Pets and Health: Bigger Than You Thought!

Pets and Health: Bigger Than You Thought!

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey (yes that is a real thing!), 68% of US households – about 85 million families – own a pet.

Studies have shown that dog owners particularly decrease their risk of death in general by 33 percent compared with those without a pet!!

This week we’ll talk about how pets can have a positive impact on your health from stress to fitness! Don’t have a pet? Go check out the local humane society and/or pet sanctuaries!

Pets and Stress Response:

Now this may depend on the person – and on the pet – but numerous studies have shown that pets can help lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate during stressful conditions. Even when they are not with you at the time! Pretty amazing. Outside of casual health benefits, therapy animals can be used for more extensive needs, such as equine therapy for conditions from depression, to anxiety and post-traumatic stress!
Check out this link for info on therapy dogs!

Pets and Staying Active:

Pets can help you stay active, particularly if you have a pet that requires outside time. Walking the dog for instance is an activity that will force you to get outside in even the harsh winter conditions instead of loafing around when the weather is poor! Going for a short walk can have tremendous health benefits when compared with hours of sitting uninterrupted.

Pets and Mental Health:

On the same idea as licensed therapy pets, pets love you for who you are without judgement, which can lead to feelings of acceptance that one may not always get from family or society! Dog parks can be a great way to get active with your pet as well as have a social outlet with others that share a common interest.

Find local parks, and establishments, where you can bring your dog along at www.bringfido.com. Check out the activities area for local dog parks and outdoor options.

Pets and Allergies:

The National Institute of Health has suggested “children exposed to high indoor levels of pet or pest allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by 7 years old.” (Source) A similar earlier study found homes with cats had a protective effect, having made allergy-related antibodies, against asthma symptoms in young children. Some scientists believe pets carry microbes that stimulate the immune system so that children don’t become allergic. (Source)

A Pet a Day Keeps the Doctor Away:

Two studies involving the same participants 5 years apart showed that people who had a pet both at the first and second touchpoint had the fewest doctors visits of the group, followed by the group who had no pet the first round and had then acquired one within the 5 years preceding the next.

Take a moment to think about that!

Dog, Cat, Horse, Fish, Bird – any pet counts!

More Resources:
http://www.center4research.org/benefits-pets-human-health/
https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/6-ways-pets-improve-your-health#2

Chickpeas – WAY More Than Hummus!

Two-weeks ago we talked about plant-based eating. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans have a moderate calorie load and are a great source for fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Despite their starchy appearance, chickpeas fall into the low-glycemic load category (with a glycemic index of 28).

Make chickpeas, from dry, easily at home with an Instant Pot! Dried beans are incredibly cheap even compared with their canned counterparts and aren’t loaded with sodium! Check out a super easy NO-SOAK chickpea recipe from a previous blog post using an Instant Pot!

First: Some Background

Chickpeas were first harvested in 3000 B.C in southeast Turkey and later spread to India and Africa. Today they are a part of many nutritious dishes by swapping out less nutrient dense items like pasta.

Chickpeas are classified pulses. Pulses are part of the legume family, any plant that grows in a pod, but a pulse is the dry edible seed within the pod. Pulses are complex carbs, which means they stick with you longer releasing energy over time vs simple sugars which release all their energy at once – increasing blood sugar and fat storage.

Pulses contain PREbiotic fiber (undigetstible plant fibers that feed the probiotics/good bacteria) which contributes to gut health! These powerhouses of nutrition contain more folate than kale! Eat more vegetables by dipping them in your own fresh hummus, or incorporate chickpeas into your diet many different ways via the recipes below!

Recipes

Make Your Own Hummus!

In a food processor, combine 1 can of chickpeas, 2-4 Tbsp. water, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4-1/2 Tsp smoked paprika, 3/4 Tsp cumin, and 1/2 Tsp salt. Blend until smooth! Get creative with add in’s like spinach, olives, feta cheese, and more! If you like thinner hummus, simply add more water. Super FAST and TASTY!

Charred Chickpea Corn Salad

Combining chickpeas, quinoa, sweet peppers, and avocado – this healthy recipe is amazingly delicious!

Check it out here!

Super-Fast Chicken and Chickpeas

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in 1 tsp olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and onions. Stir fry for a few minutes, until onions begin to brown, then add the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes, until the meal has a good consistency.

– 8 oz roasted chicken breast, chopped
– 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1 large tomato, chopped
– 2 tsp olive oil

– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1/4 tsp cumin
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 cardamom pods (Or equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg)

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa

Here we’ve found a really interesting recipe for sweet & savory, 30-minute Moroccan chickpea quinoa salad made in one pot!

