Monthly Archives: April 2008

Gastrointestinal and nutritional assessment.

Introduction, why choose this topic.

I’ve chosen gastrointestinal and nutritional assessment because I find it easier and more interesting to elaborate on the digestive tract and the diet offered to the service users. It is an interesting topic as; firstly the gastrointestinal system is broken down into so many different and specific parts or processes. Secondly the link between gastrointestinal and nutritional assessment is very much like a puzzle. When one gets used to it, it becomes so clear and simple that it induces one into more research but also more practice, as both require precise knowledge and experience. I will now start my essay by explaining the gastrointestinal system.

Paragraph 1- Describe what the gastrointestinal system is?

The gastrointestinal system in its simplest version is the study and illustration of the digestive system. It starts in the top part of the body, the mouth, and ends in the bottom part, the anus. Gastrointestinal tract activities include ingestion, mechanical digestion, chemical or enzymatic digestion, propulsion, absorption and defecation. Overall hence, these different stages are summarized in only two words, which are digestion and absorption. There are of course more aspects, which relate to parts outside of the digestion and absorption but I will explain those briefly further on during my essay. Starting with ingestion, it is the stage where food is voluntarily put into ones mouth. Then it is propulsion, this can easily be defined as the process where food is sent (propelled) from one organ to the other. This depends on a process called ‘peristalsis’. Peristalsis is the flow and movement of the muscles in the organs, which enables the food to move forward to the other stage, which is food breakdown. Food breakdown can be divided into two more processes, which are mechanical and chemical digestion. The former is the mixing of food in the mouth, the process of it going through the stomach and intestine where the food is broken down into smaller parts. Chemical digestion is the breaking down of food molecules to their smallest area. This is done by enzymes, protein molecules that reduce the food to its simplest state. It is of course a very complex study and I thought that the easiest way is to illustrate that via a table.

After food breakdown comes absorption. This can be described as the transport of the broken down molecules from the gastro intestinal tract to the blood or lymph. The major site for absorption is the small intestine. Finally the last step in the digestive system is the elimination process. It is scientifically termed as defecation. It is of course the getting rid of indigestible substances from the body via the anus in the form of faeces. There are some more complex terms and activities, which take place during the digestive phase. For instance in the mouth there are two actions taking place, these are mechanical and chemical digestion, which occur during chewing and saliva mixing. Just from the mouth to the throat, there are more phases to pass through. Again I will illustrate this through diagrams I obtained during my research work.

There are so many more examples of the different stages of digestion that I didn’t refer to. I find it interesting but it would be irrelevant for my essay. I hence offer a list of references at the end of my essay, which gives clear details and understanding of the gastrointestinal system.

Paragraph 2- Elaborate on nutritional assessment.

Nutritional assessment from what I have understood is the assessing of the food service provided in the care and medical field. It is both practical and theoretical work which gives information on who, how, when and what to provide for a straight nutritional providing system. The service users must be evaluated physically and psychologically so as to get proper data as how to feed him, what to feed him with and when to feed him. Hence, in one phase it is the research for the best diet that can be given to each service user.

One of my researches brought me to the statement below. It is more specific but more complex that what I have stated above.

A nutritional assessment has the following aims:

To evaluate baseline parameters of nutritional status at a set point in time and obtain information on the adequacy of recent nutrient intake.

To identify individuals who require nutritional support.

To evaluate, by serial measurements, the efficacy of nutritional support.

(Clinical skills series, Nutritional support: A team approach, Stephen Taylor and Susan Goodison- Mclaren, Wolfe publishing limited, 1992)

