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Mind, Body, Spirit

Spring 2020, Volume 20, Issue 2

Front Cover

Is the Best Diet No Diet? The Ups, Downs and Dangers of Fad Dieting

Team Culture: The benefits of a team environment

One-on-One with Rob Skinner: Trailblazer in sports nutrition

Inside Front Cover:

Dean, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics: Diane Lyden Murphy

Senior Vice President Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience:  M. Dolan Evanovich

Associate Provost for Academic Programs: Chris Johnson

Editorial Director: Luvenia W. Cowart, Ed.D., R.N.

Student Managing Editor: Cate Willing

Graphic Designer: Amy McVey, Syracuse University Marketing and Communications

Student Editorial Board: Brooke Breton, Lily Esteghamati, Kinley Gaudette, Maria Tkacz, Cate Willing

Contributing Authors: David Sly, Associate Director, Falk College Career Services; Jessica Pitcher, Career Advisor, Falk College Career Services; Tajlakim Turner ’19, Falk College; Thy Mai Vu ’20, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry

Editing Support: Michele Barrett, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and George S. Bain

Contact Us: Healthy You Newsmagazine, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, White Hall, Syracuse New York 13244, 315.443.9808.

Healthy You welcomes letters to the editor and story ideas

Healthy You is a student-run health magazine of the Department of Public Health. It is a jointly funded publication of the Syracuse University David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and the Divisions of Undergraduate Studies, and Enrollment and the Student Experience. This publication enhances, broadens and supports the academic and social experiences of students.

The Student Editorial Board is responsible for providing work structure for the magazine’s production, which includes the content, design, production and distribution. The information contained in this publication is not to be constructed as medical advice. Readers should consult a medical professional before engaging in any activity described. The contents of this magazine may not be reprinted without the expressed consent of the editorial director.

Contents:

1. In the Know: New research in health and wellness

Mind

2. Student Debt: Impacts, Effects and Outcomes. The intersection of student debt and one’s health and well-being

3. Team Culture: The benefits of a team environment

4. The Value of Mentoring in Promoting a Professional Career. In making a choice, don’t go at it alone

Body

5. The Truth About Workout Supplements: Exploring uses and benefits

6. Substance Abuse: What You Need to Know on a College Campus Promoting. Awareness concerning substance abuse and available resources

8. Why Not Try a 5-Star Breakfast? The importance of a nutrient-rich breakfast

9. Experiencing Back Pain? Look in Your Backpack Ways to reduce back strain

10. Is the Best Diet, No Diet? The Ups, Downs and Dangers of Fad Dieting

11. Fun in the Sun … or Is It? Impacts and Effects of U.V. and Spray Tanning

12. HIITing the Gym: How Does High-Intensity Interval Training Compare to Other Types of Cardio. Examining ways to keep your heart healthy

14. Re-thinking Your Cosmetics: Your Skin Has Absorption Properties. Exploring the effects of cosmetic ingredients on your skin

15. Avoiding the Flu at All Costs Guidelines for flu prevention

16. S.T.D.s: Are You at Risk? Exploring the increased risk of S.T.D.s among college students

18. Up with Rob Skinner: The Story of a Trailblazer in Sports Nutrition. A Closer Look: One on one with Rob Skinner 

spirit

20. Keep Calm and Breathe: Focused breathing for stress relief

In The Know: Discover new research in health and wellness

By Cate Willing, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

20-Second Rule for Handwashing

By now, the practice of spending at least 20 seconds thoroughly washing your hands to prevent the spread of disease, specifically COVID-19, is engrained in our brains. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous studies have concluded that the average person washing their hands for 20 seconds is effective in reducing the number of illness-causing microbes left on the hands. When it comes to drying your hands, it is best to dry them with a paper towel or use an air dryer. Avoid skipping out on drying your hands because germs can be transferred easier on wet hands compared to dry ones.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Boosting Your Immune System

Being active and eating healthy are easy ways to boost your immune system. Certain nutrients in foods can help to boost your immune system while others may hinder it. Eating foods that promote the health of your immune system is especially necessary in times like flu season and to ward off viruses like the coronavirus. Nutrients like iron, vitamins A, C, D, E, B-6, and zinc (among others) can help the body’s immune response. Some foods that contain these vital nutrients are bone broths, fatty fish like salmon, and turmeric. As always, eating whole, healthy foods has a wide range of benefits that go beyond immune system support and should be incorporated as much as possible into your daily diet.

Source: C.N.N.

Social Distancing

Another important practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing. Social distancing has received mixed definitions in the media and some groups have taken these regulations less strictly than others, but practicing true social distancing is crucial for your safety as well as the safety of those around you. Social distancing is the act of creating deliberate space between yourself and another person. In the case of COVID-19, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from your friends, family, and strangers is key in preventing the spread of the virus. While daily adjustments must be made to get through isolation and social distancing, utilizing technology to stay in touch with your loved ones from a distance is a great way to remain social until COVID-19 is eradicated.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Student Debt: Impacts, Effects and Outcomes

The intersection of student debt and one’s well-being

By Maria Tkacz, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

In today’s world, a college degree is a necessity for many jobs that often comes at a steep price. Many Americans find themselves struggling with debt years after earning their degrees. The effects can be not only financial but even mental and physical. The stress associated with affording college is more common than ever among college students. With rising tuition costs, many young people are finding it necessary to plunge themselves and their families into thousands of dollars of debt to afford higher education.

Chelsea Hurd ’19 is one person who experiences the burden of student debt. She is an S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications graduate student getting her master’s degree.

“I try to just focus on my degree and what I’m creating, but graduation is looming and [so is] the stress of finding a job,” she says about her student debt. “My student loans are going to be an added expense. It’s going to be like a second rent, essentially.”

Her position as an instructional associate helps Hurd with financing graduate school, as it covers 40 percent of course credit costs. “That is another thing on my plate, though, because I have students and I have to attend to them.”

