Toothbrush and teeth- Dental Hygiene Month

How to Improve Your Dental Health

The foods you eat not only affect your overall health, but those foods also play a part in your oral health. Sugary snacks and beverages can lead to tooth decay, which according to the American Dental Association is the most common chronic childhood disease, but it is completely preventable. Tooth decay occurs when plaque comes into contact with sugar and causes a reaction which leads to acid attacking the teeth. Some common sources of sugar in the diet are found in soft drinks, candy, and desserts.

The American Dental Association also suggests reducing the number of snacks you eat during the day, and if you do have a snack pick something that is healthy such as a fruit, vegetable, whole grain products, yogurt or cheese. The food that you eat during a meal causes less harm than foods eaten for a snack because more saliva is released while eating a meal. The saliva helps wash the foods from the mouth and reduces the effects of the acids.

They also recommend brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and visit the dentist regularly. It’s important to remember that with good personal discipline for practicing good oral hygiene practices and choosing healthier food choices, you can prevent tooth decay from ever occurring.

Nutrition for strong and healthy teeth

Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus all play a vital role in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth and gums in both children and adults. Calcium plays a role in building strong bones and teeth, however, calcium needs phosphorus to maximize its bone strengthening benefits. Vitamin D regulates the body’s balance of calcium and phosphorus, and can promote absorption. Vitamin D can also help to decrease inflammation of gums which is associated with periodontal (gum) disease. A healthy diet is essential for healthy teeth. Below are foods that contain calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus.

Calcium – Dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt, Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and broccoli, spinach, white beans, sardines, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Vitamin D – Natural sunlight, vitamin D-fortified milk, eggs, some cereals, oily fish (tuna, sardines etc), mushrooms.

Phosphorus – protein-rich foods such as meats, poultry, fish, nuts, beans and dairy products and whole grains.

Fruits & Veggies Month - blueberries, lettuce, strawberries

September is Fruits & Vegetables Month!

Fruits and vegetables are important for a well-balanced and healthy diet. They contain key vitamins and minerals that your body needs to be able to function properly.

According to the CDC, only 1 out of 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables every day. That means that most people are missing out on the essential nutrients and fiber that these foods can provide. The CDC also stated that 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in United States are from chronic diseases and by consuming a diet that has higher amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing these diseases. Some of those diseases include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity.

Each color of a fruit or vegetable tells a lot about what that produce item contains. All fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients, but the color gives a hint of the key nutrients. Make sure to try and eat as many different colors as possible to ensure you are getting enough of all of the nutrients that your body needs. Below is a quick summary of what each color means for fruits and vegetables.

Rainbow Produce Benefits

Red – contains Vitamins A & C, manganese and antioxidants.
Aides in heart health.
Foods: tomatoes, red peppers, beets, red apples, red potatoes, grapefruit, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Orange – contains Vitamins C, A & B6, potassium, folate and antioxidants.
Aides in eye health.
Foods: carrots, orange peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oranges, peaches

Yellow – contains Vitamins C, A & B6, potassium, folate and antioxidants.
Aides the immune system health.
Foods: yellow peppers, squash, bananas, cantaloupe, pineapple

Green – Contains Vitamin K, B vitamins, folate, potassium and antioxidants. Aides in strong bones and teeth.
Foods: broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, green peppers, dark leafy greens, peas, green beans, zucchini, avocados, kiwi, green apples, pears

Blue & Purple – Contains B vitamins and antioxidants.
Aides in memory.
Foods: eggplant, red onions, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, blueberries, blackberries, plums

White – Contains Vitamins C & K, folate, potassium and antioxidants.
Aides in immune system health, and healthy eye, skin, bones.
Foods: cauliflower, garlic, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, rutabagas 

Wellness - exercise, nutrition, balance

It’s National Wellness Month!

Wellness is a term that can encompass things such as mediation, exercise, making time for friends and family, or just your general lifestyle. Whether you are just starting your wellness journey, or you are trying to refine some aspects, everyone can improve parts of their life to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. One important aspect of wellness is nutrition; the things you eat today will not only affect your overall life now but also help improve your quality of life in the future. Here are some key features of a healthy diet.

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: set a goal to include at least one fruit or vegetable into each meal and snack.
  • Remember to eat high fiber foods: high fiber foods are whole grains, many fruits and vegetables, beans and split peas.
  • Limit the number of sugary beverages and foods: exchange sodas, sweet tea and other high calorie drinks for water, unsweet tea, and low calories drinks.
  • Go for the whole grain options: whole grain options include cereals, pasta, bread, brown rice, oatmeal and popcorn.
  • Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Slow down while eating, the faster you eat the more calories you tend to consume.
  • Make sure you are consuming enough water.
  • Remember to exercise- start with small changes, like taking the stairs, park your car at the end of the parking lot, take a daily walk or do simple exercises during commercials while watching TV (try sit ups, jumping jacks or lunges).

