Friday, March 29, 2013
In the current economic times, people are looking anywhere they can to cut costs in their life. According to research conducted by the Milken Institute, more than half of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, many of which are preventable. According to calculations by the Milken Institute these diseases cost Americans and the government $1.3 trillion annually. This money comes out of the pockets of Americans as well as from the government, affecting every American in one way or another. By adjusting one’s lifestyle people can greatly reduce the risk of chronic diseases thus decreasing the amount of money spent by Americans and the government on healthcare. According to projections done by the Milken Institute, by modestly improving chronic disease prevention and treatment the United States could reduce the economic impact of disease by $1.1 trillion each year. To learn more about the costs of chronic illness and the potential to reduce them, click here.
Here at the University of New Hampshire there are many services to help members of the community improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic disease. Health Services offers nutrition counseling sessions, stress management classes, help with smoking cessation, yoga classes and even light therapy… all free of charge for students who have paid their health fee! These services can help students change their habits and dramatically reduce their risk of chronic disease, thus reducing their future healthcare costs. To learn about all that Health Services has to offer click here. Visit the website, check out the services they offer and keep yourself happy and healthy. Your body (and your wallet) will thank you.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
More than one in four adults over 18 years of age in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml). Individuals struggling with mental illnesses often feel stigmatized or too embarrassed to share their personal struggles with friends or family members. Winter months bring cold weather and shorter days, which often increases feelings of depression or other mental illness. Mental illnesses are very complex and may be triggered by many causes, but individuals must remind themselves that they are not alone in their struggles. If you are experiencing sadness, depression, anxiety, or other mental health difficulties, try to talk about your feelings with a close friend or family member. You may be surprised to realize that they experience similar feelings or have dealt with them in the past. Acknowledging your emotions and sharing them with someone may give you some relief or a new perspective on your life.
If you are approached by a friend to talk about mental health, try to remain as patient as possible. Patience is a true virtue for individuals trying to help loved ones struggling with a mental illness. Remember that your support is invaluable to the individual, but be careful to acknowledge your own health and personal boundaries. If you feel unable to help an individual struggling with mental health, provide them with resources where they may find professional help. Located in Smith Hall, the UNH Counseling Center provides daily appointments to UNH students, free of charge. Their phone number is 603-862-2090. Individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention hotline 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255). Whatever you do, do not keep your struggles to yourself. Realize that help is available to support you through whatever life may bring. Let’s start showing our support for each other through conversation and eliminate the social stigmas against those struggling with mental health difficulties.
Monday, March 25, 2013
David Castillo Dominici
Easter is right around the corner, which means it is time for Easter Basket creation. Children love receiving Easter Baskets, and many families celebrate it as a tradition for Easter morning. Easter treats can still be enjoyed, but try to look beyond the stocked shelves of Peeps and Chocolate Bunnies this year and consider healthy alternatives to usual Easter candy. One Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny, a popular Easter treat, contains 890 calories, and 48.6 grams of fat! With the growing rate of childhood obesity, good nutrition must be considered and incorporated into all childhood experiences. Think of these alternatives when packing an Easter basket this year:
-Stuff the basket with colorful fruits like clementines. They are sweet and small enough for small hands to peel!
- Bag dried fruit—very sweet, dried fruit is a wonderful alternative to processed and refined sugars.
- Include items other than candy—coloring books or markers take up space, and last longer than a sugar rush!
-If you want to include the usual candy, opt for snack-sized packages. This reduces overconsumption.
-Incorporate homemade goodies. If your child wants a treat, bake a cake together the night before! It is important for children to realize the amount of work (and fun!) it takes to prepare baked goods.
Try incorporating one new idea into this year’s basket. Remember—a healthy kid is a happy kid!
Friday, March 22, 2013
Physical activity does not necessarily require going to the gym. Why spend time exercising indoors when you have the glorious wilderness to explore?! Hiking is a great workout—for the body and the mind. Even a couple miles is a great cardiovascular workout, especially if you’re carrying extra weight like a backpack with water or snacks. The serenity of nature allows your mind to be at ease as you trek the trail. The combination of aerobic activity and meditation provides a unique experience, unparalleled by other forms of physical activity. And don’t discount the added benefit of Vitamin D that comes from the sun! Just remember to use sunscreen before heading outside.
I had the opportunity to spend last week’s Spring Break backpacking through Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon with UNH Outdoor Adventures. Our group of ten left snowy New Hampshire on Friday the 8th and came back on the 17th. We spent three days in Zion National Park before heading to the Grand Canyon, where we trekked all the way to the bottom and back for another three days. Each night we slept under the blanket of stars, witnessing the vast sky of the southwest displaying the most stars I’d ever seen. I don’t think a single night passed that we didn’t see a shooting star. Each day brought a new adventure to experience—our trek on the first day down the Grand Canyon turned out to be the most difficult trail on the South Rim! With encouragement from each other and self-motivation, we made it through. I honestly could not have asked for a better Spring Break. Spending the week outside was exactly what I needed: a breath (or two) of fresh air, a chance to challenge my body, and the opportunity to pause my life and strengthen my health. It’s important to recognize the power of physical activity and tend to your body’s needs. In our beautiful state of New Hampshire, there are many opportunities for hiking.
