for. This is a great way to clear your mind of crowded thoughts that are leading to your increasing stress levels. Not only will you experience benefits while taking part in meditation, but the feeling of calmness will continue with you throughout your day. Meditation is not only used to decrease stress levels but it also a great way to help reduce chronic and acute pain, decrease depression, and help rid yourself of sleep problems. It has been shown that as little as 20 minutes of meditation a day can lead to decreased levels in blood pressure, lower heart rate, and deeper breathing. A study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that participants taking part in transcendental meditation had a 48% reduction for overall risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease.
Here are some quick fun facts about how meditation can help improve your health!
- Increases your frontal brain activity which helps to create a positive mood
- Long term meditators are shown to have increased grey matter which helps to control emotions
- Protects the brain and heart from increased levels of stress
- Reduces levels of psychological distress and anxiety
- Increases self-awareness and helps you to focus on the present
- Creates ways to manage your stress levels
- Can help to stop feelings of fatigue and lessen issues such as binge eating, asthma, and allergies
Why not give it a try? Meditation is inexpensive and does not require any special equipment. It can actually be done anywhere you are, at any time! The Institute of Applied Meditation gives great information on the different types of meditation that you can take part in. Check out their website as well as UNH Health Service's to decide which type fits best for you!
Monday, June 24, 2013
Dietary Supplements have become a staple in many Americans diets today. There are hundreds of different dietary supplements available on market shelves and it can be overwhelming trying to decipher which products are both safe and effective. One important thing to note is that the FDA does not monitor the production and safety of supplements—that is the manufacturer’s job. This is why it is extra important to make sure you are purchasing from a reliable source! When consuming a healthy diet and purchasing a reliable product, many dietary supplements have been shown to be effective and very beneficial to health. Below is a list of some effective dietary supplements that may be beneficial to you. As always, before starting any health or nutrition program, check with your healthcare provider to make sure it is safe for you to do so.
Chamomile- A popular herb that has been used to improve sleep patterns, soothe a sore throat, settle the stomach, relieve congestion, relieve nausea and heartburn, reduce menstrual cramps, and stimulate appetite. It acts as an antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. You should not take Chamomile if you are pregnant, allergic to daises, or are taking an anticoagulant.
Flax Seed- Known as one of the most powerful plant foods it can help to combat chronic diseases, lower cholesterol, promote regular bowel movements, and help maintain clear arteries. Studies have shown that flax seed may help to reduce your risk of everything from heart disease to breast cancer, stroke and diabetes. Its main ingredient is omega-3 fatty acids which help fight inflammation in the body and normalize heartbeat. Flaxseed is also a great source of fiber!
Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements- Studies have shown that this supplement may help to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, slow the development of plaque in the arteries, and reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
Coenzyme Q-10- This has become a very popular supplement lately. Do you suffer from a lot of headaches? Lack of CoQ10, which is a compound made in the body, may be the cause of this! It also helps to stimulate metabolism, lower high blood pressure and enhance your immune system.
St. John’s Wort- This herbal supplement is used to treat mild depression, stomach upset, nausea, insomnia, skin wounds, burns, and other skin irritations. When taken as the only drug/supplement, St. John’s Wort is one of the most effective dietary supplements on the market. It may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives , so be cautious if you are using both.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Today "food" is comprised of so many different additives and chemicals in order to make it edible and appealing for a consumer to purchase and eat. Recently there has been a lot of controversy over which chemicals and substances are dangerous and how all of these additives can affect us down the line. I don't know about you, but having weird additives in my food that I don't know are safe or not kind of creeps me out. Luckily, nutrition professionals Mira and Jayson Calton, authors of Rich Food, Poor Food, came up with a grocery list to help you avoid toxic chemicals in your food!
One SUPER common food that contains questionable additives is good old Mac & cheese (a college student staple). Have you ever wondered why Mac & cheese is bright orange in color and not the same color as a slice of cheese? Well, you can thank coloring agents yellow 5 and yellow 6 for that. The neon orange color is made up of dyes that are made from coal tar. These dyes are also used to clean floors and kill lice. Now you don't have to swear off Mac & cheese for good, just make sure when you are shopping you pick a brand with no added artificial coloring like Annie's.
