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)

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.

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

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).

Eat Right, Bite by Bite

March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite.

The first “bite” is knowing portion sizes. Use common items to help guide your portion sizes:

  • Baseball or fist = 1 cup salad greens or cereal
  • Deck of cards = 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
  • Four stacked dice = 1 1/2 ounces of cheese
  • One die = 1 teaspoon of margarine or spread
  • Ping pong ball = 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Spoonful of yogurt, fruit, and granola

Do you like to bake breads, muffins, or cookies? Another “bite” to consider is increasing your whole grain intake. Simply substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. Start by substituting one-fourth of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, then one-half, three-fourths, and possibly all!

Another “bite” to consider? Replace some or all of the oil in breads, muffins, or cookies with fruit canned in 100% juice. This will help limit fat intake. Pureed fruit, like applesauce, works best. Use the same approach as the whole wheat flour—start by substituting one-fourth of the oil with fruit and work up to one-half or three-fourths.

Small changes do have a positive effect on your health, and every little “bite” is a step in the right direction!

Sources:
Eat Right (www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month)
National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/servingcard7.pdf)

Safe Walking on Snow and Ice

Walking in snow

Winter wind, snow, and ice can be scary to walkers. Even a short stroll is hard. Strong winds and icy sidewalks can make you fall and freeze your nose.

How to enjoy good winter walks without getting hurt:

  • Check the wind chill before you go outside. It should be more than 10°F. You can get frostbite in 30 minutes when the windchill is -18°F!
  • Equip yourself for the weather. Bundle up. Bulky clothing could break a fall.Walking poles help gain traction on snowy ground.You can wear shoes with studded soles or boots with grooved soles. You could buy elastic slip-on snow cleats. They are like snow tires for your feet! (Take the cleats off when you go inside. They can make you slip on inside floors.)

Watch the video 5 Ways to Walk Safely in Icy Weather for more tips, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/video/icy-weather-safety-tips

Sources:
WebMD, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/weatherproof-your-workout#1 National Weather Service, www.weather.gov/bou/windchill

Handling Avocados Safely

sliced avocados

Bacteria love avocados almost as much as people do. Unlike most fruits, the avocado is low in acid. That makes it good for bacterial growth. In addition, we like to eat avocados raw, which means we don’t kill the bacteria by cooking.

Based on a 2014–2016 study, the FDA found that about 18% of avocados had Listeria monocytogenes on their skins. In small amounts, this germ isn’t dangerous for healthy adults. However, it can cause serious harm to young children, older people, and pregnant women.

  • To prepare an avocado safely, you first need to wash your handscarefully.
  • Then rinse the avocado’s skin thoroughly before you cut it open.Otherwise, the blade will carry the germs on the skin into the pulp.
  • Throw away the skin and the pit promptly.
  • To avoid bacterial growth, eat the avocado as soon as possible aftercutting and peeling.

Source: Colorado State University: Food Source Information, fsi.colostate.edu/avocados/#food-safety

5 Reasons to Love Avocados

Avocado on toast

We Americans are eating more avocados than we did a generation ago. In 1985, the average American ate only 1 pound a year. Now it’s more than 7.5 pounds!

Why do we love avocados? It’s not because avocados are cheap. The average price of a Hass avocado reached $2.10
in 2019.

  • Avocados are a luxury that is actually good for us.
  • Avocados are rich, creamy, and high in fat. However, this fat is mostly monounsaturated—so, heart healthy! People who eat avocados every day can raise their HDL (good) cholesterol and lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Avocado-eaters get 20 vitamins and minerals in one fruit! They also get the nutrients that most Americans need more of—magnesium, potassium, and vitamins K and E.
  • Avocados have many phytochemicals. These help protect our cells from damage. In fact, eating avocados may keep your eyes healthy and lower your cancer risk.
  • Talk about versatile! You can use avocados in dips, sandwiches, and salads. They can make smoothies creamy. You can even use them instead of butter on toast.

Find out about preparing avocados from Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/produce-item/avocado.

Source: Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/

Subscribe to Words on Wellness

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Categories