College students everywhere dread the “freshman 15,” the fifteen pounds gained the first year of college from the reality of living on your own, balancing partying a little too much and cooking for yourself. What if it’s a little more than fifteen pounds? What if you’re not in college anymore and continue to gain weight? People everywhere know the battle of fitting into those skinny jeans, but weight gain is more important than not looking good. Eating unhealthy increases your risk for chronic life threatening diseases.
What to avoid:
That extra ice cream cone after dinner is more than just a few extra calories; it’s a potential health risk. Excessive amounts of salts, found vastly in processed foods including ice cream, increase your blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk for congestive heart failure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease. The department of Health and Human Services suggest limiting sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg daily or roughly 1 teaspoon of salt.
Fats are another category grossly over-consumed in America. Indulging in too many sweets sounds good until those fats clog a person’s arteries, causing problems for blood and other liquid transportation throughout the body. Informing yourself on which nutrients are in, or not in, food is important in staying healthy. The USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, has switched their focus from simply limiting fat to encouraging people to consume the correct types of fat. Humans use saturated fat for certain physiology functions, but the body makes more than enough to perform these tasks; your body needs virtually no saturated fat from your diet. Pizza, cheese, and grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies, cupcakes, donuts, pastries, etc.) account for the main sources of saturated fat consumed by Americas. If you indulge in these tasty treats a little too frequently, you are not alone. Over 78 million Americans are clinically obese—weighing 20% or more over the recommended amount. The department of Health and Human Services suggests limiting the amount of saturated fat to 10%, or less, of your daily calories. Enjoy eating what you love; simply be mindful of the amount and types of foods you’re consuming to keep your health risks at a minimum. Moderation is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition improves quality of life as well as length, helping to add a few more years with the ones you love.
Sugar has natural benefits, and can change the texture of food greatly providing a variety of meals, but is also an ingredient to watch out for. Fruits are a good source of natural sugar. Processed foods use sugar mainly for preservation, giving someone all the empty calories, without any of the nutrients. Decreasing the amount of added sugars eaten daily gives more room to eat food with fiber and other dense nutrients to help with food absorption, immunity, and metabolism.
Drinking enough water is very important and provides multiple benefits for a healthy lifestyle. The human body is mostly composed of water, making water an essential nutrient for the body, and especially the brain, to function. When the body doesn’t have enough fluids; the brain doesn’t function effectively and there is a loss in mental performance. Water additionally helps muscles not get fatigued as quickly, allowing people to work out longer or even just go about their daily activities with more energy. Water helps the skin look better; aiding to make those nasty sunburns go away faster, and even helps to prevent the appearance of wrinkles.
Insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables is a major health concern for many Americans older than four. These leafy ingredients provide an abundance of benefits, making them an excellent source of nutrition. A mere three and a half servings of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk for a heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancer. Fruits and vegetables high in potassium reduce the risk of kidney stones and prevent bone loss, progressively important as age increases. Fiber is an active ingredient in most fruits and vegetables aiding in bowel function, decreasing constipation and helping in food absorption. Fruits and vegetables also create a feeling of fullness without all the extra calories and are important in lowering the risk for obesity and diabetes. Lower calorie intake also means fitting into those jeans without a moment’s notice. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle makes the difference in your quality of life and risk for disease!
American Heart Association. (2013, January 01). Obesity information. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/Obesity/Obesity-Information_UCM_307908_Article.jsp
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013). Healthy drinks. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/
Langius et. Al. (2013). Effect of nutritional interventions on nutritional status, quality of life and mortality in patients with head and neck cancer receiving (chemo)radiotherapy: a systematic review.Clinical Nutrition, Retrieved from http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.lib-proxy.fullerton.edu/pubmed/23845384
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (201, January 31). Usda and hhs announce new dietary guidelines to help americans make healthier food choices and confront obesity epidemic. Retrieved from http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/PressRelease.pdf
Wolpin et. Al. (2013). Hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, impaired pancreatic β-cell function, and risk of pancreatic cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt123
Zelman, K. (2008, May 08). 6 reasons to drink more water. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water?page=2