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Monkeys in Florida? iPhonatography from a jungle in Central Florida

28 May

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As I pondered ideas on what to do on Memorial Day Monday, I decided I needed to explore the land-locked area of Florida I often complain about, being a spoiled coastal girl who is accustomed to living near a beach. A friend mentioned a trip he took where he saw wild monkeys on an island in the middle of Silver River, near Silver Springs, Fla. After doing some preliminary research (mainly hear-say from Gainesville locals) I found out that  Silver River was the filming site the early Tarzan movies. Some of the monkeys escaped, bred and hence that is why there are wild monkeys in Florida.

“How cool,” I thought. I knew the area had to be gorgeous and jungle-y if a man had to surf on vines for the film.

But, after digging a bit more into the history in order to post this blog, I realized I was wrong.

The monkeys had actually arrived in 1938 when Colonel Tooey thought it would be a good idea to create a monkey island in the middle of the river and profit from “jungle cruises.” He figured it would be okay since they were on an island and “couldn’t swim.” To his surprise, when they were released they did know how to swim, which created the Rhesus monkey populations throughout Silver Springs.

Today, the monkey population is controversial because they are an invasive species who sometimes have trouble finding food. Residents have had similar complaints as those related to raccoons, such as digging through garbage. But, other residents cherish the presence of the monkeys as part of the quirkiness that is Florida. Although the term “invasive species” is often connected, at least in Florida, to not-so-cute critters, such as Lionfish, African snails and giant pythons, environment officials warn that this cute creature still has consequences on the natural ecosystems.

Today, some even capture the monkeys to be used both for research and profit.

Either way, I sure enjoyed them!

If you want to visit Silver River State Park to get a glimpse of the monkeys (who are not afraid of people, one almost jumped in our canoe), visit the Silver River State park website.

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Nutrition expert debunks sugar myths

1 Apr
Meg is epicurious and has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor's degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition expert in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg is epicurious and has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition expert in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg Khan-Karen is a guest blogger for Layman’s Terms Media. Periodically she will post thoughtful articles about leading a healthy lifestyle on a budget. Check out her Facebook page Daily Fit Dish by MegKKFit for healthy recipes at a reasonable price.

By: Meg Khan-Karen, Nutrition expert

“Sugar is poison.” This has been engrained in our minds since childhood. As children, we were often told to avoid eating too much sugar because it would rot our teeth, make us hyper, give us nightmares—the list goes on. More and more, we are bombarded with new food products that are marketed as being all-natural or ‘healthy’. However, one look at the nutrition label and it becomes clear that this is not so.

 

These products are filled with added sugars and other nasty fillers that our body can do without. From a young age, we have been taught to believe that sugar is harmful for our bodies, but how much truth is there to this claim?

Allow me to debunk the ‘sugar-is-the-devil’ mayhem for you.

Sugars are the building blocks of carbohydrates, which your body needs in order to function on a daily basis.  Sugars are naturally found in foods such as fruits and dairy products. These types of sugars are called simple sugars. Other foods such as vegetables and grains contain complex carbohydrates, both of which your body can break down for readily available energy when needed.

 

These carbohydrates allow our brains to function at optimal capacity and provide us with the energy to fulfill daily tasks, whether it be studying for exams, running errands, or training for the local 5K. Sugars from fresh, whole foods keep us healthy and strong. Therefore, not all sugars are bad for you. Without these carbohydrates, we would feel lethargic and unable to function to our best ability.

 

Here is where the confusion about sugar arises. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined ‘added sugars’ as ingredients in processed and prepared foods (such as breads, cakes, soft drinks, jam, and ice cream) and sugars eaten separately or added to foods at the table.1 These types of sugars come from either fruits or vegetables, but have been processed into a product that is unrecognizable as a whole food source. Such added sugars in our diets have been shown to account for the rise in obesity as well as a higher prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Reducing your daily intake of added sugars can lead to a decreased risk of acquiring such diseases as well as alleviating health problems such as inflammation, irritability, poor immune system and possibly even some types of cancers.

 

Today, a greater majority of Americans are consuming added sugars in the form of sugar-laden beverages like sodas or as hidden preservatives subtly placed into various packaged food products lining grocery store shelves. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar from table sugar or processed foods per day, which can amass to an extra 355 calories each day.2  This can lead to unfavorable changes in your waistline while also increasing your risk of obesity and acquiring other harmful diseases.

 

Currently, the American Heart Association suggests women should consume no more than 100 calories, or about 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  For men, the suggestion is 150 calories, or 9 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Consider this: One 12 oz. can of Coca Cola contains a whopping 39 grams of sugar, which is equal to 9.75 teaspoons. This is more than the American Heat Association’s suggestion for both women and men.

 

Eliminating added sugars from your diet may seem like a daunting task, as they are found in nearly every processed food product on the market. However, decreasing your consumption is the first step to building a healthier body and a brighter future.

 

Here are some tips to get you started in eliminating added sugars in your diet:

  • check nutrition label ingredient lists for words that end in ‘-ose’ such as maltose, sucrose, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup as well as brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, malt syrup, pancake syrup, honey, fruit juice concentrates, and corn sweeteners, all of which are added sugars
  • avoid adding white sugar to your foods and beverages like coffee or tea.
  • stick with the whole fruit – instead of a glass of juice, grab an orange or an apple
  • look for “no sugar added” or “low sugar” options and if necessary, consider canned fruits packed in water
  • when baking, cut the sugar requirement in half or consider a replacement such as unsweetened applesauce or mashed fruit, such as a banana
  • check the labels of packaged products such as salad dressings, tomato sauces, cereals, yogurts, and of course treats and candies
  • consider natural, plant-based sweeteners such as Stevia or Agave syrup

References:

(1)   Johnson, R. K., & Yon, B. A. (2010). Weighing in on Added Sugars and Health. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(9), 1296.

(2)   Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009; 120:1011-20.

(3)   Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet. Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/

 

From Pensacola to Miami to Gainesville

27 Aug

When I was in high school in Pensacola, my only ambition was to get out.Image

I wanted to see the world, live in a big city and become a respected reporter. Five years later, my goals haven’t changed much but I have a different outlook on how to achieve them, and after living in Miami, I realized a “big city” is different than what I originally thought. 

To rewind, please read my story Big City Shock which is a first-person narrative of my first day in Miami. I’m going to admit, I first couple of years there were a struggle. I contemplated moving up the state, closer to the South, a place I was familiar with, a place where I fit in and didn’t get made fun of for saying the word, “y’all.” My sophomore year, I visited Gainesville and debated switching over and finishing up my journalism degree at the University of Florida. My gut instinct told me to stick with Miami, and I’m glad I did. As a small town girl I probably wouldn’t have ever been exposed to other cultures, languages food or ways of life. Miami taught me to expand my views of the world, to cease opportunity and to tolerate people who are literally from a different country. These are all things that are a bit harder when you come from a place with limited diversity. 

As far as education, University of Florida may have had a better academic reputation than Florida International University, but, living in a big city I was able to work for a true Metropolitan newspaper, The Miami Herald. By living in a place that was overflowing with news, I was able to gain experience in a fast-paced environment. I used the real-life newsroom as a classroom, and living in a small-town I probably wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity. My point is, if I had changed my mind and gone to a school in a smaller town upstate, I wouldn’t have grown as much as a person as I did. My advice to any undergraduate or graduate student is to attend at least one school in a place different than your hometown, if possible. The uneasy feeling can be channeled into adventure and lead you down avenues of opportunity you never thought you’d have access too. 

After Miami, I was ready to go back to the familiar for a while and go to the University of Florida. To my surprise, there was more diversity here than what I expected, and I love the scholarly atmosphere of the college town. Here, the town revolves around the college, which is a sharp contrast to Miami. I’ve only been here about two weeks so I will post more as time goes by. For now, I am in my first semester as a Master’s student pursuing a degree in science/health communication. I currently am working as a graduate assistant, where I use social media to promote the new Master’s degree in web design for the school of journalism. 

I will be posting my research as I start to narrow down my thesis options, and if you’re a science communications nerd, follow along! I will also be revamping the website at some point to get this thing going as a true science media site. 

Multimedia Advice: Just do it.

27 Jun

Attention aspiring journalists:

In today’s world of digital media, most “readers” are actually “viewers” and very impatient to say the least. Most get their news from websites and are more likely to click on a story if it has some sort of multimedia or visual element to accompany it. Photos alone are in competition with photos accompanied with sound and info graphics. This may all seem like common sense, but some newspapers are slower at catching on than big names like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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