Another contributing factor to student debt stress is wondering whether it was all really worth it. “I feel like this is the calm before the storm, honestly,” says Hurd. “I don’t really feel the effects of a college education yet. I don’t even know if I did it right, you know? So that’s another stress, too, just the uncertainty of investing all this money in a career change for me and then I don’t even know if it’s going to pay off yet.”

According to Forbes magazine, student debt has a significant impact on the way people live after college. The loan burden can stop individuals from getting married, buying a home or having children. As troubling as these consequences may be, what do current students experience as a result of student debt?

Studies have shown that carrying a financial burden can lead to various effects on the psyche, many of which can impede one’s college experience. According to Debt.org, these effects can include low self-esteem and impaired cognitive function. People may also experience reduced resilience to mental health issues due to stress. A shortage of money can result in anger, as well as physiological effects, including migraines, heart disease and reduced resistance to infection.

So, what can you do to alleviate your burden both now and in the future? To start, saving is always a good idea, no matter how small. Try using college-friendly budgeting apps—such as Mint, Slice and LearnVest—that link to your bank account and allow you to set a budget and spending limits for day-to-day expenses.

If you are experiencing stress associated with student loans, visit the Barnes Center at The Arch for counseling resources. Twenty-four-hour support can be reached at 315.443.8000, or you can make an appointment with a counselor.

Syracuse offers various University-provided scholarships to aid with tuition costs, as well as merit-based aid. For University scholarships, visit the Syracuse University Scholarships page. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships provides an extensive list of outside scholarships as well, organized by different majors and categories. You can find it at Syracuse University's Outside Scholarships page.

For More Information:

Debt.org: The Emotional Effects of Debt

Forbes: New Report Finds Student Debt Burden Has 'Disastrous Domino Effect' On Millions Of Americans

Team Culture

The benefits of a team environment

By Kinley Gaudette, First-year student, Public Health, Falk College

Every Syracuse Student can feel the excitement on game day as we deck ourselves out in-game day gear, grab a Dome dog and cheer on our team. It can often slip our mind that the athletes we are cheering on are students, just like us. They take classes, do homework, make friends and go to campus events.

However, the athlete’s experience is different from ours. Although playing team sports can lead to struggles such as added social pressure, risk of physical injury and higher expectations, team sports can be beneficial for individual health.

Team sports not only support physical fitness goals, but can also discourage harmful health behaviors like drinking and smoking. Our University sports guidelines prohibit athletes from underage drinking, drug use and other risky behaviors, but you don’t need to be a Division I athlete to reap the benefits of an athlete’s lifestyle. Even committing to an intramural team can give you a healthy outlet to relieve stress as an alternative to party culture.

Think about it. If you are passionate about being a part of a winning team, your teammates and your coach are pushing you to be the best version of yourself, and you are waking up early for team workouts or practices, you’re likely to ignore unhealthy habits such as drinking and recreational drug use.

Team sports also are correlated with higher grades. According to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, exercising stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals in our body that may improve mood and productivity. Athletes are always engaging in physical activity, increasing the flow of blood to their brains and causing endorphins to flow. Team athletes have many opportunities to find role models, which other students don’t always have. Having a coach as well as older teammates to use as a support system can lead to improved grades, soft skill development and collaboration.

Time management is a significant component of being a student-athlete, and it’s something most struggle with. Without strong time management skills, student-athletes can’t perform both roles. Being a part of a team sport can be a great way to master the art of scheduling. This is a skill that will be carried on even beyond the time that someone plays a sport. A recent article by Fast Company explains why former student-athletes are ideal candidates to hire for the workplace. Athletes are conditioned to be not only good with time management but are achievement-oriented, resilient, strong communicators and work well with others, all of which make them great potential employees.

No matter the level of commitment, playing a team sport can bring many health benefits to the individual players. Athletes who maintain more efficient schedules often find it easier to choose healthier habits, get in more exercise and develop interpersonal skills that are useful in many aspects of their adult lives.

So, if you were an athlete in high school and are contemplating trying out for a team, go for it. If you want to try a new sport, grab some equipment and some friends and give an intramural team a go. You may be surprised how many aspects of your life will be changed for the better.

For More Information:

Edutopia: The Social and Academic Benefits of Team Sports

Picture with caption in this article:  Four members of the Syracuse University basketball team are on the court. A photo by Mike Okoniewski, courtesy of Syracuse University Athletic Communications.

The Value of Mentoring in Promoting a Professional Career

Charting Your Future: Don’t Go it Alone

By David Sly and Jessica Pitcher, Falk College Career Services

Thinking about what to do with the rest of your life can be daunting. So is preparing for life as a self-sufficient adult. These issues can be so overwhelming that many people adopt a strategy of avoidance. They tell themselves that any number of other concerns are more pressing and there will be plenty of time to think about all of that senior year.

Sound familiar? Well, there happen to be two mistaken conclusions in those thoughts even before avoidance sets in.

Bad news first: There will not be plenty of time senior year; it will likely feel even more busy. Now the good news: The notion that anyone needs to be a self-sufficient adult or figure everything out on their own is an unnecessary weight. Falk College and the Syracuse University alumni community are full of people who have been there, will be happy to listen to your thoughts and concerns, and offer helpful suggestions.

Some call helpful people like this a mentor, a term that often stirs thoughts of formal interactions and commitment to a plan or person. Mentorship need not mean formality or commitment. In most cases, it just means opening yourself up and sharing your goals or ideas with someone whom you trust or who has experience in a professional area of interest to you. These informal mentors are invaluable in their ability to point out mistaken assumptions, which is much better than finding out about misperceptions a week or two into a new job. They can also offer valuable suggestions for how you can bring that dream closer to reality. Informal mentors include trusted professors, internship supervisors, alumni and your friendly career services office.

If you are having trouble finding a mentor, Falk Career Services can help with that, as well. Every year we host multiple events designed to connect students with alumni and professionals in a range of fields relevant to Falk students.

