Wednesday, September 29, 2010
TIME Magazine wrote an article in which they announced 9 out of 10 Americans are eating too much salt. That’s 90 percent! While current guidelines recommend the average serving to be 2,300 mg, just a teaspoon, per day, the CDC conducted a study where they found only 19% were actually meeting the standard. The amount of sodium drops even more to 1,500 mg for those who are at risk for heart disease. Why so much salt? Well, you may be surprised to hear that 80% of our salt intake comes not from the table top shaker but is already in our processed foods. Many companies are already pledging to their salt content like Sara Lee, Kraft and General Mills. The FDA is also planning on working with food companies to gradually lower the sodium levels of our diet.
What is UNH doing about all the salt? In case you hadn’t noticed, last year they replaced the table salt shakers with fewer, big, black sea salt grinders. While this may have been an inconvenience to those who were always reaching for the table salt, UNH Dining was actually doing you a favor. Most of our food is already seasoned with enough salt as is, but the purpose of sea salt was that you will need less. Because it is less processed, it is more flavorful, thus you can achieve the same salty taste with less sodium! Thanks UNH!
Monday, September 27, 2010
When you go to the pharmacy, which prescription do you choose? Do you go for the brand-name pill that’s been around for years or the generic drug to save yourself a little money? What do you base your decision on? Do you ever wonder if the generics are as reliable as the brand-name drugs?
Public Citizen’s Health Research Group recently published an article discussing the myths and facts about generic drugs. The essence of the piece suggested that there were virtually no difference between brand-name and generic drugs on the shelf. Contrary to popular belief, generics are held to the same FDA standards as brand-name drugs when it comes to quality, strength, purity, and stability. Generic drugs work equally to brand-name drugs, meaning they are just as safe and there are no additional side effects or warnings to taking generic drugs. All drugs, regardless if they are brand-name or generic, are all manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities that are closely inspected and regulated by the FDA.
The only true differences between brand-name drugs and generics are the length of time they have been available to consumers and their price. Brand-name drugs have a seven-year patent after approval when generics equivalents cannot be sold. During this time a lot of the “kinks” are figured out in the brand-name drugs and many times they are discontinued from market before a generic equivalent is even produced. As far as price is concerned, generic drugs are substantially more affordable than brand-name drugs. This does not mean that generics are of less quality, but simply you are not paying for the brand-name and all the advertisements associated with the name. On average you will save anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars per pill. Depending on the number of pills you take in a given year, generics could save you hundreds of dollars.
Experts suggest going with generics, especially if it is your first time taking the drug. You will get the same effect as brand-name prescriptions and save yourself a lot of money.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Procrastination is a defense mechanism that many people use to help cope with the stress of their daily life. Whether it is putting off a tedious reading assignment until later or waiting for your favorite TV show to end before taking out the trash, most Americans use some form of procrastination in their everyday lives. While some people view procrastinators as “lazy”, procrastinators generally want to accomplish their goals. Their problem is not that they never want to take out the trash or do their assignment; it’s that they can’t find the motivation or the necessary tools to get their task done in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
Different people procrastinate about different things. For example, some people might procrastinate work-related tasks (such as submitting reports) or financial tasks (opening bills), while others put off health-related tasks (such as scheduling an annual physical) or making tough decisions. When you are facing a difficult situation, procrastinating can seem like such an easy answer. You can fill your time with pleasurable activities (like watching silly YouTube videos), doing lower priority tasks (like vacuuming out your car) or daydreaming about the future. Ways to put off work are endless and the more you can get away with putting off the task or goal you are dreading, the easier it is to do.
One way to help you to overcome your tendency to procrastinate is to keep a journal of different aspects of your procrastination throughout the week. To help keep yourself in check, when you find yourself feeling bored or filling up your time with things that don’t really need to be done, ask yourself why you are doing it. If you are doing the activity to postpone doing something that you really don’t want to do, record what your reasoning is. Common reasons for procrastinating include being too tired, not having all the tools necessary to finish the job, or the belief that you work better under stress.
After recording your reasons for procrastinating, take a good look at them. Procrastinating usually feels good in the short term; it feels good to be able to “get away” from your stress or to be able to feel in control of the workload that you have. In the long term, you are setting yourself up for more discomfort. Even if you are able to get done what you are procrastinating (ie. A long homework assignment), procrastinators generally feel guilty, ashamed, anxious about the quality of their work or critical of themselves for not starting the project sooner. In your procrastination journal, write down how you feel while you are procrastinating and then how you feel after getting the project/task done.
