Jeff Papia Reflects on Franciscan Pilgrimage

By Nicholas Clay, Hilbert Senior, Sports Industry Management Major

 

Jeff Papia, Director of Mission Integration and Campus Ministry at Hilbert College, experienced the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare during an 11-day Franciscan Pilgrimage to visit many of the places that Francis lived.  Jeff traveled with other affiliates of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU), through the Franciscan Pilgrimage Program for Educators, Alumni, and Staff of Franciscan Colleges and Universities.

“Joining other members of the AFCU to walk in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare was an experience that will remain with me forever. Standing in those sacred places made us feel as if we had a personal relationship with Francis and Clare. I learned more about the Franciscan movement in 10 days than a book or lecture could ever provide.”

The trip began with a three-day stay in Rome, where the group visited two major sites, St. Peter’s Basilica and St. John Lateran. The pilgrims attended a mass at the Altar of John XXIII, which was followed by a tour of the Basilica. The following day they listened to the Pope during his weekly Papal Audience, in which the AFCU group was announced over the loud speaker as each visiting organization is broadcasted.  Jeff snapped this photo with his phone, as he was just five feet away from Pope Francis.

Following their stay in Rome, the group moved on to Greccio, where in 1223, Francis celebrated Christmas and began the practice of displaying the Christmas nativity scene.

Following the brief stop in Greccio, they spent the remaining eight days in Assisi – the city where St. Francis and St. Clare were born.  Jeff and the group toured the tombs of these two Saints and several places around the city where Francis had worked and lived.  They visited San Damiano, where Francis prayed and heard the voice of Christ say, “Francis, go, rebuild my house.”  He restored this church by begging for stones in Assisi.  They also visited the Porziuncula, which became the center of the Franciscan movement, where Francis obtained the Pardon of Assisi and now, we celebrate the Feast of the Pardon each year.  This is also where Francis died on October 3, 1226.

“At the tomb of St. Francis, during the Prayer of the Faithful, one member of each institution named their college or university aloud,” Jeff said.  “It was a privilege to pray for Hilbert College at the tomb of St. Francis.”

As Jeff reflects on his journey through the eyes of St. Francis and St. Clare, he holds the memories, which will last a lifetime, close to his heart.

“My most memorable experiences were the celebrations of Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica at the tomb of John XXIII, inside the Porziuncula, and at both the tomb of St. Francis and the tomb of St. Clare,” Jeff said. “Thousands upon thousands of people visit these spots every year, but we had the opportunity to be still and pray with our community of fellow pilgrims.”

He continued, “On a personal note, my wife and I have had a devotion to St. Francis and St. Clare for our entire lives. To share this experience together, particularly at San Damiano, is a grace and a blessing we could have never earned or deserved.”

“Finally, I went on this pilgrimage expecting to discover more about St. Francis and I certainly did. However, in a surprising way, I ended up discovering St. Clare and hope to bring her life and her spirit back to Hilbert with me.”

2017 Commencement Live Streaming Video

Hilbert College is pleased to announce that the school’s 56th Annual Commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2017 will be streamed live on the internet.  This marks the fourth consecutive year that Hilbert’s commencement ceremony will be available for live online viewing.  The ceremony will be streamed using Boxcast technology.

Commencement begins at 1:00 p.m. at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg.  We are happy to be able to provide this free streaming and encourage you to share the link with friends and family who may not be in attendance at the church.

Click here for live stream >>>  

(live stream will begin at 12:50 pm)

Some Tips for a Safe and Healthful Summer Outdoors

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Be Safe Out There!
Some Tips for a Safe and Healthful Summer Outdoors

Summer break is almost here, and many will be spending more time in the sun and outside. It’s time to brush up on your summer weather etiquette. Here are a few items to remember before you head out the door.

Hydration. Remember to keep water available at all times. Without proper hydration, you will be more prone to heat exhaustion, or even heatstroke (a life-threatening condition). There is also a milder version called heat cramps. You want to avoid all of these by keeping hydrated so your body can sweat and cool itself. Also avoid alcohol, wear lightweight clothing, and stay in the shade. People who are more at risk are the young and the old (younger than 4 and older than 65), people on certain medications (such as diuretics, beta blockers, antihistamines, and more), obese people (those whose BMI is greater than 30), and people who spend most of their time in the air conditioning.

A good rule of thumb for how much water to drink is always drink 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day. Another calculation is one based on your weight: Take your weight number in pounds and drink 50 to 100 percent of that number in ounces. For example, someone who weighs 160 lbs. should drink 80 to 160 ounces of water every day. However, if you are in the heat, you will need to drink more!

Some signs of dehydration you might notice right away are headaches, muscle cramps, dry mouth, bad breath, fever, drowsiness, low blood pressure, high pulse, listlessness, sore throat and dark urine. Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated!

Sunscreen. There has been some controversy regarding sunscreen lately. Does it cause cancer? Does it block vitamin D production? Is it better to go without? The current consensus among healthcare professionals and the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) is that using sunscreen is better than not using it. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Website, using sunscreen has more benefits than detriments, since vitamin D can be obtained from food, and using sunscreen lowers the risk of cancerous and precancerous lesions. The FDA states on its Website, “…the risk of not using sunscreen is much greater than any potential risk posed by sunscreen ingredients.”

What are some tips for using sunscreen, then? Some sunscreen blocks out only UVB rays (which cause cancer), but not UVA rays (which age your skin), so make certain you pick a “broad spectrum” sunscreen that is at least SPF 15. (SPF 30 or higher is better.) It’s best to follow the instructions on the label, as far as application and amount. Some suggestions are to use at least a “shot glass” (1.5 fluid ounces) of lotion at a time, not rubbing it in completely, and applying it 15 minutes before sun time. Reapply it every two hours, or sooner if it has washed or rubbed off, due to swimming or sweating. Other suggestions are to apply sunscreen after you have been in the sun for a few minutes, thereby allowing your body its daily vitamin D allotment.

Another kind of “sunscreen” is clothing. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, along with long sleeves, will help reduce your exposure.

Keep in mind this thought: Tanned skin = damaged skin. It’s that simple. UV damaged skin cannot be completely reversed, no matter what the beauty industry tells you.

Eye protection. As important as sunscreen and hydration, is protecting your eyes. Make certain you wear sunglasses, even if it is cloudy out. When shopping for sunglasses, look for 99 to 100 percent UVA/UVB protection, large lenses, and wraparound protection. The wide-brimmed hat is also recommended. Protecting your eyes from the sun will help you avoid macular degeneration, cataracts, eyelid cancer, and other eye problems, as you age.

Sun time. The best time to stay out of the sun is during its most intense time, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but you can get burned at other times, too, depending upon the length of time exposed and if there is something reflective nearby, like a large body of water.

Drug interactions. Some drugs can increase “photosensitivity,” otherwise known as sensitivity to the sun. Some common drugs that do this include benzoyl peroxide, Benadryl, birth control pills, diuretics, naproxen (Aleve), tricyclic antidepressants, many antibiotics, St. John’s wort, and more. Some other substances that increase photosensitivity can be found in perfumes, skin-care products, and even some foods (such as citrus and artificial sweeteners. Products that remove the top layer of dead skin cells, such as chemical peels and exfoliating scrubs are also a no-no for pre-sun exposure. A list of common culprits can be found at http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/beware-of-sunburn-boosters#1.

Insects. Ticks and mosquitoes are considered “vectors” for some diseases, because you can contract Lyme disease from blacklegged or deer ticks, and the Zika virus is now in at least two states, including Florida and Texas. If you are traveling this summer, do your research to avoid exposure to Zika.

As far as avoiding tick bites, just remember to wear long pants when you are in the woods, and try to tuck your pant legs into your socks. Have someone check you for ticks at the end of the day, just to be safe. If you find a bull’s eye rash anywhere, go see your doctor to evaluate for Lyme disease.

Bee stings are also a threat, especially to someone who is allergic. It’s a good idea not to go barefoot where clover is growing. Make certain to check underneath picnic benches before you sit down. Any place you visit can be a potential place for a bee nest, so look before you leap. Don’t forget to take along allergy medication, if indicated. Concerning the declining population of honey bees, remember that most bees are beneficial. So, don’t get out that can of Raid unless the bees are a threat to human safety.

Lastly, it is a good idea to wear bug spray when in the woods or where mosquitoes can be found. According to Consumer Reports’ Website, the most effective repellents were Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour, and Off! Deepwoods VIII. Make certain to read all labels before use, to verify you are applying the repellent properly. Always wash it off at the end of the day with soap and water.

Another option that many may want to try is a “bug jacket.” These are simply mesh jackets with veils, which keep the bugs away, but offer ventilation for the heat. Many such jackets can be ordered online from Amazon (see link below) or many other retailers.

Summer Sports. Many summer sports require special gear. If you are out on the water, remember to wear your life vest. Did you know a concussion is a brain injury? Bicycling, dirt biking, motorcycling, horseback riding, skateboarding, and many other sports require helmets. Don’t take a chance with yours or someone else’s safety. Make certain you wear all the recommended protective gear for your sport. If you are heading out on a hike, don’t go alone. Always have a first aid kit in your backpack, along with other supplies, should you somehow end up stranded. Also, be aware of the forecast, and don’t plan to be outside during dangerous weather conditions, like lightning storms. Some days are just better for staying home.

Be prepared for the worst, and you may end up with the best! With these reminders in hand, have a safe and enjoyable summer!

 

For further information on outdoor summer safety, try these Internet resources:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Sun safety tips for men:
https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/tips-for-men.htm

WebMD.com, Sun myths and facts quiz:
http://www.webmd.com/beauty/rm-quiz-sun-myths-facts

WebMD.com, How to protect your eyes from the sun, video:
http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/video/protect-eyes-sun-damage

MayoClinic.org, Heat exhaustion
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-exhaustion/basics/definition/con-20033366

Skin Cancer Foundation, Does sunscreen cause cancer?
http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/does-sunscreen-cause-cancer

WebMD.com, What’s the best sunscreen?:
http://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/whats-best-sunscreen#1

EWG.org, Skin Cancer on the Rise:
http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/skin-cancer-on-the-rise/

FDA, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, OTC sunscreen requirements:
https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/understandingover-the-countermedicines/ucm258468.htm#Q4_Does_FDA_believe

ConsumerReports.org, Zika mosquito repellent recommendations:
http://www.consumerreports.org/insect-repellents/mosquito-repellents-that-best-protect-against-zika/

Amazon.com, Bug Jacket:
https://www.amazon.com/Coghlans-0057-Bug-Jacket-Medium/dp/B000NDWOH6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493998685&sr=8-1&keywords=mosquito+jacket

 

 

Healthy Habits: Establish these habits for a successful life

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Healthy Habits:
Establish these habits for a successful life

Daily, we are bombarded with information regarding obtaining a healthy lifestyle: Eat “this” to lose weight, take “this” to feel better, visit “this” place to get away. None of us wants to be unsuccessful. But success in life doesn’t just happen all at once or with only one step. It involves a lot of little steps that turn into habits. Wise choices in each moment lead to great habits. Good health is more than just physical; it is mental, emotional and spiritual, as well. There are hundreds of tips available. (I have listed some good Website resources in this article.) But, as a nurse, mother and small group leader, here are a “few” of my favorite habits.

Sleep. Nobody can function on too little sleep for very long. Sleep is one of the most important ways to take care of yourself. Everyone should get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night (depending upon your individual needs). This is when your body repairs itself, when your immune system is strengthened, and your mind is restored. Here is a link to my article on sleep: https://hilbertcommunity.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-the-importance-of-sleep/.

Exercise. Aerobic, strength and stretching are the three types. But aerobic is probably the most important for your cardiovascular health and circulation to all your bodily systems. Try and get at least 20 to 30 minutes of rigorous aerobic activity at least three times per week. Regular exercise can actually improve your immune system, lift your mood, keep all your systems in order, decrease the incidence of disease, and increase your life expectancy. People who are physically fit have the potential to do better in many areas, than their out-of-shape counterparts. They don’t need as many prescription or over the counter drugs, and they have far fewer doctor visits.

Nutrition. This includes eating the right things, and also controlling portion size. Good nutrition involves eating fruit and vegetables first, then meat, bread and cereal, dairy, and only a little fat. We all know what junk food is. Try and avoid it, and, while pizza and wings are convenient and popular, try not to eat them regularly. If you want to know more about nutrition, take a course, or read a nutrition textbook. The one I use is called Nutrition for Life, and can be ordered at this link: https://www.amazon.com/Nutrition-Life-2nd-Janice-Thompson/dp/0321570847/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1493227995&sr=8-3&keywords=nutrition+for+life

Hydration. Since water is responsible for so many functions in our body, and our bodies are at least 60 to 70 percent water, it is crucial to keep hydrated. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Another way to measure is to drink 50 to 100 percent of your weight number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 to 150 ounces of water every day. Keeping a bottle of water with you throughout the day is a great habit to adopt! Refill it, as needed.

Drugs, alcohol and smoking. Here is something simple to remember: Just don’t smoke. It’s that simple. And definitely don’t do illicit drugs. Alcohol is okay, in moderation (if you are 21 or older). One to two glasses of red wine daily has been shown to be healthful. But be aware of your family history of alcoholism. If there is any doubt, find alternatives to drinking.

Changing addictive behaviors. If you are already addicted to alcohol, smoking or drugs, get help. Now. You won’t ever regret it. Of less importance, maybe, but still important, is to cut down on the amount of caffeine you ingest.  Workaholism is also running rampant in our society. Don’t use work as an escape, and don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.

Learning something new. A life spent learning something new on a regular basis is a life not wasted. Studies show that people live longer when they are constantly learning and trying new things. Step outside your comfort zone, and take a course on public speaking, self-defense, or even knitting! It might open up new doors and give you fresh insight.

Money management. Take a course on money management. Stay away from habitually relying on credit. Highly recommended is anything by Dave Ramsey. https://www.daveramsey.com/specials/welcome?ectid=30.31.9014

Hygiene. Take your shoes off, and wash your hands as soon as you arrive home. Floss your teeth every day, and brush your teeth and tongue after meals and before bed. Here is a link to my hygiene article: https://hilbertcommunity.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-winning-health-battles-with-proper-hygiene/

Sexual health. Let me put it this way. Sex, it has been said, is a great blessing in marriage, but a great curse outside of it. This is countercultural thinking, but it is good advice. Remember the question your mom asked you: “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?” That is what many are doing when they choose to have sex too soon. Besides the all-too-real threat of contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infection), there is the spiritual aspect, as well. A broken heart affects every aspect of your health, not just mental and emotional.

Socialization, Family and Friends. It’s likely that busy college students have enough social interaction most of the time. But there are those times when some real connection with people is missing and important. Some things to try: church communities, small interest groups (such as can be found at https://www.meetup.com/), book clubs, study groups, a class not related to your major, a community education class, and more. If you have family nearby, it is important to keep in contact with them. If your family is far away, make sure you call home regularly, so you will still feel as if you are a member. If you live with your family, it is important to note that study after study confirms that eating regularly together is one of the best things you can do. Also, it is important to identify if somebody in your life is more toxic than healthful. If so, it might be a good time to look for better company.

Faith, prayer and meditation. Prayer is considered communication with God, and meditation is closely related. Your spiritual health is just as, or more important than, your physical health. Practicing faith and regular connection with your Maker will bring peace, focus and meaning to your life.

Time management. Newsflash! Your time is your life. Spend your time wisely. Make sure you make space on your calendar for the important items first. That way it is more likely to happen! Don’t overschedule your life; know your limits, and know when to say no. Make certain you always show up for work, class and other obligations, and always on time. Finally, don’t forget to schedule time for yourself. You are important!

Moderation. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Purge perfectionism. If you make a mistake, admit it, and make a change for the better.

Practicing morality. We wouldn’t get very far without morals. Basically, they are the Ten Commandments, which can be summed up by stating, “Love God and love people.” Also included in this category are integrity (doing the right thing when nobody is looking), sexual morality and the following:

  • The “Golden Rule.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This works. Even if you don’t think somebody deserves it, do it anyway. It’s the right thing to do.
  • Refraining from gossip. You wouldn’t want someone to gossip about you (Golden Rule, see above), so don’t do it to somebody else. If there is any question what gossip is, ask yourself, “If the person I am talking about were standing right here, would I still be saying these things?” If you wouldn’t, then you are probably gossiping.
  • When we are generous, we don’t put ourselves first. We are not the center of the universe. It is a credit to us when we are generous to somebody else.
  • We don’t know what others’ lives are like. It is easy to criticize, give an opinion or offer unsolicited advice. But be kind. Listen, and don’t judge. You are not in that person’s shoes.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness is easier to do when you know that it is more for you than for the other person. When you forgive somebody, it is like a weight has been released from your own shoulders. Sometimes forgiveness is a long journey, but taking that first step is worthwhile. Remember, you are not perfect either, so why should you expect the other person to be? Conversely, it is important to forgive yourself. If you have trouble in this area, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a counselor.

Music, art and hobbies. Having an outlet for stress, like playing a musical instrument, following an artistic path, or diving into a hobby, has been shown to increase longevity and decrease depression.

Gratitude. Yes, there are many things about which to complain. But finding gratitude instead of complaining will make positive people want to be around you. Nobody likes a critic, but everyone is partial to being thanked and appreciated. In the morning, when your alarm goes off, choosing to be thankful you have another day, instead of grouchy because you couldn’t sleep in, will propel you to a better day. Make note of all the positive things in your life, and concentrate on them. Choose to see the glass as half full, and it may transform to overflowing.

Smiling and laughing. Laughter is said to be the best medicine, and it is also contagious. Smiling at someone when he or she enters the room improves your relationship with that person. Becoming less critical is a skill worthy of acquiring. If you are short on joyfulness these days, buy a joke book, go to a comedy show, or ask your friends to tell you something funny. Finding the humor in most situations can turn a gray day sunny again.

 

 

For more information on healthy life habits, check out these sources:

MSN.com, Ten habits you’ll pay for in ten years:
http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/10-habits-youll-pay-for-in-10-years/ss-BBzOIgA?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U218DHP#image=1

WebMD.com, Healthy Living: 8 steps to take today:
http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/healthy-living-8-steps-to-take-today#1

WebMD, How to keep healthy habits in mind:
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/remember-healthy-habits#1

Mayo Clinic, The 12 habits of highly healthy people:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/physical-activity-habits/bgp-20085745

Health.com, Healthy eating habits:
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20934662,00.html

Feelhappiness.com, 107 healthy habits and behaviors for a healthier lifestyle:
http://feelhappiness.com/107-healthy-habits-for-a-healthier-lifestyle/

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), List of unhealthy behaviors:
https://www.cdc.gov/500cities/definitions/unhealthy-behaviors.htm

PsychologyToday.com, Toxic relationships:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201308/toxic-relationships

 

Don’t Let Deadlines Make You Sick: How to Manage Stress

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Don’t Let Deadlines Make You Sick!:
How to Manage Stress

It’s that time of the year again. School projects are in full swing, and finals are on the horizon. Many students are stressed, and most are losing sleep. Some have caught a “bug” and are now feeling behind. Stress is, according to Dictionary.com, “a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.” But, according to WebMD.com, it is more simply “what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to [handling].” Does that sound familiar? If so, read on.

While some stress can be a good thing, did you know stress also plays a role in most illness? That is because when we are constantly stressed, an overabundance of epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) and cortisol (stress hormones) prevent many bodily systems, including the immune system, from functioning at full capacity. Even busy college students can take the time to benefit from some key lifestyle changes in order to ward off the effects of stress. Some of the ways you can lower stress are:

Get enough sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night, and sleep at least seven to nine hours.
(For more information on sleep, read a recent Wellness Center article here: https://hilberttoday.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-the-importance-of-sleep/.)

Make a list each day, and put the most important items at the top. Check them off as you go.

Don’t procrastinate. Get your homework or important task done right away, so you don’t prolong the worrying and the nagging in the back of your mind. Even just getting started on a long project will lessen the impact of the work that lies ahead.

Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks, like fresh fruits and vegetables and low-sugar granola bars in your backpack. Conversely, don’t overeat or load up on junk food. Give your body the fuel it needs.

Drink enough water. This can range from eight 8-ounce glasses per day to an ounce for every pound you weigh. Drinking enough water will also help drive off the munchies, and it will increase your energy level almost immediately.

Stay away from alcohol and drugs, and stop smoking. These put even more stress on your body by lowering your immune response.

Exercise. Take a brisk walk around campus twice, or work out in the campus recreation center. Do this at least three times per week. Look for any special programs that may be open to all students.

Humor yourself. Find the humor in situations. Subscribe to a joke page on social media. Ask your friends if they know any jokes. There is scientific evidence that making yourself smile actually increases your happiness. It is true that laughter is often the best medicine.

Talk to a good friend or counselor. Bottled-up emotions come out in other ways. Venting with a friend also helps your friend connect with you.

Some other ways to manage stress are, in no particular order:


Journaling

Reading for leisure

Crafting, or following a hobby

Breathing exercises

Aromatherapy

Guided imagery

Progressive muscle relaxation

Positive thinking

Singing or playing uplifting music

Volunteering in the community

Caring for a pet

Relaxation time

Taking a nap

Worship/Reading the Bible

Massage

Bathing or swimming

 

For more information, check out these sources:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
http://www.cdc.gov/bam/life/butterflies.html#short

WebMD:
http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/default.htm

Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle Stress Management:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495?p=1

Mayo Clinic, Stress Management In-Depth:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

 

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Protein

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Protein:
Too much of a good thing?

Protein has played a great part in our fast-paced culture lately. There is an increasing demand for convenient products that offer results quickly. An abundance of protein drinks, bars, and other products on the market promise consumers a stronger, more attractive physique if used regularly. Historically, protein has been understood to be part of a balanced diet. But, did you know that protein can be both good and bad for you? The following is an introduction to whet your appetite.

What is protein? Proteins are complex strings of amino acid molecules found in the cells of everything living. The varying shapes of proteins determine the purpose or function involved. Our bodies use 20 amino acids strung together like beads in different arrangements for nearly every function. Nine of these amino acids must be acquired from food or supplements, while the body is able to manufacture the rest. We think of protein as being essential for muscle tissue, but it is actually used in every bodily tissue, including blood and bones.

Who needs protein? Everyone. Every cell in your body has protein in it. In many poorer countries around the world, there is a shortage of protein in people’s diets. However, in the United States, it is rare for anyone to be protein-deficient. Most American diets comprise up to twice the amount of protein needed.

Why do I need protein? Every cell in your body is protein-based, so when a cell breaks down, it needs to be replaced with protein. Growth and repair of cells is part of the job of proteins. Proteins also act as hormones (chemical messengers in the body), and enzymes (substances that speed up cell processes). Other duties of proteins include the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte levels, the transportation of nutrients, the preservation of acid-base balance, the support of a strong immune system and production of antibodies, and as an energy source (usually after fats and carbohydrates have been depleted).

When should I eat protein? An adequate supply of protein should be eaten daily.

Where can I get protein? Most Americans acquire enough protein from diet alone. In fact, as already stated above, it is estimated that Americans consume up to twice the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) every day! Protein can be found in meats, dairy products, eggs, and some plant sources, such as beans, whole grains, nuts and soy products. Beans and rice have long been known as a poor man’s substitute for “complete protein,” since, when eaten together, they (like meat) provide all of the amino acids the body needs. Animal proteins have all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need, but almost all plant food sources are deficient in one or more. You can eat the beans and the rice at different meals during the day (contrary to what nutritionists used to believe).

How much protein do I need? On average, the body needs 0.36 gram of protein per pound (or 0.8 gram per kilogram) per day. Therefore, a sedentary man weighing 190 pounds will need 68 grams of protein per day, and a sedentary woman weighing 150 pounds will need 54 grams per day. Active people, pregnant and nursing women, and children and adolescents need more, due to the requirement for more protein during growth and development.

To give you an idea of the amount of protein in food, a three-ounce serving of broiled chicken breast has 28 grams of protein, a cup of skim milk has 9 grams, two tablespoons of peanut butter have 8 grams, an egg has 6 grams, and (for you Buffalonians) according to Livestrong.com, chicken wings each have between five and nine grams of protein.

Some consumers are attracted to the idea of building their muscles by using protein products, and so they will drink a protein shake after a workout, for instance. Others appreciate the convenience and flexibility it gives them, and they believe they are improving their health by doing so. Therefore, protein shakes have become quite popular, and there is an expectation that these shakes will be a beneficial addition to a nutritious diet and exercise routine. However, there are pros and cons involved.

Pros of protein shakes:

  • They could help vegans and seniors acquire enough protein.
  • They may benefit athletes, after training (but only one drink to two per day could be considered beneficial).
  • They may help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Soy protein can reduce cholesterol levels and prostate cancer growth.
  • Whey proteins help in weight maintenance, strengthening immunity, anti-oxidant action, cardiovascular health, and lowering blood glucose.
  • They may help increase lean muscle bulk and strength.

Cons of protein shakes:

  • They are expensive, typically costing around $45 or more for one container. Each container typically holds 50 or more servings.
  • They add calories to your diet. One scoop of protein powder (mixed with milk) added to your post-exercise routine will set you back about 230 calories!
  • They are unnecessary. Most athletes already consume more than twice the amount of protein in their diets than the RDA.
  • You have to work out to build muscles. Building muscle happens from regular strength training, not just consuming protein.

Health-related cons of protein shakes, or too much protein:

  • They may contribute to heart disease (if the protein comes from animal sources, because it is associated with higher cholesterol levels).
  • They could cause bone loss and osteoporosis. Amino acids found in animal sources make the blood more acidic, causing calcium to be pulled out of the bones in order to buffer the acid.
  • They exacerbate kidney disease by increasing the workload of the kidneys when filtering protein during digestion. (Diabetics who have kidney disease should be wary of consuming too much protein.)
  • Diarrhea is a side effect of ingesting too much protein.
  • Dehydration can be caused by not drinking enough water with protein powders.
  • They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so anything could be in them, including heavy metal toxins. (See below.)

According to “Consumer Reports,” in 2010 arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury were found in many samples. This is alarming because those metals can have toxic effects on several organs in the body! “Federal regulations do not generally require that protein drinks and other dietary supplements be tested before they are sold to ensure that they are safe, effective, and free of contaminants, as the rules require of prescription drugs,” states Consumer Reports’ Web site (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/protein-drinks/index.htm).

In conclusion, there is no quick fix to make you healthier. A healthy lifestyle consists of many things, including balanced nutrition from food, regular exercise, sleep, hydration, socialization, and more. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The takeaway: It’s probably okay to use protein powder or ingest a high-protein meal in moderation, but too much protein can be too much of a good thing.

 

For more information on protein, visit these Web sites:

MedlinePlus.gov, general protein information:
https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryproteins.html

USDA.gov, general protein information:
https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/protein-and-amino-acids

WebMD.com, Choosing a protein shake:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/protein-shakes

WebMD.com, Do you need protein powders?:
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/protein-powder#1

MindBodyGreen.com, Why you really shouldn’t use protein powders:
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11371/why-you-really-shouldnt-use-protein-powders.html

LiveStrong.com, Does protein powder do anything bad to your body?:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/543282-does-protein-powder-do-anything-bad-to-your-body/

ConsumerReports.org, Protein drink information:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/protein-drinks/index.htm

Kaplan University, Protein supplements:
http://healthandwellness.kaplan.edu/articles/nutrition/Protein%20Supplements.html