Embrace Activism is a call to action; to take more control over and responsibility for your own health and wellness while making a difference for others. There are several factors that play into health and wellness. Your diet being one. The following article is from Susanne Warren, a certified health and nutrition counselor, supporting "your journey to vibrant health."
There was a time, in my lifetime, and quite possibly yours too, when being overweight was the exception rather than the rule. Now, estimates indicate that approximately two-thirds of American adults and children are overweight. How has this happened?
Experts cite a number of issues that have created a “perfect storm” for obesity, including lack of physical activity and increasingly large serving sizes. Most notably, we can blame soaring obesity rates over the past 40 or so years on the rise in popularity and availability of convenience and fast foods. They are everywhere! It used to be that you could only purchase gas at gas stations--not sweet rolls, cheap hot dogs and bucket-sized soft drinks. We have coffee houses and fast food restaurants on every block. Not long ago, we wouldn’t have dreamed of eating or drinking in a bookstore!
Obesity is associated with numerous health problems, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, gallbladder disease, joint pain (osteoarthritis), and breathing problems. You may have seen or heard the term “diabesity,” coined because being overweight is directly linked to the development of Type II diabetes, the incidence of which has grown in epidemic proportions in recent years.
Why does obesity bring on a cascade of health issues? One problem is that excess weight is tied to insulin resistance. When we eat sugar and refined carbs, our body releases insulin to remove the sugar from our blood. If we eat these types of foods excessively, our cells become resistant to the insulin, and the body pumps out increasing amounts of it. Prolonged, high levels of insulin cause inflammation. Fat cells themselves produce pro-inflammatory hormones. And inflammation leaves us vulnerable to disease.
So, because this site is all about activism, what can we do to reverse the tide of what has become the most serious and costly health problem in the U.S.? Recent news reports about Qnexa, the new (not really) drug that fights obesity, and surgery to treat diabetes are intriguing, but these drastic solutions don’t address the source of the problem.
On an individual basis, the most important change each of us can make is to be sure our diet consists mainly of whole, wholesome foods from the earth. That means fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. This isn’t about temporary dieting and weight loss. This is about taking control of your health and committing to lifestyle changes every day for the rest of your life. It means eating more home-cooked meals and limiting fast foods. It means limiting your intake of sugar and refined grains. For many, reducing the amount of animal protein eaten each day would be of benefit, and limiting soft drinks and switching to pure water would make a huge difference. And we must find ways to incorporate movement—any kind of movement—into our days.
What can we do collectively to fight the obesity epidemic?
1) We vote with our wallets at the grocery store. Your shopping cart should be filled with fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, which you can frequently find in bulk bins. Packaged foods should make up a minimal portion of your weekly shopping list. Choose foods with no labels or, at least, labels that list no more than five ingredients.
2) Support your local farmer’s market, and consider joining a community-supported agriculture program if you have one in your area.
3) Be a savvy food consumer. If a packaged food is heavily advertised and comes with a health claim, there is probably something unhealthy about it and you should avoid it.
4) If you have children or grandchildren in school, make yourself aware of what they’re being served at lunchtime, and what’s available in vending machines for snacking. Work with school administrators and parent-teacher organizations to ensure that your children are served fruits and vegetables, home-cooked style foods rather than fast foods (e.g.: roasted chicken instead of frozen chicken “nuggets”) and have healthy snacking options.
Now we’d like to hear from you. Is there a suggestion here you’ve committed to, or plan to commit to? Do you have any other suggestions for turning this epidemic around?
Susanne Warren, CHHC
Health and Nutrition Counselor
P: (915) 613-1072
Thanks Susanne for sharing ways for people to unite as a community to fight obesity! I look forward to hearing their comments and suggestions too.
Health, Wellness & CURES!!