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Blog for Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 (tips for College Students, fast food frequenters, and how the USDA could save 200,000 lives!)

Good evening, folks, and welcome to March! Hope everyone survived Super Tuesday and got out to vote! Certainly not going to get into actual politics here, but boy I wish the election cycle didn't last for 1.5 years. Seems like we spend as much time figuring out who will be president as they spend performing the job! I will now exit my soapbox, and return us to our regularly scheduled blogpost. On to the first article for the day! This article regards a study that looked at the effects of sleep deprivation on hunger. There were some interesting findings. They found that getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night caused the body to produce more of a more particular endocannabinoid called 2-AG. That might not mean alot to you, but the word might sound familiar. It's a similar chemical to some found in marijuana, and is produced naturally by your body. This overproduction causes an increased desire to eat. In fact, the study participants consumed 400 more calories per day while being sleep-deprived versus getting a healthy 8 hours. Sleep, it's good for you! Next up, here's the USDA's blog telling us about some of their nutritional efforts as March is National Nutrition Month! The blog mentions some programs, such as MyPlate, and WIC that attempt to help people eat more nutritiously. I didn't find it to be a very informative post, but didn't know that it's National Nutrition Month. No better time to start eating better than now, I guess! And if you want some tips on how to eat healthier at some popular fast food locations, this article will help. It gives you a few tips on how to make healthier choices if you're at McDonald's or the like. (Btw: Beware! Some of their so-called "healthy" options, like salads, can contain more sodium, fat, and calories than a Big Mac!) Eating at fast food restaurants can be a necessary evil in today's world, as most people stay pretty busy. College students can have an equally difficult time making healthy food choices, as for many it may be the first time they've had to plan their own meals. Here's  some advice on how to make healthy food choices in college. The 2 main takeaways for me were 1. What the author called a "whole-food" approach to eating, 2. Learning to budget your money. The whole-food approach described involved eating as few processed foods as possible, and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and good fats. Sounds like pretty sound advice. The 2nd point could be the more difficult obstacle for college students, as most of us are familiar with the stereotype of the "broke college student". College, it's certainly a place where you'll develop habits (both good and bad) that you'll keep for the rest of your life! And lastly, this article makes the bold assertion that reducing fruit and vegetable costs by 30% could save 200,000 lives over 15 years! The researchers ran many projections, and used data looking at how price increases have reduced tobacco consumption, etc. to come to this interesting conclusion. It would seem to me that if a government agency charged with being an asset to public health knowledge learned of this, it would certainly be a noble undertaking. More so than spending six times as much on subsidies, research education, and promotional programs for proteins than fruits and vegetables, in direct opposition to its own dietary recommendations, as the article states! It's hard to eat right with all the misinformation out there, and with limited time to make those decisions. Hope this can shed some light on your diet for you as we kick off National Nutrition Month! Be healthy, my friends!

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