I am a HUGE salt person, so I love potato chips as much as the next person, but DO NOT try and cut fat with fat-free chips. They contain Olestra, which is a toxic additive that can cause many digestive issues for you. If you must have the chips, try and opt for something cooked in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
To get the complete list of additives to avoid visit Shape's Magazine's article on the nine ingredients you should avoid.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Two weeks ago I toured around different parts of Italy. Italy is obviously home to the most delicious food in the world, in my opinion. The cities are beautiful and so much fun, but the food is what sold me. This is no Olive Garden. Italian food is part of the Mediterranean diet so it is considered quite healthy, to the surprise of many. There are three major differences between genuine Italian cuisine and what Americans think is Italian.
First, the quality of the ingredients is crucial in Italian cuisine, not the quantity of food. In the United States, one single meal at an Italian restaurant could feed a small family. In addition, before this massive feast we are served bread and sometimes a salad. This is uncommon in Italy. They may serve you bread with olive oil but it is sort of an appetizer because they charge you for it. The dipping of bread in olive oil is not an Italian tradition. Restaurants keep olive oil and vinegar on the table but it is intended to be used for a salad. In Italy, the portion sizes are much smaller and more reasonable. The ingredients used are fresh and much lighter, unlike our American expectations of heavy cream sauces and layers of cheese. Italians pride themselves on the freshness of their ingredients. The professor of the Intro to Food and Beverage Management class at UNH is from Italy and she prides herself on preparing fresh pasta, gathering fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables to cook all of her meals. She essentially does not believe in pre-prepared meals. This directly reflects the Italian ideal. One night I got a salad, not expecting anything stupendous. This was the best salad I have ever had. It was the restaurant’s “house” salad, made with fresh crisp lettuce, carrots, gorgonzola cheese and fresh prosciutto. Anywhere else this salad would have been mediocre, but the freshness of all the ingredients made it fantastic.
The famous gelato is a great example of how the quality of the ingredients creates an amazing product. Gelato is made of more whole milk than regular ice cream. Regular ice cream is made with more water which is why you get that crunchy crystal texture. Gelato is denser because it is churned slower so less air is brought into it, unlike ice cream. There is more fat in ice cream which coats your mouth and lessens the flavor. This and the fact that gelato is served at a warmer temperature allow the flavors in gelato to become more intense and wonderful. I ate gelato almost every day while I was in Italy, but Italians consider it a special treat. A typical Italian dessert is fighi e albicocce (fresh figs and apricots. A much healthier option than gelato every night, but I was on vacation! I have zero regrets.
When we Americans think of Italian cuisine, we think of pizzas piled high with cheese and toppings with delicious think crust and huge pasta dishes with heavy cream sauces and garlic bread. On the contrary, the pizzas in Italy have a thin crust and are just sprinkled with cheese and toppings. The pastas are served with light sauces that are much less salty that the Americanized version. The tomato sauces are almost always made from scratch and have an incredible taste. Italians eat almost no red meat. They eat a lot of chicken and tons of seafood. I had some unbelievable mussels and clams while I was there. Salad dressings are rare. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are used instead and are put on the table like salt and pepper in the US. This article perfectly described the cuisine as “simple and genuine.” The article also noted that Italians make an effort to eat like their grandparents because it is part of their tradition. If Americans adopted this idea they would be substantially less overweight.
Second, a meal for Italians is not something that can be rushed. They eat their food slowly, enjoying every bite and the company around them. At restaurants in Italy you have to ask for the check. Once the waiter clears your plate and asks if anyone wants coffee or dessert he or she walks away and will not return with the check until you wave him or her down to ask for it. They also do not interrupt your meal to ask how the food is, (probably because they know it is awesome,) and because they know that the customer wants to enjoy their meal and the friends and family while they eat their meal.
Lastly, despite how long their meals usually take, Italians do not typically overeat. Once they feel full, they stop eating and might order a cappuccino or a coffee while they chat. Dinner is also typically served around 7:00 to 8:30 at night so they avoid the snacking before bed, (another horrible American habit).
The article so accurately pointed out that dieting to Italians is a foreign concept. Most just live a healthy active lifestyle because they care about the inside of their bodies as much as the out. (This is why the amount of Italian smokers boggles my mind so much, but that is another story). Everyone walks or bikes everywhere. This is clearly visible all over Italy, I noticed. Everyone looks perfect all the time. To summarize, the men are good-looking, people walk everywhere, everyone is happy and friendly, the weather is beautiful and of course the food is delicious and great for you. I can’t think of any reason not to move there.
