Monday, January 30, 2012

Health Care and Nutrition

A poor diet can have an injurious impact on health, causing deficiency diseases such as diabetes, scurvy, obesity, heart disease, and more. Nutrition, or the nourishment to the body in the form of food, is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet. Clinical nutritionists are health professionals who focus more specifically on the role of nutrition in chronic disease, including possible prevention or remediation by addressing nutritional deficiencies before resorting to drugs.

For many people, January is a time to recommit to a healthy diet and lifestyle.  And, there are so many good reasons to eat healthier: to lose weight, to have more energy, to stay healthier. Lots of tips and healthy eating information can be found on this site to help you: http://nutritiondata.self.com/. Plus, additional very good data about nutrition can be found at this site: http://www.nutrition.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=11&tax_level=1&tax_subject=392 . Also, the Harvard School of Public Health has a library of nutrition articles on their site that provides a broad spectrum of material on this subject: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-news/.

Nutrition is about the study of food and how bodies use food as fuel for growth and daily activities. The macronutrients, or "big" nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The micronutrients, or "little" nutrients are the vitamins and minerals that you need to be healthy.

According to About.com Nutrition Guide, and expert Shereen Jegtvig, whether it's a resolution you set for January 1, or a goal you start mid-year to reach, you can make the next year of your life a healthier one. She provides 10 steps to a healthier you for this year:

1.) The first step is to take a look at what your diet and health have been like for the last 12 months. Think about questions like these and write down your answers in a notebook so that you can look back them again a year from now:

•How does your weight compare with a year ago?
•Do you feel healthy and have a lot of energy or are you tired all the time?
•Do you take vitamins or other nutritional supplements?
•Do you eat at home most of the time? If so, what types of foods? Whole fresh foods, boxed foods or TV dinners?
•If you eat in a restaurant, what types of restaurants do you go to and what types of foods do you choose?
•How physically active are you? Do you exercise regularly?
•Do you eat healthy size portions, or do you stuff yourself with every meal?
•Do you smoke?
•How much alcohol do you drink each week?

It is important to take an honest look at your health and dietary habits in order to set goals for your health and diet. The remaining Nine Steps are found on the site where Shereen regularly contributes material about nutrition and healthy living:  http://nutrition.about.com/od/nutrition101/ss/healthy_new_yea.htm.
 
These days, a wealth of nutrition information is at your finger tips. From diet books to newspaper articles, everyone seems to have an opinion about what you should be eating. It's no secret that good nutrition plays an essential role in maintaining health, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And, while you already know it is important to eat a healthy diet, you may find it more difficult to sort through all of the information about nutrition and food choices. The CDC has compiled a variety of resources to help you start healthier eating habits. Some very good info about the topic is found here: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/index.html. For nutritional facts especially about youth, the CDC has some very impressive data. Here is an overview:
 
1.) Benefits of Healthy Eating:

--Proper nutrition promotes the optimal growth and development of children.
--Healthy eating helps prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
--Healthy eating helps reduce one’s risk for developing obesity, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, and dental caries (cavities).

2.) Consequences of a Poor Diet:

--A poor diet can lead to energy imbalance (e.g., eating more calories than one expends through physical activity) and can increase one’s risk for overweight and obesity.
--A poor diet can increase the risk for lung, esophageal, stomach, colorectal, and prostate cancers.
--Individuals who eat fast food one or more times per week are at increased risk for weight gain, overweight, and obesity.
--Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can result in weight gain, overweight, and obesity.
--Providing access to drinking water gives students a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
--Hunger and food insecurity (i.e., reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns because a household lacks money and other resources for food) might increase the risk for lower dietary quality and undernutrition. In turn, undernutrition can negatively affect overall health, cognitive development, and school performance.

3.) Eating Behaviors of Young People:

--Most U.S. youth Do not meet the recommendations for eating 2½ cups to 6½ cups* of fruits and vegetables each day.
--Do not eat the minimum recommended amounts of whole grains (2–3 ounces* each day).
--Eat more than the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium (1,500–2,300 mg* each day) .
--Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents aged 2–18 years, affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.
--Adolescents drink more full-calorie soda per day than milk. Males aged 12–19 years drink an average of 22 ounces of full-calorie soda per day, more than twice their intake of fluid milk (10 ounces), and females drink an average of 14 ounces of full-calorie soda and only 6 ounces of fluid milk.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products for persons aged 2 years and older. The guidelines also recommend that children, adolescents, and adults limit intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids), cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains. Unfortunately, most young people are not following the recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Following nutritional guidelines for your everyday health helps to keep you directed toward a healthier diet, lifestyle, and overall personal physical and mental wellbeing. Keeping your focus on ways to maintain healthy eating habits, although not 100% available at some times, should assist you in establishing a good food regimen, and help reduce the potential for most chronic diseases. For more information about nutrition for your personal health, visit your primary care doctor, and get referrals for a nutritionist or a dietician if you have special needs.

Until next time.

3 comments:

Edward Franklin said...
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David Franklin said...
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