With every new year comes the hope of a new beginning and a chance for a new beginning in areas of our life in which we hope to get better. Unfortunately, many of them fall by the wayside before February even arrives. This year we brought together three local experts to offer some simple, practical changes that you can actually stick with and that will pay off in the year ahead. These are Cenla’s realistic resolutions for 2022!
Prioritize your health
Sharifa Baker, MD
You cannot make serious decisions about being healthier in the New Year without making your overall health and wellbeing a priority. Knowing how to set health goals and understand health risks will help you better align your progress towards creating a new you in 2022. The most realistic way to prioritize health and keep making up your mind to be healthier is to plan a visit to a family doctor – you know, who you may have put off or talked out of beforehand.
An annual check-up can help you set goals and make any necessary lifestyle changes that focus on improving your health by providing insights from a trusted health professional and partner. During your visit, a doctor will take your vital signs, perform a physical exam, and have an important conversation to understand your family and medical history, social circle, medication, and concerns. If you have access to your health records, keep them handy with a list of your medications and supplements. Be in tune with your body and be ready to discuss any signs or symptoms that affect you – especially any physical changes or pain that you are experiencing.
The important tests and checkups you need are usually determined based on age, gender, and family history. Your doctor will recommend what tests are needed to assess your general health and identify life-threatening conditions. Prostate, breast, and colon screenings are just a few to consider.
Based on the exam and screening results, you will know what steps to take next and whether additional care or treatment is required. Prepare to ask questions and learn more about your recommended lifestyle changes. Make a commitment to implementing your new, healthier plans. For example, a diagnosis of diabetes may mean a new year diet plan that will reduce your sugar and carbohydrate intake. It can also mean adding a new drug to your daily regimen to help control the disease.
Ask your doctor about the results of your exam and when a follow-up exam is required. Both are important in treating and monitoring conditions, and in tracking solution milestones. Ask, ask, ask! Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on achievable goals to create a healthier new you.
Planning the visit is not only an important solution, it can also be life saving. By focusing on the health information provided to you during check-up, you will have a good guide to succeeding in your resolutions. Making the decision to eat better, exercise, and reduce the stress in your life has tremendous benefits and makes sense for your overall wellbeing. The decision to make health and wellness a priority is worth celebrating every day, not just in the New Year.
Sharifa Baker, MD, is a family doctor practicing in Alexandria at CHRIST Primary Care Specialists-Prescott Road. Dr. Baker specializes in family medicine, providing primary health care to adolescents and adults with a passion for women’s health. Dr. Baker also includes cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation with training in bariatric and nutritional counseling.
Come to the garden!
Michael Polozola II, PhD
The usual New Year resolutions tend to be to eat better, exercise more, or improve yourself. There is a way to incorporate all of this into one. Gardening! If you walk into your yard or create one, you will move. Eating the fruits of your labor will improve your diet. What you learn in the process is sure to be a fulfilling journey of self improvement.
January may not feel like a time to begin your gardening adventures, but it is an excellent time to plan for warmer weather. If you were to visit some of our local nurseries you would find that they are packed with activities to prepare plants for spring. For most of us, this is the time to start planning what to grow this spring.
Would you like to create a fertile vegetable patch this year? If so, what would you like to eat? That’s the number one question I would ask myself. You are much more likely to go outside and tend your yard if you are growing something that you will be happy to eat later.
Would you prefer to focus on ornamental plants or succulents? If yes, where? Do you have a large courtyard, a small inner courtyard or a sunny window sill? Which colors and shapes best suit your aesthetic or style? I find that flowers add an extra level of joy and attraction that make going out in the garden or living space much more pleasant.
Do you want to do both Personally, I like to grow fertile plants mixed with ornamental plants in my garden and at home.
Now the answers to all of these questions will be different for each of us as we all have different tastes and spaces to grow. Part of our mission at LSU AgCenter is to be of assistance and advice in answering these questions and to be a source of knowledge for any questions you may come across in your horticultural endeavors.
LSU AgCenter can help you in your quest to become a better gardener in a number of ways. Whether you are very experienced or inexperienced, we have resources available to help you get started, solve an annoying problem, or just answer a confusing question. For those just starting out, I encourage you to check out our local YouTube channel: LSU AgCenter Central Region. We have videos on a wide variety of topics from fruits and vegetables to landscaping plants to trees to garden food.
