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Strengthening Oklahoma Families

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Pumpkin Offers More than Traditional Pumpkin Spice in the Fall

The air is starting to feel crisp now that the fall season is underway. As we
move into the holidays, pumpkins can have the spotlight. Pumpkins can be so
much more than jack-o-lanterns for Halloween or a flavoring in a latte. The
seeds can be roasted for a tasty snack, and the meat of the pumpkin can be used
for pumpkin pies and other delicious vitamin-packed treats.

Pumpkins are a great source of vitamins, said Candy Gabel, associate state
Extension specialist with Oklahoma State University Extension and statewide
coordinator of the Community Nutrition Education Program.

“Just 1 cup of pumpkin contains 245% of the Reference Daily Intake of
Vitamin A,” Gabel said. “In addition, pumpkin contains Vitamin C, Vitamin
B2 and Vitamin E, as well as minerals such as Potassium, Copper, Manganese
and Iron. It also is very high in Beta-Carotene, a carotenoid that our body turns
into Vitamin A.”

There are many ways to add this fall favorite into a healthy diet. Add
pumpkin to your favorite smoothie recipe or stir a spoonful or two of pumpkin
puree into a steaming bowl of oatmeal for a great-tasting breakfast. Top the
oatmeal with some cinnamon and toasted almonds for even more flavor. Whip
up this 30-minute pumpkin soup for a warm and tasty meal. For those who are
adventurous in the kitchen, add pumpkin to your favorite chili recipe.

“You can easily transform a common dish into something spectacular”, she
said. “Get your kids involved in the kitchen by trying some low-sugar options
of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin donuts and
pumpkin pancakes. Kids love to help in the kitchen and will be excited to try
these tasty treats.”

For many families, tradition runs deep when it comes to favorite holiday
foods. You still can stick with your family favorites but try surprising your
family with a new side dish this year. Consider a new super-food salad such as
roasted pumpkin and quinoa. Another option would be this tasty creamy maple
bacon pumpkin risotto.

Of course, dessert always is the part of the meal everyone looks forward to,
and this pumpkin cheese pie is a great option for cheesecake lovers. It has less
fat than a traditional cheesecake, but it packs a punch of flavor everyone is sure
to enjoy.

“While pumpkins do have their traditional role in this fall holiday season,
think outside of the box this year and add some exciting new flavors to your
dinner table”, Gabel said.


Blue Light has a Dark Side

What is blue light? The effect blue light has on your sleep and more.

Although it is environmentally friendly, blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease. Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted. But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body's biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

What is blue light?
Not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.


Light and sleep

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person's internal clock aligned with the environment.


Is nighttime light exposure bad?

Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. Even dim light can interfere with a person's circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don't get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Effects of blue light and sleep:

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).


In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they're not suitable for use indoors at night.


Protect yourself from blue light at night:

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light is less likely to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or
    installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your
    mood and alertness during daylight.



Meaning of Resilience / Having a Vision for Your Child

Help your child bounce back and have a bright future!

Divorce can be a traumatic experience for children. Children’s old routines and rituals have been disrupted and new routines and rituals must be created to help ease the transition for your child. As a parent, it’s important to be aware of your child’s emotions and how they are responding to these changes. Children respond differently to their parents’ divorce. You and your co-parent know your child best! Stay attuned to their needs and help them overcome the challenges they face. The trauma from divorce can
produce bad things for children, but you can help them overcome these challenges and be resilient by bouncing back and overcoming this difficulty.


What does resilience mean to you?

  • Speedy recovery
  • Bouncing back
  • Overcoming problems and challenges

There are things you can do to lessen the impact of divorce on your child to help them bounce back and have a bright future. However, there are also things you can do
that will cause your child to have a much more difficult time.


Keep in mind your vision for your child. Having a vision and setting goals will allow you to take control of your situation and lead you and your children on the path you desire. You can’t control your co-parent, but knowing where you are going will allow you to respond to some of the challenges you face and help you relate to your co-parent through this vision for your children.


