Vitamins play important roles in bodily functions such as metabolism, immunity and digestion. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K and B vitamins such as riboflavin and folate.
For the average consumer, vitamins are generally found on the shelves in the health section of your local grocery store or pharmacy. While those pill form vitamins are a nice supplement to a healthy diet, the human body is much better at digesting vitamins from their natural source, food. Essential vitamins can be found in the food that we put in our bodies every day.
Vitamin B1- This vitamin helps your body turn carbohydrates into energy and improves nervous system health. Vitamin B1 is best found in black beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, and tuna.
Vitamin B2- This vitamin helps with your complexion, and helps your body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Vitamin B2 is best found in lean meats, milk, green vegetables, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B3- This vitamin helps maintain a healthy nervous system and helps improve digestion. Vitamin B3 is best found in proteins like tuna, turkey breast, halibut, and chicken breast.
Vitamin C- This vitamin boosts your immune system, reduces wrinkles, and protects your body from scurvy. Vitamin C is best found in fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, mango, kiwi, broccoli, and peppers are wonderful sources of Vitamin C.
Potassium- Potassium keeps your heart beating, reduces the risk of many diseases, and helps your muscles function properly. Potassium is found in baked potatoes with skin, spinach, and bananas.
Vitamin D- This vitamin promotes bone health and makes your body better at using calcium. Vitamin D is found in fortified milk, eggs, and salmon. The sun is also a great source of Vitamin D. The sun is the most cost effective vitamin on the market.
Consuming nutritious and vitamin rich food is an easy way to improve your health. Plus it tastes much better than a multi-vitamin pill.
A full list of vitamins and their nutritional values can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chocolate will be the topic of this week’s article. That’s right, your food, nutrition, and health educator is going to talk about the nutritional benefits of CHOCOLATE! Not all chocolates are created equal (nutritionally that is). Milk chocolate, white chocolate, sweet chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolates all have some nutritional benefits, but dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.
Dark chocolate is made from the seeds of the cocoa tree. High quality dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants and minerals. Iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and potassium are vital nutrients that make dark chocolate a healthy snacking option.
Dark chocolate can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure. Also, observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.
When purchasing dark chocolate, there are a few things that you should look for to ensure you are purchasing a nutritious version of this sweet treat.
With the holiday season in the rear view mirror, our sights are set forward on exercising and getting our dietary habits back on track. Even with a great plan in place, your healthy living plan can be de-railed by happy hour Friday, a party Saturday, brunch Sunday, movies, and dinners out. While one of these “off days” from your regularly scheduled diet can make you feel terrible, proper hydration and nutrition the following day can put you back in the driver seat.
Additional fats can leave you feeling bloated. Your body is not used to the additional fats, and may take a day or so for your digestive track to speed up and produce enough enzymes to process the added fats. Time is going to be your worst enemy as you will feel bloated for an extended period of time, but time is also what will help get your body back on track.
Excess salt in the blood will leave you dehydrated. High levels of sodium in the blood will increase your chances of heart burn or acid reflux issues. Flushing out your body with extra water will excrete the extra sodium and dilute the increased levels of stomach acids.
Alcohols also play a role in dehydrating the body. Dehydration is caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Eating high-fiber foods, like vegetables, will help absorb the water and get your digestive organs working at their full capacity.
Sugars are quickly absorbed into your digestive tract. This may be why you feel tired after over-indulging on sweets. Increased sugar consumption increases your blood glucose levels, causing your pancreas to pump out insulin. Your body then produces too much insulin, and causes your body to go from “sugar rush” to “sugar crash”. Including a slower-reacting carbohydrate into your diet the following day, like whole-grain pasta or whole grain bread, will balance out your blood glucose levels.
It is inevitable that we all will fall victim to a delicious and not nutritious weekend meal(s). We can however, take steps to make sure that we are not leaving our new exercise and nutrition plans in the rear-view mirror along with our old bad habits.
Welcome to 2017
Welcome to week two of 2017. This is the week that your new year’s resolutions are put to the test. The first week is filled with excitement and the vision of a healthier future. Week two is filled with sore muscles and a fatigued mental state.
A great way to ensure that you stick to your fitness plans is to have clearly defined goals. I like to use the acronym SMART when it comes to setting my nutrition and fitness goals.
S- Specific- What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the better the chance you'll get exactly that.
M- Measureable- Measurable goals, means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear, and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. Counting your steps, calories consumed, hours active, flights of stairs walked, and time spent in target heart rate zone.
A- Attainable- Is your goal attainable? That means investigating whether the goal really is attainable for you. You have to take into consideration all of the internal and external factors that can keep you from hitting your goals. Setting a goal to lose 50 pounds in a month is not attainable. Spreading out those 50 pounds over the course of a couple years is a more attainable goal.
