Recently the United Health Foundation shared the findings of their 2012 National Health Rankings study. Some of the criteria used in determining the rankings included tobacco and alcohol abuse, crime rates, exercise, infectious diseases, public health funding, high school graduation rates, uninsured population, availability of primary care physicians, cancer and heart disease rates, premature birth rates, and immunizations.
How did Illinois fare? Illinois ranked 30th out of the 50 states. The report was broken down into various categories and here are some grim Illinois statistics: Up to 29% of the people in Illinois have sedentary lifestyles, 22% of the population smokes, and up to 41% of the population is obese.
And locally? According to the County Rankings Report and Roadmap 2013, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Winnebago County ranks 82 out of 101 counties in Illinois. Nearly one quarter of our adult population smokes, 29% are obese, and 27% have a sedentary lifestyle.
What do these statistics have in common? They have nothing to do with the quality of healthcare. In fact, no country spends more on healthcare than the United States.
Australia spends just half of what the US spends on healthcare, yet they have a longer life expectancy than the United States. Treating cardiovascular disease alone in the US accounts for 18% of total healthcare costs and 30% of Medicare costs.
What these statistics have in common is our lifestyle, which is driving up disease and health care costs. It shows much of what affects our health takes place outside of the doctor’s office.
Why is this important to know? A healthier community is a more vibrant community. People are more engaged and productive when they are healthy. Healthcare costs are an employer’s second largest expenditure. A healthier workforce means more dollars are available to invest to keep a business competitive and to hire people. Individuals who spend less on medical bills have more discretionary income to spend on goods and services in our community. Who knows? Maybe the government would pay our schools, municipalities, and social agencies what they are due in a more timely manner if they didn’t have to spend 17 cents of every dollar on our healthcare costs.
Having a healthy community benefits everyone. Each one of us needs to do our part. Good health begins at home. Keeping fruit within easy reach on the kitchen counter makes a quick and heathy snack. Take a pledge not to buy snacks in crinkly bags. Grocery shop from a shopping list. Read nutrition labels and chose only products that are low in sodium and saturated fat. Do activities as a family. Ride bikes, walk in the neighborhood or on one of our beautiful bike paths. Find tasty and healthy recipes in a cookbook or online to add to what is made for dinners throughout the week. Slowly replace these dinner recipes with those dinners that are not as healthy.
We can make a difference. Let’s do a Spring clean-up, and chose to engage in “best practices” for our health.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program, Coronary Health Improvement Program, County Rankings Report and Roadmap, Health, healthcare costs, Medicare, obesity, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sedentary lifestyle, smoking, United Health Foundation | Leave a Comment »
Heart attacks are the #1 killer of both men and women. According to the American Heart Association, one of every six deaths in the United States is a result of a heart attack.
The symptoms of women having a heart attack can be different than the symptoms men experience. The classic tightening in the chest, shortness of breath, and a feeling of discomfort in arms, back, jaw or stomach can be what men typically experience when having a heart attack.
Women may have these symptoms as well, but oftentimes their symptoms may include one or several of the following symptoms: extreme fatigue, dizziness, sweating, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, upper back pressure, and a feeling of indigestion or heartburn. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported 42% of women do not experience chest pressure or pain when having a heart attack. Of the common symptoms women experience during a heart attack, 58% reported shortness of breath, 55% reported weakness, 43% unusual fatigue, 39% broke into a cold sweat, and 39% experienced dizziness according to a study published in the medical journal, Circulation. Symptoms may last a few minutes or may go away and come back.
Every year, over 1million Americans suffer a heart attack – 460,000 of them being fatal. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t delay – call 911. Every minute counts, and medical personnel can begin treatment in route to the hospital. Because women’s heart attack symptoms can be different than men’s symptoms, it is sometimes more difficult diagnosing women having heart attacks. When at the hospital, ask to be tested to determine if you are experiencing a heart attack.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged CHIP, Circulation, Complete Health Improvement Program, Coronary Health Improvement Program, heart attack, heart attack symptoms, heart disease, JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association, Myocardial infarction, women heart attack | Leave a Comment »
Remember when we sat down at the table as a family for dinner? When we bought local food? When we knew the shop keepers? When food was prepared by a person and didn’t come out of a box?
Maybe not all of us remember these times from not so long ago. Somehow we have gotten away from our relationship with our food. We have almost become alienated with our food and food sources. Often times we don’t know where our food came from or who (or what) made it.
This is a radical change from just a generation ago. Food today often is many times removed from its source. Ingredient lists on packaged processed food have become a challenge to read and have unrecognizable ingredients listed. Not only do we not recognize the ingredients, often times neither does our body. Food now is fast to prepare and fast to consume. Here are some startling statistics from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.
