Huffpost
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Leo Galland, M.D. Headshot

Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Posted: Updated:

Making resolutions is one thing, sticking with them is another. Luckily, there is help.

Here are some tips, research findings and resources that I have gathered from my website Pilladvised.com that could help motivate and inspire you stick with those resolutions. There's even an animated video you can watch below. But first, you might need to recover from the New Year festivities.

Recover from New Year's Eve: Detoxification

Detoxification is a natural, automatic process that occurs in the body 24 hours a day. We can support our body's ability to detoxify through positive lifestyle choices such as enhanced nutrition, limiting toxic exposures in our environment, exercise and stress reduction.

The liver is the major organ for detoxification. For the liver to function well in its job of detoxification, it requires nutrition: adequate protein is essential to this effort, and many vegetables and herbs can help.

Any alcohol you consume needs to be detoxified by the body, so you are going to want to limit your consumption of alcohol. There are special foods that can help the liver function well to process toxins.

Detox Foods:

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
  • Dark green vegetables such as kale, collard greens and Swiss chard

The Liver Herb: Milk Thistle

A flowering plant from the Mediterranean, milk thistle is an herbal remedy that has been used in one form or another for thousands of years. It's available today in pills or as a tea.

A traditional view of milk thistle is as an herbal remedy to help protect the liver and improve its function.

Laboratory research and clinical studies indicate that an extract of milk thistle called silymarin can give humans and animals some protection from the toxic liver effects of drinking alcohol. In successful laboratory studies, the amount of silymarin used is about one twentieth the amount of alcohol ingested. This translates into 900 milligrams of sylimarin for each glass of wine or beer.

Like any other product, milk thistle can have side effects you should know about. Here are some potential side effects of milk thistle, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

  • Milk thistle side effects include a laxative effect, upset stomach, diarrhea, and bloating.
  • Milk thistle can produce allergic reactions, which tend to be more common among people who are allergic to plants in the same family (for example, ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, and daisy).

More information about milk thistle and other herbs is available at Pilladvised.com

Help to Get Smoke-Free

If you or someone close to you smokes tobacco, the single most important thing you can do for your health in 2011 is to stop and avoid further tobacco exposure.

Even low levels of exposure to tobacco smoke can cause genetic damage, according to research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Scientists at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have found that even low levels of tobacco smoke exposure may put people at risk for developing lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The scientists warn that "no level of smoking, or exposure to secondhand smoke, is safe." and call for further smoking bans to protect the public. (Yael Strulovici-Barel, et. al)

Funding for the study came from grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sources.

From pills and patches, to gum, lozenges, and nasal sprays, there are medications and other resources available to help you quit. Here is a list of some resources.

Quitting Smoking Resources:

SmokeFree.gov
http://www.smokefree.gov

National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/cessation


National Institutes of Health Smoking Cessation
http://health.nih.gov/topic/SmokingCessation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/how_to_quit/index.htm

Exercise Makes Cells Younger

The second most important resolution to make and keep during 2011 is to make regular daily exercise a part of your lifestyle.

Physical activity burns calories, promotes metabolism and weight loss, and helps reduce the risk of many diseases.

Exercise is also a powerful mood booster and helps fight depression.

Now there is even more good news: exercise makes cells younger.

Researchers in the United States and Germany are looking at the benefits of exercise on the cellular level. Their findings indicate that exercise has a potent anti-aging effect on your cells.

When researchers in Germany compared older runners with sedentary people of the same age, the difference was dramatic. The older runners had cells that had stayed much more youthful than those of their less active contemporaries.

In another study from the University of Colorado at Boulder, researchers noted the positive anti-aging effects upon the cells of people maintaining a high level of aerobic fitness. The researchers conclude: "This may represent a novel molecular mechanism underlying the "anti-aging" effects of maintaining high aerobic fitness." (Larocca et. al)

In fact, a recent laboratory study found that aerobic exercise helps to preserve stem cells in muscle. Stem cells are the cells from which all other cells derive; they're the secret to youthfulness. Stem cells help your muscles regenerate and repair and regular aerobic exercise keeps them from dying out, especially important when you pass middle age.

