Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Disabled? How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.

One of the problems with negotiating a disability, especially if one has impaired use of one's limbs is maintaining a healthy lifestyle which will promote well being not only physically but emotionally and psychologically. Foods often play an enormous part in how we feel. What we put in our mouths continually impacts our physical and emotional condition as we progress on the road of life over time. The amount of sleep we receive each night also influences our physical and psychological well being. Sleep and eating habits are tied together and both relate to promoting or distorting our health and wellness.

Less sleep, greater weight gain.

The New York Times and other sources have reported that individuals who receive only 4-5 hours of sleep a night are more prone to weight gain.  In a recent study by the University of Colorado, sleep researchers recruited 16 healthy men and women for a two-week experiment tracking sleep, metabolism and eating habits, closely controlling and monitoring the participants' food consumed and strict sleep schedules. The results showed a relationship between weight gain and loss of sleep.

Staying up late because you can't sleep throws off sleep patterns and creates stress on the body. Natural ways to get to sleep should be used, not medications which can further upset one's metabolism and compromise one's immune system with side effects.
A restful night's sleep of at least 7 hours or more can allow the immune system to regenerate and allow the kidneys to deal with the toxins in the body that have accumulated during the day. This is when cleaner, healthier foods can make it easier for the kidneys and liver to get rid of any other toxins that have built up in the system (from the air, metals, etc.)
Kenneth Wright is the director of the university’s sleep and chronobiology laboratory. He noted that the changes that occurred in the participants were behavioral and that staying up late and losing sleep resulted in more eating and a shift in the type of foods consumed.  “We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they overate carbohydrates,” he said. "They ate a smaller breakfast and they ate a lot more after dinner.”

Sugary drinks are deceptive. One or two pack on a tremendous amount of sugar (carbs that turn to fat). In the summer, it is conceivable one can drink 4 or 5 cans during the day to slake one's thirst.

Candy after dinner is a snack item enjoyed late at night to one's detriment.
Researchers found that those who were sleep-deprived ended up eating more calories during after-dinner snacking than at any other meal during the day, and they ate 6 percent more calories when they got too little sleep. The interesting finding was that they began eating more healthfully, snacked less and ate fewer carbohydrates and fats when they received more sleep. The science behind this (though not completely understood) was posited that insufficient sleep changed the timing of a person’s internal clock. This seemed to influence the changes in eating habits. “They were awake three hours before their internal nighttime had ended,” said Dr. Wright. “Being awakened during their biological night is probably why they ate smaller breakfasts.”

Lack of sleep negatively impacts cell biology.

In a report of another study by University of Chicago researchers, it was noted that lack of sleep alters the biology of fat cells. In this study last fall, researchers tracked the changes that occurred when participants' sleep was lowered to just 4.5 hours from 8.5 hours of sleep. Participants continued for 4 nights of deprived sleep. Researchers found that their fat cells were less sensitive to insulin, a metabolic change associated with both diabetes and obesity. According to Matthew Brady, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and senior author on the study, the profound effects of sleep deprivation amongst the subjects were surprising. “Metabolically, lack of sleep aged fat cells about 20 years. These subjects were in their low 20s but it’s as if they were now middle-aged in terms of their response."

This nacho cheese and everything appetizer is filled with calories and probably not the most quality item on the menu. Nor are the fried calamari. Though this is not a fast food restaurant, many of the menu items are high in salt, sugar and fat. One must walk the labyrinth of the menu to choose items moderate in salt, sugar and fat: grilled, broiled or roasted meat or fish and vegetables not deep fried but sauteed. It may be a no brainer, but healthier items are not easy to order when everyone else is chowing down on fried, heavily salted or highly caloric foods.
Obesity is related not only to overeating and snacking late at night, but not getting enough hours of sleep.
Proper amounts of sleep are needed for the body's repair.

My friend, a nurse practitioner with a Masters Degree whom I met in the Ph.D. program at NYU was well informed in alternative medical practice, homeopathy, therapeutic touch healing and nutrition. She said that the right amount of sleep was a necessary imperative as a  mechanism of the body's immune system healing and rehabilitation. She said the kidneys and other organs that removed toxins from the body in the elimination processes worked more efficiently when the body was in its sleep and rest state. When individuals receive less sleep than the immune system requires to repair and heal itself and for the kidneys to remove toxins, the negative impact is cumulative and profound.

Fast food takeout is convenient and easy. It is also unhealthy and high in salt, fat and sugar because the food industry discovered these elements together are addictive, irresistible and leave one hungering for more.
Our culture promotes sleep deprivation & poor eating routines.

