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Bless Your Heart to the great actors and actress in the Magnolia Arts Center production of Wait Until Dark. We...

County Home Complex designated Great Public Space

Kolasa, Kathy

Kathy Kolasa

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Kathy Kolasa

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dear readers: My friend and colleague Alice Keene shared the news that Pitt County’s County Home Complex has been designated as one of five Great Public Spaces through the American Planning Association’s 2017 Great Places in America program. The program recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces in the United States demonstrating exceptional character, quality and planning — attributes that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth and inspire others around the country.

The County Home Complex is the first public space in North Carolina to receive a Great Place designation from American Planning Association. Starting with Wintergreen School in 1986, the County Home Complex promotes and sustains healthy living in rural Pitt County. If you haven’t been there, come out and enjoy the walking trails, playgrounds and athletic fields, the Eastern Carolina Village and Farm Museum, the Leroy James Farmers Market, the Making Pitt Fit Community Garden, the Council on Aging and Greenville Senior Center and Pitt County Recycling Collection Site.

There will be an event to celebrate the designation at 10 a.m. Saturday at Alice F. Keene Park, 4561 County Home Road. Activities will be going on throughout the day at various locations in the complex.

Q My friends are all going vegan. I am not so sure I want to do it. Is it that much healthier for you?  — M.R., Greenville

A People choose to adopt a vegan eating pattern for a lot of reasons including personal health, the health of animals and of the environment. There are definite health benefits, but also some potential risks from eating vegan if the meals are not planned.

Nelly Bellamy, a third-year Brody medical student, wanted to give you some important information. Here is what she wants you to know.

Have you seen the new pro-vegan Netflix movie “What the Health”? Veganism is a plant-based diet in which meat and animal products are not consumed. Although traditional plant-based veganism can be very healthy, movie viewers may be surprised to find that eating vegan may not be the best diet for them.

From a medical standpoint, there are a few main issues to consider before becoming vegan. First, long-term veganism can lead to a vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. These deficiencies can cause numbness, problems walking and permanent nerve damage. Both nutrients are found in meat, seafood and eggs. To avoid this, vegans must supplement B12 in their diet either by taking a B12 multivitamin or consuming vitamin B12-rich foods such as kombucha (a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks) or tempeh (a traditional soy product made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form).

It’s easy to get the protein you need from animal products, but vegans must also be intentional about obtaining protein through foods such as nuts, tofu, lentils, beans, quinoa, soy milk and edamame. North Americans typically meet their calcium needs from dairy products, but vegans must ensure they obtain calcium through foods like kale, collard greens, dates, soy and nuts to avoid having brittle bones.

It is important to differentiate healthy foods from vegan foods. Many vegans only eat fruits and vegetables, which is why the diet is healthy. However, french fries, chips, bread, pasta, and soda also are examples of vegan foods; but they may be filled with saturated fats and may not be nutritious.

Regardless of what inspires you to be a vegan, take care to make good food choices such as tofu, nuts, legumes, fruits and whole grains.If you are a new vegan, focus on making healthy vegan food choices by choosing more fruits and vegetables and foods rich in protein, calcium and vitamin B12.

Further, it is important to be wary of vegan versions of foods, for example vegan macaroni and cheese, vegan pizza and vegan cupcakes. Recipes for these vegan “look alikes” usually have more calories than the regular versions. Manufacturers often use more sugar and other calorie-dense substitutes for eggs and cheese.

Although veganism can be a great way to eat for some, if you are not ready to completely cut out meat and animal products like milk, cheese, milk-based ice creams and yogurts, I have a few other suggestions on ways to eat to be healthy.First, try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks. Second, switch sweetened beverages like tea, diet soda and regular sodas to water. Finally, add 20 minutes of walking to your daily routine. All of these can help you make strides toward a healthier life.

Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an Affiliate Professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at kolasaka@ecu.edu.

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