Smart Ways to Stay Well, Eat Right and Get Fit

Back Pain

If the hurt won’t quit, consider an alternative therapy – or two. Recent studies form the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle found that both Swedish massage and yoga significantly relieved chronic back pain. After 10 treatments, of the 401 patients in the massage study, over 35% reported their pain was “gone” or “much better”, compared with only 4% of those who continued with usual care. Want a hands-off fix? In another study, 12 yoga classes also brought relief, with 60% of patients reporting significant improvement. Seek out a skilled practitioner or instructor. For massage, try With yoga, find a teacher who will make adjustments to help prevent injuries.

Do I have to worry about the cholesterol in food?

Not by itself- there just isn’t good evidence that cholesterol from foods has a significant effect on blood cholesterol levels in most healthy people. But cholesterol is often found in foods (marbled cuts of meat, for example) that are also high in saturated fat, which does raise unhealthy cholesterol. There are exceptions. Eggs have 186 mg, but since they have less than 2 grams of saturated fat, most people can enjoy one several times a week. That’s what I do,, but I also limit saturated fats and trans fats to keep myself in the healthy zone.

Fruit: Cut-and-Dried Facts

Dried fruit can be a handy stand-in for fresh on your morning cereal or in salads. But just as the fruit shrinks when it’s dried, so should your portion: If you follow the government’s standard serving size, calories to way up. Vitamin C, however, which is sensitive to heat, drops. Fiber can go up or down. Advice: Enjoy dried fruit as a condiment or snack, but keep your fresh fruit bowl full, too.

Stay-Alert Supplement

Pycnogenol, touted for its ability to battle jet lag, scores again: This time, the pine bark supplement boosted the grades Italian students earned on exams. In an eight-week study, participants taking 100 mg a day fared better on their finals than a control group did and also tested higher on alertness, memory, and mood. The gains, say researchers, may be due to pycnogenol’s antioxidant potency and its effect on the brain’s circulatory system – benefits that could help anyone.

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