R- Research-based- In order to set appropriate goals, you need to do your homework. What is the best kind of nutrition or fitness plan for your body type or specific goals that you are trying to meet? You do not need to re-create the wheel when it comes to developing a nutrition or fitness goal. There are thousands of nutrition and fitness resources out there to help you set your goals. Research based or data driven resources will provide the best information for you. Check out food.unl.edu for our collection of research based and data driven nutrition and fitness information.
T- Time-bound- When do you plan on reaching your goals? Setting time based goals, whether they are short-term or long-term, can help develop as sense of urgency and keep you on task.
Design your SMART goals and get to work! Need help creating or keeping with your SMART goals? E-mail me with questions or comments at email@example.com.
Usually my weekly column provides insight on how to live a healthier life through proper nutrition and exercise.
My article this week will focus on a different kind of well-being. My well-being.
In July of 2016, I took the job in Neligh, Nebraska working as an Extension Educator for the University of Nebraska. This position would give me the opportunity to increase the nutritional and physical literacy of children and adults in Northeast Nebraska. Throughout my professional career, I had searched for ways to have a positive nutritional impact on a community. This position as a Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Educator would provide me with that impactful opportunity. With this opportunity of a lifetime, came sacrifice.
In taking this position, I would have to move away from my home and family in Orlando, Florida. While my wife finishes up business matters in Orlando, I would be moving across the country as a party of one. Transitioning from a region of 2,000,000+ people in the Orlando area, to only a few thousand people in Northeast Nebraska could have been a daunting task. There are a few organizations and people that I would like to thank for helping me feel welcome into my home.
I would like to thank my co-workers in the Antelope County Extension office and at the University of Nebraska. You welcomed me into your offices and programs with open arms. I am looking forward to an amazing 2017.
Thank you goes out to the Neligh Economic Development Office. You showed me how businesses working together can strengthen the foundation of the community. Your tour of the town really sealed the deal!
A huge thanks goes out to the local newspapers in my community for publishing my articles every week. You have provided me with a forum to provide healthy living tips for the members of our community. Thank you for keeping our communities informed.
My final thank you goes out to my best friend, my wife. Being apart for months on end has only strengthened our relationship. I look forward to the time that I will be able to spend with her and our dogs over the next few weeks. It will probably take all of those two weeks to convince her to leave 85 degree weather and join me here where anything above 20 degrees is considered a heat wave.
I will see you in 2017!
Energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, 5 Hour energy, soda, or coffee, tea, etc.) seem to be the first thing people grab for when they need a boost of energy.
That boost of energy usually comes in the form of caffeine. Caffeine works by blocking the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical involved in sleep. By blocking the adenosine, the neurons in your brain fire. This produces “emergency” signals in your brain that releases adrenaline. This hormone causes your heart to beat faster and induces your liver to release extra sugar into the bloodstream.
The end product of all of these biological processes is a short boost in energy.
The increase in energy usually lasts thirty minutes or less and is followed by more than an hour of listlessness and drowsiness.
The daily recommended allowance for caffeine is 400 milligrams. That is equivalent to about four cups of coffee, ten cans of soda, or two carbonated energy drinks.
Heavy caffeine use over 400 milligrams can result in insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, increased heart-beat, and muscle tremors (MAYO clinic). Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that is very addictive. Eliminating caffeine from a caffeine dependent body can result in headaches, muscle pain, or fatigue.
A healthier alternative to that morning cup of coffee (or four cups of coffee) is to start off you day with a little cardiovascular exercise. Adding twenty minutes of exercise three times a week can boost your energy levels. Increasing the amount of whole grains in your diet can also give your body sustainable, healthy energy to get you through your day.
Start small by engaging in a morning workout instead of that morning cup of coffee once per week.
Even your trusty health and nutrition educator would have a hard time giving up coffee three days a week to start.
With one more flip of the calendar page we will arrive in 2017.
There were successes, failures, and challenges for all of us over the past twelve months. For many of us, 2017 can’t get here fast enough! We often view the New Year as a time to “re-boot” and start the year fresh with new business, family, and personal goals.
New Year’s goals and resolutions fill all of us with hope that this next calendar year can be the best year that we have ever had. While it may be easy for us to set new goals and resolutions, keeping those same goals and resolutions throughout the year (even the first month) is very difficult.
Here are a few tips to stay on track with your New Year’s resolutions and goals.
Tip #1: Have a plan. Before you can set goals and resolutions, a period of reflection is required. It is hard to visualize where you are going, without first looking at where you have been. What worked for you last year? What did not work last year? In order for your goal or resolution to be met, you have to put a plan in place. A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Tip #2: Focus on the journey, not the destination. Try to focus on improving yourself every day. Instead of setting a weight loss goal to achieve by the end of the year, set a daily activity goal. Hitting a daily goal motivates you to keep going the next day. A scale should be used in your fitness routine only one time. Follow these instructions to use your scale properly; Bend down to pick up the scale. Use your knees, not your back. Grab the scale, lift it high in the air, and throw it in the garbage. Let your body tell you how you are doing, not a useless device.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is in the name itself. Why do we need to wait for the beginning of the New Year to start improving our lives? Why do we need to start and stop goals only once per year?
