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HEALTHY LIVING

Steps to boost students’ immunity

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(Family Features) Heading to the classroom means opening doors to opportunities for educational and social growth, but to keep students at school day after day, it’s important to keep health top of mind. When close proximity to other children exposes them to illnesses like common colds, strong immune systems can be the difference between perfect attendance and a few days of absences.

To help boost your children’s immunity, consider these tips from the experts at Healthy Family Project.

Eat Healthy Foods
Focusing on foods that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins can help boost immunity by protecting the body from free radicals that cause inflammation and damage cells. For example, vitamin C boosts the function of immune cells and foods high in fiber help keep the digestive system healthy.

Broccoli provides a good source of vitamin C, but if your kids aren’t big fans of the green veggie, turn to these Broccoli Tater Tots for an easy way to sneak some greens onto the family table. Due to their high vitamin C content, mandarins are another perfect addition to family diets. Their small size makes them easy to pack in lunches, toss in a bag or enjoy in a sweet treat like Frozen Creamsicle Yogurt Bites.

Get Plenty of Sleep
The Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours of sleep each night for kids ages 6-13. Proper sleep helps regulate the body’s biological rhythms, helping people stay healthy.  

Exercise Regularly
Whether your children participate in sports or just enjoy playtime, encourage exercise to help boost the immune response, particularly during colder months when they may spend more time indoors.

Reduce Stress
Adults aren’t the only ones who experience stress. Talk to your children about anxiety, stress and mental health, as stress can leave them feeling run down while weakening the immune system, leading to less energy for fighting illnesses.

Drink Water
Hydration plays a major role in keeping immune systems functioning properly by aiding the production of white blood cells, which are important for fighting off infection.

Find more immunity-boosting recipes at HealthyFamilyProject.com.

Frozen Creamsicle Yogurt Bites

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

  • 1 mandarin
  • vanilla Greek yogurt
  • sprinkles
  1. Place one piece of parchment paper on baking sheet that fits in freezer.
  2. Peel mandarin and separate into individual slices. Place one big scoop yogurt in small bowl.
  3. Dip each mandarin slice in yogurt, covering about half of each slice. Place individual mandarin slices on parchment paper. Add sprinkles.
  4. Freeze at least 1 hour or overnight if adding to lunchboxes.

Broccoli Tater Tots

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • cold water
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In large stockpot, cover potatoes with cold water. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to low and simmer 3 minutes. Add broccoli; don’t stir. Cover and cook 4-5 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. In large bowl, mix egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and garlic powder until just combined.
  4. In food processor, pulse potatoes and broccoli 8-10 times until finely grated. Add to breadcrumb mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Use tablespoon to scoop potato mixture into 40 mounds. Shape each into oval and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 10 minutes; flip and bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown.


SOURCE:
Healthy Family Project

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HEALTHY LIVING

Combat the epidemic of loneliness by eating together

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(Family Features) According to the U.S. Surgeon General, Americans face a lack of social connection that poses a significant risk to individual health and longevity. “Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk for premature death by 26% and 29%, respectively. More broadly, lacking social connection can increase the risk for premature death as much as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day,” per the report.

One way to address this epidemic of loneliness is by sharing a meal with friends and family. Learn five of the specific advantages of family meals identified by the Family Meals Movement and take advantage of these benefits during National Family Meals Month this September by sharing one more meal together each week.

Meals Together Foster Togetherness and Connectedness
Staying connected can be hard when schedules conflict and life gets busy, but shared meals with friends, family or however you define your family can be the glue that holds people together. Studies demonstrate a positive relationship between family meal frequency and measures of family functioning, which is defined as family connectedness, communication, expressiveness and problem-solving. The key is for family members to engage in conversation with one another during mealtimes and take advantage of the one-on-one time without distractions or interruptions from smartphones or other devices.

Meals Together Strengthen Mental Health
An often overlooked benefit of family meals is mental health support. Multiple studies show family meals have long been associated with improving mental health, including reducing symptoms of depression, decreasing violent behavior and lessening thoughts of suicide among youth. Among adolescents, frequent family meals can help mitigate the risks of destructive behaviors by boosting prosocial behaviors and life satisfaction. Data from the FMI Foundation’s “Staying Strong with Family Meals” Barometer shows family meals also help restore a sense of peace, with one-third of survey respondents saying family meals make them feel calm. In short, family meals are a recipe for strengthening emotional well-being among children and adolescents.

Meals Together Improve Nutrition
There is one easy way to help ensure your family is eating fruits and vegetables: a family meal. Research shows family meals improve fruit and vegetable consumption. It also pays to start this trend early, with research finding preschool-aged children who eat frequent family meals are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables. Overall, researchindicates families who eat together frequently have a better overall healthy diet and lower body mass index.

Meals Together Improve Academic Performance
Helping students’ academic performance begins around the family dinner table. Eating more meals together as a family is associated with improved overall adolescent health, including higher grades. Multiple studies show students whose families eat together frequently perform better academically in areas such as reading and vocabulary. Research also supports a correlation between frequent family meals lowering incidents of risky and harmful behaviors, including drug and alcohol abuse, which may also contribute to school performance.

Meals Together Teach Civility
The family dinner table is a perfect place to show younger generations how to communicate respectfully, according to the Family Meals Barometer summary. In fact, 76% of survey participants agreed family meals are a good opportunity to have and teach respectful interactions while 70% said frequent family meals create a safe environment for families to discuss thornier societal issues. Another 68% affirmed their belief that sitting at a meal together tends to keep conversations more civil.

