By Aly Rutherford
People’s awareness of the national epidemic at our hands is increasing. It runs a grisly toll on the population, consuming nearly two-thirds of our people—plaguing 31% of children and teens, according to webmd.com. The most devastating factor of this tragedy rests in the fact that it is the direct result of the nation’s lifestyle decisions. This deadly and unappealing ailment is no other than the despised condition of… Obesity.
While Viera may not experience the full effects of this condition, it remains an evolving and expanding problem that needs exposure in the raw in order to ensure its complete extinction. Even though many of our local kids don’t suffer the consequences currently, it will be only a matter of time before the unsightly—and deadly—symptoms expose themselves to these unaware victims.
A primary source of the issue rests in, simply, ignorance. Too many people absorb inaccurate and faulty information on what defines “healthy”, often resulting in nutritional deficiencies—due to falsely labeled “health foods”—or additional stressors for the pressure to fulfill many strict diet requirements that unaware adolescents, as well as many adults, find themselves exposed to. Fad diets dress the covers of magazines, enticing the misinformed consumers. They, however, entail an entirely different story, and a more malignant culprit still needs to be brought to light: the one and only, processed food.
The amount of people confused and dooped by processed foods waves a red flag. One student I surveyed defined a processed food as “food that is bad.” If only it were that simple. How do you distinguish “bad” food when so many marketers claim to provide healthy products? Take, for example, the deceiving Fiber One bar. While they sport a whopping 9 grams of fiber, nearly every ingredient exists as chemically modified and produced, with unnatural ingredients like Chicory Root Extract and High Maltose Corn Syrup, which only account for two of the some 30 other nutritionally deprived components.
The biggest concern with processed food consumption involves how assimilates in the body. For starters, their lack of nutrients results in low satiety which causes people to over consume in order to reach a sense of fullness. When processed foods serve a role in your daily diet, this can prove to be a big catalyst to weight gain, considering almost all the refined ingredients counteract weight loss and/or management to begin with. Not only that, but these additives and preservatives, such as nitrates and nitrites in deli meats, and trans fats—in your Oreos and margarines—link back to cancer and raised levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Additionally, pesticides sprayed on produce accumulate toxins in your system—and we pronounced them innocent all this time (blog.diginn.com)!
While organic may seem to be all the rage, its benefits are negligible if still in regards to a boxed food item. When purchasing produce, however, try to avoid conventionally raised peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, and pears; here, it benefits most to opt for organic! Due to their soft and edible skins, they’ll retain a lot of the harmful substances, increasing the importance of their organic nature. If you can’t do organic, be sure to rinse them thoroughly with a veggie-wash solution, available at many groceries and health food stores (www.cbsnews.com).
When it comes to meats, stay away from the preservative ridden, corn-and-soy fed, hormonally injected, caged animals; basically anything conventional and used in fast foods. Go the extra mile to make sure you buy grass-fed, pasture-raised meats who graze in their most natural habitats; therefore, the yield the most nutritious options for our bodies. Organic usually coincides with these standards, and if you ever have to decide between organic meats or organic veggies, reach for the meats; inorganic ones retain more contaminants due to their being absorbed in the animals’ fats while nearly all vegetables exist fat-free, so it’s less of a concern.
For the most part, avoid packaged food for a majority of your diet. Resort to fresh and local ingredients when accessible and prepare meals at home, with ingredients that settle your conscience. It’s the surest way to ensure you receive wholesome, healthy, and nourishing fuel, and the most essential step to reaching that beach bod!
Stay tuned; more healthy-living tips to come!