October 29, 2019
Motivation for Change
Written By: Annie Omer, Health Educator
Do you ever feel overwhelmed, engulfed in a sea of things you’d like to do better, or habits you’d like to adopt? We’ve all been there, perhaps feeling enthusiastic or inspired about adopting a new fitness routine or journaling more regularly as a means of managing stress. However good intentioned our ambitions might be, all too often our efforts fall short of the mark we set for ourselves and we’re left feeling defeated, incapable, and unmotivated to try again. Your dreams of finally running that marathon, slimming down a few sizes, or completing that art project are swept under the rug, and you’re left thinking things like, “You can’t do that” or “You should have known you would never accomplish that”.
Truth be told, that self-defeatist talk only harms you more, pitting your inner critic against your own vulnerability, and pushes your dreams farther and farther away from attainable. No matter how isolated you may feel in those moments of defeat, know that you are not alone! The reality is, the problem isn’t with the dream itself, but with the execution of it. Too often we feel that if we don’t succeed on the first attempt, or if we cannot complete it in a day, then it wasn’t meant to be. Yet throughout history, we’ve been told in children’s storybooks and blockbuster movies, to try and try again. There is one thing you can be certain about; you really won’t know until you try it.
So how exactly do you get back on that horse after you fall? Is it possible to get on that horse and not even fall? For decades psychologists and scientists have tried to determine a magic number for how long it takes to make or break a behavior. You may have heard the saying that it only takes 21 days to make or break a habit – unfortunately, that is a myth. Behavior change can take anywhere from a few months (adopting a new behavior) to a few years (breaking an old habit). The moral of the story is – it takes time, and that timeline is going to look different for every single person. Try and avoid comparing your behavior change journey to someone else’s. Find the motivation within yourself to keep going, regardless of what other people are doing or saying.
Find your why. There are many tactics to help you maintain your efforts and not lose your motivation, but all these calculated tactics work under one basic condition -- that you understand the “why” behind making this change. Often, we feel pressured to change something about ourselves because, in some way, society has made us feel the need to be that way. This worldwide phenomenon of societal pressure can be confusing, frustrating, and debilitating. Regardless of what our motivation for change is, it’s important that we identify and understand what our motivation is, and why it motivates us to make this change in our life. That “why” will be your foundation for change. Many evidence-based theories and models for behavior change identify motivation as a key component to successful behavior change. And while it can be easy enough to make the argument that this one small change in behavior or lifestyle will be good for your overall health and wellness, relationship with a loved one or success in the workplace, whatever it is that motivates you to make this change has to be internally or intrinsically meaningful.
See the big picture. Breaking down our motivation for change can also help us to see the big picture and concentrate on what exactly will help us to be successful. When we focus on the steps it will take to help us reach our goal, rather than the goal itself, we’re able to take those steps regularly, to the point that they become habitual. So, if your goal is to lose weight, try and break that down and target the healthy behaviors that will help you get there. Maybe you realize you need to cut out sodas or added sugars and want to start by committing to drinking a full glass of water when you wake up or cutting down how many sodas you have each day. Things we practice daily become easier and easier, fostering growth and learning through action, repetition, and validation.
Let someone know. As humans, we are creatures of validation, whether it comes from ourselves or from those around us. Not only do we want to be validated in our desire to make a change, but also in our efforts to successfully make those changes. Even letting a friend, coworker, or family member know about your intention to make these changes can help you to be successful. Having someone who can help you to hold yourself accountable will enable you to find solutions when you come across obstacles and barriers to reaching your goal.
Remind yourself of your “why” often. Whether it’s the health benefits, feeling good in your own skin, or just proving to yourself that you can do it; Find ways to remind yourself why you’re making the effort and why it will be worth it. This helps you to associate your new behavior with a sense of purpose and meaning. The key is to start small and commit to making that one small change. This will allow you to build sustainable healthy behaviors and reach your goals.
Celebrate every small success. No matter how small you think your successes are, remember that you are one small step closer to achieving your goal. Celebrate each time you are successful by looking yourself in the mirror and saying, “You have worked so hard to get here and I am so proud of you”. How often do we take the time to pat ourselves on the back and say, “Good job!” or “Way to go!”? This kind of simple and consistent self-affirmation will boost your confidence and motivate you to keep going.