Ask yourself if you are willing to commit to changing your procrastination habits right now. If so, you can do it. It might be hard at first, but the dedication will pay off. Challenge your initial reasons for procrastinating. For example, if you generally procrastinate because you feel “too tired” or “too unmotivated” to work on an assignment, ask yourself if you will really feel more awake or more motivated later on. Instead, realize that when you finish your project you will be able to rest better and that the sense of accomplishment from crossing one goal off of your to-do list can motivate you to want to do more of the items on your list.
Prioritize your goals or to-do list, and then take time every day to work on accomplishing the goals. Start with the most important things that need to be done, and then work on the little things. Making smaller sub-goals for larger tasks will help you to stay on task and feel like you are really accomplishing something. It is also important to find a good way to reward yourself for making strides to become a person who can healthfully manage their stress levels. Step back and look at all of your accomplishments, big and small. Every step that you take makes a difference.
For more information on how to cope with procrastination, visit the Centre for Clinical Interventions.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
As a child, it’s common for most people to hear from parents or doctors, “Eat your breakfast.” But as we get older and lifestyles change, a lot of people fall out of the trend of making sure they eat breakfast. As college students, life changes with dorm life or when you’re living on your own. As the September is in full swing, classes are getting busier and activities are picking up. However, it is SO important for your overall health and body weight to eat what could be considered the most important meal of the day.
Busy schedules and skipping breakfast doesn’t just work for college students. Eating a well-balanced, healthy breakfast is essential to everybody! An article from the Journal of American College of Nutrition shows overall breakfast sets your balance for the rest of the day. In addition, it’s not only eating A breakfast but eating A healthy well-balanced meal. It is important to have a breakfast that consists of protein, grains (such as whole grain breads or cereals) and fruits. A combination of these types of foods helps to keep your energy level up throughout the day. If you were to only eat a bagel for breakfast, you would probably experience an energy crash later on in the day (which would be worse for your hard classes or busy schedule than if you took a few minutes in the morning to include more substance). If you only eat a breakfast sausage, you’re helping to increase your protein and energy levels but not providing the other nutrients your body needs.
In addition, people often skip breakfast in an attempt to manage their weight. But…in reality your actually causing a negative effect in doing so. By skipping breakfast, it can often lead to more snacking later on in the day, increasing food intake. Some good ideas for quick and healthy breakfast options on the go include: fruit, yogurt, & granola; a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and a piece of fruit; a trail mix made of whole grain cereals, nuts, and dried fruit; or even some instant breakfast options. Just remember, for a great start to the day, DON’T SKIP IT!
For information about breakfast, please visit the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Reported by CNN in February, 2010, the first lady, Michelle Obama spoke about the increasing costs the United States spends on treating obesity related issues and the economic effect. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study in 2009 stating “obese patients spent an average of $1,429 more for their medical care than did people within a normal weight range.” This figure had me thinking, being overweight is not only costly to our health, but costly to our wallets as well. With a nearly 42% higher health bill, obese and overweight people are hurting themselves financially. Obesity is often co-morbid, or co-occurring, with many other health issues, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and diabetes. It is not surprising that “America spends as much as $147 billion annually on the direct and indirect costs of obesity.” By lowering weight to a healthy level, patients can reduce other risks for diseases. Fewer diseases can mean spending less cash at doctor visits, possible surgeries, and costly medications. Embarking on a weight loss program by embracing better eating habits and increasing exercise could lead to lower health insurance bills, fewer trips to the doctors, and ultimately a happier, healthier life!
For more information about this article, please visit CNN.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
We have all heard about the benefits of being physically fit, but the tricky part is figuring out how to become fit. While it may seem easy to some, many people of all ages and abilities struggle to find a routine that works for them. At UNH, there are many different programs and opportunities to be able to get on track with getting fit. Having a fit lifestyle should be a lifelong goal, not a short-lived fad. Be patient with yourself and let your body take time to adjust to your new routine. Incorporating physical fitness into your daily life will not only help your body run it's best, but it will also help you to feel good about yourself and feel empowered to be able to make other healthier choices.