Campus Rec’s Outdoor Adventures leads hikes and outdoor activities throughout the semester. Check out the trip schedule here and spice up your physical activity routine!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
On Wednesday, March 20th, UNH will be celebrating National Kick Butts day! It’s time to kick those smoking habits to the curb! This day of activism was created to help stop the use of tobacco by youth and college students. There will be close to 1000 programs taking place throughout the country, and UNH will be a great contributor! Tobacco is the main cause of preventable death in the United States and costs our country close to $96 billion in health care costs annually. Help advocate for a tobacco-free generation by supporting the efforts put together on National Kick Butts Day! The Substance Awareness through Functional Education group at UNH, also known as S.A.F.E., will be helping promote this initiative throughout campus on March 20th and 21st. S.A.F.E. is a peer education group that is designed to recognize the problems and risks associated with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. They work with students to provide them with knowledge regarding these topics, ways to help make safe decisions, and work towards living a healthier lifestyle. Stop by the MUB on March 20th or 21st where S.A.F.E will have a table set up from 11:00am-1:00pm. Here you will have the opportunity to speak with one of their peer educators or pick up your very own Quit Kit to help you get on your way to becoming smoke-free! They will be working to remind students about the risks associated with tobacco use and to provide them with information on ways to live a smoke-free life. Raising awareness, providing knowledge, and using preventative measures is key to lowering the use of tobacco!
Would you be happy with a smoke-free campus? S.A.F.E has started a petition at UNH to work toward creating a tobacco-free campus. If you are interested in signing this petition click here! Want to learn more about S.A.F.E. or become one of their peer educating members? Check out their website at this link! By taking part in this campaign you will be helping the health of our country through promoting wellness and healthy lifestyle habits. If you are interested in learning more about National Kick Butts Day, check out their website. Here you will find great information on the event itself as well as general facts about tobacco. Help to spread the word about National Kick Butts Day by advocating for a smoke-free community and a healthier generation!
Monday, March 18, 2013
We've all heard that this year is one of the worst years for the flu. Everywhere you go there is someone sniffling, someone with a fever and someone who is so sick they can't even make it out of bed. Being a student means having the flu can be a death sentence, because having the flu results in missed classes, piling homework and not so happy professors. It doesn't help things much since it is so easy to catch the flu on a college campus due to close living conditions and huge class sizes.
Luckily UNH's Health Services has a ton of tips and advice to get you through this flu season whether you are already infected or your trying to avoid it. If you've already come down with the flu, try limiting your exposure to others to avoid spreading it and make sure you take care of yourself by getting enough water and sleep. For fact sheets and tips and tricks on how to stay healthy this season check out all the information Health Services has to offer.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Over the years Vitamin D has not been one of the most commonly talked about vitamins. Despite not being a frequent topic of discussion among the general public, Vitamin D plays a critical role in health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Vitamin D has many health benefits. One of the main roles Vitamin D plays is aiding in calcium absorption and bone health. Without adequate Vitamin D a person runs the risk of developing weak and misshapen bones or even Osteoporosis. In addition to bone health it is thought that Vitamin D has the potential to reduce the risk of Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Hypertension and other medical conditions. To put it simply, Vitamin D plays an important role in many areas of health!
Although the body can create Vitamin D many people do not get enough. When a person spends time in the sun their body is able to create Vitamin D. Between working indoors and living in cold climates where they don’t spend much time outside, many people don’t create enough Vitamin D on their own. Luckily there are other sources! A few of the best sources of Vitamin D include Eggs (make sure to eat them whole since the Vitamin D is found in the yolk!), tuna, salmon and fortified milks and juices. If none of those foods are appealing, Vitamin D supplements are also available.
During the winter months spent inside it’s tough for the body to create all of the Vitamin D you need, so take the time to choose foods to fuel your body and provide you the vitamins you need! To learn more about Vitamin D’s role in health, read more visit the University of Maryland Medical Center website.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Regent’s College has a variety of meals each day and I thought it was because they are trying to cater to the different cultures here at the school, but this is not the case. English cuisine is similar to American cuisine in that it is a mix of different cultures. In the morning, there is a combination of a full English breakfast, French croissants and pain au chocolat (a chocolate-filled croissant), and some granola and yogurt. A full English breakfast is an old tradition that used to be a daily occurrence but is now more of a weekend and vacation meal. Quite similar to what Americans would make for an extravagant breakfast, the English breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, cereals, fresh or stewed fruits, toast, juice, coffee, tea, accompanied by grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. The bacon here is actually just a thick fatty slice of ham that is not crunchy like American bacon. They say with confidence that this is “real bacon”. I am not a coffee drinker so I have not experienced the difference, but what I have noticed and heard is that the coffee here is more of an espresso. A friend told me that what they call “Americano coffee” is simply just watered down espresso. When the English drink coffee they are really drinking a tiny little mug of espresso. The mugs they sell all around London are not more than 2 inches tall and an inch and a half wide. One of my professors said that once we go back to the States the coffee will taste like dirty water.
