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Are you really eating healthy?

healthy

I received a survey in the mail last week. You see, back in 2009 I enrolled in a cancer prevention study and have received lengthy surveys every few years or so. It is a very thorough survey that includes hundreds of questions and takes several days to fill out. The survey inquires about every aspect of health and lifestyle: information about immunizations; diet; hours spent sitting, sleeping or moving; medications taken; caffeine consumption and more.

Except for a few minor, non-life threatening ailments, I consider myself a pretty healthy person and my doctor gave me a clean bill of health during my annual wellness/preventive visit (don’t forget to schedule yours!). I was confident that my answers to the survey questions would be a no-brainer. Overall, boy, was I surprised, especially when it came to the diet section.

The survey listed every kind of fruit and vegetable and asked the respondent to indicate frequency of consumption. I thought I was a good fruit and vegetable eater, but there are some foods that I don’t eat that often for various reasons. So my consumption of kale, which I tend to eat frequently in the summer, but not as much in the winter, actually results in a low monthly average consumption overall. Likewise, cantaloupes and other melons are eaten only seasonally, so their consumption average was low. Continue Reading »

What is a water birth?

waterbirth

You already know that a warm bath can soothe sore muscles and help you relax. It makes sense, then, that for many moms a water birth—when your labor, delivery or both are done in a birth tub filled with warm water—makes the birthing experience less painful and more soothing.

You may not be an ideal candidate for water birth if:

  • You are having a multiple birth
  • You have experienced complications such as preeclampsia or premature labor
  • You have existing medical conditions
  • Are considered a high-risk pregnancy
  • Your baby is premature (less than 37 weeks)
  • Your baby is in the breech position
  • Your baby has first bowel movement while still inside (meconium stained fluid)

However, if your pregnancy has been healthy and your baby is well positioned, there are many benefits of water birthing.

While epidural and intrathecal pain control methods cannot be used during a water birth, you may not miss them. Studies have shown that having all or part of your labor in water reduces pain, in part by decreasing adrenaline production, allowing for a shorter labor, and by decreasing the pressure on your abdomen, which means better blood circulation and more oxygen to both you and your baby.

The water also helps reduce the incidence and severity of tearing, and the buoyancy makes it easier for you to move and find a position that is comfortable. The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the more you will be able to focus on the process of birth as it’s happening. Continue Reading »

Springtime is go time: Running tips for beginners

runningtips

For many people looking to start a running routine, springtime is go time. It’s not uncommon to feel discouraged when starting a new fitness regime, but with perseverance and a few guidelines, running is a rewarding way to keep your body healthy.

Step 1: Get your gear
You don’t need much to start running, but a good pair of shoes will take you a long way and help prevent common injuries. Take a look at the soles of shoes you wear often to see where they are most worn; this will tell you where your weight is focused when you walk. Different pairs of shoes are best for different foot types, so research what matches with yours. A “flat foot” requires support and stability, while a “high-arch” needs more cushion for shock and absorption. Many stores—especially independent outlets—can help you choose the best shoe for your pattern of wear.

For optimal comfort, consider the fabric of your running clothes. While a cotton T-shirt is comfortable at the beginning of a run, the fabric retains sweat and can cause chaffing and irritation. “Tech” fabric made of fibers like Lycra, nylon or bamboo allows sweat to evaporate. You’ll often find these clothing items billed as being able to “wick away” moisture, and you’ll also find they make working out more comfortable than cotton.

Step 2: Make a plan & prepare
Don’t expect to run a 5K your first time out the door; give your body time to acclimate to your new activity! Many find a run/walk method of alternating a short time of running with a longer period of walking to be a good way to start out. Be sure to warm up your muscles before you run with dynamic movements, and practice static stretching afterwards to help improve and maintain flexibility.

Another part of preparing your body for running is what you eat. Did you know that digestion usually stops or slows when you run? That means that if you eat right before you run, your food becomes your new running buddy. Eat an hour and a half before your run to ensure your muscles don’t get fatigued but your stomach isn’t full of food while you’re exercising. Hydration is also essential; drink about 20 oz. of water about two hours before your run. Continue Reading »

Healthy foods for Cinco de Mayo

Healthy foods for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is often mistaken as a celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day. September 16, however, is Mexico’s Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, an important victory in Mexican history.

Due to civil unrest and economic hardships during the 1800s, Mexico announced that it would be delaying the payment of all foreign debt. After some negotiations, Britain and Spain withdrew their naval forces from the area but France decided to take advantage of the volatile circumstances and fight for domination of the territory. A much-favored French army went against a poorly prepared and outnumbered Mexican army. The outcome was not what most expected: the Mexican army defeated the French army in Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Today, this victory is celebrated in Mexico and the United States and is often highlighted with Mexican food and music. Guacamole, tacos, burritos and many other foods are incorporated into the celebrations.

Here are some tips to make this Cinco de Mayo a healthy one!

• Mexican cuisine is colorful, so have fun using different colored veggies to make a veggie tray with the colors of the Mexican flag—red, white and green. Try arranging red cherry tomatoes on one side of a rectangular tray. For white, arrange cauliflower, peeled cucumber slices or a rectangular dipping dish filled with Greek yogurt dip. Finish off with a green strip of broccoli, avocados or green peppers.
• You can also make a fruit tray using watermelon, raspberries or strawberries for red, vanilla yogurt for white and kiwi or green grapes for the green.
• Another idea is all about dips. You can serve a tomato salsa for red next to a Greek yogurt-based dip for white, followed by a green tomatillo-based dip, a green pesto-based dip or guacamole to represent the green stripe.
• Impress your guests with a layered Mexican dish. Simply arrange layers of black beans, sour cream (or better yet, Greek yogurt) avocados, shredded cheese, refried beans and tomatoes in a dish.
• If serving tacos, use whole wheat or corn tacos.
• Make different types of salsa and serve with corn-toasted tortillas.
• Offer something different and try a Mexican-style soup for your guests.

This Cinco de Mayo, celebrate a bit of Mexican history with some healthy offerings. Please remember to celebrate responsibly!

Baby’s First Foods (Infographic)

As a mother of a nine-month old, I understand the feelings parents may have when introducing first foods to your baby. It is exciting, but also nerve-wracking. Starting pureed solids is a slow and gradual process. Keep in mind that early on, most of your baby’s nutrition is coming from breastmilk or formula. Here are some tips and answers to help you get started.
babyfirstfoodsss-01

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.