The US government recommends that adults spend at least 30 minutes a day engaging in physical activity at least 5 days a week. While these are just guidelines, try to make this a goal that you strive for. While 30 minutes may seem like a long time, if you enjoy the activity, the time will fly by! Here are some activities that you can try out at UNH:
- Biking (30 minutes, leisurely): burns about 150 calories and is a great way to get around. Not only is biking great for the environment, but it saves money on gas. Many of the roads around UNH have bike lanes- so it's easy! If you commute to campus, try parking at a lot that is further away and then biking to class, or go for a bike ride in College Woods. Biking has a lower impact on your body and a good way to get in your 30 minutes without having to travel to a gym and back. Also, UNH buses have bike racks on them, so it’s easy to transport your bike if you get a flat. The Diamond library also has a pump at the reception desk that is free to use, just in case. If you don’t have a bike, the Cat’s Cycles program lets you loan out bikes for free, if you are a student or faculty at UNH. To learn more about the Cat’s Cycles program, visit Cat's Cycles.
- Running (30 minutes, 8mph): burns about 450 calories and is an activity to try. If you are a new runner, try alternating running and walking, then build your way up until you spend more time running. Running is especially important for cardiovascular health and is a base for most sports. Jogging or running is easy on your wallet too; all you need is running shoes and a water bottle. UNH has many running trails, ranging from 2-6 miles. To view a map of running routes and trails, visit Campus Recreation's trails and routes. Also, if you are living in a dorm, ask your RA if your dorm has a running club. Running with other people can help you to feel committed to achieving your goals, help you to create friendships with people who have similar interests and can make running more enjoyable.
- Swimming (30 minutes, laps): burns about 250 calories and works many different muscle groups. Swimming is a good option for people who have trouble with activities such as running or jogging. In general, swimming is a more low impact form of exercise, and is easier on the body for many people. UNH has an indoor swimming pool that offers lap swim, family swim, and several different classes in the pool (such as Aquacise). For more information, visit UNH Aquatics the indoor pool schedule. Membership to the pool is free to all full-time UNH students and benefits eligbile employees.
Remember to always first check with your Primary Care Provider before introducing a new exercise program into your life!
*Estimates of calories burned are based on a 160lb adult. The actual amount of calories burned will vary according to your weight, gender and overall fitness level. To learn about the amount of calories burned during various activities, visit the Mayo Clinic's healthy lifestyle guide.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Sceery
As an out-of-state student, whenever that time for the tuition bill comes around, I often find myself bewildered as to how much money we pay. Where is all this money going? What are we paying for? There is one category that many students may not even pay attention to: Mandatory Fees. So what are these Mandatory Fees and what do they do for us?
One of these fees that is actually fairly important is the Health Fee. For 2010/2011 the fee is $288.50 per semester or $577.00 per year. This may seem like a lot of money for a college student but it’s actually not if you realize what you can get for it! This money goes toward coverage at UNH Health Services and the Office of Health and Education Promotion. Contrary to what some may believe, health services isn’t just a place to go when you’re sick. They offer counseling services, helpful wellness information, testing, events, and even massages! With the fee, students are able to get many of the benefits at little to no cost. The fee covers: Appointments (with physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners) - which at a normal doctors office you have to at least pay a co-pay. It also covers the cost of appointments for counseling, wellness educators, and nutrition counseling. In addition, most X-Ray costs are covered, some prescriptions, some lab tests, and presentations or classes that are offered. As a comparison, for a foot X-Ray at Health Services (if you had UNH Health Insurance) you would pay about $7. If you were to pay for the same thing out of pocket (with no insurance) at Portsmouth Regional Hospital it would cost: $455 and at Wentworth Douglass Hospital: $488! Those numbers demonstrate just a small part of how expensive health costs are outside of UNH.
These options are just a few of the resources offered at Health Services. Although the fee may seem high, UNH is less than UMASS at $654 per year and a little over URI at $480 per year. It’s important to take advantage of the resources you still have a student because after school…those fees and services become a lot more expensive!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I’m sure I’m not the only one who is reluctantly bidding farewell to summer, but why does it always seem that as summer nears its end, the endless “to do” list begins to grow and what should have been a care-free, relaxing end starts slipping away. A stressful end to summer, that doesn’t sound right. Summer should be about spending time on the beach, catching up with friends, and eat ice cream on a hot afternoon, not running around getting your back-to-school essentials. Feeling under enough stress already with classes and work beginning, we could all use a little help trying to unwind.
