ADOLESCENT HEALTH Louella Gonzalez-Santos The pressure of staying fit is reflective of the number of fad diets teenagers often subject themselves to. But staying fit doesn’t always have to resort to starving yourself or going on that extreme all-liquid diet. Here are a number of simple tips to keep fit and to help you stay healthy. Dietary Tips 1. Say NO! to empty calories Do you know that carbonated soft drinks provide empty calories in the form of large amounts of sugar? These empty calories may contribute to health problems specifically leading to obesity. Studies have shown that drinking soft drinks causes unnecessary weight gain. Too much weight gain becomes a risk for developing type 2 diabetes which, for the first time, is becoming a problem for teens as well as adults. Besides the sugars and acids, other soft drink ingredients are of concern. Caffeine, which is added to many of the most popular soft drinks, is a mildly addictive, stimulant drug which also slightly increases the excretion of calcium. Artificial colorings, especially Yellow No.5, may promote attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in some as well as hives, asthma, and other allergic reactions in a small number of individuals. Soft drinks are a problem not just for what they contain but for what they push out of the diet such as milk and juices which are beneficial. So, when you’re thirsty, opt for a fruit juice instead of your favorite soda and skip out on those empty calories! 2. Choose your fat There are many different kinds of fat in the food we eat. What some people don’t realize is that there are good kinds of fat and there are not-so-good ones. Fats are divided into bad cholesterol (saturated fatty acids) or good cholesterol (unsaturated fatty acids). Bad cholesterol may cause you to develop heart disease. Sources for bad cholesterol include whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, animal fats and chocolate. Good cholesterol helps to lower blood cholesterol. There are two types of good cholesterol: mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. GOOD CHOLESTEROL EXAMPLES OF MONOUNSATURATED FATS Olive oil Cannola oil Peanut oil Cashew Almond Avocado EXAMPLES OF POLYUNSATURATED FATS Corn Soybean Sunflower Cottonseed oil So, when you need to choose your fat, know what’s good for you! 3. Go for something fishy Fish contain another form of good cholesterol called omega-3 fatty acid. Studies have shown that taking this benefits the heart of healthy people. Some recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon) at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat (or bad cholesterol) that fatty meat products do. So, when you’re thinking of your next meal, decide on something fishy! 4. Choose more whole grain food. In the Philippines where rice is a staple, weigh the benefit of eating whole grain brown rice over white rice. Whole grains contain more fiber and micronutrients like folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin E. Enriched white rice is nutritionally depleted compared to brown or red rice. Sure, you get the three B-vitamins and iron that are added to all enriched grains but you lose the fiber, magnesium, vitamins E and B-6, copper and zinc as well as other phytochemicals that are in the whole grain. So, be adventurous! Try brown rice instead of plain, whole wheat bread over plain white bread or you may even try whole-wheat pasta! 5. An apple a day … Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables now can prevent you from developing several diseases down the line. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake by as little as one serving per day can have a real impact on Green Cruciferous Citrus heart disease risk. Other benefits include Leafy Vegetables Fruits safety against stroke, controlling blood Vegetables pressure and cholesterol, preventing certain Lettuce Broccoli Oranges types of cancer and guarding against cataract Spinach Cauliflower Lemons which may lead to loss of vision. Knowing Swiss chard Cabbage Limes their benefits this early may hinder you from Mustard Brussel Grapefruit having to worry about these ailments in your greens sprouts old age. So, take you daily dose and keep the Bok choy doctor away! Kale Lifestyle Changes 6. Enjoy the air! Don’t smoke. Smoking is a hard habit to break especially at a young age because of the addictive effect of nicotine. Therefore, the longer you smoke, the greater the damage to the still-growing body. Unfortunately, since the consequences of nicotine in the body happen gradually, people may not be aware of its harmful effects. Several things to consider about smoking as a teenager are: Bad skin. Because smoking causes spasm of the blood vessels, it can prevent oxygen and nutrients from getting to the skin causing a pale and unhealthy appearance. Some studies also link the skin disorder psoriasis to smoking. Bad breath. Cigarettes leave smokers with a condition called halitosis, or persistent bad breath. Bad-smelling clothes and hair. The smell of stale smoke tends to linger - not just on people's clothing, but on their hair, furniture, and cars which is often hard to remove. Decreased athletic performance. Several physical effects of smoking like rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath may limit your ability to perform. Greater risk of injury and slower healing time. Smoking affects your body's ability to heal, so common sports injuries, like damage to tendons and ligaments, will heal more slowly in smokers than nonsmokers. Increased risk of illness. Smokers get more colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers. It may also trigger asthma attacks. So keep the air healthy for you and for those around you. Don’t smoke! 7. Exercise to stay fit Adolescents and young adults, both male and female, benefit from physical activity which doesn’t need to be strenuous to be beneficial. Moderately intense activities such as brisk walking for 30 minutes will suffice. Shorter sessions of more intense activity may also be carried out in the form of jogging or playing basketball for 15-20 minutes. Exercise helps control weight, build lean muscle, and reduce fat. It may prevent the development of high blood pressure and help reduce blood pressure in some adolescents with hypertension. So, exercise your way to health!