(Family Features) Obesity, with corresponding ailments such as heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes, is a well-chronicled public health issue and has many communities looking for ways to positively impact their residents.
What can prove to have an enduring impact on improving community health is a broad coalition of stakeholders coming together to create a culture of wellness. For example, the City of West Chicago, with its Healthy West Chicago initiative, is a case study in how to galvanize a community toward collective better health. With these modifiable tips from Mayor Ruben Pineda, other communities can work to improve the health and quality of life for residents.
Have a champion
Every major civic initiative needs someone to drive it, someone to assemble and activate the right roster of influencers, experts and activists. Progressive leaders concerned about community sustainability and resident health, such as city council members or those in influential positions within the community, make good candidates to spearhead the plan.
To improve nutrition and increase physical activity in the City of West Chicago, Mayor Pineda reached out to community leaders in local government, education, health care, social services, faith-based entities, businesses and non-profits to initiate partnerships and secure funding to create the Healthy West Chicago Action Plan, a multi-year guide for promoting better health in the community.
Engage other community members
It is important to build awareness of your initiative and get buy-in from residents through consistent communication. One of the most important demographic segments to engage is children. Kids are open to change and are developing lifelong habits. They are also extremely influential with their parents, siblings and friends.
“The key to a sustainable, healthy future is to change the way the next generation thinks about nutrition and exercise,” Mayor Pineda said. “This makes the public school system critical to driving the behavioral changes that contribute to positive outcomes.”
Measure and adjust
Once your community’s health initiative is in action, assess it annually against the overarching plan and add, eliminate or improve components to continue the momentum toward a healthy community for generations to come.
Keep it fresh
A successful community-wide health initiative needs to continuously build on its momentum by adding new programs and participants. For example, Healthy West Chicago conducts sponsored activities such as free healthy cooking classes for students, a “Rethink Your Drink” campaign to educate community members about the harmful effects of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, weekly community walks with the mayor and a community garden initiative, which promotes organic suburban agriculture and benefits both the environment and local families. In addition, providing ongoing updates about programs and offering online tools, such as activity trackers and interactive walking route maps, are ways to build interest and retain participants.
For more information about how to implement a health and wellness program in your city, contact Mayor Pineda’s office at (630) 293-2200 extension 135, or visit healthywestchicago.com.
Photo of Mayor Pineda walking with students courtesy of Healthy West Chicago
Photo of woman gardening courtesy of The GardenWorks Project
May 9, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffers from a chronic illness that requires using needles or sharps outside of the doctor’s office, you may question how to dispose of them safely. There is plenty of information available, but the proper disposal method may be different depending on where you live, work or travel.
To help ensure people who use needles and sharps at home or on-the-go know how to dispose of them easily and safely, NeedyMeds, a national non-profit organization that provides health care information to consumers, developed tools at SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
“Most people want to do the right thing, but they need specific, succinct information on safe sharps disposal,” said Richard J. Sagall, MD, president of NeedyMeds. “For local guidance presented in a way that is easy to follow, our website is a one-stop-shop.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps that are not disposed of properly may cause injury. In order to increase awareness and minimize risk, people who use sharps are encouraged to learn more about local regulations and disposal options.
In many states and communities, people who use sharps may dispose of them by following these three simple steps:
- Place used sharps in a strong, plastic container like a laundry detergent or bleach bottle.
- Seal the container with duct tape and label “do not recycle.”
- Place the sealed container in the trash, never the recycling.
“Some locations have different disposal regulations, which may require people in those areas to take used sharps to special collection points,” Sagall said. “SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people learn how to get rid of used sharps safely, wherever they happen to be.”
To learn more about disposing used needles and sharps safely, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
May 2, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) From the cost of gym memberships to prepping healthier meals, living well can be expensive. Before you abandon your goals for a healthier lifestyle, consider these tips that show you don’t have to overspend to live a better life.
Plan Your Meals
An impromptu visit to the grocery store inevitably ends up costing more than a well-planned trip. Get organized by planning your meals and grocery list ahead of time to help save money and find ways to use healthy ingredients across multiple meals. Plus, preparing meals at home helps ensure you can eat the foods you want, rather than settling for something because it’s the only sensible option on the menu at a restaurant. Another option is taking advantage of the premeasured portions of healthy meal boxes, which can help you skip the prep time and avoid wasting unused groceries.
Weigh Your Workout Options
A gym membership may be a tempting investment when you’re trying to commit to a get-fit regimen, but it’s not always the smartest move money-wise. If you can discipline yourself to use it, investing in at-home equipment may be a better long-term buy. There are also plenty of ways to add exercise at no cost through activities like running, walking or practicing yoga in your living room.