Nutritional assessment, apart from identifying what is essential as a good diet can also be used in calculating individual data. An example is, the amounts of specific nutrients required by an individual like for instance, the measurement of nitrogen balance. This is a very complex calculation, which is analysed during the construction of the food tables and the sorting out of the nutritional status of the service user. During this specific calculation and research, different aspects must be taken into consideration. There is first of all the range of foods covered by the tables. The food tables do not cover everything and involve some substitutes outside of its list. These alternatives have to be assessed and judged in order to evaluate whether it provides what is needed or not. An example is the kiwi fruit, which wasn’t listed before. It has only previously joined the list as it is common now. The second point to be considered is the recipe variations. What I mean is that a particular and precise recipe cannot be obtained every time. Someone can cook the same meal over and over again but the taste varies as sometimes there is less or more of some ingredients involved in the cooking. The range, the ratio, the consistency differs every time and there always is that persisting slight difference. My third point is the biological variation. AN example can be an apple. The amount of vitamin C varies according to the different varieties. Another example is meat; the amount of fat varies due to the region and manner the cattle are bred. Food tables in the end offer just an average and thus cannot be considered for all cases. My final point is the method and duration of storage. The nutrient content of foods changes during storage, some products gain vitamins or minerals while some lose those. A clear example is potatoes, the longer they are stored, the more vitamin C they lose. My next two paragraphs will deal a bit more with the research done during nutritional assessment but I will also explain the link between theory and practice.

Paragraph 3 and 4- Further research, link between theory and practice.

There are many scientific tests, which are performed in order to estimate the content of a particular product. The energy content of foods has to be measured. This is done by a bomb calorimeter. It is a scientific test, which measures the heat of the product after an electrical shock. There are different estimation tests as well, done to gain information on protein amount, fat, carbohydrate, vitamin and mineral contents. I will now elaborate a little more on how a service user is assessed. A service user has to be evaluated physically and psychologically. The first step is to know about the patient’s history. Information is thus collected about his dietary history. Then he will have to go through clinical examination. He will undergo screening, weighing, physical assessing, and many other tests relevant for data collection about the patients past and present condition. It is the main step as only then can the staff establish what is right or wrong for the client and what can be done to improve or maintain the service user’s condition. After this check, other aspects must be considered. These are related psychologically. The patient’s social and economic background must be considered. What were his or her eating habits and why were they like that? Religion must be considered because some products are not allowed for all. After an admission check the patient will fit into the system more easily. He will be classified in a specific group where the needed diet will be offered to him. But, still the assessment doesn’t end here as, the patient will not maintain a stable condition always. The service user will thus have to be assessed at very regular intervals, which are different depending on where he is. He will have regular physical check ups. His weight and any other condition will be verified for the client’s maintenance of good health. Usually for a very precise check, the skin fold thickness and skeletal muscle mass is measured. This will establish whether there is improvement or not. The average condition of a normal fit person will be compared to the service users. Finally, there will be an assessment of food intake. This provides more detailed information and it identifies whether there is nutrient deficiency. This step though is unfortunately not undergone everywhere. This assessment is done by weighing the intake or by referring to the usual diet and the instructions.

Essentially, there are four stages in both approaches:

Record and quantity of the foods eaten

Analyse the nutrient content using tables of food composition

Estimate the actual nutrients each day

Compare with recommended daily allowances

(Clinical skills series, Nutritional support: Stephen Taylor and Susan Goodison- Mclaren, Wolfe publishing limited, 1992).

I have been elaborating a lot over nutritional assessment and the gastrointestinal system. Having done the theoretical part, I will describe the practical part now. Nutritional assessment on the practical side involves,

Comparison between average people and clients

Physical check ups to verify any abnormality

The best diet for a particular individual.

Those three points can be put into one single term, which is, ‘clinical observations’. ‘Clinical observations can be among the most important aspects of a nutritional assessment’, (Potter and Perry, 2000, pg1350). These clinical observations are what a nurse put in practice.

A more precise term known for this is, objective assessment. This is based on evaluation and research of the clients or patients weight and height. The calculation done based on those research is called Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI does not guarantee that a patient is malnourished and it should be used with caution in those with oedema and ascites but it is so far the quickest and most reliable research and analysis process.

BMI = Weight (kg)

Height (m2)

< 16 malnourished

16-19 underweight

20-25 normal

26-30 overweight

31-40 moderately to severely obese

> 40 morbidly obese.

