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Department - Student Health

Holiday Clinic Closings

The Student Health Center will be closed during the holidays according to the following schedule:

Friday, December 19th - Close at 10:30am

Saturday, December 20th - Closed

Closed for the Winter Break beginning on Wednesday, December 24th and extending through Sunday, January 4th.

For health care options during closed hours, please contact us at 919-681-9355.

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Eat to Remember and Remember to Eat

The semester is rapidly coming to an end, and we all know what that means……. yup, time to study for finals. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could offer you some secret eating tips to help boost your memory? Well we don’t have any magic formulas but we do have some good advice.

Think Healthy Fats

There is strong evidence that the same anti-inflammatory properties that help protect your heart can improve memory. These fats include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, nuts/seeds, avocado, olive oil and flax.

Where to find them on campus*:

·         Try the guacamole on your burrito bowl at Penn

·         Look for salmon and tuna or other fish on café menus  (Div café offers a salmon wrap, Café DeNovo offers a Tuna Nicoise salad, Penn serves salmon at dinner frequently, Perk has a salmon salad)

·         Add avocado or hummus to sandwiches and salads (ABP and other cafés)

·         Snack on nuts (available in the Lobby Shop, Quenchers and The East Campus Store), sprinkle sunflower seeds on your salad at salad bars

·         Pick up some individual containers of peanut butter and some fruit  for a healthy energizing snack

·         Try a grab and go hummus snack plate which is found at many cafés on campus

Devour Dark Fruits and Veggies

Fruits like blueberries, strawberries and dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli and collards are full of phytonutrients (dark greens include vitamin E and folate) with memory boosting properties.

Where to Find On Campus*:                            

·         Fruit cups are widely available at grab and go locations , also check out the fruit bar at Quenchers

·         Look for spinach and other dark greens at salad bars and as side dishes in many cafés

·         Add broccoli to your stir fry

Enjoy Whole Grain Goodness

Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, etc. are an integral part of an anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean diet. This type of diet plan promotes increased blood flow to the brain and has been linked to improved memory.

Where to Find on Campus*:

·         Look for whole grain salads at salad bars around campus

·         Many cafés have whole grain side dishes

·         Choose whole grain breads for sandwiches and create a satisfying breakfast with some oatmeal (Marketplace, Penn, Café Edens, Div  Café, ABP just to name a few)

 

Remember we don’t eat nutrients in isolation so for best results include these foods as part of a healthy eating pattern and remember to eat regularly throughout the day and stay hydrated.

Good luck and Happy Holiday eating.

*The cafes listed are only a sample of where you may find these foods on campus.  For a more thorough list refer to The Devil’s Advocate.

 

 

 

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On the greatness of counseling

Let me be entirely honest and open in what I’m about to say. Honesty after all, is so little found in conversations about mental health and yet so powerful when it is. I have, like 1 in 4 other young people my age, struggled with my mental health on and off. There have been times when I’ve been sick with hopelessness and misery, consumed with self-loathing and hatred. Likewise, there have times when I’ve been ecstatically happy and grateful. My emotional health is a mental rollercoaster and contains the best and worst memories for me. But it is not all of me.

There was however, a point this semester when it got a little too much. I was exhausted with faking positivity to myself every day and pep-talking myself out of bed, throwing on smiles when all I wanted to do was cry. My sense of self-worth was at an all time low and life at Duke seemed unbearably overwhelming. I made an appointment at CAPS. It was not the first time. I had talked to woman once my freshmen year, when things had gotten particularly stressful. There seemed however, a difference to me between a one-time chat and regularly seeing a counselor with the intention of understanding yourself. And I decided that I was tired of having the emotional lows but no real answers. I was tired of believing in untruths about myself that led me to think in despairing ways.

So I decided to sign myself into regular counseling sessions. It was both frightening and liberating. A part of me was angry and afraid that I needed help in the first place – what was wrong with me? Another part of me was relieved because, for the first time, there was another option, one that validated my emotions instead of dismissing them.

