There’s lots to celebrate this month. Besides my birthday (smile), the month of June is when we observe Men’s Health Week and National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. These two issues, each important enough on their own, also overlap as men are encouraged to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals in order to remain healthy and strong.
Our nation’s dietary guidelines are updated every five years, with the most recent set of guidelines released in 2010. In this report, the US Department of Agriculture advises both men and women to increase their vegetable and fruit intake; eat a variety of vegetables; replace refined grains with whole grains; increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; and choose a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meat, eggs, beans and peas, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
During the spring and summer, a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable options abound. You can visit the USDA website to see what’s currently in season. For example, in the spring, you can taste on apricots, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, mango, onion and leeks, spinach, and honeydew melon – just to name a few. In the summer, your in-season options include beets, cucumbers, eggplant, grapefruits, watermelon, and summer squash and zucchini.
Leading a healthier lifestyle can be both fun and delicious! In addition to eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, men can improve their health by getting enough sleep (7-9 hours), quitting tobacco use, being physically active (at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity two or more days a week), reducing stress levels, and getting regular health checkups. To learn more, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Your congregation can also get involved by taking part in the NC Council of Churches’ health initiative, Partners in Health and Wholeness. Please visit us online at www.healthandwholeness.org for more information.