Tips for Staying Cool this Summer

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Summer is finally here! Whether you’re staying in Davis or traveling elsewhere, these tips on how to stay cool in the summer heat may come in handy over the next couple months, especially if you don’t have AC.  Here are seven quick tips to beat the heat and stay hydrated this summer.

1. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator to use as a quick refreshing spray after being outdoors.

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2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these will promote dehydration

3. Instead of large, hot meals, try lighter, more frequent cold meals or snacks.  Choose salads, fresh raw food, vegetables and fruit.  Avoid eating meat and protein-heavy foods , which can increase metabolic heat production.  Large meals will also produce more heat for your body to process.  Here are a few cooling summer recipes to try out:

Easy three ingredient popsicles

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Berry Watermelon Fruit Salad

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Easy Gazpacho Recipe

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4. Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep hot air outside. Open windows at night to enjoy the cool evening air.

5. Rinse your wrists and/or feet with cold water before you go to sleep, which has a full-body cooling effect.

6. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.  Monitor your urine color to ensure that you’re staying hydrated.

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7. Wear sunscreen when you’re exposed to the sun; SPF 15 at the minimum, but preferably SPF 30 or higher.

In addition to staying cool this summer, don’t forget to relax and de-stress from finals madness!  Have a great summer, Aggies!

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Why should I eat locally?

By Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

Have you ever wonder why we can eat certain fruits, such as bananas and pineapples, that don’t grow in the area naturally? Or how are we able to get certain vegetables all year round even when they’re not in season? Surprisingly, the food industry has been taking care of this issue for decades, and the seasons and distance are no longer an obstacle to get the food we want at any point of the year. However, not all of us are aware of the implications that these actions may have in the long run because we don’t see it directly.

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Clearly, there are fruits and vegetables that are not produced in the US due to the environment and soil conditions (for example tropical fruits, such as mango and papaya) which only grow in very specific areas. This type of produce is usually imported from other countries, which implies huge expenses in transport, conservation techniques, and huge carbon monoxide emissions.

By consuming locally, we can avoid this mass production, which is not based in seasons, natural cycles and biodiversity and that encourages cultivating only a few types of fruits and vegetables. Here are five reasons why you should buy locally:

  • Fresh fruit and veggies

Seasonally fresh fruits are picked up when they are at their peak and therefore will have a more optimal flavor versus the fruits that have traveled thousands of miles and got harvested way before they were ripped.

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  • Reduces carbon footprint

Local produce doesn’t have to travel long distances, which will result in a reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Also, it will be cheaper because transport charges are not added.

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  • Support local businesses

Money invested locally will help farmers and the money will stay at our local community, which will benefit all of us directly.

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  • Increase your creativity

By having a wide variety fruits and veggies every season, you will be able to challenge yourself to cook differently and to use your creativity.

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  • Increases education and makes you more aware about where your food comes from

We are usually disconnected from the food process. We don’t know how and where our food is produced, and this perception can affect the agricultural process and the way we consume foods.

Serving Sizes: a visual guide

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant 

When’s the last time you measured out half a cup of ice cream, ate exactly 15 chips, or leveled out two tablespoons of peanut butter? You may be surprised about what a serving of these common foods actually looks like.  While using measuring utensils and counting calories isn’t necessary to maintain a healthy diet, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the recommended serving sizes for the foods you’re eating on a daily basis, particularly if they’re calorie dense.

Below are some visual representations to think about the next time you reach for a pint of ice cream, a bag of trail mix, or a jar of peanut butter.

Peanut Butter

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Serving size = 2 Tablespoons

Pasta

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Serving size: ½ cup, or a tennis ball

Ice Cream

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Serving size = ½ cup, or a tennis ball

*This means that there are 4 servings per pint!

Trail mix

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Serving size: ¼ cup, or a golf ball, or a small handful

Almonds

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Servings size: 1 oz or 24 nuts

Potato Chips

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Serving size: 1 oz or 15 chips

Granola

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Serving size: ¼ cup or an egg

Oreos

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Serving size: 2 cookies

Salad dressing

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Serving size: 2 Tablespoons

Did any of these surprise you? It’s unnecessary to obsess over exact measurements, but being mindful of your portions can help you reach your health goals. As you can see, many “healthy” foods are higher in calories, fat, and/or sugar than you may think. Furthermore, eating smaller portions leaves room for a larger variety of foods within your daily intake, which can help you reach your macro- and micro- nutrient requirements.