I’m about five sessions in now, and I think going into counseling has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has surprised me and taught me how little I really knew about myself. If anything, it’s been an independent study in my own persona, to work out how I react to situations and why I react that way. This is information I feel that anyone young and uncertain can use because it has yielded insights richer than I could have hoped. How much do we really think about our ways of coping? Or whether the way we see ourselves is accurate? Or whether we need, sometimes, to catch ourselves when we self-hate and reassess the situation?

Counseling is not simply lying on a couch and talking about how you feel, like every film Hollywood makes. It’s an intimate leap into your own mind and it’s uncomfortable sometimes and it’s confronting. It’s shown me how little I truly know about myself, and helped me determine my values and priorities. It’s showing me slowly how to be happier. And it’s great.

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Burger Blog?

You’ve come to the right place, yes, this is the nutrition blog.  It may seem like a juxtaposition that a dietitian is writing about burgers, but a good burger is one of my favorite things to eat.  A local burger joint recently posted that they were having a Thanksgiving contest.  One and all were welcomed to enter the contest for the best themed burger.  The plan was for judges to choose the top 3 recipes and then taste test to pick the winner.  Rules of the competition were that it had to be a turkey burger and include cranberries, sweet potatoes, stuffing or all 3.  As I enjoy cooking and a challenge, I decided to enter.

I have to admit that I generally do not choose a turkey burger over a beef burger.  If a turkey burger is not made correctly, it can be a dry hockey puck.  So I knew that I had to give some love to the patty itself for my entry.  I didn’t want to include stuffing, as I already had carbohydrates in the bun and the sweet potato fries that came on the side.  To capture the flavor of stuffing (I do realize some of y’all may call it “dressing” but it’s stuffing in my house), I took the prominent spices, sage and thyme, and mixed it into the meat.  Thanksgiving turkey must have cranberry sauce, so I also incorporated dried cranberries into the meat mixture.  Using light and dark ground turkey instead of ground turkey breast without the skin helped with the moisture factor.  To further invoke tastes of the annual meal, I topped my burger with gravy.  In a nod to green bean casseroles around the country, I also added fried onions to it along with Brie.

I enjoyed being creative with the recipe and didn’t think much of my entry after the fact so you can imagine my surprise when I saw that not only did my burger make it into the taste testing round, but that I was the winner!  There were over 30 entries so I was pretty shocked.  The recipe was featured as the special for the day so my husband and close friends stopped by to grab one.  Luckily, we got there just in time as they ran out after we ordered.  Even my boss texted me to say that she was able to get one and really liked it.

Now for the nutrition part!  I didn’t have many non-starchy vegetables on my plate at this meal.  For me, this evokes the 80/20 rule.  If 80% of my meals are balanced, my body will be just fine when 20% are less balanced.  As for turkey versus beef?  If you choose ground turkey breast without the skin, it has less saturated fat.  Both options are high in other nutrients, too.  Turkey is a source of niacin, selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorus and zinc while beef is a source these as well as vitamin B12 and iron.

Whatever you choose, know that eating should be not only about meeting your nutrient needs, but also include items you enjoy.  For this nutritionist, that includes an occasional burger.

 

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Student Health Closed for Thanksgiving

The Student Health Center will be closed for Thanksgiving beginning at 12:30pm on Wednesday, 11/26, and will re-open at 8:30am on Monday, December 1st.

For after-hours care, please call us at 919-681-9355.

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What I Learned from the SNAP Challenge

Four dollars.  On Duke’s campus, that could get you a single bowl of soup at the Loop.  Most of us spend far more than four dollars on each meal we eat, with Duke’s minimum meal plan allotting $20 per day.  However, for a great number of North Carolinians, four dollars is all they have to feed themselves each and every day.  Four dollars is the daily allowance given by North Carolina’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also formerly known as Food Stamps.  In the month of October in Durham County alone, over 44,000 individuals were utilizing SNAP.  Hunger and concern for where one’s next meal will come from is a daily reality for too many. 

