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9 Health Trends for 2007
By Steve Edwards
They say that knowledge is power, but who's got time to sift through all the muck and decide what's truly worth reading? At Beachbody, our aim is to keep you at the top of the learning curve about things that matter. Here are nine hot topics that will become big news in the upcoming year. And if they don't, they should, because all of them will have an effect on the health and well-being of you and your friends and family.
- We'll eat more locally produced foods. Get to know the acronym CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, because eating locally is going to become more and more popular. Eating food prepared in your area is the easiest way to ensure it's safesomething that's becoming more and more of a concern lately. When you also factor in the cost and environmental effects of transporting food, it makes even more sense. Not only are foods from afar harder to monitor, the adverse effects of transportation on our environment, and hence the food, are becoming very hard to ignore.
Once known only as your local farmers' market, CSA organizations are becoming more popular and prices for these foods are now competitive with corporate giants. All of which will create a positive effect on the health value and safety of the foods we eat.
For more on CSA, check out this edition of Steve's Mailbag.
- Preventative health care will become more prevalent. Without a national health care plan it's tougher than ever for Americans to use their doctors for most of their health needs. Not only that, but given that many of us use HMO plans that limit our ability to easily get to the right doctor or specialist, we need to take more responsibility for our personal health issues than we have in the modern age.
While the downside of this issue is obvious, the upside may have a bright future. First off, we're becoming aware that we need to get more educated where our health is concerned. Secondly, we're more aware of the value of getting a second opinion. But the biggest change is that insurance companies are finally beginning to acknowledge the fact that preventative health care, in the form or diet, exercise, and alternative medical practices, is worth covering.
Healthy bodies get sick less, injured less, and require fewer visits to hospitals and doctor's offices. By adding incentives for healthy habits we'll save so much money on sick care (what happens when preventative health care is ignored) that we might even begin to agree on a national health care plan.
- We'll learn what pH means to our diet. Our diets are too acidic, which is something we've been dealing with in various ways over the last 50 years. First, it was too much fat, then too little protein, then too many carbs, then too many of the wrong types of carbs, then too little fat. What we end up with is a diet that has too much acid. Welcome to the pH diet, the next generation of diet books about to hit the best-seller list.
Before you jump on the bandwagon, allow us to simplify it for you. Foods tend to be alkaline, high on the pH scale, or acidic, low on the pH scale. Our bodies digest foods better when the mix is towards the middle or upper range of this scale. Unfortunately, most of our favorite foods tend to be on the low end. Sugar, meat, alcohol, coffee, chips, fried stuff, most processed foods, and almost anything we refer to as "junk" has a low number associated with it. High pH foods include most plants in their natural state and Rolaids, Maalox, and other stuff we use when we suffer from "acid indigestion." Since the latter ones have no food value, the best way to stay healthy is to eat more fruits and vegetables. And you don't need a best-selling diet book to tell you that.
- Food safety will become a major issue. This will lead to more scrutiny as to how we raise and harvest the things we eat. Finding E. coli and other pathogens in our food and water has become so real it's almost commonplace. Once the safest place to eat and drink on the planet, the U.S. news headlines are starting to make us look like a developing country. While there are many reasons for this, the bottom line is that we can no longer just assume it's safe to eat the food and drink the water just because we're, well, Americans. We've allowed our agriculture and meat industries to fly under the radar for a long time and now we're paying for it.
Thankfully, we're not a developing country and have government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help us out. They are our health watchdog and provide a lot of useful information about keeping you and your family safe. Checking their Web site regularly will help you to stay informed.
- We'll acknowledge childhood obesity as a serious issue. The latest numbers estimate that between 32 and 44 percent of our children are overweight by the time they hit preschool. And these numbers are rising. With type 2 diabetes (which stems from obesity) the fastest growing disease on the planet, we've hit the economic point where we can't literally afford to ignore this issue any longer. Not that we've been totally ignoring it but we haven't given this issue the attention it deserves, probably because, by far, poverty-stricken children are leading the way. Now that it's blown into a full-scale socioeconomic problem, expect to begin to see some changes.
- We'll name our poison. We'll have some say over whether or not we eat genetically modified foods and other artificial or altered products. Outlawing trans fat is getting all the headlines but these synthetic bits of artery-clogging gunk are just the tip of the humankind-messing-with-nature iceberg. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have been an insidious part of our diets for decades. Finally, we're starting to become educated about them and they've hit the mainstream radar.
For more on this issue, buy or rent The Future of Food, an inside look at the history of GMOs and their past and future health risks to you. We'll have a review for you in an upcoming issue.
- Organic will come under fire. There is no doubt that the trend towards producing foods that are grown by more natural methods is a good one, but expect some controversy in the upcoming months. Having an "organic" label has made an impact on the market and big business has been buying up small traditionally organic companies and lobbying to weaken organic standards.