 

Energy Drinks: What are the health risks?

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Energy drinks are commonly used by busy college students as an easy source of caffeine. While they can help you to stay alert and focused throughout the day and night, it is important to understand the safe dosage and health effects of energy drink consumption.

Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults.  Because of their compact and convenient design, it is important for consumers to pay attention to the caffeine and sugar content, as well as the ingredients, of these beverages.  A 24 oz energy drink may contain as much as 500 mg of caffeine, while the median sugar content of sugar-sweetened energy drinks is 25 grams per 8-oz serving (comparable to that of sodas and fruit drinks).   Other ingredients that are often found in energy drinks include glucuronolactone, B vitamins, ginseng, gingko biloba, antioxidants, and trace minerals.

Caffeine Content

According to Mayo Clinic, up to 400 mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.  If we assume the average amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee is 100 mg, you could consume up to four cups of coffee a day without adverse side effects.  For energy drinks or energy shots, you need to check the caffeine content on the nutrition label to keep track of your caffeine consumption.  Beverages and supplements are not legally required to disclose the caffeine content of their product, so aim for brands which do disclose this information (Monster and Rock Star Energy began disclosing this information in 2013).

Brand Comparisons

 

Here is the nutrition label for a can of Monster Energy Drink, one of the most common energy drinks.  One 8 oz can has 28 grams of added sugar and 83 mg of caffeine.  The main ingredients are sugar, glucose, citric acid, natural flavors, and taurine, along with seventeen other ingredients, including the artificial sweetener sucralose, B vitamins, and added color.  Taurine is an amino acid known to influence various physiological functions and is generally recognized as safe as a food additive.  However, the European Commission has been inconclusive on establishing an upper safe intake level and the health effects of taurine when combined with caffeine.

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Here is the nutrition label for a can of Guayaki brand Yerba Mate tea in the flavor “Bluephoria”. This can contains 14 grams of sugar (per 8 oz serving) as well as 150 mg caffeine (more than the Monster’s 83 mg).  Yerba mate is described as having “the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate”.  This beverage tends to deliver a more balanced energy boost compared to coffee, and contains many naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. In contrast to Monster, this beverage contains only natural, recognizable ingredients, such as organic cane sugar and blueberry juice concentrate.

 

 

This third energy drink variety is by the brand RUNA, and contains 0 calories, 0 grams of sugar, and 120 mg of caffeine.  Notice there are only four ingredients (all of which are natural) in this beverage.  While it may not be as widely available, or as flavorful, these natural energy drinks are on the rise as consumers look for healthier alternatives to popular, more artificial and sugar-rich brands.

The lesser evil?

While having a Red Bull in moderation will most likely have negligible health effects, students who want a quick and easy energy boost can gravitate towards the healthier, more natural energy drink options when they are available.  In general, consumers should focus on reading nutritional labels and being mindful of sugar content, caffeine content, and list of ingredients.  For a healthier energy boost, aim for minimal added sugars, and more natural ingredients in your energy drink.

It is also important to keep in mind that every individual responds to caffeine differently. Some people may be able to drink over 400 mg of caffeine with minimal effects, while others will experience jitters and heartburn from one energy drink alone.  With caffeine available in compact, sugar-rich cans, it is important to be mindful of how many of these beverages you are consuming in a day, and avoid consuming over 400 mg of caffeine in a day.  Energy drinks can be a quick fix for fatigue, but nourishing your body through calories from real food with naturally occurring sugars, vitamins, and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, will also help to boost your energy.

 

UC Davis Farmers Market back for spring!

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Attention all Aggies: the UC Davis Farmers Market is back on campus for Spring Quarter! Here you will find tons of fresh produce, raw honey, bread and baked goods, UC Davis made olive oil, and much more.  The market aims to be a destination in itself, not just something students stumble upon during their commute across campus.  The Farmers Market will be at the North Quad every Wednesday from 11 am to 1:30 pm for Spring Quarter.