Keep an eye on the Handshake events page, think up a few questions you might have and just show up. If you are looking for a more formal mentor relationship, there is good news on the horizon. Falk Career Services is piloting an alumni mentorship program that links students with alumni across the country who are open to sharing their experiences, advice and professional connections to help you succeed. Again, keep an eye on Handshake for additional details about participating in the next round of this program, scheduled for fall 2020.

Clearly, you can gain a lot from seeking mentors, with plenty of data out there to make that case (just check the links below for a starting point). You might ask, then, whether you should feel guilty about gaining all this benefit from someone else? Well, these Falk alumni and staff are here for one reason only, an interest in giving back to the University and helping current students find the same (or greater) success. Still unsure? There is also good evidence that mentoring others is connected to greater personal objective and subjective career success as well.

So, don’t wait. Take that step to share your interests or worries with someone who has been there. At the least, they can listen and offer a new perspective. Just remember that saying a plan out loud does not commit you to it, but it will help you learn more about that potential road ahead and about yourself. Taking this step may also improve the confidence and career success of your mentor, which, incidentally, you should keep in mind after you’ve successfully navigated the post-graduation world for a few years. Paying that mentorship forward to a new generation of students will help everyone involved.

For More Information:


Syracuse University's Falk College on Handshake

Falk College Career Services Resources for Students

Picture with caption in this article: Handshake sponsors an annual career information fair to connect students with alumni and professionals in a range of field.

The Truth About Workout Supplements

Exploring Uses and Benefits

By Kinley Gaudette, First-year student, Public Health, Falk College

Every fitness influencer on social media seems to have a discount code for some type of workout supplement, so they must be great, right? These different pills and powders such as branched-chain amino acids (B.C.A.A.s) and pre-workout have become increasingly popular. To find out their true uses and benefits, we must delve into the science of these supplements and understand the goals they seek to accomplish.

Professor Jessica Redmond, in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at Syracuse University, explains that it can be difficult to know where supplements come from.

“The first thing to know about any dietary supplement is that in the United States, the way that dietary supplements are regulated is very different than how food is regulated and how medicine is regulated... there’s no requirement [from the government to supplement companies] that they demonstrate that their products are safe and effective before they can be sold,” she says.

One PubMed study showed that muscle protein synthesis was 22 percent greater in subjects who drank 5.6 grams of B.C.A.A.s after working out compared to subjects who drank a placebo. But does this mean that B.C.A.A.s are essential for reaching your fitness goals? Whey protein, another popular supplement, contains all nine essential amino acids and has been proven to be more effective in muscle growth. An article by HealthLine describes B.C.A.A.s as being effective for muscle growth and recovery, but whey protein is another great option.

Pre-workout can vary by brand but usually contains caffeine and creatine. The goal of pre-workout is to increase energy levels in preparation for a good gym session. According to LiveScience.com, pre-workout doesn’t directly influence energy levels, but it does alter the feeling you get during a workout, and that feeling can influence performance. The ingredients in pre-workout can increase blood flow and increase your heart rate.

Too much caffeine can have detrimental effects. This is the main problem with pre-workout, especially if it is used in amounts that exceed the suggested serving size. According to HealthLine, too much caffeine can negatively impact your sleep patterns and can amplify anxiety. That said, if used correctly, caffeine can positively influence productivity during workouts and provide an energy boost when needed.

Overall, the key to using supplements is understanding how much to use and when to use them.

“For someone starting out with exercise I would definitely say just stick to water during the workout along with a basic healthy eating plan,” says Redmond, “and then if you progress to doing more high-intensity exercise, and you feel like your workouts are not really maximizing your body’s capabilities, that might be the time to consider a supplement.”

It’s all about balance, context and timing. Remember, these supplements are meant to enhance workouts. Healthy eating and consistent exercise can still do the trick on their own.

For More Information:

Healthline: Potential downsides of pre-workout supplements

LiveScience: The Truth about Pre-Workout Supplements

Front. Physiol: Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans.

Substance Abuse: What You Need to Know on a College Campus

Promoting awareness concerning substance abuse and available resources

By Brooke Breton, First-year student, Public Health, Falk College

Substance abuse and addiction are often used interchangeably, although these two disorders have distinct differences. Addiction takes over an individual’s life, whereas substance abuse usually does not. Both disorders can be extremely detrimental to well-being.

According to River Oaks, an addiction treatment facility, substance abuse is the improper use of alcohol or drugs and is seen as more of a choice to deal with stressful life events. In contrast, alcoholism and drug addiction involve a chemical dependency that overwhelms an individual’s life. Many people only see alcoholism or addiction as a concern and often relate substance abuse to the casual use of drugs or alcohol. Both disorders are issues that need to be addressed at any initial sign of a problem.

Addiction and abuse can result in permanent organ damage, depression, legal troubles, malnutrition and relationship or financial problems.

A senior at Syracuse University shared his experience of watching one of his best friends fall into alcoholism. The senior, who wishes to remain anonymous, says, “It started out as social and harmless, and for a while, it stayed that way. Throughout his years in college, however, it slowly became worse and worse, and it was never really addressed until he was arrested.”

This often occurs in college students as they casually binge drink several nights a week, until it spirals into an uncontrollable habit. The senior shared how uncomfortable he felt confronting his friend about this issue, but in the long run, he is grateful that he did. His friend was able to turn his life around, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, graduated from Syracuse University and has a full-time job right out of college.

Substance abuse is much more common than people realize, especially among college-age students. Dr. Scott Thomas identified the statistics of substance abuse in 2017 in the article “Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics:”

  • About 5.1 million young adults (ages 18 to 25) battled a substance use disorder, 14.8 percent of this population
  • About 3.4 million young adults age had an alcohol abuse disorder, a form of substance abuse, 10 percent of young adults.

Substance abuse includes the use of illegal drugs, even if an individual is not addicted to the drug, as well as binge drinking. Binge drinking is consuming more than four drinks in one sitting a day for men and more than three drinks for women. Binge drinking—continuously drinking to feel the alcohol at a high level—is common on many college campuses. Many people see this binging as normal, not a problem, but it is the key sign of a substance abuse problem.

Addiction involves more constant drinking or drug use every day, until it seems impossible for the individual to not consume alcohol or do drugs. The main difference between the two is that addiction includes withdrawal, whereas substance abuse typically does not.

Substance abuse and addiction should be a source of concern for both the individual and their peers. Anybody exhibiting signs of either should be encouraged to seek help. Noticing the signs of abuse or addiction is important to help your peers or yourself. According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, one way to identify a problem is by asking the four CAGE screening questions. These questions indicate whether an individual may have a substance abuse issue with alcohol. The four questions include:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?

If individuals answer “yes” to two or more of those questions, they may have a substance abuse problem.

“If you know someone who might have a problem, or if you know someone who legitimately does have a problem, do not be afraid to step in and intervene,” said the Syracuse University senior. He said he still regrets not addressing his friend’s problem sooner because by doing nothing, the problem persisted.

To get help, Syracuse University offers Be Wise Peer Educators, counseling, group therapy, options education groups and workshops, and you can find an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter in Syracuse.

For More Information:

Syracuse, New York Alcoholics Anonymous

Bradford Health Services: Understanding the Difference Between Abuse and Addiction

Ashwood Recovery: Four Differences: Substance Abuse vs. Addiction

River Oaks: Abuse vs. Addiction: What Is the Difference?

Why Not Try a 5-Star Breakfast?

The importance of a nutrient-rich breakfast

By Lily Esteghamati, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

It’s true: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You should always take time to eat breakfast in the morning, no matter what your day entails. Starting your day with a nutrient-rich breakfast can put you on track for success.

In college, many students struggle to maintain healthy eating habits. They may sacrifice clean eating for the extra sleep they can get from not eating breakfast. However, eating breakfast gives your body and brain the fuel it needs to start the day.

Professor Jessica Redmond, in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at Syracuse University, is a strong advocate for eating a nutritious breakfast and says that your breakfast should include foods that will maximize your body’s outcome. According to the Mayo Clinic, a nutritious breakfast has great effects on cognitive function, energy levels and weight management. Breakfast energizes the body by resupplying it with glucose and kick-starting your metabolism. It also helps you consume more nutrients and not overeat throughout the day. Redmond says she observes positive changes in mood, function and alertness in those who eat breakfast.

The question remains: What should we eat for breakfast?

Making the right choices about what you eat is just as important as eating breakfast. Following the federal government’s MyPlate guidelines is a good place to start. MyPlate provides visual representation of what food groups and their portions that should be included in your meal. Breakfast has the most value when all of the food groups are incorporated. When deciding what to eat for breakfast, try to include all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

Redmond recommends the following meals for college students:

  • Plain oatmeal with nut butter or an alternative and berries with a glass of milk
  • Eggs with vegetables, whole wheat toast with butter and unsweetened yogurt
  • Unsweetened yogurt with granola/nuts and fruit
  • Whole wheat bagel with egg and cheese 

Recognizing that not all breakfast foods are created equal is also key in designing a healthy meal. Redmond explains, “I do not recommend that people completely avoid certain types of foods for breakfast but instead try to have the healthy alternative.”

Sugary cereals do not provide any nutritional value; you are likely to get hungry again in about an hour. Instead, try cereal with more protein and fiber. Redmond also recommends drinking milk instead of fruit juice. Orange juice serves as a filler and does not carry the same health benefits as milk. While you can have these breakfast treats from time to time, it is important to incorporate healthy foods into your breakfast routine.

For More Information:

Mayo Clinic: Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options

Rush: The Science Behind Breakfast

WebMD: The Benefits of Eating Breakfast

Experiencing Back Pain? Look In Your Backpack.

Ways to Reduce Back Strain

By Lily Esteghamati, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

Carrying your backpack to and from class every day may seem harmless, but if it is packed with too much weight, you may experience painful effects. Many students experience unnecessary back and shoulder pain and do not realize it can stem from the weight of their backpacks. Students carry around backpacks filled with laptops, notebooks, binders and much more that average about 12 to 20 pounds.

A good way to test if you are carrying a backpack that places an unnecessary strain on you is to put the backpack on the scale and weigh it. If it weighs more than 10 percent of your body weight, it is considered to be overweight. Members of the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics Rehabilitation Services recommended that your backpack should only hold the essentials, so that it does not exceed the recommended weight.

If any of the following statements resonate with your backpack use, it’s likely you are carrying too much weight on your shoulders:

  • You have red marks on your shoulder after carrying your backpack
  • You grunt when putting your backpack on or taking it off
  • You have a tingling feeling in one or both arms when wearing your backpack
  • You have achiness or pain in your back

When you put on a heavy backpack or wear it the wrong way, the weight can force you to lean in unnatural ways. You compensate for this by leaning forward, which can cause issues with balance and posture over time. Heavy backpacks also apply pressure to your shoulders, which, according to Kids Health, forces your spine into an unnatural position and may damage your muscles and joints.

You can avoid injury. Prevention starts with the placement of the items in your backpack. Place the heavier items closer to the back of the bag and the lighter items toward the front. It is important to secure the items so they do not shift when you are walking. By only taking what you need for the day to class, you can lighten your load. If that is not possible, consider carrying a heavy item in your arms instead of putting it in your backpack. Many doctors are recommending using a rolling bag, which eliminates any strain on your shoulders or back.

If you do choose to carry a backpack, it is important to wear and position it correctly.

For More Information:

Symmetry Physical Therapy: How to Properly Wear a Backpack

Teens Health: Backpack Basics

University of Iowa Health Care: Is your backpack too heavy?

Independent School Management: Stuffed Backpacks: How Much Weight Is Too Much

Is The Best Diet No Diet?

