National Nutrition Month - March 14, 2017 Newsletter
National Nutrition Month
EHE Newsletter, Volume 17, Number 47
March 14, 2017
Winter is nearing its end! While winter weather varies across the United States, there are many of us in the colder parts of the country that are very happy to say goodbye to the snow, sleet and freezing rain and are eagerly looking forward to the warmer days of spring. In addition to ushering in the spring season March also brings with it National Nutrition Month--and what better time than spring to focus on nutrition and improving our health! Combined with physical activity a balanced and nutritious diet contributes to healthy aging, weight control and disease prevention. Of course, the weather isn’t the only thing that varies across the country. Where you live can also influence your diet, which, in turn, influences your overall health. What parts of the country are the healthiest, and how does that track back to nutrition, diet and chronic disease? What can you do to make healthy food and beverage choices every day that will improve your health?
What Are the Healthiest States in the US?
According to United Health Foundation’s 27th America’s Health Rankings Annual Report , in 2016, “northeastern states generally rank among the healthiest overall states, while southeastern states generally rank among those states with the greatest challenges.” The report ranks states across 34 different measures of health, including things like what residents eat; how much physical activity they get; their personal health decisions; the environment they live and work in; public policies; and the quality of medical care available. The top five healthiest states in 2016 were:
While there are many measures that go into the ranking, the diet of residents in these states is a factor that plays an important role in their health.
Hawaii came in as the healthiest state for the fifth year in a row. Aside from the affinity Hawaiian residents seem to have for Spam, their diet is generally quite healthy. It relies heavily on fresh fish (which makes sense considering Hawaii is surrounded by water), legumes, vegetables and fruits-- all of which, as we have all heard time and time again, come highly recommended by the Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 . The cuisine in Hawaii also exhibits significant Asian influences. These dietary factors contribute to making Hawaii a repeat winner for healthiest state. Hawaii has the 2nd lowest incidence of obesity in America, the 4th lowest incidence of cardiovascular deaths and the 12 th lowest incidence of diabetes.
Three of the top five healthiest states in the nation are in the northeast, and they claim even more top spots, making up 7 of the top 13 healthiest states. How does the diet of northeasterners contribute to their ranking? Many northeastern states border the Atlantic ocean on their eastern coasts, and/or contain numerous lakes and rivers which provide a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood for consumption. According to the Guidelines , “Strong evidence from mostly prospective cohort studies but also randomized controlled trials has shown that eating patterns that include seafood are associated with reduced risk of CVD, and moderate evidence indicates that these eating patterns are associated with reduced risk of obesity.” The northeast is also known for its abundance of seasonally grown fruits and vegetables. Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Fruit and vegetable consumption in the northeast region is higher than the average national consumption levels. These two factors likely play a role in the lower than average incidence of cardiovascular deaths, obesity and diabetes in the majority of northeast states, as shown in the United Health Foundation’s 27th America’s Health Rankings Annual Report .
It turns out that the 10 unhealthiest states were all from the south. A contributing factor to those rankings is no doubt the fact that traditional Southern cooking is high in fat and calories. But the truth is that no matter where you live, everyday American meals tend to provide portions that are too large, have too much fat, and too many calories. Fortunately, each of us has the power to make healthy choices to improve our health.
Steps to Better Nutrition
How can individuals improve their diet? The Guidelines recommend that individuals consume the following for better nutrition and health:
· “A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
· Fruits, especially whole fruits
· Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
· Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
· A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
· “Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium”
For individuals who have not been eating a healthy diet, incorporating all of these recommendations may seem rather daunting. It is important to remember that no-one can change their eating habits overnight, and the good news is that it isn’t necessary to overhaul one’s entire diet all at once. According to the Guidelines , “Making changes to eating patterns can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to emphasize that every food choice is an opportunity to move toward a healthy eating pattern. Small shifts in food choices—over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a big difference.” Simply begin by shifting to healthier food and beverage choices such as reaching for a piece of fruit for a snack instead of a candy bar or bag of chips; adding a vegetable at every lunch and dinner; and/or switching from a glass of soda with meals to a glass of water. After each healthy choice becomes a habit, add a new healthy nutritional choice to your days until, before you know it, your eating habits become closer and closer to those recommended by the Guidelines .
What Is The Bottom Line?
Being committed to following a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to contribute positively to your overall health. Healthy eating that focuses on minimally processed plant foods that are low in calorie density and high in nutrient density such as fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains, and legumes as well as lean proteins have been proven to help control weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. If you aren’t already eating a balanced and nutritious diet, what better time than spring and National Nutrition Month to make proper nutrition a priority and improve your overall health and well-being—your body will thank you!
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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information is not intended to constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for consultation with a physician or other healthcare provider. Individuals with specific complaints should seek immediate consultation from their personal physicians.
Source - EHE