Earth Day- Let’s make a better place for all of us

By Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

We are only four days away from Earth day, which makes it a perfect time to think about our actions for the past years. According to the ASCE, Americans generate around 258 million tons of material solid waste every year, only about 35% of the waste is recycled and 53% goes into landfills. What have we done so far to solve the problem about pollution and solid waste? The best way to help is to start with ourselves by making more sustainable decisions.

This year, Earth Day is dedicated to raise awareness about plastics and how to reduce them. Here are four ways to reduce our overall carbon footprint and waste:

  • Meatless Mondays

Meatless Mondays is a movement around the world that consists in cutting meat once a week. The purpose of this movement is to decrease the carbon and water footprint generated by the production in meat, which is generally larger than crop products. Actually, it’s estimated that one pound of meat requires more than 2,000 gallons of water for its production.

By making this shift and decreasing the amount of meat in our diet, we are not only helping the planet, but we may also reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

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  • Eat local

Buying local is a great strategy to support sustainability. This is because we will be buying food that hasn’t traveled very far distances and therefore hasn’t emitted lots of greenhouse gases during the trip. Our food will be fresher, and we will be supporting local businesses and economy. In addition, we can also buy food cheaper because there is a high supply in the seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies out of season can have a higher price due to the distance and the number of people involved in the process.

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  • Reduce, reuse, recycle

The three R’s reduce, reuse and recycle are three actions that we all should include in our daily basis in order to decrease our overall waste and to conserve natural resources

The first R, reduce, has the purpose decrease the amount of waste that we produce in a day-to-day basis. Implement this action to your routine by avoiding disposable items, printing in both sides of paper, drinking from reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles, switching to cloth napkins for paper napkins and by decreasing consumption of products with lots of wrapping.

The second R, reuse, consists in using again older things that we have or finding them other usages than what they are intended for originally. Some examples are: using old envelopes as note pads, using old jars to store kitchen stuff, using paper that is printed already on one side, donating books and old clothes.

The last but not least is recycle, which means collecting and transforming into new products materials that would otherwise be considered as trash. Some materials that can be recycle are plastic bottles, cardboard, metal (tin, aluminum, steel), and glass.

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  • Bike more and drive less.

Riding a bike is beneficial to the environment by the simple fact that no pollution is excreted. Riding a bike will also increase your strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and can help as a stress reliever. In addition, you will save money because no oil is required. Skip traffic and try to use your bike to get from point A to point B. Luckily for us, Davis is a very bike friendly town!

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Did you know that UC Davis is planning to meet the goal of zero waste by 2020? Help to reach the goal by making sustainable choices and reducing your waste!

Sustaining Your New Year’s Resolution

New-years-Resolutions.jpg

By Jackie Ahern

It’s a little over a week into 2018: a perfect time to reflect on the successes and struggles of those pesky New Year’s resolutions we all seem to make. For those of you that have stuck to your goal of going to the gym more often, or eating more leafy greens, congratulations! Research has shown it takes 21 days to make something a habit, so you’re halfway there! For those of you that haven’t been so successful, you’re absolutely not alone.

New Year’s resolutions are tough. For one, there are a lot of expectations and hype surrounding becoming a newer, better version of yourself, al starting on January 1st (or the 2nd if that NYE party was a real rager); however, in reality, time is relative. There’s no difference between starting a new habit on January 1st or June 1st, other than those 6 months. Granted you live for at least 20 more years (here’s hoping), 6 months is a pretty small fraction. What I’m trying to say is that January 1st isn’t the end-all-be-all for changing your life for the better. If you aren’t able to stick to your first resolution for whatever reason, whether it be that it’s too expensive, too time-consuming or just too difficult to keep up, that’s okay. You don’t have to abandon the resolution; just modify it. When an engineer designs a building but it gets painted the wrong color, they don’t tear down the whole building. They just repaint it.

