Thursday, September 15, 2016

10 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

In a struggling economy, most of us are looking for ways to save on our grocery bill.  Many people say that they cannot eat healthy because it is too expensive.  Yet often it is careless shopping that eats up our budget.  Let’s look at the basics and see if we can make a dent in the final grocery tab, yet eat healthier:

  1. TAKE CHARGE. Someone has to take charge of healthy meal planning.  It will not happen by itself, and will take some work.
  2. EDUCATE YOURSELF. In order to plan healthy meals, you must know what healthy eating looks like.  The website tells us to split our plates visually into quarters and into each quarter put a serving of the following food groups: Fruit, Vegetable, Protein and Starch.  With a cup of milk on the side.  That is the basics of a healthy meal. The website gives much more information about healthy eating.
  3. KNOW PORTION SIZES. You must know what a healthy portion is.  For example, what size of meat portion do we need?  A normal and adequate portion of meat is the size of the palm of your hand, which is about 3 ounces.  Save money by planning for no more than 3 ounces of protein as a portion per person.
  4. FIX LESS. When we talk portions, we need to look at the fact that about 3 out of 4 Americans are overweight or obese, because we eat too much. Our portions are too large.  Almost all of us need to cut back on portion sizes.   Save money by fixing less.
  5. DON’T BUY THE EXTRAS.  Save money and your family’s health by cutting out pop, chips, cookies, convenience foods and extra portions of meat or other foods.
  6. BUY IN-SEASON FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.  Look for fruits and vegetables in season or on sale, looking to get the best deals offered of foods the family will eat
  7. COOK AT HOME.  Each time you choose to cook at home rather than eat out, you will save money.  When you cook, make a double batch and freeze half to make it easier the next time.  Which foods are the most expensive per serving? Meat, single-serving  foods like yogurt and ready-to-heat food items. Even with coupons these items often are more expensive than larger containers or homemade versions.
  8. SUBSTITUTE LOWER- COST PROTEIN.  Past generations have been raised on many recipes which contained dried cooked beans as the main ingredient: bean soup, beans and cornbread, ham & beans.  There are many recipes available which use low-cost beans as the protein source.  Save money by finding and trying out recipes with beans as the main ingredient.
  9. SIMPLIFY. Eggs are inexpensive sources of protein. Carrots are low-cost vegetables. Bananas are low-cost, year-round  fruits. Potatoes are a good source of many vitamins, minerals and fiber and you can serve baked potatoes with toppings one night for a healthy, low-cost meal.  Save money by using these low-cost foods often in your meal planning.
  10. GET CONNECTED. Look online for frugal websites.  You will learn many tips from what others have been doing to eat healthy on a budget.  Get going and good shopping!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Vaccinations: Myths & Questions

Vaccinations are given to provide protection against diseases without having to become sick.  There are a wide variety of vaccinations available for different diseases including pertussis (“whooping cough”), the flu, or shingles to name a few.  It is important to keep your vaccinations up to date to not only keep yourself healthy but also your family and the community. 

Myth: The influenza (or the flu) is only an inconvenience and the vaccine does not work very well.
FALSE: Influenza kills 300,000 to 500,000 people a year across the world.  It tends to be more severe in pregnant women, small children, elderly with poor health, and people with chronic conditions (i.e. asthma or diabetes).  The vaccine protects against the four most common viruses for that season and that is why people receive the vaccine every year.

Myth: There is a link between vaccines and autism.
FALSE: Multiple studies have been conducted to study the possible link between vaccines and autism but none of them have shown that vaccines or their ingredients cause autism.  The 1998 study that showed a link between autism and the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine was proven wrong and resulted in the article being pulled from the journal and the loss of the author’s medical license.

Question: Can someone get the disease from the vaccine?
Most vaccines, like the flu shot, use an inactivated or dead form of the virus or bacteria.  It is impossible to get the disease from an inactivated vaccine.  Live vaccines, like MMR or chickenpox, can appear to cause a mild form of the disease but it is not harmful and shows that the vaccine is working.  Individuals with a weakened immune system should never receive live vaccines.  

Question: Who should get vaccinated?
Everyone that does not have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving a vaccination.  Certain disease states like diabetes require adults to receive certain vaccines.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a complete list of recommended vaccinations for different ages and disease states.

Question: Why are vaccines required for children to go to school?
Vaccinations help protect not only the individual receiving the shot but also the rest of the community and schools from outbreaks of disease.  Without a law people would forget and provide excuses to not get vaccinated.

As always, Topeka Pharmacy is always here to answer your questions and can provide vaccinations to children 11 years and older without a prescription. Younger children need a prescription from the doctor.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Reasons to Celebrate Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice every time we find out there are health benefits from eating this favorite food.  Recent research continues adding to the list.  Check it out below!

What is dark chocolate?
Chocolate starts from cacao beans from the cacao tree. After the beans are roasted, they are called cocoa beans.  Under high pressure, the fat of the bean, called cocoa butter, separates and the cocoa is then ground into a powder.  It is the cocoa powder which provides the health benefits.  The more cocoa in chocolate, the more health benefits.
There are few regulations in the US to define dark chocolate, so there is no way to tell how “dark” a chocolate is unless the product lists the percentage of cocoa.  For instance, a product may say it is “70% cocoa” or “70% cacao”.  This means that 70% of the product is cocoa powder & cocoa butter.  By comparison, milk chocolate has as little as 10% cocoa.
Since chocolate of any kind is high in calories (1 oz = about 170 calories), a darker chocolate (higher percent of cocoa) will provide more health benefits for the calories.

What are the health benefits?
Preliminary studies show eating 1 ounce of dark chocolate (usually 60% cocoa) a few times weekly provides the body with a high level of antioxidants called flavonoids, or polyphenols, which seem to be responsible for the following benefits:

  1. HEART- Dark chocolate may decrease the “bad” LDL cholesterol, increase the “good” HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure and help restore flexibility to arteries, thus decreasing the risk for heart disease and decreasing the risk of stroke.
  2. BRAIN- Dark chocolate appears to dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the brain, boosting memory and possibly protecting it against dementia development.  It also boosts production of endorphins and serotonin, which are mood enhancers.
  3. EYES- Increased blood flow to the retinas by dark chocolate consumption may protect & possibly improve vision.
  4. TEETH- Recent studies support the fact that dark chocolate is effective at fighting cavities, plaque and tooth decay.
  5. SKIN- Dark chocolate, which has been processed under low heat to maximize the level of flavonoids, helps protect the skin against UV light damage.
  6. WEIGHT- Small amounts of dark chocolate may help stop cravings for other sweets and help with weight loss. Eating small amounts of dark chocolate daily is linked to lower weight levels.

Woo hoo! Enjoy!