 

To shed light on how challenging it can be to eat on so restricted a budget, I chose to participate in the Duke SNAP Challenge, hosted this past Wednesday through Friday by UCAE.  Armed with my $12, I started my challenge at Harris Teeter, knowing there’d be no way to feed myself on food points with so little.  Despite not having much to spend, that trip to the grocery store was one of the longest I’ve taken in a while.  Instead of mindlessly browsing the aisles, sipping my Starbucks and throwing whatever looked good into my cart, I spent over an hour scouring the weekly coupon flyer and scanning the shelves for special savings offers.  I stood in front of the canned goods for over five minutes, adding together different totals in my head to find the best deal.  I circled through the store at least twice, having to take some things back out of my basket to stay under budget and sadly avoiding the fresh produce section in favor of the quantity I could purchase in boxes and cans.  At the register, I ended up with a large container of oatmeal, two bags of frozen vegetables, three bananas, two large cans of chicken, a jar of applesauce, two boxes of rice and beans mix, and 70 cents left over.  For the three days of the challenge, my single bag of groceries allowed me a banana and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast each morning and a serving of veggies with a bowl of beans, rice, and chicken for each lunch and dinner.  In between meals, I snacked occasionally out of my applesauce jar. 

 

By Friday evening I was in no way starving, but after three days of eating the same three, simple meals, I couldn’t help but think of the variety I would be able to indulge in over the weekend after the challenge was over.  I quickly caught myself though as I remembered that what I was treating as a 72-hour “challenge” is a reality that over 1.5 million North Carolinians face 365 days out of the year.  While I pile up my veggies in the salad bar line at Penn and swipe my DukeCard at the register without even asking about my total, thousands of families are struggling to put a meal on the table for dinner, let alone three daily nutritious and balanced ones.  It’s so easy to fall into the habits of mindless consumption and instant gratification, taking for granted the convenience and variety of food we have surrounding us at Duke.  We are quick to grumble about the ABP sandwich line but we fail to recognize that it’s a privilege just to be able to satisfy an afternoon snack craving, that the latte so many of us have consumed before 9am costs more than what a fellow Durhamite might be able to spend on food all day.  We’re constantly complaining to one another about how much stress we’re under with all of our exams and final papers, but imagine adding to that the stress of meticulously pinching every penny just to afford lunch, of getting nervous every time you approach the register because maybe you’ll have to leave the line to put something back, of not being able to focus on your work because your stomach is growling but eating is not an option. 

 

I’ll be the first to shamefully admit that I fall into these habits and make these complaints all too regularly.  I also know my mere participation in the SNAP challenge does nothing to change the face of hunger in North Carolina or the daily lived realities of SNAP enrollees.  It’s what happens now that the challenge is over that matters – approaching my meals with more mindfulness and gratitude, trying harder to eliminate my food waste, spending my food points more sparingly so I can also buy food to donate to Durham’s local food pantries and soup kitchens.  As we approach the holiday season, a time that too often celebrates consumption over concern for others, I would invite all of you to do your own SNAP challenge.  Or even better, volunteer to take action against hunger in Durham or your hometown.  At the very least, challenge yourself to be more mindful and thankful – so when you go to post that foodstagram of your Thanksgiving plate with your #blessed caption, think twice about how fortunate we truly are.  

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Student Health Closing Early 11/20

The Student Health Center will close at 3:45pm on Thursday, 11/20. We will re-open with normal operating hours at 8:30am on Friday, 11/21.

For after hours care, please call us at 919-681-9355. 

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Friendships, Stuck on the Disney Channel

(Entry #3 in the series) Recently, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Associate Director for Outreach and Development Programming for CAPS and all-around nice guy Gary Glass. The topic: relationships. Relationships in general, with no particular person in mind. It was the first time I'd discussed the topic at length, ever. My conclusion? We should do this more often. Here's #3! Read entries #1 and #2.

It was 2007. Gary stood with a group of students, asking them to move to the “True” or “False” side of the room in response to a few statements.

If a peer had been struggling, you’d want them to know they could come to you.
Everyone in the room moved to “True” side of the room.

If you were struggling, you would go to a peer for support.
Everyone in the room moved to the “False” side of the room.

Well that’s awkward. Everyone wanted to help. No one wanted to ask for help.

Fast forward to 2014 where, fortunately, some things have changed. We still have great people on campus. And we definitely, definitely still have problems (though you probably didn’t need me to tell you that). The difference, according to Gary? We’re admitting it now.  

