Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Are you overweight and malnourished?

Today we see the largest obesity epidemic that the world has never seen before. In the last two decades, we saw a steady increase of caloric intake by children, men and women and at the same time an increase in malnutrition of children. The problem is being overfed and undernourished!

Obesity is a key predictor of diabetes and cardiovascular risk and even some cancers which is avoidable. The intake of high fructose corn syrup in most packaged foods, white sugar, white flour, shortening and trans fat are making us fatter than ever before! At the same time, the intake of nutritionally dense whole food, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and good fats are getting lower, being replaced by these highly processed junk food.

The problem partially lies in the flawed food pyramid that we were taught in school, where at the base of the pyramid we are told, we could have 6-11 servings of bread, pasta, and other grains. And at the tip of the pyramid, we are told that we are allowed little fats. The last generation has seen the rate of obesity double! This pyramid has to be flawed!

Low fat diets have been the trend of the last generation. The number of perceived healthy food advertised on television are usually high in sugar and carbohydrates. In their efforts to keep fats low, many food manufacturers have to compensate for the lack of mouthfeel from low fats with higher levels of taste from salt or sugar or artificial sweeteners. Many of these advertisements target children as their audience, hence the rise in childhood obesity.

Are you overweight or obese? Is your child overweight or obese? Do you suffer from fatigue, headaches, digestive problems like bloating, flatulence or heartburn, poor concentration, insomnia, sinusitis or postnasal drips? If so, look at what you are eating. If you fuel an aeroplane with diesel, you don't expect the aeroplane to fly, do you?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Healthcare or is it really just disease care?

There has been much confusion on what nutritional supplements and natural therapies do and what drugs do. Many people think that nutritional supplements are a natural substitute to the drug they have been prescribed and work as quickly in suppressing the symptoms. They expect the pain or illness to go away in a few hours or a day when they take the “natural pill”. This is how well the media has brainwashed the public, that if you don’t feel well, pop a pill to take away the symptoms, and you’ll feel good again. But, are you and your body really well by suppressing the symptoms with presciption drugs?

I would like to highlight a few distinctions here, between nutritional supplements and drugs and between health care and disease care. First of all, health is about wellness, a state of equilibrium, feeling full of life, energetic, and good about yourself. Health is not defined as the absence of disease. Therefore, healthcare is a proactive approach to your wellbeing, looking at your food choices, lifestyle and social connectedness. Health affects our quality of life immensely.

Dis-ease, on the other hand, is a state of disequilibrium, where a problem large enough has arisen and the scale has been tipped. In our culture here, we go to the doctor when we are not in a state of health, i.e. to treat a certain disease. It is uncommon to go to the doctor if you are not sick and just want to feel better. A friend of mine told me once that her sister-in-law who is a doctor told her she spent only 3 days in her entire time at medical school studying nutrition. So in short, what we always think as healthcare, really, is disease care.

Also, there is a vast difference between natural healing through nutrition and a treatment using drugs. Drugs have a place in our lives, especially in times of emergency and in some acute conditions. However, for many conditions, especially chronic conditions where drugs only work by suppressing the symptoms, healing through nutrition in many cases are better solutions, dealing with the root of the problem rather than suppressing the symptoms.

So, we always have choices, we can choose the state of health we want like everything else that we do. There are only 2 things we can’t choose (or 2 persons rather), our parents!