Tag Archives: health

How to Avoid Getting Sick During Finals

It’s the last week of classes before finals and students’ schedules are filled to the max. With nights set aside to study and pump out final papers, the last thing someone needs the day before the big test is to wake up with a fever, sore throat and a bad case of the chills. If you want to avoid the risk of catching a cold, read a couple tips from San Francisco State University professors on how to stay healthy during finals.

Kinesiology lecturer Regula Dhehdi says the preparation for a healthy immune system during finals starts at the beginning of the semester.

“Students are more prone to falling sick at the end of semester because they are run down: not enough sleep, not eating healthy, not exercising, being physically active regularly, procrastination of finishing assignments at last moment, using caffeine, sugar, etc. to maintain attention span in class and for homework,” says Dhehdi. “All this causes stress to the body and mind, and has a negative effect on the body’s ability to protect from falling ill.”

Kinesiology professor Matt Lee says students should try to maintain their regular eating, sleeping and exercise habits, even when it is tempting to give up a couple hours of sleep for studying.

“Make time to eat healthy meals, breakfast included. Make time for exercise, and definitely get sufficient rest. This would hopefully allow the immune system to respond well to the stress that many students may experience,” says Lee.

Holistic Health assistant professor Richard Harvey agrees with both Dhehdi and Lee, and says that the rule students should live by, is eating healthy, well rounded meals, and avoid eating processed food.

“No, an energy drink and energy bar do not count as a meal. Instead use the 30-30-40 rule, where 30 percent of every meal has protein [such as tofu, eggs, cheese, lean meats], 30 precent has healthy oils and fats [such as olive and avocado oil], and 40 percent has healthy carbohydrates, [such as fruits and brown rice],” says Harvey.

In addition to eating well-balanced meals, Harvey says students should set aside time for 20 minutes of physical activity, from stretching to running, and also make time to catch a full night’s sleep.

Harvey says that if students want to wake up for finals feeling extra refreshed, they should reduce optic nerve stimulation.

“Practice turning off, as in powering down completely any electronic noise,” says Harvey.

In addition to eating right, getting sleep, and keeping physically active, the final step students should take to avoid sickness is avoiding stress.

According to an article by Psychology Today, cortisol, which is produced when one is stressed, is the number one factor to developing a weak immune system and chronic diseases. The article continues to say that chronic stress, which translates as stress carried day to day over the years, results in decreased resilience and mental illness, especially among young people.

In a 2008 study done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of college students reported that they frequently experience stress on a day to day basis.

An article by helpguide.org says that people can reduce stress by spending time in nature, playing with animals, taking a walk, and releasing any pent up emotion with close friends.

 

Bionic Boys and Girls

Nights are the worst; it is hard to sleep when you fear your child will never wake up. Disease does not sleep so, as a parent, you never fully sleep either. She wakes up every night, sometimes more than once, to check and see if her baby’s body is warm or if it has gone cold. She fears that as he grows and begins to live his own life, she will not be able to look after him the way she does when he is in the next room.

Day after day, she watches him draw blood. Any parent hates to see their child get a cut and start bleeding. But her, she has to watch her son prick and poke himself in order to survive.

She used to wince at the site of a needle; the thought of it entering skin to do its job, whatever it may be. Needles represented pain, they represented illness and they still do. But now, she loves needles, they have saved her son’s life on a daily basis since the day he was diagnosed.

She is the mother of a child with type 1 diabetes.

“I am responsible for keeping my son’s body functioning,” says Michelle Botchman. “If I mess up, my mess up could result in his death. I keep hoping for a cure, I keep hoping for something that will help put my mind at ease.”

After experiences and thoughts much like this mothers, Edward Damiano, PhD, along with other colleagues, have developed a revolutionary bionic pancreas. It will not cure type 1 diabetes, however, it will make living with the disease significantly easier until a cure is found.

Diabetes is a balancing act – in a normal body, the pancreas produces insulin that converts food into energy that fuels us. In a diabetic body, the pancreas does not produce insulin. So the Diabetic must prick their finger in order to test his or her blood, figure out their blood glucose levels, then the take necessary steps to keep their numbers within a safe range.

High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis—when the body breaks down fat instead of glucose and produces and releases something called ketones into the bloodstream or dehydration. Long-term effects of high numbers include loss of circulation leading to amputations and vision problems. Low levels (hypoglycemia) can lead to diabetic coma.

In a book called Living with Diabetes, it was described like this: “imagine yourself walking on a tightrope with a teaspoon balanced on the tip of your nose. Sugar is falling from the sky like rain. One of your arms is exercising feverishly, the other is feeding you carbohydrates. And all the while the audience is testing your balancing skills by throwing stress balls at your head. And all you have to do is keep that teaspoon of sugar from overflowing or spilling out. Every minute. Of every day.” This is the struggle that those living with type 1 diabetes face daily. That is, unless you have the bionic pancreas to do the balancing for you.

Most individuals living with T1D are on the pump, meaning that rather than giving themselves shots of insulin whenever their blood sugar is high or whenever they eat, they wear a pump that is inserted into the skin via cannula and remains to administer inulin into the blood stream.

The pump looks like a pager or small cell phone and is held in a “fanny-pack” that is worn around the waist with the needle injection site most commonly on the stomach or buttocks. The pump is not easy to hide and is not as cute as a watch or pair of earrings.

With the pump, you must figure out approximately how many carbohydrates you will be eating and plug that number in so the pump can inject the correct amount of insulin. The pump does not think on its own; if you put in the wrong numbers or forget to plug in the numbers, you run the risk of a blood level spike or fall.

“I’m not completely sold on the bionic pancreas,” says Meredith Speece, whose four-year-old son has type 1 diabetes. “I don’t know much about it but until they find a cure that will no longer be visible and screaming ‘I have diabetes’, I don’t know how groundbreaking it can actually be.”

The beauty about the bionic pancreas is that, unlike the pump, it has a mind of its own. It may not be easy on the eyes but it is easy on the brain. According to the makers of the bionic pancreas, it measures interstitial fluid glucose every five minutes and injects the correct amount of whatever is needed. The splendor is in the worry free lifestyle will provide.

“My biggest fear is that my son is going to drop low in the night and not wake up,” says Molly Dickerson whose eight-year-old son has diabetes. “My hope is that the bionic pancreas will stabilize blood sugar levels so I can sleep more soundly. I also dream of the freedom and normalcy my son may one day get to experience.”

Here is a more in depth break down of how it works according to those who have constructed it:
1. The Dexcom G4 Platinum Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) measures interstitial fluid glucose every five minutes as an estimation of blood glucose. A glucose sensor is inserted into the body using an automated injector. A transmitter is then attached to enable transmission of glucose data wirelessly to the Dexcom receiver.
2. The iPhone streams the glucose data from the CGM every five minutes and uses a mathematical algorithm to determine the appropriate dosing response. That means the Bionic Pancreas makes two hundred eighty-eight dosing decisions per day, seven days per week, three hundred sixty-five days per year. The iPhone is connected by cable to the Dexcom G4 receiver and runs a custom app that acts upon the glucose data by computing how much insulin or glucagon to deliver every five minutes. The app then sends these dosing instructions via Bluetooth to two pumps.
3. The two Tandem t:slim pumps, one filled with insulin and the other with glucagon, receive dosing instructions from the iPhone every five minutes via Bluetooth. The doses of these two hormones are used to regulate blood glucose. The pumps deliver the insulin and glucagon doses subcutaneously through separate infusion sets.

Basically, while a diabetic child who is wearing the bionic pancreas is playing in a soccer game, his or her blood glucose levels will be checked every five minutes and maintained at a healthy level without him or her ever having to stop running around. On the other hand, a child with diabetes who does not have a bionic pancreas would have to stop frequently throughout the game to test him or herself to make sure blood levels are in a healthy range.

The concept of the bionic pancreas is remarkable and the fact that it is becoming real is even more amazing – but there are a few very serious drawbacks to it. Because you are not personally testing your blood often, you are relying solely on technology. Should that technology break without the wearer knowing, it could be life threatening. Another drawback is that rather than having one injection site with the pump, you now have three needles or cannulas stuck into you to stay for seven days before it needs to be changed.

Those who have done the clinical trials love the bionic pancreas. It has gotten great reviews and some say they went through a state of depression after having to give it back and return to their pump or other forms of medication. Once you remember the carefree lifestyle where you do not have to wake up in the middle of the night to test yourself or you don’t have to resist indulging in desserts, it is hard to go back.

A team of biomedical engineers at Boston University and a medical team at Massachusetts General Hospital who have been working on the bionic pancreas are making strides toward perfecting it. They hope to have the device through clinical trials and available to the public by 2017. Until then, it is finger pricks, math at each meal, and stressful number balancing for those living with and around type 1 diabetes.

Pressures of Gastric Proportions

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Paige Harris, psychology major, poses for a photo with a mannequin. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

When you turn eighteen, there are a lot of things going through your mind. You are probably receiving college acceptance letters in the mail, celebrating that you are no longer in high school, finally being able to vote because you are old enough, and thinking you are pretty badass because you are technically an adult.

What is probably not going through your mind is that now you are finally of age to get the weight loss surgery you have been longing for.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the percentage of obese adolescents in the United States between the ages of twelve and nineteen increased from five percent in 1980 to eighteen percent in 2010.

“I wanted to feel glamorous,” says Paige Harris. “I am into body modifying and I wanted to lose weight, so I felt it was a good combination.” Harris was introduced to the idea of weight loss surgery at the age of eighteen when her doctor mentioned it to her. On top of wanting to fit the image of what glamorous was, Harris was also facing health issues, such as not breathing properly, sleep apnea, and back pains.

“I was getting so big,” says Harris. “I was having health issues and at my biggest I was three hundred twenty-three [pounds].

There are four options when it comes to having weight loss surgery. The first being Gastric Bypass, also known as Rouz-en-Y gastric bypass, which leaves you with only a small part of your stomach that does not hold a lot of food, causing you to eat less. The food bypasses the rest of your stomach, going straight from the pouch to your small intestine. Gastric Band is another option, which puts a small band around the top of your stomach. The band has a small balloon inside of it that controls how tight or loose it is and limits how much food can go into your stomach. Next, there is the Gastric Sleeve, which removes most of the stomach and leaves only a narrow section of the upper part of the stomach, called the gastric sleeve. This surgery can help curb the hunger hormone ghrelin, causing you to eat less. Last is the more complicated surgery out of the bunch – the Duodenal Switch. This removes most of your stomach and uses a gastric sleeve to bypass most of your small intestine, limiting how much food you can eat.

In 2009, about two-hundred twenty thousand people had weight-loss surgery, two percent of them being young adults under the age of twenty-one, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Currently, the law requires young adults to be eighteen in order to get weight loss surgery unless greater health issues are present. Allergan, who is the maker of Lap-Band, is seeking permission from the Food and Drug Administration to market to patients as young as fourteen, according to the New York Times.

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Harris poses with a Barbie. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

On October 8th, two years after Harris was introduced to the idea of weight loss surgery, she went in for her own gastric sleeve procedure.

