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Busting Health Myths

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What's healthy and what's not seems to change by the day. How can you tell what's the truth?

woman exercising

JJ Virgin: You wake up in the morning, pour some coffee, and check out the health news of the day. Why is it that there is always some conflicting information about diet and fitness? One day you're supposed to eat grilled yak meat to shed pounds, and the next day it's going to kill you. Sure, I'm making a joke here, but the truth is, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction with all of the noise out there. From time to time in this column, I'd like to take an opportunity to clear up the latest rumors and provide you with the facts to help you make more informed decisions.

FACT OR FICTION? You should only eat organic fruit.
FACT: While organic is usually the best choice, there are certain fruits that you definitely will want to go organic with and others that are not as crucial. The basic rule is whether or not you have to peel it. If you're feeding the kids (and yourself) something with a peel that you actually eat, then go organic. It's the safe way to avoid toxins. So apples, berries, and peaches are fruits to go 100% organic on, but you are okay to go conventional with oranges, bananas, and avocados (although I believe it's always better to go organic all the way if you can afford it). Remember other important tips, such as avoiding waxy looking apples (which are usually coated in order to look pretty) in favor of dull ones. And the most effective and inexpensive way to wash your produce is to soak it in white vinegar and filtered water.

FACT OR FICTION? You can breathe your way thin without exercising.
FACT: I'm smiling because if only it were that easy. I'm breathing right now and dropped a pant size! While you can't breathe your way to a flat belly, doing slow, controlled deep breathing exercises when you are feeling stressed will reduce your cortisol levels. Chronic stress can cause you to store more fat around your waistline and raise the set point for burning it off. Another great (and fun) way to lower stress hormones is through laughter. But you won't start to shed pounds in a week because you're breathing deeper or watching some "I Love Lucy" reruns -- these strategies need to be part of your daily healthy lifestyle program to have a long-term impact.

FACT OR FICTION? It doesn't matter if you eat right before bedtime.

FACT: Our body is not a bank account, it's a chemistry lab. What you eat, how much of it you eat, and when you eat it all matter. Food is information, and you want to make sure that the message to your body is to burn fat, build muscle, and keep a steady supply of energy flowing. Remember that sleep is the time your body and mind restore and recalibrate. This is the time when you raise growth hormone the most, and this action is assisted by the hormone ghrelin -- the hormone your stomach releases when your stomach is empty to signify hunger. This hormone should be highest at night because you are in the midst of your overnight fast. (People in Hollywood pay more than $1,000 a shot for human growth hormone to look younger. Why not manufacture it naturally?)

FACT OR FICTION? Soy lattes burn fat.
A recent news report indicated that women should have three soy lattes a week for weight loss. If this were true, women would be drinking them from morning to night or installing a soy latte IV drip. Yes, a little caffeine can help burn fat. But too much can accelerate bone loss and exhaust your adrenals (your body's stress management system!). Now, let's discuss the soy part of this "health" drink. The "healthy" soy milk you're adding is loaded with sugar. Along with corn, soy is one of the most genetically modified crops, and excess use of it has been found to lower thyroid function (ladies, this is the last thing you want if you are battling the bulge. It's like flipping off your fat-burning helper switch). And if your hubby or significant other is indulging along with you, it could be lowering his testosterone levels. Choose a mug of organic green tea instead -- it's been shown to boost metabolism, and it may help reduce stress too!

4 comments so far | Post a comment now
HeeHee November 13, 2009, 9:06 AM

Who ya gonna call? health busters

Becky November 13, 2009, 3:31 PM

Never knew about the growth hormone. Always knew you shouldn’t eat before bed, but now it makes sense!Thanks

OrganicTrade November 16, 2009, 9:09 AM

In thinking about which organic products to buy, consider this: instead of focusing your organic purchases on a particular group of items, choose organic versions of the products you buy most. Whether that is milk, produce, or personal care products, buying organic will not only help reduce your exposure to harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but also support a system of agricultural management that is great for the planet.

Lakeisha May 20, 2011, 11:59 PM

Soudns great to me BWTHDIK

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