Eat more fruits and veggies

According to a recent student health survey at University Park, only 4.4% of undergraduate students reported eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (Penn State University, 2018, American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment).  Look at this guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn about how many cups are recommended for your age.  You will find simple suggestions to help you eat more fruits and veggies.

You can also sign up for a free session with a registered dietitian or talk with a peer educator in the nutrition Wellness Service.  Read more about these free resources.

Decoding Vitamins and Supplements

If you have decided to make eating a balanced healthy diet a priority, you have taken an amazing step toward improving your health. However, it can be difficult to evaluate if you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals to achieve optimal health. There are more supplements available in supermarkets and drug stores than ever before. Do you really need them? 

According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. Individuals should aim to meet their nutrient needs through healthy eating patterns that include nutrient-dense foods” (1). Exceeding recommended levels of some vitamins and minerals is not only unnecessary but can also cause health issues (1).  

Supplements can be beneficial in certain circumstances where an individual is lacking vitamins and minerals caused by some health conditions.  For example, if someone is lactose intolerant and cannot eat dairy, a calcium supplement will likely be beneficial to help them meet their calcium needs.  Your doctor can order tests to determine if taking a vitamin or mineral supplement would benefit you. Only use supplements if your doctor has recommended them (2).  

If you’re concerned that your diet is not providing you with proper nutrition, consider scheduling an appointment with a registered dietitian. Schedule an appointment online through myUHS or call 814-863-0461. 

References: 

1.        “Vitamins Minerals and Supplements: Do You Need to Take Them.” Edited by Taylor Wolfram, Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 6 July 2018, https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/dietary-supplements/vitamins-minerals-and-supplements-do-you-need-to-take-them  

2.       Vitamin Supplements: Health or Hoax? American Heart Association, 12 June 2015, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Vitamin-Supplements-Healthy-or-Hoax_UCM_432104_Article.jsp#.W0YL7opKiUk  

 

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Buy frozen? Buy fresh? But what about your budget? You can eat healthy even on a budget. Here are four tips that can help you eat healthy while keeping your finances in mind.  

1. Plan before you shop. 

Check what food you already have at home. This will help you know what you need to buy in the grocery store. Based on your current food supplies, plan your meals for the week.  Make a grocery list to make sure you do not buy items you do not need.   

2. Frozen or canned vegetables and fruits are a good option. 

Frozen and canned veggies and fruits have almost the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones. Frozen or canned veggies and fruits cost less and they have a longer shelf life which allows you to shop less frequently. Read the nutrition label carefully and look for the low-sodium or no salt/sugar added options.

3. Shop after you have eaten.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry. If you are hungry when you shop, you will most likely buy food that isn’t on your list. For best results, it is a good to feel satiated when you arrive at the grocery store.

4. Use your resources.  

Coupons can be an easy way to save money. Join your favorite grocery store’s loyalty program to receive special discounts and offers. Check the availability of online coupons frequently. Buy the things you need, not the things you want.   

The Importance of Sleep

THON might be one of the most exciting times as a Penn State student. Walking into the BJC with the stands filled and a smile on every individual’s face is a memory no person will ever forget. Last year, I stood for approximately 40 hours over the duration of the Dance Marathon. During that time, I was able to understand the true impact that lack of sleep can have on an individual. As a peer educator I learned the importance of sleep, but I had never experienced the symptoms and impact of sleep deprivation. As a result of being sleep deprived, I constantly found myself forgetting conversations, I did not know the time, and when I last ate. I experienced hallucinations, muscle fatigue, and even illness all because my body did not get the recommended amount of sleep. After the weekend was over it took several days to “repay” the sleep debt. Here are a few tips for you as THON weekend approaches.  

Harvard Health shares the importance of getting enough sleep and the impact sleep can have on memory, safety, mood, and disease (1). Research shows that sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In order to experience the benefits of sleep, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and a consistent sleep-wake schedule. No matter the reason for losing sleep, it is important to repay sleep debt as soon as possible to ensure that we stay healthy and our memories are stored for that next big exam! It is important for us as students to recognize when physical exhaustion takes over. Make sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy meals, and take frequent naps during your 2019 THON experience.  

