New Year is good time for good health habits

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Everyone knows that once New Year’s resolutions have been written and memorized, only a small percentage will see the light of day. Many people list ‘getting in shape’ as their #1 priority. If they are serious, there are many avenue to this final destination.

One of those choices is to focus on food and drink intake – type, quality, quantity and individual ingredients. The latter includes vitamins, minerals and others that serve various purposes in the overall health of the body.

We all need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and prevent deficiency diseases. To acquaint yourself with information regarding these items, such as daily minimum requirements, you can visit the library; ask your doctor; or take a trip to the local health food store.

Although they have been around for decades, many of these stores have shifted and/or changed their focus throughout the years, adding products or services along the way.

Pearl Descant, Destrehan, worked in a health food store in the 1970s. In addition to the usual array of supplements, the store offered fresh sandwiches and salads. “We had a lunch counter that offered turkey and chicken, ” she said. “There was no other store like ours and we were always busy.”

Also, the owners were ahead of the times by offering the ‘smoothie drinks’ that are popular today, she added. The drinks are a blend of fruit, vitamins and other ingredients.

Today, Descant is still involved with a health food store, but this time as a customer. “My cholesterol was very high and I was looking for something to help lower it,” she said.

After following a suggestion from the store’s owner, who was a nutritionist, she now takes a natural-ingredient supplement. She only recently started with the product, so hasn’t seen results yet. But Descant is optimistic.

A few popular health products, specifically St. John’s Wort and Chromium Picolinate, have come to public attention in recent years. The former is described as a ‘mood balancer’; the latter as an aid to losing body fat.

Although there are no concrete studies that claim success (in either of them) for 100 percent of cases, there are those that feel safe using them if their doctor approves.

Due to the fact that she cannot use hormone-replacement therapy, Karen Fink began looking for a natural-ingredient product that would alleviate symptoms she had been experiencing.

“I have been taking St. John’s Wort for two years, and it has definitely helped me,” she said. “I checked with my doctor beforehand and he gave me the go-ahead.”

Another supplement option available for good health comes in liquid form.

Similar to the vitamin drinks offered by Descant’s employer many years ago, these refreshments can be found in quite a few places.

Tommy Rodriquez, Harahan, recently joined a sports club that offers a ‘smoothie bar’, in addition to the latest workout equipment. “It’s a stand-up type of bar, members can buy a drink either before or after working out,” he said.

Many shopping malls and other retail outlets house businesses that focus on the healthy drinks, which come in many sizes, shapes and flavors. The cost for this healthful drinking is not cheap; a 20 oz. serving ranges from $2.99 – $4.50, depending on the ingredients.

Roger Rowley, LaPlace, enjoys the health drinks for many reasons. He was injured in an accident and spent a month in the hospital. “I had lost my energy and had to build up my body mass,’ he said. The vitamin supplement drink addressed both problems, he added. “And I like the taste.”

Peg Kokaly, Jefferson, is a regular customer of these establishments. “I just love the drinks, and I feel like I am paying attention to my health at the same time,” she said.