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Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas from Dr. Galati: Updated 2008

This holiday season, think in terms of health.  I have selected some of the best health related gifts that would have mass appeal, and certainly kick start someone to think seriously about better health. Spend your hard earned money on a gift that will make in impact on a loved ones health and well being.  

Heart Rate Monitors

A day does not go by where I do not recommend a heart rate monitor to a patient of mine. Why? It keeps us all honest as we exercise. For years it has been shown that the intensity at which you exercise is proportional to the effect exercise will have on your metabolism.  Patients regularly tell me they exercise almost daily, but on further explaination, it's a lazy stroll with the 10 year old beagle. Forget it. I would not count that as exercise for a minute. A heart rate monitor will keep track of your heart rate, and guide you as to whether you need to step it up or slow it down, aiming for the all important "target heart rate", calculated as 80% of your maximum heart rate. Don't worry, your target rate is clearly marked on the instructions, which is based on your age.

Here are a few favorite models to choose from.

Indoor Bike Trainer

Cycling is a great form of exercise. But, if the weather is not quite right, it is easy to give up and postpone your riding pleasures to another day. Unfortunately, for some, that day never comes. This is the time a stationary bike trainer would be the perfect item to have.
Most models fit on standard bike rear wheel hardware, making assembly easy. If you so desire, an easy disconnect would allow you to take to the outdoor trails.

Water Aerobics Gear

Swimming is one of the finest forms of exercise. It gives you an excellent aerobic work-out, involving just about every set of muscles.  Swimmers have better control of their weight, boosting basal metabolic rates and enery use.  Some people get bored with routine lap swimming.  Making use of various water aerobic equiptment, you can still get a very vigorous work-out without the boredom.  The various pieces are relatively inexpensive, and can be used year round.  Try and make some pool related activity part of your cross training routine.


Olive Oil

Ok...who out there would ever expect to receive or give olive oil as a holiday present? If you ask me, someone who is Italian to the bone, it makes perfect sense.
The health value of olive oil has been known for centuries. The "Omega Diet", and other similar "Mediteranean" diets use olive oil as a central component. The value of olive oil, from a health standpoint, not to mention the flavor, lies in the omega-3-fatty acids it contains. Their health benefit are far reaching and include the following:
Reduce inflammation throughout your body

Keep your blood from clotting excessively

Maintain the fluidity of your cell membranes

Lower the amount of lipids circulating in the bloodstream

Decrease platelet aggregation, preventing excessive blood clotting

Inhibit thickening of the arteries

Reduce the risk of becoming obese and improve the body's ability to respond to insulin 
So, rethink olive oil as a gift. It's one of the best tastng, beneficial gifts you might ive (or receive).
My best picks include:

Rice Cooker

Over 10 years ago, a very dear patient of mine, who was Cuban,  presented me with some of the finest black bean and rice I had ever graced my taste buds with. When I asked her how on earth she made such flavorful rice, as opposed to my own sticky version of rice, she told me her secret was an inexpensive rice cooker.

The value of rice in our diet is only now being brought out. On the program we have discussed the value of rice, and interviewed the authors of the Rice Diet Solution. While rice is a carbohydrate, brown rice is full of vitamins and fiber, making it an excellent food. Adding more rice to your diet is a step in the right direction. From experience, poorly prepared rice is no fun to eat. Thus, a rice cooker will help prepare tasty rice, adding to the whole experience. Cookers need not be expensive. Listed below are some of the better rated models.


If Oprah can have her list of recommended book, why can I?
The market is flooded with health related books, many of which simply recycle, in other words, what we already know. Over the years I have had the opportunity to review some of these books, and I do believe they are filled with useful information. 
As with any need to make change, understanding why changes need to be made is only part of the problem-the true challenge is in the initiation of the positive behavior that will lead to change.

Health Newsletter

There are a number of very well edited, informative newsletters that you can subscibe to. Most are between 8-12 pages in length, which is just long enough to keep your interest.  They typically cover both established health information and breaking news in the areas of wellness, prevention, and family health. They are filled with easy to read diagrams and tables. Some have on-line versions, though for me, I like the print versions.  These monthly treats put you in touch with the up to the minute news, and further encourages the reader to take interest in their health.  A great gift that comes through the year!

Exercise Machines

If you can't join a health club, there are a number of excellent machines you can purchase for home use. My only recommendation is to stay away from the "budget models". They are generally of inferior quality, and won't stand up to regular use. Pay a little more now, and benefit for years to come.

For the Cook

Good food is the key to good health. That we all know. The art of cooking is soon becoming a lost art. Fast foods and instant meals are killing us, and contributing to obesity. We all have to bedelop a renewed interest in cooking. Learning some new ways to cook, with the proper tools, is the first step to nutritional recovery.