The Paleo Diet—A look at a popular eating plan

March 4th, 2015

A popular trend making headlines is the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also called the “Caveman” or “Stone Age” diet. This diet is based on the belief that if we eat like our ancestors did 10,000 years ago, we’ll be healthier, lose weight, and have less disease. The table below compares the Paleo diet recommended intakes to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the typical Western diet.

Paleo Diet Chart

The Paleo diet promotes a higher intake of protein and fat. The carbohydrates included with the Paleo diet are not from grains, but rather from fruits and vegetables (not including white potatoes or dry beans). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends eating carbohydrates from grains, fruits, dairy, and starchy vegetables. Excluding key food groups like dairy and grains makes it likely that key vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D, will be missing. Decreasing the intakes of added sugar and process foods have health benefits; however, there is no scientific evidences showing the Paleo diet prevents disease.steak and vegetables

Since the Paleo diet omits foods from different food groups (e.g., dairy, peanuts, legumes, cereal grains), its long-term sustainability is questionable. We live in a society where it is not possible to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. You might consider a modified Paleo eating plan like lowering your intake of added sugars and processed foods while eating more fruits and vegetables. Balance is best whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or stay just as you are. For more information, visit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Jan 2015, and http://www.webmd.com/diet/paleo-diet?page=2.

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Top Fitness Trend for 2015—Getting Back to the Basics

February 25th, 2015

group push ups fitnessThe American College of Sports Medicine has named bodyweight training as the top fitness trend for 2015. Dr. Walter Thompson states, “These kinds of exercises provide the benefit of requiring little to no equipment and are incorporated into many fitness programs that are currently popular.”

Bodyweight training involves exercises where the body is used as resistance. This type of training uses little equipment, making it a very affordable option! Below are some bodyweight training exercises you can try at home. Click on the highlighted ones for instructional videos or visit http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_list.aspx?equipment=10.

Push-up, Plank, Pull-up, Squat, Single leg stand, Wall sit, Mountain climber

Sources: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2014/10/24/survey-predicts-top-20-fitness-trends-for-2015

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2014/11000/WORLDWIDE_SURVEY_OF_FITNESS_TRENDS_FOR_2015_.5.aspx

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/tipsandtricks/a/basictraining.htm

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Making the Cut

February 18th, 2015

cutting board veggiesWhich is better at preventing a foodborne illness outbreak—a wooden or plastic cutting board? This is a long-standing food safety question. Some research suggests wood is a better option, because the pores in the wood can trap and immobilize bacteria, which then die. Other studies, however, suggest bacteria absorbed in wooden boards can in fact survive and could possibly multiply and recontaminate the surface in the future, making plastic seem superior.

The take-away message is that all cutting boards, plastic or wooden, can be sources of contamination. To help prevent contamination, your cutting board needs to be clean and in good condition.

  1. After each use, scrub your cutting board in hot, soapy water, then rinse and allow to air dry.
  2. Using the dishwasher to clean plastic and solid wooden boards is fine, but laminated boards can crack in the dishwasher.
  3. Wooden and plastic cutting boards can be disinfected with a bleach solution (1 tablespoon traditional regular chlorine bleach [6% sodium hypochlorite] per gallon of water or 2 teaspoons concentrated bleach per gallon of water). Pour solution over the surface and let sit for at least one minute; then rinse well and air dry.
  4. It is time to get a new cutting board if your board has cracks, crevices, chips, or grooves where bacteria can hide.
  5. Designate one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood, and another for vegetables, fruits, breads, and other ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.

For more information, visit the Iowa Food Safety website: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety/

Sources: University of California, Berkley Wellness Letter (December 2014) Food Safety Tips for Food Event Volunteers SP 452: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Food-Safety-Tips-for-Food-Event-Volunteers

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Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

February 11th, 2015

beef-and-veggie-stire-fryServing Size: 1 1/2 cups stir fry, 2/3 cup instant brown rice | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 pound lean beef or pork, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 7 cups chopped vegetables or 24 ounces frozen stir fry vegetables, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preparations:

  1. Create ginger mixture by mixing ginger, garlic powder, soy sauce, and water. Pour 1/4 cup of the mix into a sealable plastic bag and save the rest. Add meat to the bag. Seal the bag and set it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare brown rice according to directions on the package for 4 servings.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan. When oil is hot, add meat from plastic bag and stir until brown. This will take 1 to 3 minutes. Discard liquid from the bag.
  4. Remove meat from pan and cover it. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan.
  5. Add chopped vegetables. Stir and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add cornstarch to the saved ginger mixture and stir until smooth.
  7. Return meat to the pan when vegetables are tender. Add cornstarch mixture and cook for about 2 minutes until bubbly.
  8. Serve over brown rice.

Nutrition information per serving: 470 calories, 13 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 610 mg sodium, 60 g total carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 27 g protein

Source: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/beef-and-vegetable-stir-fry

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Will Activated Charcoal Activate your Health?

February 4th, 2015

activated charcoal pillsTake a look around your local health market shelves or smoothie bar menu and you may notice products containing activated charcoal (also called activated carbon). Before you jump to try this latest fad, take a moment to understand what this product is, its intended uses, and health implications.

Activated charcoal is not found naturally in foods. It is made when coal, wood, or other substances are placed under high heat with a gas or an activating agent to expand the surface area. Activated charcoal has been used by medical professionals to manage poisonings and overdoses.