During your gardening adventures, it is very likely that at some point you will come across something that we don’t have a video for. We are still here to help in situations like this. Give us a call or send us an email, we will be happy to help you find a solution.
I look forward to hearing from and helping all of those in the community who are looking to garden more in the coming year, be it to start your first garden or just improve your skills already!
Add more fiber to your diet
The start of a new year is a great time to check in with yourself and think about how you would like to improve for the year ahead. Unfortunately, many New Year’s resolutions are not realistic and only last two to three weeks. Here is an easy one to follow, and one that can make a huge difference to your overall health and wellbeing as well: Eat more fiber. January is fiber focus month!
Fiber can play an important role in achieving your health and wellness goals in 2021. They’re probably best known for keeping your digestive system moving, but there are other benefits too – like promoting a feeling of satiety. Despite the known health benefits of fiber, nine out of ten Americans are not getting enough with their daily diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans of 2020 recommend that women consume 25 grams and men 38 grams of fiber daily, but most only an average of 15 grams. The slow introduction of fiber can help get all health benefits without discomfort. Instead of aiming for 25 to 38 grams on the first day, increase your fiber intake by three to five grams each day. This way you are giving your body time to adjust.
What exactly is fiber and why is it important to our health?
Dietary fiber is a substance from plant cells that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive tract. There are two main types of fiber: water-soluble and water-insoluble. Everyone has different traits and characteristics.
- Soluble Water-soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion. They increase the amount of stool and can lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. Soluble fiber is found in fruits (like apples, oranges, and grapefruit), vegetables, legumes (like dried beans, lentils, and peas), barley, oats, and oat bran.
- Insoluble Dietary fiber, which is insoluble in water, remains unchanged during digestion. They promote the normal movement of the intestinal contents. Insoluble fiber is found in fruits with edible peel or seeds, vegetables, whole grains (like whole grain bread, pasta, and crackers), bulgur wheat, ground cornmeal, grains, bran, oatmeal, buckwheat, and brown rice.
Dietary fiber helps:
- Increase the volume of food without increasing the calories (so that you feel “full” longer).
- Delay the absorption of glucose during the digestive process, which helps keep blood sugar levels even.
- Lower total and LDL cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Speed up the passage of food through the digestive system (keeps us “regular”).
10 ways to add fiber to your diet
- Eat more legumes like dried beans, lentils, and peas.
- Instead of iceberg lettuce, choose romaine lettuce or spinach.
- Add fruits like berries to breakfast or snacks.
- Enjoy 100% wholegrain or wholegrain bread.
- Choose breakfast cereals that have whole grains listed as the first ingredient.
- Choose brown rice instead of white.
- Eat the peels of fruits and vegetables like apples and potatoes.
- Replace ¼ to ½ of the all-purpose flour in recipes with whole wheat flour.
- Snack on dried fruits, popcorn, whole grain crackers or fresh vegetables.
- Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking 100% juice.
For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News
For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.
RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.
- Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
- Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, email@example.com or 217-373-3874.
- Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at TKleparski@parkland.edu or 217- 351-2206.
- The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.
STEVICK CENTER ACTIVITIES
Knit or crochet for those in need:
Meditative Movement with Yoga:
- 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.
- Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.
Card game 13:
- To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.
- 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.
HOT LUNCH PROGRAM
The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.
For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.
NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.
- BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.
- Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.
- Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.
- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.
- Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.
If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.
Contact Pam Jacobsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-359-6500.
- RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at email@example.com or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.
Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.
The future of nutrition advice
By Lisa Drayer, CNN
(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”
The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.
That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.
How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.
Below is an edited version of our conversation.
CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?
dr Frank Hu: The idea of precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.
CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?
Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.
Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.
CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?
Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.
Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.
fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.
CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?
Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.
CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?
Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.
Another area of precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.
fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.
CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?
Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.
At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.
Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.
CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?
Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.
Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.
But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.
The CNN Wire
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Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?
In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.
Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.
Nutritional value of bread
Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.
For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).
Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).
Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).
Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).
Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.
Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.
But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).
As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.
If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.
Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.
Nutritional value of peanut butter
Many people find peanut butter delicious.
Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.
Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).
Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).
For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).
Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).
When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.
When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.
Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!
When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.
Nutritional value of jelly
The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?
Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).
Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).
However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.
If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.
Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.
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