SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Singing for Health
Written by Maggie Spicer:
Thanksgiving has passed and the holidays are finally in full
swing. Whether you find yourself bursting with holiday spirit or feeling like the
Grinch, there is one holiday tradition no one can escape: the music. Beginning
in November, holiday harmonies become unavoidable – streaming through our car
speakers, grocery stores and even elevators. Although at times this can be
tiring, it turns out that you might just need to sing along! Research is
many benefits of singing for our mental, physical and social health.
Melodies for Your Mental Health
For most people, the holidays are a particularly stressful
time of year. Between family feuds, tiring travels and mob-filled-malls it can
be hard not to feel a little down. However, singing a joyful tune can help
improve your mental health – no matter what time of year! Here are just a few
ways harmonizing can benefit your brain:
Feelings of Happiness and Well-Being: When you sing your brain
produces a variety of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals including endorphins,
dopamine and serotonin.
- Boost Brain
Power: Studies show that singing exercises
your brain in many ways, including improving memory. It is even being
studied as a therapy for individuals with dementia.
Belt It Out for Your Body
It probably didn’t surprise you that music is good for your
mental health. But did you know that singing can improve your physical health
too? Music has been used in healing rituals and therapy throughout history and emerging
research is backing these techniques up. Singing can help:
- Improve Immune
System: The reduction of stress and anxiety caused by singing also
immune system function and reduces inflammation.
- Reduce Blood Pressure:
Singing or listening to music has been found to aid in reducing blood
pressure by calming patients.
Shout for Your Social Health
Not only can singing improve your mental and physical
health, it also benefits your social health! Music has brought humans together
for tens of thousands of years. Whether you are belting it out at karaoke,
jamming around the campfire, or crooning a lullaby, singing helps you connect with
others. But that’s not the only way singing improves social health – here are a
- Builds Bonds: Not
only does singing help your brain create endorphins, it also produces oxytocin.
This chemical increases
feelings of trust, while decreasing feelings of loneliness.
Empathy: Music activates the areas in our brain that help
us understand what others are thinking and feeling.
While there is clear evidence that singing is great for your
health, you might still feel a little apprehensive about lifting up your voice.
But remember, you don’t need to be a professional to experience the benefits of
bursting into song. If you need a little more encouragement, check out this
TEDxSaltLakeCity talk by Brian Manternach – and get singing!
Diabetes November 2016
Written by Katie Harris:
Many of us have
experience with diabetes, whether we have it ourselves, or have a friend or
family member who has it. I work with Healthy Lifestyles, and I know I have
experience with it. Almost two years ago now, my ten year-old brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As a growing boy, managing the symptoms have proven challenging. Two years later, and the trial and error continues with balancing blood glucose monitoring, insulin injections, and making sure adults are around to oversee his management.
Much of what we learn about diabetes is so grim and fear
inducing: it’s one of the leading causes of death, it can lead to a long list
of debilitating effects, and it impacts a vast amount of
Americans who have this disease. What if we begin focusing on
empowering those with diabetes by educating, supporting, and advocating? By
doing this, we can help those we know with diabetes and address the negative
stigma which surrounds the disease.
What is diabetes?
There are four different types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes,
Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and prediabetes. Each type consists of
increased glucose in the bloodstream. However, the cause for these increased
levels are different.
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when one’s
body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas
that takes glucose from the blood and distributes it elsewhere in the body.
When insulin is lacking, glucose builds up in the blood and limits your body’s
ability to use it properly. Those with type 1 are usually children who are
diagnosed yearly on in life.
- Type 2 diabetes occurs when one’s
body is not able to use insulin properly. This is referred to insulin
resistance. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood. This is the most common type
of diabetes, worldwide. Type 2 diabetes is usually due to lifestyle
choices and is preventable.
- Gestational diabetes can occur in
pregnant women producing hormones which block the function of insulin in the
mother’s body. This causes elevated blood glucose levels in the blood.
- Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar
levels are elevated, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
With early treatment and management, one can prevent the development of type 2
What test is used to indicate Type 1
and Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes?
