Archive for October, 2012

Sugar Hangover: Tips for Parents and Children to Avoid Sugar Overload this Halloween

Long gone are the days when young trick or treaters travel from door to door getting fruit and popcorn from their neighbors. Instead, the new “normal” is to give out as much candy as possible and at the end of Halloween night the children’s bags are chock full of sugar-filled, unhealthy items.

Nutrition experts (and dentists) cringe every time October 31 rolls around, but this year parents can not only do their part in giving out healthier treats, but they can also be sure to monitor what their children are eating, too.

We all know that too much sugar is bad for anyone, but do we know what effects too much sugar can have on our children? Nutrition experts offer the following points:

• Children that consume too much sugar and too many carbs, can suffer from hypoglycemia causing fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings and frequent illness.

• Too many “empty calories” can mean that children aren’t getting the nutrients they need on a daily basis.

• A new diabetic is diagnosed every 8 minutes, a threefold increase in the past 5 to 6 years when a new diabetic was diagnosed every 23 minutes.

• Recent research has shown that more than 20% of school-aged children are obese and more than 50% are overweight.

• Too much sugar can cause chronically elevated blood insulin levels triggering inflammatory problems and elevated cholesterol.

Now don’t get us wrong, this Halloween doesn’t have to be all “doom and gloom” when it comes to having a few treats.

Parents need to be very careful in monitoring what their child puts into their mouth and how often they are turning to sugary items.

Ration the sugary products over a longer period of time and incorporate them with a protein snack.

Having a protein, especially before the sugar snack, will slow and reduce the rate and quantity of insulin secreted by the pancreas, thereby reducing many of the risks stated above.

Here is to a Healthy and Happy Halloween. Enjoy!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In support of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the American Institute for Cancer Research recently estimated that nearly 40 percent of breast cancer can be prevented if all women would follow these four simple lifestyle changes.

1. Have one alcoholic drink per day, MAX – abstaining is even better although.

2. Get moving for at least 30 minutes per day – besides helping you to keep a healthy weight, exercise will also help boost your immune system and keep your hormones in check.

3. Watch your body weight and keep it down – fat cells produce estrogen which can only fuel some cancers.

4. If you have a baby and breastfeed, try to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months – this in and of itself can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 60 percent.

What is Not Working Out In Your Workout

Despite what many people believe, not all workouts are actually effective and conducive to losing weight and toning up. There are a number of workouts that you will see people doing at your gym any given day of the week that are actually ineffective.

Unless you have the best form and are using some of these machines like textbook, then you actually may be doing more harm than good to your body.

The following are some examples of the least effective exercises that you can do:

• Behind the Head Lat Pull Downs: Unfortunately only those with very mobile shoulder joints can keep their spine straight enough to get a good workout from the behind the back lat pull down bar. The move done wrong can actually tear the rotator cuff.

• Behind the Head Military Press: This exercise done similarly to the behind the head lat pull down, can cause the same problems with the rotator cuff that the aforementioned could cause.

• Upright Row: This exercise done by pulling weights or a barbell underneath your chin can compress the nerves in your shoulder, actually impinging the shoulder.

• Lying Leg Press (with knees bent too deeply): This exercise is typically done to work your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes and is done on a machine where you use your feet to push a weighted plate up and down. Unfortunately if you bend your knees too far, then you can seriously injure your back and/or knees.

• Squats on a Smith Machine: While the Smith Machine is generally an effective machine, the bar on the machine doesn’t give, which can force the body into risky positions, including placing their feet too far in front of them while doing their squats.

• Using Bad Form on Cardio Machines: While using bad form is not good on any machine, using bad form on cardio equipment is a big no-no. Hunching over can throw off your alignment, jarring your spine, shoulders and elbows.

• Always Lifting with a Weight Belt: You will see plenty of people around your gym who are constantly wearing a weight belt. Unless you have a back injury, are lifting a lot of weight or if you have some other medical reason, then a weight belt is not necessary. Wearing a weight belt too often can weaken your core muscles, throwing off your entire workout.

• Any Exercise Done While Wearing the Wrong Shoes: Wearing the appropriate shoes for working out is as important as using the proper form. Working out in the wrong type of shoes increases the pounding on your joints, and can lead to problems like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis.

While these are only a few exercises that have been deemed ineffective if done the wrong way, there are plenty of other machines and workouts that can harm you if you are doing them wrong. Be sure to consult with the trainers at your gym before starting any workout and learn the proper way to use the machines that they have on hand.

Getting a Good Night Sleep is Healthy for Your Brain

According to a recent article featured on, losing just one night of sleep can make your brain unstable and prone to shutdowns.

In a day and age when many college students and over-stressed adults are pulling all-nighters to try and get ahead, a study in the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that these shutdowns occur even when one night’s sleep is missed, which makes it even more important to get a good night’s sleep.

This research has shown that due to sleep deprivation the brain can function unpredictably, it can turn on and off spontaneously even when you are trying to focus on something and it can result in some pretty serious brain lapses.

Experts suggest that you should be sure to listen to your body and recognize the signs when you are physically tired and are in need of sleep. Be sure to avoid long haul drives or big life decisions when you are sleep deprived.

And remember that even if you cannot get a full night’s sleep, some is better than none and will benefit you in the long run.