Hidden Costs of Soda

The obesity epidemic has increased U.S. health care costs by more than $190 billion a year, roughly 21% of all our national health care expenditures, according to a recent Reuters report. If that statistic doesn’t send shockwaves through your system, here’s an even more startling fact: obese individuals rack up an additional $1,152 a year in average insurance expenses, compared to $512 for the non-obese.

In recent years, the cost of the obesity epidemic has become a problem we can no longer ignore, as it has manifested itself in our national health care costs and rising insurance premiums. With the problem only becoming more of an issue, individuals have begun wondering how we can stop forking over money to rising health care expenditures and insurance premiums.

One of the most efficient ways to combat the obesity epidemic is to stop pointing the finger, evaluate your own dietary and lifestyle decisions, and make changes where they’re appropriate. In fact simple adjustments like cutting out soda is one great way to help you save on health care and insurance costs.

Americans drink the most soda in the world, according to the Kick the Can Foundation. On average, Americans drink a staggering 45 gallons of soda each year. While drinking a 12-ounce can of soda on a daily basis may seem harmless enough, one of soda’s main ingredients – high-fructose corn syrup – has been heavily linked to obesity. The Livestrong Foundation reports that high-fructose corn syrup is known for increasing belly fat, prompting cholesterol development in the liver, and encouraging visceral fat, all of which make individuals more susceptible to diabetes and obesity.

For non-diet drinkers that means guzzling 16 teaspoons of sugar every day. And if you’re consuming diet or low-calorie soda, you’re probably worse off. Countless studies link aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to increased risks for certain cancers, kidney and liver damage, and even Alzheimer’s.

It’s easy to want to ignore the dangers of soda when you’re simply trying to fuel up on sugary drinks and snacks to make it through the work week, but your employer may soon make you pay up if you don’t make your health a priority.

The recently-passed U.S. health care reform law of 2010 grants employers the right to charge their employees up to 50% more for health insurance costsÿif they don’t perform well on qualified health and wellness tests. Before you know it, you could be forking over thousands more for health insurance simply because you’re reaching for one-to-many cans of soda.

Afflictions like obesity, cancers, and related health concerns can be deterred with the right lifestyle habits, which include a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and low consumption of high-calorie foods and sugary drinks. In doing this, Americans can not only live longer, more-fulfilled lives, but they can also avoid paying high medical bills and ridiculous insurance premiums.

Wonder what the hidden costs of drinking sugar-laden syrup are? Check out our latest video evaluating the toll soda takes on our nation’s health, economy, and environment.

Regular and excessive soda drinking is linked with increased risk of obesity, tooth decay, stroke, some cancers, and kidney damage. Soda contributes the most refined sugar to American’s diets than anything else, offering up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar per 20 ounce beverage. Today, 1 in 10 people are obese. Not coincidentally, the two developed countries with the fastest rising obesity rate are America and Mexico at 4% to 5%. The same two countries that topped the list for most soda consumed at 170 and 146 liters per person per year respectively.

  • Health: F

Americans drink, on average, 20 ounces of soda a day, about $500 per year on soda. Plus, there are extra costs incurred at the dentist because of tooth decay, health bills from weight gain and more. The soda industry pulls in nearly $66 billion annually. Coca Cola, the world’s largest soda manufacturer, employs 146,200 people in over 200 countries.

  • Economy: B-

Throwing away a soda can wastes as much energy as filling that can with gasoline and then pouring it on the ground, but recycling that same can will save enough electricity to power a 100 watt light bulb for three full hours. If littered, a soda can won’t degrade for 500 years. Aluminum is a cradle to cradle product, meaning if it’s recycled, it can be reused again and again. In fact, 75% of the aluminum manufactured since the 1800s is still in use today, in a different recycled form. On the downside, 40 billion cans still end up in landfills each year, about half of soda cans used.

  • Environment: C+

Final grade: C-

 

Orginal Article: http://www.insurancequotes.org/hidden-cost-soda

More Nutritional Health...