There are several other activated charcoal health claims that are far less studied include the following:

  • treating cholestasis (a condition of pregnancy affecting normal bile flow)
  • reducing high cholesterol
  • preventing a hangover
  • preventing gas (flatulence)

There is limited scientific evidence to support the use of activated charcoal as treatment for these conditions.

Activated charcoal is often marketed as a way to detox and eliminate harmful toxins from our bodies. Although the use of activated charcoal may be warranted in the case of poisonings or overdoses, general detoxification is done by our bodies naturally with the help of our kidneys and liver. Additionally, activated charcoal can absorb food nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need. It is also important to remember that the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, including activated charcoal.

Side effects are more likely when activated charcoal is used on a long-term basis; these include black stools, black tongue, vomiting or diarrhea, and constipation. Activated charcoal can also react with certain medications you may be taking. Always talk with your doctor before you begin taking any supplement, including activated charcoal.

The bottom line is that further research needs to be done to determine how effective activated charcoal is for the treatment of various conditions and what doses should be used.

Sources/more information: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/activated-charcoal-uses-risks

http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/wellness/?s=cleanse

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Increase Your Physical Activity Level with Tai Chi

January 26th, 2015

woman tai chi figureTai chi is a martial art developed in ancient China that is now practiced for health improvement. Tai chi combines slow, graceful movements flowing into the next with focused mental concentration.

Tai chi requires very little in terms of equipment or props. This slow and gentle movement of body weight and deep breathing requires nothing more than comfortable clothes and flat, flexible shoes. It is suitable for all ages and can be done indoors or outdoors, alone or with a group. The whole family can learn and practice tai chi together.

People who practice tai chi several times weekly may experience several health benefits such as improved balance (which helps to reduce risk of falling), flexibility, strengthened muscles, stress relief, lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, and improved sense of well-being, to name a few.

Before beginning tai chi, as with any exercise program, consult your physician if you have a chronic health condition.

Sources: www.extension.org/pages/32340/tai-chi:-movment-for-health-benefits/print/ and http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm

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What’s For Dinner?

January 19th, 2015

ground beefThe day has somehow gotten away from you—it’s later than you think; the family is hungry and you haven’t begun to fix dinner, let alone think about what to fix. One look in the freezer and you spot a frozen brick of ground beef. What’s the quickest way to turn the brick into a quick and delicious beef meal? Here is what you need: microwave-safe storage bag (gallon size), microwave, four minutes, and these simple steps.

  1. Transfer your frozen ground beef from its packaging to the gallon-size storage bag.
  2. Seal the storage bag, leaving a small opening for steam to escape (about 1/2 inch or size of a pencil).
  3. Heat the bag in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for one minute on HIGH.
  4. Flip the bag over.
  5. Heat on HIGH for one more minute; wait for one minute.
  6. Remove the beef from the microwave and massage the bag
  7. for 10 seconds.
  8. If needed, heat on HIGH for 30 seconds longer, followed by 30 seconds of rest. The leaner the ground beef, the less time in the microwave. TIP: the beef should not be HOT to the touch; just thaw it enough to form it into a shape.
  9. Immediately cook your beef to 160°F.
  10. Enjoy!

Source: www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/groundbeefthawing.aspx

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Beef and Bean Chile Verde

January 12th, 2015

beef and bean chiliServes 4  | Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups each

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 16-ounce jar green salsa, green enchilada sauce or taco sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preparation

  1. Cook beef, bell pepper, and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Nutrition Per Serving: 307 Calories; 8 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 64 mg Cholesterol; 29 g Carbohydrates; 27 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 516 mg Sodium; 641 mg Potassium

Source: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/beef_bean_chile_verde.html

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New Labeling Requirements for Menus and Vending Machines

January 7th, 2015

women looking at menu boardThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized two rules that will require chain restaurants, vending machines, and similar retail food establishments to inform consumers of calorie information on menus and menu boards.

Rule 1: Menu Labeling

This rule requires:

  • The calories of the menu items be placed on the menu or menu board, and it applies to larger restaurants and similar retail food establishments (e.g., part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering the same menu items).
  • Calorie labeling for certain alcoholic beverages and certain foods sold at entertainment venues such as movie theaters and amusement parks.
  •  Menus and menu boards include the following statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
  • Covered establishments provide, upon customer request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein.

Restaurants and similar retail establishments that are covered will have one year from the date of publication of the menu labeling final rule to comply with the requirements. Foods purchased in grocery stores or other retail stores intended for more than one person and requiring additional preparation before consuming are not covered by this rule.

Rule 2: Vending Machines

This rule requires that vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exceptions. Vending machine operators that are covered will have two years from the date of publication of the vending machine labeling final rule to comply with the requirements.

For more information about these new rules please visit www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm423987.htm.

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Activity Trackers—Are They for You?

December 31st, 2014

activity fitness trackerExercising can be hard, but tracking your progress doesn’t have to be. A fitness tracker counts your steps and provides motivation to exercise more throughout your day without drastic lifestyle changes or fad diets. By simplifying the process of monitoring with a fitness device, you will increase the likelihood of reaching a healthier weight and improving your overall health.

Fitness trackers are lightweight and wearable, and they can track steps, distance, heart rate, and calories used. Some even monitor sleep. The best activity trackers monitor your activity and display information about your daily routine on your smartphone or on the screen of the device itself.

Look for ones that will calculate your total minutes of activity, steps taken, heart rate, and goals for you. Some may even remind you to get up and move when you have been sitting for too long. Choose one that works with your lifestyle and habits. PC magazine has a good review of features and costs for some of the more popular wearable activity trackers.

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