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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

HealthLines for the Holidays
… quick tips for seasonal health, safety, and fun

A turkey dinner.

Photo: iStock

Talking Turkey…

  1. 45 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas.
  2. The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about as big as a large dog.
  3. Eating turkey doesn't make you sleepy; it's the carbohydrates in the rest of your holiday dinner that do.
  4. The average American consumes about 17 pounds of turkey a year.
  5. Turkey is low in fat and high in protein.
  6. White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat.
  7. Only male turkeys (toms) gobble; female turkeys (hens) click.
  8. Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia, Missouri, and California are the nation's top turkey producers.

(Sources: National Center for Health Statistics; National Turkey Federation; U.S. Department of Agriculture)

5 Top Information Sources for Your Holiday Courses

    Gateway to all federal government food safety programs
  2. Foodborne Illness and Contaminants at U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    In-depth information on preventing food borne illness
    Healthy holiday eating for people with diabetes
    Safe handling of take-out foods—and much more
    Trusted, consumer-friendly information on 740 conditions, diseases, wellness topics, and more

4 Steps to Making Sense, Safely, of Turkey and "All the Fixin's"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages consumers to pay special attention to holiday food handling and preparation. Most at risk from food borne illnesses are the elderly, people with weakened immune systems from cancer and other causes, pregnant women, and children. To reduce the risk, the FDA advises the following steps:

  1. Keep Clean: Frequently wash hands and all surfaces touching food. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen onto cutting boards, knives, counter tops, sponges, and brushes.
  2. Separate Foods: Don't cross-contaminate by letting bacteria spread from one food to another. Especially keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from fresh vegetables, such as carrots, and other foods that are ready to eat.
  3. Cook Thoroughly: Food is properly cooked when it is brought to an internal temperature long enough to kill the harmful bacteria which cause food borne illness. Use a food thermometer to measure internal temperature of foods.
  4. Chill Properly: Refrigerate foods promptly to prevent most harmful bacteria from multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 37 degrees Fahrenheit, freezers at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Occasionally check settings with a thermometer.

"But Baby It's Cold Outside…"

At holiday time, when the weather outside may be frightful and the fire inside so delightful, it's hard not to overindulge: in everything except exercise! The newest research shows people of all ages and physical conditions benefit from exercise and physical activity.

A family walking in the woods.

Photo: Getty Images

8 "Greats" for Seniors from Regular Exercise

Older people become sick or disabled more often from not exercising, so staying active and exercising regularly can:

  1. Improve mood and relieve depression
  2. Help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
  3. Improve health in the frail or those with diseases that accompany aging
  4. Increase strength—carry groceries, climb stairs
  5. Improve balance—prevent falls
  6. Restore flexibility—speed recovery from injury
  7. Build endurance—walk farther, dance longer
  8. Improve quality of life

Children Benefit, Too!

Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day.

Regular exercise helps them to:

  1. Feel less stressed
  2. Feel better about themselves
  3. Feel more ready to learn in school
  4. Keep a healthy weight
  5. Build sturdy muscles, bones, and joints
  6. Sleep better at night

As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. Parents should limit TV, video game, and computer time. Parents can set a good example by being active themselves. Exercising together can be fun for everyone. Competitive sports can help kids stay fit. Walking or biking to school, dancing, bowling, and yoga are some other ways for kids to get exercise.

5 Good Links to Excellent Exercise Info

    Tips to help you start—and stay—active
    Comprehensive guide to exercise for older Americans
    Great source for parents and kids alike
    Covers everything from the basics to the latest research
    Comprehensive information on asthma, including exercising in cold weather

Fall 2007 Issue: Volume 2 Number 4 Pages 26 - 27