5 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkins

It’s that time of year again for pumpkin carving, pumpkin pies and plenty of pumpkin spice treats. Here are some health benefits to eating pumpkin that people may not know about.

  • Vital Vitamins: Pumpkin is packed with vitamins vital for good health such as Vitamin A, C and E. Vitamin A is thought to help prolong and promote eye health so when you’re eating that extra slice of pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, you can say it is actually for your eyesight.  Plus, since vitamin C is a fantastic aide for the immune system, eating a bit of pumpkin each day could keep illness and eye problems away.
  • Fiber: If you are looking for a sweet dose of fiber, try eating some pumpkin. By eating raw or canned pumpkin, you’ll be getting some fiber needed for healthier digestion. Fiber takes longer to digest so it may cause you to feel more full; this may encourage you to eat more proportionate meals and potentially lose weight, if that is your goal.
  • Lower that Blood Pressure: Between the Vitamin C, potassium and fiber found in pumpkin, it is thought to aid in heart health and lowering blood pressure. While lowering sodium intake is important for a normal blood pressure range, so is having an adequate amount of potassium in your diet.
  • Sleep Aide: Pumpkin seeds have tryptophan, the amino acid often considered to be responsible for the post-Thanksgiving meal sleepiness. Pumpkin seeds are one of the top ten seeds packed with tryptophan; if you are having trouble sleeping, save those seeds from your Halloween pumpkin carving this year and give them a try to see if you sleep better. A popular preparation is salting and pan-frying in a small amount of oil.
  • Minerals: Some minerals such as zinc and magnesium are found in pumpkin seeds. Zinc in particular is a great thing to gain from eating pumpkin seeds because zinc is thought to aide in hormone production, fertility, prostate health and much more.

5 Facts about Breast Cancer Everyone Should Know

 

Most people know that Breast Cancer is one of the top cancers diagnosed in women as 1 in 8 women are diagnosed within their lifetime. But there are plenty of other facts that everyone should be aware of.

  1. Men can be diagnosed, too: Although it is 100 times more prevalent in women, men can be diagnosed with breast cancer, as well. While women have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed, men have a 1 in 1,000 chance with about 2,600 diagnoses annually. With 95% of all breast cancer cases in the United States being in women, some may think that men just don’t get it.
  2. Death Rates are Declining: With the rates of diagnoses declining since 1990, there are currently over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Doctors credit earlier detection and improved treatment for the decline in diagnoses and death rates.
  3. Breastfeeding may reduce risk: Recent research is showing that women who breastfeed for a year or more have a reduced risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The approximate risk reduction is 4. 3% per 12 months of breast-feeding.
  4. You Can Control Some Risk Factors: Although there is no proven way to prevent Breast Cancer, there are plenty of things everyone can do to control the risk factors in their life that could lead to a diagnoses. Starting with exercise, healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco, there are many things people can do to potentially reduce their risk.
  5. There are warning signs: Everyone should pay attention to gradual or sudden changes in their bodies. When it comes to breast cancer, aside from getting annual mammograms, there are warning signs one can notice prior to their annual check up. While the warning signs are not the same in everyone, symptoms such as nipple discharge, new lumps, or changes to the breast or nipple can be indicators that should not be ignored. Being familiar with one’s body is important to noticing changes and taking advantage of preventative medicine.

4 Reasons to get a Mammogram this month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Here are four good reasons why females should remember to get a mammogram this month.

  1. Preventative Medicine Saves Lives: Many forms of breast cancer when caught early are very treatable and patients have a much higher chance of survival. Talk to your doctor about when your family history, risks and when should begin getting annual mammograms. Knowing early can save your life.
  2. Breast Cancer Awareness Month: By getting your mammogram this month you can be a personal reminder to all your female friends, family and coworkers that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When you get it during the month that everyone is always talking about it you are much less likely to forget the month you’d received your last one and when you’ll need another one. Never miss an annual mammogram again by getting it on the month that everyone is talking about it.
  3. You might get a treat: Some local clinics and hospitals will actually give you a gift for coming in for a mammogram during the month of October. Health care professionals are that serious about preventative medicine that they encourage you to come in by giving you chocolates or other goodies. Nobody enjoys having her breasts inspected by a stranger, but getting a chocolate at the end of it could make it less of a horrible chore.
  4. Lead by Example: Children learn a lot from their parents, including what’s important for good health. If you have a daughter, it is a good idea to talk with her about the importance of staying on top of preventative health. While young girls don’t need mammograms the education will help them realize the importance of it. A young girl is more likely to remember to do it themselves when they’re adults if they see their mother getting theirs done every year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

