Health & Fitness

Fit Notes

Trainer Nancy Cole uses a stability ball at Body and Soul in Miami, Florida, October 3, 2007.
Trainer Nancy Cole uses a stability ball at Body and Soul in Miami, Florida, October 3, 2007. (Charles Trainor Jr. / MCT)

Nutrition quiz

Sure, health is important, but so is looking good. How much do you know about the effect your diet has on the condition of your skin? Here's a quiz to find out.

  1. Chocolate causes acne. True or false?
  • In cultures in which diets are plant-based instead of animal-based, acne cases are rare. True or false?
  • Hormone levels affect acne. Dietary fiber tends to soak up excess hormones and carry them out of the body, which reduces acne. True or false?
  • Drinking plenty of fluids keeps the skin hydrated, which means fewer wrinkles. True or false?
  • Drinking a lot of fluids just before bed can cause you to be puffy in the morning. True or false?
  • Dietary vitamin A has no effect on skin health. True or false?
  • High-antioxidant foods such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, plums, beans and nuts help repair damage to skin cells caused by free radicals like sun exposure. True or false?
  • Healthful oils such as olive and canola contain essential fatty acids that keep skin lubricated and looking and feeling healthy. True or false?
  • Selenium plays a key role in the health of skin cells. Some studies show that even skin damaged by the sun may suffer fewer consequences if selenium levels are high. True or false?
  • Answers: 1) False; 2) True; 3) True; 4) True; 5) True; 6) False; 7) True; 8) True; 9) True

    -- Sources: Vegetarian Times magazine, September 2007; WebMD at

    Work those muscles

    Need to multitask? How about an exercise that works your upper and lower body and challenges your balance? The reverse lift with a stability ball is for you.

    • Position a small stability ball between your feet. Get into a push-up position by maneuvering your body over a larger stability ball, placing your hands on the floor with your palms facing down. Walk your hands forward until you are in a balanced position.
  • Then, bend your elbows enough to stabilize yourself as you squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to raise the ball. Try 15 to 20 repetitions.
  • -- The Miami Herald

    Author: Choosing carbs over meat leads to fat

    Imagine a world in which weight loss is as simple as dropping carbohydrates from your diet. Imagine avoiding cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's by ditching cookies, cakes, flour and starches.

    No need for exercise. Let the "Bionic Woman" do that on TV; you chill on the couch with cheese cubes (skip the wine and beer) and enjoy.

    This is the world science writer Gary Taubes envisions in his new book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease" (Knopf, $27.95). Taubes, who gained plenty of critics in the public health community with his 2002 piece in The New York Times Magazine, "What If Fat Doesn't Make You Fat?," is bound to stir renewed debate with his book. Once again he lays all the blame for America's obesity epidemic on the consumption of carbs.

    But this time, Taubes' painstaking research has led the Science magazine correspondent to tread further outside conventional wisdom.

    Nutrition and public health policy have been hamstrung by flawed science and a rigid mind set, Taubes insists, arguing that carbs are causing our waistlines to expand and leading to lethargy, junk food addiction and health conditions like cancer. Carbs, he argues, stimulate the production of insulin, which, in turn, leads to the storage of fat.

    Some of Taubes' assertions include:

    • Saturated fat and cholesterol are not the cause of heart disease.
  • Salt does not cause high blood pressure.
  • Fiber is not a necessary part of a healthy diet.
  • It's not the quantity of calories that matter but the quality.
  • Animal products are good. Carbs, bad.
  • Proponents of the Atkins Diet will nod.

    "It's called a beer belly for a reason," Taubes says in a telephone interview from his New York office.

    The American Heart Association, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Diabetes Association and others strongly disagree.

    "His book will not influence our recommendations," says Robert H. Eckel, a past president of the American Heart Association and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado.

    Taubes, who spent five years working on the book, says he interviewed more than 600 clinicians, investigators and administrators.

    "The simple fact ... is for 50 years we've been explaining obesity as a behavioral problem when here's this obvious physical disorder explanation. Carbs make us secrete insulin, insulin is driving fat accumulation; you eat less carbs you'll accumulate less fat."

    -- The Miami Herald