Determine how you will measure your success. It’s also important to think about how you are measuring your success. Are you measuring success based on your “why”? If your goal is to be more fit, and your why is so you can run around and play in the yard with your kids or grandkids, then perhaps you measure success by how often you play with the kids or how long you can play with them before tiring out. Often, we are beating ourselves up for not achieving the goal right away even though we are making progress.
Ask yourself what’s stopping you. Remember – behavior change doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, effort, and inevitably failure. If you don’t succeed the first or second time, or even the third or fourth time, don’t give up. Practice patience and use each failure as a learning opportunity. What barriers got in the way? What triggered you to go back to your old ways? How can you avoid those triggers or overcome those barriers in the future? Asking yourself these questions can help you to plan for future obstacles. By approaching your goal with a plan, you’ll be more likely to be successful in your endeavors.
September 27, 2019
October is women’s health month, and here at Healthy Lifestyles, we want to honor women’s health the best we can! The information below will keep you up to date on all that is happening and how you can get involved! See our FAQ here!
Newsletters: 3 points Each = 15 Points!
Every year Healthy Lifestyles hosts “Paint the County Pink” breast cancer awareness event, but this year the Mayor’s Office and Healthy Lifestyles wants to celebrate Women Warriors all month long by bringing awareness to several women’s health topics including cancer, heart disease, HPV, mental health, and healthy relationships. Each week you will have an opportunity to read a newsletter written about a women’s health topic and answer a short 3-point survey! If you read all 5 newsletters and take the survey associated with each newsletter, you will receive 15 points! Don’t miss out!
Women’s Health Month Kick-Off Event: 15 Points!
We are excited to kick off the festivities on October 1st with our annual “Paint the County Pink” event! The event will run from 11:00am-1:00pm in the USU extension room (S1-950) at the Government Center. Wear pink and participate in a wellness walk supporting women warriors. We will also have the opportunity to hear from “women warriors” about experiences they have overcome with great strength. And of course, don’t miss out on cupcakes! Yum!
Sexual Health Presentation: 10 Points!
Knowledge is power! Educating yourself and others close to you about sexual health is vital. Learn from Salt Lake County’s own sexual health expert, Peter Best, on October 9th from 12:00pm-1:00pm at the Salt Lake Public Health Center and be sure to register for this event if you plan on attending. Register here.
#IAmAWomanWarrior #SheInspiresMe: No Points
Stop by the Healthy Lifestyles office (S3-480) at the Government Center from October 14th-18th and write a #IAmAWomanWarrior and/or #SheInspiresMe note about the women who inspire you or why YOU are a woman warrior! Hang it on our door to inspire others as they walk by! If you are not at the Government center, write #IAmAWomanWarrior and #SheInspiresMe notes and put them up at your office to spread the inspiration!
St. Marks Lunch n’ Learn: 10 Points
This St. Marks Lunch n’ Learn is educating us about Breast Health. For those of us who are not women, all of us have a woman in our life that is important to us. Whether it is a mother, sister, wife, aunt, daughter, or friend. Let’s educate ourselves to empower each other to get checked and live our lives without disease. Come join us on October 23rd at the West Jordan Library from 11:30-1PM and be sure to register for this event if you plan on attending. Register here.
Self-Defense Training: 15 points
Educating yourself on the basic skills of self-defense can be reassuring if ever found in a dangerous situation. Healthy Lifestyles is partnering with Krav Maga UT and American Dragon Martial Arts to teach self-defense techniques to SLCo employees and their spouses. Join us at the Government Center OR at the West Valley Library and learn some self-defense moves and techniques to keep yourself safe! Mark your calendar, West Valley Library ( 2880 W 3650 S, West Valley City, UT 84119), October 17th from 12-1:00pm OR at the fitness studio (S4-600) at the Government Center ( 2001 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84190) on October 25th from 9:30-10:30pm, and be sure to register for this event if you plan on attending. Register here.
Humanitarian Aid Project: 10 points for participating and 5 points for each 5 items brought
Along with SLCo's Mayor's Administration, Healthy Lifestyles is partnering with community shelters that provide aid to survivors of domestic violence. Help these individuals by donating needed items all month long. See the list provided by Healthy Lifestyles and then attend our event at the Government Center on October 28th in the North Atrium from 2:00-4:00pm to help sort donated items into aid kits which will be donated to YWCA and South Valley Sanctuary. Check out the link to see what items are needed.