“[Before the surgery] I had to reach a goal weight and get my health cleared,” says Harris. “The hardest part for me was passing the psychological exam.”

Before Harris was allowed to have her surgery, she needed to meet the two-hundred and ninety pound goal weight. In order to achieve this, Harris says that she did it in a fashion that her doctors’ probably would not approve of. Using a mixture of diet pills, exercise, and a strict food diet, Harris was able to get down to two-hundred and eighty-one pounds.

In 2007, Emrah Mevsimler made history by becoming the youngest person in United Kingdom to get the gastric band surgery at the age of thirteen. Mevsimler told the Daily Mail that he wished it [gastric band] was out of him, saying he had been through hell with it and that every doctor should refuse to do the surgery on anyone under the age of eighteen. He added that this was not the answer to curing an overweight child.

“I think it’s pretty extreme to change the anatomy of a child when you haven’t even tackled the other elements,” says Dr. Wendy M. Scinta, a family practitioner in Manlius,New York, who specializes in pediatric weight loss, told the New York Times.

 Harris shows her scar. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Harris shows her scar. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Even though Harris has lost eleven pounds since her surgery in October, she has also had complications. Harris says that she usually gets sick after eating and going to the bathroom is a challenge. On top of that, Harris suffered a bruised muscle under one of her incisions, keeping her in constant pain.

Complications from weight loss surgery can include bleeding, infection, and blood clots but these are only short-term. Long-term issues are the main problem, including something called “dumping syndrome” which causes food to move to quickly through the small intestine causing people to feel nauseous, weakness, faintness, and have diarrhea after eating. On top of that, since recipients of weight loss surgery eat such little amounts of food, they need to stay on a strict vitamin ritual to insure they will not be malnourished.

One famous incident of weight loss surgery complications gone wrong came when Al Roker, who had gastic bypass surgery, soiled himself during a White House visit in 2002. Roker explained that he thought he was safe after having the surgery, but he ate something he was not suppose to and, while walking alone, he decided to pass some gas when something more came out. He had to ditch his underwear and go commando during his White House visit, acknowledging that he did not massively soil himself, but enough to where he knew. This incident is known in the medical world as “dumping syndrome,” which is common after weight loss surgery.

Harris explained that part of the reason she decided to get the surgery was because of pressure from her mother. Emotionally, Harris is also having issues. Since high school she has been battling bipolar disorder. Between having the effects her surgery has over what she can eat and her emotional state, Harris is not sure what to do since she cannot emotional eat like she is used to.

“She had the surgery and wanted me to have the fun she was having being thin,” says Harris. “I can’t eat my feelings without getting sick, so now I am trying to find other outlets.”

Harris says that she got the sleeve because of the better absorption of medicine it allowed. At the last moment, Harris found evidence saying that had been refuted and both weight loss surgeries allowed the same amount of absorption of medication.

“Had I known sooner, I would have got the gastric bypass,” Harri says. “You supposedly lose more weight because along with the amount of food you can eat being restricted, the amount of calories you absore is also restricted.”

Harris explains that to this day, whenever she eats food, it feels like she is eating rocks. Her stomach always feels heavy and she is never completely happy with the food she eats. She also says that she thought she would have lost more weight at this point in time but knows that sometimes it can take a while to happen.

Harris added that if she even thought about regretting her decision, she would drive herself crazy. Although her decision was a tough one to make, Harris has lost weight even with the bumpy road she is facing.

Healthy food for the broke college student

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers are running out, and we are returning to our normal routines of school, work, and (if you are like me) a very small budget for food, it is time for the college student’s guide to eating healthy.
This guide will be giving cheap and easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a normal weekday.

Omelet made with turkey bacon, kale, onions, grape tomatoes, and goat cheese. (Calla Camero/ Xpress Magazine)
Omelet made with turkey bacon, kale, (Calla Camero/ Xpress Magazine)

Breakfast: Greens omelet with turkey bacon.This breakfast will only require about twenty minutes of your morning (I know this sounds like a lot for a school day but trust me, it is worth a good meal). I do everything by eye – I never use a measuring cup because I am just not that technical. Again, this is not a chef’s guide to great culinary meals, it is a college student’s guide to eating well with pocket change.

Ingredients:

  • Cage-Free Dozen Eggs: Trader Joe’s, $2.49
    Organic Baby Kale: Trader Joe’s, $1.99
    Yellow Onion: Trader Joe’s, $0.69
    Grape Tomatoes (Sold by the pint): Trader Joe’s, $0.99
    Crumbled Goat Cheese: Trader Joe’s, $2.49
    Turkey Bacon: Trader Joe’s, 8 oz for $2.99 or Costco, 1 pack of 4 12 oz for $10.11
    Directions:
    Start frying two or three slices of turkey bacon, however much you prefer.
    For one person, only two eggs are required for this. Crack the eggs into a bowl, stir them until yellow. Pour into a pan with medium heat.
    Use half a handful of kale and half a handful of arugula and sprinkle onto entire surface of eggs.
    You will only use about two small slices of a yellow onion. Chop the two slices into little squares and scatter onto entire surface of eggs. Meanwhile, flip your turkey bacon to the other side if it is nice and crispy.
    Use half a handful of grape tomatoes and chop as small as preferred. Scatter onto entire surface of eggs.
    Stir the eggs up to avoid the bottom getting burned.
    Finally, pour the crumbled goat cheese on the entire omelet. At this time, your turkey bacon should be ready.

Voila ! A $10 breakfast (with extra ingredients for five more breakfasts) in twenty minutes.

