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Student Health

Student Health

How is Your Microbiota?

Excuse me? When was the last time someone asked you about YOUR microbiota?  Most people don’t realize that our bodies are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells. “We are walking ecosystems, as our bodies are colonized from top to bottom by microbes that, not happy with behaving like guests, are actually integrated into our biology. “They help us digest food, shape our immune system, alter our metabolism and evidence is even starting to show that they affect the nervous system, influencing our mood and behaviour,” explains Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University (USA).”


Keeping the microbiome, or the environment that the bacteria live in, optimal is key. As you might have guessed, this brings us to the discussion of our diets. Our GI bacteria, although very adaptive, love plant materials and fiber.   Those who follow vegan and vegetarian diets have different combinations of colonies in their guts, than carnivores, the bacteria in our colon actually help break down the fiber that other enzymes cannot.


Stress negatively impacts the health of our bacteria, for many reasons, but often due to poor dietary choices. Bacteria, or our bodies in general, don’t like the highly processed, highly sugared foods – (although they may taste great in the moment) they’re actually inflammatory. However these are often the types of foods we reach for when we are stressed. If you want to keep your microbioata happy, be selective with your diet. These microbes produce 95% percent of the body’s serotonin. Yes, serotonin – that neurotransmitter that can make us “sleepy” or “relax” us. Eating a diet that is rich in plant materials and dietary fiber is a good way to nurture your microbiome.  Consider yogurt and Kefir and even sauerkraut, yes sauerkraut to help keep a healthy environment. Just don’t lose sight of balance in the diet. Plant materials may be important but protein and fats are equally as important. Just living on salads is also not the answer.


So the next time you’re stressing, like right now or in the upcoming weeks, remember to be kind to your microbiota by eating well; have some yogurt with “live culture” bacteria, along with some granola and fruit, consider some hummus and raw veggies for a snack, sandwich on a whole grain bun along with some minestrone or vegetable soup at lunch, cheese and whole grain crackers as a mid-afternoon treat and maybe some schnitzel and sauerkraut for dinner.
Want to learn more: Follow http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/

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What’s Eating You?

If you’ve never heard the term ‘mindless eating’, you are not alone. Mindless eating is much more common than you would think especially in college students.

What is mindless eating?
When you eat an amount of food large or small in quantity (usually large) while not paying attention to the food or how your body feels as you eat it.

Mindless eating typically occurs:
Late at night after long periods of studying, watching TV
● If you have gone long periods of time without eating
When you finally eat you are so hungry you consume a large amount of food quickly which can lead to overeating.

So how can you prevent mindless eating? Good question!
It is important to know there are two pieces to help you avoid mindless eating; physical and emotional.

Physical:
• Eat regularly throughout the day (three meals and snacks in-between as needed). This will help prevent you missing meals and then becoming too hungry later in the day.
• Try to identify your own personal hunger cues (they aren’t the same for everyone). Physical hunger can be your stomach talking to you (growling) and feels empty or you begin to feel weak and low on energy, you may lose concentration or become cranky (“hangry”). Those are all signals your body uses to tell you it needs fuel and you need to eat. It is important to honor these cues by eating either a meal or snack.

Emotional:
• Learn to cope during periods of higher stress in your life. During periods of higher stress many of us turn to food for comfort whether it is for reward, or coping with stress and anxiety. When you catch yourself wandering to the vending machine or fridge or that box of cereal sitting in your room, and you don’t feel physically hungry you are about to mindlessly consume whatever is the next thing you eat.
• There are many ways you can cope with periods of stress in your life. Attending a yoga class, meditating, deep breathing, talking to a friend, taking a walk, working on a puzzle or doing moderate (45-60min) exercise at the Wilson Recreation Center can help. If you feel you need more help and want to talk to someone, Duke Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) can help.

On the flipside you also want to be a mindful eater
Pay attention to what you are eating
● Notice the tastes, feels, and smells of foods
● Notice how the food makes your body feel
● What type of mood are you in before you begin eating?
Positive moods make it easier to eat mindfully versus negative or sad moods make it difficulty to eat mindfully.
● Do you get hungry soon after eating these foods; do you feel energized or sleepy after eating?
● Pay attention to how well the food you eat makes you feel. And most of all enjoy your meals.

If you would like to talk to a nutrition professional in more depth about how you can become a mindful eater visit Duke’s Student Health Nutrition Website.  You can email any of our Registered Dietitians and make an appointment. This service is included in your tuition and does not cost extra.

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Where’s the Fire Now? Anti-inflammatory Eating Updates

Yes we have covered this topic before back in the fall of 2012 Inflammation-Where's the Fire?.

Back then we were presenting to you a proposed list of anti-inflammatory food to include in your diet.

These foods included healthy fats, spices, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and of course dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more).

Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has highlighted what we have known for quite some time, many of us eat more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet and this may be contributing to heart disease.

What does this mean for us?  Not only should we consume anti-inflammatory foods every day but there are also some foods that we should try to limit our intake of as well.  If you eat too much simple sugar cutting back on the amount in your diet is important in the effort to fight chronic disease, which can be attributed to inflammation on the cellular level. Most recent studies refer to heart disease in particular.

