Level Up Your Health to Prevent Cancer

Did you know that about 50% of the most common U.S. cancer cases are preventable? (American Institute for Cancer Research) February is National Cancer Prevention Month so it is a good time to focus on holistic habits to level up your health. Here we highlight healthy ways to maximize your health and well being for cancer prevention. 

Being physically active can reduce your risk for certain cancers. Make sure to move your body for at least 30 minutes per day for adults and 60 minutes per day for youth.

Exercise helps our bodies:

  • Regulate the hormones in our blood that contribute to cancer risk 
  • Speed up food through the colon to reduce exposure to carcinogens in our food
  • Reduce body fat which can contribute to the development of many cancers

Source

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If you’re not already active, try to move your body in some way each day. This could be gently stretching before bed or going for a brisk walk outside. Maximize your time by stretching or jogging in place while your food cooks. If you are already active, try to exercise in a new way this month that you haven’t tried before to work new muscles and expand your fitness abilities. Sign up for a new fitness class and try boxing or yoga or lift weights if you normally run a lot! 

Incorporating cancer protecting foods into your diet is another certain method to level up your health. Exercise, diet and not smoking or drinking alcohol are proven prevention methods for cancer. If you don’t already eat healthy, transition gradually by starting with incorporating one new healthy food or food group into your meals each day. Healthy food group guidelines include 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat dairy or plant milk options.

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Here are some strategies for a cancer protecting diet:

  • Eat mostly plant-based foods. This means more plant based proteins such as nuts, seeds and beans instead of steak or hamburgers.
    • The phytochemicals found in plants are what give them their color, smell and flavor but they are also powerful nutrients to strengthen our bodies defenses against cancer. Phytochemicals strengthen our immune system, block food substances from becoming carcinogens or cancer causing, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and improve DNA repair, reduce damage to cells that can cause cancer, slow and stop growth of cancer cells and regulate hormones. Clearly, they are nutrient powerhouses we all need to be eating. Source
  • Control your portion sizes. Not only is it important to be mindful of what we consume, it is also just as important to be mindful of how much we consume. Avoid eating large quantities in a short period of time to maximize digestive health.

Take some time this month to set an intention that can better your health and overall well being. We all need to be mindful of our behaviors so that we can live our most healthy and happy lives.

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Is winter weather making you SAD?

Have you heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder? It is a type of depression people can get during the winter months due to lack of quality sunlight exposure!

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Check out this great article by the National Institute for Mental Health for how to spot symptoms of SAD, risk factors and treatment options! Click here for the article!

Let’s Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is important to keep this quote in mind as we implore you to join in Random Acts of Kindness Week this year. We may be a little early (officially this is celebrated on February 17th, 2019), but when we have the power to positively affect other people’s lives, why not make this a personal intention at least from now until February 17th.

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Kind acts have the power to change the course of someone’s day, with the additional side effect of making us feel wonderful as well! Take pride in your kind acts! Spread the word that you have set a personal intention to be kind, as this will have a domino effect. If, through your own kind acts, you can convince just one other person to go out and pass it forward, then you have done your part in making the world a better place. There are many ways that we can spread kindness, below are a few:

  • Give a Stranger a Compliment
    This is self explanatory, and relatively easy. I have thoughts throughout the day akin to “That guy’s shoes are sharp” or “Oh, my coworker cut and styled her hair differently”. Share these thoughts! We all love compliments.
  • Hold the Door
    While this may seem like second nature, the truth is we have all been guilty of not doing  this at some point. On the flip side, we have felt that warm fuzzy feeling from someone waiting the extra few seconds to hold the door for us. Double points if you flash a smile at the same time!
  • Reach Out and Contact Someone Whom You Haven’t Spoken With in a While
    Be it grandparents, a brother or sister, or a friend that you fell out of touch with. We all think “that would be nice” to speak with them, but pick up the phone or send a text! They will appreciate it and probably have been feeling the same way.
  • Give Up Your Seat on Public Transportation
    This may be irrelevant for many people, however apply this to your own daily life. Allow someone to merge while driving, etc.. you get the picture!
  • Give the Gift of Caffeine or Breakfast
    Take the extra few minutes to leave your house early so that you can bring your co-workers a Box of Joe, or breakfast pastries. This is a great way to show kindness around your workplace that will certainly be appreciated and recognized.
  • Smile and Show Gratitude!
    This is the easiest suggestion on this list. Smile at the stranger walking the opposite way. Smile at the barista in the morning. Smile at the toll booth operator. Smile and thank your own family and friends for being there and caring about you. In a world where anger and hatred spews constantly from the digital screens, take pride in existing on a plane above all of that. Rise above the negativity and be kind. The world will appreciate it.

These are a few of many simple acts of kindness we can do daily to tangibly affect the world around us in a positive way. I will leave you with a short poem by Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Master, showing that a kinder world begins within each of us.

“Kind Hearts are the Gardens, Kind Thoughts are the Roots, Kind Words are the Blossoms, Kind Deeds are the Fruits”

DE 4-H Celebrates National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month; a month dedicated to the importance of mentors and guidance for not only youth, but teens and adults as well. Mentoring is important, because it transfers not only necessary skills, but also knowledge gained from years of experience, success, and mistakes. Mentoring can provide a continual support net, where advice can always be sought. Socialization is important for building relationships and can assist in furthering one’s goals.