Mountain Medical Mammovan: No points
Take advantage of the Mountain Medical Mammovan! For more information, click here!
Total Points Possible = 85!
We are excited to celebrate the women warriors in our lives! Join us for a full month of fun!
September 11, 2019
Boosting Your Immune System
Written By: Annie Omer, Health Educator
Do you ever wonder why you always seem to get sick when the leaves start to change? Autumn is here, and with the change in seasons and temperatures, a wave of new strains of viruses and bacteria are ushered into our environment.
Not to worry, your immune system is well equipped to fight off germ invaders. The immune system is made up of cells, tissues, and organs that protect your body from infections. The immune system responds to foreign invaders with a series of steps called the immune system response. This works to rid the body of the foreign invaders and remembers them to better protect the body should they invade again. The immune system produces antibodies, which work like a specialized defense system against a certain antigen, or foreign invader. This is how immunizations work. A person is introduced to a certain antigen in such a way that they won’t get sick, but their immune system recognizes the antigen when they encounter it in the wild. This is why it is recommended to get your flu vaccine at the beginning of flu season, before you encounter it without protection from antibodies in your immune system.
A common myth about the flu vaccine is that it weakens your immune system and makes you more likely to get the flu. We’ve all heard someone’s story of getting the flu vaccine, and still getting sick that winter. The truth is, the flu vaccine is the best protection against getting the flu. The flu vaccine will be filled with that season’s strains of the flu virus. While there is a small chance that you can still catch a strain of the flu that’s not included in the flu vaccine, what’s more likely to happen is that you’ll get sick with an unrelated bug with symptoms that mimic the flu, which can be incorrectly presumed to be the flu.
Regardless, it is important to take healthy steps to boost and protect your immune system. Here are a handful of healthy steps you can take to keep your immune system working at its best.
Manage your stress. The stress response produces the hormone cortisol, which negatively impacts the immune system. Chronic or unmanaged stress can lead to other negative health effects, including anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment, and more. Learn to manage your stress in a healthy way, such as practicing mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, engaging in daily physical activity, making time for personal hobbies and interests, spending time in nature, and practicing self-care.
Get plenty of sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, the body curbs certain processes and functions in order to conserve energy. Unfortunately, your immune system is often what takes the biggest hit. A common myth about sacrificing a night of sleep is that you can always just catch up on it later. The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to make up for lost time when it comes to sleep. So, make sure to make sleep a priority so your immune system can function at 100%.
Eat for your health. Healthy eating habits have long been one of the cornerstones of good health. When it comes to your immune system, there are numerous ways to nourish it in order to be able to fight off foreign invaders. Hydrate your body with good, old H2O. Drinking plenty of water each day will help the body to flush out toxins and bacteria that may cause illness. Avoid skipping meals and eat when you’re hungry. Hunger can cause the stress response, which produces cortisol and lowers the immune system. Eat a balanced diet of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, to properly fuel your body and your immune system. Certain foods have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are good for your immune system, such as:
· Citrus fruits
· Red grapes
· Sweet potatoes
· Old-fashioned chicken soup
· Shiitake mushrooms
· Green tea
Take steps to prevent infection. Infectious diseases are caused by tiny organisms that travel from person to person. These organisms can even linger on our pets, phones, and the handles of doors, just waiting for us to come into contact and pick them up. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands often, brushing your teeth at least 2x daily, covering a cough or sneeze, washing and bandaging all cuts, and avoiding sharing cups or utensils with others. Avoid food-borne illnesses by practicing good food-safety techniques such as cooking meats thoroughly, keeping meats, fish, and vegetables separated to avoid cross contamination, rinsing raw fruits, vegetables, and meats before preparation or consumption, and defrosting frozen foods properly.
Avoid things that are not good for your immune system. Admit it, we’ve all tried chewing up a bunch of vitamin c tablets once we’ve felt a cold coming on. The truth is, taking mega-doses of certain vitamins or supplements that claim to boost immunity can have negative side effects on your immune system. While it is necessary to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in our diet, it is possible to overdose on vitamin and mineral consumption, which can make you sick in the short-term or can leave you with other undesirable long-term health effects. Eating or drinking high amounts of sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria and will slow you down. Smoking, vaping, or use of other tobacco products harm nearly every organ in the body. Some effects are immediate, while some pose more lasting effects on the body. If you or someone you know is thinking about quitting smoking, see what SLCo Tobacco Prevention resources are available to you as an employee or visit WaytoQuit.org to learn more about how to get started. Excessive alcohol consumption can also have both short-term and long-term negative health effects and weakens the immune system, decreasing its ability to fight off foreign invaders.
