Brain Food

“The brain represents about 2% of the body’s weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and calories consumed by the body.” (1) New research is being done to identify foods that power and protect the brain.  This research is limited, but there is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, found in almonds, walnuts, fish, avocados, canola oil, etc. reduce inflammation and promote blood flow in the heart and brain.  Antioxidants, found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, are known to fight cancer causing free radicals and help protect the brain from oxidative stress. (2)  Oxidative stress is the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defenses. Consuming an overall healthy diet consisting of whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables is the best way to keep your brain sharp and energy levels up. (3)  Try cooking up this quick and delicious recipe that contains whole grains, lean protein and a variety of vegetables.

 

  1. Clark D. & Sokoloff, L. (1999) in Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects, eds. Siegel, G. J., Agranoff, B. W., Albers, R. W., Fisher, S. K. & Uhler, M. D. (Lippincott, Philadelphia), pp. 637–670.
  2. Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2008) Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 568-578.
  3. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-what-to-eat-for-brain-health/

Frozen Fruit Cups

If you enjoy frozen desserts, you’ll want to make room in your freezer for this recipe. With three types of fruits and non-fat yogurt, it not only tastes great but also helps you to get your recommended fruits and dairy for the day.

Not only is yogurt an excellent source of protein and other essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, it also contains bacteria that’s good for your health, according to the American Society for Nutrition.

Frozen Fruit Cups

Serves 18

Ingredients:

  • 3 bananas, mashedsummer salad recipe
  • 24 oz. non-fat strawberry or plain yogurt
  • 12 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained

Preparation:

  1. Line muffin tin(s) with 18 paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix mashed bananas, yogurt, strawberries, and pineapple.
  3. Spoon into muffin tins and freeze at least 3 hours or until firm.
  4. Remove frozen cups and store in a plastic bag in the freezer.
  5. Before serving, remove paper cups.  These are also great to throw into a fast smoothie.  Just add water or milk and blend them in your blender for a fast smoothie.

Another great thing about this recipe is you can use whatever fruits you like! What ingredients did you use?

Snap a pic and tag #healthypsu on Instagram or Twitter for your shot at becoming the featured image on the blog.

Financial Wellness

What does it mean to have Financial Wellness? Financial wellness means creating a sustainable budget and following the 5 principles of financial literacy: earning, saving and investing, spending, borrowing and protecting (1).

Why is Financial Wellness important? Finances, for everyone, can be source of stress. Between part-time jobs, paying some or all of your tuition, taking out loans, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Developing good money management skills during college can set you up for a successful financial future after graduation. Financial wellness is important because, let’s face it, money affects everyone. The good news is, Penn State offers resources to help you create financial wellness! These resources will help you develop the skills to become financially independent and secure over time. The world of budgeting, credit, loans, and investments can be daunting to navigate on your own, so you shouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the resources on campus. The Penn State Student Financial Education Center is here to help, and offers free educational resources for students.

How do we cultivate Financial Wellness?

We can cultivate financial wellness by staying on top of personal finances, which means addressing financial issues as they arise and saving extra money in order to create a more secure financial future. We can work toward financial wellness by keeping good records of our income and expenses, planning ahead and setting goals, and developing a habit of regularly saving money. Managing finances in a sustainable way can free us from living paycheck to paycheck or in chronic debt. Instead of being a source of stress, money can become a useful tool to help us live comfortably, invest in ourselves, and achieve our personal and professional goals.

 

References

  1.       https://financialliteracy.psu.edu/

Career Wellness

Career Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It.

What does it mean to have Career Wellness? Career wellness, or being professionally well, means that you gain personal satisfaction and enrichment from your work. It also means that your work is consistent with your values, goals, and lifestyle (1).

Why is Career Wellness important? While most of us students aren’t employed full-time, our classes and extracurricular activities form much of the basis of our careers. Whether we’ve identified our dream job since we were young or are still trying to find our passion, thinking about career wellness can help inform our decisions and guide our thinking. Career wellness is important because our careers will likely be a huge part of our life. Maintaining a positive relationship with our work can have ripple effects throughout the rest of our life. Rosso, Dekas, and Wrzesniewski found that finding meaning in one’s work was associated with increased job satisfaction and personal fulfillment as well as decreased stress (2).

How do you cultivate Career Wellness? Finding a job that you love or the career path that’s right for you isn’t always easy. You can start by considering your own values and goals (3). What do you like to do with your free time? What excites you? Which classes or school projects do you particularly enjoy? Thinking about the answers to these questions can be helpful when searching for a job or career. Penn State has many resources to guide you along your path to finding a fulfilling profession.  It’s worth taking time to visit Career Services. Check their website to learn about when drop-in career counseling is offered.  You can also join a student organization: there are a wide variety of academic and professional clubs at Penn State.

