AMERICAN CANYON — Doctors may treat the sick, but organizers of a health fair in American Canyon hoped to help visitors live well enough to avoid the doctor’s office in the first place.

From heart rate tests to natural remedies, chiropractic to cooking demonstrations and even free bicycle repairs, a smorgasbord of healthy living practices were on display Sunday afternoon during the fourth annual American Canyon Health Expo. More than 420 visitors converged on American Canyon High School to partake of the wellness, exercise and diet lessons of the event, which is organized by New Life Community Adventist Church.

For the Health Expo’s planners, the various booths were focused on one main goal: to give Napa County residents a better chance to duck high rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other lifestyle-related maladies.

“We’ve found a lot of medical issues that can be attributed to lifestyle – because of not eating right, not getting enough exercise, not getting sunshine,” said Darlene Hall, a fair organizer, New Life member and a registered nurse for 25 years. “There are principles, laws of health that prevent certain diseases. A lot of medical people attend New Life and we asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to make an impact on the community?’”

The church staged its first Health Expo in 2012 and in three years doubled attendance to about 350, she said. On Sunday, the sore, health-conscious and simply curious toured stations devoted to blood-pressure and fat screening, organic gardening tips, and live classes in preparing a variety of remedies using garlic, cayenne pepper, eucalyptus oil, nettle leaf and other ingredients.

Many of the visitors made their first trip toward the back of the school cafeteria hall – the place where Touro University had set up three tables where student doctors manipulated wrists and hands, seeking to treat a variety of aches and pains. After several minutes of wrist work from a Touro doctor, Vallejo resident Amanda Charles got up, declaring her back less sore than before.

“It was great, because I’ve had back pain and I can’t afford a chiropractor. I felt a lot of relief from this,” said Charles, an assembly worker in an electronics factory who also has dealt with carpal tunnel syndrome and a torn wrist tendon.

“We’re pretty busy today; this is a whole environment of professionals from all sectors of health care,” said Victor Mac, another Touro student doctor who expected his team to see as many as 40 people during the Health Expo.

“It’s cool to explain, and even show people physically, what we’re doing. We can bring our tables in and show them hands-on the effects they have.”

In another corner of the fair space, more visitors repeatedly stepped onto a low wooden platform, off and back again for two minutes as New Life member Jazmin Spake watched two minutes tick off her stopwatch, then took each person’s pulse to compare their resting rate to their rate when stretched harder. Their numbers would be one step in an eight-part path that, for most, would end with a counselor’s advice: what exercises to do, what foods to add or subtract, how much longer to sleep each night.

“Our church really wants to reach out to the community, so that they know we care about their health and want them to be knowledgeable about their health,” she said.

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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