There is the percentage weight loss that is calculated as well during both long term and short term. This is the percentage weight loss, which is,

The percentage weight loss= (usual weight- current weight)* 100

Usual weight

< 9% monitor not clinically significant unless weight loss is rapid or the patient is already underweight

10-20% clinically significant, needs nutritional support

>20% severe must have nutritional support.

Lippincott (1990,pg 424) gives a general evaluation of the nutritional status of people by giving us the comparison between healthy and unhealthy nutrition. The hair will be very healthy, firm, lustrous, and shiny if the nutrition is appropriate. If not it is the opposite that is noticed. Same for the face, which is healthy in all aspect with a good nutrition but very dull and dark if without a good nutrition. Usually the eyes are the main source of any bad or good conditions to be noticed. They look bigger and about to fall off there sacks when in a bad condition.

‘Clinical observations can be among the most important aspects of a nutritional assessment’, (Potter and Perry 2000 pg 1350). Good sources for observations in a patient are, the cardiovascular function. This, in good nutrition is ‘normal heart rate and rhythm, lack of murmurs, normal blood pressure for age’, however in poor nutrition, ‘rapid heart beat enlarged abnormal rhythm, elevated blood pressure’.

Also, general vitality in an individual with good nutrition should be ‘endurance, energy, good step habits, vigorous appearance’ but in an individual with poor nutrition, it could be ‘easily fatigued, lack of energy, falling asleep easily, tired and a pathetic appearance’.

Paragraph 5- what I have learnt and experienced? How it is related to the topic?

Our first role as a nurse is to take care of the patient. For that, it is crucial for both us and the patient not to let the immune system be compromised in any manner. It is thus our role as a health care professional to try at all times to ensure that all clients/patients are eating sufficiently and if they are not, know what actions to take to change the situation. The best way to maintain an appropriate monitoring is via daily notes. This is known as the nutritional assessment sheets. This enables the staff to keep track with the individuals eating habits even when the care is not continuous by a particular nurse. Also taken into consideration are the nutritional intake, nutritional supplements or by enteral or parenteral nutrition. Enteral nutrition should be undertaken in the following circumstances (Potter and Perry 2000, pg 1359), cancer ‘head and neck, upper GI, critical illness, trauma’, ‘neurological and muscular disorders’, ‘brain neoplasm, cerebrovascular accident, dementia, myopathy, Parkinson’s disease’, ‘gastro intestinal disease, mild pancreatitis’ or for ‘respiratory failure with prolonged intubations and finally in the case of inadequate oral intake’. Parenteral nutrition should be undertaken in the following circumstances, non-functional GI tract, ‘GI surgery, paralytic ileus, intestinal obstruction, severe malabsorption, chemotherapy’, extended bowel rest, ‘severe diarrhoea, moderate to severe pancreatitis’, or for preoperative TPN, ‘pre operative bowel rest, treatment for co morbid severe malnutrition in patients with non-functional GI tracts, severely catabolic clients when the GI tract is non-usable for four to five days’. It can be understood therefore, that for us to use these enteral or parenteral nutritional methods, the situation must be fairly grave and the implications of them must be fully understood. To resume the whole explanation, it is imperative that as members of the health care profession we ensure that clients are at all times maintaining their nutritional status or that we are trying to rectify any nutritional problems, e.g., malnutrition, ‘a condition arising from deficiency in the diet or deficiency in the absorption or metabolism of food’, (Pears, 2001, pg394) and that we understand how, why and when we evaluate someone’s nutritional status.

Other matters in concern, which I got to learn about while on my training are, the factors that influence the ability to eat. I have explained technically previously how a client/patient is sometimes unable to eat. This time I will explain this topic based on my placement experience. First there is the physical ability that must be considered. The patient may need assistance or special cutlery to prepare and eat his food. Secondly, the mouth. A sore mouth, poor dentition or filling dentures reduce the ability to chew and swallow food. Thirdly, the gastrointestinal function. Diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and vomiting can reduce appetite and make it difficult to eat. Fourthly physical environment. A new environment like a hospital can affect appetite. Fifthly emotional and mental state. Bereavement, depression, loneliness or mental illness can reduce appetite. The two last factors are food itself and pain. Food because unfamiliar food and meal patterns can affect what is eaten by the patient and pain because uncontrolled pain can reduce appetite.

Paragraph 6 and 7- personal comment and conclusion.

Dieticians are the ones who assess usually the situation, hence nutritional assessment. But concerning the part where every research has to be put into practice, it is the nurse’s role. Nurses and dieticians therefore need to work together to identify patients who are at risk and to provide nutritional support to those who are in need.

Actions point thus includes,

Ensuring access to accurate scales

Recording recent food intake

Considering implementation of a nutritional screening tool in conjunction with a dietician or nutrition team

Knowing how and when to refer to a state registered dietician

Routinely measuring and documenting weight, and identifying any loss or gain.

Conclusively I think personally that nutrition is a vital component in nursing practice. Because of that, a programme in relation with nutritional education should be applied in all pre-qualifying educational training and programmes. If possible, even the past qualifying programme followers must be provided with this aspect. They might be professionals already but if further training is offered on a long-term basis, there knowledge and experience will only improve on nutritional assessment.

I learnt a lot on my placement concerning nutritional assessment and I learnt even more during my theory on nutritional assessment and the gastrointestinal system. This probably helped me with this essay. I managed to make some proper research work and I also managed to build up my concern on this and at the same time get a personal opinion on what could be offered as a further aid to nutritional assessment. I may not have offered the best performance in this field of nursing but now I’m confident and sure enough that I’ll be able to do a lot better in my future placement.


Diet related diseases, the modern epidemic, by Stephen Seely, David J.L.Freed, Gerald A.Silverstone and Vicky Rippere (1985)

Managing nutrition in hospital, a recipe for quality, by Alan Maryon Davis and Amanda Bristow. Foreword by John Wyn Owen (Nuffield Trust 1999)

Nutritional support: A team approach, by Stephen Taylor and Susan Goodinson-Mclaren (Clinical skill series 1992)

ABC of nutrition, by Stewart Trutwell (1986)

Artificial nutrition support in clinical practice, edited by Jason Payne James, George Grimble and David Silk (1995)

Food and nutrition customs and culture, by Paul Fieldhouse (1986)

Pears Pocket Medical Encyclopedia, by Brown J.A.C (2000)

Lippincott manual of medical-surgical nursing, by Brunner Lillian and Suddarth Doris (1990)

Nurses dictionary, by Churchill Livinstone

Essentials of human anatomy and physiology, 6th edition by Elaine N.Marieb (2000)

Medicine, a guide for study and practice, by Friedman Ellis and Moshy Roger (1992)

Anatomy and physiology in health and illness, by Kathleen Wilson and Anne Waugh (2000)

Nutrition handbook for nursing practice, by Susan G.Dudek, (Lippincott 3rd edition, 1997)

Krause’s Food and nutrition and diet therapy, by Kathleen Mahan and Marian Arlin (8th edition, 1992)

Living a Healthy Life

I believe everyone should strive for good health. Health comes in more than one way. A person should be physically fit, nutritionally fit, and emotionally fit for good overall health. Living a healthy life takes ongoing dedication and often calls for lifestyle changes. Being healthy in all three aspects takes time and effort, but the benefits are rewarding. The dictionary defines “health” as the state of being sound, or whole, in body, mind, or soul. It is also the state of being free from physical disease or pain. There are a combination or ways that if faithfully followed one can try to achieve this. I take it upon myself to share this wonderful information with you; it just might save your life.

The first of the three issues is being physically fit. There is more than one part to this issue alone, the first of which is aiming and maintaining a healthy weight. Do you know if your weight is healthy? Most people only guess. Using the body mass index as a guide you can know for sure. Find you height and weight on the graph and then follow the coordinates to see if you land in the healthy range.