With our fast-paced culture, everyone is subject to sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating. Oftentimes, we don't organize quality meals which take time to arrange: there is the planning of meals, preparing of lists and then the shopping. The more elaborate and healthful the meals, oftentimes, the more complicated the trips to various venues which have a better variety of fresh produce, sustainable fish and locally sourced meats and dairy. Processed convenience foods are much easier to negotiate. They are also loaded with preservatives and chemical additives like MSG (a hidden additive taste enhancer which is highly addictive and noxious.) The tendency to compromise home made meals for the convenience of take out because one is getting home late and is too tired to prepare a meal for the family or oneself becomes a standard habit. Chips, muffins, pretzels a burger and fries are everpresent to lure us as convenient substitutes to snatch when we are hungry and pressed for time.

Every once and a while to treat yourself is OK. But regular meals at fast food restaurants because they are convenient are a problem because of the fat, sugar and salt content in the food items. Even the salads in fast food restaurants are high in calories.
We've come to accept convenient meals for the entire family. But the convenience eventually comes with a price. The doctor's bills because of illnesses related to obesity and a weakened immune system will eventually become higher as obesity related diseases are acquired. The body eventually breaks down having to deal with excessive amounts of fats, sugars and salt.
The food industry encourages snacking and poor eating habits.

The food industry knows that convenience rules in a busy life. It has capitalized on this, making sure to load convenience foods, take out and snacks with plenty of sugar, salt and fat to addict us and keep us coming back for more. Coupled with sleep deprivation where individuals indulge in late night snacking on non-quality foods, what evolves is disastrous. It is an unhealthy lifestyle of overeating the wrong foods, becoming addicted to them, aging one's fat cells and lowering their resistance to insulin, thereby increasing the likelihood of diabetes and obesity over time. This cycle that promotes ill health, is a condition that is worrisome for the disabled who above all should be getting plenty of sleep and eating quality healthy food.

Fruit is a great snack. It is filling, sweet and nutritious.
This vegetable dish is low in calories and healthy. The dish in the upper left hand corner, crabmeat and vegetables is also more nutritious than ordering the nacho platter above.

What to do?
  1. Get 8 hours of sleep or as close to that as possible, nightly. Your body will love you for it.
  2. Avoid processed foods, snacks and take out. If you must have those chips, give yourself a day when you reward yourself, just one day. i.e. 1 bag of chips on Saturday, pizza or a burger once a week, etc.
  3. Try to sit down for your meals with family, friends and even by yourself if everyone is out. (You know what to eat that is healthy, right?) If you do the meal preparing, make it an enjoyable pleasure to arrange meal planning and/or shopping as a gift to yourself.
  4. Try to avoid all processed convenience foods, meaning anything in a package, box or can.
  5. Think positively. You love yourself and want the best for yourself; you are worth it to take time out to prepare home made meals and to get the proper amounts of sleep. It will save on doctor's bills in the long run.
  6. For snacks: avoid salted chips for a week. Your taste buds will adjust and you won't crave them. Instead snack on 1-2% nonfat dairy, yogurt and fresh fruit, i.e. mangoes, papaya, strawberries, etc. Icelandic style skyr yogurt is protein rich, filling and healthy.
  7. Drink plenty of water and add fresh lemon juice from a live lemon. Add maple syrup (organic B, honey, or agave to sweeten it...or brown sugar.) It dulls your urge to snack and you are probably thirsty, anyway. Oftentimes we confuse hunger with thirst.
Be well and stay healthy. You are vital to family and friends who want you around for as long as possible. You are worth it.


jacquie said...

Excellent and informative post Carole. I shared it everywhere. Thanks!

Carole Di Tosti said...

Thanks, Jacquie. The research about this is growing. If I think back to times when I overate and gained weight, it was prompted by stress at work, not getting enough sleep and finding I had no regular sleep patterns.

sallycat101 said...

I agree with pretty much all of this article except where you call 'anything in a can' unhealthy, convenience foods. Canned fruit and vegetables are usually nearly as good as fresh, are easier to prepare if you are less able and can be a lot cheaper than fresh stuff ,especially in winter. This can be an important consideration if you are disabled and on a limited income.

Carole Di Tosti said...

You are absolutely right about the expense and not being in season in the winter. The best, of course, would be what my mom did...canned peaches in a jar which retained a lot of the freshness. I have a problem with canned fruit because of the oodles of sugar. Sugar increases the carbohydrate factor. Are there brands that have less sugar? That would be better. Thanks so much for you comment. I appreciate an feedback.

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