Monday, October 31, 2016

Healthy Eating on the Go

Now that the semester is underway, you might be a bit overwhelmed and wonder how you’re going to get it all done!  Maybe you’re tempted to carve out some extra time in your schedule by becoming a regular at Taco Bell.  But what if there was a way to pack up several meals on a weekend so they’re at your fingertips throughout the week?  I guarantee a small investment of time will pay off in health and energy to keep you sharp and focused.

“Salad in a Jar” is a great way to overcome your fast-food temptation.   The basic formula is simple:   In a wide-mouth jar (such as a quart-sized mason jar), start with 1 – 4 tablespoons of salad dressing.  Then pack the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients in the bottom, followed by lighter ingredients until you end up with salad greens at the top of the jar.  Take care not to tip the jar in transport and your greens will stay leafy and fresh until you’re ready to eat. The jars will last up to five days in the fridge.  If you are using perishable proteins like hard-boiled eggs, avocados or chicken breast, add them on the day you plan to eat your salad. 

Here are some ideas for your salad in a jar:

Start with 1 - 4 tablespoons of salad dressing in the bottom of the jar
Add hard chopped veggies such as carrots, cucumbers or peppers
Next add beans, pasta or grains.  If you have any leftover rice in the fridge, add it to this layer
Cheese and proteins come next, unless you're not planning to eat the salad that day.  Add these ingredients on the day you plan to eat your salad.
Softer fruits and veggies come next.  Try sliced strawberries, tomatoes, etc.  These are best added on the day you'll eat your salad.
Your next layer could include nuts or seeds.  Toasted almonds are always yummy!
Lastly, pack your salad greens.  Don't worry about packing them tightly at the top of the jar.
Don't forget a big bowl, you'll want to empty your jar and mix up your ingredients right before you eat.

Even if you don’t end up taking your salad to school, it would be nice to come home to a fridge full of healthy goodness.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer in Women and Men

I have a confession:  When it comes to getting shots, I’m not a fan.  Lucky for me, nobody asked my opinion back when I was getting vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and other preventable diseases.  But what if there was a vaccine to prevent cancer?  I’d be first in line for a shot that would guarantee that I would never have to worry about that dreadful disease!   

Although a vaccine to prevent cancer seems like a science fiction fantasy, scientists have developed a vaccine that prevents certain types of cancer caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  Studies have shown that HPV can cause several types of cancer in both women and men.  Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the United States, the prevalence of vaccine-type HPV has decreased 56% among female teenagers.   Now that's a success story!  However, there’s still room for improvement.  While HPV is commonly associated with cervical cancer, it is known to cause certain types of cancer in men, including penile, anal, mouth and throat cancer.   According to the CDC  , only 34.6% of boys received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine in 2013, and just 13.9% of boys aged 13 – 17 received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. 

HPV is a very common sexually-transmitted virus.  In fact, the CDC estimates that nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives.    So if you’d like to be protected, the vaccine is recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26, although some people choose to receive the vaccine even beyond the recommended age.  Student Health has the HPV vaccine Gardasil in stock and it’s available by appointment.  Call 913-588-1941 to schedule and inquire about fees.

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Students, Get Your Vitamin D!

If you’re like me, you’ve been hearing more and more about Vitamin D lately.  So what’s the big deal about “the Sunshine Vitamin?”  Is it really worthy of all the hoopla? 

As it turns out, Vitamin D is a pretty big deal.  Vitamin D has long been recognized as a vital nutrient for bone health.  Our bodies need Vitamin D to absorb calcium.  Without enough calcium, our bones, heart and nerves do not function at their best.  Lately, researchers have been finding more and more possible benefits of Vitamin D.  Studies are showing a link between cancer and Vitamin D deficiency, especially colon cancer.   Research suggests Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention and treatment of other diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes.  It is also thought to support immune function and affect inflammation.  Even psychiatric conditions such as depression may be linked to Vitamin D deficiency, although further research is needed. 

By now you may be wondering if you’re at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.   According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, the following groups may be at risk:

  • People who use sunscreen or cover up in the sun, or who don’t much spend time outdoors.
  • People with very dark skin
  • Obese or overweight people
  • Older people
  • People living at higher latitudes such as Boston or parts of Canada and Europe
  • People with certain medical conditions, especially conditions that affect the bowel such as inflammatory bowel disease or Celiac disease. 
  • People who are in institutions such as nursing homes, or are home-bound
  • People taking certain medications that interfere with Vitamin D absorption

If you find yourself in one of these groups, or if you’re just interested in boosting your Vitamin D, there are some good sources available:  tuna, salmon, fortified milk products and certain mushrooms, to name a few.  Limited exposure to sunlight will also boost your Vitamin D, however be aware that there is no official recommendation due to the link between UV exposure and skin cancer.  Vitamin D supplements are widely available and are easy to use to reach your recommended daily amount based on your age and life stage group. 

Many doctors are beginning to test levels of Vitamin D for patients with certain risk factors or conditions.  At this time, however, routine screening of all patients is not recommended. 

I’m sure we will see much more research in the coming months and years about this important nutrient.  In the meantime, there is more than enough evidence to convince me to pay attention to my Vitamin D intake.  

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.