The Ups, Downs and Dangers of Fad Dieting

By Maria Tkacz, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

We’ve all felt it before, that pressure to dress better and keep up with the latest trends. In today’s culture, we can experience constant stress to achieve a perfect appearance. Advertisements and the impossible standards of the media put pressure on body image, and many find themselves attempting to lose weight or adjust their body type.

It’s OK to want to make changes about yourself; it’s a natural part of life. But sometimes these changes can become dangerous.

Many are enticed by fad diets, which lure people with the promise of a quick fix and fast weight loss. Although fad diets may be tempting, their effects are often quickly reversed and may have serious long-term health effects. The best way to lose weight in a healthy and effective way is with a balanced, recommended diet.

What exactly are fad diets and where do they come from?

Like any trend, fad diets tend to be popular for a short amount of time. “They get a lot of media attention,” says Professor Sudha Raj G’85, Ph.D.’91, a teaching professor in the Nutrition

Science and Dietetics Program at Syracuse University, “yet they are not necessarily fully researched. Often only some research has been done, and before it can be tested with big groups of people in a real clinical trial, some pieces of the research might come out prematurely, which can result in a diet that becomes very popular.”

The lack of clinical knowledge also means that little is known about how following a fad diet may affect an individual in the long run and what side effects may come with it. Balance is an important factor in one’s nutrition, but it is often not the focus of fad diets. According to Reader’s Digest, severe restrictions on carbohydrate, nutrient and protein intake as well as additions of “superfoods” are the key components of a typical fad diet. This makes them easy to spot but can leave users susceptible to the risk of over or undernutrition. These eating patterns can also result in dehydration, increased fatigue, nausea and digestion problems.

There are healthy and sustainable ways to lose weight. It comes down to what food groups you are eating and how you achieve balance in your body to make it perform at its peak. As Raj says, “For the general public, that knowledge is very limited or nonexistent, and so they fall prey to anything that they hear in the news.”

When it comes to adjusting one’s diet, especially to lose weight, the most important aspect is addressing specific problem areas in the diet and modifying behavior accordingly. This is best done by setting small, achievable goals. Practicing moderation is also important. Every food has a place in your diet. Abstaining from certain foods completely is often not a good idea. Dieting and weight loss can be a dangerous game, and your health and well-being should always take center stage.

For More Information:

Readers Digest: 4 Reasons Why Fad Diets Are Bad for You

The Yale Tribute: Fad diets can be dangerous for individual physical health

Cleveland Clinic: Why People Diet, Lose Weight and Gain It All Back

Fun In The Sun...Or Is It?

Impacts and effects of U.V. and spray tanning

By Maria Tkacz, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

Whether you’re gearing up for an intense summer internship or planning to spend your days lounging around, summer always seems to bring with it the pursuit of a perfect tan. But it’s important to remember the potential dangers of seeking that golden glow.

The dangers of ultraviolet (U.V.) ray exposure have been well researched. Exposure to U.V. rays causes skin cancer and melanoma, both serious conditions. As explained by the American Cancer Society, U.V. rays are separated into three categories based on their energy: U.V.A., U.V.B. and U.V.C. The effects of the rays are mainly seen on the skin, since even the strongest rays don’t have the energy required to penetrate into the body. U.V.B. rays are responsible for causing most skin cancers by damaging the D.N.A. in skin cells directly. People can be exposed to U.V. rays through both natural and manmade sources. The most common exposure is from sunlight, and sunlamps or sunbeds used in tanning salons. The amount of exposure to U.V. rays from tanning beds depends on how often an individual uses them, the specific lamps used and the length of time spent in the bed.

Sunless tanning alternatives have grown in popularity as a result of the highly publicized negative health effects of U.V. exposure. Sunless tanning products—creams, lotions and sprays—are considered a safe alternative to both outdoor and indoor tanning. Correct use of these products, according to the F.D.A., includes avoiding applying them to mucous membrane areas, such as the nose, lips or eyes. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, these products work as a result of the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with dead skin cells to temporarily darken the skin, simulating a tan.

Many people have adopted these sunless alternatives, and not only in the summer.

In the Syracuse area, students frequent the tanning salon Zoom Tan, a 10-minute drive from campus. Zoom offers both spray and U.V. tanning, as well as tempting deals for customers. For $33, you can purchase a membership that grants you unlimited spray or U.V. tans for a 30-day period. To put this into perspective, a single spray tan, which can last about five days, costs $20 to $30 at this location. Although membership is the most popular option, Zoom Tan has plenty of other deals to keep customers coming back. From time to time it will offer discounted prices for a single day or week, announcing this promotion via text message.

The incentives will reel you in, but they don’t leave much room for considering what harm might come from such frequent chemical exposure. In addition, U.V. tanning is often offered at a cheaper price than spray, causing some customers to lean toward this option despite its harmful effects.

With summer quickly approaching, many will be spending more time outdoors.

Some things to keep in mind when protecting yourself from the sun include always wearing sunscreen and sunglasses, generally trying to reduce direct sun exposure and especially avoiding indoor tanning. Taking care of your skin is important not only in the summer months, but all year round. Although it may not always be warm in snowy Syracuse, the sun’s rays continue to penetrate. Using an S.P.F. moisturizer as part of your skincare routine can make a huge difference for your skin. If you wear makeup, plenty of brands also offer foundations and concealers that help shield your skin.

There are ways to stay safe and healthy while still having fun in the sun.

For More Information:

Mayo Clinic: Sunless tanning: What you need to know

American Cancer Society: Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

HIITing the Gym to Keep Your Heart Healthy

How Does High-Intensity Interval Training Compare to Other Types of Cardio?

By Kinley Gaudette, First-year student, Public Health, Falk College

Cardiovascular Exercise: some love it and some hate it. Yet it remains an essential part of living a healthy and fit lifestyle. Cardio encourages our hearts to pump more blood and provide oxygen to our bodies. What everyone wants to know is how they can incorporate cardio into their routines in the most effective way.