Monday, June 17, 2013
I’ve always loved to sing. I grew up in a musical family, where we were constantly performing for and with each other. There’s nothing I enjoy more than harmonizing with my siblings. There’s something special about singing in harmony with others—your personal responsibility to hold your own part, while acknowledging others and blending with their voices. It’s an awesome experience to produce a balanced oneness among different voices. It requires practice, patience, and motivation, but the end result is well worth it. I was involved with school choir groups growing up, which remain some of my fondest childhood memories. These experiences undoubtedly helped build my confidence and character from a young age.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to learn the results of a 2011 study out of Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. The study showed involvement in community singing groups, increased an individual’s social capital, mental health, and wellbeing. Social capital is a sociological concept, which values connections and experiences between individuals and communities. Study participants’ sense of safety and inclusion within their community was significantly higher than that of the general population. I can attest to the sense of belonging in a group that sings together. Everyone is working toward a common goal of harmony and each voice is important in order to successfully achieve this. Singing also regulates one’s breathing. Mindful deep breathing is a key tool to managing anxiety and singing requires deep breaths from the diaphragm in proper practice. Whether it is recognized or not, singing is a wonderful tool to manage stress and anxiety and increase overall mental health and wellbeing. Turn up your favorite album and belt out some tunes today!
Friday, June 14, 2013
I am taking a world religions class originally to simply fulfill my general education requirement, but I have come to realize that it is more important than I thought. It is especially crucial for those going into the nutrition field to study different religious dietary rules and practices in order to be successful in helping an individual reach their nutrition goals.
Hindus believe that all living things are equal therefore they are lacto-vegetarian and fruitarian. They do not eat meat for the same reason you would not eat a human. Humans and animals are all equal, therefore neither are food. Cows especially are completely off limits because they are sacred. Hindus believe in something called a dharma which is basically your role in this present life. Dairy is permitted because it is the cow’s dharma to produce milk. Hindus do not eat fruit or any plant off of the tree or vine because that would be considered harming the living plant which is, again, equal to you. They wait until the fruit has fallen off of the tree.
Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism so they have some similar dietary rules. Buddhists refrain from any wrong thoughts or actions like killing, because it causes suffering and bad karma. This means that they also do not eat any meat or fruit from trees. They must refrain from drinking any alcohol because it clouds the mind and may cause poor decisions. This may be the reason for the “red flush” that many Asians get when they drink alcohol. Their bodies are not accustomed to it so if some drink alcohol they may break out in hives. Buddhist monks and nuns do not buy their food because they are not allowed to touch any sort of money. Something as materialistic as money clouds the mind and causes suffering, so the surrounding Buddhist community brings food to the temple where the monks and the nuns live so they can eat. They do not need to eat a lot, only enough to survive because any more is considered to be something extra that may distract them from their clear mind. Monks and nuns are also not permitted to eat past noon. They perform a ritual at 11:45, then they eat the food that the community has brought over at 12pm and they do not eat again until very early the next morning.
Jainism is another offshoot of Hinduism that practices fasting for very long periods of time. Women are even more encouraged to fast. The original buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha was initially a Hindu and then was a Jain. When he was practicing Jainism he fasted so long that he was basically dying slowly.
Judaism has the most rules and the strictest rules regarding foods that are fit or unfit to eat and how they must be cooked. It may come as no surprise that Jews follow a Kosher diet, but you may not know exactly what that means. There is a set of laws called Kashrut laws that define a Kosher diet. These laws describe how the animal should be hung and how the meat should be cut so that the least amount of blood is released from the animal. Blood is considered to be the soul of the animal so Jews do not eat rare meat. It must be cooked all the way through. A rabbi is present in the slaughter of the animal and the preparation of many foods to ensure that the process has been done correctly. Foods that are fit to eat are fish with fins and scales and animals with hooves that eat mostly grass, like cows, goats, sheep, etc. Kosher salt is different than common table salt in that the granules are larger in order to soak up the most blood in cooking. Foods that are unfit for Jews are crustaceans, scavenger birds, birds of prey, mammals and pigs, because although pigs have hooves, they eat pretty much anything so they are seen as dirty. Jews refrain from mixing dairy with meat at any time. Some Orthodox Jews will have separate dishwashers and refrigerators for dairy and meat. During the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, no work is allowed. This means that they cannot turn on the lights or cook with electricity. This is why you may find that some Jewish foods are typically cooked earlier and served cold.
