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Archive for the ‘healthy living’ Category

Recycling Food Waste? Waste Not, Want Not?

November 5th, 2014

woman helping man at  food pantrySupermarkets throw out $47 billion worth of food each year. Much of this food is still safe to eat. The idea is to offer food to people at low prices and reduce the amount of food wasted. This has led to new businesses opening around the United States that provide groceries at a discounted price. These food items are safe to eat,but one of the following applies:

  • They are past their sell-by date (end of store “shelf life” but still safe to eat).
  • They are close to their use-by date (found on shelf-stable products; indicatesabsolute best quality when unopened).
  • They have minor imperfections (e.g., slightly bruised produce, slightlydented cans).
  • They are from overstocks.

Why is repurposing of these foods gaining popularity? Foods that are past their sell-by date or close to their use-by date can still be safe to eat and therefore can be used to combat hunger. Currently, 1 in 8 or 11.9% of Iowans are foodinsecure, meaning that at some time during the year they lacked access to safe and nutritious food. This leads to lower intakes of nutrient-rich foods, more health problems, and loss of independence. People who are food insecure do not receivethe nutrients needed to remain healthy and active. Not having access to safe and nutritious foods in midlife and older adulthood can make completing daily tasks (e.g., cleaning, bathing, etc.) more challenging. In addition, getting a foodborne illness can have long term health consequences. In children, a lack of propernutrition is associated with increased behavior problems, school absenteeism, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.

The Iowa organization Table to Table is working to reduce food waste and foodinsecurity. Table to Tablecollects edible food fromdonors and distributes thesefood items to those in needthrough agencies that serve the hungry, homeless, and at-risk populations. Since 1996,Table to Table has rescuedabout 12 million pounds offood from grocery stores,restaurants, schools, andother food operations. To learnmore about Table to Table, visit www.table2table.org/.

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What’s in Your Lunch Box?

October 15th, 2014

packed lunch sandwich healthyWhen making a bag or box lunch for yourself or your child, don’t forget to play it safe! Food that travels from one place to another is likely to stay outside of the refrigerator for more time than the food you serve at home. Therefore, the bacteria that cause foodborne illness have a better chance of growing rapidly in a bag lunch.

Use the Right Container

Gone are the days of a “brown bag” lunch. Choose insulated lunch bags and boxes to keep cold food cold. The lunch container should have enough space so that you can always fit in a reusable freezer pack or a plastic bottle filled with ice. Make sure the bag or box can easily be washed daily with hot soap and water. A dishwasher-safe lunchbox or a bag that can be laundered is ideal. Wash lunch boxes and other lunch containers soon after coming home.

Wash, Wash, Wash!

Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water before preparing any food for the lunchbox. Make sure that any utensil that comes in contact with the food has been thoroughly washed and sanitized. When eating away from home, many people forget to wash hands before eating. This allows germs the perfect chance to transfer to a sandwich or apple. Make it easy for you and your child to eat with clean hands by including hand sanitizer or wipes in the lunch bag.

For more ideas on protecting your family’s health when packing lunches, use the handout titled What’s for Lunch? It’s in the Bag! available at store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM3026.

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Get Moving at Work

September 17th, 2014

man as desk exercise ballMost Iowans (about 82%) are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly. You do not have to attend an exercise class to get your physical activity. Physical activity is the movement of the body that uses energy and may include activities you perform every day like climbing stairs, walking to and from your car, walking the dog, etc.

“Desk jobs” may be contributing to our low levels of physical activity. Making small changes to incorporate physical activity into your workday could add up and help you reach the recommended daily physical activity goal. Try incorporating these physical activity-boosting strategies into your workday.

• Walk to work if possible or park away from the main entrance or use an entrance that is further away from your office. By doing so, you’ll be able to get more steps in daily, helping you reach the recommended 10,000 steps daily, which is about five miles.

