20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits & Vegetables

Building a healthy plate is easy when you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great way to add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. All this is packed in fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and fat. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal.

Try the following tips to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
  • Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
  • Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat salad dressing for dipping.
  • Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
  • Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.*
  • Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
  • Place colorful fruit where everyone can easily grab something for a snack-on-the-run. Keep a bowl of fresh, just ripe whole fruit in the center of your kitchen or dining table.
  • Get saucy with fruit. Puree apples, berries, peaches or pears in a blender for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast or waffles.
  • Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
  • “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and tomato as fillings.

  • Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
  • Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese.
  • Microwave a cup of vegetable soup as a snack or with a sandwich for lunch.
  • Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
  • Make fruit your dessert: Slice a banana lengthwise and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.
  • Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish.
  • Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with low-fat dressing.*
  • Fruit on the grill: Make kabobs with pineapple, peaches and banana. Grill on low heat until fruit is hot and slightly golden.
  • Dip: Whole wheat pita wedges in hummus, baked tortilla chips in salsa, strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt, or graham crackers in applesauce.

Authored by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff registered dietitian nutritionists.

Change happens one step at a time!

If you are able, take the stairs.

Did you know that getting more physical activity and limiting the amount of time that you spend sitting can reduce health risks? Scientific evidence shows it is everyday activities like walking and stair climbing that are most closely associated with improved health. Below are benefits seen by adding the use of stairs to your day.

No special equipment is needed.

Stair climbing can be accumulated across the course of the day, making a significant contribution to the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
There is a significantly lower risk of mortality when climbing more than 55 flights per week.
Stair climbing requires about 8 – 11kcal of energy per minute, which is high compared to other moderate level physical activities.

Active stair climbers are more fit and have a higher aerobic capacity.

Even two flights of stairs climbed per day can lead to 6 lbs of weight loss over one year.

There is a strong association between stair climbing and bone density in post-menopausal women.

Climbing stairs can improve the amount of “good cholesterol” in the blood.

Stair climbing can help you build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

Finally, stairs are eco-friendly. When in motion, an elevator can use as much as 250 60 watt bulbs. So, if you can, burn calories, not electricity.
We know that fitting physical activity into a busy lifestyle isn’t always easy. Taking the stairs is just one way to add some physical activity into your work day while delivering healthy benefits.

(1) https://hr.duke.edu/wellness/exercise-fitness/take-stairs/benefits-taking-stairs
(2) Categories in the spotlight

5 Simple Ways To Help Keep Your Spine Healthy

The tips covered here along with additional links provide simple ways to help support your spine and overall back health.

  • Let your spine really rest while sleeping. While you’re lying down, all the structures in your spine that have worked hard all day finally have an opportunity to relax and be rejuvenated in a supported and comfortable way. Your choice of mattress and pillow is largely based on personal preference, your preferred sleep positions, and your specific back or neck problem. Visit: www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/choosing-best-mattress-lower-back-pain
  • Exercise your core to strengthen abs and back muscles. Your core muscles (lower back and abdominal muscles) need to be strong and supple to support your spine and take pressure off your lower back. Unfortunately, for most of us our core muscles are rarely used during everyday activities; they need to be toned through specific, targeted exercises. These exercises are simple and can be performed as part of a daily routine. Visit: www.spine-health.com/treatment/physical-therapy/core-body-strength-exercises
  • Your shoes need to support your spine. Whether you’re walking for exercise or just to get where you’re going, the shoes you wear play an important role in supporting your lower back. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. Also, consider using shoe orthotics or inserts if you need further balance or support. Visit: www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/guidelines-buying-walking-shoes
  • Enjoy a massage. Did you know that massage has a number of therapeutic benefits in addition to stress relief? A good massage will help increase endorphins—the body’s natural painkiller—in your bloodstream, which in turn may allow you cut back on pain medication. Massage can also encourage blood flow, which brings healing nutrients to the affected area and can speed healing.
  • The discs in your lower spine are loaded 3 times more while sitting than standing, so long periods of sitting can create or aggravate a back condition. Moreover, when sitting at a desk and/or looking at a computer screen, our natural tendency is to slouch and lean forward, stressing our lumbar discs even more. Get up to stretch and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes, try working at a standup desk for part of the day, or get up and pace around when talking on the phone. The spine is meant to move to stay healthy, and movement fuels the spine with healthy nutrients.

