The Luck of the Irish

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • St. Patrick's Day is upon us...get ready for a sea of green, green and more green. And maybe a little "luck o' the Irish"?


    And I'm talking about the very best kind of luck: The kind of luck you create for yourself, rather than just waiting for something good happen to you. Amazing things are around the corner when you take action and empower yourself to move forward with a healthy plan. Want to get lucky in health and in overall well-being? Here's one secret: You create, in large part, the kind of luck that starts heading your way.


    How so?

    We make seemingly infinite choices everyday of what to accept and what to avoid. Be honest, now. You don't always make the right choice of what to do in terms of your fitness journey, do you?

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    Not always? Neither do I (and probably not anyone else for that matter). Everyone has to give in to their little cravings (and a little laziness) every so often. This is life. But, in order to live our best, most healthy and empowered life, we must choose wisely more often than not. And in honor of St. Paddy's Day, I thought it would be helpful to throw out some Irish-inspired tips on making each of you a little "luckier" in your fitness and wellness journey this month:


    *At the grocery store, BUY GREEN!

    In special honor of St. Paddy: Go green! There are so many green veggies and other foods that we know are good for us, but may not be at the top of the grocery list. For instance, avocados are an excellent choice. They are full of monounsaturated fats, the kind that can help bring your cholesterol down. They also contain vitamin E and lutein, a natural antioxidant that is good for maintaining eye health.


    Broccoli not making your top 10 anymore? Want something different? Go for the broccolini. Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. This gem is loaded with certain powerful nutrients -phytochemicals- that are linked with lowering your risk of breast, prostate, cervical, lung, and other cancers. Broccolini also offers up a healthy dose of vitamin C.


    Another under-appreciated "green-ie" is the Brussels sprout. Brussels sprouts, like broccolini and all other cruciferous vegetables, are also chock full of cancer fighting phytochemicals. "They're also high in vitamin C and are a good source of folate, vitamin A and potassium," said Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. There are so many different ways you can prepare these that you should be able to find a way you like them. They can be sautéed, broiled, braised, steamed, or microwaved. Make sure you don't overcook, though, as this can ruin the flavor.


    *Enjoy your St. Paddy beverage of choice.

    I t wouldn't be St. Paddy's without a little brewsky, a green one at that. Not such a great idea? Well hold on...


    This just in (and just in time for the St. Paddy parade):


    In a new study out this month in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers report that people who begin to drink a moderate amount of alcohol in middle age can enjoy a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (a reduction of 38 percent, according to the authors of the study).


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    Obviously, you should use some caution with this. This is just one study and the jury is still out as far as health benefits from alcohol consumption. But keep it all in moderation, enjoy yourself, and rest easy--according to this data, it just might be good for you. And keep in mind that a moderate amount of alcohol consists of a maximum of 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women. And of course, you need to be at least 21!


    Go out and have some fun on St. Paddy's Day, but please practice caution. Over-consumption of alcohol can cause many problems and we aren't getting into all that today.


    * Be an active participant in the game.

    Another great thing about St. Patrick's Day is the potpourri of fun activities that are often offered throughout the day. A good way to start the day: Participate in your community's St. Patrick's Day run (or walk). There are many you could participate in: 3K's, 5K's. There may even be some shorter ones for those of you who are not long distance fans.


    Heading off to the St. Patrick's Day parade? Instead of just standing on the sidelines and watching, get in the game. Walk along with the parade participants or become a participant yourself.


    Celebrate the "luck o' the Irish" by making yourself a little luckier too. Eating right, the appropriate consumption of alcohol, and the prioritization of regular physical activity is a great place to start.


    Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Published On: March 15, 2008