Archive for December, 2009

Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Posted in General on December 31st, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

General Storing Tip: For fruits and vegetables that require refrigeration, store fruits and vegetables in separate crisper sections of the refrigerator to prevent exposure to ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is produced by some fruits, and decreases the storage life of certain vegetables.
Storing Apples

  • Put apples in the refrigerator to prevent further ripening. Apples can keep for up to six weeks. Check apples often, and remove any apples that begin to decay, or the others will do the same.

Storing Bananas

  • Store bananas at room temperature to further ripen them. Once the bananas are ripe, store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days. Although the peel will turn dark brown, the fruit is still good.

Storing Bell Peppers

  • Keep unwashed bell peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Peppers should stay fresh for about a week.

Storing Carrots

  • Put carrots in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Carrots should last several weeks.

Storing Corn

  • Cook corn shortly after purchase for the best taste. If not, store in the refrigerator. Keep corn in its husk until you are ready to cook it. For best flavor, eat within a couple of days.

Storing Garlic

  • Store garlic bulbs in a cool, dark place with low humidity out of the refrigerator. Garlic should last for several weeks.

Storing Honey

  • Store honey, tightly sealed, in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Avoid storing in the refrigerator since that only accelerates the crystallization process.

Storing Lemons

  • Store lemons at room temperature or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Lemons should keep for about two weeks at room temperature or six weeks in the refrigerator. Cut lemons should be refrigerated and used as quickly as possible.

Storing Lettuce

  • Keep your unwashed lettuce in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator, away from fruits. Lettuce can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Storing Mangos

  • Store your mangos at room temperature and out of the sun. The ideal temperature for mangos is 55°F. Mangos should have a shelf life of one to two weeks. Store cut mangos in a plastic bag for no more than three days.

Storing Onions

  • Store onions in a cool, dry, open space away from bright light. Because onions absorb moisture, do not store onions below the sink. Do not place onions near potatoes because potatoes give off moisture. Depending on the season, onions may last two to four weeks.

Storing Oranges

  • Keep oranges at room temperature or in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Oranges will generally keep for up to two weeks.

Storing Potatoes

  • Store potatoes in a cool, dry place. Sunlight can cause the skin of brown potatoes to turn green. Remove any green spots before using. Potatoes will keep for three to five weeks.

Storing Spinach

  • Pack unwashed spinach lightly in a cellophane or plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator crisper. Spinach should be eaten within three to four days.

Storing Squash

  • Put summer squash in plastic bags and store in your refrigerator. Squash should keep for about a week. Winter squash has a longer shelf life and may be stored in a cool, dry place for up to three months.

Storing Strawberries

  • Strawberries stay fresher longer if you stored them in the refrigerator, unwashed with the stems on, and sealed in a glass jar.

Storing Tomatoes

  • Store tomatoes at room temperature away from sunlight until fully ripened. Ripe tomatoes may be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week.

Iron Overload

Posted in Vitamins - Supplements on December 30th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Iron is a mineral needed by your body, but there is considerable potential for iron toxicity because very little iron is excreted from the body. Iron overload happens when too much iron builds up in the body over time. This condition is called hemochromatosis (HEE-moh-kroh-muh-TOH-suhss). Extra iron can damage your organs, mainly your liver, heart, and pancreas.

Many problems can cause iron overload. Most people with hemochromatosis inherit it from their parents. It is one of the most common genetic (runs in families) diseases in the United States. Some other diseases also can lead to iron overload. It also can happen from years of taking too much iron or from repeated blood transfusions or dialysis for kidney disease.

Signs and symptoms of early hemochromatosis may include:

  • Joint pain – the most common complaint
  • Fatigue – feeling very tired
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fluttering in chest

Because these symptoms also occur with other diseases, hemochromatosis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages. Symptoms tend to occur in men between the ages of 30 and 50, and in women over age 50.

Treatment for Iron Overload
Iron overload associated with hemochromatosis can be detected through two blood tests done in your doctor’s office. If hemochromatosis is detected early, treatment can slow its progress and prevent serious problems. A person can expect a normal life span if they start treatment before organ damage has begun.

