3 Ways to Support Your Health During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

core

By Esther Garcia, UC Davis Healthy Aggies intern

There is no doubt that this pandemic has caught everyone off-guard. Courses are now online only, jobs have been lost, restaurants and grocery stores are closing early, and gyms are shuttered. No one knows how long this may last. Nonetheless, it is best to keep distance between us all in order to prevent exposure for ourselves and our loved ones.

Here are 4 ways to stay healthy while staying at home:

1. Keep a sanitized home environment
There might be times where you have to go out for an essential errand which can increase your chances of being exposed to COVID-19. You can prevent spreading more germs. Once you get home make sure to immediately wash your hands. Clean and disinfect ALL surfaces that you may have touched.

2. Stay Active
With all fitness facilities being closed, it may be difficult to keep up with workout routines. However, there are many ways to keep moving without any equipment such as:

● Searching up “No equipment workout” on the internet.
● Breaking out the resistance bands.
● Going on walks in your neighborhood.

3. Keep On Meal Prepping
Now that you are home more often, you may find yourself with extra time to think about cooking! When we cook at home, we typically eat more nutritious foods. Meal prepping for 2-3 days will help you avoid ordering take out or snacking. When you go to the grocery store keep these things in mind:

● Your body needs fruits and vegetables to help improve your immune system.
● Plan on a protein rich food at each meal – small amounts of meat, chicken, fish, egg, beans, nuts, seeds, lean dairy or tofu are great examples. Review Choose MyPlate.
● Make snack foods healthy; avoid tempting yourself by bringing home things you’d rather not over consume. Grab a bag of baby carrots, broccoli florets and hummus.
● Stay Hydrated. Pick up some citrus, or other fruit/vegetable, to create infused water for a change of pace.

Together we are strong.  This will pass and some of us will come out the other side with better habits.  Be one of them.

https://nutrition.org/making-health-and-nutrition-a-priority-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/

https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/03/18/how-to-stay-healthy-when-stuck-at-home/

Boost your Immune System

immune system

By Marisa Morales, Nutrition Peer Counselor

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, seen in a Solano County resident being treated at the UC Davis Medical Center. The world first began seeing cases of this viral illness at the beginning of the new year. It initiated in China but has since made its way across the country and onto other continents. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent and nothing to treat this virus, but there are some foods one can eat to reduce the risk of becoming ill. Here is a list of key nutrients to help boost your immune system:

    • Vitamin A– promotes the integrity of epithelial cells and respiratory and intestinal mucus which act as a first line of defense against pathogens
      • Food sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, eggs, or fortified milks and cereals that are labeled “Vitamin A fortified”
    • Vitamin C– promotes epithelial integrity and is an antioxidant that can protect from oxidative stress
      • Food sources: oranges, strawberries, papayas, tomato juice, and grapefruit
    • Vitamin E– an antioxidant that protects the healthy fats (polyunsaturated fats) found in our cell’s membrane and neutralizes dangerous free radicals
      • Food sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and vegetable oils
    • Selenium– plays an important role in inflammation and immunity
      • Food sources: brazil nuts, sardines, and garlic
    • Zinc– keeps the immune system strong and promotes wound healing
      • Food sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and whole grains
    • Protein– provides energy and building blocks for the body to heal and recover from damage done by pathogens
      • Food sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, and peas

Although nutrition is very important for your body’s health, I encourage everyone to take other precautions to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The following recommendations come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

    • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
      • If no soap or water is available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing, throw away tissues right away
    • Stay home if you feel ill
    • Disinfect frequently touched items

Be aware that face masks do not prevent one from getting sick! It is more important that face masks are worn by those who are experiencing symptoms of the virus to help keep it from spreading.

In case of quarantine, it can be helpful to stock up on 30 days of non-perishable items such as canned goods, granola bars, etc.

