Summer Is Here. Is Your Hydration A Priority?

By Jacob Gerdes, Arizona State Nutrition Communications Student

 Living in the desert, you are often asked, “Are you drinking enough water?” At a point we all might get sick of being asked this question, but the Arizona Department of Health Services notes that each year nearly 2,000 people visit the emergency room due to heat-related illnesses; dehydration playing a main role in these situations. As we all know the summer heat in the desert is nothing to be messed with and as much as we like to think we are responsibly hydrating, most likely, we could use more water.

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Just as our bodies need macro-nutrients such as protein, fats, and carbohydrates, water is a necessity, if not the most important; and our bodies need it for many different reasons.

The Mayo Clinic lists the functions of water in the body that include:

 

  • Moistening body tissues
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Cushioning organs and tissues
  • Aid in regular bowel movements
  • Dissolve minerals and nutrients for the body to utilize
  • Aid body detoxification by flushing waste from kidney and liver
  • Serve as a carrier for Oxygen and other nutrients

 

Just think, as we become dehydrated, all of these body functions will be affected to some extent; some these instances can be life threatening.

The easiest ways to avoid any dehydration-related issues are to drink water, stay cool, and take it easy. Your daily run can wait till the sun goes down, or can find it’s way to a treadmill. Many people like to think the more you sweat, the greater the benefit of the workout is. This is not the case. For example, take two runners training for a marathon; have one train in a heated environment, and the other train in a cooler climate. The difference between each runner will be the runner training in the heat will sweat more; there will be no difference in increasing their cardiovascular threshold. The same applies to all other sports. There are specific endurance athletes where training in the heat prepares them to deal with realistic heat of an event they’re training for, but most likely they are professionals taking the necessary precautions by balancing their fluid loss.

Coming from a former soccer player who has ended up in the hospital due to dehydration, save yourself the money and hydrate accordingly. Mayo Clinic notes that thirst is not a good indicator of hydration, rather you should use the color of your urine. When you use the bathroom, a sign of hydration is light-colored urine and dehydration is signaled by dark colors.

While you sweat, water is not the only thing you lose. You excrete waste as well as crucial minerals that are very important for the regulation of fluid as well as other functions in the body. The U.S National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus defines electrolytes as minerals in your blood and bodily fluids that carry an electric charge. There must be a balance within these charged minerals in order to maintain different bodily functions. Water is always great to hydrate with but sometimes your body requires more in order to regain what you have lost. When you are trying to figure out which electrolyte replacement beverage to drink, stick with any low sugar drinks.

If you’re curious about possible times you might have over-hydrated, there are only a few instances in which this can happen. Clear urine is the goal but just remember similar to the way you sweat and lose electrolytes, you can also over-hydrate and urinate too many of those important charged minerals and suffer from water intoxication.

It is important to stay hydrated all hours of the night and day. UCLA Sleep Disorders Center notes that it takes around 90-minutes for the body to process water and that drinking a large amount of water before bed can lead to waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Instead, drink a little water before bedtime to get you through the night and really focus on hydration in the morning. This will help you reduce the acidity of your blood; having numerous benefits including aiding the prevention of inflammation; inflammation being the source of chronic disease in the body.

To sum it all up, your body needs water to function, along with electrolytes. Summer is here and that means this hot weather requires more caution on our part. So remember to avoid the heat when possible and drink-drink-drink in order to prevent any unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

 

 

References:

 

  1. Arizona Department of Health Services. Extreme Weather and Public Health: Heat Safety. Accessed April 2016. URL: http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/extreme-weather/index.php#heat-illness

 

  1. Mayo Clinic. Functions of Water In The Body. Accessed April 2016. URL: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/functions-of-water-in-the-body/img-20005799

 

  1. Mayo Clinic. Dehydration: Basics and Symptoms. Accessed April 2016. URL: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056

 

  1. Dugdale DC. Medline Plus. Electrolytes. August 2013. URL: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002350.htm

 

  1. UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. Sleep and Health: Sleeping Well to Live Well. Accessed April 2016. URL: http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=61

 

 

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Stop Being the Biggest Cause of Food-Related Illness!

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Americans ate an average of 117.2 pounds of fresh and processed fruit per person in 2013, down from a high of 131.4 pounds in 1999, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Bananas and apples top the list of the most popular fresh fruits.

 

On the vegetables side of things, Americans consumed 48.4 pounds per person of potatoes and 30.8 pounds of tomatoes in 2013, according to the USDA. Half of potato consumption was fresh, while 59 percent of tomatoes consumption was canned.

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So, we’re consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables and probably should be consuming even more.

 

But with increased consumption of our fresh produce has come increased outbreaks of food-related illness associated with these foods, spurring increased concern about the safety of fresh fruit and vegetables.