• Plan short fitness breaks (3–5 minutes) every hour. This will give you 24–40 minutes of physical activity by the end of your workday. Try these short fitness break ideas:

o Walk up and down the stairs or hallway.
o Take a short walk on your lunch break.
o Do some chair squats, jumping jacks or jog-in-place in your office.
o See if your employer offers a worksite wellness program.

 

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Cleanse Diets: How to Protect Yourself from Fad Diets

September 3rd, 2014

diet on chalkboardIt seems as though you can’t go on Facebook or pick up a magazine without reading about how a high school classmate or a famous actress lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time by going on a “cleanse diet.” Cleanse diets claim to be a natural way to remove toxins from the body through fasting followed by a strict vegetable- and fruit-only regimen. It often includes raw vegetables, fruit juices, fruit, and water. More extreme versions of a cleanse diet entail the use of herbs and other supplements that help cleanse the colon (e.g., enemas). There is no scientific evidence that cleanse diets work to detox the body. The kidneys and liver naturally remove most of the toxins we ingest. The benefits most associated with cleanse diets may actually result from the removal of processed foods, solid fats, and added sugars from the diet. There are many concerns regarding following a cleanse diet for an extended period of time, including fatigue due to limited protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and dehydration.

Fad diets are popular because they promise fast results, which is why it is a billion dollar industry. It is important to remember that if you’re overweight, you didn’t put that weight on overnight and it’s unrealistic to think it can be removed overnight or in 10–20 days.

Protect yourself from fad diets by avoiding diet plans, supplements, or products that make the following claims:

1. Promise of fast weight loss: Slow and gradual weight loss is more sustainable than plans that cause drastic weight changes. A healthy weight loss plan promotes ½ to 2 pounds weekly. If you lose weight too quickly, you can lose water, muscle, and bone!

2. Quantities and limitations: Avoid diets that eliminate or severely restrict food groups. Each food group provides essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that a multivitamin cannot replace.

3. Promotes specific food combinations: There is no scientific evidence to support that eating at specific times during the day or combining certain foods will cause foods to turn to fat.

4. No need to be physically active: Physical activity is essential for good health and weight management and should be part of your daily routine.
For more information about how to better manage your weight safely, use Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension publication “How Much Are You Eating?” (PM 3024), available at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/How-Much-Are-You-Eating.

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Pet Food and Food Safety

August 27th, 2014

pet dogWe know to wash our hands before eating dinner and after using the bathroom, but what about after handling pet food?

You’re running late again, and just as you head for the door, you remember Fido still needs his breakfast. After serving him a hearty scoop of kibble, you’re in the car and on the road, and along for the ride may be the foodborne bacteria Salmonella.

Most pet food and pet treats are processed and handled properly so they’re Salmonella free and safe for your pet to eat and for you to touch. But sometimes pet food and pet treats become contaminated with Salmonella and you won’t know by looking at the food. If you touch contaminated pet food or treats, you may become ill from Salmonella or pass the bacteria on to other people.

The foodborne illness caused by Salmonella is called salmonellosis. The illness may be life threatening in some groups, such as children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems (e.g., those with cancer).

Symptoms of salmonellosis in pets include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, decreased appetite, and decreased activity.

Washing your hands with warm, soapy water after handling pet food is the best way to reduce your risk of foodborne illness from contaminated pet food. Washing your hands is also the best way to reduce your risk of passing foodborne illness on to others. Take time to wash your hands after feeding Fido, even on rushed weekday mornings.

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Investigate the Outdoors This Summer

August 20th, 2014

kids outdoors playing natureSpend your late summer and early fall exploring the nature of Iowa! The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council public service campaign, Discover the Forest (available in Spanish, Descubre el Bosque), aims to inspire 8- to 12-year-olds and their parents to reconnect with nature. The program offers numerous helpful resources, including The Book of Stuff to Do Outside. This book shows how to have a scavenger hunt, find directions using a compass, and keep a nature journal. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.discovertheforest.org/pdf/book-of-stuff.pdf.