A good New Year’s resolution, or any lifestyle change for that matter, needs to be something you can see yourself being able to continue for the rest, or most, of your life. For example, I know I cannot completely cut out desert forever (have you ever had ice cream?) but what I could do is cut down on my portion size, or only have it a couple times a week instead of every night. Additionally as a student, working out every day at 7am isn’t exactly sustainable, but working out after class 3 or 4 times a week could be. If down the line you find yourself suddenly hating ice cream, or craving more workouts, you can definitely switch some things up, but in the beginning, its best to start small with more attainable goals.

So what is a good way to assess an attainable, smart goal? Well, there’s a convenient acronym for that. It’s called SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Specific refers to a clear definition of the goal, such as “I will take a 30-minute walk in the morning, 3 times a week” versus just, “I will get in shape.” Measurable means having a way to evaluate how thoroughly the goal has been met, such as marking exercise days on a calendar or keeping a food journal. Achievable means the goal must be within the realm of possibility; for example, “I will lose 1 pound a week” instead of, “I will lose 20 pounds this month.” Talking to a professional like a doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer can help to navigate how achievable a health-related goal is. Relevant refers to how much the goal fits in with your lifestyle and other pursuits. For example, while in school, a resolution such as “I will learn how to swim” may be more relevant than “I will learn how to scuba dive.” Lastly, timely means that the goal should have some defined checkpoint or endpoint, such as “I will eventually be able to meditate for 20 minutes by adding 5 minutes to my meditation every 2 weeks.” Of course, from there you can decide to modify the goal.

And finally… Think about where you were 3 months ago. If you had made just a small lifestyle change then, today could a very different day. With time flying by the way that it does, who knows where you could be in just a few months by taking a small step towards a healthier future, today.

I don’t have time…

 

 

you always have time

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, Fitness and Wellness, UC Davis

“I don’t have time to…” fill in the blank with whatever old New Year’s resolution or healthy habit you’ve been wanting to implement in your life. Think: exercise, meal prep, take baths, or catch up with a friend. I find myself saying this a lot, meanwhile I somehow always find the time to binge watch Friends until 1 am, when really I should have taken the extra minute to floss. We’ve all been there.

So what does it mean to not have time? Is it that there really isn’t enough hours in the day to take a 30 minute walk, or cut up some extra vegetables for the week? When you do the math, there’s 1440 minutes in a day and 30 minutes is only 2% of that. This calls for a change in perspective.

Let’s talk about priorities. I’d like to challenge you to shift your way of thinking from, “I don’t have the time” to, “It’s not a priority for me right now.”

“I don’t have the time” is an absolute negative, where there is no possible way you could achieve this task and it is out of your control. It also removes yourself from the issue, ridding yourself from the responsibility of your own choices. It seems like an innocent enough mindset, but it is not a good strategy to live with intention.

Meanwhile, “It’s not a priority for me right now” is an acknowledgement of your own decision, that whatever you’re not doing (me personally: flossing) is a result of your own choices. This isn’t a negative thing, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection. You are in control of your priorities. Shifting your mindset in regards to your choices gives you the power to question if your current habits are your true priority. Ask yourself, is watching Netflix a priority over exercise? Is scrolling through social media a priority over cooking a balanced meal? If it is, great! If it isn’t, reflect on that and make a change.

With finals around the corner, studying will definitely be a high priority item for myself and other students; however don’t forget to make self-care a high priority as well. Take study breaks, fuel your body with good foods, and practice deep breathing if you feel stressed out. Good luck Healthy Aggies!

Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?

MSG

Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?

We have a few notions about MSG. It’s salty. It makes an appearance in Asian cuisine. And it may not be good for us. But what exactly is it? Can we really experience side effects from eating it? And overall, could it actually cause harm so that we can never eat instant ramen and Chinese cuisine again?? HELP!

What exactly is MSG?

To explain it in a way that is not terrifyingly scientific, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a compound of glutamic acid (a non-essential amino acid) and a sodium molecule.