The obesity epidemic has increased U.S. health care costs by more than $190 billion a year, roughly 21% of all our national health care expenditures, according to a recent Reuters report. If that statistic doesn’t send shockwaves through your system, here’s an even more startling fact: obese individuals rack up an additional $1,152 a year in average insurance expenses, compared to $512 for the non-obese.

In recent years, the cost of the obesity epidemic has become a problem we can no longer ignore, as it has manifested itself in our national health care costs and rising insurance premiums. With the problem only becoming more of an issue, individuals have begun wondering how we can stop forking over money to rising health care expenditures and insurance premiums.

One of the most efficient ways to combat the obesity epidemic is to stop pointing the finger, evaluate your own dietary and lifestyle decisions, and make changes where they’re appropriate. In fact simple adjustments like cutting out soda is one great way to help you save on health care and insurance costs.

Americans drink the most soda in the world, according to the Kick the Can Foundation. On average, Americans drink a staggering 45 gallons of soda each year. While drinking a 12-ounce can of soda on a daily basis may seem harmless enough, one of soda’s main ingredients – high-fructose corn syrup – has been heavily linked to obesity. The Livestrong Foundation reports that high-fructose corn syrup is known for increasing belly fat, prompting cholesterol development in the liver, and encouraging visceral fat, all of which make individuals more susceptible to diabetes and obesity.

For non-diet drinkers that means guzzling 16 teaspoons of sugar every day. And if you’re consuming diet or low-calorie soda, you’re probably worse off. Countless studies link aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to increased risks for certain cancers, kidney and liver damage, and even Alzheimer’s.

It’s easy to want to ignore the dangers of soda when you’re simply trying to fuel up on sugary drinks and snacks to make it through the work week, but your employer may soon make you pay up if you don’t make your health a priority.

The recently-passed U.S. health care reform law of 2010 grants employers the right to charge their employees up to 50% more for health insurance costsÿif they don’t perform well on qualified health and wellness tests. Before you know it, you could be forking over thousands more for health insurance simply because you’re reaching for one-to-many cans of soda.

Afflictions like obesity, cancers, and related health concerns can be deterred with the right lifestyle habits, which include a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and low consumption of high-calorie foods and sugary drinks. In doing this, Americans can not only live longer, more-fulfilled lives, but they can also avoid paying high medical bills and ridiculous insurance premiums.

Wonder what the hidden costs of drinking sugar-laden syrup are? Check out our latest video evaluating the toll soda takes on our nation’s health, economy, and environment.

Regular and excessive soda drinking is linked with increased risk of obesity, tooth decay, stroke, some cancers, and kidney damage. Soda contributes the most refined sugar to American’s diets than anything else, offering up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar per 20 ounce beverage. Today, 1 in 10 people are obese. Not coincidentally, the two developed countries with the fastest rising obesity rate are America and Mexico at 4% to 5%. The same two countries that topped the list for most soda consumed at 170 and 146 liters per person per year respectively.

  • Health: F

Americans drink, on average, 20 ounces of soda a day, about $500 per year on soda. Plus, there are extra costs incurred at the dentist because of tooth decay, health bills from weight gain and more. The soda industry pulls in nearly $66 billion annually. Coca Cola, the world’s largest soda manufacturer, employs 146,200 people in over 200 countries.

  • Economy: B-

Throwing away a soda can wastes as much energy as filling that can with gasoline and then pouring it on the ground, but recycling that same can will save enough electricity to power a 100 watt light bulb for three full hours. If littered, a soda can won’t degrade for 500 years. Aluminum is a cradle to cradle product, meaning if it’s recycled, it can be reused again and again. In fact, 75% of the aluminum manufactured since the 1800s is still in use today, in a different recycled form. On the downside, 40 billion cans still end up in landfills each year, about half of soda cans used.

  • Environment: C+

Final grade: C-

 

Orginal Article: http://www.insurancequotes.org/hidden-cost-soda

Nutritional tricks to help you stave off stress.

Which comes first: Do our high-stress lives lead us to eat badly, or do our bad eating habits make us more likely to feel stressed out?

The way I see it, the chicken AND the egg both come first, depending on the situation. Stress can lead some people to crave (and overeat) junk food. In other cases, a diet rich in sugar, unhealthy fats, caffeine, etc., can help set up some people to feel more physically stressed.