The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. The A1C test is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research.
A measurement of A1C 6.5% or higher
on two separate tests indicated that one has diabetes. An A1C between 5.7-6.4%
is an indication of prediabetes. Below 5.7% is considered normal.
How can we support those with
Living with diabetes and supporting those with diabetes can
be emotionally, mentally, and financially taxing. Many times, overwhelming
challenges arise. Here are some tips to support those with diabetes:
Tip 1: Offer help without being the “diabetes police”
It may be tempting to hover and become the “diabetes
police”, but it is important that we all feel we can have autonomy over our own
decisions. Talk to your family member or friend with diabetes and ask how you
may be able to support them best. This may result in some compromise, but once
balance is found, the support needed occurs. Remember: If a glucose reading is
high or low, it is not a reflection on one’s character. It can be very
difficult to manage glucose levels.
Tip 2: Focus on whole foods
Everyone can benefit from a healthy lifestyle, so make it part of your daily life. Participating in healthy behaviors is easier as we do it in groups. Healthy cooking classes can be helpful,
as well as consulting with a registered dietitian to make sure specific needs are met. Avoid junk food by focusing on whole foods for everyone.
Tip 3: Move more together
Incorporate more movement in everything you do makes activity a lifestyle more than a chore. Find activities that your family enjoys to ensure you keep doing them. Make physical activity a priority over the computer or television. For example, on
weekends, participate in outings which include some type of physical activity: walking
around the city, hiking in the canyon, or biking around your neighborhood. Remember we all benefit from activity not just those with diabetes.
Written by Emmalee Price:
Healthy Lifestyles promotes a focus on whole healthy foods, moderation
in all things and a mindful approach to hunger and eating. Focusing on whole
foods and listening to our bodies helps us to feel good, be energized and to avoid consuming large amounts of Tran-
What are Trans Fats?
There are two types of trans
fats: naturally-occurring and artificial. Naturally occurring trans fats are
found in animal food products, i.e. milk and meat, but it is usually very minimal.
Artificial trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, are created in the
industrial process where hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make
them become more solid. Trans fats are primarily found in processed foods, called,
“partially hydrogenated oils.”
Why are they used?
Trans fats are used to
keep food from spoiling faster, giving it a longer shelf life. Some restaurants
also use it in their deep fryers because it doesn’t have to be switched out as
often as other oils.
How do they affect my health?
Trans fats not only
lower your good (HDL) cholesterol (picks up and carries excess cholesterol out
of your arteries), but they also raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol (builds up
and causes your arteries to narrow and harden). If the excess cholesterol isn’t
moved out of the arteries, it can cause fatty deposit (plaque) to build up. If
a piece of that plaque comes loose, it can cause a blockage of the artery,
leading to a stroke or heart attack.
How do I avoid them?
Substitute trans fats
with monounsaturated fats. When eaten in moderation, monounsaturated fats can
help decrease your level of bad cholesterol and also provide your body with the
nutrients it needs to keep your cells healthy. This type of fat is found in
olive, peanut, and canola oils. Nuts, fish, and other foods containing
unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are also some healthier options.
What to look for on the nutrition label?
In the U.S., if a food
contains 0.5 grams or less of trans fat, the nutrition label can read 0g. Be
careful when consuming these types of food; the numbers can add up quickly. If
a nutrition label reads 0g of trans fat, double check the ingredients list for
“partially hydrogenated oils.”
What’s being done/regulations on Trans fats?
The FDA is now
requiring that all food companies stop their use of trans fat in their products
by the year 2018. This will help to control the use of partially hydrogenated
oils in the food production industry.
Focusing on whole foods cooked at home as often as possible is a good way to develop healthy habits for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Animals and health
Written by Keahi Higa:
Animals have become common companions in our society because
of the joy, love, and sense of completion they bring to our lives. We have created mutually beneficial
relationships with them, which can positively impact our overall health and
wellness. Our friends from the animal
kingdom provide opportunities for physical activity, mental stimulation, and at
times an emotional charge. Research
supports these conclusions through programs like therapy
animals in hospitals and the difference in physical activity
levels of pet owners vs. non pet owners.
