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By Member Joyce Shry
June 2, 2020

With the start of June, we celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. As the peak season for many early garden crops find their way into markets, it is an excellent time to take advantage of these freshly picked fruits and vegetables. Berries and
salad items come to mind first, but do not hesitate to try other produce, too.

As we head into a season where more variety is available, we get to enjoy the benefits of early summer’s bounty in vibrant color. From zucchini and tomatoes, leafy greens, onions, and avocado, each provides protein and vital nutrients including calcium, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C all while remaining naturally low in calories, fat and sodium. In addition, they lower your risk of developing certain diseases and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Whether we eat them as a snack or on a salad, it is important to have five servings of fruit and vegetables per day and are an important choice to add to your plate at every meal.

Healthy eating prevents a variety of chronic diseases. The American Cancer Society recommends eating a balanced diet with an emphasis on plant sources for optimal cancer prevention benefits. The Rush University Medical Center suggests that diet plays an important role in preventing Alzheimer's disease. Diabetes and obesity are other chronic diseases that may be prevented with the aid of a healthy diet. Eating well also boosts the immune system and fortifies the body against other types of communicable diseases.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, may result in heart failure and premature death. A diet high in whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts but that limits red meat, fats, sweets and sugary drinks reduces the risk of developing hypertension. Salt and sodium intake is also a primary contributing factor in heart disease. Many processed and prepared foods have high sodium levels so these products should be avoided if you have heart problems. For optimal results, combine a heart-healthy diet with regular exercise to help keep blood flowing and the heart pumping.

A healthy diet provides adequate amounts of vitamins and nutrients, which are essential for growth, energy and proper development. When vitamin levels are inadequate, serious health problems can result. Vitamin A deficiency, for example,
can cause blindness in children and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Vitamin deficiency anemia is caused by insufficient vitamin C, folate and vitamin B12 levels, leading to extreme fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, weight loss and other undesirable symptoms.

In short, the nutrition you put in your body provides the fuel it needs to properly function and can help you avoid certain diseases that can put your life at risk and cause your health to deteriorate. It is essential to have good nutrition based on healthy eating habits to enable you to stay healthy, active, and live a longer life.

So what does a healthy diet and firefighting have in common?

Firefighters, EMTs and paramedics are fire-rescue athletes. We need to fuel our bodies just as we do our trucks and equipment
and it is important to ensure that fuel is quality fuel. The right food will give you the proper energy to tackle whatever challenges may come your way.

Fire and rescue actions are demanding. Eating correctly and consistent workouts that incorporate mobility, core strength and cardiovascular exercises can reduce the chances of injury and help maintain a healthy weight, and the endorphins released can
rid the body of toxins and help manage stress.

Be the change to our own health by staying hydrated, eating like an athlete, working out regularly, always wearing your SCBA and having clean gear, and learning how to manage your stress in more healthy manners.

We love our fire service. You may too! Make a difference: Spread the word about tips for healthy eating and encourage your communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved….both eating healthy and becoming a volunteer!

Attachment DGA-Infographic-2018.pdf  (198k)
Attachment DGTipsheet2AddMoreVegetables_0_0.pdf  (746k)

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