Focus on Health Care | Happy February
We hope everyone enjoyed the end of the fall semester, the holiday interlude, and the beginning of this semester. The weather has been challenging but we can all take comfort in knowing that the days are getting longer and the temperature will soon get warmer.
Many of us struggle with some post-holiday “blahs,” while some of us even suffer with seasonal affect disorder. But even if winter never gets you down, there are some basic ways we can take care of ourselves to maximize our mood during the cold dark months of January and February and the stressors associated with the beginning of a new semester.
The following is a list of “super foods” that can help boost our mood. Making sure you consume these items on a regular basis can be good for both body and spirit! So enjoy some tasty ways to stay healthy.
- Berries (all kinds): full of antioxidants that support the brain and improve cognitive function while also promoting energy.
- Chocolate (the darker the better): How appropriate with Valentine’s Day around the corner. Dark chocolate slows down the production of stress hormones and also releases endorphins and boosts serotonin levels.
- Green tea: rich in antioxidants, amino acids and L-theanine (known for reducing stress).
- Bananas (one of nature’s perfect foods): they contain vitamins and minerals as well as tryptophan which raises serotonin levels.
- Fish: rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, fish consumption elevates mood.
- Avocados: they contain good, healthy fats that are known to increase dopamine and endorphins.
- Chicken/Turkey: like bananas, poultry contains tryptophan which increases serotonin levels. Poultry also contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps the body cope with stress.
- Dark greens: packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, dark greens like spinach and romaine lettuce—always available at the salad bar—ensure the proper functioning of nerves and muscles.
- Eggs: eggs are very rich in Vitamin D which stimulates the production of serotonin. Increasing egg consumption is often prescribed for people with the winter blues.
- Nuts: studies continue to show that we all should be eating about ¼ cup of nuts a day for a variety of health benefits. One additional benefit is that the essential fats in nuts optimize cell wall composition, lowers blood cholesterol and improves blood circulation.
In this month’s newsletter, we highlight some of our upcoming spring events including the Moravian Math Student Conference with Diane Thomas and the Healthcare Professions Fair. We also have a stories about food service reform at Moravian College, an upcoming visit by Dr. Oscar Marcilla, and Emergency Medicine doctor and representative from Physicians for a National Health Program who will be speaking to the Moravian community about the limits of the Affordable Care Act, and a story about Dr. Joshua Freeman’s blog, Medicine and Social Justice, which links our four IN FOCUS themes.
Dr. Virginia Adams O’Connell
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Dr. Kerry H. Cheever
Professor and Chairperson, Department of Nursing
Co-directors of the Health Care Center of Investigation
Mathematics Conference at Moravian College
What can mathematical models tell us about losing and gaining weight?
Dr. Diana Thomas, professor of mathematics at Montclair State University and director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research, will be speaking to the college community about the obesity epidemic in the United States. Her talk will be held on Saturday, February 15 at 9:30 a.m. in Prosser Auditorium. Mathematical models can be applied to guide patients during weight loss, to understand longitudinal changes in populations in the absence of obesity related interventions, and to explain phenomena that is simply not well understood.
Thomas will show how her interdisciplinary team develops and implements models for clinical interventions, how they develop models to predict outcomes in the absence of a control population, and how models inform many of the myths and presumptions surrounding obesity. She will also describe a novel paradigm of undergraduate research where a team of biology, chemistry, nutrition, and mathematics majors collaborate to solve research problems at the interface of the disciplines. Finally, she will outline her own transition from mainstream research mathematics into an interdisciplinary team initiated career, helping to address the common question among many students--how will I use math in my future career.
Thomas’s research involves applications of mathematics to guide patient behavior during weight loss and prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Her research investigates why individuals don’t lose more weight during exercise, objectively monitoring diet in humans, and differences in weight change between individuals. Her work has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fitness Magazine, Good Housekeeping, CBS News, and ABC News. She currently serves as an editor of The Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Research and the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Thomas frequently collaborates on research projects with undergraduate students and was recently awarded the MAA-NJ Distinguished Teaching Award.
Working to Improve Food Quality at Moravian
Recognizing that “you are what you eat,” at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester, two students, Alexis Van Billiard ’14 and Katherine Peters’14, decided to evaluate the food service system at Moravian College. From their initial informal conversations with students, they concluded that students were not satisfied with the current offerings—specifically, students wanted healthier and fresher options. Alexis and Katherine are also committed to the idea that increasing the amount of fresh, organic, locally and sustainably grown foods was not only beneficial to the students’ health, but also to the greater Bethlehem area and to the planet as a whole.
So they began this project by creating the “Organic at Moravian” Facebook page. Within two days, the site got over one hundred likes and served as a clearing house for information about nutrition and sustainable food production—currently the site has 240 followers. During the second week of the semester, they established the Organic at Moravian club for the Organization Fair, and combined tables with Daniel Leiber, the new chef and Sustainability Coordinator at Moravian. Daniel served kale chips and squash salad while Katherine and Alexis rallied interest for the club. By the end of the fair, they had collected a list of about one hundred students and faculty members who supported seeing more organic and sustainably-grown food available on campus.
Katherine and Alexis have worked since then to spread the message that there are many incremental changes that can be made which would increase the school’s overall sustainability as well as increase student enjoyment of the food service. Working with Chef Leiber and with representatives from Sodexo (the college’s food supplier), Organic at Moravian is having an impact. In order to more systematically collect students’ views about the food service program in place, Alexis and Katherine worked with Anwar Hadeed '15 and launched a food service survey last semester. Highlights from the survey include that 87% of students stated that they would be interested in having organic, farm grown selections permanently available. Favorite food items were the salad bar and the Sustainable Table which was praised for its freshness and variety, and students requested more fruit offerings. The summary report from the survey has been well-received by college staff and administrators. Students have commented on the recent improvements and look forward to even more. Alexis, Katherine and Anwar should be proud of the “fruits” of their labor!
Physicians for a National Health Program
Dr. Oscar Marcilla, M.D., an area representative from Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), will be coming to Moravian on February 27 at 7:00 p.m. to speak with the community about the limits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare. Marcilla is an emergency medicine doctor who is currently the acting executive director of eMedical Offices Urgent Care in Parsippany, New Jersey. He has spent his career at the front lines of medical care and as worked to find ways to make the distribution of care in the U.S. more efficient as well as more just. He will offer insights on the financial implications of our current healthcare reform efforts.
Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 18,000 members and chapters across the United States. Since 1987, the PNHP has advocated for reform in the U.S. health care system. Members educate physicians and other health professionals about the benefits of a single-payer system--including fewer administrative costs and affording health insurance for Americans who have none. PNHP conducts research on the health crisis and the need for fundamental reform, coordinates speakers and forums, participates in town hall meetings and debates, contributes scholarly articles to peer-reviewed medical journals, and appears regularly on national television and news programs. PNHP is the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program.
Community Service Opportunities
Students should contact Community Service to get involved in volunteer work in the community. Opportunities for students to volunteer at a food pantry, homeless shelter, local schools, and other community organizations are organized through the Center for Leadership and Service. To learn more, click here.