Easy, nutritious, beautiful AND delicious!

Get the recipe here!

Spinach & Sweet Potato Crustless Quiche

Try chickpeas for BREAKFAST with this veggie quiche! (note: nutritional yeast is part of the recipe which gives it the cheesy flavor without cheese!)

Roast sweet potato cubes in the oven, then combine chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and water. Mix with roasted sweet potato cubes, spinach, garlic, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. Voila!

Full recipe here!

Dry Needling for Joint and Muscle Pain Relief

What is Dry Needling?

The name “dry needling” comes from studies that were done to determine the effectiveness of injections. The studies showed that just putting a needle into a trigger point (a small, tight, tender area in a muscle) was just as effective as injecting a pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medication into the trigger point. Since nothing is injected with dry needling, we refer to it as “dry.”

Is Dry Needling the Same as Acupuncture?

While the two are often confused, they are actually different treatments. Dry needling is performed in the dysfunctional area, whereas acupuncture may be performed in the hand to address a headache, for example. Dry needling also focuses mainly on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

How is Dry Needling Done?

First, the area of pain or tension will be assessed in order to locate trigger points. Then a needle will be placed into the muscle, and then the needle will be moved around in small movements that cause the muscle to activate – seen or felt as a twitch in the muscle. Once the twitching ceases, the needle is removed from the muscle.

What is the Purpose of Dry Needling?

Dry needling helps to relieve pain, help muscles relax, and improve function. Usually dry needling is used on tense muscles that are causing pain and affecting a person’s function. It is a very effective method and the results can be seen quicker than other treatments such as massage. The effects of dry needling can be felt after just one session but may take more than one to fully resolve the issue. It is used in conjunction with other treatments such as manual therapy and exercise.

Is Dry Needling Safe?

The risks associated with dry needling are minimal which makes it a safe procedure when performed by a trained practitioner. Physical therapists are regulated by each state in the training they must receive for dry needling before they can use the treatment on patients. Physical therapists also use clean technique, meaning they wear gloves and make sure that they use hand sanitizer and alcohol to sanitize the area being needled. Also, needles are kept in sealed packaging until use so that they are sanitary and safe for use. After a single use they are disposed of in a sharps container and are never reused.

Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Every person is different, and each muscle responds differently to dry needling. The process can be uncomfortable, but is usually not painful. The needle used for dry needling is a very thin needle similar to those used for acupuncture, so there is usually no pain associated with the needle being inserted into the skin. The muscle twitches associated with dry needling can be uncomfortable but typically are not painful. There may be some lingering soreness afterwards but this usually lasts less than 24 hours. Drinking plenty of water after having dry needling done can help to lessen this soreness.

Is Everyone Appropriate for Dry Needling?

While dry needling is a very effective and safe procedure for most people, not everyone is a candidate for it. There are certain precautions that can affect someone’s ability to have dry needling done (for example, over the area of a pacemaker). There is also a timeline of when dry needling is appropriate after surgery so that there is no increased risk for infection. Talk to your physical therapist to see if you’re appropriate for dry needling.

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy right here in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!

Plant-Based Eating Tips and Recipes!

It’s no longer a secret that shifting towards plant-based/whole foods eating, which minimizes processed foods, is best for your overall health.

Plant-based eating limits, or eliminates, animal products and focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds/nuts, and whole grains which provides higher amounts of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many think of vegetarian’s when they think of plant-based eating, but there are numerous varieties of eating plant-based. This week we’ll look at the differences among them and maybe find a plant-based style that works for you!

But FIRST: To kick off your New Year, today’s mission for you is to go through your cupboards and toss, donate, or give away all those foods that do not fit your health and fitness goals – and start anew! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some healthy recipes too!

Which Plant-Based Diet is Right For You?

No matter who you are, we believe the majority of your diet should be plant-based. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy eating animal products, just that we should strive to allow plants to make up the majority of our calories and nutrition. Let’s discuss some varieties of primarily plant-based diets:

Vegetarian

Even within this meat-less category there are numerous forms:

Lacto-Vegetarian – Including dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.

Ovo-Vegetarian – Including eggs only

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian – As you may have guessed, lacto-ovo-vegetarians exclude meat but allows for dairy and eggs.

Pescatarian

Essentially, vegetarians that exclude dairy and eggs but do include fish. Fatty-fish, like salmon area great way to get your omega-3’s in. For the most benefit, look for wild caught salmon vs farmed.

Not a big fish fan? Try Sea Cuisine which offers sustainably caught seafood with a variety of tasty flares like Mediterranean crusted salmon, tortilla crusted tilapia, and summer herb crusted cod. They also offer non-crusted fish like blacked Cajun salmon. Available in most grocery stores in the frozen fish area.

