Editor-in-Chief Myrna Blyth and Senior Editor Sondra Forsyth talked with Jana Klauer, M.D., in her office on Park Avenue in New York City to get first-hand advice for you about healthy eating and good lifestyle habits. Dr. Klauer, slender and vibrant, is her own best advertisement for the wellness program she teaches her clientele.
"I went back to school to earn degrees in nutrition and physical therapy because I was tired of treating patients with preventable diseases," she told us. "Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle in this country so often lead to conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, allergies, arthritis, and even cancer. My mission is to encourage everyone to maintain a healthy weight by making wise diet choices and being as active as possible "
Dr. Klauer's own daily routine is a perfect example of what she recommends. By 5:30 every morning, she is either at the gym for an aerobic workout or she's taking a brisk walk in Central Park before beginning her workday at 9 a.m. Her breakfast is yogurt with fruit, most often blueberries. Lunch is a salad and green tea. She has a protein snack in the afternoon and sometimes joins her patients for Tai Chi classes that are held in the studio that's right in her offices. Dinner is almost always fish and veggies, and she's in bed by 10 p.m. She says this regimen wards off illness and rewards her with energy and a buoyant mood.
When we asked her what three habits are on the top of her list for good health, she didn't even have to stop to think before giving us her answer:
Exercise every day.
Don't eat processed foods.
Drink plenty of water.
She then went on to explain that processed foods, with their high fat and sugar content, contribute to belly fat that promotes many diseases. However, she pointed out that "flash frozen" foods with no added ingredients are sometimes better for us than fresh foods.
"Broccoli that has been in the produce aisle for several hours has already lost some of the antioxidants and other nutrients that make this vegetable so valuable," she says. "A package of flash frozen broccoli that was captured at peak nutrition may be a better choice."
She also pointed out that while eating raw broccoli and other veggies as crudités is all right, steamed vegetables are even more nutritious because the heat breaks down the nutrients and makes them readily available.
Another tip she emphasized was that eating foods in an array of colors is essential.
"The pigment in plants is a defense against UV rays," she said. "When you eat the plants, you get that same protection. Choose green broccoli,red bell peppers, blueberries, and all the other rainbow foods. You'll be doing yourself a favor."
Dr. Klauer is also a big proponent of using olive oil for cooking and as a dip for whole grain breads. "Stay away from saturated fats such as butter," she warns.
Finally, she stresses that limiting alcohol intake is very important.
"Everyone has heard by now that red wine in moderation can be good for the heart," she says. "But very few people know about the results of the Million Women study that showed that even one glass of wine a day may cause certain cancers. I tell my patients to weigh their risks. If heart disease runs in the family, having one drink a day may be prudent. But if cancer, especially breast cancer, is in your genes then avoiding alcohol altogether may be your best bet."
We left Dr. Klauer's office inspired to eat better, exercise more often, and practice regular stress reduction such as the Tai Chi she teaches. We hope that sharing what we learned from this one-of-a-kind physician will inspire you as well!
Jana Klauer, M.D., is the author of "The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan" and "How the Rich Get Thin." She was trained in internal medicine and rehabilitation medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Klauer also holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.