Not everyone needs to decrease their sugar intake but if you feel that you are eating too much of the sweet stuff and you are looking for areas to cut back, consider the following:

·         Don’t Drink Your Fruit- opt for whole fruit instead of fruit juices and you will significantly decrease your intake of simple sugars and increase your intake of healthy fibers.

·         Avoid Sugar Sweetened Beverages- replace sodas, fruit flavored drinks, and sweet teas with water. Can’t give them up? Go “halfsies” by mixing half sweetened with half sugar free, unsweetened or water.

·         Be a Wise Consumer of your Favorite Hot Beverage- many coffee and tea drinks are loaded with sugar, each pump of syrup has about 5 grams of sugar, so limit the number of pumps or better yet go for a simple latte sans syrup.

·         When Baking- you can easily reduce the amount of sugar called for by ¼- 1/3 without sacrificing taste.

·         Share Desserts- if you eat them regularly. Otherwise eat what you enjoy but do so less often.

·         Enjoy!

The take home message here is you don't need to totally avoid sugar, just eat it in moderation and make the real thing count.

 

 

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Student Health Closed Saturday 3/8

The Student Health Center will be closed on Saturday, 3/8, due to Spring Break.

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

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Peer For You Peer Responder Applications Open

Peer For You is now welcoming applications for Peer Responders to serve Duke students for next year.

Applications due March 16. Apply now.

We are a student-run resource that provides the space for undergraduate students to reach out for support and referrals in times of struggle. Any Duke student can send an anonymous message to one of our Peer Responders about a struggle or challenge that they are currently facing. The approached Peer Responder will respond to the message within 24 hours.

Peer responders are trained through CAPS personnel and facilitate the sharing of personal experiences and encourage students to make use of existing, supportive resources. The role of the Responder crucially is to provide an open, non-judgemental, open ear for students to express their stress. Ever felt alone at Duke? Inadequate? Marginalized? If you've experienced challenges at Duke in any way, consider applying to be a Peer Responder.

Visit the Peer For You website for more information.

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Alcohol and Spring Break

“It is wise to bring some water, when one goes out to look for water.” This is not a recent Tweet or Facebook status update, but rather, wisdom from an Arab proverb.  What does this have to do with your life as a Duke student, you say? With spring break approaching, there are many choices on what to do, whether that be traveling to Peru with the Duke Alternative Spring Break Program; canoeing and kayaking with Duke Recreation; hanging out at home; or, jaunting to the coast to catch some rays.  For some, activities will include the use of alcohol.  While most students will be responsible with the amount they consume, 42% of college students get drunk at least once during spring break (Litt et al. 2013).

The combination of drinking alcohol and possibly being in warmer weather easily brings about dehydration. Warmer temperatures aside, when someone has a standard drink (12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor in a mixed drink), he or she urinates a greater amount of water than is contained in the drink. This happens because alcohol inhibits the body’s anti-diuretic hormone (it also inhibits judgment but that is another article altogether. I would recommend making strategic decisions about how much and what to drink prior to consumption).  This leads to more water coming out than going in, even if water is included when having some drinks. In addition to the alcohol, remember that warmer temperatures promote sweating, and we need fluids to sweat. Being dehydrated and spending time in the sun, can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends drinking one nonalcoholic drink for every alcoholic drink consumed: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/SummerSafety/SummerSafety.htm. The nonalcoholic drink should not contain caffeine for two reasons: 1) caffeine is a diuretic, and 2) drinking caffeine increases the urge to move more (it is a stimulant). Alcohol decreases physical motor coordination.  The combination of increased motor activity and decreased coordination will not end well. It would be wise to keep sugar out of it, too, as drinking alcohol influences the body’s sugar levels. You can learn more about this here.  You may also want to check out the environmental-dependent tolerance section in this article.

As you consider Spring Break during these dreary months of winter, keep in mind that the goal of a break is to have fun and enjoy life!  Feeling bad because of the negative effects of alcohol takes away from the joy of vacation.  So, when headed toward warmer climates, please drink some water, replenish your electrolytes, eat a full meal prior to drinking, and have fun.  I will leave you with this:

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.” (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

 

 

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Student Health Closed Today Until 1:30pm

The Student Health Center will be closed today until 1:30pm for a staff retreat.

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Choosing Recovery

I don’t know where to start. I was asked to write about my experience with an eating disorder, but it’s complicated. I’m anorexic, and I have been for exactly half of my life—thirteen years. To me, there’s not much to tell. I’ve known this world so intimately for so long that I simply see it as my state of being. It’s difficult to distinguish where the eating disorder stops and I begin. So, I guess I should start at the beginning…

I was eleven or twelve when I first learned about eating disorders. We watched a video in my sixth grade health class. It was one of those made for TV after-school specials that explained the seriousness and consequences of eating disorders. I remember very vividly walking through the gym after class and thinking, “I can do that.” I remember being fascinated by those girls. Their resolve. Their willpower. Their determination. It all seemed so attainable, except the part about losing control and being sick. That part seemed messy, and I knew that I could do it, and do it right.

