Healthy equation: Healthy food = Healthy life

By Ileana Chapa

What do diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer all have in common? They are results of a poor diet and a misinformed nation.

As a nutrition major at UIW, I feel it is time for us to recognize the bad health epidemic our nation is experiencing and begin to make smart decisions regarding buying nutritional food and maintaining a healthy diet.

Thousands of Americans suffer from chronic diseases. “Health care spending in the (United States) is far greater than in other industrialized countries,” according to “Health Data 2011,” a publication of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development based in Paris. A good way to put an end to this devastating piece of data is to pay more attention to what we put in our mouth.

Although dieting is a hard regimen in itself, it proves to be only half the battle. One may become overwhelmed with the variety of foods at our expense in the grocery store, but the key to a healthy diet is choosing smart.

Dr. Mauricio Padilla, who studied biochemistry at Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey or ITESM (The Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education), in Monterrey, Mexico, has practiced yoga and vegetarianism since the age of 18. With this healthy lifestyle, his main interests revolve around improving the health of our planet and the people who live on it.

“The biggest mistake consumers make is purchasing foods that are overly processed, lack nutrients, and xenobiotics (hormones, dioxins, pesticides, etc) that are very dangerous. It is important to stay informed and only intake wholesome foods that are created in an ethical manner.”

The following are some easy and helpful tips to follow on your quest to a healthier lifestyle. Gradually work them into your diet and reap the benefits.

  1. Eat 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day: fruits and vegetables contribute many nutrients our body needs.
  2. Switch to whole grains instead of refined grains. Choose whole wheat bread and wheat rice instead of white bread and white rice. Whole grains are low in fat, high in fiber, and help to prevent chronic diseases.
  3. Choose low fat. If you drink milk often, choose low fat or soy in order to decrease your fat intake.
  4. Vary protein sources. Good sources of protein are lean meats, beans and nuts.
  5. Eat the right salad dressing: Try to get vinaigrette or a dressing low in fat. Creamy salad dressings contain fat and cause the salad to lose nutritional value.
  6. Learn how to read food labels. You can regulate your fat, cholesterol and sodium intake if you learn to read food labels correctly. Remember, the food labels are the nutritional information per serving and many times there are more than one serving in the food product. It is also good to read the ingredients and be informed on what you are eating.
  7. Snack healthier. Many snacks such as chips and candy are high in fat, sodium and sugar. You can snack on fruits such as grapes, mandarins or even nuts, almonds etc.
  8. Avoid processed foods. Foods such as pizza or nuggets are highly processed and contain a high amount of sodium. These foods lack nutritional value and freshness.
  9. Limit your portion sizes. I know “everything is bigger in Texas,” but please don’t apply that to the portion of food you are eating. Eat until you feel satisfied — not until you are extremely full. This will limit your calorie intake and will help you maintain a healthy weight.


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