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Prevent TBIs this summer and beyond

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
It’s Men’s Health Month! Learn what you can do to protect your brain from injury and stay safe.

During Men’s Health Month, HPRC is taking a closer look at men’s risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The good news is there are ways to “protect your head” and prevent TBI while you enjoy your favorite summertime activities.

Each year, more than 1 million people visit the emergency room because of TBIs. And contrary to common belief, most TBIs experienced by Service Members result from motor vehicle accidents, not exposures to blasts. TBI can damage your brain tissue, and it can impair your speech and language skills, balance and motor coordination, and memory. Depending on the severity of your injury, your symptoms might last for days, weeks, or even longer. It’s especially important to prevent head injuries because over 50,000 people die from TBI-related symptoms each year. Read more...

Summertime food safety

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Safety, Summer
Don’t let germs spoil your summer get-togethers. Try these tips to help keep your outdoor meals safe.

Picnics and barbecues are just around the corner, so be mindful of food safety as you soak up the summer sun and fun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses, including those associated with poorly cooked or stored foods in hot environments. Still, there are ways to keep your favorite foods safe—and your friends and loved ones healthy—this summer.

  • Keep it clean. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, and seafood (and their juices). To prevent cross-contamination, wash utensils and cutting boards with hot, soapy water after food prep too. Tip: Fill a spray bottle with 1 Tbsp chlorine bleach and water, and use it to sanitize your countertops and other food-prep surfaces.
  • Cool it. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. Safely marinate your meats, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook. Don’t reuse marinade, and don’t serve it with cooked foods.
  • Cook foods thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to check for doneness. Make sure cooked foods have reached a safe internal temperature:
    • Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts, and chops)—145°F
    • Fresh fish—145°F
    • Ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb (burgers and sausages)—160°F
    • All poultry and pre-cooked meats (such as hot dogs)—165°F
  • Refrigerate your leftovers. Chill your foods to stop the growth of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. Refrigerate items within 2 hours of cooking or 1 hour if the outside temperature is at or above 90°F. Tip: If you’re outside, keep things chilled at 40°F or less in a cooler, or place them directly on ice.

To boost your “BBQ IQ,” visit the CDC webpage.

Posted 22 May 2017

Protect your back during your PCS

Don’t let PCS put you on profile. Make sure you’re moving properly to prevent injury during your move.

Service members and their families relocate a lot, and moving to a new home is hard enough without adding a back injury to the mix. So be mindful of how you’re lifting and moving while you’re packing up and loading up. Try these tips to help reduce your risk of injury and properly move heavier things such as boxes and furniture.

  • Warm up, just like you would before any workout.
  • Remember to keep your core tight, and use your leg muscles (rather than your back) to lift heavy objects.
  • Keep objects as close to your body as possible.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet from falling items.
  • Take breaks when necessary. Stretching and reassessing your mechanics can help you maintain proper posture when lifting.

The best way to prevent back injury is to strengthen your back and core muscles. You can prep for your PCS by doing exercises—such as planks, lunges, and vertical core training—that focus on these areas.

If you’re sore from all the lifting or think you might have pulled something, you can treat the pain with ice and rest—and perhaps an over-the-counter pain reliever—for the first 48 hours. Follow the MedlinePlus guidelines on how to further treat your back pain if it’s acute. However, if the pain persists, consult your doctor to rule out a more serious back problem or injury before you do any more heavy lifting. Certain yoga stretches also might relieve your pain, build your muscles, and return your back to normal function.

Read the U.S. Army Public Health Command’s “How to Safely Perform Pushing and Pulling Tasks” for more tips. And visit HPRC’s Injury Prevention section to learn more about how to protect your back. Good luck with your PCS!

Posted 11 May 2017

Raspberry ketone for weight loss?

What is raspberry ketone, and does it help with weight loss?

Some dietary supplements marketed for weight loss contain “raspberry ketone.” This ingredient is one of several naturally occurring chemicals found in red raspberries that contribute to their aroma; it also occurs in other fruits such as cranberries and blackberries. Raspberry ketone is used in some foods as a flavoring agent and in other products such as cosmetics. Because the amount of raspberry ketone found naturally is so low, it is produced synthetically in a laboratory for use in commercial products.

The limited number of studies done on cells, mice, rats, and other small animals indicate that raspberry ketone might improve fat metabolism. However, the same effect has yet to be established in humans, and currently there is insufficient scientific evidence that supplemental raspberry ketone is effective for weight loss.

Are you sold on your supplement?

Should you take advice from people selling dietary supplement products?

When it comes to the topic of dietary supplements, a good rule of thumb is not to believe everything you hear or read from someone trying to sell you a product. Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) recently received Ask the Expert questions about products that were recommended by staff at stores, whether or not they were safe to take, and whether they would cause a positive result on a urinalysis test. In fact, two products were “high risk.”

