Healthy Habits and Weight Loss for Better Health
Health experts say that weight loss does make a difference in your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. A balanced diet, an active lifestyle and achieving a healthy weight can minimize these risks.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2,300 Americans die of heart disease every day.1
The good news is that for most people heart disease can be prevented. Factors under your control include weight, physical activity and smoking. Weight gain, particularly in the abdomen, increases your risk for heart disease. As a general guideline, women are at an increased risk if they have a waist circumference greater than 35 inches, and men are at an increased risk if they measure over 40 inches. Monitoring your waist circumference can help track changes in abdominal fat, which is one predictor of cardiovascular disease risk as well as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
How to fortify your heart? The American Heart Association advises a focus on:1
● Regular, moderate-intensity physical activity - 30 minutes or more of brisk walking, climbing stairs, biking, dancing and other similar activities on most, preferably all, days of the week.
● A high intake of fruits and vegetables (at least 5 total servings each day) and whole grains to achieve an intake of 25-30 grams of fiber per day.
● Prepare foods with little or no salt - instead, experiment with spices, herbs or salt-free seasonings.
● Eating fish at least twice a week, preferably ones with the highest doses of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and bluefish.
● A moderate amount of total fat intake (20-35% of total calories) with a focus on heart-healthy fats to help control blood cholesterol.
○ Less than 7% of total calories should come from saturated fat.
○ Trans fats should be limited as much as possible.
● Not smoking and quitting if you do.
With an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, heart-healthy fat and regular physical activity, the Jenny Menus reflects the dietary recommendations of the American Heart Association. The menus are low in fat, low in cholesterol and high in fiber.
There are approximately 25.8 million people in the U.S. with diabetes and about one-third of those people are not even aware they have the disease. Additionally, there are about 79 million Americans with “pre-diabetes” (elevated blood glucose, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes).2
More than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Two major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are being overweight and inactive. Maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle can reduce diabetes risk and/or eliminate the need for medication. According to a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, lifestyle intervention (diet and exercise) that achieves a 7% weight loss can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%.3 For someone who weighs 180 pounds, this translates to just a 12-pound weight loss!
If you have diabetes, a balanced meal plan like Jenny’s helps slow the rise in your blood glucose. The Jenny Menu provides 50-60% of calories as carbohydrates, 20-30% as fat and 20-30% as protein.
Physical activity can help you control blood glucose as well. The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week, or an average of 20 minutes per day of moderately-intense physical activity, like brisk walking, to improve blood glucose control. Use your tracker to log how much you do each day.
Weight also affects cancer risk. For men, being overweight increases the risk for rectal and prostate cancer. For women, it increases the risk of colorectal and breast cancer. A low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber may help lower your chances for cancer in general. For certain cancers, a high intake of specific foods may also lower risk.
When you make the change to a healthy lifestyle, the benefits extend beyond weight loss. A balanced eating plan, an active lifestyle and achieving a healthy weight play a role in disease prevention. It’s all about eating well, moving more and living life.
1. The American Heart Association. Available at www.americanheart.org. Accessed July 19, 2013.
2. American Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.org Accessed July 19, 2013.
3. Knowler WC, et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or Metformin. NEJM. 2002;346:393-403.
4. American Cancer Society. Available at http://www.cancer.org/healthy/eathealthygetactive/acsguidelinesonnutritionphysicalactivityforcancerprevention/acs-guidelines-on-nutrition-and-physical-activity-for-cancer-prevention-dietand-activity Accessed July 19, 2013.