As we age, our bodies undergo various changes, including a decrease in bone density, which puts us at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to fractures. This condition is especially prevalent in older adults, and it can significantly affect their quality of life. However, there are some foods that can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in older adults.
Dairy products are rich in calcium, which is essential for strong and healthy bones. Calcium is the primary mineral that makes up the bones, and getting enough of it in your diet can help prevent bone loss. Older adults are advised to consume at least three servings of dairy products per day, including milk, cheese, and yogurt. It is also important to choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Leafy greens are another great source of calcium, and they also contain other essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, which helps with bone metabolism. Some of the best leafy greens for bone health include kale, spinach, collard greens, and Bok choy. These greens can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways, such as adding them to salads or smoothies.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are excellent sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, while omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and promote bone growth. Older adults are advised to consume at least two servings of fatty fish per week. If you are not a fan of fish, you can also get vitamin D from fortified foods, such as milk and cereal, or by spending some time in the sun. About 10 minutes of sun exposure a day can help boost vitamin D production in the body.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich in several nutrients that are essential for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Some of the best nuts and seeds for bone health include almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. These can be added to salads, oatmeal, or eaten as a snack. These seeds are also rich in fiber, which is important for digestive health.
In addition to natural sources of calcium and vitamin D, there are also many fortified foods that can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. These include orange juice, cereal, and tofu, which are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. It is important to check the label of these products to ensure that they contain enough of these nutrients to make a difference.
In conclusion, osteoporosis is a significant health concern for older adults, but it can be prevented by consuming a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients. Incorporating dairy products, leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and fortified foods into your diet can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and promote healthy bones. However, it is important to note that diet alone is not enough to prevent osteoporosis, and older adults should also engage in regular exercise and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. By taking these steps, older adults can improve their bone health and maintain their independence and quality of life.
WARNING: This article describes the signs, symptoms, and statistics of mental health challenges, particularly suicide, which may be triggering or unsuitable for some readers. Reader discretion advised.
The United States is currently experiencing a mental health crisis. The isolation and confusion of the recent pandemic brought to light an astounding number of people living with depression, anxiety, and other mental health and substance use challenges. While many of these people have been dealing with these challenges since before the pandemic, the sheer scope of the crisis has been brought into sharper focus since the onset of COVID-19.
One of the most difficult mental health issues to talk about is suicide. For many people who struggle with suicidal thoughts or for the families of those who die by suicide, it can be very painful and stigmatizing to discuss. Even for those outside those two groups, suicide is often a taboo subject.
Supporting someone during a mental health challenge is just as important as supporting them during a physical challenge. By working together, we can help reduce the stigma of mental illness. (Photo source: UF/IFAS File Photo)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall suicide rate in the U.S. decreased 3% during the pandemic despite the fact that calls to suicide hotlines went up nearly 800%. For me, what this shows is that when people suffering from suicidal ideation reach out to the resources available to them, they improve their chances for a better outcome.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares these statistics on their website: 79% of all people who die by suicide are male; suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 and the 12th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.; 18.8% of high school students and 11.3% of young adults aged 18-25 experience suicidal ideation each year.
When a person dies by or attempts suicide, those left behind often claim they did not see it coming, that they had no idea their loved one was having suicidal thoughts. In many cases, the person experiencing suicidal ideation conceals their thoughts and feelings from those around them. However, there are certain warning signs that may be observed in people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) lists the following warning signs: talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself; looking for a way to kill oneself; talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose; talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain; talking about being a burden to others; increasing the use of alcohol or drugs; acting anxious, agitated, or reckless; sleeping too little or too much; withdrawing or feeling isolated; showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and displaying extreme mood swings.
(Please note this is not an exhaustive list, but these signs may be indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.)
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. While suicide prevention is important every day of the year, I encourage everyone to take some time this month to learn more about mental illness and suicide. Taking the time to increase your awareness will help reduce the stigma of mental illness and suicide and may allow you to support someone experiencing a mental health challenge.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call or text 988 or text TALK to 741741.