Here are a few links to get you started:

 

References

  1. Ohio State University Student Wellness Center https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
  2. Rosso, B. D., Dekas, K. H., Wrzesniewski A. (2010). On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30, 91-127.
  3. American Psychological Association: More Than Job Satisfaction http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/12/job-satisfaction.aspx

 

 

 

Social Wellness

Social Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

What does it mean to have Social Wellness? A person who is socially well has a support network that is based on interdependence, respect, and mutual trust. They are also sensitive to and aware of the feelings of others (1).

Why is Social Wellness important? Humans are social creatures, which means that our relationships with one another are crucial components of our mental health and sense of wellbeing. According to UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman, social connection is as important to our health as food, water, and shelter (2). Beyond basic health, social support has been shown to play a role in the mental health of college students, specifically.  Hefner and Eisenberg (2009) found that students with lower quality social support were more likely to experience mental health problems. Compared to students with high quality social support, students with low quality support were at higher risk of experiencing depressive symptoms (3).

How do you cultivate Social Wellness? It’s important to form connections and develop genuine relationships with others. This isn’t always easy, especially for students at a large university such as Penn State. Finding friends, especially ones who share your values and interests, can be a daunting task. But there are ways that you can make this big campus feel like home. Joining organizations, clubs, or sports teams are just a few ways you can meet people who share similar interests. Don’t forget about all of the academic societies, business fraternities, cultural groups, and volunteer groups at Penn State.

Here are a few links to get you started:

References

  1. Ohio State University Student Wellness Center https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
  2. UCLA Newsroom http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/we-are-hard-wired-to-be-social-248746\
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20099940

 

Summer Hydration

Staying hydrated is extremely important, particularly in the summer when the weather is warmer. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are spending time being physically active outdoors. Being in a hot environment causes the body to increase sweat production Sweating actually helps the body stay cool, but sweating can also make you more susceptible to dehydration. Sweat loss varies from person to person, which means that we all require a slightly different amount of water and electrolytes to stay hydrated. You can retain water during exercise by drinking 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes when exercising for less than 60 minutes.  But be sure to not drink more than 1 quart of water for each hour that you exercise. One way to measure how hydrated you are  is to check the color of your urine. Refer to the link below for more tips on staying hydrated before, during, and after exercise.

Remember to set a goal of 64 ounces of water per day regardless of activity level to stay hydrated and to keep your body working .

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How to Stay Healthy at Summer Picnics

Picnics and barbeques are a fun summer tradition. These events are a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family.  Picnics and barbeques also present challenges when it comes to healthy eating and drinking.

Here are some helpful tips to work your way around a picnic table:

  • Avoid dips that are cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream based. Try other fresh dips like guacamole and homemade salsa or use plain greek yogurt as the base for your veggie dip. Sub out regular potato chips for baked chips or homemade tortilla chips (1).
  • Instead of preparing the usual potato or pasta salad with mayo, try making a fresh green salad with fruit or a pasta salad full of fresh chopped vegetables with vinaigrette or Italian dressing. These types of salads are packed with nutrients and the ingredients don’t spoil as quickly in the hot sun.
  • Tired of hamburgers and hot dogs? Beef burgers can easily be replaced with turkey, chicken or even veggie burgers.  Tuna steaks are a great alternative to regular steaks and are full of healthy fats and proteins (2). Kebobs are great for grilling.  You can make them with almost anything and the size helps you be mindful of portion sizes.

Drinking:

  • Sodas and juices are always available at picnics. Both are tempting, but are loaded with sugar.  If you are looking for an alternative to sugar and caffeine, try seltzer water mixed with 100% fruit juice for a light fizzy drink. You can even opt for fruit-infused ice water for a refreshing drink.
  • If you do choose to drink at a picnic make sure you stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water for every standard drink. Alcohol and hot temperatures cause fluid loss and can lead to dehydration.  It is also important to have a plan for how you will get home safely if you are drinking.  Don’t drink and drive!  Keep in mind that if you are boating and/or swimming alcohol affects your judgement, balance, reaction time and increases risk taking.
  • Hydration seems to be key on a hot summer day! With plenty of activities going on at a picnic it can be easy to forget to drink water. The recommendations for how much water you should consume per day vary by sex and exercise level.  You should drink more on especially hot days or if you are really active outside.  Heat exhaustion is real, so be aware of your water intake.

As with everything, moderation is your best bet for a happy and healthy summer. Enjoy!

  1. EatingWell Magazine. (2012, May). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/248363/tortilla-chips/
  2. Health Benefits of Tuna and Salmon. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Protein/Article-Viewer/Article/89/Health-Benefits-of-Tuna-and-Salmon.aspx