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How to Prevent Diabesity Taking Over

DiabesityWhole fresh foods are a mainstay of every culture. Our ancestors, who evolved from a Paleolithic diet––where two thirds of what they ate was plant-based––were hunters and gatherers and had reduced incidences of chronic disease. Since then our relationship with how we obtain our food has changed. The introduction of processed and prepackaged foods, while convenient, limits variety and surrounds us with unhealthy food choices at the grocery store. We also have an insatiable appetite for fast food. This has not only affected our body composition, but has changed how, what and why we eat.

There are constant triggers that entice us to eat unhealthy foods: a TV commercial that shows a mouth watering dessert; a need to splurge for ice cream at a time of celebration; the comfort that junk food brings us in a time of sadness or desperation; and the ease of the drive thru for a quick, cheap bite. And if we try to resist all these temptations in an attempt to be healthy or lose weight, what are our options? A glut of products and diets have flourished in the midst of America’s new epidemic––capitalizing on obesity. Prepackaged foods, exercise equipment and books are actively promoted to help us lose weight. We can read them, try them and invest in them, yet the American waistline continues to expand, leading to a host of related chronic diseases.

The average adult today is 20-28 lbs heavier than the average adult in the 1960’s. Two thirds of U.S. adults are officially overweight, and about half of those are classified as having obesity. Approximately 28% of Americans are trying to slim down, but fewer than two-thirds are not following any specific program. Portion sizes, lack of exercise and poor nutrition has led us to this point, and unfortunately has posed health consequences that are in some cases life-threatening.

Our relationship with food has clearly changed. Somewhere along the line, we seem to have mistaken comfort for healing. In today’s world, we over indulge in our eating and have forgotten how truly healing each and every meal we enjoy can be. Eating food to heal the body, and thereby losing weight by changing your body composition, is possible.

According to the American Heart Association, excess body fat, especially at your waist, increases the risk for health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Excess midsection fat surrounds the intestinal tract and contributes to the so-called “silent inflammation.” As a result, the “spare tire effect” (fat around the midsection) could cause mild to severe insulin resistance or diabetes. The term “diabesity” has emerged and is becoming a growing trend among individuals who are obese, who are likely prediabetic and who are at risk for diabetes. It is now affecting 1 billion people worldwide.

Beyond Nourishment

The digestive process starts when we visualize, smell, taste and chew our food. Saliva is released and activates the food center of the brain to start producing gastric juices and digestive enzymes, which work in concert with beneficial bacteria that reside in the intestines to help breakdown the food so that its nutrients may be absorbed into the bloodstream. Our body is made up of water, macronutrients (carbohydrates/ fat/ protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Collectively, they cover a broad spectrum: providing us energy, allowing our bodies to repair and maintain bodily functions, and contributing to our emotional well-being.

Different cultures have recognized that food and a person’s diet were key to medical treatment. In China, the Nei Ching (2600 BC), prescribed combinations of yin and yang foods for healing. By the mid fifth century, Hippocrates and his followers prescribed diet, exercise, sleep, and eating and drinking all in moderation. Part of the Hippocratic Oath (taken by physicians at graduation) states: “I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment.”

Our body uses the nourishment that food supplies as fuel and for survival. Excess food, however, can be dangerous and lead to unhealthy weight. Healthy weight, however measured, relies on three interconnected variables: nutrition, exercise and emotional well being. The objective of any weight loss program should address these variables and help you change your body composition.

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