Grilling Season: The New Rules of Red Meat

Avoid or limit red meat to prevent chronic disease

When Joey Chestnut steps on stage this month at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island in New York, he’s going to be hungry…hungry for hot dogs. And in case you didn’t know, most hot dogs are made from highly-processed red meat.

What’s on your menu for the summer grilling season?

It’s probably not anything like Chestnut’s. He’ll eat 70 plus hot dogs in under 10 minutes to defend his title as the Major League Eating champion. But if you do plan to eat hot dogs, steak, or burgers this summer, it’s time to learn the new rules of red meat.

In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that eating even small amounts of red meat raises the risk for diabetes, heart disease (the leading cause of death in the United States), certain types of cancer, and early death.

Researchers found that eating just 3.5 servings more of red meat per week (common during grilling season), raised the risk for early death and other health problems by 10 to 13 percent. And that’s no way to celebrate summer.

Choose healthier grilling options

GrillingIf you’re a vegetarian, you don’t have to think about the health risks of eating red meat. But if meat is a grilling-season staple, what can you do to improve your diet?

Choose healthier grilling options like:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Fish, or a
  • Veggie-burger

It’s a smart way to lower your risk for chronic disease. You’ll consume less calories, sodium, and saturated fat, too. And you can still enjoy firing up the grill this summer.

Want to improve your health and prevent disease? Use the FitMap tool to manage your health.

Lather Up to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

90% of all skin cancer caused by sun exposure

When ultra-runner Julie Nisbet (who lives in the U.K.) showed up to run a race, she thought a quick smear of sunscreen would be enough to prevent skin damage. But she was in the sun for a lot longer than just a couple of hours.

By the time she crossed the finish line, the backs of her legs were bright red and blistered. She felt the pain and fatigue of running 69 miles. But her sunburn was a lot worse. After she crossed the finish line, she headed for the hospital to get treated for severe sunburn.

Do you use sunscreen?

SunscreenYou should. About 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. About 1 in 5 adults will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, but it’s largely preventable.

If you want to protect your skin from the sun, cover up, wear a hat, stay in the shade, and use sunscreen.

Here are a few things you need to know before you lather up:

Check the SPF sunscreen rating. Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) rating of 15 or higher. This will protect most people from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays for about 150 minutes.

Sunscreen with a higher SPF will last longer and provide greater protection from the sun. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that using sunscreen with an SPF rating of 100+  provided more protection than sunscreen with an SPF 50 rating.

Don’t forget to reapply. Sunscreen with an SPF rating of 15 or higher may protect your skin from the sun for a couple of hours. But if you’re going to be at the beach, at the lake, or working in the yard all day, for example, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen. You’ll also want to reapply after swimming outdoors or heavy sweating.

Get a skin check-up. At least once a year, make an appointment to see your dermatologist. Most skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early. But left unchecked, it can be deadly. An estimated 7,000 people a year die from melanoma, the most common form of skin cancer linked to sun exposure.

Got an appointment with your dermatologist? Use FitDoc to keep track of your condition, diagnosis, treatment plan, and billing.

Drink Up: 6 Reasons You Need a Hydration Habit

Drinking waterDrinking water helps prevent disease, manage weight, improve health

Drink plenty of water. You’ve heard the advice before. But do you actually follow it?

In a recent study published in Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers looked at the hydration habits of about 3,400 adults. Here’s what they found:

  • 7% of adults don’t drink water
  • 36% of adults drink 1 to 3 cups of water per day
  • 35% of adults drink 4 to 7 cups of water per day
  • 22% of adults drink 8 cups of water or more per day

How much water should you drink?

It depends on factors like your bodyweight, activity level, and climate you live in (more if you live in a hot climate). But on average more than 4 cups per day is best, 8 cups is better.

Based on the study, an estimated 43 percent of adults are chronically dehydrated, and that’s a problem.

Are you drinking enough water? Think about it. Here are 6 reasons you need a hydration habit.

  1. Fight fatigue. It’s mid-afternoon and you’re feeling sluggish, or you’re trying to fit in some exercise but you’re not feeling it. Maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before. But maybe that’s not it. Research shows fatigue is a common symptom of dehydration.
  2. Quench your thirst. But don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Thirst is one of your body’s first warning signs for dehydration. And if you don’t do anything about it, dehydration can take a bigger toll on your body than dry mouth.
  3. Give your brain a boost. Did you know your brain is about 70 percent water? Your brain needs water to do its job. If you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to experience memory and thinking problems and be anxious or irritable. Drink up to give your brain a boost.
  4. Keep your metabolism humming. Looking for a way to control hunger, feel fuller longer, and keep your metabolism humming along? Drink plenty of water. Research shows drinking water can help speed metabolism to help with weight management.
  5. Avoid kidney stones. Ask anyone who’s experienced the pain of kidney stones, and they’ll tell you it can be excruciating…and expensive if it requires hospitalization or surgery. But it’s largely preventable by drinking plenty of water. Research shows that about 20 percent of all kidney stone cases are linked to dehydration.
  6. Prevent disease. Here’s a low-cost way to protect your health. Drink plenty of water. In a study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, researchers found that good hydration can help prevent constipation, exercise-induced asthma, high blood sugar levels, urinary tract infections, poor circulation, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Go have a drink of water. Then…Check out the Health Education Library for more about the health benefits of hydration.

Go the Distance: Be More Active to Improve Your Health

CyclingAim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day

Hop on a bike. Pedal for 23 days. Ride more than 2,000 miles up and down steep mountains. Burn a ton of calories and strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles. That’s what happens at Tour de France, the most storied bike race in the world, which begins this month.

Maybe you’re not going to be in the peloton chasing elite cyclists through the countryside. But now is always a good time to be more active.

Take 10,000 steps a day. Be active for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Pick an activity you enjoy and make it a regular habit. Here are some easy and fun ways to be more active:

  • Ride a bike.
  • Go for a walk, jog, or run.
  • Work in the yard.
  • Lift weights.
  • Take a fitness class.
  • Always take the stairs.

Are you active or getting enough exercise? Here’s what the American College of Sports Medicine recommends:

  • Cardio counts. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Pick any activity that elevates your heart rate. If you’re short on time, exercise in 10-minute sessions to reach your goal.
  • Be strong. Strengthen your bones and muscles with bodyweight exercises or weight lifting two or three days a week. Train all the major muscles groups: Legs, back, shoulders, arms, chest, core. 2 to 4 sets per exercise, 8 to 20 reps.
  • Stretch and balance. Take time to stretch two or three days a week. You’ll improve flexibility and range of motion, which will help prevent injuries. Hold a stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Release, and repeat 2 to 4 times. Include balance exercises to improve the body-brain connection, too.

Need a fitness challenge to help you be more active? Pick a FitChallenge to focus on and get to work.

Improve Your Mood with More Time Outdoors

Study: 5 to 15 minute in nature can increase happiness

Ever have one of those days? You know…down in the dumps, feeling sad, negative, or unhappy?

Good moodIt happens to most people from time to time. And while some mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders should be treated by a doctor, there’s a simple way to improve your mood when you’re feeling down…spend a little time outdoors.

It doesn’t have to be much. In a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology¸ just 5 to 15 minutes in nature is enough to improve your mood and help you feel happier. It’s easy. For example, you could:

  • Go for a walk outside.
  • Visit a park near your work or neighborhood.
  • Ride your bike to work.
  • Hike a trail.
  • Pick outdoor dining instead of indoor dining.

How’s your mental and physical health? Check in with your Health Coach to learn more about making healthy lifestyle choices.

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