Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Weighty Problem

Those of us who struggle with weight know that carrying around additional pounds increases our chances of diabetes and heart conditions. I always figured that weight is so hard to manage because, as humans, we have to eat. It’s not like some optional thing we can just quit cold turkey. Nope. It’s always there no matter what.

I made the mistake of stepping on the scales after Business Women’s Week when we seem to eat our way through the entire seven days. We had lunches and dinners every day. Then to top it all off, we had meals catered in at work during training for our new computer software. As if I hadn’t consumed enough calories, the week ended with our Sedalia Business Women’s annual chicken dinner.

I know that a few extra pounds adversely affects my blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides. We are considered to have metabolic disorder when we have high readings in two or more of those numbers…and in my case, it is “more.”

Each year, I dread the health survey our insurance company insists that we complete. “It’s depressing,” said one of my co-workers. I have to agree with that assessment. Often, I go into the survey feeling pretty good, especially for a woman of my age. I may have the occasional ache or pain, but in general, I’m rarely sick. Then, I take the health survey and it indicates that I’m just a heart attack waiting to happen. The survey says I’m at high risk for this and for that until I just want to throw my hands up and say, “Lord, take me now.” The only good news I ever receive from the health survey is high marks on the substance abuse, mental health, and safety sections. Otherwise, I think I’d flat line on the health survey.

Of course, all my problems are from weight, and it’s not as if I haven’t tried every diet that promises to melt away the pounds. The bad thing about diets is that sometimes they work so well that I wonder how I ever let my weight get out of hand. Usually, a diet requires me to eat a certain food and avoid others. Once in a while, I’ll see a diet that says “and you can eat dessert!” The aforementioned dessert might taste a lot like sweet cardboard, but hey, if I’m hungry enough that might be just what I need. It seems that no matter what the diet, as soon as I revert to anything like normal eating habits, the pounds pack back on until I’ve reached, or exceeded, the same weight that drove me to diet in the first place.

As if being overweight isn’t enough of a problem on its own, now obesity has been linked to cognitive decline. Being obese and having metabolic disorder accelerated decline in the study group. It isn’t really just a slight increase either—the increased risk is 22.5%. I guess the only good news coming out of this study is that by losing weight and lowering the biomarkers, you can cut your risk of obesity related cognitive decline.

This study just underscores the validity of the Alzheimer’s Association’s healthy brain imitative. The Alzheimer’s association recommends a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranian diet, which limits red meats, but includes vegetables and whole grains. Along with the healthy diet, exercise will increase blood flow and oxygen in the brain. Isn’t this what our health survey says is good for us? Oh, well, maybe there’s a reason for it after all.

The good news from all the studies on Alzheimer’s disease is that sometimes food has beneficial qualities that help fight dementia. I love it when I see that coffee helps ward off dementia, or even better is a new study that found dark chocolate helps keep the brain sharp. I’m not making this up either! Okay, so the study was conducted by Mars (the candy bar people) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Cocoa has flavanols like those found in red wine, grapes, apples, and tea.

In theory, it sounds simple and easy, but putting healthy habits into action is difficult. Maybe if I’d pay more attention to diet and exercise, my problems wouldn’t be so weighty. At least not so very, very weighty.

Copyright © November 2012 by L.S. Fisher
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