Turkey pesto wrap with miso soup. (Calla Camero/ Xpress Magazine)
Spinach turkey pesto wrap made with basil leaves, provolone cheese, and grape tomatoes. Served with a side of miso soup. (Calla Camero/ Xpress Magazine)

Lunch: Turkey pesto wrap with miso soup. If you have classes or work, this lunch will require you to prepare it the night before and pack it. It tastes good cold, but you can microwave it the next day to eat it warm! The soup will require hot water.

Ingredients:

  • Colombus Low Sodium Turkey Breast: Trader Joe’s, 8 oz for $4.79
    Spinach Wrap: Costco, 10 for $3.60
    Basil Leaves: Trader Joe’s, 2.5 oz for $2.99
    Baby Spinach: Trader Joe’s, 6 oz for $2.49
    Grape Tomatoes (Sold by the pint): Trader Joe’s, $0.99
    Provolone Cheese: Trader Joe’s, $ 4.79
    Miso Soup: Trader Joe’s, $ 3.29
    Directions:
    This meal will only take you about 10 minutes to prepare. Depending on how much you eat, one or two wraps will suffice for this meal.
    Take the spinach wrap and warm it in a pan until soft, then take lay it on a plate.
    Take 4-6 slices of the turkey breast and lay it on the spinach wrap.
    Take one slice of provolone cheese and lay it on the turkey.
    Grab a small handful of the baby spinach and scatter over the wrap.
    Use about three basil leaves and using your fingers, shred into small pieces over surface of wrap.
    Chop about six grape tomatoes in half and spread onto surface of wrap.
    Extra: A little bit of sriracha gives the wrap a good, spicy flavor.
    Then, heat up water using a microwave or tea pot. When hot, pour miso base into water and stir.

And huzzah!

Rosemary baked chicken with apple couscous, kale, and mushrooms. (Calla Camero/ Xpress Magazine)
Rosemary baked chicken with apple couscous, kale, and mushrooms. (Calla Camero/ Xpress Magazine)

Dinner: Rosemary baked chicken with apple couscous and roasted veggies. This will take the longest out of all the recipes, about forty minutes. It is crazy easy to make, even though the name sounds like it is a meal from Top Chef.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Free Range Chicken Drumsticks: Trader Joe’s, $1.99 per pound
    Israeli Couscous: Trader Joe’s, 16 oz for $1.99
    Organic Green Apple: Trader Joe’s, $0.79 each
    Asparagus: Trader Joe’s, 12 oz for $3.29
    Organic Baby Kale: Trader Joe’s, $1.99
    White Button Mushrooms: Trader Joe’s, 8 oz for $1.99
    Rosemary: Trader Joe’s, .75 oz for $1.79
    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees and get out two pyrex pans or any type of baking pans will do.
    For one person, two drumsticks will do.
    Start preparing chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
    Pour olive oil onto baking pan for a second or two and place chicken onto pan.
    Salt and pepper all sides of chicken, and do the same with rosemary. Until the chicken is nice and covered.
    Pour olive oil onto next pan for the vegetables.
    Grab six or seven pieces of asparagus and a half a handful of baby kale.
    The only vegetables that need to be cut are the mushrooms. Use about 4 mushrooms and cut into thin slices.
    Scatter vegetables onto the pan and make sure they are as spread out as possible.
    I like to use garlic salt for the vegetables, but regular salt will also do. Salt and pepper your vegetables as much as preferred and then scatter rosemary over them.
    Pour olive oil over top surface of vegetables so that the top is nice and wet.
    By this time, the oven should be ready. Place chicken in but NOT vegetables and set the timer on the oven for 15 minutes.
    In a 2 quart saucepan, saute 1⅓ cups of couscous with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until the couscous is lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Slowly add about 1¾ of boiling water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let the couscous simmer until the liquid is absorbed.
    Chop one green apple into small bite-sized pieces and once the couscous has absorbed all the liquid, stir apples with couscous until lightly brown.
    Once brown, put salt, pepper, and rosemary into couscous. Then turn stove off.
    At this time the timer should be done or almost done, put vegetables in oven. Then flip the chickens to their other sides.
    Reset timer to 15 minutes.
    When the timer is done, both the chicken and vegetables should be done. But always check the chicken before you take it out. Use a knife to cut one of them until you hit bone and make sure the chicken is NOT pink or bloody. Like my mother says, if it is white it is done.

Whoever said you cannot get good food for cheap needs a new definition of good food.

Effect of Caffeine overload and addiction

Caffeine and college students are two nouns that are often associated with one another. During midterms and finals, ordering the extra cup of French Roast or nursing another mug of Earl Grey in order to get your caffeine fix is a given. But can too much caffeine produce negative affects?

Unfortunately, yes. The “Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” added “Caffeine Intoxication” to the list of disorders in its newest addition.

Symptoms of coffee intoxication include rapid irregular heartbeat, restlessness, the jitters, nervousness, stomach cramps, and muscle twitching according to the Huffington Post article “DSM-5 And Caffeine Intoxication: Could Coffee Drinking Brew a Mental Disorder”.

Too much caffeine also produces the heightening of the body’s stress response, and the interference of the body’s awareness of stress levels, according to a 2002 study from Duke Medicine.

The effect of caffeine intake and the gauge of how much caffeine is too much depends on a person’s sex and size, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2007 report. Some doctors suggest that one hundred or two hundred milligrams of caffeine, which converts to two five ounces cups of coffee, is a healthy dose of caffeine, according to the report.

While uncomfortable and inconvenient effects to your body stem from caffeine intoxication, the likeliness of sever health effects or fatally is extremely low.

In the Wall Street Journal article, “How Much Caffeine is Too Much?” fatalities caused by too much caffeine would require an intake of over fourteen thousand milligrams of coffee, which equals one hundred and forty cups eight ounce cups in one day.

