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This article was written on 29 May 2008, and is filled under General information.

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Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles: Diet Related Illnesses

I am posting this article in order to show the dark side of dieting – when things are not done properly, gone wrong or we are excessive in our measures. Here is a list of


HEART DISEASE: Heart disease, which reduces blood flow to the heart and can eventually lead to heart attack, is America’s #1 public health enemy. The heart is the strongest muscle in the body. It pumps constantly and rests only between beats. It beats about 100,000 times and pumps 2.100 gallons of blood every day. Just as the other muscles in your body need oxygen to work, the heart needs oxygen to keep pumping. Healthy arteries allow blood to flow freely to the heart. Diseased arteries block this flow and limit the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart. Coronary heart disease doesn’t develop overnight. It starts with a process called Atherosclerosis. This is a gradual build-up of fatty tissue in the arteries. You cannot see it or feel it. Almost everyone has some degree of this disease. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is present in foods of animal origin. It is also produced by the liver and released into the blood-stream. Excess cholesterol can come from foods high in cholesterol like rich ice cream, organ meats, and egg yolks. Excess amounts can also be produced by some people’s bodies if they have a genetic predisposition for it. All meat products contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is not found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and beans or peas. Saturated fats are generally those fats that remain hard at room temperature, such as butter or margarine, shortening, lard, and palm and coconut oil. The amount of total fat and saturated fat in a person’s diet has as great an effect on a person’s blood cholesterol level as the cholesterol intake. It is important to watch not only cholesterol intake, but total fat intake as well. Individuals can be genetically predisposed to high cholesterol levels and thus, atherosclerosis and heart disease. In such individuals, diet helps to minimize these genetic effects. Smoking and some drugs can also contribute to heart disease.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS: Atherosclerosis is a buildup of fatty materials on the inner lining of the arteries. It causes the arteries to thicken and narrow, thus inhibiting the blood flow. This can be illustrated to the class by asking for two volunteers to have a drinking contest. Each is given a glass of liquid (milk, water or juice) and a straw. One volunteer is given a regular straw. The other volunteer is given a cocktail straw. The race begins to see who can drink all of the liquid in the cup first. The volunteer with the cocktail straw will be exerting excess pressure and energy and will most likely become red in the face. He/she will not be able to drink as quickly as the person with the regular straw. This can be related to the effects on the blood vessels and the body as the vessels become restricted by fatty deposits. The body is unable to keep vital organs adequately supplied with blood even though far more pressure is being exerted to do so.

CANCER: Cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in adults and children in the U.S. Tumors or cancer can grow anywhere in or on the body. Individuals may be genetically predisposed to certain cancers. Lifestyle characteristics, especially smoking, can increase the risk of cancer. It has been proven that some things you may eat may increase or decrease your risks for certain types of cancer. Following the seven dietary guidelines is important to reduce your chance of contracting cancer.

DIABETES: Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to handle sugar is impaired. The pancreas does not excrete sufficient amounts of insulin into the blood stream. This causes too much sugar in the blood and urine because the body cannot adequately utilize glucose from carbohydrates. The person becomes very weak and without receiving insulin, coma or death can result. Sometimes diabetes can be controlled by regulating sugar and carbohydrate intake. Glucose (sugar) is the fuel for cells. Insulin is produced by your pancreas and helps glucose enter the cells for your body to utilize. Have you ever tried to catch a fish with your bare hands? It is almost impossible to catch a fish without a net, they just slip through your fingers. The same thing happens in your bloodstream. Without insulin, the glucose passes by the cells which need it and remains in the blood stream where it can seriously damage nerves, eyes, blood vessels, kidneys and the heart. With adequate insulin the cells can get the amount of glucose they need and blood glucose levels remain normal. There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes occurs in children and young adults. The body does not produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. Daily insulin shots are required and the person must eat a special diet. Type II diabetes occurs mostly in adults. The body produces some insulin, but the cells resist insulin action. This is the most inherited form of the disease. It is usually the result of obesity which decreases the effectiveness of insulin. This type of diabetes is treated with diet, weight loss, and medication. Sugar is not the cause of either type of diabetes. Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes, although eating too much sugar can aggravate diabetes. Exercise can also be used to treat diabetes and even help prevent it in people genetically predisposed to Type II diabetes.

