The Wealth of Health in Food
It’s no secret there has been a sure and steady rise in health consciousness regarding what we eat and consume. From replacing sugar to adding antioxidants, the trend of amping up nutritional value—and rejecting less wholesome ingredients—is causing industry leaders to rethink their processes and find innovative ways to make their products healthier. Julie Jargon and Annie Gasparro of The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted some up-and-coming trends… and some of them may surprise you!
- Moringa: The leafy green grown primarily in Haiti, Latin America and Africa is rich with vitamins, calcium, potassium and protein, making it an attractive option for adding nutritional benefits to one’s diet. The plant is currently available in the U.S. as a powder or in energy drinks, snack bars or teas.
- Regenerative grazing: A step above “grass-fed,” regenerative grazing ensures cattle are not only fed outside of feedlots, but are having a positive impact in their environment. As the cows graze on cropland, the soil is restored and fertilized for the next planting season—while the animals enjoy the grass-fed diet coveted by beef consumers.
- Keeping it natural: As food manufacturers look for ways to make their products healthier, they’re experimenting with natural ingredients in order to reduce unhealthy ones. This may involve enhancing flavor profiles to reduce consumers’ desire for added sodium or sugar. One company, for example, is using mushrooms to reduce the bitterness in cacao beans so chocolate can be made with less sugar.
- Plant water: Food companies are finding that plant water—such as maple water and artichoke water—provides healthier, flavor-enhancing alternatives to sugary drinks. Some even have potential health benefits: aloe vera water and juices are thought to aid digestion and weight loss, while cactus water may boast electrolytes and antioxidants.
- Jackfruit: Plant-based food alternatives are a growing market, with an estimated $3.5 billion in annual sales. Among the possible substitutes for meat is the jackfruit, a pear-like fruit that experts believe is likely to go mainstream due to its texture and flavor-absorbing abilities.
- Spirulina: Concerns over artificial food dyes have sparked the use of natural ingredients for coloring. Spices like turmeric and paprika mimic yellow and red, while spirulina—a type of algae often sold as a health supplement—is being harvested for its unique blue-green color. The use of spirulina for food and beverages is expected to quintuple by 2020.
Source: “The Next Hot Trends in Food,” The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2016
NAMI: A Friend in Mental Health
With an abundance of resources available on and offline, it can be overwhelming for those who suffer from mental illness to find the assistance they need. If you’re looking for a place to start, the Tri-County Illinois chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) can help.
With more than 1,000 affiliates, NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization in the country. From advocacy to support to research, it seeks to educate the public on the nature of mental illness while providing support and resources to those who suffer from it. Among its offerings, the Tri-County Illinois affiliate has monthly educational meetings on the first Thursday of each month, where local mental health experts speak on various topics. The group also hosts classes on understanding and coping with mental illness, and offers two support groups: one for people with a mental health condition, and another for family members.
In addition to its direct services, NAMI provides a nationwide network of related resources, news and public policy information. Those interested in becoming a member or participating in the group’s services can call the Tri-County Illinois affiliate at (309) 693-0541 or visitnamitri-countyillinois.org.
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
For details on each of the 10 signs, visit alz.org/10-signs-symptoms-alzheimers-dementia.asp. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you know, don't ignore them—schedule an appointment with your doctor. For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Illinois Chapter website at alz.org/illinoiscentral, or call the 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900 for confidential answers to your questions.
New App Takes Flight
An app designed to improve care to patients experiencing medical emergencies during flights was unveiled last year—the product of a collaboration between Peoria-based CSE Software Inc. and Dr. Raymond Bertino, a retired Peoria radiologist.
Dr. Bertino has assisted in three in-flight emergencies—and was once an in-air patient himself. Having identified a lack of clear information about a plane’s medical resources, as well as the uncertainty of quick diagnosis and treatment in flight, he resolved to do something about it. A conversation with Dr. John Vozenilek, chief medical officer at Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, sparked the idea of a mobile app, and from there, Dr. Bertino worked with several other doctors to compile the relevant content. CSE Software was chosen to develop the app… and airRX was born.
airRX serves as a mobile reference guide, walking its user through a variety of scenarios. Among its features:
- Information and treatment procedures for 23 of the most common medical emergencies, such as chest pain, choking and seizures;
- A list of equipment and medications available on the plane;
- Instructions for how cabin and flight crew can assist the doctor in providing care, as well as the role of ground support and medicolegal protections for the volunteer physician.
airRX is available on Android and Apple iOS. For more information, visit airrxmedical.com.
Win Back that Lost Week of Vacation
by Don Welch, Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Vacations are powerful. They have the ability to recharge and better connect us to the world, all while making lasting memories. They have the ability to lift up the communities to which visitors travel. And while vacations can be to far-flung locales, they can just as easily be in your own backyard.
The number of vacation days Americans take has been on a steady decline for years. Between 1976 and 2000, Americans took an average of 20.3 vacation days each year. In 2015, the average declined to 16.2—the equivalent of nearly an entire week of paid time off wiped away.
Consider: If Americans were to use their allotted vacation days, it would deliver a $160 billion jolt to the U.S. economy, create 1.2 million new jobs and generate $21 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. In Illinois, the tourism industry generated $37.1 billion in direct spending, $2.9 billion in state and local tax revenue, and 314,380 jobs in 2015. That’s why the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is supporting the U.S. Travel Association’s “Project: Time Off” coalition to encourage Illinoisans to use their well-earned vacation days with a simple strategy: take two- or three-day weekend trips right here in Illinois.
As we begin 2017, the tourism industry invites you to #PlanForVacation in Illinois—and consider easy trips in the Peoria area. Some great examples include a day trip along the Peoria and East Peoria riverfronts, a tour of Wildlife Prairie Park and stops at a number of amazing festivals. The PACVB has resources to help you explore and plan at EnjoyPeoria.com—or look for ideas at EnjoyIllinois.com.
Health Spending vs. Life Expectancy
While the U.S. spends far more on healthcare services than any other country, the life expectancy of Americans is actually shorter than many other developed countries. Health spending per capita in the U.S. is about $9,024.21—about 25 percent higher than the next highest-spending country, Switzerland, which clocks in at $6,786.57 in spending, yet boasts a life expectancy nearly four years greater.
Ranked by per-capita spending, the U.S. performs worse than the next 24 countries on the list—at No. 25, the Czech Republic has a lower life expectancy (78.28) than the U.S., yet spends just $2,386.34 on health per person. In the most extreme case, Americans spend five times more than Chileans, yet the population of Chile actually lives longer. Why is this? Experts cite two primary causes:
- Administrative costs. Study after study finds that administrative costs in the healthcare sector are far higher in the U.S. than in other comparable developed countries.
- Inequality in spending. While some in the U.S. healthcare system receive little or no access to care, others spend much more for far greater access. In fact, the top five percent of spenders account for nearly half of all healthcare spending in the country, while the top one percent account for more than 20 percent. iBi
Source: Our World in Data, August 3, 2016, using data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and National Institute for Health Care Management.