Sources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/non-perishable-food
https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/protect-your-health-with-immune-boosting-nutrition
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6162863/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

 

Make shopping for fruits and veggies easy!

grocery cart embroidery

By Ruth Vodonos, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

Having to grocery shop can be stressful. You might walk in hungry just to buy everything that looks good, but then regret it later when you realize how unhealthy it is. I know I have personally gone shopping hungry only to buy myself mostly snacks and sweets, realizing a day later that I have not bought any food I can actually create a healthy meal with. You might even go grocery shopping with the intention of buying only healthy foods, only to find yourself hungry two days later when you’ve only bought salad type ingredients and you have already run out.

This is why creating a list of the food and beverages you need to buy so that you have a game plan once you enter the store can help you in reaching your health goals. Making a grocery list is a great way to make shopping quicker, easier, and ensure your meals have more fruits and veggies in them!

Choose MyPlate has an amazing free template of a grocery list that allows you to organize your list by different sections.

 

Focus on creating a list full of fruits and vegetables. Add in protein foods and grains (aim for whole grains!). Below are some ideas of fruits and vegetables to get you started on making your list! 🙂

Here are some ideas for fruits you can add to your list.  Use fresh, canned (without added sugar) or frozen varieties:

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Cranberry
  • Date
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Lemon
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Melon (cantaloupe/honeydew/watermelon)
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry

Here are some ideas for vegetables you can add to your list.  Fresh, frozen or canned all work:

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Beet
  • Bell pepper
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Pea
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Yam
  • Zucchini

What are some of your favorite ways to get enough fruits and vegetables each day?  Let us know in comments!

How Nutritious are popular plant-based burgers?

burger

By:  Marisa Morales, Healthy Aggies Nutrition Peer Counselor

Veggie burger patties have been around for quite some time. They are generally consumed by those who choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Jumping ahead to the present, a new version of plant-based burgers has become a popular alternative for regular burgers. This version of plant-based patties tastes, smells, and looks similar to a meat-based patty which is why it is favored among many. The familiar “bleeding” seen in meat-based burgers, and now in plant-based burgers, is all thanks to the molecule “heme”. Although the idea of consuming a plant-based burger rather than a meat patty would appear to be a healthier alternative, the nutrition facts do not support this assumption.

Many people would like to believe that these meat-mimicking burgers are healthy (or healthier) for our bodies than regular burgers because they are entirely composed of plants. However, what most people do not understand is the amount of processing that must be done to achieve the almost-identical characteristics as an animal burger.

Although the Beyond Burger is made without GMOs, soy or gluten, the ingredient list is quite long: “Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color)”. The Impossible Burger is another popular plant-based burger with a lengthy ingredient list: “Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.”

The following shows us the comparison between the Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, and a regular grass-fed beef burger:

Beyond Burger (4 oz. serving) Impossible Burger (4 oz. serving) Grass-fed beef burger (4 oz. serving)
Calories 250 240 224
Total fat 18 g 14 g 17 g
Saturated fat 6 g 8 g 6 g
Protein 20 g 19 g 21 g
Total carbs 3 g 9 g 0 g
Sodium 390 mg 370 mg 77 mg

Studies have shown that following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle reduces risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. To clarify, the participants in these studies did not eat plant-based meat. Instead, their diet consisted of lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The point I would like you all to take away from this post is the importance of reading food labels. Corporate marketing teams do a fantastic job at designing catchy phrases and pictures to promote their product. You may see a box of “salt-free” crackers or “sugar-free” doughnuts, but until you look at the ingredient list and nutrition facts you cannot be certain of what you are consuming. Sometimes, nutrients, such as salt or sugar, are extracted from food and replaced with something else for it to taste, look, and smell just like the original product. It is often the case that this “something else” is not much healthier. Take a look at your food labels at home, what you find may surprise you!