Start today by making a plan. If that plan changes, which it will, make a new plan. I make a New Year’s resolution every day; be better than I was yesterday. I plan on keeping that resolution.
Holidays are a wonderful time of the year to spend with family and friends.
One of the best parts about meeting with friends and family, is the sharing of delicious food. If your family is anything like mine, one Thanksgiving dinner turns in a two or three day eating binge, trying to get rid of all of those leftovers. The combination of additional holiday calories and fewer exercise opportunities can lead to over indulgence and increased inactivity time. If this happened you, do not worry, you are not alone! Here are a few tips to get you back on track.
Tip 1: Do not rush back into your fitness program. It will take time for you to get back into your routines. One day of hard exercise will not make up for days of holiday overeating. It may seem like it takes your body additional time to get warmed up, or you may find it difficult to finish a workout. This is normal after a break in your routine. Rushing back in to an exercise program after taking a break can result in injury.
Tip 2: Stretching, especially after a period of inactivity is crucial to avoiding injury when resuming an exercise program. Spend an extra 15 minutes getting an entire body stretch before attempting to exercise. When you postpone exercising for even a couple days, your muscles tighten up and you are more susceptible to injury. Stretching improves blood flow and releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that are released from your pituitary gland, that relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria.
Tip 3: Make sure you are fueling your body with healthy food. Proper nutrients are necessary to getting back into your nutritional and fitness routines. Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetable, whole grains, and low fat proteins. Proper hydration is also important. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together, I am sure we will be having this same conversation in less than a month, and that is okay. The time spent with family and friends makes it all worth it.
Tips On Staying Active During Winter
Dropping temperatures and diminishing daylight means fewer opportunities for outdoor fitness activities.
Even with the days getting shorter and colder, walking can keep you moving all winter long. Here are a few tips that can keep you moving and prevent “hibernation” this winter.
As you can imagine, walking is the most common fitness activity worldwide.
Walking outdoors during the winter months presents a few challenges. Low temperatures, for example, is the primary factor in preventing motivation for outdoor activities during the winter.
“Its cold outside, therefor I am not going to go out and suffer”, is a common phrase when people are approached about walking outdoors during the winter months. Proper cold weather attire can solve this problem and make walking outdoors in the winter comfortable. Layering is the most important issue when addressing winter outdoor exercise.
It may seem like common sense, but doing this properly can make for a comfortable outdoor workout. Dress in layers that you can be removed as soon as you start to perspire and then reapply as needed.
First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material, like an under armor or other active wear material, which draws sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Next, add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer.
An important side note about clothing should be addressed.
Make sure that if are walking or exercising outdoors, especially in the country, you are wearing clothes that will make you stand out.
Bright orange clothing is highly recommended to avoid any confusion from hunters. It was pointed out by no less than 15 people this weekend that I need to be careful when I am taking my winter walks. As a former city guy from Florida, wearing hunters orange was not something that crossed my mind.
I appreciate the kind words to keep me safe. Hopefully my words this week will keep you active and safe while we exercise this winter.
Physical Activity In The Classroom
Over the past two weeks I have discussed the changes that the State of Nebraska is implementing in terms of state standards for Physical Education. These changes outline a switch from a sports based curriculum model, to a fitness based curriculum model. The implementation of new state Physical Education standards is important, but additional steps must be taken to have an impact on childhood obesity. With curricular demands preventing additional Physical Education time, we need to create different ways to get our children active during the school day. It may be suggested that our kids get enough activity time each day with regularly scheduled recess breaks. While this is partially true, recess breaks have not made a significant decrease on childhood obesity.
It is recommended that children are physically active for 60 minutes per day, approximately half of that time should occur when children are in school. Studies suggest that physical exercise yields both short-term and long term achievements in the classroom. For example, one study found that kids who exercised 10-20 minutes prior to a math test outperformed kids in the sedentary control group.
Physical activity breaks during regular classroom time can be a solution to this problem. Implementing 5 minute physical activity breaks at the end of each core (math, social studies, science, english) educational lesson can increase our children’s cardiovascular health, increase the quality of their learning, and decrease the amount of disciplinary actions for students. Ideally the activity break content would tie together with the content of the lesson being taught, and would not take away from any instructional time. A math lesson, for example, becomes much more enjoyable for children if they are given the option to move and learn at the same time. If we can incorporate physical activity into the regular school day via the core subject activity breaks, we are helping our children with almost half of their daily recommended physical activity time.
Modification of classroom lessons to incorporate structured movement learning opportunities, puts our student’s one step closer to decreasing childhood obesity.
Extension Educator- Food, Nutrition, and Health
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