Category Archives: #HealthyPSU

Show us your healthy recipe or activity with #healthpsu on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Benefits of Eating Breakfast

You may find it difficult to wake up for a meal before class or work. However, a study has shown that eating breakfast may result in improved immediate recall and spatial memory among university students.  There is also positive research on the relationship between breakfast and positive mood. You are significantly more likely to be happy if you eat breakfast regularly. 

Check out some of the healthy, easy, and fast breakfast ideas here! 

Virtual Wellness Opportunities

Wellness Opportunities now through June 24th

Wellness Workshops and Services

  • Staff in Health Promotion and Wellness can provide educational workshops about alcohol, stress, nutrition, safe sex, stress, and sleep for your club or class. Students can sign up for an individual wellness service with HPW. Topics include: stress management, nutrition, physical activity, sleep and healthy relationships.

Wellness Activities

  • Yoga & Meditation 5:15 – 6:15pm Zoom Links:
    • Mondays https://psu.zoom.us/j/298599961
    • Wednesdays https://psu.zoom.us/j/4385441023
  • Wellness Wednesday 4:00 – 4:45pm Zoom Link:  https://psu.zoom.us/j/92725739974

Decorative image. All links available in body of blog.

Which Non-Dairy Milk is best for you?

The number of non-dairy milk choices can be overwhelming. With more options being added all the time, it can be difficult to decide which is the best for you. 

 Dairy-free milks are often made from a blend of nuts, seeds, or grains blended with water. Additional flavorings and sweeteners are added for flavor. Additives are used to thicken and/or stabilize for consistency/texture and keep the mixture from separating. Most non-dairy milks are fortified with nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D. Sometimes vitamin B12 or additional protein is added as well.  

Below is a brief summary of the most popular non-dairy milks. 

  • Soy Milk: Nutritionally this is the most similar to cow’s milk. It is also rich in potassium, iron, and B vitamins and contains higher levels of protein than other non-dairy milks. 
  • Almond Milk: Rich in Vitamin E, and low in protein and generally calories (if unsweetened). 
  • Oat Milk: This milk tastes naturally creamy and sweet. Because this milk is from a grain it is also highest in complex carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. It is rich in potassium and vitamin A and contains some fiber which is unusual to find in any type of milk.  
  • Coconut milk: This milk has a higher fat content which gives it a rich and creamy texture. It is very low in protein and carbohydrates. It naturally contains magnesium, iron, and potassium, but may be fortified with other nutrients. It also contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that is easily absorbed by the body and used for energy.  

 Which one is best for you? Well, it depends. When deciding which non-dairy milk to choose, think about when or how you want to consume a non-dairy milk and what flavor and consistency you find the most appealing. It is also important to read the nutrition facts and the ingredients and choose an unsweetened variety. 

Cracking Up Eggs

Eggs are a great source of a high quality protein as well as vitamin D.  Stores and farmer’s markets have so many choices it is difficult to know what to choose.  Here is a breakdown of what you may find:

  1. Conventional eggs – inexpensive and available in many store. Hen houses are usually full and they don’t see daylight often.
  2. Cage-free – same nutritional value as conventional eggs. Chickens are in open houses and free to roam.
  3. Free-range eggs – similar nutritional value as above. Chickens are able to roam free inside and outside.
  4. Organic eggs – the feed ingredients may change the nutrients of the egg (e.g. higher protein or potassium). Chickens are provided organic feed, do not receive vaccines or antibiotics and are usually raised cage-free or free-range.
  5. Pasture-raised eggs – it is unknown if these are of higher nutrient quality. The chickens roam free on pasture land and eat plants and bugs. There are not standard established as the USDA does not regulate this definition.
  6. Vegetarian eggs – It is unclear if they are healthier. The eggs come from chickens who eat a vegetarian diet; there no animal byproducts in the feed.
  7. Pasteurized eggs – same nutritional value as conventional eggs. The chickens may not experience cage-free or range-free living.  It does mean the eggs have been heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria in a plant.
  8. Brown eggs – no nutritional differences than conventional eggs. The color is determined by the breed of the hen.
  9. Omega-3-fortified Eggs – the nutrients may vary based on brand. The feed is supplemented with flax seed or fish (both are rich in Omega 3’s).

Source – Food and Nutrition Magazine. What Types of Eggs Should You Buy? https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/type-eggs-buy/. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Intermittent Fasting

Have you heard of intermittent fastingIntermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of fasting and periods of eating with no restrictions. Fasting can vary and may involve no food or significantly less food. There are many reasons a person may choose to intermittent fast. They may fast for religious reasons or for longevity. In recent years intermittent fasting has also become a popular weight loss method.  

 While animal studies show promise of benefits to this method of calorie restriction, there has not been enough research with the human population to determine if this is an effective and safe approach to weight loss. There also haven’t been enough studies of the potential long-term effects. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for people with diabetes, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating. 

Source:  

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/ 
  2. https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-intermittent-fasting  

Do you need to pay attention to Vitamin B12?

If you follow a vegetarian, vegan, or plant based diet then you want to make sure you get enough of this nutrient. Adequate levels are required for the synthesis of all blood cells, proper functioning of the nervous system, and DNA synthesis just to name a few.  