Woohoo personal issues!!!!

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the best way to get rid of a problem is pretend it doesn’t exist. You’ve just been dumped, and you don’t want to give the satisfaction to that @$#&%! that you’re thinking about him/her enough to feel sad? Fake the pride and self-preservation. It will feel real soon enough. Or how about the oh-so-relatable experience of conversing in small talk (more like “ugh” talk) during SLG/Sorority/Fraternity Rush? Fake the confidence. It's not really fake confidence. It’s in there somewhere (and for good reason).

But sometimes you can’t fake it to make it. You have to dive in—heart first, fear second—with a trusted friend by your side. Gary told me that a healthy relationship had “mutual vulnerability.” Maybe another way to think about it is that happy, healthy relationships have, by definition, unhappy moments. Without that, they’d be stuck on the Disney channel.

I’ll end with a moment.

It was the night that commemorated my brother’s death. And still, 11 years later, the day shook 20-year-old me more than the 9-year-old me could have imagined. The tears came slowly at first. I wiped them away. Would my Duke friends even get it? Probably not. But all the same, the tears became many. And I sobbed. For a long time. And sure, perhaps they didn’t “know” what I was feeling. And I imagine they were uncomfortable, or at a minimum lost for words. But they held me. They heard me. And they loved me through every moment of that pain.

They’ve been my best friends ever since.

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Happy (Healthy) Holidays!

It’s mid-November – chances are you’ve adapted pretty well to your school eating routines by now – whether it’s eating with friends or grabbing a bite on the way to the next class or meeting. But wouldn’t you know it, the holidays are just around the corner and everything is about to change again.  The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but they are usually associated with a lot of food and eating: for some this can be challenging. Consider using some of the following tips to stay well and focused during this time.

  1. Set reasonable goals. This usually isn’t the time of year to work on any type of weight loss goals, so aim instead to maintain your weight.
  2. Try not to let yourself get too hungry. Your holiday meal will likely have a bunch of delicious foods to indulge in. Before you head out, try to eat a light, balanced snack, such as a piece of fruit with some yogurt or peanut butter, a granola bar, half of a sandwich, or some soup about an hour before leaving. That way you have better control over food selections and portion sizes at the party.
  3. Avoid skipping meals. We may think skipping meals is a good idea when we know we have a big holiday meal to look forward to, but chances are if you skip meals you will be over hungry when it’s meal time and will likely overeat.
  4. Choose your foods wisely: There will be plenty of options, but if you’re trying to choose healthier options, choose more of the fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and seafood. This will allow room for a holiday dessert!
  5. Mindful Eating: If you are concerned about overeating, remember to eat slowly and savor these special holiday foods – some of which you only get to eat once a year. Eating slowly will allow you to appreciate these foods and recognize when you’re full. A helpful tip to eat slower is to have a conversation with a friend or family member, take smaller portions, and consciously sip your drink throughout. (This is a great tip year-round!)
  6. Eat a balanced meal: Aim for a good source of protein, such as turkey, chicken, fish and tofu, and balance it with a healthy starch, such as whole grain bread, sweet potatoes or brown rice. The protein slows digestion to help you feel satisfied, and keep you fuller longer.
  7. Chill out: Try to not get stressed out by family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Try to manage your stress with activities other than eating – take a walk, visit a friend, or put on some music.
  8. Exercise: You may find being home for holidays allows you more time to move – try to get exercise most mornings before the days get too crazy. Even a brisk walk or stroll will help with digestion, stress relief, and fitness. However, don’t overdo just because you have more time. Remember, if you wish to continue exercising regularly, it will need to fit into your routine at school.
  9. Enjoy: remember being home for the holidays usually means no homework! Focus on your friends and family and try to not over-think your food.
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Smile Your Way to Staying Well

You’ve heard it circulating for weeks now like bad background music – the symphony of sneezes in your stat lecture, the cacophony of coughs in comp-sci, the serenade of sniffles on the C1.  Everywhere you turn, Duke seems to be coming down with something, be it the never-ending cold, the dreaded flu, or some unnamed combination of sore throat, runny nose, and congestion.  Toss in the stress of impending midterms and busy weekend plans and it may seem imminent that you’ll be next in line at Student Health.  But before you get too resigned to the idea of getting sick this season, remember to SMILE and follow these tips for keeping your immune system in top shape:

