By: Mimi Fetzer RD, LD, with The Idaho Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke Prevention Program
February is a time for love, relationships, and matters of the heart. That includes the relationship we have with our heart health. The heart pumps blood to all parts of the body. Blood carries oxygen, nutrition, hormones, and removes waste. The best way to strengthen the relationship with our heart is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Tips for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle:
Reduce sodium and saturated fat intake. Instead, enjoy nutritious foods.
The heart needs a combination of nutrients to function at its best. Consuming a variety of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and low-fat dairy is the best way to get these nutrients. Too much of certain nutrients, such as sodium and saturated fat, can place stress on the heart.
Examples of high sodium and saturated fatty foods include:
- Pizza such as pepperoni with full fat cheese.
- Frozen meals.
- Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats and hot dogs.
- Snacks such as chips, jerky and shelf-stable cakes.
Quit smoking and vaping tobacco products.
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. It can damage the blood cells that transport essential nutrients and compromise the function and structure of the cardiovascular system.1 Medical studies suggest cigarette and e-cigarette smoking result in abnormalities of blood flow to the heart.
For those who are ready to quit, there are resources on the Project Filter Website or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Project Filter has expert quit coaches and free patches, gum or lozenges to support people on their quit journey.
Having pre-diabetes or diabetes impacts how much glucose is in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels causing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.2
To find out if you or a loved one is at risk for prediabetes, take the Prediabetes Risk Quiz. The results can inform conversations with your healthcare provider and encourage appropriate lifestyle changes. Diabetes Prevention Programs are offered throughout the state to decrease your risk for diabetes. This program is led by trained Lifestyle Coaches who guide a group of individuals through a series of interactive sessions. Each session features different techniques to help adopt a healthy lifestyle and prevent or delay diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider about diabetes management and participating in a Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Program. This program is delivered by trained healthcare professionals who can discuss how nutrition, medication, and physical activity can help manage diabetes and result in a healthy heart.
Engage in consistent physical activity.
Regular physical activity strengthens the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body. 3 Physical activity can also help to manage tobacco cravings resulting in smoking cessation and reduce blood glucose levels. Each week adults should exercise for 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) if it is moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) if it is vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity:
- Fast paced walking
- Water aerobics
- Softball or baseball
Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity:
- Hiking uphill
- Shoveling heavy snow
Remember to have a positive relationship with your heart to ensure healthy relationships with loved ones all year long!
1. Smoking and Your Heart. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/smoking-and-your-heart. Accessed January 15, 2020.
2. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke Accessed January 15, 2020.
3. Physical Activity and Your Heart. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/physical-activity-and-your-heart Accessed January 15, 2020.
By: Jackie Amende, MS, RDN, LD, University of Idaho FCS Extension Educator
If you are road tripping or traveling abroad to a new and exciting place, you can still enjoy all the fun foods that come with traveling without compromising your healthful eating plan. Here are some tips for your upcoming summer vacation:
- Focus on portion sizes. You don’t have to avoid those new and exciting foods that come with traveling. Share large food portions with your travel partner or go with the small size for just yourself.
- Keep your regular meal times on vacation. It can be easy to graze on food all day while on vacation but try to stick with your usual eating pattern.
- Watch what you’re drinking. Focus on water or other unsweetened beverages. Skip the sweetened and various adult beverages which are often loaded with unnecessary calories.
- Pack non-perishable foods with you. Dried fruit, nuts, and pretzels make for relatively healthy snacks that are nutrient-rich. These non-perishable foods are perfect for a quick snack to satisfy you until your next scheduled meal time.
- If you are road tripping, pack a cooler with fresh pre-cut vegetables and fruits. Try slicing some bell peppers and cutting up some celery sticks. In addition, keep whole fruit or sliced fruit ready to go.
- Be physically active! Get outside and walk to enjoy the sites where you are vacationing. If you are on a road trip, schedule frequent stops where you can get out, stretch your legs, and take a short walk.
With these healthful eating tips, food safety is still a priority, especially if you’re road tripping. Bringing perishable foods with you like meats and cheeses may cause some unwanted foodborne illnesses if these items are not stored properly. Don’t store perishable foods unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours. If stored in a cooler, make sure coolers are 40 degrees or cooler. In addition, don’t leave your cooler directly in the sun or in the trunk of your car on road trips. Putting the cooler in the backseat of the car will generally be cooler than the trunk. Finally, keep hand sanitizer or moist towelettes with you if you don’t have access to a restroom to wash your hands before and after eating. Now, enjoy your trip!
Want to learn more about healthy eating and/or food safety? University of Idaho Extension teaches many classes and programs in the area, like Eating Healthy on a Budget, Nutrition for Healthy Aging, Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, and more. Check out the Canyon County UI Extension website at https://www.uidaho.edu/extension/county/canyon or call 208-459-6003 for more information.
