Inflammation and the role diet may play

When something harmful or irritating affects our body, the body responds with inflammation. There are two types of inflammation—acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation is short-lived inflammation. An example of this would be when you cut a finger or stub a toe. You see and feel the signs of acute inflammation in your body, and tissues become red, swollen, and painful. It is part of the body’s natural healing response to injury or infection.

Chronic inflammation occurs over time. It is a low level of inflammation occurring inside the body and is not visible. Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of serious chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and dementia. It can be caused by smoking, stress, excessive abdominal fat, and alcohol intake, as well as some foods.

To fight chronic inflammation, eat a variety of foods full of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds produced by plants to help protect our cells. Foods with these compounds include whole grains, beans, nuts, colorful fruits and vegetables, plant oils, and cold-water fish like albacore tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Tea, onions, and spices such as turmeric and ginger also have compounds with anti-inflammatory effects.

Fruits and vegetables

Anti-inflammatory foods are most effective when you are also at a healthy weight. If you are overweight, a 5–10 percent reduction in weight can also reduce inflammation.

On the other hand, some foods—including processed meats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages—have been linked with increased inflammation. Saturated fat and trans fat are specific components of food that may trigger inflammation. The key to a healthy diet is variety and moderation with all food!

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, July 2019, (www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/what-is-an-anti-inflammatory-diet)

Orange Dressing with Fruit

Serving Size: 3 cups salad with 2 tablespoons dressing | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 8 cups greens (romaine or spinach)
  • 2 cups vegetables, chopped (broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, peppers, onions, or tomato)
  • 2 cups fruit, chopped (apples, berries, grapes, or oranges)

Directions:

  1. Combine the first four ingredients (dressing) in a container with a screw top. Close tightly and shake until combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use (up to 1 week).
  2. For each salad, top 2 cups of greens with 1/2 cup vegetables and 1/2 cup fruit.
  3. Take dressing from the refrigerator and shake hard to combine ingredients again. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of dressing onto each salad.

Nutrition information per serving:
160 calories, 7g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 14g sugar, 3g protein

Recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu)

Washing Leafy Greens

Leafy greens need to be handled safely just like any other food. Start with washing your hands with soap and water. Cut away any damaged areas on the leaves or stems.

If the label on the leafy greens bag DOES NOT say “prewashed” or “ready to eat,” thoroughly wash the greens under running water just before chopping, cooking, or eating.

Washing greens in water

If the leafy greens label DOES say “prewashed” or “ready to eat,” use the greens without washing. If you wash leafy greens before storing, you can potentially promote bacterial growth and enhance spoilage.

Wash only what you intend to eat. After washing fresh greens, pat dry with paper towels or a fresh clean towel—or use a salad spinner—to help remove excess liquid. Never wash leafy greens with soap, detergent, or bleach because these can leave residues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend using commercial produce washes because these also may leave residues.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, March 2018, (www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/wash/washing-leafy-greens)

Improving Strength

Hand weights

Small changes in muscle strength can make a real difference in function. Do strength exercises for all major muscle groups on two or more days per week for 30 minutes each. Don’t exercise the same muscle group on any two days in a row. Activities should be done that make your muscles work harder than usual and work all major muscle groups. Complete this 18- minute beginner strength-training workout (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/at-home-workout-beginner-strength-training) from Spend Smart. Eat Smart. to get you started.

Farmers Market Food Safety

While farmers markets are a great source of fresh produce, here are some tips for keeping those foods safe:

  • Choose produce that is free of bruising and spoiling. Do not purchase if the skin is broken, is slimy, or has soft spots.
  • Go home directly from the market and store produce according to the fruit and vegetable storage guide, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/store-fruits-vegetables. The quality of produce will decrease if left in a vehicle for too long.
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before preparing produce.
  • Wash produce just before use—not before storing. Washing prior to storing will cause the produce to spoil faster. Before use, rinse produce with clean running water. Rub briskly to clean surfaces and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Spend Smart. Eat Smart.offers more information about cleaning produce, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/clean-fruits-vegetables.
  • Wash reusable grocery totes frequently in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water. Clean all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter, to reduce the spread of illness-causing microorganisms. Store totes in a clean, dry location, not the trunk of a vehicle.

