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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Burning Question: Is Doing a Detox a Good Idea?

NO: It's risky — and you don't need it.
Glenn Braunstein, MD, professor and chairman, department of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles
  • Our bodies have built-in detoxifiers.
    The liver, the kidneys, and the colon are naturally designed to remove toxins and eliminate them through our waste, so there's no need for additional help.
A (Safe!) Jump-Start Cleanse
  • It's potentially harmful.
    Many extreme programs, like fasting, juice diets, and the Master Cleanse, can leave the body weak and devoid of vital nutrients, like protein and essential vitamins, even if you do them for a short time. Colonics — which flush the colon with warm water to remove a supposed buildup of waste there — carry the risk of dehydration, infection, and even perforation of the colon wall.
Diet Tricks the Pros Tell Their Friends
  • Detoxes can create more toxins.
    Plans that severely restrict food can cause the body to burn fat for fuel. Burning large amounts of fat releases chemicals called ketones into the blood — and a buildup of these can cause bad breath, loss of appetite, nausea, and in rare cases, coma or death.
Keep reading to hear the argument for detox cleanses.
YES: Some types may be healthy.
Cathy Wong, ND, naturopathic doctor and an American College of Nutrition – certified nutrition specialist
  • A detox can help clear you out.
    A cleanse that combines vegetable-based meals with green juices can get things moving in your digestive system, thanks to its high fiber-and-water content. It may even help flush toxins. (Don't do one for more than a week or so.)
Detox Meals to Soothe Your System
  • It might make you feel better.
    Many people report that they have more energy, better concentration, less bloating, and fewer cravings after going on a detox diet.
  • It gets you into a new groove.
    Detoxes shift you away from bad habits (like excessive intake of coffee, alcohol, and fatty or sugary foods) and can help foster healthier habits even once we're off them.
Diet Crutches: What Works, What Doesn't's advice:
If you've been feeling bogged down by junk food, alcohol, additives, or extra weight, a diet of whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is a good way to reboot healthy habits. But stay away from hard-core programs that require severe caloric restriction. They'll only leave you nutrient-deficient and grumpy, not to mention slow your metabolism. Skip the colonic, too, and have lots of water and fiber-rich fruits and veggies instead to keep your digestive system moving safely.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3 Must-Have Items For New Year Fitness Goals

For a lot of us, the New Year equals a fresh start, and getting healthy and fit seems to be on everyone's mind. Regardless of what your fitness goals might be, it's never too early to start the journey. Here are a few items to get now, which will help ensure that 2012 is your fittest year ever!
  • Planner or calendar: There's something about scheduling a fitness date that keeps people committed. Before the New Year, go old school and treat yourself to a brand-new planner or calendar. When planning out your week, pencil in workouts the same way you do meetings, happy hours, and other engagements; doing this will keep you from double-booking and help you better organize your workouts. I'm partial to one of these handmade planners from Etsy.
  • New shoes or gear: There's no motivation to hit the gym or running trail than a new pair of shoes! In the same way that you can't wait to wear a brand-new dress, you'll be dying to break in your new shoes. If your shoes don't need to be replaced yet, treat yourself to a pair of high-quality capris or a couple of cute fitness tanks. Check out these picks of cute and fashionable fitness finds.
  • Personal training session: The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to assess your fitness level and set new goals. What better way to do that than to meet with a personal trainer? It might seem like a waste of money, but a trainer can assess where you're at, know which areas you need improvement in, and challenge you where you most need to be pushed. If you can only spring for one session, make sure to maximize your time with the trainer: ask a lot of questions and let him or her know what your expecting to get out of the session. Hopefully you'll walk away with a new workout or a plan that pushes you to the next level.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Quick Fixes For When You Have Overindulged

While we'd all love to be more conscious of portion sizes to help reduce holiday weight gain, all it takes is a cheese ball here, and a pigs in a blanket there, and those innocent bite-sized holiday treats can produce an explosion of heartburn and bloating in your belly. If you went a little overboard at the hors d'oeuvres table (or the main course), and are now feeling the negative side effects, here are some quick remedies to help ease the pain.
  • Walk It Off: No need for a brisk, speed-walking session, but around 20 minutes after your meal, a leisurely walk can assist in dispelling gas from your abdomen. What walking does is help to relieve overall intestinal pressure and therefore will reduce that uncomfortable bloating feeling. Walking also helps to get the blood flowing, which aids in the overall digestion process. Fresh air in itself can make you feel better too!
Keep reading for more tips.
  • Bloating-Busting Foods: About a half hour after you've indulged, if you can still stomach some food, try eating a small portion of either papaya, pineapple, or yogurt, since all of these food items are great in aiding in the digestion process. For instance, pineapple is high in the enzyme bromelain, which helps break down protein, making it easier for your body to digest your food.
  • Drink Green Tea: Help your body cut fat accumulation and cholesterol levels by drinking green tea during or after your meal. Controlled studies have shown that green tea contains certain polyphenols, or plant-based antioxidants, which help break down fat, thus helping to lower cholesterol level and BMI.
  • Refrain From Lying Down: You may be tempted to hit the sofa for some post-party relief, but don't! Wait at least three hours after your meal to avoid acid reflux since all those gastric juices will be working hard to help digest your food.
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