DIGGING WELLNESS:
ESHCA Wellness Newsletter
May 2019
The shareable link (also printable) for this issue of the newsletter is:
Nutrition Goal for May - Are you getting your seafood?
May concludes our look into the 7 nutritional factors most likely to contribute to cardiometabolic death (heart disease, stroke and diabetes):

  1. Too much sodium (9.5% of CM deaths in 2012; 66,508 deaths)
  2. Not enough nuts/seeds (8.5%; 59,374)
  3. Too many processed meats (8.2%; 57,766)
  4. Not enough seafood (omega-3 fats) (7.8%; 54,626)
  5. Not enough vegetables (7.6%; 53,410)
  6. Not enough fruits (7.5%; 52,547)
  7. Too many sugar-sweetened beverages (7.4%; 51,694)


What are we trying to accomplish thus far in 2019? Each of the identified nutritional factors has been covered either by a "Nutrition Goal of the Month" or a "$25 Incentive Challenge" with the intent of creating meaningful change.

  • January, a $25 Incentive Challenge was given to anyone who drank 66-99 ounces of water for 21 days, ideally, removing or reducing sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • February, another $25 Incentive Challenge was provided to use the online sodium calculator to determine your daily sodium intake and to identify your sources.
  • March, we focused on the dangers of processed meats in regards to excess sodium and harmful nitrates.
  • April, a $25 Incentive Challenge was offered to eat a serving of almonds and an apple, or a different combination of nut/seed and fruit or vegetable, 9 out of 21 days.

Note: Nutrition habits can be difficult to change, simply skipping meals or not eating is not a long-term solution. This study demonstrates, good quality, healthy foods need to replace poor food choices. What you do eat is just as important as what you don't eat! Making a change to accommodate even one of these nutritional variables can have a significant effect on your health.

What is the Nutrition Challenge for May? The Nutrition Challenge for May is to eat a serving (palm size or 4 ounces) of seafood 2 to 4 times during the month. Geographically we are challenged (not living close to the ocean) and I assume for most of us, this recommendation will be an improvement. If you are already meeting this standard, work toward the USDA Dietary Guidelines below.

What are the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans regarding seafood? It is recommended American adults eat 2-3 servings (8-12 ounces) of seafood per week.

Why is seafood essential to our diets? Seafood is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. There are many kinds of fats, some are healthy and some are unhealthy. Omega-3 fats are a healthy fat and are also an "essential" fat. "Essential" means the body cannot make them from other fats or raw materials. In other words, omega-3 fats must be ingested from the foods that contain them.

What are the health benefits of omega-3 fats? The greatest benefits appear to be in their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. They keep the heart beating in a rhythmic, consistent pattern keeping it from slipping into an arrhythmia (erratic beats). Arrhythmia's cause the majority of the 500,000-plus cardiac deaths in the US each year. Omega-3 fats have been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, lower triglycerides and reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation has profound health benefits including reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and the symptoms of asthma. Additional research indicates omega-3 fats reduce the risk of depression, ADHD, Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.

What are the best seafood choices? Anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon (wild caught better than farmed), sardines, lake trout and tuna.

What fish do I need to be cautious with? Due to excess mercury, PCB's and other toxins you should be cautious with mackerel, wild swordfish, tilefish and shark. Farm raised fish often has higher levels of toxins, children and pregnant women should avoid these fish entirely.

Are there other sources of omega-3 fats? Yes, additional sources include walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, canola oil, soybean oil, tofu, shellfish, brussels sprouts and avocados.

Should I take a fish oil supplement? My advice is to focus on getting your nutrition through food. "Filling up" on healthy food takes the place of less desirable choices. For example, filling your belly with a nutritious, low calorie meal such as a serving of salmon, a sweet potato and some greens (rather than taking a fish oil supplement and washing it down with a hamburger, French fries and a soda) gives you needed nutrients and curbs your appetite for those less nutritious choices. Planning, preparing and eating healthy food is an essential part of developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you are going to take a fish oil supplement you need to discuss it with your doctor, especially if you have a bleeding condition or take medications that increase the risk of bleeding such as Coumadin, Plavix, Effient, Brilinta and NSAIDS.

$25 Incentive - Step Challenge
Being active is an important factor in staying healthy and preventing cardiometabolic disease! In fact, some research suggests having a healthy VO2 max (a measure of aerobic fitness) is more important that body weight in determining a persons risk for a sudden cardiac event. The weather is improving and it is time to start moving! In May, we are offering a $25 Incentive Challenge to record your "steps" or your exercise. Use this challenge and the nice weather to work on good exercise habits that start now and carry through the more difficult winter months.

How do I get the $25 incentive? Using a pedometer (or you can count them, lol) track your daily steps a minimum of 3 times per week for 21-days!

