Why Are We So Unhealthy, Overweight and Obese in America?

Why do you think we have such a high prevalence of poor health and obesity in America?  I really need your feed back.  Your voice will help frame a proposal to our  legislature to make nutrition education mandatory in our schools and available to individuals and parents through community, business and church workshops.  We must make creating health and the prevention of disease and illness a priority.  It will cost much less to teach prevention than to provide health care and disease management. It will reduce the cost of health care for individuals, families, taxpayers and Corporate America.

America 's Obesity Epidemic
Obesity is Squeezing America

In the coming months we will kickoff  a campaign “Conquering Obesity” that will bring our collective voice to the public and state and federal government agencies.   If you have a passion for health and would like to volunteer, we could certainly use your support. Unless we can bring a change to our American way of life, our children being born today will begin to develop disease and illness earlier than ever before.  Please read the information below. I hope you will take part and help make Americans healthier than ever.

You can leave your comments below , email your thoughts or select your answer in my poll at http://www.conqueringobesity.net/health-survey–why-are-we-unhealthy-.html ,  feel free to select more than one answer if you think it applies, however please be serious when participating in this poll. The website is still under development.

It is our goal that families begin to understand the need for a shift to a healthy lifestyle so they and their children can enjoy a long healthy life.  To bring about the change we are working to educate and motivate individuals, families, churches and businesses on the consequences of the current health trends and the benefits of a shift to healthier lifestyle.

According to statics from www.americashealthrankings.org,  in 2009 the southern states and in-particular the southeastern states made up the cellar in health rankings across all states. In fact 7 of the 10 unhealthiest,  positions 40 to 50,  make up what I would consider southeastern states.  You can view the individual state rankings here.   In addition the same health monitoring organization predicts the prevalence of obesity in the United States is estimated to increase from the current level of 31.30% obese to 42.80% obese in 2018.  I am sure you can imagine where the rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers  are headed.  All of these negative health conditions are preventable, even if you have a genetic history for them. Lifestyle behavior will trump genetics almost 100% of the time.  Take look at some shocking health figures.

The current health trends in this country show a decrease in health and wellness across a broad spectrum of health categories. Our health care system is seeing increasing rates of serious adult diseases and health conditions occurring in America’s youth. We have children under twelve years of age developing high cholesterol, type II diabetes and hypertension. In fact the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their policy to recommend that children between the ages of two and ten are screened for high cholesterol if they or their family members are overweight or have experienced high lipid profiles. This has to stop.

Young adults are developing degenerative disease earlier than ever. America’s adults, in general have higher rates of heart and cardiovascular disease than most industrialized nations. Obesity is growing and diabetes is now reaching epidemic rates.

This demands and calls for an urgent paradigm shift in our culture. We must become active in our lifestyle and involved in the process of managing dietary needs for ourselves and our families.  If your heritage is from the African-American or Hispanic culture you should be alarmed, the rates of obesity and it’s related diseases and illnesses are even higher for you.

We must change how we live. It has to start today. Every mother and father should make sure you are feeding your children healthy foods and providing  them the opportunity for an active lifestyle.  Please join us in our efforts to change the landscape of America’s health. Every journey begins with one step. Please take yours today and lets walk together on the journey to a healthy and vibrant life.

Wally’s Daily Dose

The Unhealthiest 14 States

Florida 36
North Carolina 37
Missouri 38
Texas 39
Arkansas 40
Kentucky 41
West Virginia 42
Georgia 43
Tennessee 44
Nevada 45
South Carolina 46
Louisiana 47
Alabama 48
Oklahoma 49
Mississippi 50

Nutrition Shootout! A Healthy Fast Food Sandwich Vs A Homemade Mushroom Cheese Burger

Just for a little fun and to make a point about the nutritional value of preparing your own food, I wanted to compare one of  Wendy’s’  healthiest  fast food sandwiches, Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich to a homemade Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger (no meat). For those of you that prefer meat, don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe, it is very filling and has great flavor.

Both competitors have a single slice of cheese, mayo is on the Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Smart Balance Lite Butter spread on the Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger.  I used spinach on the Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger while the Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich uses lettuce. Their menu doesn’t specify the type, so I used iceberg and romaine in my calculations for Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

As far as fast food goes, Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich is a good choice if you order it with just the bun, grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato,  mayo, mustard and a slice of cheese.  I wish they offered it with a whole grain bun.  I hope the President of Wendy’s reads this suggestion. You can shave extra calories and fat off of both sandwiches if you leave off the cheese. As with any fast food choice, avoid the sauces and dressings, they add extra calories, sugar, cholesterol, sodium, saturated fat and in some cases trans fat to your meal.   They also contain preservatives that can damage your health if over consumed.  I have a few clients that eat fast food two and three times per day.  I would not recommend eating at any fast food establishment that often, if at all. You can access all of Wendy’s nutritional data and food ingredients at this website.

At the weigh in, the homemade Portobello mushroom cheeseburger weighs in at 352 grams and 365 calories while the Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich weighs in at 260 grams and 440 calories. It looks like the Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger  is a little heavy,  yet has fewer calories, less fat, less cholesterol, taste great and gives you more nutrition per calorie!  When you  prepare  foods at home you can use more nutritious ingredients, avoid health damaging preservatives and cooking at home is less expensive.

