January 22, 2008 [Volume 2, Issue 4]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Cleanse Your Body
Top 10 Fitness Mistakes
Smart Kids

Cleanse Your Body

Are you considering a fast or a detox diet? It's not unusual for people to do this kind of "cleansing" after the holiday season. Many of us have been running around, preparing for the holidays, eating too much and not exercising enough. And, after all of the overindulgence and stress, we want to begin a healthier new year.

Cleansing is used to promote health and healing by reducing toxic intake and removing toxins from the body. It has become extremely popular, with several detox programs on the market. The wide variety of cleansing programs or detox diets include different combinations of therapeutic components such as cleansing herbs, juice or water fasting, whole-food or raw-food diets, colonic irrigation and hydrotherapy.

What is common across all detoxification programs is that you will eat differently, usually much less, so you can support the elimination of toxins from your body. These programs are usually short-term and emphasize whole, organic, non-genetically-modified foods (especially fruits and vegetables) that provide the vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants the body needs for detoxification.

There is no empirical scientific evidence on the health effects of detoxification diets. However, studies on various plants and herbs show positive effects on certain detoxification organ systems. The strongest evidence that supports dietary detoxification programs is related to caloric restriction and fasting. Research suggests fasting can lower blood pressure, regulate blood glucose, lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown, however, that in order to sustain the health benefits of fasting, individuals need to modify their diets over the long term.

You should always consult your health care professional before doing a cleanse or a detox diet, especially if you have a medical condition. Detox diets are not advised for children or women who are pregnant or nursing.

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Top 10 Fitness Mistakes

When Jan. 1 came and went, were you one of the millions of Americans who vowed to eat healthier and exercise more? Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds, change a clothing size, gain muscle mass or improve overall health, exercise is a critical component of your plan. Once you know the steps to achieving your fitness goals, it's just as important to know what not to do. Watch out for these common fitness mistakes that are sure to spoil your efforts.

1.Using cardio equipment improperly by hanging on to the equipment or slouching.
2.Losing focus instead of practicing mindful exercise and thinking about the muscles you're working until you can feel the resistance in those areas.
3.Thinking cardio is enough and skipping strength training exercises.
4.Failing to vary your routine by adding an extra workout per week, increasing your workout by 5-10 minutes, using interval training or adding an incline.
5.Believing you can eat anything if you exercise, even though one extra "treat" each day can more than make up for the calories burned in a workout.
6.Performing strength-training exercises improperly by failing to adjust the seat height and weight of the machines before you use them.
7.Setting unrealistic expectations. If you want results, you've got to do the work.
8.Rushing your reps, which raises blood pressure, increases your risk for joint injury and compromises your results.
9.Consuming sports drinks and energy bars during a moderate workout that lasts less than 60 minutes.
10.Burning yourself out. Motivation is a great thing, but starting off too strong can lead to quick burnout, soreness and eventually giving up.

Working out may seem like it should come naturally, but even the most experienced gym-goers have room to learn. We all make mistakes, but if you're spending the time and energy on a workout, you may as well reap the benefits.

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Smart Kids

Great news for parents: Schoolchildren are willing to eat healthy lunches. The days of corn dogs, tater tots, sloppy joes and french fries are slowly being replaced with apple slices, turkey hot dogs and vegetables.

For years people have underestimated children's willingness to eat healthier foods and schools' ability to produce appealing, nutritious lunch options. According to a recent University of Minnesota study, school lunch sales don't decline when healthier meals are served. Children will eat fruits and vegetables if they are presented to them. Moreover, nutritious lunches don't necessarily cost schools more to produce.

The research, published in the Review of Agricultural Economics, evaluated five years of data involving 330 Minnesota public school districts to determine compliance with federal standards for calories, nutrients and fats. Results suggested that nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables are actually less costly than processed foods, which offsets the higher labor costs involved with producing healthier lunches.

Change is always tough - to make healthy lunches a reality, many school districts will have to adjust by upgrading their kitchens and training their staff to prepare fresh, whole foods in bulk. But if the results achieved in Minnesota can be replicated on a national level, healthy eating at school can finally be a regular part of American life.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.