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Minority communities can combat obesity-related health crisis

Minority communities can combat obesity-related health crisis

Nationally, it is known that people in minority communities are much more likely to be obese and experience obesity-related diseases like heart conditions and diabetes. Many of these individuals are food insecure and are eating too much of the wrong foods. Buying cheap food that is lacking in nutritional value vastly contributes to the public health crisis facing countless Americans today. There are many ways in which people in minority communities and across the nation can combat this by accessing healthy food in local communities.


Do

Do find your local farmer’s market

To stay healthy, it is important to know where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables in your community. In many cases, simply having convenient access to the right tools, like fresh produce, is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One of these tools created by the USDA is the National Farmers Market Directory which provides convenient access to information about your farmer’s market listing, including: market locations, operating times, directions, product offerings and accepted forms of payment. By frequenting your local farmer’s market, you will have the ability to make the right decisions when grocery shopping.

Do utilize the frozen foods section

We all lead busy lives, and are constantly on the move. When you are in a time crunch or when your grocer’s produce looks less than fresh, the frozen foods section is a great source for fruits and vegetables. The produce is frozen at its peak freshness and will last longer than traditional fruits and vegetables. If you are finding it difficult to carve out time to pick-up fresh produce each week, frozen vegetables can be a great alternative.

Do cultivate a community garden

Community gardens are a fun and sociable way to grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables with friends, family or neighbors. To support initiatives that encourage healthy eating and active living, particularly within minority communities, some companies have grant programs to help fund your community garden. Your community can apply for these types of grants to begin your own community garden.

Do maintain an active lifestyle

In our busy day-to-day lives, it’s important to make healthy decisions regarding diet and exercise as often as possible. Whether this means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or leaving your desk for a 15-minute walk break each day, finding exercises that fit easily into your daily life will help you stick to them. Even making one healthy change to your diet or exercise routine every day can help you save big in health costs down the line.


Don't

Do not buy cheap foods lacking in nutrition

Sometimes it can feel like purchasing fresh, healthful foods is too expensive or inconvenient. But by opting for the cheap grocery items that are lacking in nutrition, you are increasing your health costs in the long run. Buying fresh produce and protein will decrease your likelihood of developing obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, and will therefore help you save in health costs.

Do not stay sedentary

In today’s society, people oftentimes find themselves staying stationary throughout the day. Sedentary, “desk” jobs often require people to sit for long periods of time, which can be detrimental to your health. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days/ week to maintain cardiovascular health. Setting reminders on your phone or email calendar can help remind you to get up and stretch your legs throughout the day to meet these recommendations.

Do not commit to an exercise that you don’t enjoy

When starting a new exercise routine, it is important to consider what is feasible given your individual time and budget. It is also important to choose an exercise that you enjoy and can look forward to each day. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is easier when you have the tools to succeed, and choosing an exercise that you enjoy doing will help you to maintain your healthy routine.

Do not drink excessively or smoke cigarettes

According to WebMD, heavy drinking can lead to heart disease and stroke, and is linked to cancer, anemia, cirrhosis, dementia, depression and high blood pressure. Likewise, smoking can cause heart disease, lung cancer and stroke (CDC). Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes can vastly increase one’s health and reduce unnecessary health costs.


Summary
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As a cardiologist, I have seen firsthand the importance of maintaining one’s health, and it all starts with small steps. While it can seem difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle with time and budget constraints, there are a number of convenient and affordable ways to help stay healthy. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is one way you can improve your health and avoid certain health risks that develop with poor eating habits. Small changes in your daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can also greatly improve your overall health and wellness. Begin incorporating these small steps into your day-to-day life will help you see what a big difference they can make to your health.


More expert advice about Nutrition

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Dr. Garth GrahamFoundation President

Prior to joining Aetna, Graham was assistant dean for health policy and chief of health services research at the University of Florida School of Medicine in Gainesville. There, he served as principal investigator on a number of grants and initia...

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