Sleep – Getting a full night’s worth of shut-eye is important for fighting off sickness.  Sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours per night has been shown to reduce your immune resistance and make you more susceptible to contagious illnesses like the flu.  While it may sometimes seem impossible to get enough sleep with a heavy Duke workload, prioritizing a good night’s sleep will make you healthier, happier, and more productive during the day.  

Move – Aim for 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week to keep your stress levels low and your immunity high.  Those who are regularly physically active are less susceptible to upper respiratory infections and colds.  More is not always better, however, as over-exercise or strenuous exercise while sick can lead to increased fatigue and vulnerability to bacteria and illness.  Listen to your body when deciding on your workout day-to-day.  Just going for a walk can improve your mood and immunity! 

Invest in Rest & Well-Being – If you’re already feeling under the weather, give yourself and your body a break. Take conscious time to care for yourself physically and mentally – let yourself nap, take a break from the gym, get plenty of fluids and nutrients, stay in on the weekend to watch a movie, read a book, or catch up on sleep.  It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of life at Duke, but making an effort to slow down once in a while can have great benefits for your stress levels and your immune system. 

Lots of Soap! – Washing your hands frequently, especially before eating, is the most important thing you can do to prevent getting sick.  Keep hand sanitizer accessible, but also be sure to wash with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.  Washing between your fingers and under your nails is also important to eliminate illness-causing germs and bacteria.

Eat your Fruits, Veggies & Fats – Eating 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day will provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to best fight disease and infection.  Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and flax seeds are also crucial to stimulating your white blood cells that literally eat up germs!

With a little extra mindfulness put towards your physical and mental wellbeing, you’ll greatly increase your chances of staying cold and flu-free this fall and winter.  Aim to be your healthiest and happiest self this season and you’ll no doubt reap the benefits in your studies and your social life - it’s an investment well worth your while.   

 

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“Soy” What?

As a dietitian I am often asked questions about soy foods acting like estrogen in the body, are they safe? Do they contribute to causing breast cancer? I will admit over the years the information has been varied, but for the past several years researchers have found more and more information confirming that eating soy in moderation even as a breast cancer survivor is not a problem.

Since it is breast cancer awareness month I decided to do some additional research and explain for you in more detail.

First of all let’s think about where you might find soy in the diet, the following is a list of dietary sources:

·         edamame (raw soy beans),

·         soy milk, soy cheeses, soy yogurts

·         tofu (which is made from the bean curd)

·         tempeh (fermented soy)

·         miso (a Japanese flavoring made from fermented soybeans)

·         vegetarian foods like veggies burgers

The parts of the soy bean that are in question when it comes to breast cancer are the phytoestrogens (estrogen hormone-similar chemicals found in plants) known as isoflavones. There are two types of isoflavones in soy, genestein and daidzen. It is important to know that although these compounds can act like estrogen, they are only slightly as potent as the real stuff.

Large population studies of healthy women who reported details about their usual diet and were followed for many years, have shown no association between moderate soy intake and breast cancer rates.  Studies in Asian women have found a lower risk of breast cancer rates with higher soy consumption (4 or more servings per day), whereas studies in the U.S. have not found any association between how much soy a woman consumes and her risk of breast cancer.   Other things to consider are lifelong dietary and lifestyle patterns not noted in these studies.

What about soy intake for breast cancer surviviors? There are studies that show that small amounts of soy are safe and may be protective for surviors. However the best advice is to discuss the pros and cons with your health care provider until more conslusive data is available.

When it comes to taking supplements research is finding mixed results, basically the jury is out and the recommendation is to “avoid concentrated sources of soy such as soy-containing pills or powders, or supplements containing high amounts of isoflavones.” (American Cancer Society).