A consistent, healthy diet rarely happens overnight so try to incorporate small changes at a time and continue to add them to achieve an overall healthier lifestyle. Wellness is about making yourself feel the absolute best and by improving your diet, you will begin to feel better.  It can help reduce chronic disease risk for your future.

Vitamin D in Fish and the sun

The 411 on Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body must get from other sources. It is naturally found in a few foods; some products may be fortified to contain vitamin D or there are also supplements. According to the National Institutes of Health, some foods that have vitamin D are:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel
  • Beef liver
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified yogurts
  • Egg yolks

The majority of our vitamin D actually comes from when our bodies convert the UV-B light from the sun into vitamin D. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is recommended that we get at least 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between the times of 10 am and 3 pm at least twice a week. Although we need sun exposure to make vitamin D, it is also important to be safe while outside and not be over exposed to the UV light because of the dangers it can do to your skin and health such as skin cancer.

Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and helps maintain the calcium and phosphate concentrations in our bodies. It is also necessary for bone growth and remodeling. Other roles that vitamin D plays in the body are: cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function as well as decreasing inflammation. If you do not consume enough vitamin D, it can lead to some very serious health concerns. A deficiency of vitamin D can cause brittle and thin bones which can increase the risk of fractures and in older adults it can lead to osteoporosis. In children with a deficiency in vitamin D, it can cause rickets which is a very serious condition where there are weak, soft bones, stunted growth and even skeletal deformities.

Vitamin D is a very important nutrient that we need to make sure we are consuming adequate amounts of to protect us from these dangerous conditions as well as help prevent the formation of these diseases in the future.

Fruits, vegetables and lots of water

Summer Nutrition

Summer not only brings warmer weather and fun outdoor activities; it is also a great time to take advantage of the in-season fruits and vegetables and local farmers markets. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of key vitamins and minerals that the body needs to properly function. According to the USDA, some in season produce you may want to try:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Bell peppers
  • Berries
  • Green beans
  • Mangos
  • Peaches
  • Summer squash
  • Watermelon

Another key thing to remember during summertime is the importance of hydration. Your body relies on water for so many functions and aspects that help you survive. For example, you need adequate water to maintain your body temperature, remove waste and to keep your joints lubricated. Staying hydrated does not just mean drinking water, there are so many ways to help you stay hydrated if you find drinking water to be difficult. You can get water from fruits, vegetables, milk and tea; there are just added calories when you consume these products that water does not contain. It is important to continually drink water throughout the day because we lose water every time we go to the bathroom, sweat and even when we breathe. If you are not continuing to replace that lost water you will become dehydrated. According to the familydoctor.org website, here are some tips to staying hydrated:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day
  • Add fruit such as berries or lemons to your water if you do not like the taste of water
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise
  • If you feel hungry, drink water because often times, we confuse hunger with thirst
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water create a schedule such as at the start of every hour or at certain times throughout the day. 
Summer Solstice Celebration Ideas

5 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Sponsored by Traditional Medicinals

As we welcome the Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year, we encourage you to let the ethereal warmth of these summer days fill your heart.

In many cultures, this day represents a time of celebration — to embrace the heat of the sun, the warm nights, the fragrance in the air, fresh, vibrant food, and our connection to nature. Plants have often played a role in honoring the change of seasons, but herbs have traditionally been prevalent in solstice events as many of our favorite herbs are at the peak of their growing season.

However you choose to honor it, it’s a special moment in time, and the perfect opportunity to surround yourself with the power, playfulness, and abundance of this season.

Host a solstice picnic
Invite friends to a beautiful sunny outdoor spot, and ask them to bring a dish that embodies summer. We like harvesting edible summer flowers to add to a fresh salad topped with our Spring Green Goddess Dressing. For a hot day, Ginger + Hibiscus Watermelon Pops or Cup of Sunshine Raspberry Sorbet are favorites for this time of year. Sip on herbal iced tea or chilled wine in the sunshine, and savor the heat of this joyous time of year.

Make plant mandalas
The word mandala means “circle.” A mandala represents wholeness, a diagram that reminds us of our relationship to something greater, extending beyond our bodies and minds. As plant lovers, we can’t think of a better way to appreciate and experience the beauty of nature than with a creative project made from the plants we love.

Collect herbs, branches, twigs, blossoms, grass, blooming flowers, crystals, and stones. Use what you can find around you, or take a trip to a local flower shop. Set them into a layout and pattern that makes sense to you. Sit in silence as you do this, and take the time to think about your intentions on these bright days, and which aspects you want to take with you into the coming year.

