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Maintain health before and after the wedding day

By Linda Breazeale

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "To love and cherish in sickness and in health" may be the promise, but no one wants a single day of sickness, especially on their wedding day or honeymoon.

Some illnesses are beyond human control, but several healthy practices can reduce the number of days lost to sickness and lengthen years with loved ones.

Peggy Walker, a Mississippi State University Extension Service nutrition and food safety area agent based in Panola County, said stress in the weeks before a wedding can take a toll on a person's health.

"Before you make a commitment to someone else, make a commitment to yourself to stay healthy by eating right, getting rest and exercising," Walker said. "Good nutrition will not only pay off by protecting your health, it also will help couples look their best on the wedding day."

Walker said foods that are high in vitamin A and beta carotene will help improve skin complexion and hair condition. The deeper colored foods -- dark green lettuces, broccoli and carrots, and red, orange or dark yellow choices -- are among the best sources.

"Some foods are ideal for improving energy levels; those include carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice and bran cereals," she said. "On the other hand, people may want to avoid carbs from white rice, white bread and the more refined foods. The more processing involved, the less fiber available."

Other general tips include drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, but avoiding foods that are high in sodium because they will cause water retention. Some of those foods include French fries, chips and other salty products.

Jane Clary, Extension health specialist and associate professor, said healthy choices can improve a couple's chances of celebrating a golden anniversary.

"Think of the wedding as a fresh start on healthier living. Some healthy resolutions include exercising regularly, drinking responsibly, getting plenty of rest and giving up tobacco," Clary said. "Work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight."

Clary, who is also a registered nurse, said many of life's daily choices contribute to how people feel physically, and in some cases, mentally.

"People under pressure, such as those who are planning a wedding, tend to overeat, binge or live on a diet of fast food and snacks," Clary said. "On the other hand, physical activity reduces stress and helps people choose healthier foods and fewer foods high in fat."

Studies indicate that regular exercise promotes a happy, self-satisfied attitude. Increased self-esteem and self-control can help reduce the desire for fatty foods.

In the pursuit of "happily ever after," couples need to remember that regular exercise promotes a positive mood and outlook on life.

"Research shows that low-intensity exercise produces the greatest mood improvements and that the combination of aerobic exercise and strength training elevates mood to a greater extent than does aerobic exercise alone," Clary said. "Becoming healthy is a journey, not a one-time experience. Couples should take a moment and think about the benefits of changing some unhealthy habits to help both people stay healthy and fit for life."

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Released: Jan. 13, 2005
Contact: Dr. Jane Clary, (662) 325-5014

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