When making the decision to consume soy or not, remember that tofu and other soy foods have considerable health benefits and are linked to lower rates of heart disease. Because they are excellent sources of protein, soy foods may replace other less healthy foods in the diet and therefore help lower cholesterol. Also soy is an excellent good quality protein alternative for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Bottom line: avoid pill and powdered soy supplements and enjoy soy foods in moderation.

Resources:

The American Institute of Cancer Research (www.aicr.org) and The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)

 

 

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Student Health Closed Saturday 10/11

The Student Health Center will be closed on Saturday, 10/11, for Fall Break. We will re-open with normal operating hours on Monday, October 13th, at 8:30am.

For after hours health care options, please call us at 919-681-9355.

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More carbs! Less carbs! No carbs! More protein! Less protein! No protein?

Swimming in a sea of conflicting nutrition advice? Have no fear! “The Big Three” are here!

“The Big Three” tutorials are streamlined guides to understanding carbs, proteins, and fats. Complete with colorful pictures (featuring some of your fellow Dukies!) and “take-home messages,” these user-friendly tutorials offer the basics on the 3 essential macronutrients - what they are, where to find them, why they’re important, and how much our bodies need to succeed!

“The Big Three” tutorials will hopefully serve as a springboard for more extensive discussion in the “Nutrition in a Nutshell” series, coming soon!

Hungry for more??

Follow Duke Student Health Nutrition Services on  Facebook and Twitter for nifty tips, nutrition myth-busters, and news on awesome foodie events (like “Meatless Monday” specials at Penn and Marketplace for Vegetarian Awareness Month). 

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Tis the Season…For Coughs and Colds

With temperatures dropping and students hunkered down together in classrooms, libraries and dorm rooms, the germs are starting to fly around campus.  Not surprisingly, there is an uptick in students looking for help from the Student Health Center, and demand for appointments is high.

While most of what they're seeing at Student Health are common cold symptoms, there are some things to watch out for.

Read more.

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The ‘Surgeon General’ for Duke Students

Dr. John Vaughn, Blue Devil of the Week

An interesting day at work for me: All the various medical departments have grand rounds at which they invite someone to come speak on a topic. The Pediatrics department invited me to come do a grand rounds presentation on college health. I think that was a memorable moment for me because it let me present my vision of how higher education and medicine can work together to make innovative changes in how health care is delivered.  One of the reasons I came to Duke is that student health is considered an active participant in the medical community as well as the university community. The positive reception I received at those grand rounds confirmed that I came to the right place.

Read more.

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Service Information for Alexander Rickabaugh and Kaila Brown

Student Affairs will be arranging transportation to the funeral and memorial services of Alexander Rickabaugh. We hope to accommodate all students who would like to attend these services via chartered bus.  In order to meet transportation demands please complete the following questions to reserve a spot:
https://duke.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_dhBDLU8uCZJY9KJ

We are working out options for food on the bus for the way out and back, but if you have specific dietary needs, please bring food with you.

Services will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Details below.

Friday, September 26th:
The funeral service will be held at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem (646 W. 5th St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101). The family will receive friends following the service.

The schedule will be as follows:

  • Bus staged at 4:00pm
  • Bus departure time from the West Campus Bus Stop at 4:45pm
  • Funeral at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem at 7:00pm
  • Bus leaves from Winston-Salem at approximately 9:00pm
  • Bus returns after the funeral to the West Campus Bus Stop at approximately 10:30pm

Saturday, September 27th:
Memorial program at Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville, NC
If you would like to attend this memorial program please note the following. Bus transportation will be provided for students interested in attending, leaving from the West Campus Bus Stop at 8:00am.

The schedule will be as follows:

  • Bus staged at 7:30am
  • Bus leaves at 8:00am
  • Memorial Service at Forsyth Country Day (5501 Shallowford Rd., Lewisville, NC 27023) 10:00am
  • Bus leaves from Forsyth Country Day at 11:30am
  • Bus arrives back on West Campus at approximately 1:30pm

Sunday, September 28:
Additionally, On Sunday morning at the start of the 11am worship service in Duke Chapel there will be a silent procession of roses for Alex and Kaila. This is a way of remembering them, honoring their lives and providing a space for community grief in the midst of Duke’s weekly Chapel service.