Invest in Rest
Eating better and increasing physical activity are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but so is giving your body a chance to rest. Quality sleep lets your body and mind heal and rejuvenate from everyday activity, and better sleep is likely to reduce your stress level while improving your mental function and mood. There’s no better way to show yourself some love than with a good night’s rest, but according to research from Mattress Firm, 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “fair.”
Additional research shows that 64 percent of people experience improved sleep quality after investing in a new mattress. As the nation’s largest bedding retailer, Mattress Firm’s purchasing power translates to affordable prices and a wide selection of mattresses and bedding accessories, which can help you stretch your budget further. Find more sleep tips and budget-friendly ideas at TheDailyDoze.com.
When it comes to medical care, office visits can add up. If you just need basic medical attention such as a checkup, a physical or a remedy for a common illness, a retail clinic may be a more cost-effective option than a traditional doctor’s office. Many insurance carriers offer an incentive for retail clinic visits by offering discounted co-pays, or if you’re paying out of pocket, the retail clinic can be a big money saver.
A healthier lifestyle requires commitment and hard work, but as these tips prove, creating a better life doesn’t have to mean overhauling your budget.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
April 25, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) A busy schedule doesn’t have to prevent you from taking steps toward a lifestyle that fosters overall well-being. There are many easy, small changes you can make toward better living that can make a noticeable impact.
- Choose the long route. For many people, it’s an automatic move to find the closest parking space or shortest distance to the door. With your lifestyle goals in mind, consider taking a different approach. Look for ways to work in more physical activity. Seek out a spot in the back of the parking lot as an opportunity to increase your steps for the day, or choose the longer scenic route when walking your dog at the park for a more pleasant experience all-around.
- Go for guilt-free snacks. Better living isn’t about giving up everything you like; it’s about balance and moderation. For example, Nonni’s Foods now makes a better-for-you chocolate chip thin cookie that lets you enjoy the indulgence without the guilt. Made with real, premium ingredients like dark chocolate, crunchy California almonds and coconut oil, the individual portion packs are portable for the perfect on-the-go snack to satisfy cravings anytime, anywhere. Available in Double Chocolate, Almond Chocolate and Toasted Coconut varieties, each pack contains three cookies that are low in sugar, fat and carbohydrates with an average of only 100 calories total.
- Take time to recharge. Even when you’re strapped for time, carving out a few minutes for yourself each day to focus on your mental well-being is important. This can include simply enjoying a few moments of silence or something more specific like meditating or journaling. Busy people tend to carry more stress, so looking for ways to inject these calming activities into daily schedules can help keep you refreshed and bring you more happiness.
- Practice self-care. Especially when you’re busy, it’s easy to slack on self-care, but combine that with elevated stress and you may be especially susceptible to not feeling your best. Give yourself a boost with a daily vitamin or try a warm bath with Epsom salt to soothe your senses.
- Space out your meals. Waiting hours to eat can cause people to overeat at major mealtimes – especially dinner. Taking time to plan simple snacks throughout the day helps ensure cravings are met and overeating is avoided when the dinner bell rings. Consider keeping a snack like Nonni’s Artisan Thin Chocolate Chip Cookies on-hand for guilt-free snacking when hunger strikes.
For more better-for-you snack ideas, visit nonnis.com.
April 18, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) With nearly one-third of Americans suffering from sleep disturbances, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now is the time to rethink your bedtime routine and consider more natural ways to get a good night’s rest.
However, implementing those changes doesn’t have to mean overhauling the way you live. Consider these simple tips that can help you sleep better and longer:
Set a comfortable temperature. Making changes in different aspects of your life to achieve better sleep is a fine plan, but it may not make much difference if you aren’t comfortable in your own bed. Be sure to maximize comfort for a full night of sleep by finding a temperature that works for you, but in general, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a bedroom temperature between 60-67 degrees F.
Tweak your diet. Making simple changes to what you eat and drink can be a positive health-conscious decision, including helping you get better sleep. For example, Montmorency tart cherries, which are available year-round, are one of the few natural food sources of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. New research from the American Journal of Therapeutics shows that insomniacs who drank U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherry juice for two weeks extended sleep time by 84 minutes.
Consuming two 8-ounce glasses of Montmorency tart cherry juice as part of your daily diet, once in the morning and once at night, can help enhance your sleep time and efficiency. It can also be added to your favorite morning smoothie or a soothing nighttime beverage, such as this Tart Cherry Moon Milk. For additional information and recipes, visit ChooseCherries.com.
Try bedtime yoga. Rather than scrolling on your smartphone or staring at the TV, consider a different routine before heading to bed. Implementing a brief yoga session is one way to clear your mind each night prior to getting quality shut-eye.
