March is National Nutrition Month, and we here at City Drug think that’s a great topic for our first collection of health tips. If you’ve stopped by the pharmacy, you know that we pride ourselves on dispensing sensible health advice in addition to filling prescriptions, but if you can’t make it in to the store, we can at least cover some basics here. So let’s get started…
Let’s Talk About: Nutrition
We get asked all sorts of important health questions, and one topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind around town is nutrition.
- How does what I eat affect my health and mood?
- What is considered a “balanced” diet?
- How much beef jerky is “too much” beef jerky?
What you put into your body is very important. We’ve all been told “you are what you eat” and then looked in the mirror, wondering how that is even possible. If we are the food we eat though, let’s talk about what kinds of food we want to be made of.
Tip #1 : Green is Good
Just look around you. Everything in and around Brady and our surrounding counties is rapidly turning green, reminding us of the importance of greens in our diets.
Green symbolizes nutrition. Not only for our livestock and game animals, but for all us human critters too. Collard greens, kale, spinach, green beans and green peas, artichokes, celery and all kinds of lettuces, especially romaine and green leaf lettuce, are all chock full of good nutrition. Green vegetables turn our meals into colorful, tasty delights and they can all be found, fresh and affordable, from the produce department in our grocery stores. Or, better yet, from your own garden. Our summers get so hot that the best time to enjoy home grown green leafy vegetables is in the springtime. If you planned ahead and started your seeds indoors, your very own nutritious lettuce would be ready to start sharing its tender leaves.
Green salads laden with fresh vegetables are the easiest, fastest, and the overall best way to get our “greens” as are lightly cooked zucchini squash, broccoli, green beans and peas. Plus many more. Retain the maximum nutrition by not overcooking fresh vegetables. Steaming or lightly sautéing them with fresh onions and mushrooms is not only healthier, but much more delicious. And remember to retain the liquid from steamed or boiled vegetables. That fortified water adds nutrition to accompanying rice, potatoes, pastas, stews and soups.
Health Facts : Is it vegetable or is it fruit?
Did you know that many so-called vegetables are actually fruits? Fruit is defined as the part of a plant that develops from a flower that has seeds. That means that peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a myriad of foods we think of as vegetables are really fruits. Have fun with your kids or grandkids when you go to the store and see how many “vegetables” they can find that are really “fruits.”
Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (even if some are actually fruits) is the very best way to stay healthy. Take time when you shop to look closely at all the choices that are way better for you than processed foods and snacks. Raw carrots and celery, for example, make a terrific easy snack (especially when dipped in peanut butter), and they, along with fresh green and red grapes and all kinds of berries are now on our grocery store shelves year round. Strawberries are especially plentiful in the spring.
Tip #2 : Variety is the Spice of Life
It’s a Balancing Act.
Humans are omnivores. That means we eat just about anything. These genuine Texas Longhorns, who live not too far from town, are totally vegetarian. Native grasses and protein from grains are what make them big and strong. We’re pretty much the same in that our bodies… and minds thrive on a good balance of the major food groups.
Along with vitamin-rich veggies and fruits, protein is especially important. We get our protein primarily from meats, fish, poultry and from all sorts of other sources like nuts, seeds, tofu, and all those other interesting new products the vegetarian community has discovered. Dairy products in moderation, like lower fat milk, good quality cheese and yogurt are especially rich in protein, calcium and vitamins. Remember to note and compare calories on product labels. And about that beef jerky question. Home smoked, low fat content, mesquite smoked? Have all you want. If it comes in a package, read the fine print. Watch out for the high amount of sodium in such products. If you think you’re having too much of anything… you probably are.
Don’t Cut ALL the Carbs.
They tend to get a bad name, but rounding out our healthy diet are those delicious carbs, which include potatoes (healthier with the clean skins still on), whole wheat based breads and pastas. Compare whole wheat versions with white on the ingredient labels and you’ll be amazed how much better whole wheat is, and the taste is richer. We humans do love our carbs, and they’re are wonderful for us provided they’re consumed in moderation and chosen for their high amount of nutrition and lowest amount of sodium, sugar and low calorie total.
A Healthy Sweet Tooth
What about dessert? Of course. But not quite so much nor so often. Try to avoid processed desserts and treats that are full of empty calories and too much white sugar.
Recipe Time: A quick and easy healthy dessert, for example, can be made by cooking a large batch of brown rice for a dinner side and setting enough aside for a nice rice pudding. All that’s required is the cooked rice mixed with one or two eggs, milk, raisins, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake to a bubble and the family will love it, warm or cold, and… it’s good for them.
Tip #3 : Only take the supplements that YOU need
If you think you need dietary supplements or vitamins, don’t just take what someone else is taking or what was advertised. If your body can’t find a use for the supplements, you might literally be flushing money down the drain. Too many supplements can also be harmful and cause your liver to work overtime filtering the excess. Sometimes the best intentions can actually be unhealthy.
Medical professionals are great resources to recommend any necessary dietary supplements. There’s a reason why we’re told to “ask your doctor” – they know about this stuff! Also, come to City Drug and talk candidly with our health experts about your individual and very personal dietary concerns. We will always give you the right expert advice and if needed, will speak directly with your personal doctor for confirmation.
Here’s to a Healthy start to Spring
Eat right, eat happy, and most of all, enjoy another beautiful spring in the Texas Hill Country. Thanks largely to a full week of soft rain earlier this month, the wildflowers will be popping up through those expanses of lush green grasses on the roadsides and blanketing our ranches this month.
March is always guaranteed green and healthy and our weather is mild and downright perfect this time of the year. Get out and enjoy the show.