We have not yet heard anything more about memorial plans for Kaila Brown. I'll be sure to let you know if we do.

We will continue to do all we can to offer support and comfort to all. I urge each of you to take advantage of all opportunities for care should you or anyone you know be in distress. All students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 919-660-1000 and in an emergency, please call Duke Police at 919-684-2444 or by dialing 911.

You can also contact DukeReach (http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/dukereach1) at 919-681-2455 or at dukereach@duke.edu.

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Artificial Sweeteners: Generally Regarded as Safe?

In the past we discussed options for sugar substitutes, such as honey, agave nectar, and brown rice syrup - all tasty options to sweeten your food or beverage, but that do come with a caloric punch. This week, we’ll dedicate our post to the sweeteners that are calorie-free, yet a bit controversial – artificial sweeteners. Think of those colored packets on your restaurant table, diet cola, sugar-free gum and candy, and sugar-free yogurt or ice cream to name a few – artificially sweetened substances are all around. But what are they? These synthetic sugar substitutes are sometimes derived from natural substances, such as herbs or even table sugar.  These sweeteners are many times sweeter than regular sugar and are sometimes called “intense sweeteners.”

Possible health benefits?  On one hand, artificial sweeteners don’t contain any calories, so you may think of them as a way to lower your calorie intake. However, research indicates this may not be the case, and it’s been suggested that consuming these artificial sweeteners may be associated with no change in weight or in some, an increase in weight.  On the other hand, artificial sweeteners don't contribute to tooth decay like sugar can.

Possible health risks? Benefits aside, you might be wondering if there are any downfalls to these chemicals and for good reason - these sweeteners have been the target of scrutiny for many years.  The most recent study that has been in the news shows that these sweeteners have an impact on our gut microbiota and may raise our blood glucose, which is linked with diabetes and weight gain.

Studies that date back to the 1970’s had linked some of these sweeteners, such as saccharin (Sweet’N Low, one you might not see as much of any more—the pink packet), to bladder cancer but we now know that’s not the case.  However, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of side-effects such as dizziness and headaches from modest amounts. If you experience these side effects, it’s probably best to limit or avoid these sweeteners.

Here is some more information the National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/artificial-sweeteners

Who’s regulating?  For the most part, we do have a governmental agency with our health in their best interest. Artificial sweeteners are regulated by the FDA as “food additives.” Before they are approved to be sold, they are thoroughly reviewed and determined safe by FDA. When these additives are approved, they are declared “generally recognized as safe" (GRAS).

Artificial sweeteners currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are:

·         Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)

·         Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)

·         Neotame

·         Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low)

·         Sucralose (Splenda)

Bottom-line: if you do opt for non-nutritive/artificial sweeteners, they are, like most things, best enjoyed in moderation. Overconsumption can lead to symptoms as undesirable as gas, bloating, dizziness, and headaches.

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Take Your Nutrition News with a Grain of Salt

In the past few days, news of a recent study praising the health benefits of a low-carb diet has spread like wildfire through headlines and across the Internet.  Good Morning America featured a segment entitled, “Low-Carb May Trump Low-Fat in Diet Wars” and urged listeners to “back away from the bagel” if they were watching their figures.  TIME magazine exclaimed, “If you’re trying to lose weight, fat might be your friend” and was joined in the lipid lauding frenzy by National Public Radio whose online article leads with “Turns out, eating foods with fat…doesn’t make us fat.”  The New York Times, where I and many other students I know turn for breaking news, issued “A Call for a Low-Carb Diet” and it quickly became the most emailed story on the day of its publication.  But before we as readers get too caught up by these attention-grabbing statements, it’s important to investigate what’s really lying beneath the headlines. 