Whether you’re rebounding from an illness or looking to avoid getting sick this season, following these simple tips can help keep your immune system strong and ready to fight off anything that comes your way.
August 01, 2019
Starting August 1st there will be new additions to the Wellsteps program that Healthy Lifestyles is excited to share with you.
Your Wellsteps account will now feature the ‘My Tracker’ tool. You can utilize this tool to track physical activity, eating, and/or anything else you desire. You can also sync your fitness devices to the Wellsteps Tracker including Fitbits, Apple Health, Google Fit, Strava, Garmin, and Map My Fitness devices. You can find My Tracker on the home banner when you log-in to your personal Wellsteps account. Learn to sync your device to My Tracker here.
Healthy Lifestyles believes health and wellness is the pursuit of continued growth and balance between dimensions of wellness – physical, emotional, social, financial, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual. Going forward Wellsteps questions and points will reflect this philosophy. There will be activities each month representing each dimension of wellness. To ensure you complete the monthly activities, check your account to see the activities for each dimension at the beginning of each month.
Note: To continue growing in each dimension, activities will change each quarter. Be sure to check your Wellsteps account at the beginning of each month to know what activities need to be completed to earn points. You can also view the monthly activities in the Healthy Lifestyles monthly newsletter. Healthy Lifestyles wants to provide resources for all monthly activities, so we have provided links on each activity to help guide you. Feel free to reach out to our office if you are in need of more resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellsteps is now offering ‘Wellness News’ to help participants along in their journey of wellness through articles and videos. The articles and videos feature topics including nutrition, fitness, social connections, mindfulness, and many more. You can find the link to Wellness News in green on the home page of your account. Check it out today!
June 27, 2019
Social Media & Health
Written By: Megan Tucker, Wellness Coordinator
Social media has changed the way we live our day-to-day lives. From the way we get our news to the way we buy groceries, watch our favorite TV shows and movies, to the way we connect with others, and so much more. The President of the United States uses Twitter to communicate executive orders. You may have received a wedding invitation via Facebook, found a job through LinkdIn, or found out the gender of your friend’s baby via Instagram. A social media is an online platform where users can connect with others who share the same interests, careers, etc., or to stay connected to those with whom they have a real-life connection with. These platforms allow users to share information, ideas, pictures, messages, videos, etc. Social media is everywhere, and its usage around the world is only increasing.
In 2018, there were 243.6 social network users in the United States, out of the 327.2 million United States population. The number of worldwide users is expected to reach 3.02 billion monthly active social media users by 2021, which is about 1/3 of the Earth’s population (Statista, 2019). An average of 2 hours and 22 minutes are spent per day per person on social networks. (Globalwebindex, 2018).
Currently, 3.2 billion users, which is about 42% of the population, log in, use, and converse with others on social media. 91% of all social media users access social channels via mobile devices. Almost 80% of total time spent on social media sites occurs on mobile platforms (Lyfemarketing, 2018). Instagram stories have become a popular social media outlet. The number of daily active Instagram story users have increased from 150 million in January 2017 to 500 million in January 2019 (Statista, 2019).
While social media can be a very positive tool, it is important to be aware of the possible negative effects of social media on our health, specifically our mental health. Several studies have shown that prolonged engagement in social media platforms may be related to feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and lower self-esteem, however, the relationship between social media use and mental health remains controversial (NCBI, 2019).
Effects of prolonged social media use may include:
Forming an addiction to social media platforms.
Comparison to others and perceived inadequacies associated with comparison.
Spending money on things seen and advertised on various platforms.
Seeing a misrepresentation of individual’s lives and/or portraying a misrepresentation of our own lives.
Feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) and social isolation.
Butchering of face-to-face interactions.
Feelings of low self-esteem.
Difficulties falling and/or staying asleep.
We don’t need to cut out social media completely, but it might be a good idea to set limits on just how much we are using it. How many of us have been at a gathering with family members or friends, and notice that EVERYONE is on their phones? I know that I personally have witnessed that and been a part of that countless times. The next time you are at a gathering with family or friends, try having a “no phone rule.” Obviously, there are emergencies and things we have to take care of but try putting your phone down and really engaging in conversation. Instead of trying to capture the perfect picture for your Instagram story, capture the moment by being fully engaged and present.
