Wow! Can you believe how fast the month of April has gone? As we head into the last week of this month, let's look ahead to the month of May and see what health awareness campaigns will be going on throughout the month.
Mental Health Awareness
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health Awareness Month dates back to 1949 in the United States. It is a time to educate ourselves and others on issues surrounding mental health, including ending the stigmas that surround mental illness. Get involved this May by learning more about mental illness. Or, you can join a NAMI walk. NAMI is a large organization dedicated to helping those whose lives are affected by mental illness. Click here to find more information on NAMI Walks.
Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
As we head into May, it is important to think about the health of our skin. The month of May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Skin cancer is America's most common cancer and most preventable. This is a good reminder to keep our skin protected as we head into the summer months.
Stroke Awareness Month
Another important health awareness campaign that takes place in May is Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, with thousands suffering from a stroke every year. Dedicate the month of May on learning how to prevent a stroke from happening to you. Click here to learn more about stroke prevention. Also, it is important to know the symptoms of a stroke. Watch the video below to learn how to recognize symptoms of a stroke by using the acronym F.A.S.T.
May is a wonderful month as daylight continues to increase, the weather warms considerably and brilliant colors are seen in the green trees and vibrant flowers that are blossoming. While you are enjoying the month of May, don't forget to think about your health.
On Thursday of this week, we will celebrate Earth Day. This event was first organized back in 1970 to raise awareness of the deteriorating environment in the United States. In 1990, Earth Day went global, involving millions of people and over 100 countries. Today, Earth Day has become the largest secular observance in the world (EarthDay.org).
Why is it important for us to be concerned about environmental health? We are in constant interaction with the environment and these interactions can affect our quality of health. The levels of air pollution, cleanliness of our drinking water, the safety of our food, preservation of wildlife and land affect us either directly or indirectly.
Healthy People 2020's goal is to promote health to all through a healthy environment, stating that it is central to increasing quality of life and years of healthy life (Healthy People 2020).
Cache Valley is a beautiful place to live. Involving ourselves in the health of our environment here in the valley will help it stay beautiful and enjoyable for generations to come.
There are many ways in which we can be involved in celebrating Earth Day, small ways that take only ourselves.
We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us and are a main part of a healthy diet. But, what all do fruits and vegetables have to offer. Why should we aim to eat at least 5 servings and how can we improve our overall consumption?
Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day can help lower blood pressure, reduce our risk for heart disease and stroke, reduce our risk for some types of cancers, and help with digestive problems (Harvard). With thousands of different varieties of fruits and vegetables in the world and with each one containing different vitamins and minerals, it's important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Let's take a look at the health benefits of some of our most popular fruits and vegetables.
Bananas are the most popular fruit, and we each eat around 26 pounds of bananas every year. Bananas are packed with nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, folate and more. Bananas are 75% water and with their fiber content, can help with digestive health. The potassium in bananas may help reduce heart disease, blood pressure and reduce risk for certain cancers.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
Apples are a great source of Vitamin C and fiber. They also carry a variety of antioxidants. Apples may help with acid reflux, diarrhea or constipation. They can also help strengthen the immune system, promote gut health, protect your blood vessels and heart and protect cells from oxidative damage (WebMD).
One of the nation's most popular vegetables, broccoli is packed with nutrients. Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin C and one serving can provide you with 84% of your recommended daily allowance. It also a good source of Vitamin K, calcium, folate and many potent antioxidants. Broccoli may help reduce inflammation, protect against certain types of cancers, reduce risks for heart disease, aid in digestion, promote bone health, and may slow mental decline (healthline).
Americans love potatoes, consuming around 50 pounds per person each year. And, while some people may avoid potatoes due to their higher level of carbs, they are packed with nutrients that can be part of a well balanced diet. A medium russet potato will give you 25% of your daily potassium, 35% of Vitamin C, 30% of Vitamin B6, four grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein (Are potatoes healthy?). Potatoes are packed with antioxidants and can help boost your immune system, lower risks for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Potatoes are very filling and versatile but make sure to leave the skins on! (healthline).
With fruits and vegetables providing us with many important nutrients that help strengthen our bodies and lower our risks for many chronic illnesses, who wouldn't want to eat more a day. Here are some tips on how to get at least five servings a day. Add a serving of fruit and/or vegetables to every meal. Snack on fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Prep ahead; it is so much easier to snack on vegetables that are already washed and cut up. Try making fruit and vegetable smoothies. Go online. The internet is packed with recipes for vegetables and fruits.
Whatever way you want, aim for at least 5 servings per day.
Last Thursday was the start of a new month and was also a day of pranks and jokes. April Fool's Day has been around for hundreds of years; and, although its origin is unknown, it has been a day celebrated by many countries for playing pranks on coworkers, friends, family members, and even citizens of nations. If you were part of planning a prank or were the person who was on the receiving end of a prank, hopefully you were able to get a good laugh from it.
I'm sure that you have heard the old saying that "laughter is the best medicine." Well, there is some truth to this old saying. Let's take a look at what happens to our bodies when we laugh and what health benefits it can provide.
Check out these videos on why we laugh.
Now that we know why we laugh, let's look at why laughing may be beneficial to our health.
Laughing can provide us with both short term and long term health benefits.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some short term benefits of laughing include: stimulating the heart, lungs, and muscles by increasing the need for oxygen-rich blood. It also increases the release of endorphins (which help relieve stress and pain) from the brain. Because of this, laughter can help reduce stress by activating and relieving the stress response while increasing and decreasing blood pressure, leaving you feeling more relaxed.
Long term health benefits from laughing include strengthening the immune system. Laughter brings more positivity to our lives, which helps reduce negativity and stress, which in turn, helps strengthen the immune system. Laughter can also act as a natural painkiller and help reduce pain. It can also help us cope with the harder challenges of life.
As a health challenge this week, find the positive moments in life. Laugh a little more and enjoy the new month.