Top 10 Healthy Crazes For 2010

Some healthy lifestyle choices are the stuff of forever; the experts unanimously recommend them over and over again. Exercising for at least two hours a week, munching on fruits and veggies, getting enough sleep— these are less of fads than imperatives.

Other health ideas are trendier, but that doesn’t mean you should give them any less attention. In fact, some classic diets, such as South Beach and Atkins, started out as local crazes.

Here now are the 10 health ideas that caught on in 2009 and would surely leave a mark this year:

1. Detoxing

Long hailed an arbiter of diets, Oprah Winfrey has blazed yet another trail in healthy lifestyles. As early as 2008, the trendsetting media magnate signed up for Detoxing, a 21-day diet that promises to chuck toxins and unwanted fats. Naturally, legions of women followed suit.

Many nutritionists have begged to differ from Winfrey, however. For one, American Dietetic Association nutritionist and spokesperson Keri Gans cautions against such diets. Since these diets pass on animal products and solid food, their followers lose out on some essential vitamins and minerals. In effect, they become prone to exhaustion and fatigue.

Yet Detoxing has its good aspects. The diet emphasizes an intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while pushing caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten, etc. to the fringe. If anything, Detoxing is a way more tolerable deal than Master Cleanse, a 10-day diet that replaces meals with a juice-like beverage.

2. Superfruits

If you should take to Detoxing, up the ante by replacing your average fruit with a Superfruit. Since 2008, more and more people have rediscovered these fruits, which are thought to delay aging and improve cardiovascular health.

Superfruits, e.g. pomegranates, açai berries, maqui berries and goji berries, contain more than the usual antioxidants. As scientists would let on, antioxidants guard us from toxins and free radicals associated with cancer and other diseases.

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But there’s a catch: Gans says these products often come in the form of teas and juices. It’s far better to eat fruit—or vegetable, for that matter—wholly as it is, keeping their nutrients intact.

3. Say NO To Salt

Nutritionists also have a footnote on what not to eat for 2010. Due to their concerted efforts, expect to see a dip in the marketing of salty products this year.

Bonnie Taub-Dix of the American Dietetic Association says that food rich in salt or sodium could lead to a gaggle of health concerns, among them high blood pressure. According to the American Medical Association, we must limit consumption of sodium to 2,300 mg a day.

4. Nutrogenomics

DNA-based diets are becoming in vogue. This year, expect the explosion in popularity of nutrogenomics, the practice of customizing a diet according to a person’s genetic makeup.

It works on the precept that certain compounds in food could alter our DNA, often to catastrophic ends. Nutrogenomics tries to preempt this by using genealogy and genetic tests to single out the diseases which you are most vulnerable to.

5. Trans Fat Banning

In the same way, the government is increasingly exerting tough love in making sure the people eat right. In 2008, California started banning trans fats in restaurants, the first state to do so. New York and Philadelphia, among other cities, had also passed similar legislation.

Trans fats, found in certain oils used for frying foods, could raise bad cholesterol to devastatingly high levels, raising the prospect of heart disease.

In the same vein, New York City became the first city to require restaurants to display calorie information alongside the items on their menus. According to the National Restaurant Association, more cities are expected to follow Gotham’s lead.

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6. Health Online

Even Google has muscled in on the fight to keep healthier and longer lives. The online titan has done it again with Google Health, a database that stores your medical records, sends reminders of doctors’ appointments, and flags medicine interactions. Its think-tanks believe that you run a lesser risk of losing your medical files online than stashing them away as hard copies.

Microsoft has also mounted a similar service, called HealthVault. Another database, Check Tonight, specializes in matching dates with those who have tested negative for STD.

Angel Bellon of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve compares these businesses to online banking. People were wary of Internet banking at first, but as its benefits became more palpable, they got hooked to it; Bellon sees a similar future for Google Health and its ilk.

7. Biking

Before climate change became a mainstream issue, drivers saw biking as no more than exercise. Now biking has taken on a more pecuniary rationale as gas prices started topping $4 per gallon.

Bike-sharing programs, wherein you could borrow a bike for a certain price, are now spreading throughout America. These projects have already begun in such cities as Minneapolis, Denver and Washington, D.C.

League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke affirms a rise in biking to work among Americans. And it could only grow in popularity, so long as gas prices stay at dizzying heights.

8. Healthy Shoes

Another reason for women to get moving: shoes designed to tone your legs even as you sashay down the street.

FitFlop has sold over one million pairs of women’s flip-flops since launching in 2007. The come-on? The flip-flop is designed with a multi-density midsole, which works out the leg muscles more strenuously than an ordinary footwear. This means you could tone your calves and decrease cellulite each step of the way.

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Robin Ross, a podiatrist in New York, is not too crazy about the product though. The product reportedly has some tradeoffs, one of which is its lack of support. You could supposedly twist your ankle easily by wearing it.

9. Vaginal Fitness

Also on the cusp of going mainstream is the idea of exercising—the vagina!

Vaginal workouts are the newfound domain of centers like the Phit (pelvic health integrative techniques) spa in Manhattan. Founder Lauri Romanzi, a clinical associate professor of gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, believes vaginal workouts could improve bladder control and cause better orgasms.

Phit’s techniques are nothing new however. The hallmark of vaginal fitness is tightening the pelvic muscle through Kegel exercises. These workouts have been traditionally used by physical therapists in treating urinary incontinence and other pelvic problems.

You could in fact do Kegel exercises in the comfort of your home. Try stopping the flow of your urine as you pee, then let it flow again. Do 10 repetitions.

10. Healthy Consoles

In a heady vision of the future, people have started ditching the gyms for video consoles. And they still get fit!

Video gaming company Nintendo has launched the Wii Fit, essentially a balance board through which you could strength-train and do cardiovascular exercises. You could even do yoga with it! Building on the technology of games like Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Fit has, by all accounts, become a phenomenon, selling more than eight million units the world over.

According to Phil Lawler, training and outreach director at kids’ nonprofit PE4Life, students usually favor tech-savvy exercises more than conventional ball games.

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