Some steps to take to combat the possible negative effects of social media include:
Limiting social media use to a specified time.
Taking a social media break or partaking in a social media fast.
Being mindful and intentional in your social media use. Follow accounts that make you feel good and unfollow or remove the ones that don’t.
Remembering that not everything you see is an accurate reflection of “real life.”
Focusing on your own life. Where you are, where you are going, your goals and priorities, and what you are grateful for.
June 03, 2019
Written by: Jayne Hansen, Health Educator
"Hike more, worry less” is a sentiment that we all can take comfort in. Research has shown that hiking in nature can actually clear your mind, boost your brain, and improve your outlook on life.
How is this possible?
Hiking through a scenic trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon is more relaxing to the bodies senses than simply taking a walk through the busy city streets. While any walking is proven to have physical benefits, walking through nature has the addition of mental and emotional health benefits. Why is this so? The city has stimulus nature doesn’t have like busy streets, loud sounds, lights, crowds of people, and the occasional fear of getting hit by a car. Hiking on our local Utah trails provides increased mental health benefits and reduces the part of your brain that brings about bad moods.
You do not need to be suffering from mental health issues to experience the hike-induced endorphins to the brain. Research shows that people who spend more time in nature, and less time with technology, are generally 50% more creative when it comes to problem solving tasks. I don’t know about you, but that is a brain boost I could benefit from.
Our days are often full of emails, computer screens, and constant phone calls. The diverse scenery of nature allows the brain to decompress and relax – allowing us to unplug from the world. This improves our mood and our outlook – making us feel happier. Wandering where there is no WiFi can help us recharge our mental and emotional batteries to be our best self.
Here are some of Healthy Lifestyles local Hikes:
Dog Friendly Trails:
May 02, 2019
Scoop #2: Vitamins
Written by: Kevin Nguyen
We previously touched base on some essential minerals that are necessary for proper bodily functions. Now, let’s spend time reviewing the vitamins that we eat in everyday foods and why they’re important for good health. Vitamins are a group of organic compounds that are essential for growth and nutrition. There are 13 vitamins that can be classified based on their solubility. Each vitamin has a unique composition and specific role.
Vitamins and energy:
Vitamins are important nutrients because they are part of the enzymes that catalyze reactions associated with energy. Vitamins play critical roles in energy metabolism, but they are indirect roles. The biological energy that is needed to create “energy” is provided by carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol, and this energy is measured in kilocalories. Vitamins contain no energy but facilitate the production of energy. They play a critical role in energy metabolism, but, by themselves, do not provide “energy”. Excessive amounts of B vitamins do not result in more energy production activity but consuming a variety of foods that contain these vitamins, will help metabolize the food, and provide “energy.”
Vitamins and Antioxidant protection:
Before we discuss antioxidants, let’s review oxidation. When the soft insides of fruit are exposed to oxygen in the air, they become oxidized, causing them to break down and turn brown. In relation to our body, the oxygen we breathe is needed to produce energy (ATP) but a small percentage is not used. Instead, free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced. ROS are unstable chemical compounds that can destroy cells and damage DNA. ROS will always be present, but the key issue is that there is a balance between ROS production and ROS removal from the body. To be able to adequately remove and manage ROS levels in your body, you need a sufficient number of antioxidants. Vitamin A (beta-carotene, form of vitamin A), C, and E, are the main antioxidants that counteract the effect of free radicals. Vitamin C is a common vitamin that gets heavily supplemented, particularly to prevent or self-treat illnesses like the common cold. Studies have shown that colds are not reduced with routine vitamin C supplementation but has been shown to reduce the number of sick days by 8 percent along with the severity.
Vitamins and Red Blood Cells
The human body contains approximately 30 trillion red blood cells that are primarily responsible for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide. With a life span of only 120 days, the body must constantly replace the red blood cells (2-3 million cells per second). Seeing how extensive this replacement and production program is, it is important to ensure we get enough of the vitamins that help with this process. Vitamins B12, folic acid (folate), and Vitamin K all play an essential role and cannot function without one or the other.
Foods: Do we get enough, or do we need to supplement?