Caffeine addiction is also related to caffeine intoxication, according to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Lack of awareness, fatigued muscles, and intense headaches are some of the symptoms from caffeine withdrawals.

Cafe employees at SF State said there is a noticeable fluctuation of students ordering caffeinated drinks during midterms.

“Definitely during midterms we notice a lot of coffee and red bull orders,” says Cafe Rosso employee and child development majorJill Shiraki.

Shiraki, who has been employed at Caffe Rosso for two and a half years, says the students will order coffee two to three times during midterms, but the caffeinated drink with the highest rise in sales are energy drinks

“Red Bull is the top seller during midterms,” Shiraki says.

Michelle Parker, recreation parks and tourism major and five month employee at Cafe 101, says the amount of coffee order doubles during midterms.

“We’re twice as busy during midterms. You see repeat people more often, and they’ll say stuff like, ‘Midterms man, this paper is crazy!’ ”

Peets employee Jesse Reynaga says both the amount of customers and customer moods change once midterms begin.

“It’s very busy, we get a lot of angry customers,” Reynaga says.

Coffee and caffeine intake can be beneficial if, like all things, you consume it in moderation.  Drinking a sixteen ounce cup of coffee, equivalent to the size medium or grande, not only keeps you from dozing off while writing a paper of sitting in class, but it also prevents Alzheimers and diabetes, according to this Huffington Post article.

Instead of backfiring yourself by overdosing with too much caffeine, and becoming too distracted to study because of shakiness, stomach cramps or anxiety, limit the caffeine intake to under six hundred milligrams a day, according to the FDA report, which equals to either three lattes, nine Coca Colas, and seven cups of tea.

You’ll be fit, just watch

Laura Devine runs on the track wearing her Fitbit Thursday September 25, 2014. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Laura Devine runs on the track wearing her Fitbit Thursday September 25, 2014. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Apple’s watch is coming, and soon we will all be fit.

Of course, that is exaggerating. Not everyone will buy the new watch and magically be more fit. But people are interested in this marriage of tech and fitness. So interested, it is now a $330 million dollar industry. The new Apple product, set to be on the market in early 2015, will work as an extension to the iPhone. From the watch, users can view the information they already monitor daily, like messages, events, maps, and email – all from their wrist. It might not sound much different other smartwatches, like the Pebble, but this data will also include statistics we are not exactly used to seeing on the same screen as our text messages.

The watch will come in two sizes, 1.4 inches by 1.6 inches, and 1.2 inches by 1.5 inches. It will be available in stainless steel, aluminum – even gold. The bands come in a few varieties as well, including a sports style and leather. A digital “crown,” or knob, located on the side of the watch will be the main control feature, allowing users to switch through texts, events, and maps by turning or pressing it down.

The band tracks movement, heart rate, minutes spent standing instead of sitting, and even calories burned. And if it did not have your heart before, it does now. It also allows users a more intimate type of communication by the ability to feel a friend’s live heartbeat on their own watch.

Other companies have already capitalized on this type of data collection. Fitbit’s bands inform users of steps taken, calories burned, level of activity throughout the day, and even their sleep cycle. The company’s most basic trackers starts at $60 and cap at $100 for the most comprehensive tracker that also monitors sleep cycles. Jawbone’s wristband called “UP” does all of the same things and can even work with a third-party application to give users “nudges” throughout the day when it senses they are close to a goal.

Misfit released one of the most affordable activity trackers yet this past September. Like UP and Fitbit, Misfit’s wristband, called “Flash,” also tracks calories, distance, and sleep, but for only $50.

SF State senior Laura Devine jogs and lifts weights about five days out of the week. She bought a Fitbit Flex in June because it seemed to suit her lifestyle.

“I’m one of those people who’s very aware of what they’re eating and their fitness,” she says. “And it seemed appealing. It tracks steps, distance. It helps you set up goals, it tracks your sleep.”

But the real value of the band is in the data aggregation. Devine views all of her up-to- date fitness statistics from her computer. It is easy and interesting to view, she says.

Her Fitbit Flex has also revealed things about herself she never thought about before. “I don’t think people realize how much time we spend sitting around doing nothing,” she says. “ It allows you to see, ‘Oh, wow, I was a bum that day.’ Fitbit is this reminder to get up and get moving, and it congratulates you when you do.”

Though innovative and comprehensive, Apple Watch is a bit late to the game. Rather than jumping in and quickly producing any type of band just to compete, the company planted its feet and waited. So, in typical Apple fashion, when the product is released next year, it will be inclusive and likely done right. And in January, many will probably line up at the doors for the watch because of the name behind it and quality guarantee they expect. Others will clamor for the product because of its non-fitness-related features, like reading texts and getting directions.

 

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But some will buy this for another reason: they now believe that their health – like finances and messages – is important and easy enough to monitor daily. This could be the starting point of a mass culture shift.

MobiHealthNews reported the fitness device market to be worth $330 million at the end of 2013. And research suggests it will reach $2 billion worldwide by 2018, according to the same report.

Wearable fitness technology could seriously change how we maintain our health. Instead of asking the doctor how you are doing, you will be able to see for yourself – and you will know the specifics. You will know that three days out of the week, you sit most of the day, and on those same days, your level of brisk activity hits an all-time low.

The purpose of these gadgets is to get people moving, but the strategy is upfront and personal. For the first time ever, people are seeing proof of what they did or did not do that day. They can see how much time they spent sitting at a desk or in front of a television. These customized, real-time updates are appealing to many, the numbers show.

It is impossible to gauge the positive long-term effects in health so early in the game. But recent data from Fitbit showed that its users increased their number of steps taken in a day by 43 percent on average since they began using the devices.

