Journey to Better Health


Health Issues Today

I am not a nutritionist, a doctor, or a health care worker.  I am a mother, wife and friend.  Over the years, some of my family members have been diagnosed with diseases that have decreased their quality of life.  Many times, I have heard the doctors say things like you need to lose weight, reduce your salt intake, control your carbohydrate intake, your A1C number is too high, your triglycerides are too high, you have high cholesterol, and you are pre-diabetic.  I have heard all of these things and more. Many people have these same health issues today.

In 2011 an article written in Psychology Today refers to the Legatum Study that ranked the U.S. 27th in the health of its citizens, life expectancy below average compared to the 30 countries included in the study,  with the U.S the having the highest obesity of those countries. 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201103/why-america-is-in-decline

America’s Health Rankings 2015 Annual report the U.S. ranks 45 out of 50 high income country’s. This is using the indicators of mortality, survival, and life expectancy.

Interesting note on spending for health care “U.S. expenditure on health care, as measured by percent of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on health by private and public sectors, ranks second among 191 countries at 17.1% of GDP…..Only 20 countries spend more than 10% of GDP on health. All other developed countries with health expenditures more than 10% of GDP have both a lower infant mortality rate and a higher life expectancy than the United States.”

5 highest ranking states in the U.S. for over all health:

1 Hawaii, 2 Vermont, 3 Massachusetts, 4 Minnesota,

5 New Hampshire.

5 lowest ranking states in the U.S.  for over all health:

50 Louisiana, 49 Mississippi, 48 Arkansa, 47 West Virginia,

46 Alabama.

Obesity rating for the U.S.  in 1990 was 11.6,  in 2015 it was 29.6

America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation.

 http://www.americashealthrankings.org/reports/annual

The CDC published a report (Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Decline in Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke — United States, 1900-1999).  In this report discussing the improvements for those who are treated for Heart Disease and Stroke there is a sentence stating “In addition, the prevalence of obesity has increased among both children and adults in the United States (13).”

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4830a1.htm

These reports suggest many in the United States have similar health issues today. What has happened with my family is not uncommon. Some are calling this an epidemic.

Are we making ourselves sick with the choices we make?

Do we have to live this way?

Is there something we can do ourselves to change these numbers?

Can we reclaim our health?

To help my family I like to read self-improvement books, health books, diet books, and research websites for solutions to improve our health.  Some of these have been helpful and some have not.

In truth, this has been an interest to me from an early age.  Some books I read described cures for ailments that used plants and foods as medication. Some medications today are forms of plants or other resources found in nature.  Now I realized that some of these things were not really effective or safe however, the idea stuck with me.  And the question that kept nagging at me was: Is there another way to treat some of our health issues?  To me common sense says that there is.

Doctors say lose weight and eat healthy.

As I listened to the doctors prescribe medications and give advice for improving our health one thing stood out.  Lose weight and eat better.   Through the years, the advice on how to achieve this has changed many times.  The ideas and suggestions for improving our health has been a roller coaster of new discoveries and debunking of old ideas and then revisiting ideas from the past. Sometimes the medical and scientific data can be extremely frustrating and depressing.  Who and what should we look to for information and what is right?

Mothers Say Eat Your Vegetables!

Mothers use to say to us “eat your vegetables!” She limited the amount of sweets allowed.  Told us to drink our water instead of soda pop. Go out and enjoy the fresh air she said. Riding our bicycles all day and swimming were favorite summertime activities.  Eating from the garden was a sweet treat of fresh peas, cherry tomatoes and green beans.  Plum trees grew in the corners of the back yard and the apple tree in the front yard.  It was just as fun to climb the apple tree, as it was to eat its fruit.  We would go to the berry patch for fresh strawberries and to the orchard for the sweet juicy peaches.  Peach cobbler was a treat when grandma came to visit from Minnesota.  I remember visiting the dairy farm up the road from us; the farmer dressed in dirty overalls was milking one of the cows.  The cat stood close by, watched and waited for a treat.  A squirt of milk to its face and his mouth opened and his little tongue started to move, and to my surprise the farmer told me to open up and he squirted me in the mouth.  I was tickled pink, giggled and watched as he did the same to my sister.

We ate fresh food from the garden; mom cooked and canned our food.  Rarely did we buy processed food.  Mom made and decorated our birthday cakes.  She baked fresh bread and cookies for our lunch sacks. Ice cream was for a special occasion.  Life was simple and happy.

Diets after Mom started working.

Mom went to work and little by little, life began to change.  More convenience food came into the house as Moms time split between home and work.  Now she bought cookies from the store for our lunch.  She bought a birthday cake from the store and complained about the frosting.  We started drinking 2% milk; it looked like colored water to us kids.  Mom still did some canning but not as much.  She still canned green beans, pickles and tomato sauce.  The idea of buying these things from the store became easier and easier.