Multivitamins are the most frequently used dietary supplements, with close to half of American adults taking them. These supplements cannot take the place of eating a variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. Foods provide more than vitamins and minerals. Many foods also have fiber and other substances that can provide health benefits. However, some people who don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from food alone, or who have certain medical conditions might benefit from taking one or more of these nutrients found in single-nutrient supplements or multivitamins. However, evidence to support their use for overall health or disease prevention in the general population remains limited.
Taking a multivitamin or specific supplement can increase your overall nutrient intake and helps some people get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals when they can’t or don’t get them from food alone. But taking a supplement can also raise the chances of getting too much of some nutrients, like iron, vitamin A, zinc, niacin, and folate/folic acid, especially when a person takes more than a basic, once-daily product that provides one hundred percent of the Daily Value (DV) of nutrients.
An issue with supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA. Supplements can appear on the shelf without having to prove they offer any benefits. With limited regulation and oversight, it's also difficult to know for certain that the supplement contains the ingredients on the label and is free of contaminants. It’s good to be a conscious consumer and refer to your medical provider if you have any questions or concerns with the use of supplements.
|Vitamin:||Major Functions:||Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) per day||Food Sources|
|Vitamin A||Vision, growth, immune function, overall health of cells||
|Liver, milk, milk products (fortified), dark green leafy vegetables, orange fruits and vegetables|
|Vitamin D||Regulates bone mineralization||
5 mcg (ages 19 to 50)
10 mcg (ages 51 to 70)
15 mcg (over age 70)
|Fish oil, milk (fortified), shrimp, ultraviolet light (sunshine) on skin can activate vitamin D production|
|Vitamin E||Antioxidant; proper red blood cell formation||15mg||Oil, soybeans, almonds and other nuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ|
|Vitamin K||Normal blood clotting, role in bone mineralization||90 mcg||Green, leafy vegetables, also created by bacteria in our intestines|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamin)||Release of energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Normal nervous system function||
|Whole grain breads and cereals, fortified breads and cereals, dried beans, pork|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||Release of energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Normal skin development||2.4mcg||Milk, leafy green vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||Release of energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.||
|Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Milk, nuts, whole grains and breads|
|Vitamin B6||Release energy stored in tissues, red blood cell formation||
1.3mg (ages 19 to 50)
1.5mg (women over 50)
1.7mg (men over 50)
|Whole grain breads and grains, dried beans, leafy green vegetables, bananas, meat, fish, poultry|
|Vitamin B12||Creation of new cells, nervous system, red blood cell formation||2.4mcg||Animal foods only, specially formulated yeast (fortified)|
|Folate||Creation of new cells, red blood cell formation||400mcg||Leafy green vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, orange juice|
|Pantothenic Acid||Release of energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats||5mg||Widely distributed in foods|
|Biotin||Release of energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats||30mcg||Widely distributed in foods|
|Vitamin C||Creation of collagen, antioxidant, immune function||
|Oranges, and other citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes|
April 02, 2019
Environmental Health Day Every Day!
By: Stella Johannes, Health Educator
When most of us hear the word health we think of fitness and nutrition, or physical health. In fact there are nine dimensions of wellness that affect our overall health. They include emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, social and cultural. Each of these dimensions needs to be addressed for us to be healthy and balanced people. When most of us hear the words environmental health most of us think of blue bins and stalwart activists, chaining themselves to trees or challenging massive whaling boats in rubber rafts armed only with a megaphone and ideals. While these things certainly apply to Environmental Health, realistically the blue bin variety is more applicable to most of us – and its importance is underrated! Environmental health is concerned with any aspect of the environment that affects our health as human beings. By this definition environmental health has as much to do with lighting, ergonomics, and neighborhood watch, as it does to do with recycling.
However, as it’s April, and Earth Day is upon us, we’ll stick to the blue bins. Because every choice we make however large or small has an impact on the natural environment, positive or negative, whether we directly feel the repercussions or not. For those interested in improving their environmental health, in honor of Earth Day I would suggest starting by picking one small, realistic goal, and doing your best to stick to it for the month (approximately the time it takes to form a habit). Choose something that appeals to you personally. If you are trying to find more opportunities for physical activity, you could save electricity too, and opt for the stairs. You could bring silverware to work with you, thereby eliminating the need for single use plastic cutlery, use scratch paper instead of post-its, or power-off and unplug electronic devices that don’t require updates when you are done with them for the day. - or get yourself a reusable water bottle and stay hydrated in the bargain. There are lots of great ideas out there!