If you’re considering a dietary supplement product, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first. Service dietitians can be another good resource to determine if you really need to supplement your diet. It’s important to know how to spot potential high-risk supplements. Find out too if there is reliable scientific evidence that the ingredients in a product actually work. For more information, OPSS has a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) section with subcategories about general and miscellaneous topics, dietary supplement ingredients, performance, and weight loss. Or, to watch some videos or short PSAs, click on “Tools for Warfighters,” and then the “Video” tab.

Expired sunscreen: Is it safe?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Environment, Total Force Fitness
Check the expiration date on your bottle of sunscreen before heading outdoors for summer fun.

Take note: Your sunscreen—important for protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays—has an expiration date! Just as you wouldn’t expect to feel well after eating expired food, don’t rely on expired sunscreen to protect you from the sun.

Sunscreen can be effective for up to 3 years. After that, its active ingredients start to deteriorate, leaving you vulnerable to sunburn and sun damage. Ideally, you should use sunscreen often enough that your bottle doesn’t last through the summer. If that’s not the case, check the bottle you’re currently using. If it’s old, throw it out.

If you buy sunscreen with the expiration printed only on the box or wrapper, use a permanent marker to write the date somewhere on the bottle. And store it in a cool, dry place. Practice safe sun this summer to keep your family healthy and happy!

More “tainted” products

FDA continues to identify over-the-counter products, including dietary supplements, containing hidden active ingredients. Could yours be one of them?

Since July 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released over 25 Public Notifications about individual supplement products marketed for sexual enhancement and weight loss that contain hidden active ingredients. Through laboratory testing, these products were found to contain drugs and controlled substances—ingredients that pose health and readiness risks. For a list of these Public Notifications, visit FDA’s Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products and Tainted Weight Loss Products.

The most common types of products found to contain “undeclared” ingredients (that is, substances not listed on the label) are those marketed for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding. Dietary supplements don’t require FDA approval before being put on the market, and there is no way to know the contents of a product without laboratory testing. So if you’re considering a dietary supplement, check the label to see if the product has been evaluated by an independent third-party organization.

Practice safe sun

HPRC Fitness Arena: Environment, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Exposure, Heat, Safety, Sun
Learn how to protect yourself from the summer sun while still enjoying time outdoors.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., but with proper precautions you can decrease your risk considerably. The sun releases invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) and skin cancers. An estimated 63,000 new cases and 9,000 reported deaths from melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—occur each year.

UV rays also cause tanning and sunburns—and can damage your skin after only 15 minutes of exposure. They weaken the skin’s elasticity, causing wrinkling, rash, and freckles too.

Remember that you can get sun damage on sunny and cloudy days. UV rays penetrate clouds, exposing you to 80% of the sun’s harmful effects. The good news is that you can take steps to protect yourself from UV rays, while enjoying the outdoors.

  • Limit your time in the sun. Seek shade and try to avoid sun exposure during midday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) when the rays are strongest. And avoid suntanning and burning.
  • Cover up. Wear protective clothing, including hats, long-sleeved shirts, and pants when going outdoors. Remember that protection decreases when clothes are wet.
  • Apply sunscreen. Use water-resistant sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher. Apply and let it absorb 15–30 minutes before heading outdoors. Use lip balm with SPF 30 or higher to protect your lips too. Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. 
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses to cover the skin around your eyes and help prevent eye damage. When choosing sunglasses, check the label to make sure they block 100% of UV rays. 

Protect yourself from health fraud

It’s National Consumer Protection Week, a reminder to always be an informed consumer of dietary supplements and other products.

March 6–12 marks National Consumer Protection Week, a campaign that encourages consumers to make informed decisions about the products and services they purchase and avoid getting caught in a scam. Dietary supplements are often marketed with claims that sound too good to be true, so be a savvy consumer and question claims such as “quick fix,” “miracle cure,” and “scientific breakthrough.” If you find a product you believe is falsely advertised/labeled or caused an adverse reaction, report it.

Visit the National Consumer Protection Week website to learn more about how to protect yourself from fraud, not just this week, but every day of the year. Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) strives to provide the best resources and tools to help you choose supplements wisely. You’ll find even more information and consumer updates about dietary supplements from federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, and watch this video from Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

Stimulants in your supplement?

Do you know how to spot a stimulant and whether it’s a problem?

Stimulants are common (and potentially problematic) ingredients in dietary supplements such as pre-workout and weight-loss products. But do you know how to tell if your dietary supplement product actually contains a stimulant? OPSS has some answers. Check out the OPSS FAQs about why stimulants are a problem and how to identify them on labels, both of which link to our list of “Stimulants found in dietary supplements.”

And while you’re there, visit our other OPSS FAQs, where you’ll find information about specific stimulant ingredients such as DMAA, DMBA, BMPEA, yohimbe, and synephrine. We also have several FAQs about caffeine, probably the most common stimulant.

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