As the saying goes, work smarter, not harder. Two popular forms of cardio activity have gained popularity in recent years: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and low-intensity steady state (LISS). Both options have scientific benefits. Discovering which one works for you is key.

HIIT’s popularity is due to the way it affects calorie burning through excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

According to Ace Fitness, HIIT causes the body to continue burning calories for many hours after a workout as it replenishes oxygen. Approximately 5 calories are burned to consume 1 liter of oxygen, so the continued need for oxygen allows calories to keep burning even when the body is no longer engaging in the exercise.

“It has a high demand on the body, in terms of the cardio-respiratory system, and is a time-efficient strategy to get the benefits typically associated with longer bouts of traditional cardio,” says Professor Kristen Konkol of Syracuse University’s Department of Exercise Science. According to an article from Ace Fitness, the process of EPOC depends more on the intensity of the workout rather than how long the exercise is performed. HIIT is not only effective for burning calories, but is also efficient, time-wise, which is perfect for busy college students.

What does a HIIT workout consist of?

A typical routine would involve short periods, or intervals, of an exercise at maximum intensity—for example, performing as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds. This would be followed by a period of rest, usually for a similar amount of time. Konkol is the director of the I-Move program on campus, which offers a wide selection of one-credit exercise courses ranging from dance classes to horseback riding. Many of the I-Move classes are structured with HIIT in mind.

“We offer many one-credit classes through this program... some of the classes go the entire semester and some run for half of the semester,” Konkol says. “Students have an opportunity to try a lot of new classes, alongside qualified professionals, in a really short amount of time.”

Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) differs greatly from HIIT, but has similar health benefits. According to Healthline, a typical LISS workout consists of performing an exercise like walking, jogging, or biking for a long period of time at a steady pace. LISS tends to be much gentler on joints, allowing for quicker recovery. This type of cardio is more attractive to beginners and people with existing injuries or limitations. Although it requires a longer time commitment, this type of training can be useful for preparing for endurance events like half marathons.

Deciding which form of cardio is the best fit for you is all about personal preference and the lifestyle you live.

“You need to ask yourself, ‘What do I enjoy doing?’” says Konkol. “Because at the end of the day, if you find some forms of exercise that you enjoy, you’ll increase the likelihood that you will commit to making it a part of your daily routine.”

For someone who is busy, is moderately active or gets bored easily at the gym, HIIT tends to be more appealing because it maximizes calorie burning for the time spent on the workout and after. LISS is a good fit for someone with less experience, who is training for a distance event or who has restrictions or injuries. Whatever you choose, both forms of exercise are great for cardiovascular health and are achievable even with a busy college schedule.

For More Information:

ACE Fitness: 7 Things to Know About Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)

Healthline: What Is LISS Cardio and Is It Right for You?

Prevention: Why LISS Cardio Is the Best Workout to Do if You're Not a Fan of HIIT

Re-Thinking Your Cosmetics: Your Skin Has Absorption Properties

Exploring the Effects of Cosmetic Ingredients on the Skin

By Thy Mai Vu, Senior, Environmental Health, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

How many of us are aware of what is really in the cosmetics we put on our face? For many, the daily behavior of using makeup and skincare products diminishes the awareness we should have for what we put on and in our body. We care so much for the quality of the food we eat, but why do so many of us stop at that? Learning what is really in your makeup can go a long way in promoting internal and external health.

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group (E.W.G.), on average, women use about 12 beauty products and put 168 chemicals on their bodies each day. The beauty industry is somewhat self-regulated because of minimal regulation from the Food and Drug Administration. While the F.D.A. has an Office of Cosmetics and Colors, the laws that govern this office haven’t been updated since its conception in 1938. Even though the F.D.A. passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938, only nine chemicals are banned.

The F.D.A. recommended consumers avoid using products that contain parabens. Parabens may appear on cosmetic labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben or butylparaben. They are used in many makeups and moisturizers products. The E.W.G. says concern for parabens in cosmetics comes from the parabens’ properties that can disrupt hormones in the body, which can increase the risk for cancer and birth defects. Since studies have shown negative health effects of parabens, many companies have begun to omit parabens from their products, so when shopping for cosmetics and skincare look for options that are paraben-free.

Ingredients that are marked as fragrance, such as perfume and essential oils, can also harm your skin. According to HealthLine, the chemicals that makeup fragrance can cause both short-term and long-term health effects, such as skin irritation and potential cancer risks. For people who are sensitive to chemicals, fragrances can trigger harmful effects, such as allergic reactions and migraines, and can cause asthma.

Making smart, educated choices when purchasing beauty products can help to prevent these negative health effects. You can do so by:

  • Making sure to check all the ingredients on the labels of products and doing research on products before purchasing them
  • Using fewer products or choosing products with fewer ingredients
  • Being wary of products that claim they are “pure,” “organic” or “natural,” as there is no legal backup for these claims and such a claim does not automatically make them safer
  • Using products that have organic certification or certification with a recognized organization that promotes nontoxic products.

For More Information:

E.W.G.: The Toxic Twenty Chemicals and Contaminants in Cosmetics

F.D.A.: F.D.A. Authority Over Cosmetics: How Cosmetics Are Not F.D.A.-Approved, but Are FDA-Regulated

Avoiding the Flu at all Costs

Guidelines for flu prevention

By Brooke Breton, First-year student, Public Health, Falk College

Illnesses like the flu and colds often spread like wildfire on college campuses. Hailey Opperman, a first-year student at Syracuse University, knows this.

“It was as soon as I came back from winter break, I had the worst body aches and almost fainted at health services,” Opperman says.

Opperman was out of classes for about a week, but after staying in bed, getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated, she was feeling mostly better in seven days.

Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a contagious virus that can be spread through the air or by contact with contaminated surfaces. The flu can be preventable, but if the proper precautions are not taken, it can also be detrimental to your health. Recognize the symptoms of the flu and take care of your body, before it’s too late.

