1st Apr, 2009 | Source : Newsweek Showcase Archives
So the old saying goes. America is currently besieged with fad diets, advice books and no end of celebrities sharing their 'ultimate plan for a newer, healthier you'. Many of which might even work.
All this advice is lapped up by a public increasingly hungry for health. Whether that means health foods, products or services, the last decade has seen record numbers eat at health food outlets, join gyms or by self-help books. Interestingly the same period has seen record sales of fast food and obesity levels at all ages, including children. Go figure!
Having a healthy body is vital. You simply will not be able to function properly without your bodies help. Diet plans can be very useful but an overall 'healthy' approach and mindset is the most important thing.
Rather than thinking of 'diet' in the sense of a short-term plan to reduce your weight on the scales, think of it as 'how and what I eat'. Here is a good example of what your 'diet' should consist of, to make sure you are losing the right type of weight (if necessary) and actually making improvements to your overall long term health:
- Your diet should help keep your BMI in the "healthy" range.
- It should be balanced, with foods from all groups.
- Is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat intake (less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat, and less than 30 percent of your daily calories should come from total fat).
- Includes a variety of grains, especially whole grains, daily to boost fiber intake.
- Includes a range of fruits and vegetables (a variety of each, five to nine servings each day).
- Has a small number of calories from added sugars (like in candy, cookies, and cakes).
- Has foods prepared with a small amount of sodium or salt (aim for no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, or about one teaspoon of salt per day for a healthy heart).
- Does not include more than one alcoholic drink per day (two for men).
The World Health Organization's (WHO) global strategy on improving public health by promoting a healthy lifestyle shows alarming statistics of the world's non communicable conditions of chronic diseases - including cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, stroke, cancers and respiratory diseases which accounts for 58% of the 57 million deaths annually, and 46% of the global disease burden (www.who.org).
Up to 2.7 million lives could be saved each year with sufficient intake of fruits and vegetables.
Five out of the 10 leading global diseases burden risk factors identified by World Health Report 2002- high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity and insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables are strongly related to diet and physical activity. Diet is second only to tobacco as a preventable cure of disease.
Another frightening thought regarding modern health is that is several states in the US, life expectancy is actually falling, despite the trend in other developed nations going quite the reverse, and in many cases retirement ages are having to be pushed back in acknowledgement that 70 year old people are still capable of effectively contributing to the workforce. Likewise, across the world, people can be active much later in life. It is now much more common to see people in their forties and fifties taking part in adventure holidays or outlandish actions such as bungee jumping or sky-diving.
By quitting smoking and starting a dietary modification along with regular physical activity including small walks, you can reduce your likelihood of getting cancer. To commit yourself to a smoke-free lifestyle is the biggest of all steps towards leading a healthier life. There are plenty of places to help you quit and mentally it IS achievable. You just have to want to enough, if not in order for you to live and enjoy life for longer, then the sake of your loved ones.
Traditional cause celebres in Health such as diet and smoking, have retained their importance, but alongside these is a growth in health treatments and surgeries for cosmetic or personal preference. There have been polls showing increasing statistics of women wanting to undergo cosmetic or 'plastic' surgery. Many go under the knife for a more 'youthful' appearance and some to correct an acquired physical scarring or disfigurement. Either way the process is a big deal and is a major part of life for modern Americans. In many cases allowing individuals a whole new lease of life.
One prime example of a popular cosmetic surgery is liposuction. Something, which actually could be cured more effectively with the diet changes discussed at the beginning of this article.
Obesity has recently become a global catastrophe, a worldwide epidemic. With more than 1 billion adults overweight, of which 300 million are clinically obese, thereby raising occurances of disease and disabilities, this is a major burden to governments and tax-payers, in addition to health workers. While developing countries are suffering from under-nutrition, obesity is a complex condition, affecting virtually people from all walks of life, young and old.
This applies to those who are anorexic or underweight too. The constant appearance of rail-like thin celebrity figures are often idolized by many especially teenagers thus many people have distorted ideas thinking that being good-looking or healthy looking means you've got to be skinny.
Fat or thin, old or young, male or female, your good health is essential to your personal success and wellbeing. You need to look after yourself. After all, like all good Aunts will tell you "If you havn't got your health, what have you got?