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living a healthy lifestyle

Living A God-Glorifying Life Through Good Health.
(Featured on CNN)

When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s, there was no obesity epidemic, and children were not developing old-age maladies such as heart disease. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and autism were virtually unheard of. Living a healthy lifestyle was a lot easier. More...

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Nutrition and Exercise Are the Components of a Healthy Lifestyle

Prior to the 70s, our parents and grandparents had a healthy lifestyle. And they had this healthy life without having to go to the gym, or having to participate in formalized exercise programs.

(A healthy life style reduces coronary heart disease by 80%!)

Our parents and grandparents were able to accomplish this because they walked a lot more than we do today, and they did not have the many household labor-saving gadgets that we now have.

Exercise is necessary these days because household labor-saving devices have reduced or eliminated manual effort. When I was growing up, my mother washed our clothes in the bathtub on a scrub board. We didn't have an electric washing machine. Needless to say we didn't have a dryer either. My mother had to lug those heavy wet clothes up a flight of stairs to the roof.

We opened tin cans with a good old-fashioned can opener. That was really great for the arms. There were no “pop” tops back then. Remember the automobile before electric windows were installed in them? We exercised our arms another way—by cranking the windows up and down. The components of a healthy lifestyle were there.

Before gasoline-powered snow blowers and lawn mowers, we shoveled snow and pushed mechanical mowers through grass and weed. Our parents and grandparents were a lot fitter than today's generation because they didn't have these machines. Their everyday activities provided them with a healthy lifestyle.

There is nothing wrong with technological inventions. They save a lot of time and remove drudgery from household chores. But we do need to replace the fitness-generating activities that these machines eliminated with one of the components of a healthy lifestyle--exercise.

They call these machines labor-saving for a reason. The result of their saving you physical labor is more time at your disposal. That time should be used to implement a good exercise program which is a part of a healthy lifestyle.

One hour of exercise yields two hours of longevity. Exercise prevents muscle wasting as you age and stops bone loss which can result in osteoporosis. It stabilizes blood sugar, lowers blood pressure and improves blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. According to studies, increased oxygen flow to the brain has the effect of improving memory and learning.

Nutrition is the second component of a healthy lifestyle. The typical American diet consists of junk food. Junk food coupled with a nonexistent exercise program presents a problem. The proliferation of convenience stores and mini-marts just makes a bad situation worse. The greater the availability and the more convenient the store, the more they will be patronized.

I had a sweet tooth when I was growing up. I ate lots of ice cream, pastries and candies. But breakfast, lunch, and dinner were solid, home-cooked and prepared meals. These meals provided the second of two components of a healthy lifestyle --nutrition.

Studies have shown that when meals are eaten at home, more whole grains, fruit, and vegetables are eaten, and people drink more milk. Eating at home promotes a healthy lifestyle.

That's not true today. Most of our jobs and schools contain vending machines filled with junk food and sodas. These are our snacks. Our lunches are purchased from McDonald's or Burger King or one of the many other fast food stores. And breakfast, if eaten at all, is bought at Dunkin' Donuts. None of this processed food will lead to a healthy lifestyle.

This highly processed junk food has led to the diabetes epidemic in America and in other industrialized and developing nations around the world. Over 18 million Americans have diabetes, and another 16 million have been estimated to have pre-diabetes. If the rates continue to climb, more than 10 percent of all Americans will have full-blown diabetes by the year 2010!

Here are the risk factors for diabetes:

  • over the age of 55

  • a family history of diabetes

  • overweight

  • high blood pressure

  • had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

  • member of one of the following ethnic backgrounds: African American, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, Asian American
  • To successfully control diabetes you have to control your blood sugar. If you are a diabetic, you can prevent your blood sugar from going on a rollercoaster ride by doing this. Add 3 teaspoons of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar to a salad at every meal. Research shows that this simple trick is able to reduce your blood sugar by up to 30%! The vinegar slows down your body's digestion.

    Not having a salad? No problem. Squeeze fresh lemon juice in water and drink that. It too will slow digestion. (I recommend buying the lemon and squeezing the juice on starchy foods.)

    A study was released which concluded that Americans in their early to mid 50's are in poorer health and experience more pain performing everyday physical tasks than their older peers at the same age in the past.

    The study was conducted by Beth J. Soldo, Ph.D., Olivia Mitchell, Ph.D., John McCabe, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, and Rania Tfaily, Ph.D., of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Three study groups were used: (1) Americans born 1936 through 1941 (2) those born 1942 through 1947 and (3) those born 1948 through 1953.

    The data came from Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationwide NIA sponsored survey of over 20,000 partcipants over 50 begun in 1992. They were asked questions concerning their health and well-being when they were between 51 and 56 years of age.

    The following conclusions were reached: (1) the youngest group reported more pain, chronic health problems and drinking and psychiatric problems than the group 12 years earlier (2) youngest group reported that they had more difficulty walking, climbing stairs, getting up from chair and kneeling and crouching than oldest group and (3) the 2 youngest groups were less likely than oldest group to say their health was "excellent or very good" between ages 51 and 56.

    Studies continue to confirm the health benefits of a Mediterranean-type diet, and exercise. All who follow a Mediterranean-styled diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healhy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, or any other cause over a five-year period.

    Panagiota N. Mitrou, Ph.D of the University of Cambridge in England and associates examined the effect of the Mediterranean diet in death risk over a five-year time period. The study confirmed lower rates of heart disease and other health problems. People who followed a Mediterranean-type diet were 20% less likely to die from any cause during the study.

    Micheal F. Leitzmann, MD, DrPH of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues examined exercise and death rates. They found that people who exercised moderately, such as walking, for at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week were 27% less likely to die during the study than non-exercisers.

    People who exercised vigorously saw even more dramatic results. They experienced a 32% reduction in risk of death during the study. Those who exercised at levels lower than those recommended by national guidelines saw a 19% reduced death risk.

    The results of both studies were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The studies themselves were based on information collected from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. The study involved 566,407 AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) members aged 50 through 71 from six states. They filled out questionnaires concerning diet and exercise between 1995 and 1996. Nutritional value of fruits and vegetables down substantially since 1975!

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