Treatment is simple, inexpensive, and safe. The first step is to rid the body of excess iron, called phlebotomy (pronounced fluh-BOT-uh-mee, which means removing blood), by periodically taking blood from the arm, much like giving blood. People who cannot give blood can take medicine to remove extra iron, called iron chelation (kuh-LAY-shuhn) therapy. Depending on how severe the iron overload is, a pint of blood is taken once or twice a week for several months to a year, occasionally longer. Depending on the amount of iron overload at diagnosis, reaching normal iron levels can take up to 100 phlebotomies.

Once iron levels return to normal, maintenance therapy begins, which involves removing a pint of blood every 1 to 4 months for life. Some people may need it more often. An annual blood ferritin test (shows the level of iron in the liver) will help determine how often blood should be removed.

People with hemochromatosis should not take iron supplements. Those who have liver damage should not drink alcoholic beverages because they further damage the liver.

If iron overload and hemochromatosis is not detected and treated early, it can cause some serious and sometimes fatal health problems including:

  • Arthritis.
  • Heart problems such as irregular heart rhythms or congestive heart failure.
  • Liver problems such as enlarged liver, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
  • Missed periods.
  • Loss of sex drive.
  • Early menopause.
  • Impotence.
  • Abnormal pigmentation of the skin, making it look gray or bronze.
  • Damage to the pancreas, possibly causing diabetes.
  • Thyroid deficiency.
  • Damage to the adrenal gland.

Individuals who have already developed complications from hemochromatosis may not be cured but usually can be helped. Arthritis will not improve even after excess iron is removed.

In children, death has occurred from ingesting 200 mg of iron.

Back Safety

Posted in Injuries on December 29th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

A Healthy Back
Your back requires proper care to keep it working. If your back isn’t working right, you will suffer. An injured back affects your ability to move your neck, head, limbs, and your hips.

The muscles in your back are unlike many other muscles in your body – they are almost always in use.

  • The muscles in your back hold your torso in an upright position throughout the day.
  • The muscles in the back assist you every time you pick something up, whether it’s a pen or a concrete block.
  • The muscles in the back support your posture while you sit in your chair, and the muscles in the back even work at night when you sleep.

Good Posture and Bad Posture
Your back is composed of three natural curves that form an S-shape:

  • Cervical curve in the neck area
  • Thoracic curve in the middle back area
  • Lumbar curve in the lower back area

When you use good posture, your three natural curves are properly aligned – your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line – supported by strong, flexible muscles. Without support from strong, flexible muscles, your back loses its three natural curves. Poor posture can lead to pain and serious injury. Good posture helps prevent back strain and pain.

Injuries to the back can be very debilitating, causing you a lot of pain, time away from work, and often requiring physical therapy or even surgery. Everyone whose job involves stressful lifting or awkward postures is at risk for a back injury.

Avoid lifting from the floor whenever possible. If you must lift from the floor, do not bend at the waist. By lifting with your large, strong leg muscles instead of the small muscles of the back, you can prevent back injuries and reduce low back pain.

Some Lifting Techniques:

  • Get as close as possible to the object you are lifting, as if you are hugging the object. Having the object close to your body puts less force on your low back. Don’t bend over the object. Bend your knees, squatting in front of the object, keeping yourself in an upright position while squatting to pick it up.
  • Lift the object slowly and carefully, using your leg and arm muscles to lift, not pulling with your back. Your legs are the strongest muscles in your body, so use them.
  • Keep your head up and look straight ahead while making the lift.
  • While lifting, keep the object as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep abdominal (stomach) muscles tight while making the lift. Don’t hold your breath while tightening your stomach muscles.
  • Turn with your feet, not your back. Your back isn’t built for twisting from side to side.
  • Use the same techniques when you put the object down.
  • If the object is too big or too heavy for you to lift using these techniques, use mechanical assistance or get someone else to help you.

When reaching for objects:

  • Do not reach for an object unless you are sure you’re strong enough to lift it.
  • Use a step ladder to reach objects that are above your shoulder height. Elevate yourself until the object is at least chest level, preferably waist height.
  • Avoid awkward stretches while reaching. This will stress your back and could cause you to lose your balance.
  • Don’t depend on structures to support you, for example, a shelf support, a storage rack, etc. These could easily give way if you pull or tug on them.

Back exercises also play an important role in keeping your back strong, healthy, and flexible. A properly exercised back is less likely to be injured. Your doctor can recommend the best exercises for you, taking into account your physical condition and the type of work you do.

