Sept/Oct: FoodRx-Choose Your Food Like Your Life Depends On It...Because It Does.

Where's The Warning Label and Disclaimers for Poor Food Choices?

Everywhere we turn we are advised about the latest diet that guarantees to make us lose weight fast and give us more energy than we ever had before. We are provided with commercials casted with celebrities that that tell us how cool it is to drink a carbonated, sugary beverage or have a mouthwatering cheeseburger. We even see commercials that provide disclaimers on medications that are to reduce symptoms of a chronic medical condition while potentially increasing the risk for the development of another medical condition or symptom. Have you ever stopped to think where are the commercials about the benefits of eating a piece of fruit or a vegetable? If not, think about it now and then ask yourself why is that? Why is there not many commercials promoting fruit and vegetable consumption? 

Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food

Hippocrates, a physician, recognized the importance of nutrition as far back as 400 B.C. For instance, did you know that flaxseed, that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids was one of the first items to ever be considered a health food and was used by Hippocrates to treat patients? Flaxseed  also contains an ingredient called lignan. Lignans are phytoestrogens that can dampen the effect of the body's own estrogen and is used to treat menstrual breast pain. It also can lengthen the menstrual cycle by one day which reduces the numbers of periods in her lifetime and therefore reduce her risk for more estrogen exposure, decreasing her risk of breast cancer. Wouldn't it be great if commercials were made about flaxseed?

Nutrition. The New Science.

That is correct. Nutrition was not considered a real science until 1928 when the American Institute of Nutrition was formed. It was not until then that it was considered a distinct field of study. It is no wonder that the level of advocacy for nutrition is limited when compared to the promotion of junk food and fast food restaurants. There is a saying that if we do not learn from history it can repeat itself. Though we have such a large body of knowledge when it comes to technology and preserving life from artificial means, we still find a way to skate by anything that remotely has to do with health promotion and disease prevention.  Fortunately, we do not need a degree in nutrition to put the principles of it to work in our lives; or do we? The number of diets are on the rise as i mentioned before, but how do you sift through it all to really determine what is best for you? Is it really one size fits all? Ask a person with celiac disease, diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease if that is the case for them. Not every diet is created equal nor is every calorie. One person's food is another person's poison. The more we familiarize ourselves with the science behind nutrition [and that the lack of has on certain lifestyle diseases], the more we will be able to empower ourselves as individuals. Knowledge is great to have, but what is even greater is that we use it.

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption is the Key to Wellness, Right?

Eating fruits and vegetables is important, but if other areas of our life are not  in balance we likely will allow those external factors to impact our food selection. For instance, think about your food and drink selection when you're bored, depressed, stressed or even tired. Believe it or not, we make decisions on what to eat based on our relationships and overall satisfaction with our lives. This is a component called primary food. Primary food include non food factors that impact our level of wellness such as careers, spirituality, physical activity and relationships. In addition, health determinants such a finances, geographic location, or even culture impacts our food choices. It is important to approach wellness from a holistic point of view. If we do not find satisfaction in our lives physically, spiritually and emotionally and if we do not know how to address issues or barriers that have historically held us back from achieving our wellness goals, we will fall repeatedly. However, it is not how many times you fall, but how many times you continue to stand in spite of those low points. It is in those times you are working on transforming yourself from the inside out. Secondary foods are the actual food selections we make that impact how our body functions. In the upcoming posts, we will be taking a non exhaustive, bird’s eye look at macro and micronutrients and their role in creating, maintaining and repairing the human body.

July/Aug: Weight Loss and Sustainability

Achieving Weight loss and Wellness Goals is not a Sprint, it is a Marathon…Pace Yourself.

When I think about a sprint, I think of something that is fast paced and usually short lived. I personally enjoy sprint runs because I get to run as fast as I can for a short, predetermined distance or for a matter of a few seconds. The reward is that I get to have bragging rights to being able to successfully reach my personal goal of running 8 miles per hour for 1 minute. However, no matter how many times I may successfully and confidently reach this milestone when I run a sprint, I cannot run this pace for a longer period before I start panting heavily, feel my legs getting heavy and the need to start aggressively toggling the mph buttons on the treadmill down so I can simply catch my breath and while making sure not to jump the rails. I then realize that though going initially at a fast pace allowed me to reach my personal best with a sprint, I was unable to sustain that pace for an extended period and I could not wait to stop and get to my usual, comfortable pace of running.

In contrast, when I think of a marathon I think of a long-distance run. It is an activity that demands discipline, endurance and personal accountability because an individual must train the body to have the physical endurance to run the race to its completion. They must even eat a certain way prior to running to keep up with the body’s demands for oxygen and glucose to achieve endurance and sustainability during the run. The remarkable thing about endurance running is that the more you do it, the stronger your fitness level becomes and then the farther you are able to go; achieving your long-term goal of being able to successfully run a marathon and at a sprint pace! However sometimes the hard knocks of life, the stress on the job, the lack of motivational support, or any psychosocial barrier can negatively impact or undo anything that has been achieved…if you let it.

The same above examples (as it relates to sprint vs marathon) apply when we want to successfully achieve lifestyle changes. It is very important to understand that losing weight quickly should not be the priority when achieving weight loss and wellness goals. First and foremost, weight loss should be done healthily. It should also be done slow and steady with the intent of achieving long term sustainability.