Ginger was a spice I was not accustomed to seeing so often before coming to England. I kept coming across it in unexpected places like in teas and granola bars. I learned that this was due to the Franco-Norman Invasion during the medieval times. Also I was surprised by the amount of spicy foods and curry they were serving in the Refectory (or dining hall). Again I assumed this was because of the number of international students, however it is due to English invasion of India in the 1700’s. The English went to India for many reasons but one was because the English did not understand the Hindu religion and thought they were devil-worshippers. English Christian missionaries went over to force the Hindus to convert to Christianity or they would be executed. After the English realized they had made a mistake about the Hindus being devil-worshippers, they gave the Indians a “free pass” to live in England as an apology. Some took them up on the offer and with them, they brought curry and spicy foods!
Some favorite dishes of the English include the famous fish and chips, roast beef, Chicken Tikka Masala. I have not tried the last two though I have seen them and they look delicious. The famous fish and chips are everywhere! Chips in the UK are French fries and the fish they serve is a huge piece deep fried and extremely greasy. If you do not like fried food, this dish is not for you. As for desserts, the English, like the rest of Europe, do it right. The chocolate here is so creamy I do not think I will ever be able to go back to Hershey’s. Custard is common here as a sauce for pies and crumbles. It is an egg-based pudding usually made with cream as well, so if you are lactose intolerant, please steer clear of the custard.
Despite the negative stereotype of English cuisine it is actually quite similar to American cuisine. It is not nearly as bad as some say. Plus in a big city like London there are so many cultures intermingled, you can find any type of food you can imagine!
Monday, March 11, 2013
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by the time we reach 2015, we are going to be short 62,900 primary care physicians in the United States. They expect this number to be almost doubled by the time we reach 2025. A primary care physician is the first person a patient will seek if they are ill. Today, people are bypassing this, and going directly to emergency care. Many times, people are admitting themselves to the emergency room when in reality; they really do not need to be there. Why? New York Times authors, Annie Lowrey and Robert Pear, provide us with some interesting reasons.
By 2014, the United States will be giving health care coverage to more than 30 million Americans. This is happening so rapidly that we will not have enough time to train new doctors to take care of these people. All the while, the overall population of the US is increasing as well. This is a problem because it takes approximately ten years to train a primary care physician. We will not have enough doctors to treat this increasing population. The amount of students attending medical school is increasing but the population of our country is increasing at a much faster rate. There is also a trend in students not wanting to become primary care physicians anymore because specialists are making almost twice the amount of money they would. The primary care physicians that we do have still are nearing the ends of their careers as they are starting to retire and the younger physicians are not working as many hours during the day.
In low-income, rural areas, the number of primary care physicians is dropping rapidly. This drop is requiring people to travel to hospitals and places that they can find the care they require. Emergency rooms are becoming jam-packed because waiting lists to meet with a primary care physician are longer than ever. The new health care plan is offering Medicaid to impoverished people; but, recently, less than half of primary care physicians are accepting new Medicaid patients. This is making it very difficult for low-income families to find health care at all.
The new health care law is seeking to fix this issue by increasing the Medicaid primary care payments, providing money needed to train new primary care physicians and put them through medical school, and to create some sort of compensation for those physicians who choose to work in a lower income area of the country. Some other fixes are to train nurses to be able to perform some of the same duties that primary care physicians do and to create more walk-in health clinics.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Like to dance? Looking to get in shape or change up your cardio workout? Ever heard of Zumba? Zumba is an energetic dance class where participants are able to let loose and have fun! I took a Zumba class a few days ago after a two-year hiatus of zumba-ing and I honestly forgot how much fun it was! The dance moves are relatively simple but fast paced to get your heartbeat going. Most of the music is top-40’s hits that you can sing along to if you want to make the most of the experience. It’s a one-hour class of dancing to the beat in a room of 30+ people doing the same thing. It’s one giant party led by a peppy instructor! The moves are relatively easy and repetitive so that everyone can get the hang of them. When the more difficult moves break out, I usually actually get a better workout working my abs with laughter while trying to stay with the beat. Lucky for UNH students, the Whittemore Center offers free Zumba classes every day in the Hamel Rec Center’s studio. Classes are offered Mondays 4:45-5:30pm, Tuesdays 7:45-8:30pm and 8:30-9:15pm, Wednesdays 6-6:45pm, Thursday 8-8:45pm, Fridays 3:30-4:15pm, Saturdays 12:45-1:45pm, and Sundays 5:00-6:00pm. Check out the full aerobic class schedule here. With a class every day of the week, there’s no excuse to not give Zumba a try! And don’t think the class is limited to women—the last class I took had about five guys getting their groove on! Try Zumba and you are guaranteed to have a good time.
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