That means we need to work on both ends of the stick. We should find new ways to deal with the stress in our lives; and we should eat a healthy diet, rich in the nutrients that help keep moods up and stress down.

So before we get down to the nitty-gritty of food and stress, keep these two suggestions in mind:

  • Find new ways to cope with life's stresses. Whenever possible, plug in healthy coping strategies, like journaling; regular exercise; massage; yoga or Pilates classes; or support groups or counseling sessions that help you work through negative thoughts in a productive and healthy way.
  • Find ways to decrease the stress in your life. Get enough sleep, quit smoking, establish a great support system, strive for balance in the different aspects of your life (family, work, personal interests), and find a sense of purpose in your life.
  • Food, Hormones, and Stress

    One key to the link between food and mood is serotonin, which I have fondly nicknamed "the happy hormone." Serotonin is made in the brain from the amino acid tryptophan, with the help of certain B vitamins.

    Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so you might think that foods high in protein would increase levels of tryptophan, but the opposite is true. Tryptophan has to fight with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain. Since tryptophan is the weaker of the amino acids, generally only a small amount makes it into the brain when other amino acids are present.

    But here's the catch. When you eat a meal that's almost all carbs, this triggers insulin to clear the other amino acids from your bloodstream. That leaves tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain. This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain. High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.

    The other main stress/food hormone is cortisol. When you're stressed, your body releases more cortisol into your bloodstream. Cortisol sends appetite-stimulating neurotransmitters into overdrive, while lowering your levels of serotonin. This combination programs your brain to crave carbohydrate-rich foods. And when you eat the carb-rich foods, it boosts serotonin levels, which makes you feel calm again.

    How to De-Stress Your Diet

    But before you rush out for that carb fix, here are six tips to help you give yourself the nutritional edge against stress:

    1. Keep It Balanced

    A balanced, nutrient-rich eating plan is your single best dietary defense against stress. There is more and more scientific evidence suggesting that what we eat contributes to mood, stress level, brain function, and energy level.

    2. Keep Healthy Carbs Handy

    Giving your body the carbs it craves during stress doesn't have to mean filling up with empty calories from sugar and white-flour products. Complex or "whole" carbohydrate foods (like whole grains, fruits, and veggies) give you carbs along with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals galore.

    A study in 1995 (before the current low-carb hysteria) looked at obese women who said they overate carbohydrates when stressed. Researchers assigned the women to either a carb-rich diet or protein-rich diet -- both with 1,350 daily calories -- for seven weeks. Interestingly, more women lost weight on the carbohydrate-rich diet. But perhaps more important, those on the higher-carb diet reported having fewer carbohydrate cravings and more energy.

    3. Omega-3s to the Rescue

    Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish as well as some plant foods, like canola oil and ground flaxseed. Although their uplifting effect on mood hasn't been proven, several studies have suggested a connection. This makes scientific sense because:

  • In areas of the world where more omega-3s are consumed, depression is less common.
  • Depression rates are high among alcoholics and women who have recently given birth. Both groups tend to be deficient in omega-3s.
  • People with depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells compared with others.
  • 4. Cut the Caffeine

    Caffeine is a stimulant. It stimulates the bowels and bladder, and it seems to increase your energy level for the short term. But what goes up must come down, and in people sensitive to caffeine, it can come crashing down.

    Larry Christensen, PhD, a researcher with the University of South Alabama, found in recent studies that when people who are sensitive to caffeine eliminated it from their diets, their moods and energy levels improved significantly.

    Don't know if you are one of the caffeine-sensitive people? Try avoiding caffeine for a few weeks and see if there's a difference in the way you feel. It can be hard to go cold turkey, so taper off your intake a cup at a time until you're down to none.

    5. Don't Be a Breakfast-Skipper

    When people eat breakfast, they tend to have more consistent moods and are less likely to suffer food cravings later in the day.

    6. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

    This will provide your body with a consistent supply of energy throughout the day and help you avoid feeling tired or overly hungry.