Reprinted: www.spine-health.com/blog/five-ways-keep-your-spine-healthy-and-happy

High blood pressure: What it is, and what you can do about it

High blood pressure — also called hypertension — is a serious condition that can cause some serious risks to your overall health. In fact, high blood pressure is ominously called “the silent killer” because one in six people don’t even realize they have it. This is because it often has no obvious symptoms.

High blood pressure usually develops over time. Having high blood pressure puts you at greater risk for:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Vision loss

Are you at risk?

It’s important to be aware of the risk factors of developing high blood pressure. Some of these include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Being overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not exercising

While there is no cure for high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to manage it and possibly improve it:

  • Eat a healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, fish and poultry, nuts).
  • Be physically active.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcoholic beverages.
  • Lower your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Take any medications your doctor prescribes for you (taking the steps listed above may make these medicines more effective).

Get healthy, stay healthy.

It’s important to keep track of your blood pressure. Have regular checkups with your doctor. If you monitor your blood pressure at home, write down your readings and share them with your doctor.

Take care of yourself. Manage your blood pressure for a healthier you.

The Benefits of Water and the 100 Ounce Challenge

What if there was a magic pill that could make your skin look clearer, ease your aching joints and muscle cramps, and help you lose weight? That’s enough to entice you, right? But it gets even better. What if the pill was free? Here’s the thing…this “magic pill” does exist, only it’s not actually a pill. It’s a liquid, it’s abundant, and it’s practically free. We’re talking about water and the benefits it provides is utterly amazing. Read some of the benefits of water below:


Aids in weight loss: Want to shed a few pound the easy way? Drink a glass of water before each meal. The H2O helps to fill you up so you don’t consume as many calories. You’re also not consuming the empty calories you would if you were drinking a soda instead.

Increases productivity & decreases fatigue Feeling the afternoon slump coming on? Grab a glass of water to give you the boost you need. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is feeling fatigued. Water can help with concentration and staying alert, too.

No more pain: Keeping your body hydrated can keep your joints and cartilage lubricated and give your muscles more elasticity which will relieve aching joints, muscle cramps, and strains. Water is also a natural headache remedy and it can even help people who suffer from back pain and migraines because these issues are commonly caused by dehydration.

Aids in digestion: Not feeling regular? Ample amounts of water help your colon, which in turn, keeps things moving smoothly.

The Benefits of Water and the 100 Ounce Challenge

We challenge you to drink 100 ounces of water each day for the next 30 days and see if you feel any different at the end of the month. It’s really not that difficult, we promise. Grab a refillable water container and keep it at your desk, drink it with your meals, have a glass first thing when you get up in the morning and before you know it you’ll have reached your 100 ounce goal. We encourage you to take a photo of yourself at the beginning of the month and then again at the end. Does your skin look different? Have the dark circles under your eyes gotten any lighter? Do you look healthier overall?

We want to hear about (and see) your results, so be sure to let us know how you did. Your body is going to thank you for accepting this challenge.
Reprinted from Northern Physical Therapy. Read the full article here: www.northernpts.com/2015/04/the-benefits-of-water-and-the-100-ounce-challenge/

Eat This, Not That This Holiday Season

As you head out to your annual holiday parties, don’t be worried about how you’ll avoid the tables laden with sugary sweets, processed carbs and drinks galore. We’ve got a practical list of eat this … not that, for the holiday season. Some things may surprise you!

Pickle meat roll up vs cocktail weiners.
This won’t be too much of a hardship, because pickle meat roll ups are delicious! Plus, they are a perfectly balanced snack wrapped up in one. You’ve got your protein in the form of deli meat, fat in the form of the cream cheese and carb in the form of a pickle. This perfect combo will allow you to snack throughout the party and know you’re doing your blood sugar (and subsequently your mood, waistline and control over cravings) a huge favor. On the flipside, the all too common cocktail wieners are loaded with processed meat and then doused in sugary sauce, which will only serve to produce cravings for more sugar, more carbs and more processed food.