The importance of certain dietary practices in these religions is evident. If you were supposed to help a client or patient change their diet, you may have trouble finding alternative foods if you do not know what their religion permits them to eat. You may even offend them which could mean the end of the session and perhaps the loss of a client. Even if the individual does not strictly follow these rules, you would want to ask before they have to tell you, as not to offend them.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Breakfast is one of my favorite parts of each morning. It’s the first meal of the day and there are so many delicious choices available. While I love eating an extravagant breakfast every now and then, I am always on the lookout for healthy breakfast options that taste good and will fuel me through the day. Breakfast is an important meal because not only does it get your metabolism moving, it also is what fuels you through a good portion of the day until lunch! An article released by the Huffington Post shared some tips on how to create a healthier breakfast. I have written about a few of my favorites below:
Eat breakfast every day. This first tip may sound simple, but according to an article released by the Huffington Post approximately 56% of Americans skip breakfast. According to Registered Dietitian Kerri Glassman, “When you eat breakfast, you’re literally breaking the fast, which kicks your metabolism into gear”. So wake up a few minutes early, grab a bite and prepare yourself to have a much better day because of it.
Sneak in Omega 3’s
Omega-3’s are an important part of everybody’s diet and can help improve mood and reduce inflammation. Breakfast is a perfect time to sneak some omega-3’s in! A simple way to get some omega-3’s is to eat eggs that are fortified with DHA. For anybody eating at UNH’s dining halls this is simple since the eggs served at UNH are local, cage-free, omega-3 eggs! If eggs aren’t your cup of tea you can also add certain seeds and nuts to your diet. One great example is flaxseed oil. Try adding it to your yogurt or oatmeal to pack in some extra omega-3’s.
Keep it Real
It can be tempting to sweeten coffee or tea with artificial sweeteners in order to cut calories. While this might seem like a good idea, it can actually increase your cravings for sweets throughout the day. Try adding a little regular sugar in order to increase the flavor without increasing your cravings!
So tomorrow morning when you wake up, start your day right with a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Your body will thank you!
Monday, June 10, 2013
Anxiety is defined as apprehension to an upcoming event and as college students, we have plenty of reasons for having anxiety. Anxiety can stem from an upcoming test, ten page paper, an overflowing to do list or even just finding a parking spot in order to make it to class on time. Symptoms to look for in determining if you suffer from everyday anxiety are things like increased heart rate, lack of concentration in school and work, having issues sleeping or just not being your normal self. If you find yourself often stressed and suffer from any of the above situations you may want to find ways to reduce your anxiety. Luckily, Shape Magazine came up with fifteen tips to help decrease anxiety.
1. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP: Getting enough sleep is so important. When you aren't getting enough sleep each night it affects physical health and feeds into our anxiety and stress. Aim for seven to nine hours to ease anxiety.
2. De-Clutter: Take fifteen minutes to clean up your living/work space. When there is physical clutter present, it can cause mental clutter. Keeping things tidy will help lower anxiety levels and help you think rationally.
3. Play: Back when we were kids, we could play without having to worry about school or work. Take some time each time to do something you enjoy, whether it is playing a video game, a sport or anything you may enjoy.
There are many more tips and tricks for helping you manage your anxiety. Visit Shape's website to read about the other twelve ways!
Friday, June 7, 2013
The day before I left for college after winter break, I stopped at Rite Aid to pick up a prescription that I had just been issued. I pulled up to the drive through window and gave the pharmacist my name and date of birth. The pharmacist then said the worst thing a young college student wants to hear, “Your total comes to $400; your insurance covered the rest.” That was more than I had in my bank account! I eventually researched a generic drug that only cost me $17. It worked exactly the same and was so much more affordable for my tight budget.
There are many myths about generic drugs and many people are misled to think that they are not as effective as brand name drugs. The FDA says that all generic drugs must be as effective and be of the same quality as brand names. The body’s blood must be able to absorb generics as efficiently as brand names. Each generic drug is regulated and evaluated for its quality.
The difference between generic and brand name drugs is that drug-makers do not need to research and create generic medications! This is because generic drugs have matching name brand drugs that have already been made. There are no investment costs. This means that no money is needed for funding on research, marketing, or drug development. This also allows generics to be sold at a cheaper price. The price does not need to be increased to allow drug companies to make a profit. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the average price of a generic drug in 2004 was $28.74. The average price of a brand-name drug in 2004 was $96.01. That is a huge difference and a great saving! The average overall savings range from 30%-50%!
Generics are indeed safe and effective just like their name brand alternative. Generics are a great way for everyone to save money!
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