Family Health

Setting a place for healthy eating

You’ve probably heard of the “Food Guide Pyramid” – that triangle diagram used for teaching the food groups. The Food Guide Pyramid was introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1992 as a model for healthful eating. In June 2011, the USDA introduced a new symbol – “MyPlate” – to help us make better food choices. MyPlate is part of a communications initiative based on the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Keeping athletes safe in the heat

Summer is an active time of the year for children, especially high school athletes. When kids are playing sports or enjoying other physical activities outdoors, it’s crucial that parents and coaches ensure children are adequately hydrated in order to avoid heat-related illnesses. It is also essential that schools where athletes are training outdoors have an emergency action plan in place.

Calcium-rich foods

We all want strong bones. One way to help build strong bones is by making sure our diets contain enough calcium, a mineral that is essential for strong bones and other bodily functions. As much as 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our teeth and bones. Calcium works to ensure our bones have adequate structure. Not having enough calcium increases the risk for a number of health problems, including osteoporosis, high blood pressure and colon cancer.

Begin a walking routine to improve your health

Maybe you’re coming back from an injury or your schedule has just been too hectic. For whatever reason, you’re back to square one with your fitness routine. In fact, you don’t even have a routine. Or do you? Walking is the simplest way to get fit — anyone can do it anywhere, anytime.

The average American takes 5,117 steps a day, which is equivalent to walking just over 2.5 miles. Before you start patting yourself on the back, you’ll want to gauge just how close to “average” you are — and then boost your mileage to take full advantage of the health benefits walking offers.

Good hygiene helps keep norovirus away

Have you ever had the “stomach flu”? My family has and it’s the pits. What we commonly call stomach flu is a norovirus infection. Did you know norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 20 million Americans are sickened by norovirus every year, causing up to 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths. Norovirus is highly contagious and it can stay in your system for two weeks or longer, even after you feel better. The virus can spread through contaminated food, but it also can live on surfaces, such as countertops and serving utensils, for up to two weeks. The virus can spread quickly in closed places such as daycare centers, nursing homes, dormitories and schools, with most outbreaks in the U.S. occurring between November and April. Norovirus is not related to the virus that causes the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness.

Creating a healthy lifestyle

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country, affecting 17 percent of all children and adolescents and more than one-third of all adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While health care providers and the media continue to address the issue, obesity currently is triple the rate it was just one generation ago and continues to grow as a significant health threat for all ages.

Fun in the sun

Summer is the perfect time to be a kid. School’s out and adventures are waiting around every corner. However, the summer sun packs hidden dangers that have the potential to cause long-term effects. Proper skin and eye protection is key to keeping kids safe this summer and well into their future.

Sun safety tips

Kids can play safe in the sun with the right precautions. Take care of their skin and eyes with these sun safety preventive measures:

Do you know where bacteria and viruses live?

My mother always told me to wash my hands after using the restroom and before handling food. She also taught me not to touch public restroom faucets and door handles — push to open the door if you can and use a paper towel  to turn off the sink or to touch the door handle if you have to pull to open. It was all an attempt to protect me from catching a cold or spreading germs. There’s a good reason she taught me these lessons early on — illness-spreading bacteria and viruses can live on surfaces for hours, days or even weeks depending on the type of bacteria and the conditions of the surface.

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