It All Comes Down To Education and Choices
The state of health and fitness in the U.S. has quietly become one of the worst when compared to other large nations around the world. This is clearly the result of the skyrocketing obesity rate. A staggering 71% of the U.S population is currently overweight or obese. Based on the data, it looks like Americans are eating just about anything they desire. 78 million Americans over the age of 20 are obese. The ironic thing about this issue is that our politicians are so consumed with finding a new health care plan that they are losing focus on attacking the real problem. Maybe we should focus more on making America a little healthier and this will help cut down on the massive 3.7 trillion dollars that we spend on health care each year.
Americans are overindulging on unhealthy foods while eating way too much fast food and processed food. The United States has basically become a “fat factory” because of the lack of awareness and education about proper nutrition.
The purpose of this article is to provide insight and education about the importance of general nutrition. It’s important to educate the public about the various food groups and how proper nutrition helps the body function and stay healthy. You don’t have to starve yourself to be healthy and look good. Knowing what to eat versus what not to eat is the key to success!
Nutrition Killers – Ask yourself how many of the items listed below are regular staples in your diet. If these are things you normally eat on a daily basis then you are most likely overweight, unfit and unhealthy. The amazing thing is that we get caught up in the convenience of all these items without really weighing in on what they actually do to our bodies. These items provide very little nutritional value, and instead, quickly increase the production of body fat:
- Processed Foods – These are foods like cakes, cookies, doughnuts and so many other items you will find on your local grocery store shelves.
- Refined Sugars – These sugars can cause diabetes and other illnesses and they are found in sodas, deserts, cereals and juices.
- Fast Food – It’s fast and it’s cheap, but it packs a punch in terms of calories.
- Alcohol – These are “dead” calories that slow down your metabolism and decrease important muscle building hormones like testosterone.
The impact of fast food on obesity is clearly evident. There is a direct correlation with the increase of fast food consumption and climbing obesity rates. Why are we eating this stuff if it has so many negative effects on our health? I believe it comes down to the lack of education. Proper nutritional education doesn’t just start in the schools. It needs to be taught by parents also! Why aren’t there health disclosures that are mandated when advertising fast food? I suspect corporate lobbyists are having their pockets lined by the fast food industry. The drug companies are required to provide disclosures when they advertise. If you buy a pack of cigarettes, there is a warning label that points out cigarettes can cause health problems. The same laws should apply to the fast food industry.
Why a Proper Diet is So Important
Overall health and nutrition helps support your body for the normal activities of day-to-day living. Proper nutrition repairs cell damage, helps to fuel the body and supports all of the different processes. Protein rebuilds damaged tissue and helps promote a healthy immune system. Carbohydrates and fats help fuel the body while vitamins obtained from food such as vitamins A, C and E help protect the body from toxins. Calcium and phosphorus help keep our bones strong. Sodium and potassium help the central nervous system transmit nerve signals. These key factors are the direct result of following a healthy diet:
- Weight Control – Unhealthy eating practices lead to weight gain and decreased body capabilities. Improper eating clearly is proven to lead to numerous illness, including cancer. If you are overweight, the likelihood of incurring a catastrophic health incident is almost double versus someone of normal weight. If you are overweight, there is a good chance you will die 5-10 years younger compared to people who maintain a healthy weight.
- Disease Prevention – Eating a well-balanced diet goes a long way in preventing heart disease, cancer and diabetes along with a myriad of other issues.
Effects of Poor Nutrition on Your Health:
- You will most likely die younger.
- Gain weight by consuming excess calories.
- Have less energy.
- Increase your risk of illness.
- Negatively affects cognitive function.
The 6 Components of Nutrition:
- Protein – Protein is required for healthy muscles, skin and hair. There are 9 essential amino acids that are very important for optimal health. The average male who is working out should consume between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The average female who is working out should consume between .8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Most people fall well below this threshold, so if you are trying to build lean muscle and burn body fat, you might want to review your protein intake. Consuming adequate amounts of protein also helps you stay full for longer.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are necessary to supply your body with glucose which is the primary source of energy
- Fats – Fats are required for optimal health. Healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources. Nuts, olives and avocados are great sources of monounsaturated fats. Fish and seafood are excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats. Some fats are bad for you like trans-fats and saturated fats. Both of these types of fats increase your risk of heart disease.
- Vitamins – Vitamins are essential for optimal health and they are considered key components of nutrition. Important vitamins include A, B complex, C, D, E and folate. Vitamin deficiency can cause osteoporosis, scurvy, a weakened immune system, premature aging and it can even cause cancer. Many fruits and vegetables are very high in vitamins which supply many more nutrients than you would get from vitamin supplements.
- Minerals – Minerals are important for good health. Essential minerals include calcium, zinc, iodine and chromium. A lack of these minerals can cause brittle bones and poor blood oxygenation.
- Water – Your body is composed of 60% water and your brain is composed of 70% water. Water is important to maintain proper bodily functions. Most people should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out your system and can also help to curb your appetite.
