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Local Experts Offer Nutrition, Exercise Advice

Dietary and exercise advice is plentiful these days, and trends can seem to trump well-established standards.

For example, “Is it healthy to eat coconut and palm oils?” and “Are burst cardio workouts right for me?” are among the new considerations.

Experts from The Howard Long Wellness Center of Wheeling Hospital, and CentreTown Fitness of OVMC-EORH offer some answers.

“The new trend is that coconut and palm oil are becoming more popular,” said Jill Spangler, registered dietician with the wellness center. However, the 2015-220 Dietary Guidelines for Americans “still recommend canola oil and olive oil,” she said, citing the publication by the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and of Agriculture that contains nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public. “Dr. (Mehemet) Oz is pushing coconut oil and palm oil, and we as dieticians are trying to get the word out that it’s only a trend … and is not best for our health,” Spangler said.

In exercise, there’s a trend toward short bursts of intense exercise, followed by brief periods of rest. While that type of exercise, known as cardio bursts, or formerly as repeats, are good for people who are pretty fit, “for those who are not fit to jump in and try that kind of activity, there’s risk of injury, and it’s not an easy form of training,” said Director George Frazier at CentreTown Fitness. Frazier, who earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology from West Virginia University, noted that bursts are one component of CrossFit training, as well.

Bursts involve doing something that’s very difficult in short intervals, and for multiple sets. It uses strength-resistance training, along with cardiovascular exercise. “The idea is you push your heart rate for a higher level, then back off,” and repeat, he said. Before starting such a program, he advises that an exercise physiologist evaluate a person first, including their physique, heart rate and blood pressure, to see if they’re fit enough for such an aggressive approach to exercise.

Rather, for most people, the standard, continuous “bottom-line (recommendation) for cardiovascular training is the minimum 30-40 minutes, five days a week,” that’s recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine, the leading provider of information for exercise and proper nutrition, he said. “That’s the minimum requirement that benefits your cardiovascular system, that benefits your hormones, helps you destress, relax, and sleep better,” he explained. It’s good for weight loss, maintaining a higher metabolism, and to burn more calories than if you were sitting at a computer, he added.

∫ Find a comfortable activity

Most importantly, do something that you like, he said, noting that it should be something comfortable that won’t cause injury: “Not some short-term, latest fad to do, but to rather build the whole program that will be, over the long term, life-changing and easy for them to maintain. “Each person has to figure out what type of exercise they can do, both physically and to hold their interest,” he said. Some examples in Wheeling include tennis, brisk walking, running or “cycling outdoors on our nice trail systems,” or swimming. Frazier chooses running for himself, and does 40 minutes five to six days per week, he said. In the wintertime he uses an elliptical trainer or a recumbent bike.

∫ Diet, exercise equally important

Nutritious diet and exercise are the two pieces of the health puzzle, Spangler said. “Making sure that what we’re putting into our bodies is healthy, as well as moving our bodies: Both are just as important.”

She advises creating a balanced diet based on “the plate method.” That’s a new diagram from the federal government, created to replace the well-known food pyramid diagram. The new method shows a round plate, filled with with 1/4 lean protein; 1/4 whole grains, and 1/2 fruits and vegetables, as the optimal diet, she explained. For more information, visit www.myplate.gov.

Also, Spangler offered clarity on cholesterol and fat, added sugars that have caused health problems in adults and children alike, and salt limits.

And Frazier specifies which cardio exercises and machines can benefit those who are seniors, or who want to begin improving their cardiovascular health.

∫ Whole nutrition

Overall, nutrition begins with eating whole foods — those that are not processed, Spangler said, recommending “a homemade meal that has fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean cuts of protein and lowfat dairy products.

Often, this means changing your grocery shopping habits to shopping only the perimeter of the store, since aisles are often stocked with processed food high in unhealthy, high levels of salt or added sugar.

∫ Limit added sugar

Added sugar should account for only 10 percent of daily calories, Spangler explained. For exanple, an adult with a 2,000-calorie per day diet should consume only 200 calories of added sugar. That amount does not include sugars that naturally occur in foods such as milk and fruit, which are OK, she said. This means avoiding foods with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup and ano other added sweeteners, she said.

∫ Stick with unsaturated fats

While coconut and palm oils are popular for cooking, they are too high in saturated fat: “That’s the fat that clogs our arteries and causes cardiac issues or heart attacks,” she said. Instead, opt for olive or canola oils. Unhealthy saturated and trans fats are also found in butter, whole milk, and meats not labeled as “lean,” including bacon.

∫ Skim the milk

When it comes to milk, it’s best to drink only skim or 1-percent milk, because they have fewer calories and less saturated fat than 2 percent and whole milk, Spangler said. And, when it comes to eggs, new guidelines say that eating egg yolks aren’t as bad for us as we once thought they were.

∫ Choose lean proteins, beans

Avoid eating fatty meats such as chuck or cuts labeled simply ‘beef.’ Instead, choose beef labeled “lean,” such as sirloin or round, or pork. As always, white chicken meat without the skin and turkey are healthy sources of protein, she said. Incorporate nuts, beans and legumes onto your plate, but limit the nuts specifically, to one portion per day: about 18-20 nuts.

∫ Don’t can the cans

Canned fruits, vegetables and some beans can be healthy if the contents are drained and rinsed before eating, in order to eliminate extra sodium, Spangler said.

∫ Consider exercise options

“Not only do we want to focus on healthy eating, and the fuel for our body, but we want to balance it with physical activity, she said, noting that the Wellness Center at 800 Medical Park, has a variety of classes, a pool and machines to choose from: aerobics, yoga, pilates, spinning CrossFit, BootCamp and Zumba, depending on what each person enjoys.

At CentreTown Fitness, located at 20th and Chapline streets, there are a variety of cardiovascular exercises from which to choose, Frazier said, including a recumbent bicycle, perfect for people who are deconditioned or are beginning an exercise program, again. It’s a non-weight bearing piece of equipment a person can sit in to work their arms and legs and cardiovascular health, without putting strain on hips, knees. There are also two types of elliptical machines, stair steppers, treadmills and more.

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