Six Weeks to a Younger You: Week 5

September 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm , by

This week I’m filling in for Julie on our blogging project. Even though she’s on vacation in the sweltering (but still lovely) Dallas, Texas, I’m sure she’s still sticking with her Younger You habits. Are you?

I’ve been following along all month, so I’m happy I get to share. This week, we turn to the letter F, which I noticed stands for all four of our topics today: floss, phones, fat and friends. Okay, I cheated a little on the second one, but “the four F’s” sure makes our homework easy to remember this week!

You know you need to floss to keep your teeth healthy and your smile pretty. But did you know that the health of your gums could affect not only your mouth, but also the rest of your body? That’s right, recent research suggests periodontal disease—caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that leads to inflammation in your gums—can up your risk of heart disease, diabetes and respiratory problems. And to really rid your mouth of gunk, you have to get between the teeth with floss.

Showering, dealing with my hair and applying makeup takes up enough of my time in the morning, but there’s really no excuse to skip flossing at night. I’ve always flossed before bed. Oddly, this makes it easier for me to fall asleep—my mouth feels so clean! (Also, humble brag: I’ve never had a cavity. I think my commitment to flossing has a lot to do with it.) Instructions on how to floss, straight from the experts at the American Dental Association, found here.

My Blackberry is my life, so this one is difficult. I use it for everything from making calls to answering e-mails. I also don’t have an alarm clock, so I’m sad to admit that I’m one of those millennials that sleeps with her phone in her bed. But the risk is scary enough to make me re-think my habits. Even though the World Health Organization’s latest study on cell phone use and brain tumors was inconclusive, they still found enough evidence of possible harm to classify the devices as “possibly carcinogenic.” More studies need to be done, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt me to invest in an alarm clock and use the handsfree device that came with my phone. Experts say this should keep my exposure to any radiation at a minimum. (That’s me, above, chatting on my handsfree device. It doubles as headphones, often making me look like a crazy person while I talk and walk down New York City streets. Anything for my health!)

Read on for the next two F’s.

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Is It Okay To Be Fat?

February 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm , by

IMG_5615Is it OK to be fat?

It’s not a trick question. The answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to watch a taping of a Nightline Face-Off that tackled this very issue. Moderated by Good Morning America news anchor Juju Chang, the debate pitted Marianne Kirby, blogger and advocate for the fat acceptance movement, and Crystal Renn, the highest-paid plus-size model, against Meme Roth, president of the National Action Against Obesity and Kim Bensen, author of Finally Thin. It was a heated discussion, to say the least, and their conversation touched on everything from fat-phobia to anorexia, and from genetics to yo-yo dieting. Watch the show here.

But back to the question at hand: Is it OK to be fat? I think we have to first look at what do we mean by “OK”? (Is it healthy to be fat? Is it somehow morally or socially wrong to be fat, and therefore okay to discriminate against those who are?) Second, how are we defining “fat”? (Waist size? Percentage body fat? BMI?)

However, let’s put semantics aside and look at the science. On the one hand: People who are overweight tend to live longer than their skinnier counterparts, according to McGill researchers. On the other hand: Living longer isn’t much of an advantage if your quality of life is compromised. We also know that being overweight or obese (as defined by BMI) increases your odds for diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, sleep apnea and more. On the one hand: You can be fit and fat. Half of overweight people and one-third of obese people still have healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, says a 2008 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Meanwhile, a quarter of normal-weight individuals were found to have two risk factors for heart disease. On the other hand: It’s better to be fit and trim than fit and fat. Active women with normal BMI have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who exercise and are overweight, says another study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

So what do you think? Are Americans fat-phobic? Is it okay to be fat?

Photo (left to right): Emily Chau, Marianne Kirby, Juju Chang, Kim Bensen, Meme Roth