TRENDS FOR A HEALTH­IER TO­MOR­ROW

Tired of try­ing to keep­ing up with the lat­est health hype? You’ve come to the right place. For­get ev­ery buzzy thing you’ve read over the last year; these 10 are the only ones that mat­ter.

Best Health - - CONTENTS - by JILL BUCHNER

“HEALTH TREND” IS PRACTICALLY AN OXYMORON, SAY THE EX­PERTS. Fads that go vi­ral are typ­i­cally based on lots of hype and lit­tle ev­i­dence. Re­mem­ber the Blood Type Diet? Thigh­Master? Eat­ing your pla­centa? ’Nuff said. But ev­ery now and then, the masses get it right. Here are 10 trends that can im­prove your health – truth.

INTERVAL TRAIN­ING

We all know the say­ing “If it’s too good to be true…” But ev­ery once in a while, an idea comes along that blows it out of the water. Such is the case with high-in­ten­sity interval train­ing (HIIT). With HIIT, just a few min­utes of ex­er­cise can pro­duce the ben­e­fits of a long bout at the gym. Ex­perts say that when you give car­dio or strength train­ing your all for a short pe­riod (say, one minute), then rest a few min­utes and re­peat, your heart and me­tab­o­lism get the same boost they would if you were run­ning, cy­cling or do­ing burpees for much longer. “There is real clin­i­cal re­search to sug­gest that this is a very ef­fi­cient way to work out,” says Ti­mothy Caulfield, a Canada Re­search Chair in health law and pol­icy and au­thor of Is Gwyneth Pal­trow Wrong About Ev­ery­thing?

COF­FEE

It’s true, cof­fee has been around for ages. But in re­cent years, buz­zwor­thy vari­a­tions like bul­let­proof cof­fee and cold brew have prompted peo­ple to line up at cof­fee shops, hop­ing for some health ben­e­fits in their java. The good news? Even if those trendy menu of­fer­ings haven’t been stud­ied, plain old cof­fee has proven health ben­e­fits, like fight­ing colon cancer. Plus, Jen­nifer Gardy, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia’s School of Pop­u­la­tion and Pub­lic Health and a guest host on The Na­ture of Things, con­firms that a cup of joe is good for your brain. “A lit­tle caf­feine dur­ing or shortly af­ter a learn­ing event, like a class, can help ce­ment me­mories,” she says.

THE MEDITER­RANEAN DIET

It’s rare for doc­tors and di­eti­tians to en­dorse di­ets, but it’s hard to find a health­care provider who isn’t on board with this plan, which fo­cuses on fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil and fish to re­flect the tra­di­tional eat­ing habits of peo­ple liv­ing in the Mediter­ranean re­gion. In the 1990s, sci­en­tists be­gan to dis­cover the ben­e­fits of this diet when they re­al­ized that coun­tries where peo­ple con­sumed high amounts of un­sat­u­rated fat had fewer health prob­lems. Celebri­ties like Rachael Ray and Pené­lope Cruz have since adopted the eat­ing style. It’s been as­so­ci­ated with re­duc­ing the risk of heart at­tack and stroke, boost­ing good choles­terol, main­tain­ing brain health and in­creas­ing longevity. Toronto-based di­eti­tian Rosie Schwartz is a pro­po­nent of the diet and says it of­fers the most ben­e­fits when you fol­low it com­pletely rather than pick­ing and choos­ing foods within it. “Ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil can have hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent mi­crobe com­po­nents that can pro­tect against can­cers, in­flam­ma­tion and ox­i­da­tion,” she says. “But the tra­di­tional dishes are what’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing about the Mediter­ranean diet. If you look at the an­tiox­i­dant power in ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil, to­ma­toes, gar­lic and basil, like in a tomato sauce, it’s much more po­tent to­gether than each in­gre­di­ent on its own. The ef­fect is syn­er­gis­tic.”

MIND­FUL­NESS

Med­i­ta­tion may have been around for cen­turies, but it has been #trend­ing over the past decade. Sit­ting with a clear mind and lis­ten­ing to your breath­ing can help with ev­ery­thing from re­duc­ing stress and de­pres­sion to im­prov­ing chronic pain and ad­dic­tion. Though Caulfield says some of the ben­e­fits have been over­hyped, it’s still good for your well-be­ing. “I think the real ben­e­fit is from hav­ing quiet time dur­ing the day,” he says.

SOBRIETY

Whether you’ve seen peo­ple an­nounce their de­ci­sion on your Face­book feed or heard celebri­ties talk about it on TV, giv­ing up al­co­hol has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar. While a glass of wine might be good for your heart, even mod­er­ate drink­ing has been linked to breast cancer and heavy drink­ing can do a num­ber on the liver. Caulfield notes that the ex­tra calo­ries, plus so­cial and safety is­sues like driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence, add an­other layer to this is­sue. The bot­tom line? Cut­ting back is be­com­ing cool – and it’s bet­ter for you, too.

SLEEP

In case you haven’t no­ticed, the plight for a good night’s sleep has be­come a cul­tural phe­nom­e­non. Your smart­phone has hun­dreds of apps for it. Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton wrote a book about it. Fit­bit cre­ated a wear­able de­vice to an­a­lyze its stages. It’s un­clear how well each of these prod­ucts ben­e­fits sleep, but the fact that we’ve fi­nally quit tak­ing slum­ber for granted is im­por­tant, says Caulfield. “There’s lots of ev­i­dence to show that sleep is good for you, that it makes you more alert and that it has all kinds of health ben­e­fits,” he says. “But more than that, stud­ies have shown that a lack of sleep is harm­ful.” Ac­cord­ing to re­search, ad­e­quate sleep pro­tects the brain, fights heart disease and pro­motes health­ier eat­ing habits. Mean­while, ir­reg­u­lar sleep can dis­rupt the me­tab­o­lism and im­pair mem­ory.

POS­I­TIV­ITY

Lost count of how many new self­help books are fo­cused on find­ing joy and de­vel­op­ing a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude? Us, too. But there’s good rea­son for the craze: Re­search tells us that be­ing happy ex­tends a per­son’s life. Cyn­i­cism, on the other hand, has been linked to de­men­tia and heart disease.

PLANT BASED EAT­ING

Ve­gan, flex­i­tar­ian, plant-for­ward: A whole new vo­cab­u­lary has been de­vel­oped to de­scribe a move­ment to­ward eat­ing more fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. “Re­search shows that all these foods have a mul­ti­tude of phy­tonu­tri­ents that may pro­tect against a va­ri­ety of chronic dis­eases, like heart disease, stroke and cer­tain can­cers,” says Schwartz. Gardy agrees: “We’ve ex­plored a num­ber of ex­treme di­ets on The Na­ture of Things, but time and time again, we see that a diet rich in fruits and veg­eta­bles and low in pro­cessed foods re­sults in bet­ter health.”

YOGA

Yoga has sur­passed the level of trend and is here to stay – and for good rea­son: In ad­di­tion to im­prov­ing bal­ance and flex­i­bil­ity, yoga has been proven to re­duce symp­toms of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. What do av­o­cado toast, al­mond but­ter bars and smooth­ies packed with flax and hemp seed have in com­mon? They’re all full of un­sat­u­rated fat, and they’re all foods we wouldn’t have dreamed of eat­ing 20 years ago. Thank­fully, we’ve given up our mis­guided fat-averse ways and em­braced omegas and other fatty acids that lower choles­terol and pro­tect our heart health.

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