Sources:

https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a29133293/is-plant-based-meat-healthy/

https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/healthy-tips/2019/09/is-plant-based-meat-healthy-for-you

 

Five Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

By Cecilia Chen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

tofu

A vegetarian refrains from eating meat, poultry, and sometimes, fish.  These are all significant sources of protein. A common question asked by those eating vegetarian is “How can I get enough protein?” Some plant-based food and dairy products are excellent protein sources for a vegetarian diet. Here we list five major categories of such foods.

  1. Soybean products including tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame

Have you seen contradictory comments online regarding whether or not it is safe for both men and women to eat soy products ?  The primary concern is the estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effect on our body. According to recent studies, soy, as one of the nutrient-dense sources of plant protein, has a beneficial or neutral effect on health. Soybeans are a common species of edible beans in Southeast Asia. Many products such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame are derivatives of soybeans. Edamame is the immature form of soybeans in the pod, easily prepared by steaming and boiling. An excellent source of protein, one cup of shelled edamame contains 17 grams.  Soybeans are processed to create soy milk and tofu. Soy milk contains a similar amount of protein as cow’s milk. Tofu is the bean curd leftover from the production of soy milk, and it absorbs the flavor in other ingredients well making it easy to cook with. It is available in a variety of textures, ranging from soft to extra firm. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and has a texture similar to meat. Like tofu, it also absorbs the flavor from other foods well, yet it holds shape better than tofu; it makes a great meat substitute. Eating soy products several times a week instead of processed meat may have health benefits.

  1. Dairy products such as cow milk, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese

Dairy products are an excellent protein source, and the primary source of calcium in the typical western diet, an essential nutrient that builds strong bones. Cow milk, yogurt, and cheese contain lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar. Some populations may not be able to digest lactose properly, so after eating these products, they feel bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea to various degrees. This condition is termed lactose intolerance. If this applies to you, you may consider drinking soy milk instead.

  1. Legumes such as Lentils

Lentils, edible seeds, are part of the legume family; all of which is highly nutritious. In addition to being an excellent source of protein, these foods are high in fiber, folate, and iron. There are many types of lentils: brown, green and red lentils, French lentils, and black lentils. Most become a mush-like texture after 20 to 30 minutes of cooking. French lentils tend to hold their shape better.  Using lentils, whether in a soup, salad, or curry, adds protein and other nutrients to your meal without the saturated fat found in animal products.

  1. Beans such as chickpeas and black beans

Chickpeas and black beans also contain significant amounts of protein. In 1/2 cup serving, black beans contain 7 grams of protein, and chickpeas contain around 19 grams of protein. Many cooks prefer to soak (~8 hours in clear water) beans before cooking, although it is not necessary.  They then require simmering 2-3 hours to become tender. Ideal for a slow cooker, beans can be flavored many ways and used as an ingredient in many dishes.  About 1 cup of dried beans makes 3 cups of cooked beans.

  1. Seitan

Seitan is made from wheat gluten, which is protein-dense. One third cup of seitan contains about 20 grams of protein. If you are gluten sensitive or have Celiac disease this is not a good option.  It is cooked similar to tofu and substitutes for meat in many dishes.

If you try any of these vegetarian options, let us know what you think! Do you have special, creative ways you cook them?

Make 2020 the Year of Gratitude

open arms

By Brandy Carrillo, Healthy Aggies intern

The resolution mentality is still alive as we adjust to the ins and outs of the new decade. Many of us took the time to reflect on the good and bad of 2019 and develop a set of resolutions for 2020. A new year is the perfect opportunity to start focusing on the good!

If you’re waiting for disaster to happen, it is hard to wrap your head around the idea of gratitude.  A pessimistic outlook makes it difficult to pinpoint and pick out the positive from the negative. So here are some tips and on how to spot that silver lining with ease and adopt an attitude of gratitude.

