Raspberries are good for your health; watch out for 9/11-related stress

September 6, 2011
Still tastes like summer

One way to pretend it’s still summer all through September is to eat lots of raspberries, whose season extends into October. It’s obvious why you should eat them: They’re delicious, right? But they’re also really good for you.

Angela Ginn, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says red raspberries are full of antioxidant phytonutrients, particularly tannin, which gives them their purplish hue. (White and black raspberries, she says, are nutritious but don’t have tannin.) Tannin may help protect against some cancers and macular degeneration, she says.

Ginn adds that raspberry seeds provide fiber. And the berries themselves, she says, are an “excellent” source of Vitamin C.

One cup of raspberries has 60 calories, a third of the fiber you need in a day and more than half your daily Vitamin C.

Ginn likes to add raspberries to her morning oatmeal and to yogurt. She recommends you toss some into a salad or “cook them down on the stove to make a glaze for chicken or pork tenderloin.” And be sure to freeze some for winter. Frozen berries are just as nutritious, Ginn says.

For recipes featuring raspberries, go to The Washington Post Recipe Finder at washingtonpost.com/recipes and search for the following:

→Raspberry Salad

→Peach, Pear and Raspberry Smoothie

→Peaches and Cream With Raspberries

A little missing sunshine

In the next few weeks, the days will become noticeably shorter. That means most of us will get less daily exposure to the sun — which means, in turn, that our bodies will produce less Vitamin D.

That’s why experts such as Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard School of Public Health recommend taking a daily Vitamin D supplement, especially for those living in the northern United States and those who don’t get outside much in fall and winter.

Giovannucci says our bodies need Vitamin D to promote calcium absorption and maintain bone health. He adds that promising research suggests Vitamin D may help prevent colorectal and breast cancers.

Giovannucci recommends that most of us add 1,000 IU (international units) of Vitamin D to our daily diets via dietary supplement. Although he joins many other nutrition experts in saying we should get most of our nutrients from foods, “foods don’t have that much Vitamin D, in general.” Even a glass of fortified milk has only about 100 IU of Vitamin D, and “it doesn’t make sense to drink 10 glasses of milk” to get your daily D, he says.

Finally, Giovannucci notes that the scientific community isn’t united in recommending 1,000 IU daily; the Institute of Medicine issued a report in November suggesting 600 IU daily.

9/11 anniversary anxiety

Most of us will mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, without undue anxiety. But for some, memories of that day may provoke unsettling feelings.

The earthquake that recently rattled the Washington area offered “insight into our own M.O.” when it comes to worry, says Mary Alvord, a Rockville-based psychologist and spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association. The shaking buildings and evacuations reminded some people of 9/11, causing them to panic, she says. “People who tend to be more anxious overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening,” Alvord says.

“A little bit of worry helps us get things done,” she says. But “over-worrying starts getting in the way.”

Recognizing your tendency to over-worry is the first step toward finding balance, Alvord says. “Ask yourself, ‘Realistically, how likely is this bad thing to happen?’ ” If you do think a new attack is likely, she says that taking some action may make you feel better. “Create a plan, an escape route. Gather supplies. Know how to reach everybody” you’d need to contact in an emergency, she suggests.

Alvord also advises creating relaxing routines. “The mind and the body are very connected,” she says. “If your thought processes are spinning, you need to calm the body. Take a walk, go for a run, dance, do some yoga. If you listen to music, bounce around to it. It wards off sadness.”

For help, visit the APA Web site at www.apa.org/helpcenter or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies site at www.abct.org.

Stop ‘September asthma’

Asthma flare-ups spike in September. “September asthma” has dual causes, says Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, an allergist in Gaithersburg. First, asthma is triggered by allergies, she says, and there’s plenty to be allergic to this month. In the Washington area, ragweed runs rampant in early fall. Other key allergens in play in September: dust mites and mold.

Dust mites, which feed on dead skin cells that have fallen off the body, “have spent all summer long in schools, munching away” and multiplying. When kids return, they’re exposed to huge numbers of dust mites, she says.

Mold exists across the country, Eghrari-Sabet says, but the District area likely hosts an increased load this month because Hurricane Irene left things damp and downed trees and leaves, which harbor mold as they compost.

The other half of the equation is that many kids go off their maintenance allergy medications during the summer. This makes them more vulnerable to autumn’s onslaught of allergens. “Asthma is a chronic condition,” Eghrari-Sabet says. “You don’t just say, ‘I’ll go off my blood-pressure medicine for the summer.’ ”

Yoga’s no-wallet-out pose

Don’t know your downward dog from dandasana?

If you’ve been curious about yoga but haven’t yet ventured into a class, September — designated National Yoga Month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — is an excellent time to give it a try.

Throughout the month, 1,600 yoga studios across the country — including dozens in the Washington area — are offering new students a week’s worth of free yoga classes. To find a studio near you and access the necessary paperwork, visit www.yogamonth.org. Participating area studios offer a variety of yoga styles, from ananda to vinyasa flow. The goal, according to Sora No, director of communications for the California-based Yoga Health Foundation, which administers National Yoga Month, is to “support and build a community from the grass roots to provide awareness of the health benefits of yoga.”

The month-long celebration of all things yogic culminates Sept. 30, with a celebration called Time for Yoga. That evening, people are encouraged to do an hour-long yoga practice starting at 7 p.m. local time, moving into the restorative rest called savasana at 8 and then into a 15-minute meditation “for universal peace and well-being,” the Web site says, at 8:15. “By participating during your own local time,” the site says, “a wave of yoga will take place around the globe.”

Kid at school, loss at home

Most parents feel pangs of sadness when they send their kids off to school.

“Whether it’s kindergarten or college, a sense of loss is the common denominator,” says Lawrence Balter, a psychologist in Manhattan. You’re experiencing both “loss of control over your kid’s life and loss of your role as a parent,” he says.

But that sadness should start diminishing a week or so into the academic year. How can you get to a happier place? Here are Balter’s tips:

●Recognize that it takes time to absorb loss and separation. “Literally tell yourself, ‘It’s going to take time.’ ”

●“Make a deliberate, conscious effort to redefine who you are in relation to your offspring — and spouse, if you’ve got an empty nest.”

●“Create activities to help you develop yourself. Accentuate the other part: This change can be liberating.”

●“Don’t become intrusive in their lives” by, for example, calling a college student every night or making sure he’s done his homework.

●Don’t make your child feel guilty. “They don’t deserve to have that responsibility.”

●Be alert for “indications that your sadness is disproportionate. If it interferes with other relationships or work, or if sleep or eating problems emerge,” you may need professional help.

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