Back Belts
There is a lot of controversy about using back belts to control low back injuries in workers who don’t have an existing injury. According to a report published by the National Safety Council, available scientific data does not completely support nor condemn the use of back belts to control low back injuries.

If you do use a back belt, be aware that you may experience a false sense of security by wearing the belt. You may be tempted to lift loads you wouldn’t otherwise lift. Remember, it’s your back doing the work, not the belt!

Always be alert for situations that could cause a back injury. Be kind to your back. Don’t take unnecessary chances. By following proper lifting and reaching techniques and exercising properly, you’ll help keep back problems behind you!

Correct posture, proper lifting, and a good exercise program are the best prevention for back and neck injuries.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce

Posted in Recipes on December 28th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Serves - 6
Serving size - 3/4 cup

2 small onions, chopped
1 and 1/4 cups zucchini, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons oregano, dried
1 tablespoons basil, dried
1 can 6 oz tomato paste*
1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup water
*To reduce sodium, use a 6 oz can of no-salt-added tomato paste. New sodium content for each serving is 260 mg.

1. In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Sauté the onions, garlic, and zucchini in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Serve over spaghetti.

Nutritional Information for 1 serving mg = milligrams.
Calories – 105
Total Fat – 5 grams
Saturated Fat – 1 gram
Cholesterol – 0 mg
Sodium – 479 mg
Carbohydrate – 15 grams
Dietary Fiber – 4 grams
Protein – 3 grams
Potassium – 686 mg
Calcium 49 mg
Magnesium 35 mg

Water Soluble and Fat Soluble Vitamins

Posted in Vitamins - Supplements on December 27th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

There are two types of vitamins, water soluble vitamins, and fat soluble vitamins.

Water Soluble Vitamins

  • The water soluble vitamins are:
  • Because water soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water, your body can absorb them easily.
  • Your body uses only the amount of water soluble vitamins it needs, and any excess amounts are flushed out in the urine.
  • Water soluble vitamins are not stored in your body (except for vitamin B12, which is stored in the liver), so you need a continuous supply of them in your diet daily.
  • Water soluble vitamins are in:
    • Plant foods
    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Grains
    • Animal foods
    • Dietary supplements
  • Water soluble vitamins can be destroyed by heat, being exposed to the air, or lost in water used for cooking, especially boiling. Steam or grill your food instead of boiling it.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

  • The fat soluble vitamins are:
  • Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and oils.
  • Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body with the use of bile acids, which are fluids used to absorb fat. Your body stores fat soluble vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for use as needed.
  • Excess fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fat tissue, and are not excreted in your urine.
  • Excess fat soluble vitamins can build up to toxic levels if too much is taken, which can be harmful, especially vitamins A and D.
  • Fat soluble vitamins are found in:
    • Fatty foods such as animal fats, including butter and lard
    • Dairy foods
    • Vegetable oils
    • Oily fish
    • Liver
    • Dietary supplements

Public Health Alerts

Posted in General on December 26th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Stay up to date and informed on public health text alerts.

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on December 19th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Muscle strengthening activity (strength training, resistance training, or muscular strength and endurance exercises) is physical activity, including exercise that increases skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance, and mass.

Some examples of muscle strengthening activities include:

  • Working out with weight machines.
  • Hand-held weights (for adults).
  • Using resistance bands – looks like a giant rubber band.
  • You can use soup cans or dumbbells to work out your arms.
  • Carrying full laundry baskets.
  • Pull ups.
  • Biceps curls.
  • Dancing.
  • Jogging in place.
  • Sit ups.
  • Curl-ups.
  • Crunches.
  • Rowing a boat.
  • Strength training in aerobics class.
  • Heavy gardening such as digging, or shoveling.
  • Yoga.
  • Push ups – you can do without any equipment. For kids, modified push ups with knees on the floor.
  • Swinging on playground equipment or bars.
  • Rope climbing.
  • Rock climbing.
  • Wall climbing.
  • Tree climbing.
  • Tug-of-war.
  • Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands (for kids).
  • Cheerleading.
  • Gymnastics.

Children, and adolescents need to do muscle strengthening activities at least 3 or more days a week that will work all of the major muscle groups – the back, shoulders, chest, arms, abdomen, legs, and hips.