Spend time in nature with a meditation
Find a quiet spot, somewhere in nature; under a tree in a park, in your backyard, or near a running creek. Stretch out and salute the sun, then settle into quiet stillness to give thanks and gratitude. Slow down for 10-20 minutes and notice the sounds, scents, and views around you. Savor this particular moment in time as you breathe deeply and soak up this summer day.

Take a cold plunge or a cool bath
If you are new to the idea of hydrotherapy, a warm summer day is an ideal time to start this practice. Cold therapy is thought to encourage systemic rejuvenation and renewal and is a lovely tradition to invite into your wellness routine.

If you don’t have access to a cold creek, use your shower or tub at home, or introduce this practice following a daily shower. Allow yourself to experience a burst of cold water, standing in it for as long as you can, breathing deeply, allowing yourself to experience the sensations that arise. Once finished, give yourself a little time to rest, either by laying down for 5 minutes, or starting your day a little slower than usual.

Make Summer Solstice cordials
Preserve the sweetness of peak summer with your favorite fruit and herbs. Perfect for special occasions or as a delicious dessert!

The simple version of a cordial recipe is equal parts simple syrup, fruit and herbs, and a solvent, like brandy or vodka.

A favorite this time of year is Strawberry Lemon Balm Cordial:

Strawberry Lemon Balm Cordial
Preserve the sweetness of peak summer with your favorite fruit and herbs. Perfect for special occasions or as a delicious dessert!
Servings: Makes 1 quart. Serving size is 1 oz.

Ingredients:
About 1 quart of fresh strawberries
10 Traditional Medicinals Lemon Balm tea bags
1-2 cups simple syrup (a 2:1 ratio of honey & water)
1-2 cups alcohol preference; brandy or vodka is most popular.

Directions:
Make a simple syrup by simmering on the stovetop 2 cups of honey with 1 cup water.
Cut and chop the fruit, filling a mason jar ¾ of the way.
Cut open the tea bags and empty the dried tea into the jar.
Fill halfway with simple syrup, and then fill the rest of the jar with alcohol.
Let the cordial sit on your counter, occasionally shaking for about 4 weeks.
Once done, strain and preserve the liquid in an airtight bottle.
This will keep for a year in the refrigerator. Enjoy as is, over ice, or save for the dark days of winter when you need to bring out a little summertime energy.

For more inspiration surrounding the solstice, read our article on Herbs and the Summer Solstice.

Libby's Spring Nutrition Food Tips

Add Some Spring to Your Nutrition!

Sponsored by Libby’s®

People are always asking questions about the latest nutrition trends and if they should try them. Nutrition is individualized and what might work for your friend or colleague might not always be best for you. If you are curious and want to try something new, we recommend consulting with a Registered Dietitian before starting any nutrition program. This will make sure you are better informed with all the science-based evidence and facts before you make any drastic changes. If the research supports the trend and your RD give the thumb up, then it is okay to give it a try and see if it works for you.

With the start of a new season, everyone can always use a refresher of everyday nutrition tips. Take advantage of the spring time as with a spring cleaning of your eating habits to start anew, and add some “spring” to you diet! Below are several RD tips that are easy to follow and incorporate in your everyday lifestyle.

Go for water! Swap out a sugary beverage for water and stay hydrated, especially as the weather warms up. Drinking water has many benefits such as keeping your joints lubricated and promoting healthy skin.

Pack a snack. Plan ahead and always have a snack on hand that you know enjoy, is easily portable, and provides nutrition. This way you are not tempted to reach for less nutritious options. One great option: Libby’s® Vegetable Cups!

Add yogurt to your diet. Try Greek yogurt for added protein and live probiotics to help aid digestion. It can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or even as a cooking substitution for sour cream or cream cheese.

Go meatless once a week. Going meatless is a great way to practice sustainability. There are lots of delicious and satisfying vegetable-based dishes you can help amp up your nutrient intake. Libby’s® Canned Fruits and Vegetables are a great option because they help take care of some the prep work.

Try something new! Try taking a traditional dish and prepare it with a twist, maybe with a new vegetable or fruit. The concept of new beginnings is always on trend!

Libby’s® Fruits and Vegetables can help you easily spring clean your diet! Check out the recipes below that incorporate some of the tips above.