The trend is making waves in the business world as well.

Derek Newell, Chief Executive Officer of JIFF, a technology firm that provides digital health tools to companies, has seen an improvement. Speaking at a consumer electronics show earlier this year, he says that digital technology has improved employee wellness programs and lowered the cost of the company’s overall investment. He attributes this to the active, “real-time” nature of the applications.

But not everyone is excited about this high-tech form of fitness tracking. Freshman Martin K. does weight lifting a few times a week and he is hesitant to use wearable fitness trackers.

“I’m just not used to it,” he says. “It’s sort of new, and it takes time for someone to adopt it. I don’t feel comfortable wearing something like that when I work out. I don’t think I would find it useful.”

So not everyone is won over, and will sink $50 or more into a gadget simply because it is the next “it thing.” Still, the industry is steadily growing.

But with a company like Apple endorsing wearable fitness tech, it does not sound so crazy to say this trend could change things – in health and in healthcare.

James Milligan, community manager at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, says if the devices can do what they are intended to do, he expects a reduction in healthcare bills. But wearables are not the only a piece of the puzzle.

As of now, the watch is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but that could change if lots of consumers with serious health conditions begin to depend on the watch for aid.

“Anything that gets people moving, like a Fitbit is a great idea,” Milligan says. “Whether it will reduce healthcare costs in the future… I presume it will if people can invest in healthy eating and active living.”

So Apple’s watch is coming early next year. We will be able to send our heartbeats to other users, we will be able to view our distance walked, and we will be able to see the number of times we stood up in the day.

But the milestone is bigger than Apple’s next “it” product. We will soon monitor our health as easily as we do our text messages.

Survey: How much caffeine do you consume?

A cup of coffee beans.  Photo under  Creative Commons by Asher Isbrucker
A cup of coffee beans. Photo under Creative Commons by Asher Isbrucker

Midterms are in full swing here at SF State, and as usual, students are stressed and sleep-deprived. With late night study sessions at the library, and overlapping assignments and projects, it is hard to catch a decent amount of sleep. The urgency to grab a small, flat latte with an extra shot, to stay awake during a long night of cramming is on.

According to a 2007 report by the Food and Drug Administration, 80 percent of adults in the U.S. consume caffeine on a daily basis. Adults, on average, intake 200 mg of caffeine, or two 5 oz cups of coffee.

Too much caffeine can affect your health. Mayo Clinic researchers found that having 500 to 600 mg a day can cause problems like insomnia, muscle tremors, and upset stomach.

How much caffeine do you consume? Does that number increase during midterms and finals?

Take this survey and let us know!

 

Happy Safe Sex-ing, SF State

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Photo under Creative Commons by Nate Grigg

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”

 

Coach Carr instilling fear in the teenagers of America in 2004’s Mean Girls is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a sex education class. But SF State’s Minor in Sexuality Studies takes a different approach when teaching students about intimate relationships, reproduction, and the moral contexts of sex and love.

Megan Stoeckel, a senior at SF State enrolled in a sexuality course to fulfill her segment three requirement. She also learned about various methods of birth control. Before taking sex education classes, she says she pretty much only knew about the pill and condoms as effective methods of birth control; now, she is educated in over twenty different methods to combat unwanted pregnancy.

“Ivy Chen is the best teacher I’ve ever had; You learn and write about things that are applicable to your own sex life,” says Stoeckel about her Contemporary Sexuality course.

When thinking about what the best methods of birth control, it is important to remember that one size does not fill all.

This article will be covering just a few methods to combat unwanted pregnancy.

 

Contraceptive Sponge

The greatest thing about the sponge is that you can buy a pack of three at your local Wal-Mart for only $9.96. The foam sponge is small, soft, and shaped like Trish’s Mini Donuts from Fisherman’s Wharf. It is inserted straight into the vagina along the back wall against the cervix, acting as a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. This method will only work against pregnancy for twenty four hours and must be left inside of the vagina for at least six hours after intercourse. There is a chance that the sponge may tear during use, leading to a messy clean up as you fish all the pieces out. Anywhere from 9 percent to 24 percent of woman using this method alone will become pregnant each year.

Pullout Method

A craze seemingly-perfect for college students who are pinching pennies, this method is absolutely free. If you are worried about pre-ejaculation leading to an unwanted pregnancy, the most recent study found that about one-third of the pre-cum samples collected from men contained live sperm. So, if it is a risk you are willing to take, I suggest using apps like Glow and Clue to track you, or your partner’s, menstrual cycle, which will notify you when you, or your partner, are most fertile. Using a condom during these dates can help reduce possible pregnancies when relying on the pullout method.

Vasaigel – Male Birth Control (coming soon)

If human trials run smoothly, a reversible form of male birth control may be here by 2017. Vasaigel will enter the male body through an injection straight into the vas deferences, the tube transfers sperm in anticipation of ejaculation, thus blocking sperm from flowing freely through the urethra. So far, this method has been tested on three baboons and had a whopping success rate; after six months of frequent action with ten to fifteen female baboons, none of them have gotten pregnant. Cameron Shubb, an SF State senior says about the male birth control, “I would certainly use it after it was approved. I feel male birth control takes pressure off women, God knows you all go through a lot, I just try to avoid needles unless I really need them.”