 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and food experts, sporadic cases and small outbreaks in the home are far more common than recognized outbreaks that have come from the production and processing of fruits and vegetables. So our number one defense against foodborne illness is safety measures in the home.

 

The list of safety tips produced by the Council for Agriculture Science & Technology (CAST) below gives you and me a series of strategies to make sure we’re properly handling our fruits and vegetables once we get them home.

 

What are Producers and Processors Doing to Protect Us?

But what are fruit and vegetable growers, including processing plants doing, to ensure safety? The fresh produce production and processing industry implemented Good Agricultural Practices to decrease the risk of in-field contamination. These practices include proper site selection, water quality testing, runoff control, manure and compost management, domestic animal and wildlife control, worker health and hygiene monitoring, field sanitation of harvest equipment, and safe harvesting practices.

 

In addition, packing house operators and produce processors use Sanitary Operating Procedures and Good Manufacturing Practices, which are common to the entire food processing industry and including sanitary design of equipment and facilities, pest control, facility sanitation, worker health and hygiene monitoring and temperature control. Sanitizing washes or dips, which rely on chlorine or other sanitizers to kill harmful microbes, are used. Many producers and processors also have developed or are developing systems to trace and recall products as well as detailed crisis management and farm security plans.

 

Additionally, the federal government a few years ago passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years signed into law by President Obama in 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. The FDA released the final rule on amendments to registration of food facilities just this month and by August will have a webinar to present key pieces of the final rule.

 

To understand how important food safety is to large farms that have more at stake, while you might let your pet roam around in your backyard garden even while you harvest, today’s large produce growers fence off fields, regularly monitor their fields and rope off contaminated areas and harvesters are not allowed to harvest that crop area.

 

But, the best defense against food contamination is found in the home.  Remember to practice regular sanitation when preparing food. The tips below can help prevent food-related illnesses.

 

 

Best Practices for Consumers when Handling Fruits and Vegetables

Action

  1. Wash hands
  2. Clean and sanitize utensils and facilities
  3. Clean fresh produce properly
  4. Avoid cross-contamination of fresh produce
  5. Cook produce to a safe temperature, if appropriate
  6. Refrigerate cut produce properly

 

Method

  1. Wash Hands
  • Use warm water and soap
  • Wash at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce

 

  1. Clean and sanitize utensils and facilities
  • Before and between preparing each food item, wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counters with hot, soapy water
  • Sanitize with diluted bleach solution or kitchen disinfectant after cleaning—mix 1 tsp. household bleach with 1 qt. water
  • Do not mix soaps or other cleansers with a chlorine-based sanitizing solution

 

  1. Clean fresh produce properly
  • Rinse thin-skinned produce with cool water
  • Rub or scrub firm-skinned produce with a soft-bristled brush while rinsing
  • Special products for cleaning produce may be effective; the evidence is not conclusive, however, and they are not recommended
  • Drying produce after washing may decrease bacteria levels
  • Pre-washed produce does not benefit from being rewashed; risk of cross-contamination during rewashing may exceed safety benefits obtained

 

 

  1. Avoid cross-contamination of fresh produce
  • Use separate cutting boards for fresh produce and for raw meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Do not place produce on counters that have not been cleaned and sanitized
  • Use only clean, dry containers to serve or store fresh produce

 

 

  1. Cook Produce to a safe temperature, if appropriate
  • If produce is normally cooked, cook sufficiently to kill pathogenic microorganisms
  • Cook produce to 57º C (135º F)

 

  1. Refrigerate cut produce properly
  • Refrigerate produce within 2 hours if kept at room temperature
  • Refrigerate produce within 1 hour if kept at temperatures of 32º

C (90º F) or higher

  • Proper refrigeration becomes more critical after produce has been peeled or cut—cut melons and tomatoes are regulated as potentially hazardous foods
  • Keep refrigerators at 4º C (40º F) or colder to limit potential pathogen growth

 

The key takeaway here is that everyone, especially you and I, have a role to play in preventing food-related illnesses. In the home, we have control.

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So, How’d Farm Bureau Become the Friendly Food Price Checker?

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director

Years ago, Arizona Farm Bureau merged with Farm Bureaus across the United States to join forces and help aggregate national food prices through quarterly reports. And, since we were checking food prices in Arizona for American Farm Bureau at the national level, we decided to share our results with the media so our Arizona families would know whether food prices were trending up or down.

While we stress that Arizona Farm Bureau’s food pricing effort is unscientific we do follow consistent rules. We always price check in the same undisclosed grocery stores and we always quarterly check the same 16 marketbasket food items.

pexels-photo-41123 (1)But beyond reporting whether food prices are up or down, we wanted to help our Arizona families stretch their food dollar. The family food budget is one area where you can find tremendous savings. So, about 10 years ago we compiled a list of savings strategies we collected from our farm and ranch families. Strategies these families use on a regular basis to save food dollars.