Young adults should aim for 4.5 mcg Vitamin B12 daily (non pregnant/non lactating). Vitamin B12 is naturally occurring in animal products only, otherwise it is fortified in some foods. 

Food Sources for B12 include:  

  • Dairy products 
  • Eggs 
  • Several fortified cereals 
  • Nutritional yeast (some varieties are fortified)  
  • Soy products, including soymilk, tofu and meat alternatives may be fortified. 

Be sure to read labels closely. The level of B12 in fortified foods may vary over time. If you are unable to obtain enough B12 through foods, you may want to consider taking a Vitamin B12 supplement. Many multivitamins already contain Vitamin B12, or you can find this as a stand-alone supplement. 

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vegetarian Dietetic Practice Group. Vitamin B12 and Vegetarian Diets  https://vegetariannutrition.net/docs/B12-Vegetarian-Nutrition.pdf April 3, 2020. 

Eating well during COVID-19

While there are no specific foods or supplements that have been proven to reduce the risk of acute infections like COVID-19 we do know that eating a healthy diet is vital to a strong immune system. Below are tips and resources to help you eat healthfully and safely during this difficult time. Incorporate what you can and remember to be extra kind to yourself as we navigate this unprecedented period.  

  • Make healthy choices. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and oils. Limit processed foods high in salt, fat, or sugar. Explore MyPlate for more guidance on food choices and portion sizes. 
  • Include plenty of immune supporting nutrients such as Beta Carotene, vitamin C, Zinc, vitamin D, probiotics, and protein. Learn more about these nutrients and how to keep your immune-system-healthy 
  • Maintain a regular eating routine. Typically, this will include 3 meals and 1-3 snacks each day. Take a break to eat and dine away from your primary workspace.  
  • Plan out meals for the week.  Make a list for everything you’ll need for at least a week. “Shop” from your cupboard, fridge and freezer first. Try to buy everything you need in one trip to minimize exposure.  Getting groceries during quarantine offers additional suggestions. 
  • Choose wisely when ordering takeout or delivery. It will cost less and you will likely eat healthier by preparing foods at home, however we can all use a break from cooking on occasion. Use these tips for ordering takeout/delivery for recommendations.  
  • Consider sharing meal ideas, recipes or even cooking virtually via Skype, Zoom, or Facetime with friends and family. Create a cooking challenge using only ingredients in your home. 
  • Drink plenty of water vs. sodas, juices, and sports drinks.  Be aware it is common to reach for food when you might be thirsty.  
  • Set your environment up for success. If you are working in your kitchen, perhaps find a space further away from food. Consider keeping certain foods out of the house, especially if you feel out of control when you eat them. 
  • Check in with your body before grabbing a snack. Ask yourself “Do I want to eat because I’m hungry or am I bored, stressed, annoyed or lonely? Prep healthy snacks ahead of time to keep on hand. Pair a fruit or vegetable with a protein source such as raw veggies with hummus or dates with nut butter. 

Find additional information and resources by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website: Nutrition articles, tips, video and activities. 

 

The Truth About Soy

The dietitians at Penn State’s Health Promotion and Wellness get many questions about soy – “is it good or bad for you?” We are here to present the truth about soy in Fact-Check Friday. 

Where did the controversy begin? Soy is part of the legume family (fun fact!) and contains isoflavones, which is a plant estrogen.  High levels of estrogen have been linked to certain cancers.  However, food sources of soy don’t contain high enough levels of isoflavones to increase the risk of breast cancer.1 Eating a one to two servings of whole-soy foods daily does not increase risk of cancer.  

Don’t forget – soy foods are rich in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and protein. 

Sources
1. Mayo Clinic. Will Eating Soy Increase My Risk of Breast Cancer? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/soy-breast-cancer-risk/faq-20120377. Accessed April 3, 2020. 

2. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.Straight Talk About Soy.https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/. Accessed April 3, 2020. 

Get plenty of sleep during COVID-19

Being well rested is critical to one’s health, wellbeing and ability to navigate the demands of life.  Sleep has an impact on everything from your mood and ability to regulate your emotions to the strength of your immune system and your capacity to remember, pay attention and learn.  Not getting enough sleep can come at a cost to your ability to function well throughout the day.  Both increased stress and shifts in our routines during COVID-19 have the potential to disrupt our sleep and lead to exhaustion.  Layer in the fact that you are likely spending more time online, in zoom classrooms, and other platforms that can drain your energy.  Now is an important time to strategize ways to make sure you are getting enough sleep.  Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you get the daily sleep and rest you need. 

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule, go to sleep & wake at roughly the same time daily 
  • Create a bedtime routine, this will signal your brain that it is time to wind down 
  • Engage in calming activities prior bed, yoga, meditation, reading, etc.  
  • Reduce screen time for at least two hours prior to going to bed, exposure to blue light from screens stimulates your brain and can make it difficult to fall asleep 
  • Limit watching news before bed, the combination of blue light and news updates can increase anxiety and stress making it hard to wind down   
  • Charge your cell phone in a room other than where you sleep, sound and light coming from notifications can disrupt sleep during the night 

Here are a few additional resources to help with improving your sleep: 

  • Looking for more information on how sleep impacts your body and mind? Click here 
  • Worries about corona virus keeping you up at night?  Find helpful tips here 
  • Zoom fatigue taking a toll on your energy? Find advice & tips here & here