Here are the vendors you will find for the Spring 2018 season:

  • PURE honey
  • Ahmad Farms: fruit
  • Toledo Farms: assorted organic veggies and fruits, potatoes
  • Fruit Factory: fruits
  • Williamson Farms: Strawberries
  • Shoup Farms: avocado
  • UC Davis Student Farm: flowers, veggies
  • Gotelli Farms: cherries in May
  • Upper Crust Bakery: breads, cookies, apple tarts

Visiting the UC Davis Farmers Market is a great way to promote health and wellness in all aspects of your life.  Here are some of the benefits of taking some time out of your day to visit the market:

 

Education

In addition to buying food at the market, you can learn more about health and wellness through visiting the Student Health and Counseling Services and Healthy Aggies booths.  These organizations seek to educate individuals on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a busy college student.  Be sure to visit these booths to hear about campus resources, play fun games, get some free swag, and learn more about various nutrition and wellness topics.

 

Nutrition

The accessibility of a Farmers Market on campus makes getting your fresh fruits and vegetables even easier! Here you don’t have to worry about your produce containing pesticides, waxes, or genetic modification. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber to keep you full, energized, and nourished throughout your day.

You can find easy recipes using ingredients found at the farmers market on our website at:

https://healthy.ucdavis.edu/food-nutrition/farmers-market/recipes

 

Self-Care

The Farmers Market is able to bring the community together and create a calming environment for everyone to enjoy.  At the market you will find picnic blankets strewn across the grass where students can take a break from their busy day to relax and enjoy the sunshine.  Taking time out of your day to unwind, spend time with friends, and get some vitamin D are extremely beneficial for mental wellbeing.  These study breaks will help you retain information and focus more effectively for the rest of the day.

 

Supporting Local Business

As large agribusiness is increasingly dominating U.S. food production, a great benefit of the Farmers Market is the ability to directly support local growers and businesses.  Instead of buying produce harvested before ripeness halfway across the globe, your money is directly supporting family farms in the Yolo County area.  This also benefits the environment through reducing the amount of fossil fuels used to transport produce from farm to consumer.

 

 

In summary, visiting the UC Davis Farmers Market is a quick and easy way to support a healthy lifestyle.  Be sure to head to the North Quad on Wednesdays between 11 am and 1:30 pm to buy fresh produce and take a break from your busy day.

 

Healthy Aggies Promotion:   the market will be giving away $10 bundles in market dollars to the first 10 people who visit the Market Information Booth on April 11 and say “I read about $10 in free vouchers on the Healthy Aggies blog”! While supplies last!

 

You can find up-to-date information on the UC Davis Farmers Market and subscribe to their weekly newsletter at: https://healthy.ucdavis.edu/food-nutrition/farmers-market

Does Eating really fix the problem?

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Source: OcusFocus/Getty Images

By: Vivian Siu, Healthy Aggies Nutrition Intern

Why do we eat? Besides the obvious reason that we need fuel to keep us healthy and moving, we eat because food is yummy. There’s a form of happiness that comes from eating a warm, fudgy brownie. Eating is also important during celebrations, reunions, or simply hanging out. With so much cultural diversity in this town, there are so many food choices available that make it that much harder to find an excuse to not go eat. However, there’s another reason why some of us eat. We refer to it as ‘snacking’ but sometimes it is a coping mechanism – then it is stress or emotional eating.

Reasons we eat outside of hunger

  1. We relate ‘Food’ to ‘pleasure’.

At the end of a tiring, long day what is one thing you can look forward to? A plate of fries or maybe a bowl of ice cream? Both can give you a temporary feeling of happiness, and if you’re like me, those types of comfort food are often associated with feelings of bliss, at least at first.  