Today my siblings and I have raised our children on this processed food. My daughter has problems drinking milk. My son has digestive problems. My oldest son is having other health issues.  Why?  Because I did not raise them the way my mother raised me.  I did not feed them the same way mother did when we were young.  I did not grow a garden.  We had no home canned tomatoes, pickles, or green beans.  Sweets were a regular item and not for a special occasion.  Convenience foods and the fast food stop has become a part of their life.

Changing lifestyle for improved health.

Now when they come home to see me I cook with fresh foods, whole food, and fresh fruit.  I purchase very little processed food.  I like to eat nuts and fruit for a snack now.  As I make changes and try to teach them how to be healthy, they are making small changes also.  I hope that as I learn more that they will teach my grandchildren a better way.  I even baked a dark chocolate cake for my daughter’s birthday from scratch.  It wasn’t that hard to do and it was a lot of fun.

What we can do to improve our health.

There is information that can help us improve our life.  Websites that we can go to that can help us find our way through the maze.  I have reviewed some books that have helped me and you can find them on my Book Reviews page.

I am also reading another book called.  Fat Chance Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease.  By Robert H. Lustig, M.D.,M.S.L.  Also The Fat Chance Cookbook with Recipes by Cindy Gershen.  Both are filled with fantastic information and include research results done by  Dr Lustig.

The best advice I can give you is to eat as fresh and raw as you can.  If you eat meat choose the best quality possible for you.  Eat from the food groups and in the portions recommended.  Enjoy cooking and eating together as a family.  Small changes have made all the difference for our family and I hope that it would work for yours also.

Please share

If you know of someone that could use the information I have included here please share this page with them.

Get In Touch By Leaving a Comment

Also I would love to hear from you.  What do you struggle with and what solutions have you found that has helped you?  By leaving a comment below you may be able to help someone else who is looking for a solution.  I know there are many of us on this journey to better health and we can help support each other and make a difference for the world too.

Thanks for reading.  Robin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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19 thoughts on “Journey to Better Health

  • Adrian

    I think that across the world we are seeing an obesity epidemic like nothing before, even here in Australia we have 64% of the adult population that is overweight or obese.

    That’s nearly two out of every three adults and that has increased from 56% in 1995 which means it’s getting worse here.

    I like your suggestions which are quite simple but can make a big difference and I think that most people should find them easy to implement, it’s just the will power required by them to do it.

    I find what works for me is eating from all the food groups and limiting my salt and sugar intake as well as drinking plenty of water and getting enough exercise.

  • Sherry Larson

    Nice to hear your childhood stories! We had been removing processed foods for some time when we read “The Wild Diet” by Abel James. Since then and like you, most of our diet is whole, fresh, real food from growers using sustainable agricultural practices and from our garden plot. Our meals are delicious and we are completely satisfied. Nice to hear of your journey. Good luck!

    • Robin Post author

      Hello Sherry.
      Thanks for visiting my site and for sharing your experiences with us. I have not heard of the book you mentioned. It sounds like a great resource for anyone wanting to improve their diet so thank your for sharing.

  • Dale

    Thank you, Robin. These are good reminders that we all need to pay better attention to our health. No matter where a person finds them self on the health spectrum, paying closer attention to diet and exercise is always a plus. You have provided a lot of information here. The core truth is, the more natural, unprocessed and nutritious your diet is, the better off you’ll be. Keep sugar, sodium and fat at reasonable levels, and for crying out loud… get out there and exercise! No matter what the latest and greatest diet plan is, these are the essential truths.

    • Robin Post author

      Hello Dale
      Thank you for visiting my site.
      I really like how you emphasize the need for exercise. It really is so important as part of a healthy living plan. Also keeping sugar and sodium down in your diet is a good way to improve your diet and health. Great input. Thanks for sharing.

  • Dave

    Interesting article and is something that hopefully resonates with some as the western world is in crisis due to failing health. Great articel and nice to read something that has some research done on it.

    • Robin Post author

      There are definitely a lot of areas for improvement and I believe that it starts with improving our diets. We are eating the wrong foods and not enough of fresh foods. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and leave a comment.

  • Robin Post author

    Hello Todd.

    I see my husband suffer with his diabetes and other illnesses that he has and it makes me very sad. Life is very limited for him because of his health. This spring he spent 2 months in the hospital and when he came out we had to watch his diet very carefully on several issues. One of those was salt and I know that my taste changed dramatically. Just isn’t something I crave for anymore. I did the same thing with sugar and my taste has changed in this area also.

