New year, new healthy you

Published by rudy Date posted on January 6, 2009

Make 2009 the year to go from good health to great. It’s easier than you think. “The trick is to make small adjustments and let them add up,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University. Check out the list of 52 specific, doable mini-changes in this article, then try a new one each week to make 2009 your healthiest year yet.

8 Things You Know You Should Do But Don’t

1) Eat breakfast. Study after study shows that people who eat a morning meal are more energized, focused, and weigh less.

2) Bone up. Try a calcium supplement daily. Some good choices are those combined with vitamin D so you can have an extra dose of this important vitamin.

3) Get your three-a-day of whole grain. They can cut your risk of heart disease and diabetes by more than 35 percent. Good sources include oatmeal and brown rice.

4) Milk it. It’s a great source of calcium as well as vitamin D, which recent studies show may help you live longer. It’s also linked to lower risk of some cancers.

5) Hydrate. Drink enough to avoid dehydration. Water is just fine.

6) Do a shot of sunscreen. You need a full shot of glass to cover your entire body, and one teaspoon for your face to fully protect against skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

7) Lunch on salad. It’s an easy way to get at least two servings of vegetables in one shot, says Molly Morgan, RD. Be sure to toss in the brightly colored ones, which are highest in disease-fighting antioxidants. Try tomatoes, red and green peppers, and broccoli.

8) Floss. Gum disease increases your risk of various conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.

8 Things You Can Now Count As Healthy

1) Nibble before dinner. Eating a small amount of healthy fat 20 minutes before you eat — such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and others — can trick you into thinking you’re full faster. This works because good fats stimulate the production of a hormone that sends the signal to your brain that you’ve eaten enough.

2) Have a pizza night. Pizza is often dismissed as unhealthy, but if you use whole wheat crust and low-fat cheese, and pile on veggies (skip the pepperoni and ground beef), it’s one of the most nutritionally sound meals around.

3) Juice it up. Goodbye to its reputation as a sugar and calorie bomb. New research has found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 76 percent and help lower cholesterol. Just make sure you go for 100-percent juice (read the labels carefully).

4) Put pasta on the menu. Choose multigrain varieties, says Jennifer Vimborg, RD, a Chicago-based nutritionist. “They’re loaded with fiber to help you get the recommended 25 grams per day.”

5) Drink a fruity cocktail. Research shows that alcohol can increase the level of antioxidants in certain fruits, including strawberries.

6) Express yourself. When people wrote affectionately about their close friends and family in three 20-minute sessions, their cholesterol levels dropped an average of 11 points.

7) Go shopping. Buying an inexpensive thing that you really like can give your mood a lift, plus you can burn up to 160 extra calories walking around the mall.

8) Clean house. Increasing light physical activity can lower blood glucose levels and may reduce the risk of diabetes, according to research published in the journal Diabetes Care.

6 Non-Negotiables

1) Know your “Big Seven.” Weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, and blood sugar. They’re the most crucial indicators of good health and disease risk, says Dr. Katz. If any fall outside the healthy range, work with your doctor to get them under control.

2) Take your family health history. Many diseases have a hereditary component, and your doctor may want to watch you more closely for conditions that run in your family.

3) Measure your waist monthly. In women, if it’s over 35 inches, and in men, over 40 inches, you’re at a higher risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, regardless of your weight.

4) Set an annual mammogram. Along with a yearly clinical breast exam and a periodic breast self-exam, a mammogram starting at age 40 is the best way to catch breast cancer in its early, most treatable stage.

5) Ask for an HPV test along with your PAP. It screens for the human papillomavirus, which is directly linked to cervical cancer.

6) Do a full-body mole check. Do this on yourself monthly and get one yearly at the dermatologist. If you notice any that are new, changed or bleeding, see a dermatologist ASAP.

12 Weightless Tricks

1) Switch one soda. Exchange one soda (diet or regular) that you drink every day for water. In one study, dieters who replaced almost all sweetened drinks with H2O lost an average of five pounds more than those who didn’t. Even limiting diet drinks can help, says Heather Bauer, RD, founder of Nu-Trin nutrition counseling center in New York City.

2) Eat and run. Before you reach for that candy bar, think about how far you need to run to burn those calories.

3) Chew slowly. In a recent study, when the subjects were told to eat quickly, they ate 646 calories in nine minutes, but when they were encouraged to pause between bites and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times, they took in just 579 calories in 29 minutes.

4) Sleep. Replacing one hour of “inactive” awake time with sleep can slash your calorie intake by about six percent, due to hormonal changes and simply by giving you fewer chances to eat, says recent research.

5) Turn in a little hungry. Nighttime snacks can add up to 300 extra calories daily, says Julie Upton, RD. On a scale of one to 10, one being faint due to hunger and 10 being stuffed, go to bed at about six.

6) Be a flextarian. Going meatless for at least two meals a week can help reduce the amount of saturated fat and calories you consume, says Bauer.

7) Change your dressing. A salad is certainly virtuous — until you pour on the dressing. In fact, people can often get more fat and calories from dressings than any other food, says Bauer. Try the new salad dressing spritzers, which add flavor for just 10 calories.

8) Leave a few bites behind. This equals about 100 calories, which is all you need to cut down from your daily diet to avoid gaining the one to two pounds most adults put on every year, says Jim Hill, PhD, co-founder of America on the Move.

9) Go the extra mile. This will help you ward off weight gain. That’s just 2,000 steps (or about a walk around the block).

10) Jump rope. This will up the calorie burn of your walking workout. Start by doing 20 jumps every five to 10 minutes.

11) Sit in front of the TV … on a stability ball. “It gets you to hold in your abdominal muscles, so you’re building strength and helping posture,” says Katie Duggan, MPH, manager of the Prevention Research Center at St. Louis University’s School of Public Health.

12) Exercise while you e-mail. Sit upright and inhale deeply. As you exhale slowly, draw your lower abdominals in toward your spine. Hold them tight (while you take a few easy breaths) for as long as it takes you to write an e-mail.

3 Things That Make Life Easier

1) Have it delivered. Not having time to cook doesn’t have to stand between you and having a healthy meal. You can have good food delivered.

2) Get organized. At doctor’s visits, request a copy of all lab works, consultations, and the physician’s report and keep them in a file.

3) Strike a pose. Research shows that yoga can make you less stressed and better able to concentrate. One study found that students saw the benefits after just four classes.

And 5 Things That Are Just Plain Smart

1) Know this workout number. Monitor your heart rate to make sure you’re getting the most out of your walk or jog.

2) Sneak in strength training. It’s key to warding off the weight creep as you age.

3) Sport some shades. Make sure that they have UVA and UVB protection. Excessive sunlight exposure over time can up your risk of cataracts.

4) Take a fish oil capsule. It’s a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

5) Buy a new pillow. It’ll make all the difference in how you sleep. A pillow that’s indented in the center or conforms to your head shape is best for reducing neck pain.

Hope these 52 easy tweaks will help you feel and look your best in 2009! –Tyrone Reyes, M.D., Philippine Star

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