Top 10 Health Conditions Affecting Americans: A discussion of what can be prevented.

Chances are you can name a person that suffers from each of these disorders or are one yourself. Maybe you’re thinking 7% doesn’t sound like a high number well, 7% of the US population is 26,054,000. That’s a lot heart attacks and bypass surgeries! 7/10 of these disease are 100% or partially preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Below are some tips and tricks to keep yourself as healthy as possible even when living on a budget.

  1. Hypertension (high blood pressure) 12.5% : The number one cause of stroke and heart attack. The main causes are obesity, smoking and stress. Telling people to stop smoking is a given so I’m going to assume you know that’s a non-negotiable. Obesity tends to be more frequent in populations with lower income and that rely of cheap or fast food. Being on a budget doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. For cheaper produce shop at farmers markets and stores like trader joe’s where a bag of brussel sprouts is 99 cents. Simply adding more produce to your diet will help clean out the bad stuff that’s already in there. Visit my post about cheap clean eats for more recipes! Stress can be a large component of high blood pressure. Meditation and yoga have been documented to relieve stress. Even if they sound hokey, or they’re not your speed, any form of relaxation that lasts more than 20 minutes can bring your pressure down. Consider watching a movie with out your cellphone, talking a walk or focusing on a peaceful activity like painting or drawing to distract yourself from your stressors daily.
  2. Major Depression 9%: While not preventable depression can also benefit from a healthy lifestyle. In some studies increasing the amount you exercise has been as effective as medication. Exercises improves your neuron connections, improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and releasing endorphins (feel good chemicals). Load up on healthy fats! Omega-3’s found in fish and flax seed have been found to help increase healthy hormones. Eat smart carbs! Smart carbs are complex, brown rice, whole grains, fruits and vegetable, they are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin.
  3. High Cholesterol 8.6%: This can be hereditary or diet related. Fat deposits literally pile up in your arteries until you have a stroke or heart attack. Get ahead of it now by eating cleaner and teaching your children these habits while they’re young.
  4. Coronary Artery Disease 7%: This is the end result of smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. People with this condition are at the greatest risk for heart attack. This is ridiculous! Most of these conditions are preventable. Don’t let McDonald’s or a low pay check this month tempt you into a heart attack. Lean protein and a bag a frozen vegetables is about the same price and could save your life. Who wants a big belly anyway?!
  5. Type 2 Diabetes 5.5%: 100% preventable. The causes are obesity and lack of physical activity. If this doesn’t scream get on a treadmill, walk your dog more, play soccer with your kids..I don’t know what will. 30 minutes of walking a day could keep you from needing to inject yourself with a needle several times a day. Any needle phobics out there?
  6. Substance Abuse Disorder 3.4%: 100% Preventable. Mental health is just as important as physical. Depression, anxiety, trauma, domestic violence or abuse and mental illnesses are usually what lead to substance abuse. It’s unfortunate that currently our society doesn’t recommend yearly mental health checks as we do for physical health. Difficulties and conditions caught early are much more treatable than those ignored. Think about the last time you did something stupid when you were high. Now think about how guilty and shameful you felt the next day. This anxiety probably provoked you into using again. Get ahead of the cycle and break it. You’ll have a much happier life and less apologies to hand out.
  7. Alcohol Abuse 3.3%: 100% preventable. Most people are surprised to hear what qualifies as alcoholism. For women, no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Anyone exceeding these number would be considered an alcoholic. In addition there is the issues of binge drinking. The definition of binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. Happy hour isn’t sounding so happy any more is it. What happens when you surpass these numbers? Blackouts, memory loss, accidents, increase risk of rape, overdose and death are the immediate risks. Long term, liver damage, kidney damage, ulcers, increased cancer risk, depression, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes…the list goes on.
  8. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 3.3%: Most commonly caused by cigarette smoking. Re-read paragraph 1 and don’t smoke! Unless you want to be strapped to an oxygen machine!
  9. Psychiatric Disorder 2.9% : Not preventable but again as discussed in depression you can help increase your mental health state with exercise and a healthy diet.
  10. Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis 2.7%: Not preventable. However these unfortunate sufferers find that living by a strict diet is the only way they can live. These diseases can precipitate anxiety and depression and it’s best to maintain exercise and your diet the best you can to maintain your healthy, physical and mental.

New obsession: Buddha Bowls

Recently I’ve been diverting back to my vegetarian ways. As someone that doesn’t like salads I’m left with veggie burgers, yogurt, nuts and fruit. Buddha bowls allow me to mix in a variety of ingredients and feel satiated without adding animal protein.

Here is my buddha bowl blueprint: I pick one or two items from each category

  • Cooked grains or riced cauliflower
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots or cauliflower
  • Radish, cucumber, beets, olives, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, fire roasted corn
  • Kale or arugula
  • Hummus, tahini, falafel, tofu
  • Mint, parsley, basil, coriander, cilantro
  • Dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ginger or cilantro