Supplements and Vitamins
There are literally thousands of nutritional supplements being sold today. Many of these are totally worthless. You will get more benefits from obtaining your vitamins through real food versus supplements. A whopping 97% of Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. No wonder everyone is sick and people are getting cancer left and right. People who eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables will get sick far less often and are much less likely to get cancer.
Top 10 Muscle Building Vegetables with Amino Acids (serving size: 1 cup):
- Green Peas – 8 grams of protein
- Spinach – 5.4 grams of protein
- Asparagus – 4.6 grams of protein
- Broccoli – 4.6 grams of protein
- Sweet Potato – 3.4 grams of protein
- Mushrooms – 3.4 grams of protein
- Dark Leafy Greens – 3 grams of protein
- Cauliflower – 2.3 grams of protein
- Green Beans – 2 grams of protein
- Parsley – 2 grams of protein
High Protein Nuts and Seeds (serving size: 1/3 cup):
- Hemp Seeds – 13.2 grams of protein
- Pine Nuts – 11 grams of protein
- Pistachios – 8.8 grams of protein
- Chia Seeds – 6.6 grams of protein
- Pumpkin Seeds – 4 grams of protein
The Benefits of Important Vitamins
- Boosts immunity.
- Prevents infection.
- Encourages healthy skin cell production.
- May help prevent certain cancers and heart disease.
- Improves vision.
- Helps with autism.
- Helps with carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Helps with asthma.
- Helps with endometriosis.
- Helps with premenstrual syndrome.
- Helps with edema.
- Helps with atherosclerosis.
- Helps with acne.
- Helps with attention deficit disorder.
- Helps with schizophrenia.
- Helps with clinical depression.
- Helps in converting carbohydrates into glucose in the body. This leads to energy production and decreases fatigue.
- Helps the nervous system. Reduces depression and stress.
- Helps to preserve a healthy digestive system.
- Protects against heart disease by helping to improve unhealthy cholesterol levels while helping to protect against high blood pressure and stroke.
- Important for healthy hair, skin and nails. Helps in cell reproduction and renewing the skin.
- Helps to protect against different types of cancer like colon, breast, lung and prostate.
- B1 and B2 are very important for proper functioning of muscles, nerves and the heart.
- B1 helps the body create new cells and B2 is very important for red blood cell production.
- B3 helps regulate the digestive system and nervous system and helps convert food into energy.
- B5 breaks down carbohydrate and fat for energy and is responsible for the production of hormones.
- B5 and B12 are essential for normal growth and development.
- B6 supports the immune system, aids in breaking down protein and helps produce hormones.
- B7 is involved in the production of different hormones.
- B9 helps cells create and maintain DNA and also promotes the growth of red blood cells.
- B12 helps regulate the nervous system and plays a major role in red blood cell formation.
- B6, B9, and B12 help to regulate levels of the amino acid homocysteine which is believed to contribute to heart disease when levels are elevated.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Helps maintain strong bones.
- Helps to prevent cancer.
- Balances cholesterol.
- Prevents disease.
- Repairs skin.
- Thickens hair.
- Balances hormones.
- Reduces PMS symptoms.
- Improves vision.
- Helps with blood clotting.
- Improves bone health.
- Powerful antioxidant.
- Powerful anti-inflammatory.
- Helps with brain function.
- Helps with osteoporosis.
- Helps to reduce heart disease.
- Helps to lower blood pressure.
- Helps with diabetes.
- Helps with insomnia and depression.
Tips for Dropping Pounds and Inches
Along with diet, a well-balanced exercise program that involves cardiovascular workouts, core exercises and resistance training with weights should be part of a complete fitness plan. A trip to your doctor to have your hormone levels tested should also be completed. For people over the age of 40, several important hormones like testosterone and growth hormone start to decline and this can absolutely have a direct impact on your weight. The importance of developing lean muscle tissue is absolutely vital for strengthening your body and helping to boost your metabolism. Here are a few key tips to help you:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times per week.
- Cut out all refined sugars.
- Eliminate processed food and fast food.
- Eat smaller portions.
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake after 6pm.
- Focus on eating clean carbs that are high in fiber with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Prepare your meals! Plan out your meals each week so you have healthy foods ready at all times.
I hope this article helped you learn more about proper nutrition, vitamins and supplements. I want to emphasize the importance of getting as many of these essential vitamins by eating real, nutrient dense whole foods without relying on various liquid meal replacements, protein powders and other nutritional supplements. Losing weight is relatively easy as long as you follow the information listed above. There is absolutely no need to starve yourself in order to lose weight. It’s a matter of eating the right foods and implementing the right type of exercise plan. By doing this, you will be surprised how quickly those unwanted pounds and inches will come off. Taking proactive steps toward optimal health is crucial and proper nutrition is absolutely vital. Good luck and I wish you great success with your health and fitness endeavors!