- The typical American now consumes three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week.
- 30% of adults eat out lunch on the weekdays.
- The average business lunch is only 36 minutes long.
- Nearly 10% of all food purchased in restaurants is consumed in the car.
At the same time, over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, it is estimated one out of three babies born will develop type II diabetes in their lifetime, 10% of the Medicare budget is spent on stent procedures, and 75% of healthcare spending is for chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of 10 deaths are attributed to preventable chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Our lifestyle, including what we eat and how much we exercise, play a substantial role in our wellbeing.
Here’s the challenge – Whether you cook Thanksgiving dinner yourself or family and guests bring a dishes to pass, ask it be made from scratch. Nothing from a box. Bake sweet potatoes, make mashed potatoes, cook fresh vegetables, create a salad. Not only will it taste better, it will no doubt have less sodium, fat, and calories and will be free from artificial flavor enhancers and food dyes. By refraining from eating fast food and food from a box on a regular basis, we can experience an overall improvement in our health.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program, Coronary Health Improvement Program, Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, obesity, processed food, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving dinner, type II diabetes | Leave a Comment »
Californians will be voting November 6th on Proposition 37, also known as the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Foods Act. It will be asking if 1) it should be mandatory for genetically modified foods to be labeled and 2) foods that contain GMOs no longer be labeled as “natural.”
What is genetically modified food? It is the moving or modifying or insertion of a gene in a plant (or animal) to modify its characteristics. A bacteria gene may be inserted in seed that will make it resistant to pesticides. Changing the genes of a plant will allow insecticides or herbicides to be sprayed on fields that will kill insects or weeds but not the plant.
What’s the harm? What we don’t know is, “Are there any long term health implications of GMOs?” Suggestions have been made that GMOs may be toxic and cause allergies and cause hormone disruption in humans.
If you have eaten anything containing corn, soy, canola, or dairy products, chances are you have eaten GMO foods. The only way to insure you don’t eat foods containing GMO ingredients is to eat foods labeled “Certified USDA Organic.”
Proponents of Proposition 37 say we have a right to know what we are eating and make informed choices. Those opposed to enacting Proposition 37 say it will drive food costs up for food manufacturers to relabel packaging and manufacturers will be open to lawsuits.
Nearly 50 countries including, Japan, China, Russia and the entire European Union required labeling of GMO foods years ago. Many California farmers and farm labor unions support Proposition 37, making the labeling of GMO foods mandatory. Large food and seed companies have spent millions of dollars in TV and radio ads encouraging people to vote no – GMO foods do not need to be labeled. Chances are, the outcome of Proposition 37 will affect all of us, not just Californians.
What do you think? Should GMO foods be labeled as such?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program, Coronary Health Improvemetn Program, Genetically modified food, Genetically modified organism, GMO, GMOs, November 6, Organic certification, Prop 37, Proposition 37 | 4 Comments »
My husband and I just returned from vacation, spending two weeks in Sicily and Italy. We visited small communities and large cities. Originating in Italy, the Slow Food Movement focuses on regional cooking and fresh food on a smaller scale. During this trip, I was able to experience this first hand. Their approach to food is quite different from ours.
Italians have a great appreciation and respect for the land. They know where their food comes from. They use greener agriculture practices with minimal use of pesticides. Cows and sheep grazing on grass dotted the landscape. We saw pear, peach, lemon, and lime trees, endless groves of olives and grapes, and fields of wheat. Near Rome, we saw a few fields of corn.
We were able to spend time with my husband’s family in Sicily. It was an adventure going to their country house located in central Sicily for dinner. Broccoli, eggplant, and tomatoes were cut from their garden. We cut and chopped the vegetables and prepared broccoli, green beans with tomatoes, eggplant, a tomato salad, and a hearty vegetable and pasta soup accompanied with fresh bread. Outside, many enjoyed slices of beef the size of breakfast cutlets that were cooked on the grill. Cousin Giuseppe left for a few minutes and returned with a bowl of freshly picked peaches for dessert. It was quite a feast!
Grocery stores are located in neighborhoods and are the size of our convenience stores. Rows and rows of processed foods are absent. A person behind the meat and cheese display case (mostly likely the owner) will help with your selection. Another display case has prepared panini (sandwiches) made with a slice of cheese and a couple slices of thin ham or salami on fresh bread, as well as a variety of pizzas and freshly made dolci (sweets) such as cannoli, cookies, and tortes. This is the Italians’ equivalent to “fast food.” Shelves had pasta in all shapes and sizes and a variety of olive oils. Canned tomatoes, sardines, beans, soups, and wine also lined the shelves. The “produce department” consists of crates of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables brought in that day.