In retrospect, and to my best guess, this is where it started. This is where I chose it. I often tell this story starting a year later, around the age of thirteen. This was the time when the symptoms became visible. However, I think I’ve always known the truth—I chose to have an eating disorder. I often lie and say it in terms that people can better understand…I say that it was a diet that got out of control. No. I wanted it. The thrill. The power. The simplicity. I don’t know what about it made it so attractive, or what it was about me that made me so inclined to pursue it. But I did, and a year later I met the criteria for anorexia nervosa.

My weight dropped from 120 to 90 lbs (and would continue to decline in the years that followed), bradycardic (with a resting heart rate of 40bbm), and orthostatic (with the nasty habit of passing out if I stood up too fast). I was constantly cold, my nail beds were blue, my skin was dry, my hair fell out by the hand-full, I outgrew all of my clothes (including children’s sizes), my bones ached constantly, and I was too tired to do anything but not eat and exercise. I was hospitalized three times. And at my worst, I was just under 80 lbs and bat-shit crazy. My life was reduced to food, weight, and exercise. I did nothing else but think about food, weigh myself, and exercise. I could go into the details, but they’re painfully boring.

I had a bunch of therapists, doctors, meds, etc., and by the end of my fourteenth year, I had gained enough weight to lose the panicked attention of my parents and healthcare providers. I was not, however, in any way better. I hadn’t changed. I had just gained enough weight to be left alone. Fast-forward thirteen years of self-loathing and resentment at having to keep up appearances, and we arrive to a relapse. The details and even the reason why are largely unimportant to me. What is important, this time, is that I made a choice. This time I chose to try and get better, instead of succumbing to the idea that is who I was. I looked in the mirror and chose a reality that is completely foreign to me. It’s scary and difficult, and I resist and fight it every day (much to the dismay of my support team). Like I said earlier, I don’t know where the eating disorder starts and I begin. I don’t know if I’ll ever know. I do know that I’m tired. I’m tired of counting calories, having nightmares about gaining weight, choosing the eating disorder over my friends, and hating myself. So, in the end, I try. I succeed and fail on a daily basis, and that’s a part of getting better. And honestly, it’s better than the alternative…loneliness, sickness, and death. All for what?


 

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Fad Diets…The Picture of Restriction

If you’ve made it to this page, you’ve probably seen our fad diet photo display outside the Bryan Center. If not, check it out! It’s part of our Celebrate Our Bodies Week to encourage positive body image at Duke. Here is the breakdown of the diets that are pictured and what the Duke Student Health Dietitians think of them:

Orange food?  That’s the ROY G BIV Diet.  Instead of a plate looking like a rainbow, which is what the acronym is about, it requires that only food of one color is eaten each day. So one day, only orange food is allowed.  It’s a way to restrict a person’s options of what she/he can eat, and subsequently the calories she or he might consume. Foods of different colors are high in various nutrients, which helps us to meet our body’s needs.  So the more limited a diet is in color, the fewer the variety of nutrients.

Diet Coke and cigarettes? Those fall into the vice category and make up what we’re calling the Vice Diet. Instead of getting energy from nutrients, caffeine is providing the energy and cigarettes are used as an appetite suppressant. Do we need to say why this is a bad idea? Other vices include ‘saving your calories for alcohol’ by not eating during the day and drinking at night or using other forms of drugs instead of food. All of these vices have something in common-they don’t provide the macronutrients and micronutrients that your body needs.

The Peas: Eating only limited foods. The Picky Eater’s Diet is an extreme form of orthorexia. This is when an eater takes ‘healthy eating’ to an unhealthy level and has very restrictive food choices, which are based on being “clean”, healthy, unprocessed and in some cases “untouched”. See the National Eating Disorder Association’s definition here. This diet is far too low in energy and nutrients.

Baby Food Diet. This diet requires a person to eat pureed fruits and vegetables 14 times per day. Depending on the foods chosen, this diet can be very low in protein and fiber (not to mention calories), which are nutrients necessary for an active young adult. Plus, it takes all the joy out of sharing a meal with a friend.

Protein and fat are markers of the Atkins Diet. Cutting out whole grains and most starches while limiting fruit and dairy leaves a plan that is low in carbohydrates, which you need for energy, and calcium, which is especially important for college-aged women. Low carb diets may work for older, more sedentary, extremely overweight people but they just do not provide enough nutrients for young active minds and bodies to function properly.

Lemon, cayenne, maple syrup? Those are the ingredients in the Master Cleanse. This is a VERY low calorie 10 day diet (intended for very quick weight loss – that doesn’t last). Rather than teaching you healthy eating habits, it bans all solid foods for 10 whole days. It promises to remove your body of toxins as well. In reality, what actually ‘cleanses’ your body is eating a balanced, high fiber diet.

Concerned about your diet? Make an appointment with a Student Health Dietitian by calling 919-681-WELL or check us out online. Why not, it’s covered under your student health fee!

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