The surprising link between the two
Obesity is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and around the world. It can lead to heart disease and cancer which amount to almost 50% of deaths annually. It is also commonly associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and osteoarthritis. In America, 1 in 3 adults are obese and roughly 13 million children ages 2-19 suffer from obesity. Lack of proper nutrition and physical activity are the primary factors that lead to obesity in both children and adults.
Today, less than 1 in 10 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables needed per day. Paired with whole grains & lean proteins, fruits and vegetables are a vital part to a healthy diet and the primary focus of the MyPlate Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These nutrient rich foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that help your body perform the best it can while also curbing hunger and preventing unnecessary snacking.
Unfortunately, roughly 79 million Americans today do not
have access to healthy foods also sometimes referred to as food deserts. In food
deserts – people have access to food, but acquiring groceries to make meals at home
is more difficult and eating out is culturally and geographically encouraged. Fast
food thrives in these areas as it is known for its large portions at an
affordable cost. Without access to a healthy diet, these communities become
more susceptible to chronic disease from poor diet paired with lack of
In addition to consuming nutritionally deficient food options, large food portions encourage people to consume more causing unhealthy weight gain. Overeating can create nutrient deficiencies; studies have shown that obese participants tend to also be malnourished. While they may be consuming food each day, their diet lacks vital vitamins and minerals that effect their metabolism, energy levels, and other body processes.
Our food system today is dramatically different than a century ago. Modern farming practices have lead to nutrient depletion in the soil. Additionally, if you look at nutrition labels for processed foods you will find higher amounts of high fructose corn syrup, refined flours,vegetable oils, sodium and trans-fat. Processed foods commonly lose nutrients in every step of the development process while capitalizing on shelf life. Pair this with lack of exercise – 50% of adults and 25% of children are not meeting the recommended amount of physical activity- and your body cannot function to its best ability sometimes leading to chronic disease and death.
Getting back on track
If you want to get back on track to a healthy lifestyle, you
should first consult your doctor. Working with a functional medicine practitioner
will help you better understand your body and its unique needs.
Healing your gut may be the first step that is recommended. Your body may not be absorbing the nutrients it needs and having a negative effect on your digestive system if you suffer from leaky gut syndrome or similar digestive complications. For this reason, starting with your gut health is imperative to creating a healthy environment for new vitamins and minerals to be absorbed. Taking a probiotic will help rebuild healthy bacteria in your gut and increasing zinc consumption will help with the gut lining.
Staying away from processed foods is extremely important
during this process. Foods higher in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, will
help you feel full throughout the day eliminating the need to overeat or snack
on unhealthy foods. Also, make sure your body is getting sufficient protein to
support healthy blood sugar levels and potential weight loss.
As you begin modifying your diet, you’ll want to look at
other areas of your life such as sleeping patterns, physical activity, and
stress. Balancing these areas can be key players in battling obesity. Work with
your doctor if you think you are struggling with sleeping and/or stress. As you
work towards a proper diet, supplementation may be advised to help balance
vitamin and mineral levels that will affect how your body is responding to
stress and encourage healthy sleeping patterns.