Food in Italy is prepared simply using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. It was surprising to see an asterisk by an entrée ingredient on restaurant menus indicating it was frozen and not fresh. It was almost like an admission of guilt. (We saw one or two asterisks on a menu if any). Eating a simple plate of pasta with tomato sauce was full of flavor and delicious.
The woman sitting next to me on the flight home had visited her son and his family near Naples. She shared how they made a large batch of tomato sauce earlier that week. Freshly picked tomatoes were cooked outside in a big kettle. Only garlic was added. Once cooked, they ran the tomatoes through a strainer to separate and remove the skins and then put the sauce in jars. Simple food simply prepared.
Italians are known for their love of food. They have high standards. Genetically modified foods and “industrialized” grown or prepared foods are non-existent. Where fast food restaurants are usually within three miles of our houses here, they are nearly impossible to find in Italy. From the Italians, we can all benefit by learning a new appreciation for fresh quality food.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program, Coronary Health Improvement Program, fruits, Italian Markets, Italy, Rome, Sicily, Slow Food Movement, vegetables | Leave a Comment »
While at the grocery store the other day, I saw many products on the shelves labeled “all natural.” I wondered how they could be labeled “all natural” since all of these products were processed foods and were in packaged in boxes, bags, and jars.
Looking into this further, with the exception of meat and poultry, I found the FDA does not regulate these words on food packaging. Without any regulation, “all natural” labeling is like the Wild West. I saw a bag of veggie crisps labeled “all natural.” These are potato chip-like snacks. Eight ingredients were listed on the ingredient list including beet powder. Cruising the grocery aisles, I saw bottled salad dressing with 14 ingredients listed including lecithin – a processed soy product that keeps the dressing from separating. “All natural” was also on bottled green tea. The label said it had “no preservatives, no artificial flavor, no artificial color.” True, but it did list high fructose corn syrup and “natural flavors” on the ingredient label. Fruit chews are snacks that are similar to juju beans. They too are “all natural” and “made with real fruit juice.” One serving had the equivalent of nearly four teaspoons of sweeteners corn syrup and sugar in addition to carnauba wax. Made from leaves of the copernicia prunifera palm found only in Brazil, carnauba wax is also used in shoe polish and car wax but is food safe. The ingredient list of an “all natural” chicken flavored soup base didn’t contain any chicken, but did include maltodexrin and autolyzed yeast extract. A colorful breakfast cereal had “natural fruit flavors” advertised on the front of the box. The ingredient list had sugar as the first ingredient and no fruit mentioned. One cup of this cereal contains 3 teaspoons of sugar. Also listed were blue dye #2 and yellow dye #6 which studies have shown to cause tumors in animals. What a way to start the day!
Don’t think of products labeled “all natural” as necessarily being healthy. Legally, products labeled “all natural” have no preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial colors. What is failed to be mentioned is these products are often high in sodium, fat, and calories. We have a tendency to associate “all natural” with foods described in one word such as apples, lettuce, beans, potatoes, carrots, berries, tomatoes – food that is grown and that doesn’t need an ingredient list attached to it.
The unregulated words “all natural” sell products. But don’t be fooled! The words have no credibility. Until a change in the law (which won’t happen any time soon), we will need to be a little smarter consumer.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged all natural, bule dye #2, CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program, Coronary Health Improvement Program, FDA, green tea, lecithin, veggie crisps, yellow dye #6 | Leave a Comment »
We use a variety of gear to prevent injury. A motorcyclist wears glasses and a helmet to protect their eyes and head. Construction workers wear steel-toe shoes and hard hats. Potholders are used in the kitchen to grab something hot. What is needed within our bodies to protect us from disease?
Plants. Yes, that’s correct. Amazingly, nature has built into plants the ability for them to produce compounds for them to fight disease. When we eat the plants – vegetables and fruits – the same plant compounds fight disease in us.
It is a natural process. As our body metabolizes oxygen, some cells will become altered and become free radicals. When this occurs, the free radicals cause a damaging chain reaction to our DNA, resulting in loss of the DNA’s function of giving instructions to cells of what to do. Smoking will accelerate this process. The result of this cell damage is many diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, COPD, diabetes, and premature aging.
The antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits will fight to neutralize the free radicals. Nature’s antioxidant warriors make a perfect combination of lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, minerals zinc and selenium, and a host of phyochemicals to win the battle. A vitamin pill will not have the same antioxidant properties. You can have the best defense system by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Alzheimer's, antioxidants, cancer, CHIP, chronic diseases, Complete Health Improvement Program, complimentary medicine, Coronary Health Improvement Program, DNA, free radicals, functional medicine, heart disease, Phytochemicals, plant based, rheumatoid arthritis, smoking Parkinsons, storke, type II diabetes, wellness programs | Leave a Comment »