Female Condom

The first time I saw a female condom was three years ago, freshman year, when I got my first brown paper bag full of goodies from the SF State Health Center. In the midst of multi-colored condoms and lubricant was an oversized white package with a hot pink Venus symbol stamped on the front. Confused, I opened up the package and found a large plastic pouch with two rings at each end. To use a female condom, one end is to be inserted into the vagina while the other ring remains outside. Sure it may look unattractive, but unlike many of the other methods, female condoms work against preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Male Condom

Male condoms are one of the few ways that not only prevent unwanted pregnancy but also work against dangerous sexually transmitted diseases. The list goes on and on from working against gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV. Free condoms, both latex and non-latex, can be found in the Educational & Referral Organization of Sexuality Center in Cesar Chavez and at the SF State Health Center. If you are up for a treat, a variety of condoms can be found at San Francisco’s Good Vibrations, a sex based shop that carries vegan, studded and glow in the dark condoms. Prices vary from $0.30 to $2.50 per condom.

The Pill 

The pill is a hormone based oral contraceptive that alters your body’s ability to get pregnant. This is done by attacking your body with extra hormones which in turn keeps the female eggs from leaving the ovaries and also by thickening the cervical mucus, preventing sperm from traveling through freely. One of the major problems with this method is remembering to take it daily, which can be a struggle for the busy college student. The myPill app, available in the Apple App Store, promises to make sure you will never miss a pill ever again by sending reminders.

 

There are a wide variety of contraceptive options out there and it is safe to say there is an option for everyone, even if it takes some experimenting. And the best part – there are plenty of places on campus to help you find what suits you best.

 

The SF State Health Center offers a drop-in birth control clinic where you can quickly refill your prescription on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The center offers along with various informational sessions throughout the year.

By joining Family PACT students can also receive free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Joining the government program is free for Californians and all birth control options, both for men and woman, are provided at no cost. Their offices at located in side the SF State Student Health Center.

The EROS center, located in the Cesar Chavez Student Center M-109, offers safe sex materials including: condoms, dental dams, lubricants and latex gloves. EROS also offers educational events throughout the year. Their next sex education event, P Spot, will highlight how pleasurable prostate stimulation can be. Charlie Glickman, author of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure will be speaking at the event. It will be held on October 8th in the Rosa Parks A-C Student Center at 2:30 p.m.

If all else fails, it is good to know that SF State has an early care and education center where you can drop off your infant while you continue to pursue your education.

Take this survey so we can find out the most popular birth control methods at SF State!

Farm Fresh To Go

Words & Photos: Kelly Leslie

The sun has yet to awaken, but a sea of residents from the Bernal Heights neighborhood flood Alemany Boulevard farmers’ market with empty produce baskets, determined to find the best bang for their buck, until they overflow.

Conscious of the current economic downturn that has haunted our country for nearly five years, students have become intensely aware of the cost of food, all while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid packing on the feared “freshmen fifteen.” The question that arises among many new shoppers is whether farmers’ markets are more or less expensive than chain stores like Safeway and Trader Joe’s, and even if you save money, do you sacrifice the quality of food when forced to buy in bulk quantities at large chains?

Regardless of their looks, the clerks at Whole Foods don’t have a say in the price of food. Even the ones with waist-long dreadlocks, plugs, and full-sleeve tattoos aren’t going to negotiate with you. But what about the Hells Angel-looking farmer-dude who stands in the setting sun with his pick-up bed still half full of produce aging in the twilight? Will he be willing to make a deal with you? Will he be receptive to your suggestion of fifty percent off in order to sell out for the day? Are you bold enough to bargain with him?

Venturing through the many markets scattered throughout San Francisco can answer some, if not all of these questions, but there are a few things students should take into consideration while doing their research. Just because an item at the farmers’ market isn’t certified organic, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t organically grown. The ambiance itself, oh so very European, may be what adds the quality of life in urban food-gathering culture. Price varies from farm to farm, and may change based on the time of day. Fruit and vegetable costs may follow the sun downward.

Another thought: Students may also want to note whether they can get everything they need and want at a farmers’ market. Can you purchase just one apple or do you have to buy a bushel? If you’re looking for packaged foods such as Kettle chips or dairy products, you might need to make a trip to the store like it or not.

At the corner of Alemany Boulevard and Tompkins Avenue, giant yellow and white commercial trucks, overflowing with crates filled with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, crowd the perimeter of the market. Drivers carefully, but quickly, navigate their way through to find the nearest spot in the lot. The brisk air is filled with the incessant chatter of half-awake shoppers who eagerly await the week’s best finds.

“These carrots won the very highly looked-upon, Best Carrots of the Market award,” announces a worker at the Tomatero Farm booth proudly, as she hurries to arrange them in time for shoppers to take their pick. The bright orange carrots with long green, leafy stems are by far the largest at the market, and are guaranteed organically grown.

 

A few feet down the walkway a tall man with a full beard that covers the entire front of his neck, offers samples to passersby. Not quite green, but not quite red grapes are piled high on a table behind him.

“You have to taste these grapes,” he says. The sweet, juicy flavor that comes out of them is shocking compared to their dull, greenish-brown color. Everything at the market is fresh. “You’ve really got to taste [them],” announces a shopper as he walks by.

A farmer across the way draws attention to what looks like the world’s largest avocados.

“One bowl for eight dollars! This is a great deal,” he says. The table in front of him displays dozens of rich green, grapefruit-sized avocados. There are two in a bowl. “These would be great for making guacamole,” says a nearby shopper who is unable to resist.

Granny Smith Apples in Bernal Heights are two dollars a pound, while over in Parkside they are one dollar and twenty-nine cents a pound. At Trader Joe’s they are often marked seventy-nine cents each (so two dollars and thirty-seven cents per pound) and although not organic at

Safeway, you still pay one dollar and seventy-nine cents for a pound.