While we’ve shared this list every quarter in our news releases, periodically we want to highlight it in our blog to remind our Arizona families how valuable and useful these tips are. Plus, we often update them based on what Farm Bureau members are sharing with us. The list follows.

Arizona Farm Bureau’s 18 Money Saving Tips to Stretch Your Food Dollars:

  1. Sort your pantry and organize to clearly know what’s available. This should be a regular effort in order to make sure you’re using everything you have, not buying unnecessary items and can determine what you really need.
  2. Create a week-long menu. From the planned menu create your shopping list based on local grocery store circulars you receive in the mail or newspaper.
  3. When planning your menu, think of ways to maximize the use of recipes on Fill Your Plate as a springboard to create your own menu. Gather ideas for meals based on the items down in price from Arizona Farm Bureau’s quarterly marketbasket. Let the Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate inspire your creativity!
  4. You’ve created the list; stick to it. If you can stick to your list, you’ll curb impulse spending on items you really don’t need.
  5. Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Studies suggest you might spend 10 to 15 percent more on your food bill when you’re hungry.
  6. Don’t take the kids grocery shopping. As with an empty stomach, kids can influence your impulse shopping. While this isn’t always practical, if possible it will help the budget.
  7. Stick to the basics. While basic food items like dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables can sometimes seem expensive, you’re gaining more value per unit and certainly more health benefits. The fewer processed food items you purchase, the more you’ll save.
  8. Regularly survey the weekly grocery store circulars. This will build your knowledge of prices for products you regularly use and give you a sense of which grocery stores tend to have the lowest prices. Take advantage of weekly advertised specials, especially for nonperishable staples.
  9. Be wary of the coupon traps. Use coupons only for those items you normally buy. Don’t let coupons cost you money by buying items you don’t really need. A sale has no value to you if it means you’re spending beyond your budget or on something you really don’t need or use. Do take advantage of “ad-matching” since lots of savings can be found here.
  10. Assess the unit price. This shopping tool lets you compare prices between brands and between sizes. Located on a shelf tag in front of the product, it provides costs in like units for the item. Generally, information is given in cost per ounce, per pound or per count.
  11. Shop the edges of the store, and if items at the ends of the aisles reflect a super deal buy. As aisle-end items are dramatically marked down, they might be a valuable substitute on your grocery list. But they’re budget busters if they become purchased food items you don’t use in your food preparation.
  12. Use grocery store club cards; also compare prices to store brands. Store club cards can generate great savings. Plus, while you might love a certain brand, also compare a popular brand to the store brand for price comparisons and possible savings.
  13. Peak season is prime time to buy fresh produce. The peak of the harvest for fresh fruits and vegetables offers you the best prices and the best quality. Take advantage of this and buy often. To always know what’s in season, go to fillyourplate.org and select the tab “Arizona Produce in Season.”
  14. When not buying fresh, consider buying frozen. Most frozen vegetables are picked fresh, immediately flash frozen, are less expensive and will keep longer.
  15. Buy in bulk, but don’t buy more than you will use. Bigger is not always better. Larger-sized packages usually cost less on a per-unit basis. But it’s not a better buy if it’s too large to use before it becomes stale or spoiled.
  16. Move in on “family pack” savings. Meat departments often have a section that offers larger-sized packages at cents-off-per-pound savings. Repackage these larger sizes into smaller quantities at home and freeze.
  17. Be flexible at the meat and produce counters. This is one area to be flexible with your list. This allows you to take advantage of unadvertised “in store” specials and switch from one item to another.
  18. Use open dating codes, especially on perishables to maximize shelf life at home. Open dating is used on perishable and semi-perishable products to let you know at a glance if the product is fresh. Most stores use a “pull date” – the last day the item is offered for sale. This still allows a few days for using at home. For stores that use a “pack date,” especially with meats, inquire how long the product will remain fresh at home.

 

About the Arizona Farm Bureau

Arizona Farm Bureau began a quarterly Market Basket starting the fourth quarter of 2006. The Arizona Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and improving the Agriculture industry through member involvement in education, political activities, programs and services. Go to www.azfb.org to learn more. To obtain “Stretch Your Food Dollar” menu and nutrition information go to www.fillyourplate.org.

As a member services organization, individuals can become a member by contacting the Farm Bureau. For information on member benefits call 480.635.3609.

 

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In-Season Smoothies

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

We are officially in the 100-degree-temperature range here in Arizona, which means searching for new and creative ways to keep cool. One of my favorite ways to beat the heat is to make smoothies.

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Smoothies make a great breakfast, an awesome snack, and even a light dinner if you’re not too hungry. Plus, you can customize them to whatever your taste is. If you like tangy, add orange juice. If you like creamy, add a little vanilla flavored almond milk. The possibilities are endless, and the health benefits are not to be missed! With all the Arizona produce in season over summer, you’ll never make the same smoothie twice!