Another Forest Service program that helps children connect with nature is the Junior Forest Ranger program. Children can complete the activities in the 18-page book to qualify for the Junior Forest Ranger pin and card. And when the summer is over, they can get ready to qualify for their Junior Snow Ranger designation.

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Cool Off While Working Out!

July 23rd, 2014

fitness active pool water workoutStay cool in the summer, yet still break a sweat! There’s more to do in a pool than swim laps. You burn as many calories walking or jogging in the water as you do on land if you move your arms and legs at the same pace. You also can burn calories in shoulder deep water while using a kickboard or while performing push/pull movements with a pool noodle. The water resistance exercises your muscles but reduces stress on your joints.

Find more exercises you can perform in the water. Watch this video for other pool workout ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBy0xZPoWzM.

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Buying and Selling Local Foods

July 16th, 2014

produce farmers market vegetablesFarmers market and food stand season brings many opportunities to sample “pride of Iowa” foods. Most people assume that foods “allowed” to be sold require inspection. Regulatory agencies (e.g., Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Consumer Food Safety Bureau) have the responsibility to inspect foods that present a greater risk for foodborne illness, rather than all foods.

For example, at farmers markets, vendors of meats and cheeses will have prepared their foods in a licensed processing facility. Fruit-based jams and jellies can be home-processed whereas vegetable-based jams, such as pepper jam, must be processed in a licensed facility. The difference is due to ingredients that increase the risk of foodborne illness if the product is not properly prepared. Most baked goods are okay for sale, but vendors must have: a list of ingredients, preparer’s contact information, place where food was prepared, notice of common food allergens (like peanuts or soy) that may have been present when the item was made.

When a food stand is preparing or selling what are considered “higher risk” foods (e.g., not pre-packaged foods), it should have a temporary food establishment license. This means the Department of Inspection and Appeals Consumer Food Safety Bureau or a county-level counterpart has inspected the food stand and issued the temporary license.

Are you interested in starting your own home-based food business?

Read “Starting a Home-Based Food Business in Iowa” (https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Starting-a-Home-Based-Food-Business-in-Iowa). This publication provides an overview of what should be considered, including regulatory aspects.

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Infused Water

July 9th, 2014

fruit water strawberry lemon drinksMake drinking water more fun by flavoring it with fruits, vegetables, or herbs.

Cucumber and Mint Cooler
Ingredients

  • 6 cups chilled water
  • 12 thin slices cucumber
  • Few sprigs of mint

Directions
In a 2 to 2½ quart pitcher, combine water, cucumber, and mint. Chill for 30 minutes. Add ice cubes just before serving.

Strawberry and Mint Cooler
Ingredients

  • 18 strawberries (medium size) sliced thin
  • 8 sprigs of mint
  • 1 quart water and ice

Directions
In a 2 to 2½ quart pitcher, combine water, ice, strawberries, and mint. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

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Water Is Key to Life

July 2nd, 2014

water glasses drinksWater is the key to life — every system in our body depends on it. Water helps carry nutrients to our cells, helps rid toxins from our organs, and keeps our nose, ears, and throat moist. If we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. We lose water on a daily basis by breathing, urinating, and sweating. Because we constantly lose water, we must repeatedly replace what we lose.

The Institute of Medicine states that an adequate daily intake of water for men is about 13 cups and about 9 cups for women. Water comes from more than just fluids; it is a major component of many foods. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of our water needs are met through food.

Foods with high water content add volume but minimal calories to the diet. Eating foods high in water can promote a feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables are two food groups that have generally high water content. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products like milk and yogurt can help you reach your daily water recommendations.

Fruits and vegetables high in water

Fruit: Watermelon, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, papaya, strawberries, apricots, cherries

Vegetables: Carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, squash, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach

Use these helpful resources to better understand the role water plays in your health.

Eat to Compete: What You Should Know about Fluids
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Eat-to-Compete-What-You-Should-Know-About-Fluids

Bottled Water—Know the Facts
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Bottled-Water-Know-the-Facts

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