Symptoms include: fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, cough, and stuffy nose.

Do

  • Get a flu vaccine
  • Wash your hands
  • Disinfect surfaces and personal items often
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Stay physically active
  • Get enough sleep: Denise Michaud, a pediatric nurse at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, says, “Lack of sleep contributes to being run down and thus more at risk for contracting illnesses and taking longer to overcome illnesses.”

Don't

  • Touch your mouth, eyes or nose
  • Cough or sneeze without covering your mouth
  • Smoke: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that smoking weakens your immune system and makes an individual more susceptible to the flu.
  • Ignore the symptoms of the flu
  • Go to school or work if you are feeling sick
  • Be in close relations with someone sick

The flu is a contagious illness that can easily be spread, especially on a college campus. Students living in dorms, sharing bathrooms, bedrooms and other surfaces can easily catch the flu from another student.

Michaud, a mother of college students, says that college students are more at risk for the flu than the general population “because of dormitory living (close living quarters), shared bathrooms, lots of social events and so many shared surfaces that probably don’t get cleaned/disinfected as often as they should. And many students who have influenza-like symptoms ignore the symptoms (instead of staying confined to their room) because they don’t want to miss a class, event, etc., causing more of a spread of the flu.”

Especially in the college environment, it is important to take care of yourself to prevent the flu. Follow these few tips to know how to stay healthy this flu season. If you notice any signs of sickness, visit a doctor before it spreads.

For More Information:

C.D.C.: Prevent Seasonal Flu

S.T.D.s: Are You at Risk?

Exploring increased risk of S.T.D.s among college students

By Brooke Breton, First-year student, Public Health, Falk College

Lisa Olson-Gugerty, a public health professor at Syracuse University and a nurse practitioner, works daily with college students affected by sexually transmitted diseases (S.T.D.s).

“I would say every day somebody’s coming in for a request or every other day for testing for S.T.D.s; at least one or two people a day in an urgent care center at that normal volume is about 60, 70 patients every 15 hours,” Olson-Gugerty says.

“A large percentage of those seeking S.T.D. testing are college age,’’ she says. Olson-Gugerty’s experience demonstrates just how common S.T.D.s are among college students, but why is this?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, S.T.D.s are spread through sexual activities and the sharing of bodily fluids. Some S.T.D.s, like pelvic inflammatory disease, do not always cause symptoms immediately, which can cause them to worsen over time and result in permanent damage to the reproductive organs.

In the article “Knowledge and attitude about sexually transmitted infections other than H.I.V. among college students,” Nagesh Tumkur Subbarao and A. Akhilesh wrote, “Young individuals are more likely to practice unprotected sex and have multiple sexual partners. In addition, they may not have access to the required information and services to avoid S.T.D.s. Furthermore, they may feel hesitant to approach the facilities where information is available.” This explains the increased risk for young adults ages 15 to 26.

Knowing how to prevent S.T.D.s is crucial for college students.

An obvious way to prevent an S.T.D. is to abstain from engaging in sexual activity, although this is not realistic for most young adults. To prevent getting an S.T.D., an individual should know their partners personally and know whether engaging in this act will put them at risk for developing an S.T.D. Another more common way to prevent an S.T.D. is to use a condom and get vaccinated for the sexually transmitted disease, where available.

Olson-Gugerty also explains that “It has to do with actually pubic hair and grooming.” Lisa stated, “The majority of people that I see shave their pubic hair and [it] is meant to be protective, it’s a secondary sex characteristic, and quite frankly you should have it.”

Olson-Gugerty shared that a sexually transmitted disease is more likely to be spread if an individual does not have any pubic hair, due to the individual grooming it that way. This allows for more direct skin to skin contact, increasing the likelihood of the spread by taking away an additional protective barrier.

Sexually transmitted diseases are common among young adults. Having one is nothing to be ashamed of. The stigma surrounding S.T.D.s can limit the knowledge that is shared about them, because they are often only discussed with medical professionals. Many students do not realize the high risk of their actions, and it is important to recognize what an individual can do to help themselves before it’s too late.

The Syracuse University campus provides resources to help educate and prevent S.T.D.s, including the Safer Sex Express, a no-cost, sexual health supply ordering service for Syracuse University students. Students may order condoms, lubricants, oral dams and hand protection. Each order is placed in discreet packaging to ensure the recipient’s privacy. Students living in a residence hall may have their orders delivered to their mailbox. Those not living in a residence hall may pick up their order in The Barnes Center at The Arch anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For More Information:

Syracuse University: Sexual Health

Indian J Sex Transm Dis AIDS: Knowledge and attitude about sexually transmitted infections other than HIV among college students

Up With Rob Skinner: The Story of a Trailblazer in Sports Nutrition

By Cate Willing, Sophomore, Public Health, Falk College

Rob Skinner is a distinguished dietitian who has worked in the field of sports nutrition from college athletics to professional football to his most recent gig with the United States Olympic Committee as its senior sports dietitian. Skinner spoke at the fifth annual Ann Selkowitz Litt Distinguished Speaker Series in February. In his lecture, Skinner took the audience through his many career changes and what they have taught him. Skinner explained to the audience, and later in my interview with him, how tearing his A.C.L. while he was an infantry officer in the military changed the course of his life. While he was recovering from his injury, Skinner became interested in nutrition and specifically how nutrition can impact every stage of an athlete’s career. After obtaining the necessary certifications, of which he has many (M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S.), Skinner became the second full-time sports dietitian in the country at George Tech. Among his other jobs, Skinner has worked with the Washington Redskins as a sports dietitian/nutritionist and with the U.S. Navy SEALs as a performance dietitian. His current role as the U.S.O.C. senior sports dietitian was the focus of his lecture. He described the elaborate process of training and diet for the athletes and what people in his position do for them. Skinner offered many inspiring messages pertaining to individual nutrition, highlighting that the most important thing is to do the best with what you have where you are at.