It is for these reasons, that 4-H prides itself on its wonderful efforts to bring mentoring to the youths in the community, and prides itself on being America’s largest youth development and mentoring organization. Mentoring with 4-H gives the youth and community a positive social space, where collaboration is safe and the youths are encouraged to explore their interests and learn new life skills. It is important to reach out and seek a mentor to help further oneself, as well as to be available and willing to mentor another, if the need be.

A Good Mentor Will:

  • Listen and take a personal interest in your goals. These may be very specific or more broad, but it is important to understand the full breadth of what you wish to achieve.
  • Set out expectations early. This is key to establishing a good open relationship, and assist the mentor in delivering sound advice.
  • Be forthcoming and honest about the mistakes that have been made by both parties, have a constructive discussion.
  • Lead by example. As a mentor, this is crucial to keeping the mentee’s faith.
  • Celebrate achievements. Recognition for a job well done is essential for relationship building and positive reinforcement.
  • Develop long-term skills. Create different thinking patterns, or introduce new work habits. These will carry through the mentee’s life even if the mentorship comes to an end.
  • Have patience. Mentoring is about enhancing abilities and helping someone evolve into a greater version of themselves.

#SoupSeason

The best thing about cold weather; It’s soup season! Soup season means a delicious bowl of warmth on a brisk day. Soup is like the perfect partner – low maintenance, flexible, and accommodating. Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s a nutritious staple that’s especially soothing throughout the winter months, when there are few sights and smells more welcome than a pot simmering away on your stove-top. Soup can do much more than fill your seasonal cravings. It may help you eat less at your next meal and stay fuller for longer.

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A study published in the journal Appetite found that when people ate a low-calorie soup (about 130 calories for women and 170 for men) before lunch, they naturally consumed about 20% fewer calories overall—but didn’t feel less full. So it can help curb an appetite too!

Here is an easy 15 minute soup recipe. Have a Happy Soup Season!

minestrone15 Minute Soup

Makes 4 servings; Serving size 1½ cups

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups pre-soaked beans or 1 (16-ounce) can beans, drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth, can use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen, chopped spinach
  • ½ Cup whole grain pasta

Directions

  1. In a 2-quart pot, combine all ingredients except spinach and pasta.
  2. Heat until the liquid comes to a boil.
  3. Stir in and break up spinach; bring to a boil again.
  4. Stir in pasta and simmer until pasta is tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Mindful Eating

Are you eating correctly? Eating is a basic human function. Even if you make a strong effort to eat healthy, it’s important to think about the act of eating. When you enjoy good food, do you ever look past just the taste? 

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For many people, their meals are an integral part of the structure of their day, so don’t glance over the experience as just a necessity. Instead start to be more mindful while eating. Here are some suggestions you will consider at your next meal:

  • How do you feel before eating? Are you eating because it is that designated time of the day (lunch break)?
  • Is there an event that is prompting the hunger? You may be eating due to a stressful circumstance, a social gathering, or even as a personal reward. While these all certainly have their place, it is important to be aware that this can easily develop into a habit.
  • Notice the feeling of hunger before the meal. Throughout the meal continue to reflect back on this feeling. Does it abate? Learn to know the necessary amount and not over-indulge.
  • Think of where the food may have came from. Was this locally grown produce? Free range chickens? Think of how many people came together to bring you the food and appreciate it.
  • Take smaller bites. Learn to appreciate the taste of the food. This is essential in order to avoid over-indulgence as well.
  • Take your time and chew slowly.
  • Avoid the inevitable guilt of “just one more” or “well it’s just for ____ reason”. This is a habit that will take time and effort to break. It is important to stay consistent, eat well, and learn to appreciate the fuel we are putting into our bodies.
  • Unplug. The world needs more of this in general. Take the time to enjoy your food and the company you are in. Engage with one another, and if you are alone, learn to appreciate being alone with yourself.

 

Consider these points at your next few meals, and become more mindful about your eating habits. We can find enjoyment and gratitude in even the most basic elements of our day, you just have to notice it.

January is National Slow-Cooker Month!

Chances are there is a slow cooker in your house. Slow cookers are made for convenience. Whether you are a college student or a member of a family, slow cookers make life easier.  They provide easier clean up with just one pot and a home cooked meal when you get home from school or work. The slow cooker can be found at pot lucks, Superbowl parties and family gatherings with everyone’s best recipes kept piping hot  – nacho dips, chili, baked beans, pulled pork or mac & cheese. The list is endless.

So get started with slow cooking today. If you are a newbie try the recipes that come with your slow cooker. Once the cooking starts, only remove the lid to stir as needed. Moisture loss causes meals to become dry. Today’s slow cookers have multiple settings as well as a warm setting. Try these easy recipe ideas!

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Chicken Curry (Makes 10 servings):

Ingredients:

  • 2¾ lb. chicken breasts, without skin
  • 1 (16-oz.) jar salsa (mild or medium)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream.

Directions:

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine salsa, onions and curry powder and pour over chicken. Cover with lid. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (or high for 5 hours). Remove chicken to serving platter; cover and keep warm. Add sour cream to salsa mixture in the slow cooker. Blend and pour over the chicken.

spinach artichoke dip

Low-Fat Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Dip (21 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, chopped and drained
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, low-fat, softened
  • 1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream, low-fat
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese,
  • ¾ cup low-fat milk
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise low-fat
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar,
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

Directions:

Place ingredients in a 3½ quart slow cooker. Mix well. Cover slow cooker with lid, and cook on low for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Serve warm with whole wheat bread or tortilla chips.