Prudence Caskey, Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent. Photo source: UF/IFAS
Written by Prudence Caskey, Extension Agent II – 4-H Youth Development, UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa County
The hot Florida summer is approaching, and we all need to make sure we focus on hydration in the heat. Dehydration is very common in hot, humid environments. Many people do not drink the recommended amount of water. Many of us have our coffee in the morning and unless we go out to lunch and someone gives us water, we seldom think about water during the day. Another confusing concept is how much water we should drink. Growing up, we were told to get eight glasses of water a day. That is 64 ounces. Let’s see if that adage still holds true today.
How much water should I drink?
The best way to calculate how many ounces of water to drink is to multiply your weight by .67 or 67%. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds would need 100½ ounces or a little over 12½ cups. On the other hand, a person weighing 200 pounds would need 134 ounces or 16¾ cups.
Is that all the water I need?
No, as you sweat, you lose the water you have already consumed. If you are sweating for 30 minutes, you need to replenish your hydration with 12 additional ounces of fluid.
What fluid should I drink?
The main thing to remember when it comes to hydration is, just because it is wet does not mean you are being hydrated. Different fluids are absorbed by our bodies differently. Some alcoholic beverages remove hydration from our bodies as we drink them. Below is an example of how our bodies absorb some common beverages:
Water absorbed at 100%
Sparkling Water absorbed at 100%
Skim Milk absorbed at 90%
Buttermilk absorbed at 90%
Whole Milk absorbed at 80%
Apple Juice absorbed at 88%
Decaffeinated Coffee absorbed at 90%
Coffee absorbed at 80%
Sports Drinks absorbed at 50%
Energy Drink absorbed at 40%
Wine absorbed at negative 150%
Beer absorbed at negative 60%
Sake absorbed at negative 180%
Staying hydrated in the heat of summer is an important part of sun safety. (Photo source: UF/IFAS File Photo)
Liquor absorbed at negative 300%
This is a huge concept to grasp if you plan on being out at the beach with your friends this summer. With this example, a well-hydrated 150-pound person consumes the required 100½ ounces of fluid. Then, at a gathering, they have three glasses of wine. The standard five ounces per glass would mean they have removed 22½ ounces from their hydration after drinking only 15 ounces of wine. Be cognizant of what you add to your coolers this year.
What are the signs of dehydration?
There are many signs our bodies will give us to signal dehydration. Headache, nausea, and muscle pains are common. However, the most common sign of dehydration is thirst. That’s right, if you are thirsty, it is your body’s way of letting you know you need fluids. Just be careful which fluids you choose this summer when you are out enjoying the Florida sun.
“Stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.” When I was younger, I took this saying to heart. If I was stressed, I reached for the sweets. That instant rush of sugar to my brain provided a feeling of happiness and contentment. But it was only temporary. Once the sugar high wore off, I went back to feeling overwhelmed with stress, which just made me reach for more sweets.
It took me much too long to realize this was an endless and unhealthy cycle. Stress eating, especially stress-eating junk food, was such an ingrained habit for me, I did not even think about it having negative consequences such as weight gain and high blood sugar, both of which can be exacerbated by stress itself.
More recently, I have taken an interest in healthier coping strategies. Stress is an inevitable and integral part of our lives. We cannot avoid it. But we can seek ways to deal with it that do not add even more stress (or calories) to our body. One of the most helpful strategies I have adopted to cope with stress is to strive to live more mindfully.
Spending time in nature has been shown to decrease feelings of stress, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of calm. (Photo source: UF/IFAS File Photo)
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years, but do not let that trick you into thinking it is just a fad. Mindfulness and everything it entails has been around for decades (even longer!). Practices such as mindful breathing, tai chi, and meditation are all part of mindfulness, which is simply an umbrella term used to describe strategies for dealing with difficult emotions, managing stress, and staying present in everyday life.