    7. Don't Expect Alcohol to Help

    Alcohol is not a healthy or effective way to relax or relieve stress. Though many people believe the opposite is true, alcohol is actually a depressant. And overdrinking only adds to the stress in your life.

    By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

    SOURCES: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 1995, Supplement, Vol. 95, Number 9. Reproduction Nutrition Development, May-June 2004, Family Practice News, Aug. 1, 2004.

    Original Article: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55897

  1. Be realistic. Do not try to lose pounds during the holidays. Instead try to maintain your current weight.
  1. Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try a 10-15 minute brisk walk twice a day.
  1. Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
  1. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
  1. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.
  1. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
  1. If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
  1. Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
  1. Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. That way you know there is a least 1 dish you can eat without feeling guilty.
  1. Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating. Incorporate some of the simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier.
  2. Gravy – Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whipping 56 gm of fat per cup.
  3. Dressing – Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat, low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
  4. Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.
  5. Green Bean Casserole – Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
  6. Mashed Potato – Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
  7. Quick Holiday Nog – Four bananas,  1 ½ cups skim milk or soy milk, 1 ½ cups plain nonfat yogurt, ¼ teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
  8. Desserts – Make a crustless pumpkins pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.

Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run your mind and body will thank you.

Original Article: Comunity Hospital Anderson Dietitian's Office

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Find out why experts say Mother Nature's bounty packs better nutrients than supplements.

If we are what we eat, then many of us must be tripping all over the place due to a lack of balance. That's because the average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables per day — a stark contrast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new guidelines stating that we should be eating 5 to 13 servings of nature's best, depending on the number of calories you need.

So if we want to grow to be strong like Popeye, why can't we just down some supplements instead of devouring a pile of spinach?

Nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables work together. Kristine Wallerius Cuthrell, MPH, RD, a research nutritionist and senior project coordinator for Hawaii Foods at the Center on the Family at University of Hawaii at Manoa, says that in the past five to 10 years, many large research studies have found that vitamin supplements don't provide the benefits that foods do. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, created jointly between HHS and USDA and reviewed every five years, say that foods are the best sources of nutrients because they contain naturally occurring ingredients, like carotenoids and flavonoids.

"In addition to the substances we are aware of, there are many present in fruits and vegetables that have yet to be discovered. Food and the nutrients they contain aren't consumed singly, but with each other. As such, they may act in synergistic ways to promote health," Cuthrell says. For instance, eating iron-rich plants, like spinach, with an iron-absorbing enhancer, like the vitamin C in orange juice, is great for people who don’t get enough iron (typically young women).

Fruits and vegetables may prevent many illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. The Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined nearly 110,000 people over the course of 14 years. Part of the study revealed that the more fruits and vegetables people ate daily, the less chance they would develop cardiovascular diseases.

The relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer prevention has been more difficult to prove. However, recent studies show that some types of produce are associated with lower rates of some types of cancer. For example, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers are less likely with high intakes of non-starchy foods like leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Though studies have been mixed, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, may help stave off prostate cancer.

Fruits and vegetables are great for watching your weight. They’re low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which create a feeling of fullness. This is particularly helpful for dieters who want more filling calories. Plus, that fiber helps keep you “regular.”

Fruits and Vegetables: Get Your Fill

When adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, remember that variety is the spice of life. It's important to eat produce of various colors because each fruit or vegetable offers a different nutrient — think of it as nutritional cross-training. Trying new foods can be exciting, and be sure to sample every color in the produce rainbow.

The right number of servings of fruits and vegetables for you all depends on your daily caloric intake needs. A good way to find out how many servings you should be eating is by using the CDC's online serving calculator. Or make things even simpler by eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.

Don't let season, accessibility, or cost affect your fruit- and vegetable-friendly diet. If finding fresh produce is difficult, choose frozen, canned (low-sodium), or dried varieties. Also, 100 percent juice counts toward your servings, though it doesn't offer the full fiber of whole fruit.

The power of prevention may lie in a salad bowl or a plate of fruit. When we take advantage of produce, our bodies return the favor by reducing our risk of developing various illnesses.

By: Melanie Winderlich

Original Article: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/101/nutrition-basics/fruits-and-vegetables.aspx