Just the choice to commit to using canvas grocery totes instead of paper or plastic bags, has an impressive impact. When plastic bags are not recycled (which is not always an option) they usually end up in a landfill, but those that don’t often find their way into the natural environment, decorating trees and floating in the breeze. Plastic bags do not actually biodegrade, they photograde, which means that the material never breaks down into organic material, it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces of toxic material over the course of many years. In the meantime they cause a lot of damage, most infamously getting mistaken for jellyfish and choking turtles and other sea creatures, entangling and trapping wildlife, and at every stage of photo-degradation, polluting the natural environment. While paper bags are a better choice, they represent forest – a resource better not taken for granted.
With occasional laundering you can reuse canvas totes for years. Of course there are reusable totes in other materials, but my personal favorites are cotton, hemp and burlap because they are natural biodegradable materials. Isn’t it amazing how incredible the impact of just one choice can be? Good advice for those of us trying to make any healthful change in our lifestyle habits (whatever the dimension) is to take it in small steps, and to reward ourselves when we hit a benchmark. It is tempting to try to bite off more than we can chew out of excitement, or impatience. But trying to change too much too quickly typically results in failure, leaving us feeling discouraged and less likely to try again. If we set one small realistic goal and succeed, then we can move on to another, and before we know it we are miles ahead of where we were when we started!
March 01, 2019
The Scoop on Minerals
By: Christina McWhinnie, Health Educator
Minerals play an important role in maintaining healthy functioning within the body. Sixteen minerals are known to be essential in the human diet. According to recent USDA Dietary Guidelines, Americans are lacking in a few of the major minerals our bodies need to function. The top of this list is Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. Many people have heard that it’s important to get our vitamins and minerals, but many people don’t know why.
Calcium: Calcium’s major role in the body is to strengthen your teeth and bones. It also helps with proper nerve and muscle functions including the heart. Calcium is essential in the formation of blood clots and regulating cellular metabolism. Our bodies do not produce Calcium; therefore, it is important to get enough from food. Reference Daily Intake (RDA) guidelines for adults under the age of 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day, and 1,200 milligrams per day for adults over 50. Calcium is found in both plant and animal foods. Some of the best sources are:
|Plain Yogurt||1 cup||450 milligrams|
|Calcium Fortified Orange Juice||1 cup||350 milligrams|
|Fat-free Milk||1 cup||300 milligrams|
|Cooked Spinach||1 cup||245 milligrams|
|Canned Salmons or Sardines (with bones)||3 oz.||210 - 255 milligrams|
|Leafy Greens (i.e. cooked Kale, Collard Greens)||1 cup||172 milligrams|
|Soy products or Tofu||1/2 cup||140 milligrams|
|Almonds||1 oz. (23 nuts)||75 milligrams|
Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in a variety of bodily processes and is considered the anti-stress and relaxation mineral as it relaxes your muscles after they contract. It serves a structural role in bones by providing strength and stability and promoting resistance to tooth decay by holding calcium in tooth enamel. In addition, Magnesium supports cells in the production of energy (ATP). Magnesium is required for nerve impulses throughout the body and aids in coordination of heart functions such as the heartbeat. If your Magnesium levels are low, you might be more at risk for irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations. RDA recommendations are 400 milligrams per day for adult males and 310 milligrams per day for adult females. Vegetables provide the richest sources for magnesium with whole-grain sources closely following. As a bonus, magnesium boosts the metabolism of carbohydrates during physical activity. Sources of Magnesium include:
|Spinach||1 cup||157 milligrams|
|Brazil Nuts||1 oz. (8 nuts)||107 milligrams|
|Squash||1 cup||105 milligrams|
|Wheat Germ||1/4 cup||90 milligrams|
|Raisin Bran Cereal||1 cup||90 milligrams|
|Avocado||1 medium||58 milligrams|
|Navy Beans||1/2 cup||54 milligrams|
|Peanut Butter||2 Tbs.||51 milligrams|
Potassium: Potassium does many of the same functions as sodium such as balancing water and aiding in the transmission of nerve impulses. Higher potassium intake is associated with lowering blood pressure unlike high amounts of sodium intake. Potassium is vital in maintaining normal heart rhythms and muscle functions. Low potassium intake can lead to muscle cramps, loss of appetite, confusion and heartbeat irregularities. Adequate intake of potassium for adults is 4,700 milligrams (4.7 grams). Processed foods have large amounts of sodium and small amounts of potassium. The reverse is true for unprocessed foods. Many fruits and vegetables and other unprocessed foods are rich sources of potassium. Here is a list of potassium sources:
|Winter Squash||3/4 cup||670 milligrams|
|Cantaloupe||1 cup||570 milligrams|
|Banana||1 medium||470 milligrams|
|Kidney & Pinto Beans||1/2 cup||370-400 milligrams|
|Tomato Juice o Tomato Paste||3/4 cup||400 milligrams|
|Baked Potato||1 small||385 milligrams|
|Buttermilk||1 cup||370 milligrams|
|Sirloin Steak||3 oz.||345 milligrams|
Our bodies are incredible machines and minerals serve as keys to keep us functioning properly. Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium work together to grow, heal, and repair our bodies while preventing the onset of many conditions including: osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Supplements are not healthy for everyone so check with your doctor before starting a supplement. Getting the recommended requirements through food is the best option if possible.
