Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Fad Diet Frenzy

It seems like every couple months, there's a newer, more effective diet that's the rage of Hollywood.  The diet gets really popular because of the star power and press it receives, hangs around for a few years, then flickers until no one even thinks twice about doing the diet again.  These are known as Fad Diets. 

Just like anything else (Pogs, Furbies, Pet Rocks, etc.), most diets that use some product or service fall into the fad category.  Most of these Fad Diets are loosely based on science, if they're even science based at all.  The problem is that most of the time, these diets are such a drastic change in your normal dietary patterns that they will make a difference, but it is commonly short lived.

For example, one of the biggest diets on the scene right now is the HCG Diet.  The HCG diet is loosely based on the premise that getting a regular supplement, or even injection, of HCG, aka Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (a normal physiological hormome most prominent in pregnant women, it's actually the hormone that's tested when a pregnancy test is performed), will help someone in their quest for weight loss.  However, when you actually start looking into the diet portion of the HCG Diet, the daily caloric intake (how many calories you eat) is severely restricted.  And if anyone severely restricts the amount of food they eat, they're at least going to lose some weight.  Not to mention that severely restricting how much you eat is unhealthy.  Your body needs food.

On the unhealthy note, some fad diets are just plain dangerous.  Remember the Atkins Diet.  Basically you wouldn't eat any carbs and then load up on proteins.  It didn't matter if the protein was bacon or quinoa.  But of course more poeple are going to eat bacon and other "unhealthy" meats instead of quinoa.  These unhealthy proteins can lead to severe problems like atherosclerosis (plaque in the blood vessels) and other diseases.  In fact, Mr Atkins himself died from complications typically linked to a diet rich in high fat foods.

So the next time that you hear that Scarlett Johansson used the X Diet to lose 15 pounds for her next role or Ryan Reynolds tried the Y Diet to beef up for his next gig, just pass it off as another one of those tricky Fad Diets.  After all, you know what you should and shouldn't be eating.  Just listen to that little voice in your head and reach for a handful of sugar snap peas instead of a handful of Cheetos.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sit Up Straight!

With me hosting my 2nd blog based class tomorrow about the American Sedentary Lifestyle, I figured that it would be the perfect opportunity to address one of the aspects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, sitting at work.

As most people know, there are far more jobs that require people to sit at work than there used to be.  With the advent of technological advances in computers and robotics, our jobs require us to sit a lot more than before.  We are able to communicate and calculate using our work computers instead to getting up and physically going somewhere.  There have also been robots taking over jobs that have long been held by people, and then of course we need people to use computers to control the robots, which means more sitting.

And all this sitting is not so great on our bodies because it decreases our mobility and can lead to chronic problems.  The good news is even if you do need to sit all day, there is a proper way to do so.

First thing first, make sure you have a good chair.  One that changes heights, back angles, has adjustable arm rests, and a back that goes up to at least your shoulders is a good start.  Even better would be a chair that has an adjustable lumbar support.  If your chair doesn't have a lumbar support, you can easily add one by taking a towel, rolling it up, and placing it right in the small of your back.

You also need to make sure eveything's is ergonomically set up.  Having your screen at eye level prevents you from looking down and forward the whole day.  Make sure that your keyboard is set up so that you are not straining to use it.  Make it sit at a comforatble angle for you shoulders, elbows, and wrists.  Just make sure that it's not sitting too low that you have to hunch over to type comfortably.

Finally, and the previous two go hand in hand with this, make sure that you have proper posture.  By having everything in the correct place, you should be sitting tall with your shoulders back and your head directly over your shoulders.  Most people will be slumped forward with no lumbar curve, their shoulders rounded forward, and their head way in front of their shoulders.  This position only leads to trouble.  Take a look at the picture for a good reference:

Of course, you should always get up and move around whenever possible.  Stretch, go for a walk on your break, take the stairs, etc.  It's pretty easy to add that tiny bit of exercise and you'll be doing your body a world of good by adding that little bit.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fight for What you Believe In

If there's one blog that I want you to read, it's this one.  The reason is that there is a serious issue going on in the State of Washington right now.  Our governor, Chris Gregoire, has initiated a bill to the state House and Senate that would abolish a right of choice of it's citizens.  House Bill 1015 and Senate Bill 5005, if passed, would do away with the right of the parents of a child to choose whether or not to have their child vaccinated for religious or philosophical reasons.

