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Today is May 4

Egg Month

Eggs are eggceptional

Eggs are a topic of conversation each spring, largely because of their relationship to the Christian celebration of Easter. Brightly colored Easter eggs are on display, chocolate eggs line store shelves and egg-lined birds nests in trees and bushes dot spring landscapes.

Eggs take center stage in early spring, but they’re more than just novelties to include in Easter celebrations.

  • Eggs are nutritious. Eggs are loaded with vitamins A, D and B12 and the nutrient choline. They’re also an excellent protein source in a small package. At 72 calories and packing six grams of protein, eggs can make for a great, filling meal at any time of day.
  • Eggs boost brain health. The choline in eggs is a crucial nutrient for memory, mood and muscle control, according to the University of Missouri Health Care system. Choline also is essential in fetal brain development and can help prevent birth defects.
  • Eggs don’t always have to be refrigerated. In countries outside of the United States and Canada, eggs may not be refrigerated and do not have to be chilled. Also, outside of North America eggs are not washed prior to commercial production. However, according to the food resource TheKichn, power-washing eggs removes a protective coating and makes the eggs porous and vulnerable to contamination. A synthetic coating is put on washed eggs.
  • Shell color does not matter. The color of the eggshell doesn’t indicate taste, nutritional value or even egg quality. The color of the eggshell reflects the breed of hen that laid the egg. Red-feathered hens tend to lay brown eggs, while hens with white features lay white eggs. Similarly, the shade of yolk is representative of what the chicken is eating. A dark, yellow yolk means the hen was probably fed green vegetables. Lighter yolks coordinate to corn and grain diets.
  • All eggs are “hormone-free.” The term “hormone-free” on egg cartons does not signify anything special. It’s like advertising that snow is cold. The United States Food & Drug Administration banned the use of hormones in all poultry production in the 1950s. All eggs are hormone-free.
  • Size and eggshell thickness indicates the age of the hen. Eggs come in different sizes, such as medium, large and jumbo. The age of the chicken determines the size, with older hens producing larger eggs. Age also affects shell thickness, with younger hens laying thicker-shelled eggs, says Eat This, Not That!
  • Eggs won’t hatch. Eggs sold for consumption are not fertilized. Hens that have laid them haven’t mated.
  • Many birds lay eggs. Kiwis lay the largest egg in relation to their body size of any species of bird in the world. However, the ostrich, emu and cassowary lay the biggest eggs.
  • The sink or swim test can say a lot about an egg. Eggs become more porous as they age. You can tell if an egg is old by putting it in a glass of water. If it sinks, it is fresh. If it floats, it is an older egg.

Eggs get a lot of fanfare around Easter, and there’s more than meets the eye to that carton of eggs in the refrigerator.

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World Asthma Day

Understanding asthma as allergy season returns

The arrival of spring and summer is typically welcomed with open arms. Warm air, green grass, colorful flowers, and, of course, vacations are just a few of the many reasons to celebrate spring and summer.

Spring and summer also marks the return of allergy season. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. A 2017 survey found that 27 percent of Canadians age 12 and older reported having allergies. For many people, allergies are a minor seasonal nuisance that are overcome by taking over-the-counter medications or staying indoors on days when allergen levels are especially high. But the World Allergy Organization notes that a history of allergies is a known risk factor for developing asthma. In fact, Statistics Canada reports that, among people diagnosed with allergies, 63 percent also reported having asthma.

What is asthma?

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines asthma as a chronic condition that affects airways in the lungs. The airways carry air in and out of the lungs, and when people have asthma, these airways can become inflamed and narrow, compromising a person’s ability to breathe.

Who gets asthma?

Many asthma patients are diagnosed during childhood. The ACAAI reports that most children with asthma exhibit symptoms prior to their fifth birthdays. Asthma symptoms also may appear in adults older than 20, and such instances may be attributed to adult-onset asthma. Certain adults may be more likely to get adult-onset asthma than others. For example, WebMD reports that women who are experiencing hormonal changes, such as those who are pregnant or in menopause, may be more likely to get adult-onset asthma.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

The ACCAI notes that it can be hard to recognize symptoms of asthma in very young children. That’s because the bronchial tubes in infants, toddlers and preschool-aged youngsters are already small and narrow. Head colds, chest colds and other illnesses may further narrow these airways. So symptoms of asthma could be mistakenly associated with colds or other illnesses. A nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks or sudden, scary breathing emergencies are two symptoms of pediatric asthma. Parents also can be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • A wheezing or whistling sound when breathing, especially when exhaling
  • Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
  • Frequent colds that settle in the chest

Like pediatric asthma, adult-onset asthma can be easy to miss. That’s because of natural changes in muscles and a stiffening of chest walls, both of which are associated with aging and therefore often attributed to age. The symptoms of adult-onset asthma are similar to those of pediatric asthma, and adults who suspect they might be experiencing asthma symptoms despite no history of the condition can ask doctors to conduct some specific tests designed to detect asthma. A lung function test and a methacholine challenge test are two ways doctors can detect adult-onset asthma.

Allergy season has arrived, and that could make some people more vulnerable to asthma. More information about asthma is available at www.accai.org.

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Kid’s Fitness Day

Healthy activities for kids of all ages

Children have a seemingly endless supply of energy. Channeling that energy into something positive can benefit kids’ minds and bodies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends various amounts of daily physical activity for children depending on their ages and abilities. Adhering to these recommendations is especially important in the wake of what many public health officials fear has become an epidemic of childhood obesity in many nations. For example, the United States-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 13.7 million children between the ages of two and 19 are presently obese. In Canada, the Childhood Obesity Foundation reports that childhood obesity rates have hovered around 12 percent for years.

Routine physical activity can help children maintain healthy weights, and it also pays dividends for youngsters’ mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, children between the ages of six and 18 who exercise regularly tend to have lower levels of depression, stress and psychological distress. Those findings, part of a 2019 study published in the journal Sports Medicine, reflect the ways exercise affects the mind. And the mental benefits don’t stop there, as the study also found that youngsters who are physically active also have higher levels of positive self-image, life satisfaction and psychological well-being.

The amount of physical activity children need each month depends on their age, and the AAP recommends the following age-based guidelines.

  • Infants: The AAP recommends infants get at least 30 minutes of tummy time and other interactive play throughout the day.
  • Toddlers: Toddlers can be tough to keep up with, and parents can channel that energy into something positive by ensuring their kids get at least three hours of physical activity every day. Free play outside and daily neighborhood walks are some examples of appropriate physical activities for children in this age group.
  • Preschoolers: Three-plus hours of physical activity, including one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise, is recommended for preschool-aged youngsters. Tumbling, throwing and catching are some of the activities recommended by the AAP.
  • Elementary school students: School-aged children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. The AAP recommends giving children in this age group ample opportunities for free play but also notes that organized sports focused on fun can be great outlets for kids in elementary school. Parents can speak with their children’s pediatricians about appropriate muscle/bone strengthening activities, which the AAP recommends three days a week for kids in this age group.
  • Middle school students: Students in this age group need the same amount and types of exercise that elementary school students need. But the AAP advises parents to guide children toward physical activities that encourage socialization and to avoid having kids this age specialize in a single sport.
  • Teenagers: Teenagers need an hour or more of physical activity most days of the week. Muscle/bone strengthening activities should be included three days per week. Activities that encourage socialization and competition are beneficial to teenagers’ development.

Physical activity can benefit kids in myriad ways and should be a vital component of their daily lives.