Love that body

| 11/09/2010

The observance of Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) has been one of the commitments made by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government in the fight against chronic diseases. Initiated in 2008, this is a collective regional recognition of the physical, economic and social burdens caused by lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, obesity and some types of cancer.

The corresponding theme “Love that Body” aims to heighten awareness of health and well being, encourage persons to engage in regular physical activity and choose healthy lifestyles.

In this third year of marking CWD, it cannot be stressed enough that these chronic diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths (WHO, 2008). More importantly, up to 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and over 1/3 of cancers could be prevented by eliminating the common risk factors of tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol intake.
Based on a wealth of scientific evidence, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are 2 of the main risk factors for elevated blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, abnormal cholesterol levels, overweight/obesity, all of which precede the major chronic diseases listed above. 
Fortunately, these risk factors are within our control to change, both as individuals and as a society. Collectively small changes should lead to a big difference in our health now and for the future.
The following recommendations are those based on the most recent scientific evidence surrounding healthy lifestyles to prevent disease and promote wellness:
Choose whole grains, legumes, and staples high in fibre:
Base your diet around whole grains, legumes, and staples high in fibre.
Ensure half of your daily intake from grains is whole grain.(Brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, whole wheat crackers, bran and oat cereals.)
Increase fiber also with staples and legumes such as breadfruit, sweet potato, green banana, pumpkin, beans, peas, and lentils.
Enjoy at least 5 portions-a-day of fruits and vegetables:
1 Portion = 1 medium sized fruit, 2 small fruits, ½ cup sliced fruit, 1 cup berries, handful of grapes, 1 cup raw vegetables, ½ cup steamed vegetables.
Include at least 1 dark green leafy vegetables daily such as callaloo or broccoli for iron, folate, and calcium.
Include at least 1 orange /yellow fruit or vegetable daily such as carrots, cantaloupe, or orange/red/yellow sweet peppers for beta carotene and vitamin C.
Choose more fresh or frozen produce rather than canned, which usually have added salt and/or sugar.
Limit added sugars or foods and beverages with added sugars:
Ensure that energy (calories or kcals) from added sugars is not more than 10% of total calories (for example, no more than 200 kcals from sugar per day on a 2,000 kcal diet).
Use fresh or dried fruits to added sweetness to baked goods and cereals.
Choose smaller portions of treats such as candy, cakes, cookies, puddings, and other dessert items, and consume these less often.
Drink much less sodas, fruit punch, juices, and pre-sweetened beverages.
Opt for more water (at least 6-8 glasses a day) and reduced sugarbeverages such as diet soda, sugar free powdered drink mixes, unsweetened ice tea, and diluted natural fruit juice.
Use a substitute sweetener, such as Equal or Splenda or Stevia brands, to sweeten foods and beverages instead of using sugar.
Limit total fats, especially saturated and trans fatty acids:
Ensure that calories from total fat do not exceed 35% of total calories (for example, 78 grams total fat/d on a 2,000 kcal diet).
Limit calories from saturated fat to <7% of total Calories (for example, 15 grams saturated fat per day on a 2,000 kcal diet).
Avoid the trans fats found in products with hydrogenated vegetable oils, full cream dairy products, fatty meats, fried foods, and commercially baked goods.
Choose lean meats and trim off any visible fat and skin from poultry before cooking.
Use cooking methods that do not need much oil or drippings, such as baking, grilling, steaming, broiling, boiling, or even microwaving.
Select low fat dairy products like skim or 1% milk and reduced fat cheeses and yogurts.
Include sources of mono/polyunsaturated fats such as fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna), nuts, and seeds.
Choose vegetable oils, such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil, but still use in small amounts.
Use soft margarine/spreadas a substitute for hard stick butter. Look for 0g trans fat on the nutrition facts label. 
Limit salt (sodium) intake:
Limit salt to 6 g a day, or 2400 mg sodium chloride.
Use less salt in cooking and avoiding added salt at the table.
Flavour foods with pepper (either black or white), herbs, spices, lemon/lime juice, vinegars, wine, and salt free seasonings.
Make homemade soups and sauces without adding stock cubes.
Buy less canned and processed foods, and choose fresh or frozen meats and vegetables as often as possible.
Drink alcohol in moderation:
Men: Limit to 2 drinks daily.
Women: Limit to 1 drink daily.
One drink = 1 beer, 4-5 oz glass of wine, and 1.5 ounces 80-proof liquor.
Be active:
According to WHO, different types and amounts of physical activity are required for different health outcomes. At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. Muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce falls and increase functional status among older adults. For weight control, research has shown that more activity, up to 60 minutes on most days, may be required for some people (Blair, 2004).
Current specific recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control include:
Cardio or aerobic activities.
Achieve the aerobic activity recommendation through one of the following options: A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day (such as brisk walking) most days of the week, or
A minimum of 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity (such as jogging or running) 3 days a week
Resistance, strength-building, and weight-bearing activities.
Strength training activities, such as weight lifting, maintain and increase muscle strength and endurance. Two days a week, incorporate strength training into your routine. Aim to complete 6-8 strength training exercises, with 8–12 repetitions per exercise.
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