We all know that physical activity is good for us, but it can be a challenge to fit fitness into a busy schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults accumulate 150 minutes of moderate (or 75 minutes of vigorous) physical activity every week. This may seem like a lot, but every minute adds up! Activity bursts of five minutes here and there throughout your day accumulate to help you reach your movement goals. Here are three simple ways to add more movement to your day!
Set an Alarm Use an app on your smart phone or set periodic appointments on your calendar to remind yourself to stand up at least once every hour. Movement breaks can include standing to stretch, a quick walk around your office, or some chair squats to really get the blood flowing!
Be an Ele-voider If you think you don’t have time to take the stairs, think again! A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that taking the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator saved about 15 minutes each workday. That’s a 3% savings of time per workday, which could translate into more productivity as well as increased fitness.
Take Your Breaks Break times and lunch hours are the perfect opportunity to get some movement in! Make it a goal to get up and walk for 10-15 minutes each day during lunch. After the work week you will have added 50-75 minutes of activity to your weekly total! The added bonus is that mid-day activity has been shown to boost mood and increase one’s ability to manage stress.
Colorectal cancer is preventable and treatable when detected early. There are certain risk factors that affect a person’s chance of getting cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as a person’s age or family history. Other factors can be controlled to minimize a person’s risk for getting cancer. There are six factors that have been linked to colorectal cancer.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet: A diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains has been linked to decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Add a variety of vegetables and fruit to your daily diet. Replace refined grain products made with white flour with whole grains like oats, spelt, and whole wheat.
2. Stay Active: Regular physical activity can significantly lower your risk of getting colorectal cancer. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. It all adds up, so it’s okay to start small by adding just a few minutes of movement at a time.
4. Don’t Smoke: Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. If you smoke and you want to quit, see the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking or visit Idaho’s ProjectFilter.org.
5. Limit Alcohol: Colon cancer has been linked to heavy drinking. It is recommended to limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. A single drink amounts to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor.
6. Get Screened: Screening tests detect cancer before symptoms develop. Colon screenings often find growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals over 50 years old get screened for colorectal cancer. Depending on family history and other risk factors, there are a variety of tests that screen for colorectal cancers. Talk with your doctor to learn more.
- Get a fitness tracker to track your steps and calories burned
- Get a spill-proof water bottle to carry around
- Decide: do you want to walk in place or around your house; either works
- Decide: which of your at-home activities should be automatic walking opportunities?
- Put an “are you walking?” note in areas where you typically just stand or sit…the recliner, the stove, the sink, the fridge
- Set a goal – try to rack up 500 steps each time you housewalk
- Examples of housewalking opportunities: on the phone, watching TV, cooking, brushing your teeth, listening to music, cleaning
- Get friends involved – start a challenge
- Make it FUN!
- A set of 3-pound weights or cans; use while on the phone, while seated on a stability ball, while watching TV
- A sturdy chair or stool
- A yoga mat and foam roller – watch your favorite show from the floor!
- A stability ball; there’s one at nearly every garage sale! Stability balls bring on laughter while strengthening muscles
- A set of elastic thera-bands; they come in different colors/strengths and they’re great for stretching while sitting or standing
- Don’t care for thera-bands? Choose exercise bands with handles on the ends
- If simple is what you want, forget all the equipment and plug in a walking DVD. In 15 minutes or less you can have a good little workout (these are great for the office as well!)
- Broom handles are good tools to use across your shoulders, draping your arms over the tops then slowly stretching your waist and sides
- Stationary bikes are perfect for TV watching. Be sure you get a good fit for your back and your posterior; it’s got to be comfortable for you. Many stationary bikes are more affordable than a year’s gym membership!
- Don’t forget your measuring tools: pedometer, tape measure, scale, BP monitor, tracking sheet
- Make a budget for entertainment, food, and gifts
- Schedule exercise; put it on your calendar
- Prepare at least one healthy meal every day
- Quit the “clean plate club”
- Eat slowly; savor your food
- Have a plan before you arrive at a buffet or office potluck
- Meet with friends around events, not food
- Let go of perfectionism!
- Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should; guard your time
- De-stress with three yoga tips
- Slow down, take a breath; be in the moment, not on your way to the next moment!
- Air popper and popcorn
- Basket of whole grains
- Tea pot, juicer, or smoothie maker
- Seeds for next spring’s garden
- Walking DVD
- Reflective clothing/flashing lights for after-hour walks
- New leash for the dog (get the connection?)
- Pedometer, hand warmers, hat, gloves, scarf
- Hand weights, yoga mat
- Subscription to a healthy magazine/website
- Health related book: herbs, gardening, clean eating, stretching
- Meditation CD, soothing sound machine
- Massage or aromatherapy candle
- Insulated water bottle (BPA free!)
- Natural lip balm