The sun has finally made its appearance and begins to warm the crowd as it rises higher in the sky. An eager young shopper, dressed in a striped shirt, jeans and flip-flop sandals, is excited to find fresh ginger. He announces that he has never seen it priced so low before. The farmer quickly erases the chalkboard, increasing the price before anyone notices.

“I must have it priced too low,” he says.

Aside from the farmers who hastily arrange produce, change prices, and tend to customers, no one else seems to be in a hurry. Everyone is friendly and smiling here. Dressed in a light blue tank top and jeans with her hair tied in a ponytail, Amrita Emily Rumberger, a w

orker at the Bluehouse Farm booth, looks up and smiles.

“Farmers’ markets guarantee access to amazing quality produce, and it’s affordable,” she says. “The best part is the personal service,” chimed in her co-work

er, Andy Mullin, eager to strike up conversation.

Simone Shifnadel, owner of Zenbelly catering in San Francisco, enjoys being able to speak with farmers face-to-face and ask exactly what was used to grow the produce she buys.

“I noticed that the food at farmers’ markets is just so much more beautiful,” she says. Shifnadel buys all of her produce from the Stonestown farmers’ market, weekly. “[It’s] better because it’s fresher,” she adds. “Sometimes I forget about lettuce I bought at the market and it is still fresh a week later.”

Sunday afternoon, the Parkside neighborhood is in state of what seems to be a torrential downpour, but the red and white sign still points toward the farmers’ market in the parking lot at Stonestown Galleria.

“Farmers’ market today!” is written in giant red letters. White tents line the walkways as farmers and shoppers huddle inside to negotiate prices. It’s later in the day and farmers are offering up deals.

“I see you every week,” says a farmer to a middle-aged woman who scours the selection of iceberg lettuce for the best head for sell. “I’ll throw in some kale for free.”

It’s this community element that draws some people to the market. For others, it’s about being aware of what’s going into the body.

There is only one way to be sure of what you are eating, according to Shifnadel. “It’s simple,” she says. “Eat real foods.”

By “real foods,” she’s saying foods that aren’t processed. That means no Twinkies or Hot Pockets — ever. Taking a look inside Shifnadel’s grocery bag can give a better idea of what these “real foods” are — lettuce, kale, and broccoli just to name a few. “You never have to ask what an apple is made of,” she says.

That is why she, and the throng of others at the farmers’ market choose to do their shopping here — so they know just where their food comes from. Looking for one in your neighborhood? Here’s a list to help you find your local market.

SF State Students Weigh in on Truths Behind Juice Cleanse Fad

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Aleeza Brown plays around with the all natural ingredients that will go into her juice, Feb. 19. Photo by Sam Battles

Written by Haley Brucato

@hbrucato

Bags of fresh fruits and vegetables line the steel counter tops in a cramped college apartment. The vibrant colors provide a stark contrast to the habitual empty Seniore’s pizza boxes and abandoned Quickly’s cups usually lining the corner of the kitchen. The group of students work together in a line, and pass down dozens of tomatoes, apples, oranges, carrots and heads of broccoli methodically. One pony-tailed girl rinses at the sink, while a small, muscular male brushes the hair from his eyes and begins slicing quickly, halving a pear, chopping zucchinis and stacking up eggplants, forming a teetering tower of produce.

 A motor suddenly hums to life in the background, whirring in rotation, ready to swallow anything that gets thrown in its mouth. A young student begins shoving things in the opening, and expertly pushes everything in reach through the top. Juice slowly drips out of the spout. First red, then orange and green -The food creates a liquid rainbow. This frothy concoction will be dinner. Grumbling stomachs eagerly await the tomato shot for dessert – though their taste buds beg to differ. These five SF State students will repeat this process more than three times a day for about ten days.

Juice cleanses are all the craze right now, evident from the well publicized celebrity detoxes, and the recent growing popularity and inspiration stemming from Joe Cross’ documentary film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” in which Cross takes on a 60-day cleanse to transform his health and successfully rid himself of an impairing skin disease. With independent juice bars beginning to pop up all across the country, this fad is quickly becoming mainstream. Angela Trinh, owner of PowerSource Cafe and juice bar, has seen a recent spike in popularity of her fresh squeezed juices.

For the cleanse, fruits and vegetables will be freshly juiced multiple times a day, and replace solid food for three, five or even ten-days. And the biggest catch – no alcohol, no caffeine, no nicotine. Not exactly an easy feat for a group of college students whose bodies are accustomed to ingesting those three detriments on a regular basis.

Continue reading SF State Students Weigh in on Truths Behind Juice Cleanse Fad

Life Beyond Takeout

Written by Haley Brucato Photos by Nelson Estrada

@hbrucato 

Constant snacks for late night study sessions and a quick slice after a night at the bar can easily be the cause of steady weight gain in college. It’s time to stop using money as an excuse for daily junk eating. Low-cost healthy alternatives are out there, and easily accessible for on-the-go students who balance work, internships, classes and a social life.

When students find themselves  constantly saying “Tomorrow is time to eat healthier and finally lose this weight,” but can’t resist the urges, it’s time to consider other options. Physical and mental health won’t improve unless students truly start paying attention to their nutritional habits.

Ashley Hathaway, a certified nutritional therapist and Gut and Psychology Syndrome practitioner in San Francisco, believes that students on a tight budget are still capable of buying nutritional foods that won’t break the bank. Hathaway stresses that the budget conscious focus on quality versus quantity. Many students tend to grab things that are immediately satisfying to eat in the moment, like a donut or cup of coffee in the morning, but, according to Hathaway, they are only putting their money towards empty calories.

“They get a jolt from that,” explains Hathaway. “But later get quickly hungry because the body hasn’t truly been nourished.”

Continue reading Life Beyond Takeout