A Closer Look: One-On-One With Rob Skinner

How did you get interested in sports nutrition?

RS: I was an infantry officer in the Army, I got hurt, and decided I needed to change career directions. I basically did what all athletes do. I gained weight while I was rehabbing. I started taking it off and learning everything I could about nutrition. So, people started asking me, well how are you taking your weight off? And so, I liked it and so I said how do I become an expert in nutrition? They said become a dietician, and so that’s what I did.

What can you say about the emerging field of sports nutrition, particularly to people who aren’t professional athletes, and more broadly to college students and people who like to work out? What do you advise they should be doing?

RS: There is a difference between being fit and being an athlete, and I think people need to realize that. When you see an athlete on the cover of a magazine, take some of our Olympic athletes, they practice twice a day, have a lifting session, condition session, so they practice for their job. That’s what they do. So, I would hope the average person, like me, like you, would go and say well, “OK, I’m going to work out an hour a half, maybe two hours a day if I can get that in because I have a real job, classes, I’ve got stuff.”

The key is keeping your fitness up rather than saying, “Ah, just forget it, if I can’t work out four hours a day, I’m not going to do it at all.” It’s keeping a balance.

How do you see proper nutrition in combination with working out and being active in improving the mental health of the athletes you work with, and how can you see that correlating with the average person who follows proper nutrition and exercise and the effects that may have on their mental health?

RS: I think that no one would argue if you talk to anyone, and they say, “Well, I’m eating better, I’m working out, I feel better.” It’s not just a feeling better physically thing. It’s also a feel better mentally.

Food is medicine. It’s just such a low dose that you have to take it every day. You have to eat well every day and that gives you those good feelings and proper chemicals in your brain. I think, for me, where I see proper nutrition swaying, it’s not just health, it’s physical health but also mental health as well.

Do you see athletics moving toward a place where more emphasis is put on nutrition instead of solely lifting weights and running?

RS: I think physical activity, strength condition, is important. They are all just spokes on a wheel. And it includes sports medicine, rehab, prehab, mental health, nutrition. They are all spokes on the wheel that helps the person be good and healthy, regardless of if it’s with a sport or not.

As you age, your metabolic rate goes down, and so you are going to have to make adjustments. When you’re young, it can seem easy [to achieve your health goals] but it begins to become a struggle after college. Most people gain about a pound a year after college for the first 10 years. If you can maintain your body weight, while it’s just one metric, then in 10 years, you should feel pretty good about yourself both mentally and physically. And if you go the opposite way, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just what happens. Life gets in the way. Right now, believe it or not, you have more free time than you ever will have in your life. Right now, you should take advantage of this time and set yourself up for your future by eating healthy and working out.

What do you recommend for college students who are interested in living a healthy lifestyle do now?

RS: Having a good routine is the thing. Look at your schedule, see where you have breaks, and see where you have classes. Start putting in ways to get your exercise in. We have to do more than the little things, like taking the stairs, to make sure we are fit. We have to get a good bout of cardiovascular exercise and strength training every day. I would say 90 minutes of those combined. As far as eating goes, I realize that it’s a fast-food nation and students go for options like pizza, and there is nothing wrong with making those choices. But the thing is, you have to balance out what you’re doing and what you’re eating. Often, we eat for pleasure and if you want to have a muffin or a cinnamon roll, do it. There is nothing wrong with that. But that shouldn’t be your everyday occurrence. You should focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats and get those in and in appropriate portions. If I had, say, three words that encompass good sports nutrition, they would be the quantity of the food you eat, relative to your activity, the quality of the food you eat, meaning wholesome quality foods, and lastly the timing of when you eat it.

Picture with caption in this article: Rob Skinner sits in a chair with an interviewee. Rob Skinner, United States Olympic Committee Senior Sports Dietitian discusses sports nutrition during his visit to Syracuse University in late February.

Keep Calm and Breathe

By Tajlakim Turner ’19, Public Health, Falk College

Have you ever felt under pressure because of school? Maybe your manager is a bug at work, your friends are nagging or a relationship is causing emotional strain. Sometimes as humans, we love to take everything onto our own shoulders, and that’s not always the best thing to do. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to have alone time and reset your brain, relax your body, and ease your mind. But even between classes and in the midst of long shifts, everyone needs a few minutes just to take a breather.

Focused breathing is an effective tool for stress relief. Just the way you breathe has been proven to have positive effects on your heart rate and blood pressure. With all his work, Nick Lazaris, the “Performance Doctor,” has found that “focused breathing is incredibly effective in inducing a relaxed state in your mind and body.” This means that a simple “woosah” could be all you need in a stressful situation.

One may know what focused breathing is, but just how do you “focus on breathing?” In his article “Focused Breathing Tips for Stress Reduction,” Lazaris provides the six major rules for this breathing technique. The big idea is to make sure you are inhaling through your nose and allowing yourself three seconds to hold your breath before exhaling through your mouth slowly. It is also great to focus on words or objects that can help you relieve stress. This could be anything from a phrase to your favorite cartoon character.

Along with stress relief, research is showing that focused breathing could be an approach toward disease prevention. Herbert Benson addresses this belief in his 1975 book The Relaxation Response. What Benson liked to call the “relaxation response” showed distinct physiological change. Decreased levels of metabolism, respiration, and heart rate were detectable after some clinical trials. Many stress-related disorders were thought by many laboratories to be cured with a focused breathing practice.

Focusing breathing is essential for the body, as one complete breath can rid many toxins. In stressful situations, it is scientifically proven that we change the way we are breathing to shorter, incomplete breaths. We tend to forget how to breathe correctly. This does not allow the proper materials to flow through our body and to fuel our many-body systems that also depend on the respiratory system.

The magic behind a simple “1-2-3” is incredible! Whenever you find yourself in a loop again, just remember to keep calm and focus on your breathing.

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