Now, I'm not going to argue that I want these bills to be shot down because my son isn't vaccinated or because of the potential harm that vaccines pose to people, especially infants with a developing immune system, that can be found in my previous blog.  This blog topic is going to focus on the principle of the presented bills.

First, these bills would take away the right that parents do currently, and should always have, to make a decision on what they deem best for their child.  Whether it is because of religious views or philosophical views, you should never be forced to do something to your child that is potentially harmful. 

Secondly, if these bills are passed, the governement is saying that they know what's best for your child and that your child needs to be protected via vaccination which has been proven to be harmful.  I don't know about you, but I think I know a little bit better what is best for my child than a group of politicians being lobbied by pharmaceutical companies.

Thirdly, the proposed bills, if passed, would be in contradiction to the 1st and 14th amendments.  Whether you are religious or not, you know that we have the right to religious veiws, and if your religious views go against vaccination, the governtment isn't able to usurp those views (1st Amandment).  Also, "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" is directly from the 14th Amendment.  It sounds like if these bills are passed and become law, then the law would be in violation of the US Constitution. 

I know this blog sounds very political.  However, whether you are liberal or conservative or somewhere in between, whether you are against vaccination or for it, the principle is that we should never be forced to do something that is potentially harmful to ourselves or our children.

If anyone would ilke some more information on what you can do to help defeat these bills and keep the law the way it is, please feel free to e-mail me and request more info at menstad@nwhealth.edu.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Runnin' On Empty

I know that during these dreary, cold winter days, it's more difficult to keep those energy levels up.  But, if you're not careful, you could be on the slippery slope to chronic fatigue.

Fatigue is an ailment that affects most, if not all people, at some point in their lives.  The key is to not let it stay for a prolonged period of time.  The reason that fatigue is so damaging to you health is because it is a negative stressor on your body. It does things such as release cortisol, the stress hormone, decrease metabolism, cause dehydration, headaches, anxiety, and a whole lot of other unhealthy things.  When your body gets into a rut of chronic fatigue, you will not only feel crummy and tired all the time, but your body will be running at a sub-optimal level.  And this sub-optimal level could actually lead to stress related diseases such at Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and others.

So what can you do to fuel up your tank?  Here's a couple easy, everyday changes that you can make to your routine to help boost your energy levels.  Now, they may be difficult at first, but once you do them for a while, it will be like second nature, and before you know it, you'll be able to feel the extra energy.

1- Get more & regular sleep.  Our bodies function on what's called a Circadian Rhythm.  When you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep by going to bed and waking at the same time, your body will be able to get into a groove and you will feel more rested and energized.

2 - Exercise.  It kind of sounds counter productive.  Use energy to get more energy?  But it's true.  When you exercise regularly, you increase specific hormones which in turn can increase your metabolism and you also get more oxygen into your system for better cellular recovery and energy levels.  The key is to not overdo it and give yourself some recuperation time.

3 - Drink!  Just water though.  Anytime that you feel thirsty, your body is telling you that you are at least mildly dehydrated.  And even mild dehydration can lead to stressors such as anxiety, depression, aggravation, and other energy suckers.  So make sure you're drinking at least 64 ounces or water per day.

4 - Chow down.  Food is energy.  And your body needs the right kind of food to keep up your energy levels.  You should be eating a large breakfast (Breakfast like a King) with foods that have a low glycemic index.  This essentially means that the food will be digested and broken down for a longer period of time.  It's like a time-release capsule, you'll be getting the energy (calories-yes you need calories) for a longer period of time instead of all at once like if you were to eat a 3 Musketeers.  In general, low glycemic index foods include proteins, fats, and complex carbs.

So you can try all four right away or just try one of the suggestions and see how you feel after a week, then a month, then a year and I'm sure you'll be able to tell the difference.