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African American Health

Health improvement

09/26/2008

Question:

I want to know what is a process, or what steps can I take to better my overall health meaning are there a certain vitamin, certains foods, or drinks, just things I can do on the daily basis that don`t take much time, bu can make a big diffrence in the long run.

Answer:

Thanks for your question.  There are lots of health habits we should all adopt to live healthier, happier lives.  Here are my top 5 recommendations:

1.  Exercise.  Exercise is the fountain of youth.  It helps lower blood sugar, reduces cholesterol, aids in weight reduction and management, improves mood, sleep, and muscle tone, and prevents bone loss.  Experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week (5-7).  For weight reduction, aim for 60-90 minutes.  Walk, bike, run, rollerblade- whatever.  Just do it.

2.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Choose whole/fresh fruit over juice and eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables every day.  Dark green and orange fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients and antioxidants- disease-fighting chemicals.

3.  Choose lean, low fat protein sources.  Red meat and saturated fat consumption has been linked with colon cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.  Choose lean cuts of chicken and turkey and try to bake, broil, grill or stew instead of frying.  Pull the skin off turkey and eat more fish or beans on a regular basis.  Choose low fat or fat-free dairy products when possible and limit full fat cheese, butter, ice cream, etc.

4.  Eat and drink less processed foods and beverages.  Soft drinks, alcohol, salty and sugary sweets have zero nutritional value, can be loaded with unwanted calories, caffeine and artificial colors.  Enjoy a treat now and then, but try to limit chips, cake, pie, cookies and other treats.

5.  Drink water!  Water aids in elimination, cools the body, and helps maintain blood pressure.  Yet most people drink diet soft drinks, sweetened tea, coffee or other beverages when their bodies really need plain water.  Aim for 6-8 (8 oz) glasses per day.

As for the vitamins, an age/sex formula is fine to take.  For example, if you're a 45 yr old male, a One a Day for men would be perfectly appropriate for you.  Avoid individual supplements unless prescribed by your doctor or dietitian.  Good luck!

For more information:

Go to the African American Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati