Last month, CNN reported some stunning figures from a white paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Among those we found most interesting:

  • Poor nutrition is the leading cause of illnesses in the US.
  • 3 of 4 adults in the US are overweight or obese, 1 of 2 are diabetic or prediabetic
  • 46% of adults and 56% of children have over-all poor quality diets
  • US healthcare spending has nearly tripled from 1979 to 2018, with diet-related illnesses an increasing burden on the United States economy. About 85% of health care spending now goes toward management of diet-related chronic disease.
  • US government expenditures for the cost of diabetes care exceeds the entire budget for the Department of Education (and several other agencies like the CDC).
  • The burden of diet-related illness is so great that it is now becoming a threat to national security, impacting both the budget and readiness of the US military. Seventy-one percent of people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service, with obesity being the leading medical disqualifier.

The full white paper is found here.

It’s a mind-boggling picture when considered on a national scale, but those images are made up of individuals who suffer the very real every-day consequences of poor nutrition – an aunt who needs 24 hour care because of a stroke, a grandparent who is unable to visit grandchildren in Colorado because they have heart failure and cannot tolerate the altitude, or a friend who suffers from painful diabetic neuropathy.  Yet small changes on an individual level can make a big difference.  For example, one study showed that just losing one kilogram of weight (2.2 pounds) reduced the risk of diabetes by 16 percent!

The white paper outlines a coordinated federal research agenda aimed at changing the way we deal with nutrition in this country.   In the end, however, it will be millions of individual dietary modifications big and small that will change the overall picture of health in the US.  This approach to health and wellness is not new.   More than 2,000 years ago Hippocrates said this:  “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  We agree wholeheartedly!

Health is not just about medications, symptoms, doctor’s visits and test results.  A person’s well-being encompasses all factors that influence heath — things like diet, exercise, stress, sleep, mind and community.  One of the foundational principles of integrative medicine is that effective health and wellness practices that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible.  What could be more natural and non-invasive than sitting down to a healthy meal?

You may not be ready to completely restructure your diet (although some of us may be…) but here are some simple ideas that are easy to incorporate and from which most of us would benefit:

  1. Add more fruits and vegetables – try a second vegetable instead of a starchy side dish.
  2. Increase variety – eat the colors of the rainbow.
  3. Slow down – enjoy the flavors, colors, aromas, textures.
  4. Eliminate distractions such as phone or TV.
  5. Drink plenty of water.

You don’t have to make all sorts of changes at once and we won’t all be starting in the same place but each of us probably has a little room for improvement.  Here are a couple of additional resources on nutrition and diet:

In Glenwood Springs, CO, our integrative medicine clinic and ketamine treatment center offers integrative medicine, acupuncture and ketamine infusions to those suffering from depression, anxiety, psychiatric disorders and chronic pain conditions. Each patient participates in a comprehensive consultation which covers a wide range of topics, including diet and nutrition.  Nutritional supplements and medication adjustments may be suggested, along with dietary changes if indicated by the unique combination of factors in a patient’s health landscape.   Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn how we can help you or someone you know awaken to a new life.