Child success is predicted by how parents parent after the divorce. Stress from the divorce can often change the way you parent. Remember to use a balanced style of parenting which is high on emotional expression, love, and support for the child’s needs and best interests.


Establish new routines and rituals to help your child adjust to the divorce. Be there for your child when he or she needs to talk and let them externalize their emotions and feelings about the divorce. Although it may be hard to hear, allowing them to share what they are feeling is key to helping them bounce back and have a bright future.


Balanced parenting also involves firm but appropriate discipline and open conversations about why the child is being disciplined.


When parents use balanced parenting, children tend to be:

  • Respectful
  • Able to make their own decisions
  • Responsible
  • Secure
  • Confident
  • Generous
  • Happy

Need more help? We are here to help! Learn more about the Co-Parenting for Resilience Program, part of the Extension mission of Oklahoma State University's College of Human Sciences, Send an email to:


Why Memory Worsens as You Age, and 5 Things You Can Do About It

Ever been at a party and can't remember the name of the person you're talking to? Or find yourself tearing apart your house trying to find your keys? Your first thought may be, "What the heck is wrong with me?" and you might even jump to, "Could I be developing early Alzheimer's?" The good news is these sorts of memory glitches can
happen at any age, reassures Gary Small, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.


Here's a look at how memory declines with age, plus what you can do about it.


3 Causes of Age-Related Memory Loss

1. The Volume of Your Brain Shrinks
It's a dirty little secret that your memory naturally declines about 2 percent with each decade of life, which means your memory's worse at 30 than at 20. There is a scientific explanation: "It's due to the shrinking of your hippocampus, the part of your brain that stores memories,' says neurologist Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD.

2. Other Health Conditions Affect Memory
High blood pressure, especially in middle age, is associated with a higher risk of dementia later in life, according the American Heart Association. Untreated hypertension narrows and blocks arteries everywhere, including in your brain, Dr. Fotuhi explains. Elevated cholesterol is also toxic to your brain: It triggers the formation of amyloid-beta protein, a key player in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Other conditions, such as untreated sleep apnea or depression, can also hurt your brain. And get your hearing checked: September 2019 research shows a link between hearing loss and dementia.

3. Your Hormones Change
You may notice you're especially forgetful when you're pregnant, or in your 40s or 50s as you go through menopause. This is due to the temporary dip in estrogen, Dr. Small says. Once your hormones regulate, though, your memory should return to normal.


5 Ways to Support Your Memory as You Age

While some parts of age-related memory decline are outside of your control, there are a host of things you can do to help support a healthy memory into your golden years.
1. Break a Sweat: "A third of your brain is made up of blood vessels, so it should come as no surprise that there's a link between physical fitness and brain volume," Dr. Fotuhi says.

2. Limit Sitting: It's also important to avoid sitting too much during the day, even if you tend to be physically active.
3. Practice Mindfulness: Stress itself is toxic to brain cells: It kills them off and shrinks both the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, both areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
4. Dine Mediterranean-Style: The Mediterranean diet — which is loaded with fruits, veggies, healthy fats like olive oil and fish, as well as legumes and whole grains — offers heart-healthy benefits. But the Mediterranean way of eating also appears to benefit your brain, for many of the same reasons.

5. Get Enough Sleep: While you're sound asleep, your brain's busy strengthening connections between its cells, transferring info from your hippocampus (responsible for short-term memory) to your neocortex (responsible for long-term). "This process essentially shifts memories and skills to a more efficient brain region so they become
more stable and you can easily recall them, a process called memory consolidation," Dr. Small says. Sleep also allows your brain to clear out waste like beta-amyloid that raises Alzheimer's risk, Dr. Small adds. Practice good sleep habits, including going to bed and waking up around the same time each day and avoiding screens (like your phone or the TV) for a couple hours before bed. For the entire article.


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