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3 things for better health - Oct. 29

Need some motivation to start the week off on a healthy note? Just try one or more of these three things to start the week off on the right path.

1. Set aside a bit more time for grocery shopping and check the labels of the foods you're buying for added sugars and sweeteners. It takes more than looking at the added sugars line in the nutrition facts; scan the ingredients list as well.

It's eye-opening how many different words are used for the surprisingly pervasive additive in its numerous forms: cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, dulcitol, sorbitol ... the list goes on. Compare products to find versions without sneaky sugar, and save the sugar fix for when it's intentional. While conventional wisdom leans toward sugary beverages as the main culprit for sugar intake, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported most added sugar in Americans' diets comes from food, rather than drinks.

Why reduce sugar intake? Health magazine offers six reasons: younger-looking skin, lasting energy, reducing belly fat and its dangerous side effects, dropping weight faster, become more protected against type 2 diabetes, and reduce risk of heart disease.

Visit www.whole30.com/downloads/whole30-sugar.pdf for a list of sugar and sugar-like ingredients from the makers of the Whole30 diet philosophy—part of which includes eliminating added sugars.

2. If you stare at screens a lot, there are techniques and tips to try out to prevent eyestrain, the Mayo Clinic reports. Eyestrain, a condition with which the eyes become tired from intense use, can lead to a number of symptoms: sore, tired, burning or itching eyes; watery or dry eyes; blurred or double vision; headache; difficulty concentrating; and more.

The amount of screentime in a day, particularly for those who work at computers, makes people susceptible to eyestrain. It can also be caused by driving long distances, exposure to bright lights or dimness, stress and fatigue, and dry air. When it comes to computer work, one change Mayo recommends is adjusting the monitor so it's an arm's length away directly in front of you, so the top of the screen is at or just below eye level. It also helps to adjust screen settings for easier reading by enlarging type, and adjusting contrast and brightness. Take eye breaks by practicing the 20-20-20 rule: "every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds," Mayo reports.

3. Get outside and play yard games while there's still a chance before the snow flies. While it wouldn't be surprising to associate games like volleyball, croquet, pickleball or badminton with summer, the brisk fall weather is a great time to play with the right gear. The activity will keep you warm in the cool air, and there aren't any mosquitoes or gnats flying around. It helps get some cardio in, too.

For more tips from the weekly Three Things list, check out the Monday Motivator page each week in the Dispatch or e-edition, or go to www.brainerddispatch.com and go to lifestyle to reach the drop-down menu for health, or search using the keywords "Monday Motivator."

Questions or tips to share, contact Renee Richardson, managing editor, at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5852.