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Drink Up – Your Brain is Thirsty!

Human beings are 60% water, but our brains are even more watery – they contain 75% water!

Insufficient fluid intake may make you thirsty, but it can also affect your brain functioning. The brain, along with the skin, is the organ most affected by dehydration. Hydration is essential to cognition: thinking, perceiving, remembering, and making decisions, and determines mood, to a large degree. When you are well hydrated, you are likely to be more alert and attentive and to have better memory.

How much fluid do you need every day? Generally speaking, most adults need about two liters – picture a 2-liter beverage bottle. To determine if you are drinking enough, look at the color of your urine – it should be pale yellow, never dark yellow or orange.

Recent research has shown that beverages such as milk that contain protein, sugar and fat are a good choice because they slow the process by which the body absorbs fluid, so you stay hydrated longer.

Foods That Help Keep You Hydrated:
Foods that contain a large amount of water will help keep you hydrated:

  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers (any color)
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe

How You Dry Your Hands Matters!       
Everyone knows by now that washing your hands correctly is essential to preventing the spread of infectious diseases. But did you know that there is a proper way to dry your hands too? Experts say that drying is every bit as important as washing. This is always important, but especially in public restrooms.

Drying your hands well with a paper towel is ideal - it helps to remove virus particles, and then you discard it, so it is removed from the environment. Using an air dryer works well, but a jet air dryer can do the opposite – it is so forceful that it may actually spread virus particles as it blows water droplets off your skin.

Freezing is Possible for Many More Foods
Some foods are widely believed to be impossible to freeze. Not necessarily true! If you got a great deal on lemons, eggs or avocados, you no longer need to worry about wasting them. Remember to wash the lemons and avocados before cutting.

Lemons can be frozen and stored. Simply cut them into halves or quarters, place them on a baking sheet, place in the freezer. When they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. They’ll last 3-4 months and you’ll have lemon wedges or fresh juice when you need it.

Eggs are another food that can be frozen. Remove the eggs from their shells, put them into muffin tins, freeze until solid, and then pop into a freezer bag.

Avocados are easy to freeze: simply cut it in half, peel and remove the pit. Brush the surfaces with lemon juice and wrap with clingy plastic wrap. The wrap must be very tight – no air! Be sure that the wrap even goes into the hole created by the pit. Place in a Ziplock freezer bag. OR: make your best guacamole, smash it into a Freezer bag, remove all the air and close tightly.

Stress Reduction in the Age of COVID-19
Some simple strategies to lower your stress level as you try to cope with the anxieties of living through a pandemic:

  • Be mindfully present: Be curious and pay attention to the details around you, like the colors and scents. This feeds the brains reward system and makes you feel better
  • Greet the day with gratitude! Most gratitude practices are about feeling thankful at the end of the day. But why not start out that way? Rather than anticipate the stress ahead, think of things to look forward to today.
  • Be as kind as you can possibly be! We are all struggling and stressed. Try to be less judgmental – try sending silent good wishes to everyone you encounter. This will raise your levels of oxytocin, the love hormone.
  • Take a break. Just stop. Walk away from the news, the desk, the kitchen and step outside for fresh air and a change of scene. Breathe. Just a few minutes will give a new perspective.

Alcohol’s Link to Cancer
You don’t have to be an alcoholic to have a higher risk of cancer – even a few drinks per week can have an impact. Alcohol has been linked to seven cancers, says the American Cancer Society: throat, esophagus, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast. Evidence suggests that alcohol may also play a role in pancreatic and stomach cancer. As many as 16% of breast cancer cases are connected to alcohol use; the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Women who have 1 alcoholic drink a day have a small (about 7% to 10%) increase in risk compared with non-drinkers, while women who have 2 to 3 drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk than non-drinkers.

Important News for Parents about P-EBT Access to Fresh Produce
Take advantage of the P-EBT card to enjoy the summer’s bounty of tomatoes, corn, peaches and more!
P-EBT refers to the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer card that is helping families whose children are missing school meals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can use your P-EBT card at Farmers Markets in Allegheny County to get fresh fruits and vegetables. There are 20 Fresh Access Farmers Markets and Farm Stands that will honor your card, plus give you Food Bucks to get more fresh produce.
To learn more, visit www.justharvest.org

Obesity and Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in America, for both genders. Over 100,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year. Obesity is a prominent factor in colon cancer. Women with a high Body Mass Index (BMI) + certain genetic variations are especially at increased risk. Even a small weight loss can reduce your risk.

Celery: A Superstar Vegetable!
Celery is one of those vegetables that doesn’t get much credit or attention. We know it as diet food, the crunch in tuna salad, the flavoring in a soup and the accompaniment to Buffalo wings, but celery has more to offer. It is 95% water, so it’s helps you avoid dehydration. It’s low salt, so it’s a healthy snack (celery salt is just salt with celery flavoring). It’s high in fiber, including a fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your belly.

Buy the freshest you can find and wash and cut it up as soon as you get home because it wilts quickly. To store celery, wrap the cleaned and cut stalks in foil.

Don’t discard those pretty green leaves – cut them up, freeze them with water in ice cube trays, and use them in your next Bloody Mary or gin and tonic.

Summer Waldorf Salad (No mayo) - a cool, refreshing summer side dish
2 Red Delicious apples, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons walnut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Combine the apples, celery, raisins and walnuts. Whisk the oil and vinegar (add a bit of salt if you wish) together and pour over the apples. Enjoy!

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