OVEREATING: One nutritional problem many Americans have is that of overeating. A prime example of this is being overweight. It is a fact that 25% of children in the United States are overweight. Calories are the way we measure the amount of energy found in foods. Carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 calories per gram, fats provide 9 calories per gram. Water, vitamins and minerals do not provide any calories. A gram is about the weight of a small paper clip and 28 grams is equal to 1 ounce. It is recommended that 20-30% of a person’s calories come from fat. While all excess calories will increase body fat, excess calories from fat are more efficiently stored as fat than those from protein or carbohydrates. Most Americans get about 40-50% of their calories from fat. You can use labels to determine fat content. Any time 1/2 of the calories are from fat, it is a high fat food. We must limit the number of these foods we eat. For example a 3 oz. patty of regular ground beef contains 246 calories and contains 18 grams of fat. This means that 66% of the calories come from fat. Show the students a pound of margarine. Explain that each time they gain a pound, this is how much additional weight the body must carry. These pounds add up quickly. When controlling obesity, it is important to watch what you eat, but it is equally important to exercise. To demonstrate how eating affects our bodies, have students “burn off” calories they eat in the following demonstration. Let four students select one of the following foods: a carrot, a candy bar, an apple, an individual package of potato chips. On the back of the food list the following information: Carrot–Run 15 seconds Candy Bar–Run 28 minutes Apple–Run 10 minutes Potato Chips–Run 15 minutes As the students select the foods, they should explain to the class how long it would take to burn the calories by doing the specific exercise listed on their food. DO NOT HAVE THE STUDENTS EAT THE FOOD OR DO THE EXERCISE. This is merely an object lesson to lead into a discussion of how eating too many calories requires increased exercise if we do not want to gain weight. A person’s weight is also affected by genetics. Some people are predisposed to be heavier than others. However, diet and exercise can minimize negative genetic influences and assure fitness.

CONSTIPATION: When bowel movements become difficult and irregular, the problem is called constipation. This disease can be caused by a low level of fiber in the diet. It can also be related to stress and turn into a chronic problem known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Exercise can help alleviate constipation. Fiber cleans out the body’s waste products. Not eating enough fiber may cause the body to maintain the waste products and not allow them to leave the body.

NOT EATING CORRECTLY: There are also diseases that relate to under consumption, or not eating enough of a specific nutrient:

CANCER OF COLON: Fiber acts like a snow shovel to clean out the colon and prevent a build up of excess waste in our bodies. Fiber is the material that remains in the intestines after nutrients are absorbed. It contributes to bowel movements and is important for many reasons. Americans currently eat 5-10 grams of dietary fiber each day. The goal is 25-30 grams. Some good sources of dietary fiber are: 4 slices whole wheat bread contains 10 grams fiber 2 cups brown rice, bulgur, or 1 large baked potato with skin contains 5-15 grams fiber 1 large serving of whole-grain cereal contains 5 grams fiber 1-2 large servings fruit contains 5-10 grams fiber 1-2 large servings cooked vegetables contains 5-10 grams fiber 1/3 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils contains 5 grams fiber Whole grains are one of the best sources of fiber. When the grains are refined, the fiber and some nutrients are removed. Some of the nutrients are replaced by enrichment. However, fiber and some nutrients are not replaced. Students should be encouraged to eat at least 50% of the bread group as whole grains. It is interesting for the students to compare the fiber found in the following foods. Select the following food models and tape them on the chalkboard. Have students guess which items contain the most fiber. As they are discussing this information, write the number of grams contained in each food next to the food.
banana = 2 grams
whole wheat bread = .6 gram
raisins = 2 grams
Total Cereal = 2 grams
shredded wheat = 3 grams
cornbread muffin = 2 grams
strawberries = 2 grams
celery = .1 gram
white bread = .1 gram
jelly beans = 0
Cheerios = 2 grams
Fruit Loops = 1 gram
oatmeal cookie = .5 gram
watermelon = 2 grams

OSTEOPOROSIS: Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become porous and weak. The bone cells look like a sponge. If they do not get enough calcium, the holes get bigger and more holes are made. This makes the bones weak and they break very easily. Because of this, osteoporosis is called the “brittle bone disease”. One out of four American women has or will get this disease. (Men also get this disease.) Symptoms may not appear until the person is older, but the disease begins early in life. It is caused by the body stealing calcium from the bones because it is not supplied by the diet. You must get adequate calcium EVERY DAY! Bones reach their highest density in early teenage years. This will affect the bone strength the rest of their lives. It is extremely important that teens store as much as calcium in their bones as possible by eating adequate amounts of calcium, particularly dairy foods! Osteoporosis is a very painful and expensive disease. There is no cure for osteoporosis, so prevention is very important. Three steps to prevent this disease are: 1. Eat foods that are rich in calcium. 2. Exercise–it protects bones again calcium loss. 3. If you eat caffeine and alcohol, do so in moderation, they may contribute to bone loss.

ANEMIA (IRON DEFICIENCY) Anemia is iron deficiency in the blood. Iron is used in red blood cells to carry oxygen to the cells and carbon dioxide away from the cells. When a person is deficient in iron, the oxygen is not available for use. This makes the person tired and lacking in energy. Teenage girls are in a high risk group for anemia. Iron is the riches in red meats and also high in whole and enriched grains.