    As for the exercise I have experienced that just recently. We have a new dog added to our pet family and that required walking the dogs two times a day. Starting out with 2 miles twice a day I have worked up to 3 miles twice a day. I was surprised how I felt and how much more energy I had and how good I felt. And my dogs well they behaved so much better because they have walked together.

    Thank you for taking the time to leave a wonderful and insightful comment.

  • Robin Post author

    Hello Dominic. I am sure a lot of us can remember our Moms telling us to eat our vegetables and we gave them such a hard time for it. There are two types of fiber that our body needs and if we eat a variety of vegetables and whole grains we will get what we need to keep us working properly and feeling well. You have a great wife and mother-in-law to prepare such good meals for you. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. Best wishes. Robin.

  • Antonio

    Hello Robin,

    I can relate. I wish I had grown up on fresh foods, but I grew up eating very unhealthy. I struggled with my weight my entire life. As an adult, I had to educate myself on better food choices. I never had any major medical issues until 2012 when I found out I had high blood pressure. I went to an outpatient center for an issue my doctor originally thought was something else until they discovered my blood pressure was 226 over 120. I was hospitalized and put on medication.

    After that though, I committed myself to losing weight and I did. I lost 57 lbs. But like other things in life, we lose focus and I gained some back. But I’m back on my journey now to maintain a healthier lifestyle. I’m getting married in December, and I want to start my new life with my wife the right way. And I want to healthy and strong because one day in the near future, I’d like to be a father. And I don’t want my kids to have the same struggles I did.

    This was a great read Robin. Thanks for sharing,

    Antonio

    • Robin Post author

      Hello Antonio.

      Your experience for your blood pressure was a scary event and I am so glad that you found out when you did and got it corrected. You are now on a much better path for your health, congratulations on the weight loss. It is a lot of work to educate yourself and you are so right about losing focus at times. It will happen to the best of us. Getting back on track and dedicated to your goal of a healthier lifestyle is commendable. There will be ups and downs but that dedication will bring you back each time. It is not the one time slipping up that causes a problem but the consistent unhealthy diet that will build on itself and start to erode your health. Your future wife and child will be happy that you took such good care of yourself.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave me a comment.
      Robin.

  • Dominic

    Hi Robin, your post here really hits me. I see many of my relatives and family members suffer from high-blood, obesity and the like. I wonder what is wrong with all of us. Then I realized that my mum used to say “eat and finish-up your vegetables!” and that stays with me until now. I noticed that whenever I don’t eat enough vegetables, I would have problems with constipation and constant uneasiness with my gut. I am lucky as well, that my wife and mother-in-law insist on cooking fresh food instead of can/processed food despite their busy schedule. Now I know why, thanks to your post Robin.

    • admin

      Hello Dominic. I am sure a lot of us can remember our Moms telling us to eat our vegetables and we gave them such a hard time for it. There are two types of fiber that our body needs and if we eat a variety of vegetables and whole grains we will get what we need to keep us working properly and feeling well. You have a great wife and mother-in-law to prepare such good meals for you. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. Best wishes. Robin.

  • Todd

    Hi there,

    I just finished reading your post and as a health care provider, I’ve seen thousands of patients suffer from obesity, high salt and sugar diets, and these are very serious issues that can be controlled through diet and exercise.

    Exercise is the fountain of youth in my opinion and the most prescribed form of therapy. The bottom line is that anything in excess with salt and sugar is going to lead to major health issue over time. And one can really change this through subtle changes in their diet.

    I.e., I cut out adding salt in most of my home cooking and completely as a condiment, and you get used to it really quickly. Then when you add salt to something, your perspective changes.

    Same thing with exercise, try a little, add a bit more each week, and you feel better and are happier.

    Thanks for the post, really good read.

    • admin

      Hello Todd.

      I see my husband suffer with his diabetes and other illnesses that he has and it makes me very sad. Life is very limited for him because of his health. This spring he spent 2 months in the hospital and when he came out we had to watch his diet very carefully on several issues. One of those was salt and I know that my taste changed dramatically. Just isn’t something I crave for anymore. I did the same thing with sugar and my taste has changed in this area also.

      As for the exercise I have experienced that just recently. We have a new dog added to our pet family and that required walking the dogs two times a day. Starting out with 2 miles twice a day I have worked up to 3 miles twice a day. I was surprised how I felt and how much more energy I had and how good I felt. And my dogs well they behaved so much better because they have walked together.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a wonderful and insiteful comment.

  • Dave Sweney

    Hi Robin,

    What you describe on diets and lifestyles has happened all over the USA and in Europe as well (to a lesser degree)…I agree with you – let’s get healthy today!

