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Life and Health


By March 1, 2011No Comments

There are three particular actions that we can undertake to ward off serious illness or disease. They are: Quitting smoking, getting regular exercise, and watching what we eat. On smoking, Americans are getting a little better, but we tend to be poor at regular exercise and consuming a healthy diet. Too many years of burgers, fries and milkshakes loaded with fat and sugar have turned us into super-size versions of ourselves.

The sad truth is that Americans are fat and getting fatter. The CDC defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is determined from a person’s height and weight and provides a reasonable indicator of body fat and weight categories that can cause serious health problems. The CDC further states that during the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. As of 2009, only the District of Columbia and Colorado had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.

So what’s the big problem? According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, obese and overweight Americans are at increased risk of a range of diseases from high blood pressure and hypertension, to Type 2 diabetes, gallstones to gout, several forms of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancer, and of course heart disease and stroke.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one in three adult Americans suffer some form of heart disease and 70 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, the leading contributor to heart disease. Since 1900 cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been the number one killer in the world and almost half of the deaths every year in the United States are from some form of CVD.

But if you reduce your weight by controlling your diet and regular exercise, you actually decrease those risks and establish assets that will help prevent disease.

Healthy food habits can help you reduce three of the major risk factors for heart attack — high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body weight. They’ll also help reduce your risk of stroke, because heart disease and high blood pressure are major risk factors for stroke. The AHA recommends eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grain products, including whole grains. They also suggest fat-free and low-fat milk products, fish, legumes (beans), skinless poultry and lean meats and to limit fats and oils to liquid and tub margarines, canola oil and olive oil.

Remember prevention is the key. Stop smoking, get some exercise and eat healthier foods. We really are what we eat. Our lives, literally, might depend on it.