One of the things I have found most valuable in my foray into mindfulness is the ability to better recognize the signs of stress in my body. Early recognition of stress signals allows me to put one of my new mindfulness skills into practice to combat their effects. This may include simply pausing for a few moments and consciously breathing or taking a short walk in the sunshine while allowing the sounds around me, and not my stressful thoughts, to become the focus of my attention.
Another good practice for stress reduction in general is to immerse yourself in nature whenever possible. Whether that is hiking one of the many local nature trails, kayaking in the springs, or relaxing at the beach while listening to the waves, spending time in nature has been shown to alleviate stress. Even watching a brief nature video online has been shown to lower blood pressure and elicit feelings of calm.
April is Stress Awareness Month. I challenge everyone to take some time this month to really think about what stress looks like for you and how it shows up in your mind and body. How do you usually cope with it? If the answer involves over-indulgence in a substance such as food or alcohol, I urge you to try a new, healthier way to cope. Go for a walk. Focus on your breath. Even try meditation with the help of a mindfulness mobile app. It may feel weird at first, but if you keep at it, it will soon become a new healthy habit that you will reach for instead of that bag of chips.
If baking were a feature film, flour would be the lead actor. While there are a lot of important supporting castmates, flour is the star. It serves as the foundation upon which baking masterpieces are built, providing structure, texture, and mouthfeel (the physical sensations food provides in the mouth) to the final product.
But here is the thing: Not all flours are created equal. There are many types of flour out there, but not all of them will provide the same results. Different types of flour have different levels of protein, gluten, and fiber, and react differently with their companion ingredients. Need all-purpose flour but only have rye flour? Expect a nuttier, grainier outcome – or even possibly a disaster!
Depending on the type of flour used, different quantities of other ingredients may be called for, such as water or oil, salt, butter, sugar, baking soda, or baking powder. Not all flours are easily interchangeable, and some flours can only be partially substituted for others, or the final product may be dramatically different.
For example, want to substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour? Sure, it’s possible, and is much easier to pull off in quick (non-yeast) breads such as muffins, pancakes, and biscuits. However, in yeast breads, switching out 100% of white flour for whole wheat without adjusting other ingredients will inevitably result in a final product that is less airy and more dense (less rise), which may adversely affect the flavor and texture.
What to do? Since whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white flour, for every 1 cup of whole wheat flour substituted, increase the liquid by 2 teaspoons, and then let the dough rest for 30 minutes before kneading to allow the liquid to be absorbed. This will result in a softer, more malleable dough that will yield more favorable final results.
There are many more substitution tips out there – more than could possibly be covered in one article. But here are a few common types of flour that may be called for in baking:
All-purpose flour is a common, highly versatile type of flour that can be used successfully in many baking recipes. (Source: Samantha Kennedy)
All-purpose flour: Made from the soft, chewy internal part of the wheat kernel – the endosperm – it is a highly versatile type of flour that can be used in just about any baking recipe. This type of flour generally contains about 10-11% protein.
Self-rising flour: I like to think of this as all-purpose flour with a kick. Why? Because it already contains the salt and baking powder that would otherwise need to be added to all-purpose flour to make the final product rise. While it can be substituted for all-purpose flour, it is important to remember to leave out the additional salt and baking powder called for in the recipe.
Bread flour: This type of flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour – about 12% – and produces a dough with more gluten, resulting in a light, airy loaf with good volume. All-purpose flour can be used instead with positive results.
Cake flour: This type of flour contains about 7.5% protein and results in a final product that is crumblier than bread, which is desirable in a cake or cupcake. If using all-purpose flour instead, substitute 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour for every 1 cup of cake flour called for in the recipe.
Flour is a vital ingredient in nearly all baked goods. Using too much, too little, or a different kind than called for can result in an unsatisfactory final product. Learning the differences between common types of flour and how they can be interchanged with one another will go a long way towards achieving baking success.
For more information about this or other baking topics, please call Samantha Kennedy at (850) 926-3931.