 

To start, I’ll summarize my take-aways after reading the New York Times article on this breaking nutrition news.  The article presented the findings of a study published in the September 2014 volume of the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health – already, this is sounding highly credible with such big names on board.  The study looked at a “racially diverse group of 150 men and women” (yay for generalizability!) who were split into two groups that each received different dietary guidelines.  The low-fat group was instructed to limit their total fat intake to less than 30% of their daily calories as recommended by the federal government guidelines – seems reasonable.  The low-carb/high-fat group upped their fat intake to more than 40% of their daily calories and were told to eat mostly foods like fish, olive oil, nuts, cheese, and red meat.  Both were encouraged to eat veggies and neither group had to watch their calories nor change levels of physical activity.  At the end of a year, the low-carb group lost an average of eight pounds more than the low-fat group, had greater reductions in body fat and greater increases in lean muscle mass, and significantly lowered their heart attack risk.  Seems simple, sign me up!  I can lose weight, build muscle, and have a healthy heart just by eating my eggs and bacon, no exercise or calorie counting required. 

 

Now before you order up that next cheeseburger without its bun, it’s important to step back from the media and critically assess what the research is really telling us.  David L. Katz, a doctor and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, published an insightful response article to the low-carb craze headlines, bringing to light some crucial caveats of the study that nearly all news articles are glossing over.  First, not all fats or carbohydrates are created equal so it’s inaccurate and counterproductive to talk about diets in such umbrella terms like low-fat or low-carb.  Secondly, it needs to be known that all study participants had BMIs categorizing them as obese, making the results not nearly as generalizable as they have been portrayed.  Lastly, the true diet conditions for the low-carb and low-fat groups in the study have been very poorly communicated to the public.  Comparing the diet guidelines given in the study with the participants’ pre-study diets reveals that the low-fat group only reduced fat intake by 5%, while the low-carb group reduced carbohydrate intake by nearly 75%.  In light of this evidence, it makes sense that the much more restrictive diet would result in greater weight loss. 

 

To conclude, Katz leads us away from the trendy diet fads and recommends eating whole foods in sensible quantities.  He also recommends that we approach health headlines with a more careful eye to see past the sensationalism that can make a good story, but not the best lifestyle advice.  It’s important to be aware that not all of the facts surrounding a research study’s methods and findings make their way into the media’s presentations.  But, that doesn’t mean that we need to write off all health and wellness news as nonsense – if a headline does make your head turn, dig a little deeper, seek out more details from primary sources, and look at what other experts and critical voices in the field have to say.  With a little extra effort, you’ll find the news that’s really worth your attention.      

 

Note of Interest: A few days after this initial media firestorm, the New York Times re-published the article with a new headline, “A Call for a Low-Carb Diet that Embraces Fat.”   

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Student Health Closed on 9/1

The Student Health Center will be closed on Monday, 9/1, in observance of the Labor Day holiday.

We will re-open with normal operating hours on Tuesday, 9/2, at 8:30am.

For after-hours care and nurse advice, please call 919-681-9355.

 
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How to Eat Like a Healthy Devil

Welcome to Duke!

Whether you are a first year student away from home for the first time, or returning as an upperclassman and ready to explore your dining options on West, you might want some tips about how to eat well on campus. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Think of healthy eating as having three components, timing, balance and mindfulness.

1.       Timing. Remember to eat regularly throughout the day; you can’t expect to get through your busy days if you don’t have energy (and food is energy!). A common mistake many students make is skipping meals or going too many hours without eating. If you have the First Year Board plan don’t forget to eat a small meal or snack to keep you going between meals.  

If you are too hungry and faced with an “all you care to eat” meal option at dinner, you are likely to overeat. You might think you are getting your money’s worth, but your body will pay the price.

 

Think you are too busy to stop and eat? There are many options for grab and go meals and snacks on West campus or Trinity Café on East.

If you have time for a sit down meal midday that’s even better.  Check out your options here.

 

2.       Balance. Make sure to include some lean protein, veggies and/or fruit and whole grains at most meals. Balancing Your Plate will keep you on the right track to healthy eating, sustained energy and weight management.

 

3.       Mindfulness. Above all remember to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably full. Eating too little or too much will keep you thinking about food instead of focused on all the other things you want to do at Duke.

Eat what you like, get enough of it and get on with your day!

 

Have a great year!

 

Additional Resources:

Healthy Eating at Duke- it’s “Devilishly” Easy

Smart Snacking

Duke Student Health Nutrition

For more information on eating well at Duke meet with a Student Health Nutritionist

919-681-9355

 

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