  1. Celebrate the little things

It is difficult to recognize when things are going the way we want them to if we’re busy looking for anything to go awry. By celebrating even the little successes, we start to subconsciously adopt a more optimistic way of thinking, allowing us to welcome gratitude with open arms. These celebrations can be as small as, “I’m thankful for the penny I found on the ground” or as big as “I’m thankful that I got an A on my midterm.”

  1. Start a gratitude journal

It is easy to forget to consciously be thankful daily. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we don’t even realize the day is already gone; we jump into preparing for the next without expressing gratitude for the one just past. Writing down at least 5 things you are grateful for every day can help you take on a more positive perspective and notice all the good in your life. Consider a gratitude jar or journal.

  1. Don’t completely forget about the “bad”

To be grateful for what you have, it’s good to momentarily reflect on previous hardships to help you see what was once bad is now good.

Gratitude is an awesome way for us to truly appreciate what we have instead of trying to change with hopes that it will make us happier. By remembering to do these three simple tasks every day, your perspective will slowly begin to shift and you’ll be living more gratefully in no time.

How do you celebrate with gratitude?

Canned + Frozen: A Convenient Combination

canned

By:  Haley Adel, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Nutrition Peer Counselor

As midterm season is around the corner, the transition from winter break to winter quarter is official. With energy redirected from relaxing to cramming for tests, most of us find ourselves short on time. We begin sacrificing things that take up precious study time, like food prep. Don’t despair! Here are some tips on how to use frozen and canned foods that you can stock up on, so dinner will only be a few minutes away.

 Canned Foods

Canned meats, especially fish, are a friend to turn to when the clock is ticking. They are shelf stable, so they don’t go bad if stored awhile, unlike fresh meat. The texture is a little different, but you barely notice when it is added to a salad or combined dish. Canned meats are also cheaper than fresh. Not only will you save time on cooking and shopping, but you’ll save money. A double bonus!

Let’s start with canned fish. Fish including salmon, anchovies, and tuna all have omega-3 fatty acids, shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that help decrease the risk of heart and other chronic diseases. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends about 8 oz per week of seafood. You can reach your recommended amount of seafood and save time with canned!

Canned chicken is another great way to squeeze in healthy food quickly. Each serving has about 13 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat. And that is only 1/3 of the container, so there are a lot of nutrients in that little can. Whether added to a sandwich or salad, canned chicken is a great tool to help power you through midterms.

 Frozen Veggies

Frozen vegetables are a quick option for any meal. They are cheaper than fresh and keep longer. Also, a greater variety is available year-round than fresh seasonal veggies. The nutrients in fresh veggies begin to diminish during storage; frozen veggies are frozen close to being picked, thereby preserving those nutrients. An important factor too, with busy schedules, is that frozen vegetables are easy to cook. Simply reheat them in the microwave or with a quick sauté for a healthy side dish in just minutes. Frozen vegetables are an essential tool to fill half your plate with vegetables.

Recipes

All of this is great, but how to apply it? Well, here are some quick recipes incorporating canned foods and frozen veggies.

5 ingred chicken fried rice

Chicken Fried Rice Recipe – Only 5 Ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups canned chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to a large pan and heat on medium heat.
  2. Add chicken and vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender. It helps if you pre-cook (steam) the vegetables to lessen the cooking time of your chicken fried rice.
  3. Add rice and soy sauce. Stir well and cook about 5 minutes until all ingredients are mixed and rice is heated.

https://www.modernmami.com/recipes/chicken-fried-rice-recipe/

15 min tuna and rice

15-Minute Tuna and Rice Primavera

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 fl oz/284 mL) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed, drained
  • 1 can (170 g) tuna, drained, flaked
  • 1-1/3 cups instant white rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring soup and water to boil in large skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Add vegetables and tuna; mix well. Return to boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in rice and cheese; cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 min. Fluff with fork

http://www.kraftcanada.com/recipes/15-minute-tuna-rice-primavera-178544

How do you lean on canned and frozen foods in your meal prep?  Let us know in the comments!