January 28, 2019
Part 2 of Fight or Flight: There’s More than Meets the Eye
Written by: Abby Thompson, Health Educator
In part one of the January Health Hub, we discussed the four-stage stress response, freeze-flight-fight-fright. We learned that our body will defend itself from anything we determine threatening. However, in our modern life, we may not be using these hormones to evade danger as often. The chronic activation of our stress response has been linked to damaging our nervous, hormonal, and immune systems. Part two of Fight or Flight: There’s More than Meets the Eye will discuss how stress can become a powerful motivator and tool we can use in making stress our ally, not our enemy.
The catalyst of the flight-or-fight response is any perceived stressor or threat. Once we determine the threat has passed, our spiked hormone levels should decrease, and the body should return to a resting state. These short-term bouts of stress ultimately build our long-term ability to recover more efficiently and effectively. However, if we consistently feel threatened these hormones will be present for a prolonged period of time. This is known as chronic stress. Whether we consider an event stressful is dependent on multiple factors such as job pressure, genetics, life experiences, and financial status. Similarly the byproduct of stress will vary, but common symptoms include fatigue, irritability, headaches, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping among others. More serious conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, and insomnia can also develop from prolonged stress. As alarming as these afflictions might sound, hope is not lost. Along with adrenaline and cortisol, a third stress hormone, oxytocin, is released and can counteract the negative side effects of stress. Could you believe that we have a stress hormone responsible for alleviating stress?
Oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “tend and befriend” or “cuddle” hormone is secreted when we touch or hug someone. It also creates a cascade of anti-inflammatory related events, like lowering blood pressure and decreasing the presence of cortisol. Beside the physiological advantages, oxytocin also produces psychological benefits. It minimizes feelings of fear, promotes empathy, and intensifies our feelings of trust. Our body want us to find a connection with someone, share our experiences with them, and notice when others may be struggling. Now you may be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with managing stress?” and in short: everything.
Changing our view of stress from an unwanted and destructive force to a challenge we are equipped to handle, aids in our understanding and recovery. It creates a stronger mind-body connection through self-awareness and utilizing social interaction to discuss our current situation. Kelly McGonagil, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford, reiterates how our resilience to stress is increased through social support. Finding meaning from stress will lead to a healthier response than practicing avoidance behaviors. Creating new behaviors takes practice and begins from within yourself. Here are some tips to help facilitate a more positive mindset on stress:
- 1.Become Aware. Sometimes things are not what they seem. Recognizing any thought distortions is the first step in correcting them and becoming more in tune with your body.
- 2.Realize You Have Control. Being able to recognize that you can choose to or choose not to feel, react, or respond, will take back the power in your life.
- 3.‘I Want’ Not ‘I Should'. Like control, choosing to do something because you want to will bring you more joy than feeling as though you must.
- 4.Be as Optimistic as Possible. Training yourself to acknowledge the positive parts of your day can completely alter your stress experience.
- 5.Stay Present. Focus on the task at hand and find the best solution. This will prevent future or past experiences from interfering in the now.
Even though stress has been demonized for years, there is no better time than now to change your perspective. Actively recognizing how you’re feeling during a stressful event and identifying a support system will help you to increase resilience and develop a healthier response to stress.