Learn more about the physical, mental and social benefits of family meals at familymealsmovement.org and follow #familymealsmonth and #familymealsmovement on social media.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
FMI Foundation

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HEALTHY LIVING

Everyday Ways to Nurture Your Skin This Summer: 4 simple habits to support healthy skin

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(Family Features) Good skin care doesn’t have to mean intensive routines or expensive moisturizers – it can be as easy as adopting everyday habits that nurture your skin from the inside out. Keeping your skin healthy and glowing begins with protecting it from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and eating and drinking healthy foods and beverages.

With an important role in maintaining overall well-being, it’s reassuring to know skin health may be supported with healthy, everyday foods including fresh, juicy grapes. In fact, emerging research suggests consuming grapes may help protect healthy skin even when exposed to UV light, which is known to be damaging. A study published in the journal “Antioxidants,” in which people consumed 2 1/4 cups of grapes every day for two weeks, showed increased resistance to sunburn and reduced markers of UV damage at the cellular level.

This study reinforced previous and similar findings published in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.” Grapes are also a hydrating food with 82% water content; hydration is essential to healthy skin.

Consider these everyday ways you can protect your skin.

Keep the Sun at Bay
Protecting skin from the sun is crucial. A lifetime of sun exposure can lead to wrinkles, age spots and other health problems, including an increased risk of skin cancer. When you’re out enjoying some sunshine, generously apply sunscreen of at least 30 SPF every 1-2 hours. Covering skin with lightweight, long-sleeve shirts, wide-brimmed hats and other sun-protective clothing can also help block UV rays. Another heat-wave hack: Take to the shade during the hottest parts of the day, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to avoid the sun’s rays when they’re at their strongest.

Fill Your Plate with Healthy Foods
Nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables, can play an important role in achieving an overall balanced diet with adequate hydration. Enjoying the goodness of fresh or frozen Grapes from California can provide extra hydration and a boost of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols that help protect the health and function of the body’s cells, including those in the skin.

Stay Hydrated
Drink water throughout the day, and for added flavor, infuse with hydrating fruits like fresh, juicy grapes. For a cool, hydrating snack, try freezing grapes: simply rinse, pat dry, remove from the stems and freeze for 2 hours in a single layer on a sheet pan for flavorful ice cube replacements.

For an easy, refreshing way to add grapes to your menu and stay hydrated on warm days, try these Frozen Grape Lemonade Ice Pops for a sweet, delicious dessert the entire family can enjoy.

Fight Back Against Stress
Stress can negatively impact skin in a variety of ways, including making it more sensitive or reactive. Be mindful of the effects stress can have on your skin and practice stress-relieving techniques like getting enough sleep, exercise and perhaps exploring meditation, deep breathing or yoga.

Visit GrapesFromCalifornia.com for more delicious recipes and information on grapes and health.

Frozen Grape Lemonade Ice Pops

Yield: 8 ice pops

  • 2 cups halved California Grapes
  • 1 1/3 cups lemonade
  1. Fill eight 3-ounce ice pop molds with halved grapes.
  2. Pour in lemonade to just cover fruit. Insert ice pop stick handles.
  3. Freeze at least 3 hours until frozen.


SOURCE:
California Table Grape Commission

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HEALTHY LIVING

Stay safe, healthy during and after emergencies

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4 tips to prepare for natural disasters that can negatively impact physical and mental health

(Family Features) As you’re making your emergency preparedness checklist, it’s also important to protect your heart and overall health in the wake of a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.

The experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict an above-average Atlantic Ocean hurricane season for the seventh year in a row. Research shows it’s not only physical devastation that impacts the health and safety of people in the path of a natural disaster.

In fact, in a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2021 Scientific Sessions, researchers found there were higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and pre-diabetes among survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, as well as increased incidences of heart disease and stroke two years after the storm compared to two years prior to the hurricane.

It’s not only hurricanes that can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. A study published in the journal “Hypertension found a significant increase in blood pressure levels and the incidence of high blood pressure among people who were forced to evacuate following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2012.

Gustavo E. Flores, M.D., a member of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee, said there are several factors that may lead to increased cardiovascular disease and risk after a natural disaster.

“During and after a storm, many people experience extreme stress and trauma, which research shows can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk,” he said. “The impact can be more intense for heart disease and stroke patients. Additionally, in the aftermath of a significant natural disaster, property destruction and evacuations affect many basic support resources. This can make it challenging to see a health care professional for routine check-ups or refill or adjust medications, especially for more vulnerable populations.”

Flores, chairman and chief instructor for Emergency & Critical Care Trainings, LLC, said it’s important for people to be prepared and plan ahead. Consider these quick tips from Flores and the American Heart Association, which is celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all:

  • Take time to write down any medical conditions, allergies and medications, including doses and the time you take medications, along with your pharmacy name, address and phone number. Keep the information with any other “go-kit” items you have handy for quick evacuation.
  • If you need to evacuate, even temporarily, bring your medications and health information with you in a resealable plastic bag to help keep it dry.
  • If your medication is lost, damaged by water or was left behind when you evacuated, research open pharmacies and seek a refill as quickly as possible. Some states allow pharmacists to make medically necessary exceptions on certain types of prescription refills during an emergency.
  • Use the Patient Preparedness Plan if you have diabetes and use insulin. There you’ll find a checklist of supplies and guidelines to prepare for an emergency.

Another way to prepare for a possible medical emergency is to learn how to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator until help arrives. If performed correctly, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Visit Heart.org for the latest on heart health and the Disaster Resources page for a wide range of helpful information.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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