May 31, 2010

Healthy Teen Tidbits

Teenagers are under a lot of stress in our modern world.  Like adults they often adopt coping mechanisms (coffee, inadequate sleep, junk foods) enabling them to power through the moment which have cumulative negative effects.  Summer is a great time to catch up on sleep and develop healthy habits.  Here are some very simple health tips for teens. 

*Coffee is dehydrating as it depletes your body’s fluids.  Every time you drink a cup ocoffee you need to replace two cups (16 oz) of water.

*Coffee unnecessarily puts your body in the fight or flight state.  Your body thinks it is running from the tiger even though you are sitting around. Your hands can become sweaty, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure raises.  It interferes with the ability to concentrate, to relax, to eat and digest and metabolize your food, not to mention sleep.  Switch to decaf or better yet, green tea (which still has plenty of caffeine but has positive rather than negative effects on the body).  If you need a pick-me-up mid afternoon eat a handful of nuts, have some veggies, get some exercise, drink some water or herbal tea.  

*Teens need 9.5 hours of sleep/night.  Sleep in a completely dark room to maximize the effects of the hormone Melatonin that is released in the middle of the night in a dark environment.  It regulates the body’s hormones, the circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle), it stimulates the immune system and contributes to anti-aging.  The very best thing you can do for your overall health is to get enough sleep.  When you are well-rested your whole body works better and can better handle the stress of daily life.

*Soy, despite its press, is not a health food.  If you are lactose intolerant and avoid dairy, switch to hemp milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk or rice milk.  Eating too much soy can interfere with your hormones.  It can interfere with your thyroid gland causing fatigue, weight gain, depression and moodiness.  We natural folks used to think of soy as a miracle food, now we know that it is the opposite.

*Improve your diet!  Teens tend to eat a lot of foods that are high in carbohydrates such as pizza, bread, pasta and fast food. In addition to being empty calories that can deplete your nutritional reserves, they negatively affect your glucose/insulin metabolism and can make you feel tired, jumpy, light-headed, irritable, etc.  Simple carbohydrates such as the above-mentioned are turned into sugar in the body.  Increase the amount of vegetables, salads and proteins (meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs) and whole grains you eat and you will feel and look better.  I guarantee it!