Learn more about what isn’t working in health care today!
In a time of many great excuses for eating too much like “the holidays,” I have seen a few important stories in the mainstream media recently which explain much about Americans and their ever increasing girth.
It seems we have created the perfect storm for eating out of control. How? First of all we must look to “The Flavorists,” a story on CBS 60 Minutes this past Sunday.
Here is CBS’s summary: “When you chug a sports drink or chew a stick of gum, you probably don’t think of science. But there is a precise science – and a delicate art – behind what you’re tasting. Morley Safer reports on the multibillion dollar flavor industry, whose scientists create natural and artificial flavorings that make your mouth water and keep you coming back for more.”
Yes, food doesn’t taste the way it started out tasting 20 or 50 years ago. There are lots of scientists whose job IS TO GET AND KEEP YOU EATING TOO MUCH, and they know exactly what your brain finds absolutely addicting! They interviewed David A Kessler, MD for this piece, because he wrote the book The End Of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, where he documents how many and how much our chain restaurants invest in getting you addicted to their food.
Then we have the American perception of ideal weight, which has been heading up, up, up especially in the past 20 years or so. According to the latest Gallup poll, actual weight and ideal weight — have risen, although “ideal weights” have not quite kept pace with actual weight gains. The average American male now weighs 196 pounds and the average woman is up to 160 pounds. Both figures are 20 pounds greater than self-reported weights in 1990.
Perhaps more importantly, Americans’ self-professed “ideal weights” are getting higher and higher. Women on average said their ideal weight would be 138 pounds — up from 129 in 1991. Men on average said their ideal weight should be 196 — up from 180 pounds in 1991. In other words, our perceptions are shifting upwards as our health is taking a gigantic fall.
I know personally how this happens. Before I decided enough was enough and started seriously losing weight, I could easily turn to others around me and say, “I know I’m overweight, but I’m not that bad. Just look at her.” As those around us expand, our perceptions get distorted.
If you would like a reality check, go do an honest assessment of your own BMI. Anything over 30 is OBESE.
In addition, the traditional American diet assumes far too much fat and starch for our present lifestyle. I have learned that my own traditional perceptions which caused me to expect starches like cereal, bread, potatoes, and pasta, not to mention cookies, for breakfast, lunch and dinner equal dietary disaster! No, I cannot eat bread or cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and then have a potato or pasta with dinner and expect to remain a reasonable weight. This is the road to obesity plain and simple. Starches are filler foods we needed when we were doing physical labor 60 hours a week. Fill up on the highest quality proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits instead, and cut your starches in half.
What are the facts? Fat kills us even when we don’t see ourselves as fat, and we will continue to die at an earlier age with fat induced illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancers of all types. Not to mention our present sky-rocketing health care costs, which will only increase as we choose to become the most obese country in the world.
Just watched this AMAZING documentary from National Geographic (2008) on what we have learned in the past 20 years about stress and its impact on our lives.
What I learned:
Stress hormones evolved to help us survive by reacting quickly to life-threatening situations: “When you’re running for your life, basics are all that matter.” The problem today is that we human beings cannot seem to find our off switch and so our brains are constantly marinating in these stress hormones. By never turning off these hormones, eventually the stress response is more damaging to our brains and bodies than the stressor itself.
The lower you are in the hierarchy of any group or organization, the higher your stress levels and the more likely you are to suffer stress related illnesses. This was studied for years in the British Civil Service (called the “Whitehall Study”) where all members have equal access to health services, stable jobs and no industrial exposures to toxic substances. Your position in the hierarchy also influences how much weight you put on and how it is distributed on your body. Lower level employees tend to put more weight on around the middle, a kind of fat which produces different hormones which are more detrimental to your health.
The more subordinate you are, the fewer dopamine receptors you have in your brain to produce a feeling of well-being and pleasure. In rats it was proven that the higher the stress levels in your life, the more plaque build-up in your arteries.
High stress levels can shut down your natural immune response. Chronic stress kills brain cells, especially in the hypocampus, the center of learning and memory formation in the brain.
Mothers who were under extreme stress with a baby in vitro produce children who exhibit physical and emotional vulnerabilities decades later like depression and other psychological problems. This was learned by interviewing people in their 60s who were in vitro during the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944.
New research on telomeres shows that living under chronic stress conditions does shorten your life, but stress management techniques like connecting with caring, compassionate others can reduce stress and help you live longer.
The problem with our society is that we tend to look up to those who can do five things at once, rather than admiring those who have learned how to live a more balanced and serene life.
Here’s a brand new study that shows the U.S. spends lots more than other countries for health care and yet our survival rates just keep falling.
This Commonwealth Fund–supported study examined changes in 15-year survival rates at middle age (45 years) and older ages (65 years), alongside per capita health care spending, in the U.S. and 12 other wealthy nations. They found, “Between 1970 and 2002, per capita health spending in the U.S. has increased at nearly twice the rate of other wealthy nations. At the same time, many Americans are living shorter, less healthy lives relative to citizens of other countries….U.S. white men ages 45 and 65 experienced declines in their rankings in 15-year survival rates among the comparison countries, but they were not as dramatic as the declines in rankings for women.”
There are many issues arising as the Baby Boomer generation reaches 60 and 65. One is that we tend to be less healthy, with more chronic illnesses and disabilities than previous generations. Another is the lack of access to health insurance for far too many of us.
What a country! The U.S. is one of a very few developed countries that apparently does not believe all of our citizens deserve access to health care. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, this is turning into “an elder tsunami.”
Experts in health and elder care say, “Americans age 65 and older make up only 12% of the U.S. population today, but in less than three years, when the Baby Boomers begin to turn 65, that percentage will increase to a full 20% of total population very quickly.” We do not have enough doctors, nurses or other professionals trained to deal with this demographic shift.
Single older women are being effected by this shift more than most. A recent UCLA study shows that they are twice as unlikely to have access to health insurance. We all pay the price when others suffer.