Lose Weight With One Step

A study presented in June, 2009 confirms that having a glass of vegetable juice every day can speed weight loss.

In the study done by researchers from the University of California, people who drank one glass of low sodium vegetable juice each day while following a healthy weight loss diet dropped 4 pounds in a 12-week period. In contrast people who did not drink the juice, but used the same diet, lost 1 pound over the same period.

Another benefit the study found was that those dieters who drank the vegetable juice boosted their intake of potassium and vitamin C.

Eat Better in 2011

Why is nutrition important? The answer goes beyond "you are what you eat."

Nutrition is important because it fuels your body and gives you chemical building blocks like amino acids for making protein and calcium and magnesium for building bones and teeth. It provides fatty acids for building the membranes of cells and their components.

The vitamins and minerals nutrition provides act as co-factors for the enzymes that run almost everything that happens in your body. These important effects of nutrition have been the focus of scientific research for over a hundred years.

Scientists have concluded that vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids are essential nutrients and that carbohydrates are the most efficient sources of fuel.

WATCH:

Recent research has revolutionized nutritional science by discovering other reasons why nutrition is important. Nutrients in food can dramatically affect the way your body functions. Key among these are the bioflavonoids and carotenoids that give food some of its richest colors: the deep blue of blueberries, the red of cherries and tomatoes, and the orange of carrots. The antioxidants in these foods can provide protection against free radical damage, helping to protect against disease and aging.

For tons more information on getting healthy, and help with those resolutions, check out my blog archive at http://pilladvised.com/archive/

Now I'd like to hear from you...

What are your health New Year Resolutions?

Have you tried them before?

What is your strategy, and what helps?

Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Best Health,

Leo Galland, M.D.

Leo Galland, M.D. is a board-certified internist, author and internationally recognized leader in integrated medicine. Dr. Galland is the founder of Pill Advised, a web application for learning about medications, supplements and food. Sign up for FREE to discover how your medications and vitamins interact. Watch his videos on YouTube and join the Pill Advised Facebook page.

References:

Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1423-32. "Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future". Abenavoli L, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F.

Forsch Komplementmed. 2008 Feb;15(1):9-20. "An updated systematic review with meta-analysis for the clinical evidence of silymarin". Saller R, Brignoli R, Melzer J, Meier R.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2006 Mar;30(3):407-13. "Silymarin protects against acute ethanol-induced hepatotoxicity in mice". Song Z, Deaciuc I, Song M, Lee DY, Liu Y, Ji X, McClain C.

J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad. 2009 Oct-Dec;21(4):73-5. "Affect of silymarin on serum levels of ALT and GGT in ethanol induced hepatotoxicity in albino rats". Habib-ur-Rehman M, Mahmood T, Salim T, Afzal N, Ali N, Iqbal J, Tahir M, Khan A.

American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol 182. pp. 1524-1532, (2010),"Threshold of Biologic Responses of the Small Airway Epithelium to Low Levels of Tobacco Smoke" Yael Strulovici-Barel, et. al

Shefer G, Rauner G, Yablonka-Reuveni Z, Benayahu D. "Reduced Satellite Cell Numbers and Myogenic Capacity in Aging Can Be Alleviated by Endurance Exercise." PLoS ONE 5(10): e13307; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013307.

Circulation. 2009;120:S492."Beneficial Effects of Long-term Endurance Exercise on Leukocyte Telomere Biology", Christian Werner, et. al.

Mech Ageing Dev. 2010 Jan 11. "Leukocyte telomere length is preserved with aging in endurance exercise-trained adults and related to maximal aerobic capacityThis information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) or the creation of a physician-patient relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.