Weekly Wellness: March 23, 2015

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Did you know that about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese and approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese?

Did you know that 29.1 million Americans (9.3 percent) have diabetes?

Did you know that 86 million Americans (age 20 and older) are considered prediabetic?

Did you know that unhealthy eating habits are considered one of the main factors influencing all of the above-mentioned health issues?

And it doesn't just affect persons considered obese.

Even for people at a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death. These include heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

By making smart food choices, you can help protect yourself from these health problems. (Source: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/)

The link between good nutrition and healthy weight, reduced chronic disease risk, and overall health is too important to ignore. If we can attempt to make a few changes to our daily diet, it can make a huge impact on our overall health. Here are some changes to try:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.
  • Make half the grains you eat whole grains: Switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food (i.e. eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread). Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: "whole wheat," "brown rice," "bulgur," "buckwheat," "oatmeal," "rolled oats," quinoa," or "wild rice."
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk: Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
  • Choose a variety of lean protein foods: Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.
  • Compare sodium in foods: Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no salt added."
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets.
  • Eat some seafood: Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat).
  • Cut back on solid fats: Major sources of solid fats for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.

Even making small changes can make a big difference!