Before you dismiss this as a conspiracy theory, consider some of the companies that have joined the organic movement: Chevron, Disney, DuPont, ExxonMobil, General Electric, McDonald's, Monsanto, Nike, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Phillip Morris, Starbucks, Target, and Texas Instruments. This list is not exactly synonymous with health and is more often associated with words like smog, obesity, toxic waste, greed, and cancer.
Organic is the fastest growing segment of the food industry so it's not surprising that the big players want in. But with the almighty quarterly earnings statements replacing health as the industry's Holy Grail, things are getting rocky. According to Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, "Congress voted to weaken the national organic standards that consumers count on to preserve the integrity of the organic label. The process was profoundly undemocratic and the end result is a serious setback for the multibillion-dollar alternative food and farming system that the organic community has so painstakingly built up over the past 35 years."
This health vs. money war is just getting started. As consumers, we need to do our best to stay informed and make our voices heard. Your local CSA affiliate is probably the best place to start.
- We'll begin consuming less soy. It's not that soy's bad for you; it's that we're eating way too much of it. One of the GMO world's star pupils, soy is now found in many foods that don't conjure up thoughts of tofu and it's beginning to have some serious effects on our health. For more on this issue, check out Soy to the World and The Soy Dilemma.
- We'll question our reliance on prescription medications. The war on drugs is becoming the war on prescription medications and it's time we began to see the connection between Scarface and pharmaceutical companies. We've joked about the drug-addicted celebrities, but prescription drug addition has moved far beyond a microcosm of the Hollywood elite with paychecks that exceed some countries' gross national product.
Since our pharmaceutical companies have been bombarding the airwaves with advertisements, prescription medications have become the number one escalating area of teen drug abuse. In fact, it's the only growing area. According to the annual study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 840,000 fewer teens are using illegal drugs compared to five years ago. However, overall drug abuse is only slightly down, meaning virtually that same number has turned to using various types of prescription medications.
Of course, prescription meds serve a great purpose in our society. But they are also drugs and can have far worse effects than marijuana and alcoholby far the two most popular illegal teen drugsif the problem is left unchecked. Banning, or at least heavily restricting, the pharmaceutical companies' advertising ability to advertise substances where the side effects can be far worse than what's being treated is where we should start. After all, we already restrict alcohol adsand just imagine the outrage over an ad like this, "Stressed? Why not try some medical marijuana?"
Churning out obese, drug-addicted, and undereducated kids is not the cornerstone of creating a great society. The revolution begins in 2007and it starts with you.
If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at email@example.com. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter.
Check out Steve's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.
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6 Ways to Find the Time to Work Out
By Monica Ciociola
The perceived lack of time is one of the main reasons people give for not exercising regularly. Even those of you who have discovered the wonders of in-home fitness still find it difficult to juggle work, family, and fitness. We hear you asking for help, so here are six smart ways to find more time for your workout. This way you can keep those New Year's resolutions all year long.
- Shop online. Now that you can basically order anything and everything over the Internet and have it delivered, consider doing some of your errands and shopping this way. Most major retailers have online stores, and provide shipping options. So there's no need to go to the mall or the post office.
- Farm out some chores. Try dropping off your laundry for fluff 'n' foldespecially if you've already been spending money at the laundromat. You'll find that it doesn't cost that much more. Also, check out your local maid service. For a little extra money, you can save a couple of hours cleaning your home, not to mention the dozens of hours of procrastinating!
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier. Work out before heading to the office. A little trick for waking up faster is to touch your toes as soon as you open your eyes, bringing blood to your head so you feel alert more quickly. After your workout, you'll be more energized for the day ahead and hardly notice the lost sleep. Working out in the morning as opposed to midday or at night also saves you the double cost of showering, getting dressed, and making yourself beautiful.
- Prepare meals in advance. Try to get most of your meal preparation for the week done over the weekend. That means washing all your lettuce, veggies, herbs, fish, and poultry up front, and stocking complete salads-in-a-bag to take to work. You can also prepare individual slices of poultry and fish and a variety of veggies for dinner. Also make vats of soup, pasta, and brown rice that you'll be able to microwave throughout the week. Filling up on healthy meals and having low-fat, good-for-you snacks readily available at work will reduce the temptation to sample the goodies from the office vending machine.
- Take your DVDs with you. If you're traveling, make sure you pack your favorite fitness DVDs along with your laptop so you can work out wherever you are, whether it's at your in-laws, your friend's house, or in a hotel room.
- Pop in a 20-minute workout. Beachbody makes some superfast and effective 10-to-20-minute workouts for when you're seriously short on time. Try the Turbo Jam® 20 Minute Workout for an excellent calorie-blasting session, any of the Fast 10® workouts for excellent muscle-toning and fat-burning results in as little as 10 minutes, and the Great Body Guaranteed!TM collection to focus on specific trouble areas in even less than 10 minutes. It's only about 10 to 20 minutes, but the rewards stretch far beyond that to stronger bones and muscles, a sharper mind, and a lower risk of cancer and diabetes. And remember, working out reduces stress. You'll enjoy your free time much more if you're healthy and energized.
If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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