Schedule a Sleep Wellness Service with at the Wellness Suite by visiting https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/free-wellness-services  

Written by a HealthWorks member 

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-hazards-of-insufficient-sleep 

Winter Thaw 5k Run

Calling all runners, joggers, and walkers. Are you interested in completing a 5k? 

Join Club Cross Country, Campus Recreation, and Health Promotion and Wellness on February 23rd for a fun Penn State community event, the Winter Thaw 5K. The event starts at 10:00 am at the Westgate Building (intersection of Burrowes and Pollock). The pre-registration table will be in the HUB 11 am to 2 pm on February 18 – 22. The registration fee is only $10 prior to race day. Registration fees increase to $15 on race day, February 23. Look for the Winter Thaw Run banner. Participants are guaranteed a race bag filled with goodies. Race day registration is $15 and will start at 9:00 am on February 23rd at the intersection of Burrowes and Pollock. 

The top five male and top five female finishers will receive prizes. Registration forms will be available at the registration tables. A downloadable version is available here.

Winter Thaw Run Registration Form

Thaw 5K Waiver

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Research indicates consuming Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods like fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.  There are 3 main types of omega-3 fatty acids:  

There are 3 main types of omega-3 fatty acids (1):
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 

ALA is found in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. Some ALA is converted into EPA and DHA, but only in small amounts. DHA and EPA are utilized easily by the body, which is why they are considered the best way to increase intake of Omega-3 (2). DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. Algal oil is a comparable vegan source of DHA and EPA (3). 

Experts recommend consuming at least 2 servings of fish each week to meet recommended intakes of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Another way to increase Omega-3’s is to add walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds to your usual snacks or meals throughout the week.  The daily adequate intake of ALA for men age 19-59 is 1.6 and 1.1 g for women (2).  Recommended amounts of EPA and DHA have not been established. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you are interested in taking a supplement.  

Written by Kate Quick, RD 

References  

  1. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/what-are-omega-3-fatty-acids 
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/ 
  3. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/other-supplements/article/algal-oil-omega-3s 

Tobacco Use and Vaping

Most Penn State students are doing a good job of making health a priority. In a recent survey, 89% of Penn State students described their health as “good, very good, or excellent (1).”  Many students meet the recommendations for physical activity (56%) and a majority report healthy habits when it comes to sexual health (80%). 

Despite this good news, there’s a growing area of concern about vaping and the use of e-cigarettes.  There is a significant increase in the number of Penn State students regularly using these products. In 2016, 4% of Penn State students reported vaping or using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. In 2018, this statistic jumped to 16% of students. Students perceive their peers to be vaping much more than they actually are. Eighty-six percent of students perceive other students vape or use e-cigarettes, when it is only 16% (1).  

This misperception could be contributing to the increase in vaping over the past two years.  Studies show that students who overestimate how much their peers use a substance such as cigarettes or alcohol are more likely to try the substance or increase their own use (2).  Social influences are strong determinants of health behavior as well as marketing and low perception of risk.  

Unfortunately, the use of e-cigarettes, especially high-nicotine versions, can lead to nicotine addiction.  Researchers predict that dependence on nicotine caused by e-cigarettes may lead many young users to eventually turn to cigarettes (3). 

Nicotine addiction can be hard to beat, but quitting is possible. Health Promotion and Wellness can help!  Get the support you need to quit for good.  Schedule an appointment at www.studentaffairs.psu.edu/healthmyUHS or call 814-863-0461.  Ask for the Freedom from Smoking program.  This program addresses all types of nicotine and tobacco use, including vaping and e-cigarettes. 

  1. Penn State University’s ACHA National College Health Assessment, Spring 2018 
  2. Warner, K.E., Mendez, D.  E-cigarettes: Comparing the possible risks of increasing smoking initiation with the potential benefits of increasing smoking cessation.  Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2018, 1-7.  
  3. Spindle, T.R., Hilder, M.M., Cooke, M.E., Eissenberg, T., Kendler, K.S., Dick, D.M. Electronic cigarette use and uptake of cigarette smkoing: A longitudinal examination of U.S. college students. Addictive Behaviors 67 (2017) 66-72