Warm Baby Green Salad with Peas, Pistachios and Pecorino – Try something new!

http://www.getbacktothetable.com/recipes/warm-baby-green-salad-peas-pistachios-and-pecorino

Carrot and Beet Salad – Go meatless once a week!

http://www.getbacktothetable.com/index.php/recipes/carrot-and-beet-salad

Grilled Apricot Halves with Yogurt, Honey & Pistachio – Add yogurt to your diet!

http://www.getbacktothetable.com/recipes/grilled-apricot-halves-yogurt-honey-pistachio

For more recipe ideas and inspiration, check out Libby’s® Recipe Box and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Men's Healthy Month

June is Men’s Health Month

Eating a healthy diet gives your body the energy and nutrients to fight disease and keep you feeling younger. Men, like all people, should have a diet focused on:

  1. Fruits and vegetables: at least 2 cups a day
  2. Whole grains: make half of your grain choices whole grain choices such as oatmeal, brown rice or whole grain bread, cereal and pasta
  3. Fiber: at least 38 grams of fiber per day for younger men; 30 grams of fiber per day for men older than 50.  Whole grains, barley, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, help manage hunger and fullness and help fend off certain cancers, such as prostate and colon.
  4. Fats: focus on unsaturated fats such as heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, avocados and oil-based salad dressings in place of saturated fats such as full-fat dairy foods, high fat meat, fried foods, butter and high-fat sweets.
  5. Protein: lean meats, seafood,  and plant sources, like beans, peas and soy products

Energy Needs:

Since men have more muscle and typically are bigger than women, they require more calories throughout the day. Moderately active males likely need 2,200 to 2,800 calories per day. Your energy needs depend on your height, weight and activity level.  

Visit www.choosemyplate.gov for customized energy needs and meal planning.

Health Risks:

Many of the typical health risks for men are related to behaviors that are more prevalent in men, such as smoking and drinking, unhealthy or risky choices, and putting off regular doctor visits or medical care. There are also health conditions that only affect men, such as prostate cancer and low testosterone. Many of the major health risks that men face – like colon cancer or heart disease – can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis. Screening tests can find diseases early, when they are easier to treat. It’s important to get the screening tests you need.

According the CDC, the top 10 causes of death for men in 2017, were:

  1. Heart Disease (24.2%)
  2. Cancer (21.9%)
  3. Unintentional Injuries (7.6%)
  4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (5.2%)
  5. Stroke (4.3%)
  6. Diabetes (3.2%)
  7. Alzheimer’s Disease (2.6%)
  8. Suicide (2.6%)
  9. Influenza and Pneumonia (1.8%)
  10. Chronic Liver Disease (1.8%)
FMI's Recipe for Safely Preparing Food at Home

A Recipe for Safely Preparing Food at Home during COVID-19

“What’s for dinner?” isn’t the only question we’re asking ourselves or family members these days. It’s “What’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack in between?” Plus, it’s how to purchase and prepare these meals safely.

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps more of us at home, purchasing and preparing food is on our minds now more than ever. Our friends at FMI have a simple 4-step recipe, sprinkled with tons of resources, to ensure you can safely protect yourself, friends and families while prepping food.

Women's Health Month

May is Women’s Health Month

In May, we are focusing on Women’s Health.  There are several diseases that are more common among women and because of this, women should be aware of their increased risk. Take the preventative measures and make the lifestyle changes now before it is too late. Scroll down to learn more.

Heart Disease:

            Women are often surprised to learn that they are at an increased risk for heart disease. About 27% of female deaths are because of heart disease; it actually kills more women a year than cancer. The best ways to prevent heart disease are healthy lifestyle changes such as:

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Consume a heart-healthy
  3. Be physically active.
  4. To learn more, click here!

Cancer:

            The two most common cancers among women are lung and breast cancers.  Cancer is the second leading cause of death with 22% of all female deaths. Major lifestyle changes can help prevent cancers, such as diet changes and incorporating more exercise. Some healthy diet tips include:

  1. Keep a healthy weight
  2. Limit high calorie, low nutrient foods
  3. Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes
  4. Focus on plant proteins
  5. Limit alcohol

Stroke:

            The leading cause of long-term disability for women is stroke. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol, and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet can also lower your blood pressure. It is important to learn the signs and call 911 immediately if someone is experiencing:

  • Numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden difficulty seeing
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Abrupt, severe headache

Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, and can break easily. It is most commonly found in the wrist, hip and spine. All women should be tested and take precautionary measures, but the group that is at the highest risks are white and Asian women that are past menopause. There are several ways to prevent or slow the onset of osteoporosis such as medications, a healthy diet and performing weight bearing exercise. The food that you eat can affect your bones. Learning about the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your bone health and overall health. 

Calcium containing foods include: Collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens, broccoli, dairy products, canned sardines and salmon (with bones).

Vitamin D containing foods: Fatty fish varieties such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines.

Look for fortified foods; calcium and vitamin D are sometimes added to certain brands of juices, breakfast foods, soy milk, rice milk, cereals, snacks and breads.