What is a pedometer? Typically worn on the wrist like a watch or as a clip on your waistband or belt, a pedometer is a device that measures (counts) your steps. I believe most "smart" phones are also equipped with a pedometer app as well, check your phone. Basic pedometers measure just steps while more advanced ones will also measure heart rate, calories burned, miles traveled and how soundly you sleep.

What if I don't have a pedometer, can I participate? Yes, you just need to find an alternative way to measure your activity (see the examples on the "May Step Calendar"); log your gym workout (25 minutes on the treadmill) or your home exercise program (30 minute walk/run, 25 minute walk up and down the stairs).

How do I get the $25 incentive?
  1. Challenge #5: record your steps (or activity) on the "May Step Calendar" a minimum of 3 days per week for 21 days!
  2. The challenge begins on May 5th and ends on May 26th. Click here to download the "May Step Challenge Calendar". If you do not have the means to download the calendar, you may make your own or journal your entries.
  3. E-mail (good cell phone picture works), mail or fax the calendar to me on 5/27 or shortly after.
  4. If you opened the newsletter later in the month, feel free to participate and fill in the calendar. I will take them as late as June 7th.
  5. Only one $25 incentive card is paid out to each member household, although all household members and friends are encouraged to participate!

How many steps should I get? Typically, I encourage people to strive for 10,000 steps per day (approximately 5 miles). For those of you working at a desk that might be difficult and for laborers on a jobsite, you might do 2.5 times that amount. The purpose of this challenge is to monitor your activity and have a data-based awareness of how much physical activity you get over the course of a day. Take the information and decide if you need to take "steps" to make a healthy change.

Walking up and down the stairs! One of my personal goals this year is to get 150 "heart pumping" cardiovascular workouts before my annual physical in November. I have found that the most efficient means to accomplish this task is to put my headphones on and walk up and down the stairs for 20-30 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week. Research demonstrates short bouts of stair climbing improved VO2 Max which is a significant measure of heart health. Additionally, as little as 3 minutes of "stair work" was enough to lower blood glucose measures in people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 60 to 120 minutes after a meal.
Stretch of the Month - Quadricep
What are the quadriceps and what is their function? The quadriceps are a large extensor muscle group located on the front of the thigh, they are divided into 4 parts including the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis. The four muscles unite at a single tendon (patellar tendon) to enclose the patella (knee cap) at the knee joint. The patellar tendon inserts into the tuberosity of the tibia (top of the shin). When the quadricep muscles contract the lower leg extends or straightens.

Why do the quadriceps need to be stretched? Tight quadricep muscles can pull the knee cap out of position causing friction (ultimately pain and joint damage) at the knee. Additionally, tight muscles can cause imbalanced muscle tension at the hips effecting posture and body mechanics resulting in hip and/or back pain.

Click Here to learn more on the potential "hazards" associated with tight quads!

How do I stretch my quadriceps?
  1. Stand facing a wall, chair or truck, place your free hand on the solid surface for balance.
  2. With the other hand grab the ankle (Figure 1) or the back inside part of your shoe (Figure 2) and pull the heel toward the buttocks. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, repeat 2 to 3 times then repeat on the opposite leg.
  3. How would I modify this stretch? If for some reason you are unable to reach your ankle you can place your fingers inside the back of the shoe (Figure 2) or place your foot on an object (couch, chair, bed, tailgate, etc.). The key is to make sure the upper leg is pulled slightly back and the heel is as close to the buttocks as comfortably possible.

Annual Physical $200 Incentive: Looking for the paperwork?
Get to know yourself from the inside out...
  • Statistics provided by MVP demonstrate the incentive program is working to get people to their Primary Care Physician for their Annual Physical. Not only were numbers up last year, approximately 12%, but we started 2019 with a bang, recording the highest January participation rate in the past 3 years. Still only roughly 50% of eligible people having physicals are submitting the paperwork to receive the $200 incentive (available to the member and the member-spouse). I am pleased members are participating but if you are driven by the incentive please make sure you submit the paperwork or contact me with questions or for additional assistance.
  • "Know Your Numbers"
  • Blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and body weight are good indicators of current and future health!
  • An annual visit to your Primary Care Physician is an important step in being healthy. Schedule your appointment today!
  • Submit the paperwork to receive the $200 incentive.
  • Click Here to download the paperwork.
  • Participating in the activities offered by the Wellness Program will educate you on skills needed to understand, improve and manage "your numbers". Asess your numbers with your physician and then take small steps to improve them!
Don't forget ESHCA is a member of the Herb Philipson's Workwear Program! Show the cashier your ESHCA/MVP Insurance Card and get 10% off Herb's already low prices!