Flexitarian

Flexitarians are “casual” vegetarians that occasionally eat meat, fish, dairy and/or eggs. For many it is hard to make the switch altogether away from animal products and still adequately meet nutritional needs – at least until they figure out strategies and recipes that allow them to do so. Not everything has to be a clean break!

Vegan

While veganism and vegetarianism crossover much of the same territory – veganism tends to take things to another level by even excluding products from insects – like honey for instance – and in some cases branching beyond what goes in your mouth and abstaining from using non-dietary animal products like wool.

To cover all ends of the spectrum, on this extreme we have Raw Veganism, which also do not cook their foods above 104-118 degrees F, instead relying primarily on preparation methods of blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting.

Recipes

Plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to eat exotic flavors and try crazy new dishes if you don’t wish!

Try this “Burger” In A Bowl from our friends at Precision Nutrition! Squeeze a dollop of ketchup and mustard over a cup of warm, cooked, lentils and top with a chopped pickle and dash of hemp seeds. This 300 calorie dish serves up 25 grams of protein!

Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing:
This lacto-vegetarian dish includes some chickpeas with a healthy dose of cabbage, tomatoes, and cucumber along with some healthy fat to keep you full and satisfied!

The dressing blends an avocado with a small amount of plain Greek yogurt, and is a great dressing to keep on hand for any kind of salad!

Get the full recipe here!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos:

Interested in becoming plant-based but don’t know where to start? Try increasing the number of meatless meals you serve. Find ways to include more greens daily. Try substituting a more vegetarian take on already favorite dish like chili or Mexican dishes (sweet potato and black beans versus ground beef in this recipe).

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad:

This vegan and vegetarian friendly dish includes a major dose of veggies – cabbage, carrots, green onion, snow or snap peas, and cilantro – plus quinoa for a protein boost! (Use maple syrup instead of honey to complete as a vegan dish).

Get it here!

Plant-based diets can tend to be deficient in specific micronutrients like vitamin B-12, calcium, omega-3’s, and vitamin D. You may want to consider getting tested for these nutrients and/or supplement for them if you become a plant-based eater or vegetarian/vegan. Good luck!

Leftover Holiday Ham? Recipes to Make the Best of it!

Ham at Christmas was originally known as the Yule Ham. Initially termed “hamm”, the word was defined as meat from a hog’s hind legs. It was said to have started with the German pagan tradition, presented to appease the god, Freyr – the god of fertility, harvest, and boars! (Another pagan tradition included the Christmas Tree!).

China was actually the first to start curing ham in 4900 BC, but enough with the history lesson. This week we have numerous ways to use up that leftover holiday ham!

Leftover Holiday Ham Recipes!

Ham and Veggie Casserole

Without cauliflower on hand, this recipe was tested with Costco Stir Fry Vegetables and it turned out fantastic! It’s a forgiving (meaning you can add as many veggies as you like!) recipe that combines ham, veggies, and a lighter cheese sauce topped with toasted bread crumbs. Get it here!

Cheesy Egg Stuffed Peppers

Microwave some bell pepper halves for 3 minutes to soften. Fill with chopped ham, sautéed onions and chopped peppers, beaten eggs, and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

FYI – This recipe makes extra fill so consider using 3 pepper halves. This recipe was enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

Ham and Brussel Sprouts

Simply toss 1 pound of brussel sprouts halved with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup of cubed ham, a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of salt, and a clove of minced garlic in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with 1 tablespoon of toasted bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon fresh parmesan cheese.

Check out the recipe here!

Veggie Fried Rice Crispy Ham

This recipe includes protein and fiber rich edamame with ham in this unique recipe! Talk about mixing things up from the blend, heavy flavors of the holiday time.

Full recipe

Crockpot Cheesy Vegetable Soup

Remember that so many recipes are flexible! Though this one doesn’t call for protein, tossing in some ham or turkey can make it a more complete and filling meal…plus it is delicious and kid friendly! This wintery, healthier comfort food recipe was tested with 1 potato, extra broccoli and carrots, and ham and chicken tossed in.

Get it here from “Super Healthy Kids”!

***Just like chicken, ham is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, ham’s high sodium content may increase your risk for certain health problems. Thus, using ham as a flavoring or add-in versus a main course may be a healthier way to use it.

Why is the sodium a concern in ham? Sodium nitrate specifically (found in many cured or processed meats) can be converted into nitrosamines during the processing, storage, or cooking process, and nitrosamines are linked to higher rates of cancer. Therefore, ham is best eaten as a special treat.***