But, instead of associating food that sense of pleasure and then suffering the consequences of too much junk, not enough nutrients, or just eating more food than you need, try using different activities to accomplish the bliss goal. What about that painting class you always wanted to take or learning how to play the guitar to serenade your cat and enjoy some music when you arrive home after a hard day?   This will feel especially doable if you’ve been practicing good, adequate eating habits throughout your day and are not famished! Having other activities besides eating to look forward to can cause you feel that same bliss.

  1. To avoid difficult situations and/or feelings.

During time of hardships and challenges, for many of us – including myself, we tend to avoid feelings. Avoiding feelings makes us more likely to seek out temporary fixes such as eating that feel good during the moment, but are very temporary, in fact may make things worse.  

One important fact to remember is that it’s okay to feel sad, mad, and frustrated. If it wasn’t for these feelings, would we know what happiness really is? Learning how to talk about your feelings, whether it be in the form of journaling, calling a hotline, or talking to a friend, can help you realize the deeper rooted problem that is causing you to want to turn to food for comfort.

  1.     Physiological Response.

One thing I’ve learned from my 2 ½ years of college so far is that there are days where I can be swamped with work, class, assignments, studying, you get the idea, right? If I don’t take the time to feed myself, lovingly throughout the day, I find myself more irritable and more susceptible to my cravings/eating more junk food because I’m “hangry” when I finally get home.

Having a regular and nutritious meal schedule is important to staying healthy and lessening the likelihood of emotional eating.

  1.     Self-Image.

Society has led most to believe that beautiful means thin and skinny, with flat tummies.

Our lives are filled with some of the most innovative and connected technology, it can be hard to avoid societal influences of what beauty is. In reality, beauty is something that cannot be defined, at least not by society. Beauty is more than just appearances. It can be seen through the actions of taking care of yourself, being true to who you are, being kind to friends, family, and strangers, taking care of the earth, and the list could go on. If taking care of yourself means indulging in some sweets once in a while, that’s perfectly fine. Just remember that eating as a temporary fix for whatever challenge you may be facing is okay, but it’s important to remember that addressing the problem can pave the way to a more permanent solution.

Vitamins for College Students

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Vitamins are a group of organic compounds with regulatory functions. Vitamins cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by the body; therefore we must obtain them in adequate amounts from food. There are 13 universally recognized vitamins: 9 water-soluble vitamins and 4 fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in body (except Vitamin B12), and mostly are non-toxic when we intake them excessively. On the contrary, fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in body, and most of them are toxic at excessive doses. Generally it is not recommended for people without malabsorption issues to take vitamin supplements, because we can get enough through a healthy diet! While every vitamin is essential,today our emphasis is on vitamins that are beneficial to college students.

Vitamins D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and has many functions that help people stay healthy. Vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin from the sun, and helps the body absorb calcium. Along with calcium, vitamin D helps to keep our bones healthy and strong. Vitamin D also plays an important role in our immune system, which protects us from illness and infections. Good food sources of vitamin D include: liver, beef, veal, eggs, dairy, some saltwater fish, and foods fortified with vitamin D. College students have large amounts of physical activities, so intaking enough vitamin D can help students have healthy bones to do daily activities.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another fat-soluble vitamin, and it is stored in the liver. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy eyes, keeping the immune system strong and helping cells function properly. There two forms of vitamin A: retinoids and provitamin A, also known as carotenoids. Retinoids are found in animal products such as liver, dairy, eggs, fish oils, tuna, and sardines. Carotenoids are found in plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables that are bright colors to yellow, orange and red. Since we have stressful academic works everyday, it is really important to take adequate vitamin A to protect our vision.

B Vitamins

B vitamins include a group of 8 water-soluble vitamins called the vitamin B-complex. Vitamin B-complex has a very important role in energy releasing. One or more B vitamins are involved in every aspect of catabolic process, and provide energy to us by breaking down molecules through process. Vitamin B12 is one of the most important vitamins in this process. Vitamin B12 also has functions in the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. Good food sources of vitamin B12 are meat and dairy products. We also can choose foods that are fortified with vitamin B12.

All 13 vitamins are essential for our health, so it is important to follow the “My Plate” template and choose a wide range of foods to get enough vitamins, as long as they are not in any serious diseases or conditions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d–vitamin-d-deficiency-