In this comparison, I used Wendy’s published nutritional data in every nutritional category they provided. I compiled the additional nutritional data for both foods using ESHA Nutritional Data Software, a leader in nutrition data collection.

In the graph below the RED is the Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger, and the Blue is Wendy’s Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich. For the complete nutritional data for each food, click here.  If there are other comparisons you would like to see, just let me know. My next blog is on fast food salads, you are going to be shocked!!

Wendy's Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich-vs-Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger
Wendy's Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich-vs-Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburger

Do You Know Your Phytonutrients? You should!

Phytonutrient Rich Foods
Phytonutrient Rich Foods

Have you seen those two guys on TV in the pond filled with cranberries promoting the antioxidant power of cranberries? We all assume they must be good for us. Most people under-estimate the power of not only antioxidants, but phytonutrients in general.

The new buzz in health news is the power of a class of phytonutrients known as antioxidants. Every time I turn on the tube or check out the web,  I see adds  about phytonutrients known as antioxidants.  Did you know that antioxidants are just one type of phytonutrient?

What are Phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients are not vitamins or minerals.  Phytonutrients are certain organic components or compounds found in plants, and these components or compounds are believed  to provide protective benefits that promote human health.

There are many different types of phytonutrients such as anthocyanidins ( a type of antioxidant found in blue and purple foods), glycoproteins, polysaccharides,  ( essential sugars that protect the myelin sheath of our nerves and promote health in our digestive and immune systems),  phytosterols (heart and arterial protecting compounds) and polyphenols ( a very powerful class of antioxidants) found in a variety of foods including brans, nuts, seeds, dried spices, fruits and vegetables .

Phytonutrients may

· serve as antioxidants  ( they protect cells from free radicals that cause aging and illness)

· enhance immune response ( they help elevate our ability to produce more immune cells such as Killer Cells and antibodies)

· enhance cell-to-cell communication

· alter estrogen metabolism

· convert beta-carotene to vitamin A

· cause cancer cells to die (apoptosis)

· repair DNA damage caused by smoking and other toxic exposures

· detoxify some carcinogens

Source USDA http://www.ars.usda.gov/Aboutus/docs.htm?docid=4142#top

So what does all of this mean to you and me?

It reinforces what our grandmothers have told us for years. Eating fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and whole grains are good for us and can offer many health benefits.

Getting your phytonutrients from foods  has a much more powerful effect than taking isolated phytonutrient or antioxidant supplements. Our bodies are designed to get nutrients from natural unprocessed foods. Antioxidants that exist together in their natural form, for example in rice bran, blueberries or spinach, have synergies that make them much more powerful than when consumed in supplement form.

Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds also provide vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber in addition to carbohydrates, proteins and heart healthy fats and oils.

If you are not eating at least 2 servings of fruits, 3 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of whole grains and 1 ounces of nuts and seeds daily you are robbing your body of essential nutrients required for vibrant health. The SAD (Standard American Diet) has made Americans one of the least healthy populations of all industrialized nations, yet we spend over twice the money per person on health care.

Make veggies, fruits, grains, beans, nuts and seeds a part of your daily diet.  Your body will love you for it!

Healthy Wishes

Wally’s Daily Dose

Vegetables, Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh vs. Frozen

As we get into spring and summer, we know a bounty of scrumptious and nutritious fresh vegetables and fruits will soon be available to tantalize our taste buds. Many times I get asked “which is better, fresh or frozen”? That’s not a simple question.

Many variables affect the nutritional values in a vegetable or fruit. For example, how mature was the plant when harvested, what type of environmental stress was it grown under, how rich was the soil, what chemicals was it exposed to, how much water did it receive? All of these are factors that influence the nutritional value of a plant. Another set of factors that you must consider, how long has it been from harvest to your plate, was it refrigerated or not? The longer a fresh vegetable or fruits goes before consumption the more nutrients are lost. In fact, the USDA says that vegetables and fruits can lose up to half of their nutritional value in only two days of room temperature storage. These facts are very important, however, in most cases impossible for you to know.

So how do you decide between fresh and frozen? With these facts to consider, lets take a logical look at this question. If we know that the longer a vegetable or fruit sits, the more nutritional value is lost; we should focus on local fresh veggies and fruits. Local means they have been in storage the shortest amount of time from harvest, in most cases. Look for grocers that advertise produce from local growers. Organic veggies and fruits may have a slightly higher nutritional content. The studies are not conclusive but do indicate that trend. One thing for sure is you limit your exposure to harmful chemicals when buying organic.

If the produce you are seeking is out of season or not from local growers, buy frozen. Many stores now identify produce that is from local farms. Frozen veggies and fruits are cleaned, prepared and quickly frozen after harvest locking in the nutritional values that nature provided. However avoid those in a sauce or syrup. Read the ingredient label and make sure it contains just the vegetables or fruit and maybe a little salt.

Both are great choices! Choose fresh if it’s locally grown and frozen if local is not available.

Wally’s Daily Dose

www.webnd.com