10 Ways to Use your PFD on a healthier lifestyle

 

The time of year has come again when Alaskans are gifted the annual permanent fund dividend. Instead of splurging on the latest and greatest TV, video game, or vacation deal, here are ten ways you can spend your PFD on a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Re-Stock Your Pantry: Toss the old and expired foods, donate what you know you won’t consume before its expiration date and restock your kitchen with fresh, healthy ingredients. Replace what you can with higher quality or organic products to help improve and maintain your families’ good health through the holiday months. It might be wise to think ahead and set aside enough money for healthy, organic holiday feasts.
  2. Set up a home gym: Maybe you don’t have time or don’t like to go to the gym down the road; you’d rather just stay home to workout while watching Dancing with the Stars or being with your family. Take advantage of stores’ huge PFD sales and get that piece of equipment you’ve had your eye on. If you have a spare room you have been meaning to convert into your home gym, take some of your PFD money to get that work done.
  3. Medical Expenses: Have your kids had their flu shots; sports physicals? Copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses can be overwhelming. Set aside some of your PFD to pay off any unpaid medical bills, or prepare for the new years expenses. Having cash set aside for that trip to the Emergency Room could really come in handy.
  4. Plan ahead: Start setting aside portions or all of your or your kid’s PFDs for a college savings account. By the time your child is old enough for college there could be a good amount of money to help pay for college.
  5. New Bed: Has your back been aching? Are you always tired or feel like you aren’t getting good rest? It may be time for a new bed. Talk to your chiropractor about the type of bed or pillow that might best alleviate your sleep-related aches and pains.
  6. Relaxing Massage: The holiday season is right around the corner; avoid the stress this year by staying relaxed with a good therapeutic massage. Set aside part of your PFD for a good massage or two for you or your whole family. Relaxing and working out knots and tight muscles will help keep you and your family happier and healthier.
  7. Make Needed Repairs: Is there a nagging task around your house that you just haven’t found the cash to repair or do? Take care of that first before buying your new TV or video game console. Make sure your home life is comfortable, safe and ready for the winter. Take this money to winterize your house and cars.
  8. Pay for fall sports: Kids staying active through the fall and winter is very important for their mental and physical health. Assure that your kids can enjoy whichever sport they choose this fall by setting aside the needed money to cover the monthly expenses and gear. Sport clubs, teams and groups can get expensive pretty quick, so paying for them now assures that your kid can continue playing all year long.
  9. Ask your kids: Take this time of year to sit down with your kids and allow them to choose something to buy for themselves. Set rules that it must be something productive and something that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Talk with them about the importance of a healthy active lifestyle and help them learn to make good choices when it comes to their health. Maybe they want a new bike, or winter sporting gear.
  10. Join a Gym: Not all households have the room or desire for a home gym, so try out a gym membership. Get ahead of the holiday weight gain and worry by spending some money on those gym membership and enrollment fees, get yourself some great new workout clothes and sneakers so that you have no excuse not to utilize your new membership. Shop around find the best deal for what suits your needs.

4 Ways to Embrace the Outdoors this Winter

With winter well on its way, it is time to take a look at some outdoor winter activities to help your family stay active, happy and healthy through the cold months. Instead of hunkering down for the winter with warm drinks, puzzles and Netflix, try embracing this winter by spending more time outdoors!