While missing out on quality sleep can negatively impact your health, simple changes to your lifestyle and diet can play a role in improving the quality and duration of sleep.
Tart Cherry Moon Milk
Recipe courtesy of Amanda Paa of Heartbeet Kitchen
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
6 ounces almond milk
4 ounces Montmorency tart cherry juice
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ashwaganda (Indian ginseng)
dried culinary rose petals
In small pot, heat almond milk and tart cherry juice over medium heat.
Remove from heat and whisk in honey and ashwaganda. Top with rose petals and drink warm.
Note: For a more frothy beverage, blend mixture in blender before topping with rose petals.
April 11, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) When it seems that everyone around you is feeling under the weather, you can be your own best line of defense against getting sick. Help ward off sickness for yourself and your family with these self-care tips that help promote healthy habits and fight off illness.
Eat right. A diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables can give your body the immunity-boosting nutrients it needs to function properly. Avoid excess, empty calories and instead aim for meals that deliver a healthy balance of all food groups.
Wash, wash, wash. Kids and bacteria go hand-in-hand, literally. Kids’ hands are everywhere, including some surfaces that may be more susceptible to bacteria. Hand-washing is a simple way to encourage healthy habits all year round, and Softsoap Liquid Hand Soaps make it easy to gently wash away bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand-washing is an important step to help avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. You can find more hand-washing tips and information by visiting CDC.gov/handwashing.
Get up and move. Exercise is one of your strongest weapons against illness. A regular routine that gets your blood pumping is good for overall health and your immune system. It can help flush toxins and keep your body in top condition.
Just say no. When it comes to protecting yourself and your family, give yourself permission to draw hard lines about spending time with those who aren’t feeling well. Reschedule play dates or other events that might unnecessarily expose your family to germs.
Rest up. When your sleep schedule is off, so is your whole system, and that makes you more susceptible to illness. Everyone’s precise sleep requirements are different; you’ll know you’re getting enough if you feel rested when you wake up. If you’re not, and more overnight rest isn’t realistic, look for ways to sneak in some extra rest time during the day.
Enjoy the outdoors. Even when it’s cooler than you’d like, brief time outdoors can do plenty to lift your spirits and, in turn, your overall well-being. The fresh air and vitamin D from a bright, sunny day are free and easy ways to give your body a boost and help ward off illness.
Kickstart your healthy habits by visiting Softsoap.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
April 4, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) While the tap water you drink may look clean, it may contain harmful contaminants like lead, pesticides and industrial pollutants. These and others may be picked up on the journey from your water treatment plant through miles of pipes to your home.
To help clear up any misconceptions about what’s really in your water, the experts at PUR offer this myth-busting advice:
Myth: Living close to a fresh water source makes tap water safer to drink.
Truth: Even if you live close to a fresh water source, your water goes on a long journey through an often aging infrastructure before it reaches your tap. According to Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc., up to 10 million lead service lines are still in use in the country today, potentially allowing lead particles to enter into your water.
Myth: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates all contaminants.
Truth: There are about 100,000 potential contaminants in drinking water. According to the EPA, its Safe Drinking Water Act only regulates 103. That means water that meets the government’s safe drinking standards may not meet yours.
Myth: All water filters are created equal.
Truth: While both pitcher and faucet filters remove unwanted contaminants, a faucet filter is usually a step up from a pitcher because it has a longer life and can remove even more contaminants, including lead. As every brand is different, it’s important to check the types of contaminants each filter removes and confirm it is certified by NSF and the Water Quality Association for contamination reduction. Doing so can help you get the healthiest, cleanest tasting water possible.
Myth: You can determine if tap water is safe to drink by how it looks, smells and tastes.
Truth: While your water might look, smell and taste clean, it could contain contaminants that are potentially harmful to your health, like lead, which is colorless, odorless and has no taste.
“Knowing what’s in the water you drink and cook with is important, but determining the quality of your local water supply can seem daunting,” said Keri Glassman, registered dietitian, nutritionist and PUR spokesperson. “Fortunately, there’s a free online resource called KnowYourWater.com that allows users to type in any address to easily learn about lead and other possible contaminants in their water.”
Myth: Boiling water removes lead.
Truth: Boiling water may reduce bacteria found in the water, but will not remove lead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead concentration of water can actually increase slightly when water is boiled because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process.
Myth: Drinking filtered water is expensive.
Truth: Using a faucet filtration system for one year is comparable in cost to purchasing enough bottled water to last only two months. An option like the PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System is an on-demand solution for filtered water right from the tap and is certified to reduce over 70 contaminants, including 99 percent of lead, 96 percent of mercury and 92 percent of certain pesticides.
Get your individual water quality report and learn more at KnowYourWater.com.
March 28, 2018 | admin