Sources:

Eat Right, www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/separate/reusable-grocery-tote-safety
University of Minnesota, extension.umn.edu/farmers-markets/shopping-farmers-markets

Visit a Farmers Market

Vegetables at farmers market

Your local farmers market is a great source of affordable, seasonal produce. To stretch your food dollars even more, several markets accept SNAP EBT cards through the Double Up Food Bucks program. They will match SNAP bucks dollar for dollar to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

Need help finding a farmers market? The Seasonal and Simple website, seasonalandsimple.info, contains a guide to help find, select, store, and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables found in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Recipes can also be found here for freezing, dehydrating, and canning all of your favorite produce.

Cell phone

Download the free Seasonal and Simple app for iPhone and Android so you can take it with you wherever you go.

Sources:

Healthiest State Initiative, www.iowahealthieststate.com/resources/communities/double-up-food-bucks/how-it-works
University of Minnesota, extension.umn.edu/farmers-markets/shopping-farmers-markets
Choose MyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-smart-shopping

Chicken Salad

Serving Size: 3/4 cup | Serves: 4

Bowl of chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 apple (cored and diced)
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped (about 1 rib)
  • 1/3 cup light ranch dressing or creamy salad dressing
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Combine chicken, apple, and celery in a medium bowl. Add dressing and ground black pepper and stir to coat. Stir in pecans or walnuts, if desired.
  2. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Serve on a lettuce leaf; spread on bread, tortillas, or a sandwich; or spoon into a halved tomato or cucumber.

Nutrition information per serving:

170 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 50mg cholesterol, 340mg sodium, 11g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g sugar

Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu. Visit the site for more information, recipes, and videos.

Be Active as a Family

Physical activity is important for all ages. Being active as a family can be fun and beneficial for everyone. The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is 2 1/2 hours per week; children need 60 minutes per day. Try these tips to make activity part of your day!

  • Set specific activity times—Look at your family calendar and schedule physical activity into your day when everyone is available.
  • Plan ahead and track your progress—Let the kids help plan the activities and log them on the family calendar.
  • Include work around the house—Yard work and chores around the house count too!
  • Use what is available—Many activities take little or no equipment or facilities such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, and dancing. Check out programs available at your community recreation center; they may even have childcare or activities available.
  • Plan for all weather conditions—Get outdoors when the weather is nice, but also plan activities that do not depend on the weather. Treasure hunts and hide-and-seek can be played indoors or outdoors.
  • Turn off the TV—Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day. This includes TV, video games, and the computer (except for schoolwork).
  • Start small—Start with an activity that everyone likes and add new ones when everyone is ready.
  • Include other families—Invite others to join the fun!
  • Treat the family with fun physical activity—To celebrate achievements, do something active as a family such as visit the zoo, try out a park, or go to the lake.

Source: Choose MyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov

Warm Weather and Warm Joints!

Woman exercising

As seasons change, our bodies work to adjust to different temperatures. Unfortunately, this can cause our joints to become stiff and uncomfortable during weather changes. Try these three mobility exercises to increase functionality and reduce pain during the changing seasons:

Standing Hip Openers: Find your balance on one foot with the help of a chair. Standing on one leg, make a circle with the knee of the other leg. Bring the knee out to the side of your body and then back. Complete the motion 4–5 times with each leg.

Ankle Mobility: Stand tall with one hand on a wall for balance. Rise up onto your toes so your heels come off the floor. Then slowly rock back to the heels of your feet, letting your toes rise from the floor. Rock back and forth about 10 times.

Knee to Chest Stretch: Place back against a wall and bring one knee to your chest. Grab the knee with both hands and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat stretch on each leg, standing up tall against the wall.

Scrub by Scrub: The Importance of Washing Your Produce

Strainer of asparagus

As we transition from winter to spring, many fruits and vegetables—like asparagus and strawberries—start to be in season! It is very important to remember to wash fresh produce prior to eating in order to remove any harmful bacteria like E. coli or listeria. The next time you reach for a fruit or vegetable, use these strategies to ensure it’s clean and fresh:

  • Wash your produce immediately before eating. Washing some produce—like berries—before storing actually hastens spoilage.
  • Wash all produce in cold water; do not use detergents or soap to clean the outside of your fruit.
  • Try using a vegetable brush for fruits and vegetables that have a thick skin.
  • Produce that has tiny nooks and crannies—like cauliflower and broccoli—should be soaked in cold, clean water for one to two minutes.
  • You don’t need to rewash products that are labeled “ready to eat” or “triple washed.”

For visual demonstrations of other ways to select, store, and prepare food, check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/videos).

Subscribe to Words on Wellness

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Categories