ANOREXIA NERVOSA: Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that is devastating to health. It is self-imposed starvation. for people with anorexia, food is the enemy. They feel hungry, but they refuse to eat. These people have an extreme fear of gaining weight and becoming fat. This fear does not diminish with weight loss. In most instances, they continue to believe they are fat even though they are seriously underweight. In addition to refusing to eat, they may resort to vomiting and the use of laxatives and diuretics to lose weight. The number of cases of anorexia is rising drastically, especially with females in their teen or young adult years. However, it affects people of all races and economic backgrounds. The medical complications of anorexia stem from starvation. The body is not receiving adequate amounts of nutrients which are essential to keep the body functioning. The body naturally attempts to protect its vital organs, the heart and the brain. Therefore, other organs which are not as vital to the body are either slowed or shut down completely. Monthly menstrual periods in women stop; breathing, pulse, and blood pressure rates drop; and thyroid function slows. Anorexia nervosa may result in the shrinkage of any internal organs, including the kidneys, heart and brain. As the heart weakens, an irregular heart rhythm and congestive heart failure become possible. The lack of water in the diet may cause constipation and/or difficulty urinating. Muscle aches and cramps, swelling of the joints, and injuries to nerves and tendons often occur. Many anorexics also develop difficulty in concentrating and experience various digestive problems. Lack of protein in the diet may lead to dull, brittle hair and even hair loss; brittle nails and dry, yellow skin. Loss of fat makes it difficult for the body to stay warm. Therefore, a fine, soft body hair called lanugo may appear, especially on the arms and legs.

BULIMIA: Bulimia is also known as the “Binge-Purge Syndrome”. Studies show that more women are affected by this than men. Banging is the uncontrolled consumption of large amounts of food. It may occur in only a few minutes or last over several hours. Bulimics may consume thousands of calories in one binge session. Purging is eliminating the food which has been ingested during the binge. The most common method of purging is self-induced vomiting. However, some bulimics turn to laxatives, fasting, severe diets, diet pills, diuretics, or vigorous exercise. Frequent vomiting may cause erosion of tooth enamel, causing severe and frequent tooth decay. Damage to the gums may also occur. It may damage the esophagus, causing pain, internal bleeding, and even perforation of the esophagus. Swollen or infected salivary glands may also occur. The bulimic may have calluses or sores on the hand or a fine rash from forcing the body to expel food. If the body’s fluid balance is upset, an irregular heart beat, seizures, and even heart failure or death may result. The bulimic may experience many digestive problems because of the frequent elimination of food. Stomach cramps, nausea, ulcers, colitis or even a fatal rupturing of the stomach may occur. A loss of potassium in the body may cause muscle weakness, cramps, stiffness, or numbness in the arms or legs. Damage may occur to any of the vital organs, including the kidneys and liver. In women, the menstrual cycle is frequently affected. Bulimics often suffer from amenorrhea, or absence of the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, many female athletes think they are in peak condition if amenorrhea occurs. Actually, the opposite is true. To maintain menstruation, women need a certain amount of calories, protein and body fat. Too much exercise can decrease the fat stores in a body. This decreases the estrogen level, which stops menstruation. This, in turn, leads to decreased bone density and easy bone breakage. The beneficial effects of exercise on bone density do not compensate for bone loss due to estrogen deficiency. Amenorrhea, lasting 3-6 months, can cause irreversible bone damage. Anyone having amenorrhea should seek medical care immediately. This is a potentially serious condition.

COMPULSIVE OVEREATERS: The person who suffers from compulsive overeating is usually overweight and may become obese. An excess of weight can cause many serious health problems. These problems include shortness of breath, loss of energy, high blood pressure, and joint problems. As the problem escalates, osteoarthritis, heart disease, gall bladder disease, and diabetes may also occur. TREATMENT: Treatment is possible, although sometimes difficult for any of these eating disorders. Many programs to help people experiencing these problems are available at hospitals, through family physicians, and through mental health departments. Because there is a serious ppsychologicalcomponent to address the inappropriate perception of body image and/or the inappropriate relationship to food. (An excellent resource for use with this unit is Feminist Perspectives on Eating Disorders, Fallon, Katzman and Wooley, Guilford Press, NY 1994, ISBN #0-8986 2180-1. This book provides pictorial examples of how the female form has evolved.) For more information you may wish to contact Charlotte Cryogen at the McKay Dee Hospital, Ogden, Utah, 476-5600. An excellent resource is “Overcoming Eating Disorders” (Krames Communication).


  1. lois lackey
    June 9, 2008

    will have to go slow,so much information and which do you follow.?really it all comes down to common sence no ?

  2. admin
    June 9, 2008

    It is difficult for me to distinguish the truth form all “proven” statements, books, program and so on. It takes time researching in order to find the hidden (on purpose or not) parts in every piece of information.
    Normally, common sense will not do it for me. Some of the commercial programs and diets have been created by specialists, very good in concealing certain harmful facts from the public.
    My motto in the case – “everything is too good to be truth until proven”, especially commercial stuff (99% of everything) 🙂

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