Whether or not COVID-19 has impacted your household grocery budget, you should know there are cost-friendly ways to increase your daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, choosing frozen over fresh might be recommended. “I love frozen and think there is a fallacy in many minds that the frozen option is not as good,” the report said. “The data, in fact, shows that frozen options can be more nutrient-dense since they are frozen at peak ripeness which retains all the nutrients.” “Fresh, on the other hand, loses nutrients every day off the vine, tree, etc., as it travels to the point of purchase. For example, a person on the East Coast eating a fresh blueberry may be eating one that took a week just to get to their store from South America or warmer regions of the United States,” the report added. Frozen options also last longer and do not run the risk of spoiling before you get a chance to eat them. The report also added canned and dried versions of fruits and vegetables to the list. “These are good alternatives that are often more cost effective and accessible,” the report said. “Just look for single-ingredient items whenever possible (i.e., the ingredient list is only the fruit or veggie, not with added sugar or sodium).” “Check the labels on frozen, canned, and dried versions to see which is the best fit for your diet and lifestyle,” the report added. “Another way to be cost conscious with fruits and veggies is planning to use what you have and eliminate waste. Proper storage and a plan for how you will use your produce are key.” The report offers these other tips:
- Have some go-to back up plans for when you realize the fruit or vegetables must be used immediately.
- Freeze vegetables to make broth at a future date.
- Use overripe fruits in baked goods.
- Peel and freeze overripe fruits for use in smoothies.
- Finally, keeping things in perspective is also important.
Experts say what kind of vegetables you eat and how you cook them makes a difference. A new survey reports that people in the United States say they’re eating fruits and vegetables every day. Some experts, however, say the survey respondents may be counting items such as French fries as vegetables. They also note that the way vegetables are cooked makes a difference in their nutritional value. They tell consumers to buy fruits and vegetables fresh when they’ll use them immediately and to purchase canned and frozen items for longer shelf life. Nearly everybody over the age of 20 in the United States says they are eating some vegetables and two-thirds say they’re eating fruit daily. That’s according to a new data release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. The survey findings from 2015 to 2018 suggest daily fruit consumption is down compared to 20 years ago. While vegetable intake has remained unchanged, there is a caveat. The percentage of adults who consumed dark green, red and orange, other vegetables, and any vegetable types on a given day increased with income. Overall, nutrition experts caution against using these findings in making population-wide dietary pattern conclusions.
A stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, can be frustrating and often affect your day-to-day life. Many people think a stuffy nose is the result of too much mucus in the nasal passages. However, a clogged nose is usually the result of inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses. A cold, the flu, allergies, or a sinus infection can all inflame these blood vessels. Regardless of the reason for your stuffed-up nose, there are easy ways to relieve it. Here are some things you can do now to feel and breathe better. Use a humidifier A humidifier can be a quick and easy way to reduce sinus pain and help relieve nasal congestion. The machine converts water to moisture that slowly fills the air, increasing the humidity in a room. Breathing in this moist air can soothe irritated tissues and swollen blood vessels in your nose and sinuses. Some people claim that heated, humidified air can also help congested mucus drain better. If you’re experiencing symptoms of nasal congestion, you may still benefit from placing humidifiers around your house or office. Take a shower Have you ever had a stuffy nose and found that you could breathe so much better after a hot shower? There may be a good reason for that. Steam from a shower may help to thin out the mucus in your nose and reduce inflammation. Taking a hot shower can help your breathing return to normal, at least for a little while. You can get the same effect by breathing in steam from hot water in a sink. Here’s how: Turn on the hot water in your bathroom sink. Once the temperature is right, place a towel over your head and put your head over the sink. Allow the steam to build and take in deep breaths. Be careful not to burn your face on the hot water or steam. Stay hydrated It’s important to drink plenty of fluids if you suspect you have a cold or are experiencing flu symptoms. Maintaining optimum hydration levels can help thin the mucus in your nasal passages, pushing the fluids out of your nose and decreasing the pressure in your sinuses. Less pressure means less inflammation and irritation. If you’re also experiencing a sore throat, warm liquids like tea may be able to help ease the discomfort in your throat, too. Use a warm compress A warm compress may help alleviate some symptoms of nasal congestion by opening the nasal passages from the outside. To make a warm compress, first, soak a towel in warm water. Next, squeeze the water out of the towel, then fold it and place it over your nose and forehead. The warmth can provide comfort from any pain and help relieve the inflammation in the nostrils. Repeat this as often as necessary.
If you want to boost your immune health, you may wonder how to help your body fight off illnesses. While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms. Here are tips to strengthen your immunity naturally. Get enough sleep Sleep and immunity are closely tied. In fact, inadequate or poor-quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night. Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness. Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle. Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room or using a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly. Eat more whole plant foods Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens. The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels. Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers. Meanwhile, the fiber in plant foods feeds your gut microbiome, or the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold. Eat more healthy fats Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and salmon, may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Although low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system Olive oil, which is highly anti-inflammatory, is linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in salmon and chia seeds, fight inflammation as well.
It’s not surprising that teens often don’t consider the consequences of their actions, but using their youthful optimism to help them create a better future may be more effective than stern warnings. Based on this new research, parents should consider not only discussing the negative effects of risky behavior, but also touting the advantages of making positive health decisions. As the researchers note, talking about the positive effects of not smoking—having more money and looking younger longer—may have a greater effect than statistics and scare tactics. Here’s another example from researchers: teens may be less likely to drink heavily when they are presented with information on how reduced drinking leads to better performance in sports, instead of the dangers of drinking and driving.