Full-fat eggnog vs. sugar-free and/or fat-free.
Classic, full-fat nog is a healthier choice because it contains good fat from cream that helps to stabilize blood sugar and gives the body a sense of fullness. The fat-free, sugar-free eggnog is full of chemicals and additives designed to taste like real nog without the calories. Low-fat nog sacrifices nutrition for calories making you believe it is a healthier version.
Olives and nuts vs. chips and dip. Did you know that just as if you grabbed a handful of cookies, a handful of chips also turns into sugar in your body? Believe it or not, just four chips turn into a teaspoon of sugar in your body. A teaspoon! Not to mention, who has just four chips once they start mindlessly snacking, as so often happens. On top of the sugar, chips are fried in bad fats that cause our brains to not work well and result in inflammation throughout the body that make a holiday party better.

A better alternative is a diverse mix of olives and a homemade batch of our Crispy Nuts. They are guaranteed to be a crowd favorite and you can deck out the nuts in whatever sweet or savory spices you think sounds good. Plus you’ll know you have a healthy fat to choose from, as both olives and nuts are a great source of fat, which helps keeps you satisfied and less likely to keep mindlessly eating.

Butter vs. margarine. While indulging in baking should be done in moderation (one or two of Grandma’s famous cookies would be fine, but not a couple cookies at every party you attend!) or not at all, we’d highly recommend choosing a baked good made with real butter versus processed margarine.
Real butter is a rich source of vitamin A and trace minerals, such as selenium and conjugated linoleic acid, which support immune function we all need during the holidays. Many times, margarine contains trans fats in the form of hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils that lower our immune function and create inflammation in our bodies. Plus, can we all agree butter just tastes better?!

Dark chocolate vs. holiday cookies. We suggest dark chocolate with 70-85 % cocoa. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium. This holiday favorite is also loaded with antioxidants that help with anti-aging. Finally, dark chocolate has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause large spikes in blood sugar levels that contribute to weight gain and overeating at the party … which cookies absolutely do. Additionally, holiday cookies are absolutely loaded with sugar, harmful fats and chemical food dyes.

Be empowered to make better choices this holiday and trust us, that as soon as you do, each healthy choice becomes easier and easier. Plus, when you bring a healthy food option you’ll know there is something healthy to choose from. And, though they might not be chatting about it, you are definitely not the only one trying to getting through the holidays without extra pounds and a sugar hangover!

By Jackie Cartier for Nutritional Weight and Wellness. https://www.weightandwellness.com/resources/articles-and-videos/eat-not-holiday-season/

CRISPY NUTS

Adapted from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D.

Makes 4 cups

4 cups of any of the following types of nuts:
Walnut halves and pieces, preferably fresh shelled
Raw peanuts, preferably skinless
Pine nuts
Almonds, preferably skinless but almonds with skins will work
Raw macadamia nuts
2 tsp. salt
Filtered water

Directions:
Mix nuts with salt and water and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight.
Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Spread on a stainless steel baking pan and place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally, until completely dry and crisp.

Store in the refrigerator, as the fats in nuts can go rancid quickly.

12 Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
  3. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.
  4. Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
  5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
  7. Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history. Get insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace if you are not insured.
  8. Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
  9. Monitor children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of children’s reach. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents.
  10. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  11. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
  12. Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
  13. Reprinted from the Center for Disease Control – Healthy Living

Healthy Saint Paul 2018!

We’re excited to bring you the 2018 Healthy Saint Paul Well-being Program now offered through Medica

By choosing from a variety of Health Activities, you can earn points towards the Healthy Saint Paul Well-being Program incentive AND My Health Rewards by Medica gift cards!

Well-being Program Highlights

How to earn points

Select from the following Health Activities to earn points.