    I was in the Army for 25 years and started out as a chef, working my way up to logisitics etc. But diet and nutrition has been a big interest throughout…

    Feeding the troops was always extremely important, and over the years I saw a shift to more healthy foods, more education, increased emphasis on staying in top shape, etc.

    On the civilian side, my wife is German, and I spent most of my active duty years stationed in various parts of that great country, and even built a house and retired there as well…

    Our immediate family maintained a lot of the traditional values and habits the Germans have, and they have a focus on lots of hearty filling meals…

    But also they eat a lot of fresh veggies, fresh meats, fresh while grain breads, pastries that are not oversweetened, etc.

    My US side of the family (siblings) and the kids migrated more to the diet you describe and today these middle age adults are mostly overweight and do not get the exercise they should….

    I have two girls also in middle age now, and both are not overweight. Their diet does consist of more fast food than how they were raised, but they still have maintained some of the eating habits they were raised with for their children (each has 3 kids)…

    Myself, I have moved on from even that relatively healthy diet we raised the kids on and what I ate in the military…I now have cut down a lot on processed foods, less red meat, more fresh vegetables and lentils almost every day….etc.

    Have you heard of Blue Zones? This is a university study done over time of areas in the world where people lived longest…I believe it was initiated our of University of Minnesota, but I could be mistaken…

    In any case they looked all over the world to find places where people live longer…It came down to a very few located on different continents.

    They studied the attributes that these longer living people shared over the globe and diet was one commonality…I recommend you have a look, I think you would enjoy the information….

    Actually because of my interest, I am starting a niche blog on this, I already have the domain and am gathering information – this is a project….a worthy one, because like this site, anything we can do to spread the word is a good thing!

    Thanks for opening the eyes of people who stop by here, this is a super post and very relevant for all people!

    • admin

      Hello Dave.

      I am glad to know a little about the diet you had in Germany diet. You have certainly had a full life full of wonderful experiences. Sounds like you have been on the right track with your nutrition. The processed foods are what is really bad for us. The fresh vegetables and lentils have some great nutritional benefits.

      Thank you for mentioning the Blue Zones study. I have not heard of it but I will look into it. It does sound interesting.

      I am glad that you are going to start a blog like this also. It is really important to help others learn to choose food for it nutritional value and what it can do for your health.

  • Dave Sweney

    Hi Robin,

    What you describe on diets and lifestyles has happened all over the USA and in Europe as well (to a lesser degree)…I agree with you – let’s get healthy today!

    I was in the Army for 25 years and started out as a chef, working my way up to logisitics etc. But diet and nutrition has been a big interest throughout…

    Feeding the troops was always extremely important, and over the years I saw a shift to more healthy foods, more education, increased emphasis on staying in top shape, etc.

    On the civilian side, my wife is German, and I spent most of my active duty years stationed in various parts of that great country, and even built a house and retired there as well…

    Our immediate family maintained a lot of the traditional values and habits the Germans have, and they have a focus on lots of hearty filling meals…

    But also they eat a lot of fresh veggies, fresh meats, fresh while grain breads, pastries that are not oversweetened, etc.

    My US side of the family (siblings) and the kids migrated more to the diet you describe and today these middle age adults are mostly overweight and do not get the exercise they should….

    I have two girls also in middle age now, and both are not overweight. Their diet does consist of more fast food than how they were raised, but they still have maintained some of the eating habits they were raised with for their children (each has 3 kids)…

    Myself, I have moved on from even that relatively healthy diet we raised the kids on and what I ate in the military…I now have cut down a lot on processed foods, less red meat, more fresh vegetables and lentils almost every day….etc.

    Have you heard of Blue Zones? This is a university study done over time of areas in the world where people lived longest…I believe it was initiated our of University of Minnesota, but I could be mistaken…

    In any case they looked all over the world to find places where people live longer…It came down to a very few located on different continents.

    They studied the attributes that these longer living people shared over the globe and diet was one commonality…I recommend you have a look, I think you would enjoy the information….

    Actually because of my interest, I am starting a niche blog on this, I already have the domain and am gathering information – this is a project….a worthy one, because like this site, anything we can do to spread the word is a good thing!

    Thanks for opening the eyes of people who stop by here, this is a super post and very relevant for all people!

    • Robin Post author

      Hello Dave.

      I am glad to know a little about the diet you had in Germany diet. You have certainly had a full life full of wonderful experiences. Sounds like you have been on the right track with your nutrition. The processed foods are what is really bad for us. The fresh vegetables and lentils have some great nutritional benefits.

      Thank you for mentioning the Blue Zones study. I have not heard of it but I will look into it. It does sound interesting.

      I am glad that you are going to start a blog like this also. It is really important to help others learn to choose food for it nutritional value and what it can do for your health.