Health In a Minute: Zika, Stretching Benefits, & More

New Kinds of Noodles

Get more nutrients than you would from regular pasta when you try these alternatives.

We all love good, creamy pasta, but those noodles can pack in lots of refined wheat flour. Because standard pastas are refined, their outer bran shell and inner germ layer are removed from the grain. This process strips the wheat of its nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you’re a pasta person and want to increase your nutrient intake, you do have some options. Here are a few:

100% Whole-Grain

This pasta includes the bran, germ, and endosperm, giving it more natural fiber and micronutrients. Plus, the fiber makes it more filling than traditional white pasta.

Whole Wheat

Made with a mix of whole-wheat and refined flours, this type of pasta offers more nutrients than your typical pasta. It’s a great way to ease yourself into the whole-grain version.


From zoodles (zucchini noodles) to spaghetti squash, there are several veggies that have the flavor and texture to stand in for pasta. Top them with crushed tomatoes or olive oil and you’ll barely notice the difference.

Source: Today Food

Zika and Pregnancy

How this virus can affect your pregnancy.

The Zika virus is known to cause microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. It can be an isolated condition, meaning it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with others. Zika is primarily transferred to pregnant women through mosquito bites. Once infected, it can be passed to a fetus during pregnancy and at delivery.

There have currently been no locally acquired cases of Zika in Tennessee. But if you’re pregnant, here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

  • Avoid traveling to areas with Zika. Check to find a map of areas where Zika is spreading.
  • Take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as wearing full-coverage clothing and staying in air conditioned places.
  • Avoid contracting Zika through sex. If your partner has traveled to an area with Zika, be sure to use a condom and talk to your health care provider.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Science of Stretching

Why yoga isn’t just for the ladies.

Yoga has many unexpected health benefits for men, but less than a third of the 36.7 million Americans who practice yoga are male. You don’t have to become a yoga guru, but here are a few reasons why this physical activity is great for guys too:

  • It builds lean muscle
  • It increases total body strength, especially in the core
  • It enhances balance, flexibility, and control over the body
  • It prevents overuse injuries
  • The concentration and meditation involved helps sharpen mental clarity
  • Some yoga studios are even taking extra steps to get men into yoga by offering classes at local breweries and rewarding students with a flight of craft beer at the end! We’re hoping this trend will come to a Chattanooga studio soon, but there are still plenty of classes for both men and women in the area in the meantime.

Source: Yoga Alliance, Khel Journal, Daily Progress

Doctor Shy?

Why so many men avoid necessary health care.

Did you know that men are less likely to visit a doctor than women? Research says that “tough guys” have a tendency to downplay their symptoms in front of male doctors in an attempt to seem more masculine. This act can be detrimental to both short- and long-term health, and research now projects that men born in the year 2009 may live five years less than women born in the same year. But men aren’t alone. Research shows that women who see themselves as “brave” or “self-reliant” are also less likely to seek medical attention or be fully transparent about their health status when compared to females who don’t express those characteristics. 

If you find yourself avoiding medical attention for fear of seeming weak, remind yourself that denying yourself medical treatment keeps you from the benefit of recovery. And be sure to find a doctor and office setting that you can feel comfortable in. You won’t be any less strong for admitting your health concerns, but you may become weaker if you don’t.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Can You Nuke It?

Is Plastic Really Microwave Safe?

You might feel terrified to microwave plastic, for fear of releasing cancer-causing chemicals into the mouths of your family. These chemicals are called dioxins, and according to Harvard Health, plastic itself doesn’t contain them. Dioxins are a result of garbage, plastics, metal, wood, and other materials being burned. What does this mean? As long as you don’t burn your plastic container in the microwave, you won’t be exposed to dioxins. Even containers without the “microwave safe” label aren’t necessarily unsafe, according to Harvard Health. The absence of this label just means that the FDA has not yet determined whether it’s definitively unsafe or not. If you’re concerned about warming up your container, transfer your food to a glass or ceramic bowl. Also, don’t let plastic wrap touch your meal during microwaving because it may melt.

Keep in mind that most takeout containers, bottles, or food tubs are not microwave safe and are meant for one-time use.

Source: Harvard Health Publications

Not Just Sweets

Learn what foods have sneaky hidden sugars. 
Learning where sugar is hiding in your foods can keep you from surprise sugar highs and unwanted calorie overloads. Here are some top places you’re sure to find sugar.

  • Yogurt with fruit. It tastes like a dessert, and it kind of is. Go for plain Greek yogurt to reduce your sugar intake.
  • Chinese food. Sure, it’s easy and delicious, but if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, beware of what you order. Menu items like sweet and sour chicken pack in plenty of sweet sugar.
  • Marinara. Opting for a whole-grain pasta is only part of the battle. What you top it with is a vital choice as well. Some pasta sauces use as much as 12 grams of sugar per half cup.
  • Granola bars. They seem like the perfect healthy, on-the-go snack, but be choosey about your bar. More than 12 grams of sugar are in some bars, so be sure to read labels to find ones with less.

Safe at Home

Follow this checklist for a safe summer in the backyard and beyond.

Most kids look forward to summer all year long, but along with all the fun comes potential dangers. Nemours KidsHealth lays out a checklist to ensure your whole family has a safe, fun, and memorable summertime experience at home. Ask yourself:

  • Are all walkways and outdoor stairways well lit?
  • Are all walkways clear of toys, objects, or anything blocking a clear path?
  • Are all sidewalks and outdoor stairways clear of concrete cracks or missing pieces?
  • Are all garbage cans securely covered?
  • Are all swing set parts free from rust, splinters, and sharp edges?
  • Are all parts on swing sets or other outdoor equipment securely fastened?
  • Is the surface beneath the swing set soft enough (cushioned with material such as sand, mulch, wood chips, or approved rubber surfacing mats) to absorb the shock of a fall?
  • Are all outdoor toys put away in a secure, dry place when not in use?
  • Is there climb-proof fencing at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) high on all sides of the pool? Does the fence have a self closing gate with a childproof lock?
  • Have all ladders been removed from an above-ground pool when not in use?
  • If there are guns in the home, have they been placed in a locked cabinet with the key hidden and the ammunition locked separately?
  • Do you always supervise your child around pets, especially dogs?
  • Have you removed any potentially poisonous houseplants?

Source: Nemours KidsHealth

Combat Childhood Obesity

Keep your child’s weight healthy to avoid health consequences.

In the past few decades, childhood obesity has become an American epidemic. Today, about 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. Recent awareness of the issue is helping to remedy the problem, but obesity is still a concern that many parents and children are faced with. As one of a child’s most important role models, it’s important that parents choose to set a good example by eating healthy foods and maintaining regular physical activity. Being overweight as a child has serious health consequences, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep problems
  • Lifelong obesity (many children never “grow out” of being overweight)
  • Low self-esteem

If you’re concerned your child may be overweight or obese, make an appointment with their pediatrician. A doctor or nurse can calculate your child’s BMI and help you find a weight loss program if necessary.

Source: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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