  1. Apricot Smoothie

 

  1. Blueberry Smoothie

 

  1. Raspberry Blackberry Smoothie

 

  1. Nectarine Sunshine Smoothie

 

  1. Apple Carrot Smoothie

 

  1. Honeydew Melon Smoothie

 

  1. Peach Smoothie

 

  1. Fig Smoothie

 

  1. Sweet Spinach Smoothie

 

  1. Watermelon Cucumber Smoothie

 

  1. Blueberry and Chia Seed Smoothie

These smoothie recipes are just the beginning. Mix and match fruits and veggies that are in season to create the ultimate healthy breakfast or snack. Don’t forget that you can add things like chia seeds, flax seed, coconut milk or water, and cinnamon to make your smoothies even tastier! Also, head over to Fill Your Plate to see a full list of fruits and vegetables that are in season!

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The Green Tea Effect: From Coffee to Tea-The reasons, benefits, and myths

 

We all could use a little more energy throughout the day. Adding coffee to our daily routine helps immensely but what happens when you take your coffee drinking too far and hit that shaky, jittery caffeine wall? When we consume too much caffeine we begin to affect our body’s natural energy regulatory system. Also for everybody who drinks their coffee with cream and sugar, you are consuming quite a bit of extra calories. So what can you do instead? Make the simple switch to Green Tea for a slight caffeine kick along with receiving some major health benefits.

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I have met many people that drink coffee strictly for the caffeine kick, also claiming they do not necessarily like the taste which leads them to adding a great deal of cream and sugar to their morning and afternoon beverages. When we make this choice to sweeten our drinks, we begin to play with our body’s natural tool to regulate blood sugar, which is the hormone Insulin. When we consume sugary things we force our body to spike our insulin and eventually, after regular abuse of sugary drinks and foods paired with other lifestyle factors, Insulin may become less effective at doing its job; also known as Insulin resistance. In more extreme cases Insulin resistance can lead to type-2 diabetes, however drinking sugary coffee drinks alone will not get you to that stage. The point I am trying to make is that we all want our bodies to function at their the best to prevent the onset of any major diseases.  By decreasing the amount of added sugars we are consuming from coffee drinks, we can increase our Insulin sensitivity and allow our body to function at it’s best.

 

So you may think I am crazy for suggesting coffee without sugar but let’s examine the heroic alternative, Green Tea.  According to a 2008 study published in the Current Medicinal Chemistry Journal examining the cardiovascular benefits of a compound found in Green tea, called catechins, researchers verified the following health affects:

 

  1. Green tea serves as a potent anti-oxidant helping to reduce hypertension, inflammation, and help regulate blood lipids.
  2. Catechins help promote vascularity through the increased utilization of Nitric Oxide.
  3. Catechins inhibit thrombogenesis, or the creation of blood clots.

 

So what does all of this mean? Green tea helps your heart and blood vessels stay strong and healthy.

 

Now lets examine some of the health claims surrounding teas. There is a lot of buzz around weight loss and diet teas along with a great deal of marketing claims that green tea will help you shed fat but let’s take a look at the facts and conclude why you should begin drinking Green Tea. While there is research that supports the thermogenic, or fat burning, effect of green tea, there is contradictory research that says otherwise. According to an interview conducted by NPR’s Eliza Barclay, Maastricht University Medical Center scientist Rick Hursel stated that caffeine does increase our metabolism along with enhancing fat oxidation, so considering Green tea has caffeine, it does effect the amount of energy our bodies use along with the breakdown of fat. As far as Green tea and any other specialty extreme fat burning and Energy boosting teas on the market, they have about the as much fat burning potential as plain black coffee.

 

NPR’s Eliza Barclay also write about Blue Zones, or areas of the world where the populations have significantly longer and healthier lives due to diet, lifestyle, and genetics. She notes that in these areas the general rule is to have coffee in the morning to receive that caffeine boost, and tea in the afternoons to keep you marching through the day. This can serve as a fantastic general rule to help avoid the consumption of too much caffeine late in the day, possibly leading to sleep disruption.

 

The main reasons to drink Green tea are to help taper your caffeine consumption all while consuming extremely beneficial catechins found within Green Tea. Skip out on buying expensive fat loss teas and spend your hard earned money on healthy vegetables and fruits.

 

Next time you’re about to grab a tall mocha Frappuccino, skip the extra sugar and grab a green tea. Your body will thank you.

 

References:

 

1.Babu PV, Liu D. Green tea catechins and cardiovascular health: an update. 2008. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18691042

 

2.Barclay E. Will Drinking Green Tea Boost Your Metabolism? Not So Fast. 2015. URL: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/10/432727282/will-drinking-green-tea-boost-your-metabolism-no-so-fast

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