How Many Fruits and Veggies Do You Really Need?

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Many Americans still don’t get enough fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.

If money and time are concerns, your favorite drive-through donut and coffee place in the morning and the closest fast-food chain for dinner might seem to better fit your schedule and budget, even if you know these foods aren’t nutritious. You may feel it’s just too hard to get the suggested five or more servings of fruits and veggies every day, and maybe you’ve even given up trying. In either case, results of a large global study should encourage you to reboot your efforts to eat healthier.

The study examined eating patterns of people across 18 countries and how fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans, dried peas and lentils) affected mortality and heart health. Results confirmed that eating these healthy foods lowers the risk for heart disease, heart attacks and early death. They also showed you can get such benefits with just three or four daily servings. Now, this isn’t to say that you should cut back if you’re getting more, but people who are getting little to none can aim to meet this more modest goal.

The studies offered other surprising findings. One is that eating more fruits, seeds and beans can be as good for you as eating more vegetables — that’s good news for those who just can’t wrap their taste buds around broccoli and kale. And when you do have veggies, it’s better to eat most of them raw to get the most nutrients from them. The exceptions are foods rich in lycopene (like tomatoes) and beta carotene (like sweet potatoes and carrots), for which cooking seems to enhance the “bioavailability” of these nutrients, or the amount of which can be absorbed by the body and used.


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Weather Safety Tips

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Extreme heat happens when temperatures are much hotter and/or there is more humidity than normal. The following tips and links will help you and your loved ones stay safe during dangerous heat waves.

  • Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of water during the day – don’t wait until you are thirsty!
  • Outdoor workers should drink between two and four cups of water every hour while working.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
  • Limit your outdoor activity to mornings and evenings and rest often in the shade.
  • Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, a hat, sunglasses and an SPF15 or higher sunscreen.
  • Check on those who may be more at risk from high temperatures like:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People with chronic medical conditions
    • Never leave your children or pets in a vehicle.
  • Know the following symptoms of heat stroke, a life-threatening, heat-related illness:
    • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
    • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
    • Rapid, strong pulse
    • Throbbing headache
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness
  • If you think someone has a heat stroke:
    • Call for emergency medical attention
    • Get the victim to a shady area
    • Cool the person rapidly (put them in a tub of cool water, place them in a cool shower, spray them with a garden hose, sponge them with cool water, etc.)
    • Do not give the victim any fluids (like water) to drink
  • Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion:
    • Heavy sweating
    • Paleness (skin is a lighter color than normal)
    • Muscle cramps
    • Tiredness
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Fainting
  • Help the victim cool off and seek medical attention if:
    • Symptoms are severe
    • Symptoms last more than one hour
    • The victim has heart problems or high blood pressure

During extremely hot weather, “cooling stations” may be opened across Pennsylvania for individuals without air conditioning. To find out if there are cooling stations in your area, please contact the appropriate agency below.

Pennsylvania’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)
Allegheny County Health Department
412-578-8026
Allentown Bureau of Health
610-437-7760
Bethlehem Health Bureau
610-865-7087
Bucks County Department of Health
215-345-3318
Chester County Health Department
610-344-6225
Erie County Department of Health
814-451-6700
Montgomery County Health Department
610-278-5117
Philadelphia Department of Public Health
215-686-5000
Wilkes-Barre City Health Department
570-208-4268
York City Bureau of Health
717-849-2252/2299

To view a PDF version of this article, click here.

Source: PA Department of Health

Sun Protection

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Summer is coming! It’s that time of year when many people spend more time outdoors and that means more exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Skin Cancer Prevention Month helps raise awareness about the dangers of unprotected skin exposure and the importance of practicing sun protection to help prevent skin cancer. Without protection, the sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Skin damage, such as sunburns and tanning, can increase your risk of skin cancer. Damage to your skin from exposure to UV rays adds up over time, so starting sun protection at an early age is important. If you haven’t included sun protection in your daily routine, it’s not too late to start. As you prepare for the upcoming summer holidays, make sure sun protection is included so that you can enjoy outdoor activities safely. Learn more about protecting your skin this summer and beyond.

Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States. Skin cancer can be serious, expensive, and sometimes even deadly. Fortunately, most skin cancers can be prevented.