HEALTH ACTIVITIES
POINTS
TIME TO COMPLETE
COMPASS™ Online health assessment 100 15-20 minutes
Biometric Screening(deadline 2/28/18) 100 15-20 minutes
Phone health coaching 100 Three phone calls
Omada Program 100 Varies 9+ weeks
NEXT STEP CONSULT™ 25 15 minutes
JOURNEYS™ 50/each 4-6 weeks
TRACK™ 1/day Up to 200 days
CARE SUPPORT™ 200 Varies

You can select any combination of the Health Activities above to earn your points.

You can select any combination of the Health Activities above to earn your points.

Short on time? Complete the online health assessment, biometric screening and phone coaching to earn 300 points and the $900 well-being program incentive.

Medica Reward gift cards

For even more motivation to get healthy and stay healthy, Medica will send you a $20 gift card for every 100 points you earn (up to 500 points and $100 in gift cards per year). Choose gift cards from a variety of retailers including Target, Amazon, Best Buy and more.

Program dates

The Well-being Program begins January 1, 2018 and runs through September 30, 2018. More details are available on www.healthy.stpaul.gov

Well-being Program eligibility

Employees who are insured with Medica through the City are eligible to participate.

September is Suicide Awareness Month

Each year, about 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide. Most people who seriously consider suicide do not want to die. Rather, they see suicide as a solution to a problem and a way to end their pain. People who seriously consider suicide feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. They may not seek help because they feel they cannot be helped. This usually is not the case. Many people with suicidal thoughts have medical conditions that can be successfully treated. People who have suicidal thoughts often have depression or substance abuse, and both of these conditions can be treated. It is important to seek help when suicidal thoughts occur because medical treatment usually is successful in diminishing these thoughts.

Most people who seriously consider or attempt suicide have one or more of the following risks:

  • A personal or family history of suicide attempts or completed suicide;
  • A personal or family history of severe anxiety, depression, or other mental health problem, such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) or schizophrenia;
  • An alcohol or drug problem (substance abuse problem), such as alcoholism;

The warning signs of suicide change with age:

  • Children and teens – preoccupation with death or suicide or a recent breakup of a relationship.
  • Adults -alcohol or substance abuse, recent job loss, or divorce.
  • Older adults – the recent death of a partner or diagnosis of a life-limiting illness.

Anytime someone talks about suicide or about wanting to die or disappear, even in a joking manner, the conversation must be taken seriously.

A suicide attempt—even if the attempt did not harm the person—also must be taken seriously. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone you think may be considering suicide. There is no proof that talking about suicide leads to suicidal thinking or suicide. Once you know the person’s thoughts on the subject, you may be able to help prevent a suicide.

People who are considering suicide often are undecided about choosing life or death. With compassionate help, they may choose to live.

IMMUNIZATION PROTECTS ALL OF US: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate!

In the United States, vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines. Every year, thousands of Americans still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Measles in Minnesota

This year in Minnesota, 78 people came down with measles, but thousands were exposed, including hundreds who were not vaccinated or did not have natural immunity from a previous measles infection. The Health Department identified 8,880 people who were potentially exposed to known cases in day care centers, health care settings, schools and other community settings. Public health officials contacted many of them or checked their vaccination status using the state’s immunization registry. That work identified 596 at-risk people, and they were asked to voluntarily limit their activities to avoid exposing others.
Because measles no longer occurs naturally in the United States, officials believe this outbreak started with someone traveling from abroad. Measles is prevalent in many African countries, China and Europe, which has seen a resurgence in infections. However, the exact source has not been identified.

Here’s why you shouldn’t wait:

  • Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in the U.S.
  • Those that are not common here are still found in other parts of the world, and can still be a threat.
  • Some of these diseases are very contagious.
  • Any of these diseases could be serious – even for healthy people.
  • Certain people may be at higher risk for getting some diseases or having more serious illness if they were to get sick, like young children, older adults, and those with health conditions.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical experts update vaccine recommendations based on the latest research and evidence-based science on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases.

You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love. Talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for you and your family.
To learn more about vaccines and take a quick quiz to find out which vaccines you may need, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults