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St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

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ST. PATRICK AND THE FIRST ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE
Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

Did You Know?
More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States; New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.

Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. Interestingly, however, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

GROWTH OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATIONS
Over the next 35 years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.

In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world ‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly 3 million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants each.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY, NO IRISH NEED APPLY AND THE “GREEN MACHINE”
Up until the mid-19th century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to 1 million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring into America to escape starvation. Despised for their alien religious beliefs and unfamiliar accents by the American Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country’s cities took to the streets on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys.

The American Irish soon began to realize, however, that their large and growing numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the “green machine,” became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended New York City ‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish Americans whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in the New World.

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THE CHICAGO RIVER ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY
As Irish immigrants spread out over the United States, other cities developed their own traditions. One of these is Chicago’s annual dyeing of the Chicago River green. The practice started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river–enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, and the river turns green for only several hours.

Although Chicago historians claim their city’s idea for a river of green was original, some natives of Savannah, Georgia (whose St. Patrick’s Day parade, the oldest in the nation, dates back to 1813) believe the idea originated in their town. They point out that, in 1961, a hotel restaurant manager named Tom Woolley convinced city officials to dye Savannah’s river green. The experiment didn’t exactly work as planned, and the water only took on a slight greenish hue. Savannah never attempted to dye its river again, but Woolley maintains (though others refute the claim) that he personally suggested the idea to Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY AROUND THE WORLD
Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.

In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, approximately 1 million people annually take part in Ireland ‘s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.

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Colorectal Cancer Prevention & Early Detection

Although a leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, if detected early, colorectal cancer can be more easily and successfully treated.

Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Be physically active for at least 30 minutes, at least five days a week.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man.
Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help you get and stay healthy.
Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat.
Colorectal Cancer Early Detection

If you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer, start getting screened at age 50. If you’re at higher risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and be screened more often. If you’re older than 75, ask your doctor if you should continue to be screened. The best time to get screened is before you have any symptoms.

Use this information to help you talk about screening options with your health care professional. Consider one of these tests:

Tests that find pre-cancer and cancer:

Colonoscopy – Every 10 years
Virtual colonoscopy – Every 5 years
Flexible sigmoidoscopy – Every 5 years
Double-contrast barium enema – Every 5 years
Tests that mainly find cancer

Stool occult blood test (FOBT) (guaiac) – Every year
Stool immunochemical test (FIT) – Every year
Stool DNA test (sDNA) – Ask your health care professional because technology is evolving.
An abnormal result of a virtual colonoscopy or a double-contrast barium enema, or a positive FOBT, FIT or sDNA test, should be followed up with a colonoscopy.

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National Nutrition Month

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It is appropriate and fitting that March is National Nutrition Month, since it is in between winter and spring. Winter holiday gatherings have past and have left many of us with cherished memories and frequently unwanted weight gain!

Healthy eating and routine exercise are needed all year round; but many of us need a friendly reminder to get ourselves back on track. Be kind to your body and reacquaint yourself with healthy eating habits and fitness. Replace your unhealthy habits with smart health choices for a healthier body.

Healthful eating fuels physical activities at every stage of life.

Well-nourished and active children and teens grow, develop, and learn better. Good nutrition also helps ensure a healthy pregnancy and successful breast-feeding. And, healthful eating and active living help adults and seniors feel their best, work productively, and lower their risk for a variety of conditions.

Fitness at every age comes from a lifestyle that includes good nutrition and regular physical activity. The sooner you start the better your health.

Food and physical activity choices are personal.

Foods nourish your body. Being well-nourished means you get enough of the nutrients your body needs. Part of being well nourished also means eating portions of foods just right for you. The true definition of fitness refers to your own optimal health and overall well being. Fitness is your good health – at its very best.

Food is a source of pleasure and good taste.

The taste of foods adds pleasure to eating – especially if you eat a greater variety of foods and learn how to include your favorites in an overall healthful eating style.

Staying fit means you have a better chance for a higher quality of life, and perhaps a longer one, too.

When you are fit, you:

improve your mood, reduce your stress, and increase your energy.
reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
can look and feel your best.
have the physical strength and endurance to do the things you want to do.
For additional and informative information, please see the following MedicineNet.com articles:

Nutrition Tips

Seven Diet Sins

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

Assuming your choices are better than they actually are.
Being confused about carbs.
Eating too much.
Not eating enough — or often enough.
Taking too many supplements.
Excluding exercise.
Believing everything you read about nutrition and weight loss.
Diet & Nutrition FAQs

You read all the books; buy all the right vitamins; you know the buzzwords to look for on food labels. By all standards, you’re certain your nutrition report card should be filled with straight A’s.

But before you start pasting gold stars onto your refrigerator door, take heed: Nutrition experts say most of us think we are eating a lot better than we actually are.

“It’s easy to buy into some pretty popular nutrition misconceptions — myths and half-truths that ultimately find us making far fewer healthier food choices than we realize,” says New York University nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD.

To set the record straight, Heller and two colleagues from the American Dietetic Association gave us the dish on seven nutrition mistakes you probably don’t know you’re making — along with sure-fire ways to avoid them.

Mistake No. 1: Assuming your choices are better than they actually are.

From fruit juices to canned vegetable soup, breakfast muffins to seven-grain bread, it’s easier to think your food choices are healthier than they really are, experts tell WebMD.

“If a label says ‘Seven-Grain Bread,’ it sounds pretty healthy, right? But unless that label also says ‘whole grains’ it’s not necessarily going to be the healthiest bread choice you could make,” Heller says.

Likewise, she says many folks think that eating a can of vegetable soup is as nutritious as downing a plateful of veggies — not realizing how few vegetables are inside, and how much of the nutrients are lost in processing.

Another common mistake: Substituting fruit juices for whole fruits.

“Are fruit juices healthier than soda? Yes. But they are also concentrated sources of sugar that don’t give you anywhere near the same level of nutrients you get from whole fruits,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD. What’s more, says Taub-Dix, if you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t get the same sense of fullness from a glass of juice that you will from a piece of fruit.

“Instead, you’ll just take in a whole lot of calories — and still feel hungry,” Taub-Dix says.

The solution: Whenever possible, eat whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods. Even when you eat them in smaller amounts, you’re likely to get a well-rounded group of nutrients. When buying packaged foods, put in at least as much time into reading labels and selecting products as you do when choosing a shower gel or shampoo.

“Don’t just assume a product is healthy — even if it’s in the health food section of the supermarket,” says Heller. “You’ve got to read the labels.”

Mistake No. 2: Being confused about carbs.

A national fascination with low-carb diets has many Americans eliminating carbohydrates from their eating plans in record “grams.” But before you reconstruct your personal nutrition pyramid, there’s something you should know.

“There are carbs that are very, very good, and some that are less good, but your brain and body must have some carbohydrates every day,” says Heller.

Moreover, because complex carbohydrates (those rich in whole grains and fiber) keep you feeling full longer, they also help you to eat less — and lose more!

But eliminating this important food group isn’t our only carb-related mistake. According to dietician Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD, just as troublesome is the belief that all no-carb or low-carb foods are healthy, or that you can eat them in any amount.

“Much like the low-fat diet craze, where everyone thought that if a meal had no fat, it had no calories, similarly people have come to believe that if it has low carbs you can eat as much as you want and not gain weight,” says Brandeis. “And that is simply not true.” Eat enough of anything, she says, and you’ll gain weight.

The solution: Experts say you should never cut any food group out of your diet — including carbohydrates. Equally important, says Heller, is to learn which carbohydrates give you the biggest bang for your nutritional buck.

“It’s a lot harder to run amuck when you are including carbohydrates like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains in your diet,” says Heller.

Mistake No. 3: Eating too much.

Whether you’re filling your plate with low-fat, low-carb, or even healthy, nutritionally balanced foods, overestimating how much food your body needs is among the most common mistakes, experts say.

“Many people believe they should feel not just satisfied after a meal, but stuffed,” says Heller. “I think many of us have lost touch with the sensation of having had enough food.”

Adds Taub-Dix: “People also tend to believe that they can eat larger portions if all the food on their plate meets the guidelines of their current diet — such as low-carb or low-fat — and that, of course, is also not true.”

The solution: Remain conscious of portion sizes. Weigh and measure standard portions, at least at first, so you’ll know what the amounts should look like. And, says Brandeis, “never use restaurant portions as your guide — they super-size everything.”

 Mistake No. 4: Not eating enough — or often enough.

While overeating and undereating may seem like contradictory nutrition mistakes, they are related.

“If you don’t eat at regular intervals throughout the day, you risk disrupting your blood sugar and insulin levels, which in the end can promote fat storage and lower your metabolism — both of which lead to weight gain,” Brandeis says.

The solution: Eat something every four hours and never let yourself “starve” from one meal to the next, Brandeis says.

Mistake No. 5: Taking too many supplements.

“People tend to forget that a vitamin pill is a supplement — it’s meant to complement your diet, not act as a stand-in for the foods you don’t eat,” says Heller. What’s more, she says, taking too many vitamins can end up sabotaging your good health.

“Every vitamin and mineral and phytochemical in our body works in concert with one another, and it’s easy to knock that balance off if you are taking concentrated doses of single nutrients, or even groups of nutrients,” says Heller.

Bradeis cautions that any diet plan that claims you must take a high-potency supplement to meet your nutritional needs should send up a red flag.

“It means that eating plan is not healthy,” says Brandeis, “and it also means you are going to miss out on the synergistic health effects that can only come from whole foods — including not only helping you to feel fuller longer, but also preventing cellular breakdowns important to preventing disease.”

The solution: Both experts recommend taking no more than one all-purpose multivitamin daily. Don’t supplement your diet with individual nutrients without the guidance of your doctor, nutritionist, or other health expert. Keep in mind that the sales clerk in the health food store is usually not a health expert.

Mistake No. 6: Excluding exercise.

While most folks believe nutrition is all about food, Brandeis says it’s also about how your body uses food — and that’s where regular exercise comes in.

“Without adequate exercise, you cannot maintain a high enough metabolic rate to burn your food efficiently,” says Brandeis. “A pill can’t do that for you; foods alone can’t do that for you. Exercise is the only way to achieve it.”

The solution: Make exercise a regular part of your life. And don’t get hung up if you can’t do it at the same time every day. If you miss your routine in the morning, don’t wait until the next day and try to do twice as much. Instead, try to fit in some exercise — even if it’s just a little bit — every day, says Taub-Dix.

Mistake No. 7: Believing everything you read about nutrition and weight loss.

“Just because someone writes a diet book or a nutrition guide does not mean they are an expert,” cautions Brandeis.

If you’re turning to a book for guidance, she says, “look to the author’s credentials and ask yourself: Is this person a dietician; do they have an advanced degree in nutrition? Or are you buying this book because it’s written by a celebrity who you think looks good?”

Even if an “expert” is behind your nutrition or diet plan, Brandeis says, it’s important to make sure the plan is based on solid research.

“Has the plan been tried on 20 people or 200 people? Have the results been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal — or is it based solely on anecdotal reports? These are things that I fear many people don’t pay attention to before paying attention to what is being said — and that is a huge mistake,” says Brandeis.

Perhaps even more important: Experts say there is no one diet or nutrition plan that is right for every person.

Brandeis tells WebMD that dieters need to stop blaming themselves when a plan doesn’t work for them. It’s not them, she says. It may not even be the plan. “It’s just not the correct match,” she says.

The solution: Before following a particular diet or nutrition plan, check the credentials of the author or creator. Look for plans that are backed up by published medical data, and supported by the opinions of many experts in the field.

FOR MORE TIPS FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CLICK BELOW

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