  1. Go for family winter walks: Bundle up the family, get out the flashlights and head outside for a wintertime walk. Whether it is an afternoon stroll on a weekend or an evening after-dinner walk, getting the whole family outside and enjoying the scenery that winter in Alaska brings us is an easy way to stay active this winter. Go and check out the neighborhood holiday decorations, take the dog for a walk instead of just letting it in the yard and enjoy some fresh air. Keep an eye on the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) forecast and go for an evening walk out to a darker area to get a great view of the best night time light show it the sky. Always stay safe by watching for moose and by bringing lights or reflectors so that vehicles can see you.
  2. Find a winter activity: There are so many winter sports that anyone in the family can try. Sit down with your kids this fall and ask them what winter sport they want to work on throughout the winter, maybe even have them set goals for specific activity-related accomplishments. Some of the options include but are not limited to: snowboarding, skiing, dog sleds, snow shoeing, ice skating, driving a snow-mobile, ice fishing and sledding! Don’t want to commit to the price of the gear if your kid is only trying the activity for the first time? Check with local sport equipment stores such as Skinny Raven and REI for gear and supply rentals. Additionally, the University of Alaska Anchorage has an outdoor gear rental shop with winter gear and information available to students and faculty. Take advantage of sunny warmer days and get outside with your winter activity of choice. Always pay attention to weather and snow conditions for your destination before going out on a snowy Alaskan adventure. Snow conditions are fickle and can be dangerous even if they do not appear to be, so educate yourselves and your family of current conditions prior to every outing.
  3. Choose a winter challenge: Have you ever wanted to go camping in the winter, hike a snowy peak, or go on a group cross-country ski trip to a remote cabin? Challenge yourself to one of your wish list Alaskan adventure items this year. Get outside as much as you can instead of basically hibernating in front of the TV for the next few months. Find something you want to do but have always been too lazy, afraid or busy to do and make it happen this winter. End the year right by reaching goals you’ve had on your mind for a while. Challenge yourself to that ski trip or that big slope you’ve been eyeing, go for a hike with some snow shoes and enjoy yourself. Alaska can be cold and dreary throughout the winter, or you can go out and embrace its beauty and all that is has to offer all year long.
  4. Attend the winter festivities: Bored of doing the same winter activity every week? Check out the winter festivities going on around Alaska every year such as the annual Fur Rondy Festival and the Slush Cup. Keep up online with all the big events happening in Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla.

8 Healthy Meals to Start this Fall Season Right

As the fall season begins and our minds turn to our favorite holiday feasts and our cold weather comfort foods, it is time to rethink our sodium and calorie-dense favorite foods and start looking at healthier options.

  1. Pumpkin Ravioli: The regular meat and cheese ravioli is high in fat and calories; try making your own ravioli with pumpkin instead of cheese. This recipe will keep the creamy texture everyone enjoys with ravioli while making it a healthier option
  2. Pecan Crusted Chicken: Skip the usual fatty breading with your favorite chicken dish and replace it with crushed pecans. Serve with a spinach salad or some whole grain brown rice to make it a complete, healthy meal.
  3. Salmon Cakes: Change things up from the normal crab cake appetizer by using what is probably already in your freezer- salmon! Get creative this fall by trying various salmon recipes, this salmon cake recipe is sure to impress your friends and family at this years holiday parties. There are plenty of fall-themed fish dishes with a lot of variety worth checking out and trying out this season.
  4. Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are a delicious healthy side for any meal on their own, but with this recipe your family will be asking to have Brussels sprouts more often.  With the capers and carrots, this healthy side dish is great for a holiday party or for your average family dinner.
  5. Creamy Turnip Potatoes: Change up the normal mashed potatoes and make them a little healthier for everyone with this turnip potatoes recipe. Low in calories and high in vitamin C, turnips are a great addition to potatoes with their peppery flavor.
  6. Broccoli Beef and Potato Hotdish: We all crave warm, filling dinners after a long, cold day in Alaska. Instead of loads of cheese, meat and potatoes, try adding some veggies to make the meal healthier. Check out this recipe as a new casserole option this fall.
  7. Slow Cooker Stew: Save yourself some time all while prepping a hearty, healthy meal for your family this fall. Mix things up and try chicken-based stews, or of course the Alaskan family favorite: moose meat stew. Be sure to add lots of fresh veggies to make it a well-rounded meal.
  8. Roast Chicken and Sweat Potatoes: The sweet potatoes add some variety to your normal meat and potatoes dinner while adding extra nutrition as well. This recipe is quick and healthy, especially when served with a veggie or salad side. You will have a warm happy and full family with this delicious healthy meal.