Stay Sun Safe Outdoors

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours. This includes 10 am to 4 pm, March through October, and 9 am to 3 pm, November through February. Umbrellas, trees, or other shelters can provide relief from the sun.
  • Be extra careful around surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays, like snow, sand, water, and concrete.
  • Wear sun protection gear like a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts and other eye problems. Wrap-around sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection by blocking UV rays from the side.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants or a long skirt for additional protection when possible. If that’s not practical, try wearing a T-shirt or a beach cover-up.
  • Apply a thick layer of broad spectrum sun-screen with an SPF of 15 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outside, even on cloudy or overcast days. Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

UV rays are strongest :

  • During midday
  • Near the equator
  • During summer months
  • At high altitudes

Remember that sunburns and skin damage can occur even on cloudy or overcast days. If you’re unsure about the sun’s intensity in your area, check the daily UV Index for your zip code on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Indoor Tanning and Sunbathing
Indoor tanning and sunbathing often begin in the teen years and continue into adulthood. Don’t wait to teach your children about the dangers of tanning. Children may be more receptive than teens, so start the conversation early, before they start sunbathing or indoor tanning.

For example, you can:

  • Help preteens and teens understand the dangers of tanning so they can make healthy choices.
  • Talk about avoiding tanning, especially before special events like homecoming, prom, or spring break.
  • Discourage tanning, even if it’s just before one event like prom. UV exposure adds up over time. Every time you tan, you increase your risk of getting skin cancer.
  • Exposes users to intense levels of UV rays, a known cause of cancer.
  • Does not offer protection against future sunburns. A “base tan” is actually a sign of skin damage.
  • Can spread germs that can cause serious skin infections.
  • Can lead to serious injury. Indoor tanning accidents and burns send more than 3,000 people to the emergency room each year.

The US Food and Drug Administration states that indoor tanning should not be used by anyone younger than age 18. Many states restrict the use of indoor tanning by minors.

There’s no such thing as a safe tan!

Choose Sun-Safety Strategies that Work

Broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is important, but it shouldn’t be your only defense against the sun. For the best protection, use shade, clothing, a hat with a wide brim, and sunglasses, as well as sunscreen.

For more information, visit CDC’s Sun Safety Website

To view a PDF version of this article, click here.

General Walking Tips

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If you have not walked distances for some time, you should start slowly. Increase the length and pace of your walk gradually. Here are some tips on how to get started and how to prepare for walking.

  • Warm-up activities – start slowly, do a few warm-up exercises and stretches first. Don’t walk immediately after a big meal.
  • Build activity slowly – start with a 20 minute walk then increase gradually. Try to walk at least three times per week.
  • Use the correct technique – walk at a steady pace, swing your arms freely and stand as straight as you can. Your feet should step in a rolling action from the heel to the toe.
  • Shoes and socks – wear thick comfortable cotton socks. Sensible, comfortable and lightweight shoes with support are best.
  • Weather – wear suitable warm, light clothing in the winter and cool, comfortable clothes in the summer. Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat!
  • Water – drink water before and after your walk. Take water with you on your walk, especially in warm weather.
  • Cool down – make sure you cool down after a long fast walk. Do a few stretching exercises.

Reaching your daily and weekly goals — a little at a time.

Here are four simple ways to help you to put in that distance — almost without feeling it — and also obtain the benefits of 10 minutes of consecutive walking:

  1. Park in the space farthest from the door in every parking lot – Whether you’re at the mall, the rec center, your workplace or the grocery store, always park as far away from your destination as possible.
  2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator – Walking up the stairs will help toward your goal for cardiovascular exercise, too.
  3. Use the bathroom farthest from your desk or station at work – If you work in a large building, this makes a big difference. You can even find bathrooms on other floors in a multi-floor office building — and don’t forget to take the stairs there and back.
  4. Walk during your lunch hour – Take 10 minutes from your allowed lunch time to go for a walk, if you are able.

By the end of the week, you want to achieve, at minimum, a total of 150 minutes of consecutive movement. But you don’t have to follow a structured schedule each day.

One day, you may get a 10-minute walk in during lunch and the next day a 45-minute walk in the morning before work. That’s 55 minutes toward your goal of 150 minutes. Some days, you may not get in those consecutive steps.

 

To view a PDF of this article, click here.

Summer Food Safety

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Summer promises sunshine, heat, and carefree gatherings with families and friends. It also coincides with an increase in food poisoning as warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to thrive. When shopping for groceries or eating outside, make sure to refrigerate perishable food within 1 hour if it’s 90°F or warmer. Read these CDC features for more tips on keeping food safe this summer, whether you’re grilling, planning a party, or attending a fair or festival.