You can find glutamic acid naturally in foods like tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. MSG on the other hand, was manufactured by a University of Tokyo chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. The discovery of MSG, added to the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter with a new taste called umami. Umami is used to describe a meaty and savory taste like in a juicy cheeseburger hence the popular burger chain called UMAMI Burger.

What about Side Effects? How did MSG gain a bad reputation?

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or MSG symptom complex is a group of conditions some people report after having a meal that includes MSG. Symptoms reported included nausea, headaches, and numbness.

However, these symptoms were not reported until 1968 after a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine became popular. Ironically, a Chinese-American man, Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok in the letter theorized that MSG was the culprit for his symptoms of numbness, general weakness, and palpitation after eating at Chinese restaurants. What adds to this interesting history is that MSG was actually quite popular prior to letter and not just in Chinese cuisine as it was heavily used in World War II to add flavor to bland soldiers’ rations.

Since 1968, studies have been done to confirm the safety of MSG as a food additive.

Harmful for my health?

The FDA has determined that MSG is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Double blind studies have shown little correlation between MSG and negative symptoms. The amount of MSG you eat in foods is also typically a very small amount so it’s not likely to cause any problems. But pun intended, take this information with a grain of salt. Because those that are against MSG claim that MSG producers fund these studies (and skew results…), while those that are for MSG claim those that are anti-MSG are just instilling fear in the public.

TLDR

Studies indicate that MSG is generally safe for most people. There may be an occasional person who is sensitive to it. If that is the case, read labels and avoid foods with added MSG. In addition, the FDA’s designation for MSG doesn’t mean that other aspects of the ingredient, like the sodium level are not of concern. So even though MSG is safe, it does not necessarily mean no consequences can come from eating a spoonful of it everyday. But feel free to enjoy your instant ramen with MSG flavoring as a treat once in awhile!

Resources:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151106-is-msg-as-bad-as-its-made-out-to-be

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/its-the-umami-stupid-why-the-truth-about-msg-is-so-easy-to-swallow-180947626/

 

 

Protect your Skin from the Summer Sun

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Are you glowing with that summer tan?

Unfortunately there is a pervasive belief in our society that a tan connotes health, affluence and beauty.  You’ll hear that a tan offers protection against sunburn.  The truth is that a tan offers very little protection against sunburn and we’re starting to learn some startling new truths from recent research, namely that UV harms skin cells’ DNA.  This destruction triggers melanogenesis which is a scientific word for production of pigment cells where melanoma (skin cancer) forms.  Some of the time the body’s immune system tracks down these mutations and repairs them; when it doesn’t, skin cancer takes hold.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is never a good thing from a health perspective.  The only safe tan is a non-UV self-tanner, which may carry its own risks.

Protect yourself!

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wear long sleeves/pants when possible.
  • Use a swim shirt to block UV rays in the pool.
  • Take advantage of a wide brimmed hat.
  • Aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure, avoiding the strong midday sun, for production of Vitamin D before heading for shade or covering up!
  • Use broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen. If you’re concerned about chemicals, make your own sunscreen.
  • Apply to face, ears, neck, hands, legs, any exposed skin, 15 minutes before heading into the sun.
  • Reapply after swimming or sweating as even water resistant sunscreens are diluted.
  • Reapply every two hours.

Resources:

http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning/is-a-tan-ever-a-good-thing

National Institutes of Health / U. S. National Library of Medicine

https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166902.html

 

Sweet and Sour Japanese Eggplant Bruschetta

PC: RachelRayMag.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 Japanese Eggplants

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 White Onion

  • 4 Tablespoons Honey

  • ½ Cup Vinegar

  • ½ Cup Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Medium Ball of Fresh Mozzarella

  • 1 French Baguette

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Sauté peeled and thinly sliced Japanese eggplant in olive oil; reserve.

2. In the same skillet cook thinly sliced onions. Deglaze with honey and vinegar. Add tomato sauce and reserved eggplant. Simmer for 10 minutes, let cool.

3. Spoon onto baguette slices and place mozzarella slice on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.