We invite you to consider the opportunity to
reap these benefits through volunteering with our very ownAnimal Servic.
here are so many wonderful cats, dogs, and other friendly
animals that are waiting to interact with you.
Many of these animals could use the same benefits we receive from them,
friendship, compassion, and love. The
great staff at animal services is dedicated to the health and happiness of
these animals and what better way to lend a helping hand then joining them in
caring for the animals through volunteer opportunities.
As a volunteer you can help with:
- Exercise and socialization (These include
awesome activities like a running team and even swimming!)
- Grooming and training
- Other non-animal related activities (which still
benefit the animals, but if you’re not to the point where you are comfortable
with animals but still want to help, we need you too!)
The need for volunteers is there, but, because the county
cares for these animals so much, and, they want to make sure people have the
best experience they can with the animals, animals services has set up a
training program to benefit both the volunteer and the animal. This program includes:
- Watching an online training presentation
- Interactive questionnaire
- One-on-one meeting
This process only needs to be completed once and then you
are welcomed to enjoy our animal friends as often as you can! As you continue to progress in your health
and wellness goals, we invite you to find creative ways to build up your
different dimensions of health, and hopefully animal services can become a
beneficial resource for you and your loved ones.
For more information please feel free to contact
Kiera Packer, Volunteer and Special Programs Coordinator with Salt Lake County
Animal Services at 385-468-6026 or by email at email@example.com
Broaden Your Palate
Written by Christina McWhinnie
recommended 5 – 9 servings of fruit and vegetables can seem like a daunting
task, but check out these tips to see how tasty, cheap and easy healthy treats
can fit into your everyday!
Eat local & in season
employees have an awesome opportunity to join a C.S.A for highly discounted
produce sent right to your office! Check out our employee deal with Tagge’s or
Urban Farm and Feed for a discount on a weekly produce box.
the Jail produce sales or local farmer’s markets. Fresh, organic peppers or
peaches will reach amazing low prices during mid to late summer. This presents
the opportunity to try a vast array of different foods for extremely low prices.
your own (link to USU classes)! After a small amount of start-up cost, this
will provide a continuous supply of fresh produce to be picked whenever you
need or want it.
Keep them accessible, visible and ready to
we are deterred from purchasing produce because we don’t want it to go bad in
our fridge. I encourage you to change your mind set on this one by trying these
- Preparation- Cut up carrots, broccoli, celery
and cauliflower and put in small, convenient containers.
- See them/eat them - Wash grapes immediately in a colander and set
on the top shelf of the refrigerator for easy visibility and access to grab a
handful of ready to eat sweetness.
- Shop everyday like the French! - Swing by the grocery store for five minutes on
your way home from work to purchase the broccoli and onions for that night’s dinner
and cherries for dessert..
- Snack Smart-
Order an apple or banana with your coffee at the drive through Java Hut.
- Costco -
It may sound like a good deal to get 10lbs of carrots or a giant bag of apples,
but this is only a good idea if you have the time to utilize, preserve or
freeze it immediately. Otherwise, chances are you are better off buying smaller
quantities so you don’t wind up throwing it out.
- Frozen options - Another great option is to purchase frozen
fruits or vegetables. This is a good way to always have produce on hand and
ready to use. Frozen produce is blanched and frozen right after picking, which preserves
Vegetables around the clock
Hopefully the color your palate challenge
inspired you to ditch conventional thoughts about veggies and you’ve added them
to your daily routine.
Vegetables don’t have to be a
side dish; they can shine bright as the star of a meal! Start planning each
meal based around fruit and vegetables first. Vegetables are not just for
dinner. Start your day off with some greens with breakfast. Try making Breakfast Egg Muffins in advance, and have
them all week for a convenient, healthy and delicious breakfast. Cut up a
variety of vegetables and mix and match different combinations in each muffin.