Activities for children and teens ages 6 to 17 years old should include “age” appropriate muscle strengthening activities. Children do not usually need formal muscle strengthening programs, such as lifting weights. Younger children usually strengthen their muscles when they do gymnastics, play on the jungle gym or climb trees. As children grow older they may start lifting weights and/or working with resistance bands along other activities such as basketball and/or football.

Benefits of Ginger

Posted in Vitamins - Supplements on December 17th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Ginger is a tropical Asian herb that is known for its spicy aromatic roots. Herbs are plants or part of a plants used for their flavor, scent, or potential therapeutic properties, which includes leaves, flowers, bark, seeds, fruit, stems, and roots.

Ginger has green-purple flowers and an aromatic underground stem, called a rhizome. The Latin name for ginger is Zingiber officinale.

Ginger thrives in the tropics and warmer regions, therefore it is currently grown in parts of West Africa, the West Indies, India and China with the best quality ginger coming from Jamaica where it is most abundant. In the United States, ginger is grown in Florida, Hawaii, and along the eastern coast of Texas.

The underground stems of the ginger plant are used in cooking, baking, and for health purposes. Common forms of ginger include:

  • Fresh or dried root
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Liquid extracts – tinctures
  • Teas

Ginger is used in Asian medicine to treat stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Ginger ale eventually stemmed from a ginger beer made by the English and Colonial America as a remedy for diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Ginger was also used in ancient times as a food preservative and to help treat digestive problems. To treat digestive problems, Greeks would eat ginger wrapped in bread. Eventually ginger was added to the bread dough creating that wonderful treat called gingerbread.

In ancient India, ginger was believed to spiritually cleanse the body.

Many digestive, antinausea, and cold and flu dietary supplements sold in the United States contain ginger extract as an ingredient.

People use ginger to alleviate postsurgery nausea as well as nausea caused by motion sickness, chemotherapy, and pregnancy. Studies suggest that the short-term use of ginger can safely relieve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, but studies are mixed on whether ginger is effective for nausea caused by motion sickness, chemotherapy, or surgery.

Ginger has also been used for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint and muscle pain, but it is unclear whether ginger is effective in treating these conditions.

Side Effects and Cautions of Ginger
There are few side effects linked to ginger when it is taken in small doses. Side effects most often reported are:

  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

These effects are most often associated with powdered ginger.

Ginger may interact with drugs, such as those used to suppress the immune system. Tell your doctor about any complementary and alternative practices you use.

Some Physical Activity is Better Than None

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness on December 16th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

The more physical activity you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.

Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy, so some of your daily life activities, like doing active chores around the house, yard work, and walking the dog are great ways to get physical activity in your life.

To get health benefits from physical activity, you have to include activities that make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. These aerobic activities include things like brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming, and playing basketball. Also include strengthening activities to make your muscles stronger, like push-ups and lifting weights.

If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up. Many people find walking helps them get started. Before you know it, you will be doing more every day.

People of all types, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from being physically active. If you have a disability, talk with your doctor about the amount and types of activities that are right for your ability or condition.

Did you know… when you are not physically active, you are more likely to:

  • Get heart disease
  • Get type 2 diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Have a stroke

Chicken and Spanish Rice

Posted in Recipes on December 15th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Serves - 5
Serving Size - 1 and 1/2 cups

1 cup onions, chopped
3/4 cup green peppers, chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce *
1 and 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
5 cups cooked brown rice in unsalted water
3 and 1/2 cups chicken breast, cooked (skin removed), diced

1. In a large skillet, sauté onions and green peppers in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add tomato sauce, peas, and spices. Heat through.
3. Add cooked rice and chicken. Heat through.

Nutritional Information for 1 serving (mg = milligrams)
Calories – 428
Total Fat – 8 grams
Saturated Fat – 2 grams
Cholesterol – 80 mg
Sodium – 341 mg
Carbohydrate – 52 grams
Dietary Fiber – 8 grams
Protein – 35 grams
Calcium – 50 mg
Magnesium – 122 mg
Potassium – 545 mg

* To reduce sodium, use one 4 ounce can of low sodium tomato sauce and one 4 ounce can of regular tomato sauce. New sodium content for each serving is 215 mg.