Nutrition, Heart Health and Diabetes
Obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions. It is truly a crisis with 65% of Americans being overweight or obese. Despite the large number of books and weight loss programs that are available, the prevalence of obesity continues to rise. In a report in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) in April 2006, the obesity rate for adults was estimated to be 32% and the rate for kids was an alarming 34%. Medical experts agree that being obese puts an individual at higher risk for disease than smoking.
In a publication by Shari Lieberman, Ph.D. (Alternative and Complementary Therapies – December 2005) the health consequences of obesity were well documented. Eighty percent of type II diabetes is related to obesity. Seventy percent of cardiovascular disease is related to obesity. Twenty-six percent of obese people have high blood pressure.
Many Americans are hoping for a new drug breakthrough that will help end the obesity crisis. Maybe its forthcoming, but there are many things you can do today to improve your health by learning to make healthy food choices and making a lifestyle change.
What is a healthy diet? One that avoids processed foods, sugary snacks and beverages, and junk foods including chips, french fries, cookies, and high fat ice cream. Foods are made up of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. A balanced diet should contain approximately 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fats (by calories). Its not smart to eat a “no carb” or “very low carb” diet as carbohydrates are the one food component that passes the blood brain barrier and provides much needed fuel for your brain. Good (slow release) carbs can be found in fruits and dairy products. Its also not smart to eat a “no fat” diet or to use too many “low fat specialty products” because many of these products have a lot of added sugars. Although protein is good for you, people should consider limiting their intake of red meat (beef, lamb, pork, venison, and buffalo) to only a couple of meals each week because these meats contain saturated fats that negatively impact your health. There is no room in this article to list all the considerations, but education is key to your success.
Diets dont work. What is needed is a lifestyle change incorporating low glycemic impact (GI) foods, stress reduction techniques, appropriate nutritional supplements, and exercise. Low GI foods avoid a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels avoiding a metabolic switch being thrown signaling the body to store fat. Low GI foods help you to burn calories more efficiently. These foods include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and protein and represent a healthy way of eating which will lead to improved body composition. Many people following a low GI eating plan see significant improvements in their cholesterol and triglyceride levels in as little as 2-3 weeks. This natural way of eating helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which is exactly what diabetics (and people with Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome) need to do. Adding a combination of aerobic and weight training exercises allows you to reach your goals more quickly and ensures continued health for the future. Forget diets and make a lifestyle change what have you got to lose but excess weight?