If you’re preparing food in advance for a family reunion, a graduation party, or other event, divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in the refrigerator or freezer to cool it rapidly. Read more of CDC’s advice on safely cooking, preparing, and serving food for large groups.

When grilling, throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.

At fairs, festivals, carnivals, and rodeos, follow these tips to have a safe cooking, eating, and drinking experience. Before buying food, be sure the vendor has a license to sell food and that employees wear gloves and use tongs when serving food. Bring hand sanitizers or disposable wipes in case there aren’t any places to wash your hands.

Don’t eat raw oysters. They can contain harmful bacteria that can make you very sick, even if they look, smell, and taste like any other oyster. Learn how to protect your health and avoid vibriosis, a disease linked to eating raw oysters.

Each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food. CDC tracks foodborne illnesses and collaborates with state and local health departments and other federal agencies to investigate foodborne outbreaks. CDC’s work provides information to improve food safety.

 

Information obtained from the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/

For PDF of this document, click here.

Little Tick, Big Problem – Lyme Disease

With May designated as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, individuals who spend time outdoors should check themselves for ticks and be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-related ailments. Our state has led the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease for three straight years.

Last year, a $500,000 grant was provided to East Stroudsburg University (ESU) to allow all state residents to have ticks (found on them or a family member) tested for free by the university. Click here to access the Tick Lab website with all the details.

All but two of our 67 counties have submitted ticks so far and 42% of the ticks tested positive for a tick-borne disease, confirming the health risks in Pennsylvania. For tips about how to protect yourself from Lyme disease, click here https://buff.ly/2JhwODN

Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

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March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury. Everyone is at risk for a TBI, especially children and older adults. To learn more about brain injury awareness, visit the CDC website.

The Opioid Epidemic

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Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania will receive a $55.9 million State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Wolf administration was highly motivated to acquire and once awarded the grant was directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to administer the grant.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work Pennsylvania is doing to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic and this grant will help significantly as we continue that fight, allowing us to increase the types of initiatives we implement and expanding our reach for prevention, treatment, and recovery,” Gov. Wolf said.

Pennsylvania’s focus is attacking the epidemic of opioid use disorder, knowing that it needs to remove the stigma of the disease of addiction and increase the programs and build new ones to provide more treatment, more access to community supports, and more success stories to ultimately win this battle.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 20th, 2018.

Hurricane Florence’s Impact in Pennsylvania

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The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency supplemented staffing in the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center to monitor conditions as remnants of Hurricane Florence moved through the state and were ready to respond to resource requests from impacted counties.

We have had a historically wet year, with much of the rain coming in the last few weeks,” said Governor Wolf. “Some parts of the state were under a flash flood watch, ……….” According to the National Weather Service, periods of heavy rain could have roadway or flash flooding.
Motorists were advised to use www.511PA.com and clicking “Incidents.” 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 860 traffic cameras.

Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to follow ReadyPA on Twitter @ReadyPA and Facebook for the latest on the weather and how to prepare. PennDOT cautions motorists to never drive through flooded roadways, as it takes just two feet of fast-moving water to float a car. Anyone who drives around barriers intended to close a road can face increased penalties if emergency responders are called to rescue motorists who disregard traffic control signs.
With the consistent rain in PA, please use the information provided to make sure your future travels are risk free.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 17th, 2018.

Opportunities for People Using SNAP at Farmers Markets

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“A person’s diet plays a critical role in a person’s development and long-term health outcomes. Nutritious, healthy foods are less expensive than medicine, but can be as effective for preventing or managing some health conditions,” says Department of Human Services, Secretary Teresa Miller. Additionally, “Farmers markets make fresh, nutritious, locally sourced food more accessible in all communities, including traditionally under-served areas.”

SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helping more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians purchase food from their local grocery stores and farmers markets. Farmers markets give SNAP recipients the power to purchase nutritious, locally sourced food with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Access cards, and some farmers markets across the state are able to accept SNAP benefits at up to double their normal value through Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.
In turn, SNAP has a positive impact on state and local economies by supporting grocers and local farmers markets. Across Pennsylvania, more than 10,000 authorized retailers participate in SNAP. SNAP benefits are 100 percent federally funded.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from The PA Department of Human Services, an article posted on August 26, 2018.