We already know that not eating a regular diet of lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit is one way to pack on the pounds. We also know that combining a poor diet with not enough exercise adds to that “growing” problem. But would you believe that it is also making us shorter?
Americans are no longer the tallest people on Earth. That honor now goes to Europeans. A distinction America held for over 200 years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Leiden University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands men average 6 feet tall while in the United States the current average height of an adult man is 5 feet, 9 inches. And it’s worse for women. The average European woman is 5 feet, 7 inches; in the U.S. it’s 5 feet, 3 inches.
Though there may be several reasons for the disparity in height, one “super-sized” reason might have something to do with the amount of junk food Americans consume in comparison to Europeans.
While most Americans spend the majority of their “food-money” eating out, most Dutch families eat all of their meals at home together, and they are often much healthier. Americans eat a lot more preservatives and additives than Europeans, It’s this addiction to junk food at an early age that makes our children obese. Because of this, they go through puberty at a much earlier age. Which leads to a shortening of their growth spurts.
Americans need to improve their eating habits if they are to change this trend. So here are some simple tips to not only getting a healthier diet and staying thin, but also to help reverse this “shrinking” of America.
— Eating about 14 ounces of fruit a day and veggies will drop your chances of heart disease by as much as 21 percent. Variety is essential. Brightly colored berries are high in polyphenols, citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, and apples contain antioxidants that protect against oxidation, which is the foundation of arterial plaque. The veggies most closely linked to heart health are rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes, and leafy greens such as spinach. Vegetables contain powerful antioxidants as well as soluble and insoluble fiber.
Research has shown that a small amount of alcohol each day really does your heart good. Apparently, alcohol increases HDL cholesterol and reduces the risk of blood clots. Red wine also contains powerful antioxidants called resveratrol and saponins, which may provide additional cardiovascular benefits. However, consuming alcohol in moderation is the key.
Almonds are loaded with fiber and monounsaturated fat, both of which have been shown to lower cholesterol. They are also high in vitamin E, and antioxidant. Eat 2.5 ounces a day (423 calories) and your chances of heart disease will be reduced.
Eating 4 ounces of fish four times a week will cut your chance of heart disease by roughly 14 percent. Eating fish may help prevent conditions ranging from heart disease and arthritis to depression. Also, omega-3 fatty acids increase the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which protect against blood clots. Have at least two servings per week of cold-water fish like wild salmon, herring or sardines, which provide the most omega-3 fatty acid. Avoid species that may contain mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, albacore, and tuna (but go for chunk light tuna).
The flavonoids in chocolate prevent clogged arteries by raising levels of HDL cholesterol, which helps remove bad LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. The only problem is that the prescribed 3.5-ounce daily serving provides a hefty 531 calories. Go for the chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa. The darker it is, the more flavonoids it contains.
Of course eating these types of food is only part of the solution. I must also stress the importance of regular exercise. The two of those together can have a profound effect, not only on your overall health and well being, but apparently your height.
Mike DeCinti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (910) 827-2439.