Living a stress-free life, as if anyone even knows what that feels like, is all part of living a life of health and well-being. So, in an effort to make it through the fall season pleasantly unstressed, here are some tips the American Institute of Stress (AIS) offers to help you reach relaxation. AIS states that “the key to reducing stress is to prevent it”. This means, eating right, getting at least 8 hours of sleep, and exercising regularly. I feel organization is the key to avoiding stress. If you are able to complete your work effectively, this leaves time for fun and time to unwind. There are plenty of resources here at UNH that can help you to get organized with your work, offer help with studying, revise your resume if you are looking for jobs, a nutritionist to help you refocus poor eating habits and even personal trainers to help you boost endorphins and help you get back in shape. Combining these aspects of health and well being will make a happier you and make the end of summer and start of school not stressful, but stress-free!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
For years, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Food Guide Pyramid focused on just that: food. It was a flat, one-dimensional view of the “perfect” diet that grouped all individuals, regardless of size or health status, into one category and focused primarily on counting calories and restricting serving sizes. When, however, the new Food Guide Pyramid was established in 2005, it took on a more complex, multidimensional look. As pictured above, the new Food Guide Pyramid focused on the utilization of vertical bands for each food group which taper toward the top of the pyramid. Not only do such bands suggest the portion of their diet that should be derived from each food group, but also that some foods within each group should be eaten more frequently (toward the base of the pyramid) or less frequently (toward the top of the pyramid).
Another major difference between the old and new Food Guide Pyramid is the presence of the person walking up the side of the pyramid. Such a graphic symbolizes the importance of physical activity and exercise in daily life. The Pyramid suggests adults to participate in at least thirty minutes of exercise per day and children to participate in at least sixty minutes of physical activity per day to maintain current weight. In order to lose weight, an individual should not only reduce their caloric intake, but also increase their daily physical activity.
Another benefit to the new Food Guide Pyramid is its accessibility to the public and its ability to be customized. By visiting mypyramid.gov an individual can learn all about the Food Guide Pyramid, why it is constructed the way it is, and the exact number of servings of each food group and individual should consume, based on gender, height, weight, and goals. MyPyramid is a very helpful tool that is currently being used in schools throughout the nation to help children understand how to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
In a world where images of skinny women and men with huge muscles rule the media, it is easy to catch yourself wondering what it actually means to be healthy. Making good nutritional choices should be about more than trying to look good for a class reunion or feeling pressured to eat salads at every meal. Healthy eating should incorporate foods that are good for you, as well as foods that you love, to help your body get all of the nutrients that it needs to stay healthy.
Making good nutritional choices with a hectic schedule can be difficult at times, but it is well worth the extra effort. Like any new routine, it may take a couple of tries to find out how to make healthy eating work for you. Since every person is different, what might work well for some may not work well for others. Keep trying new ways to eat healthy; you only have one body and you are worth the extra effort.
Here are some tips for eating healthfully:
Check out the new USDA MyPyramid menu tracker. It is a free government program that is an excellent resource for tracking your eating choices. The website creates a personalized plan of what nutrients you need for your specific age, height, weight, etc and allows you to enter in the foods that you eat in a typical day so that you can see how your food choices affect your overall nutrient intake.
Snack healthy. If you tend to eat when you are stressed or fall into the habit of reaching for the potato chips when you need a boost, look for healthful snack options to replace empty calories. One trick to satisfying your cravings is to find foods with textures that are similar to what you are craving (ie. Crunching on carrots instead of potato chips or frozen orange slices instead of an icepop). Also, it is a good idea to plan out your snacks before you go grocery shopping. Sales on your favorite chips or desserts can lead even the most dedicated healthy eaters astray, so make a list before you go shopping and stick to it. Examples of healthy snack ideas can be found on this blog.
When you eat at a dining hall or restaurant, know yourself and your eating tendencies. During lunch, people tend to navigate towards whatever is fastest. Don’t let yourself reach towards the hamburger and fries because it’s ‘more convenient’. Take a few moments to look around and see what there is to eat. Restaurants and dining halls are becoming more health conscious, and there is usually a healthier option just around the corner. If you are dining at UNH, try checking out the deli section to make a quick wrap, the grill for chicken or fish, or the mainline’s whole wheat pasta and sauce. Eating healthfully when you are out not only is better for you in the long run, but it also keeps you feeling better throughout the day and can help keep you focused. Eating healthy in dining halls is easier than you think!
Photo: Courtesy of Pixomar
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- Physical Activity
- Mental Wellness
- Health Care Consumerism
- Cost Variation
- Appropriate Emergency Room Use
- Avoid Duplicate Radiologic Testing
- Increase Generic Drug Use
- Use Independent Labs
- Healthcare Spending
- Establish a Medical Home
- Understanding Health Insurance
- Using the Health Education Benefit on Campus
- USNH Benefit Resources
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