Now matter if you are currently in the healthy range or not you need to eat right. Everyone has seen the food pyramid but not to many people pay any attention to the recommendations. A balanced daily diet combined with physical activity work together in managing a person’s weight. Increasing physical activity allows you to eat more without retaining more calories; therefore it is easier to get the daily nutrients you need.

A lot of people groan when they think of daily exercise but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To get moderate exercise does not mean a person has to continually work out at the gym. There are two types of physical exercise and they are equally important. Aerobic activities speed up your heart rate and breathing. In doing so they help with cardiovascular fitness. Activities for strength and flexibility help build muscles and maintain healthy bones. It is easy to incorporate exercise into your routine walk to the store, jog with your dog, play sports with your kids or take part in yoga or like activities. Do you still need motivation to get started? Read these benefits and it might persuade you to set aside some time to exercise.

Tips: The Eight Benefits of Regular Exercise

Increases physical fitness.

Helps maintain and build healthy bones, joints, and muscles.

Builds endurance and muscular strength.

Helps manage weight.

Lowers risk factors for cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Helps control blood pressure.

Promotes psychological well-being and self-esteem.

Reduces feelings of depression.

For all the benefits it brings it should be seen as a small amount of time. People of all ages need to exercise. Children need an hour of physical activity a day, while adults need thirty minutes, and an hour if trying to loose weight. Older people need to take part in physical activities too. Like the rest of us it strengthens their bones and improves flexibility. Though, these things are even more important at an older age. It can reduce their risk of falling and breaking bones. It can also help preserve muscles, as they begin to deteriorate. It can reduce the effects of osteoporosis and improve their ability to live independently. It is never to late to work to increase your health.

Advice for Today:

Engage in at least thirty minutes of activity daily for and adult and sixty minutes for children.

Become physically active if you are inactive.

Maintain or increase physical activity if you are already active.

Stay active throughout your life.

Choose physical activities that fit with your daily routine, or recreational/structured activities.

Consult your health care provider before starting a new vigorous physical activity plan- id you have a chronic health problem, or are over forty for men and fifty for women.

The second issue aiding in good health is being nutritionally fit. In order to do so one must know and follow the food pyramid guidelines set by the food and drug administration. To follow the food pyramid one must know the nutritional value of what they’re eating. Refer to the food label on the package of what you’re consuming. The front panel tells what nutrients have been added. The ingredient list tells you what’s in the food including any nutrients, fats, and sugars. The footnote summarizes the food’s nutritional value based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Advice For Today:

Build a healthy base. Use the food guide pyramid to make healthy food choices.

Build your eating pattern on a variety of plant foods including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Also choose some low-fat dairy products and low-fat foods from the meat/bean group.

It’s fine to enjoy fats and sweets occasionally.

According to the food pyramid plant foods are the basis of a healthy diet. The foundation of plant foods should consist of whole grains (refined grains have less fiber and overall nutrients.)

Additional Advice For Today:

Build a healthy base by making a variety of grain products the foundation of your diet.

Eat six or more servings of grain daily. Include several whole grains foods, such as whole wheat and oats.

Combine whole grains with other tasty nutritious foods in mixed dishes.

Prepare/choose grain products with little added saturated fat and a low amount of added sugars.

Unlike with grains, when it comes to fruits and vegetables there is not a specific kind that is better in nutritional value than others. Different fruits and vegetables are rich in different nutrients. Therefore, by eating a variety of these foods you will consume a variety of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A is found in orange fruits/vegetables, dark leafy greens and tomatoes. Vitamin C: is in citrus fruits, potatoes, and leafy greens. Foliate: is in Dry beans, peas, peanuts, oranges, and dark leafy greens. Potassium: comes in Bananas, dried fruits, cooked dry beans/greens and white/sweet potatoes. Compared to whole or cut up fruits and vegetables, juices contain little or no fiber. Use creative ways to get fruits and vegetables into your diet. Mix them in salads, casseroles, soups, and sauces. Stir-fry vegetables or have them raw with a low-fat dip. Choose to have fruits/vegetables as a snack when on the go. However you incorporate it into your diet enjoy five a day that is at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables.

Another aspect to keeping healthy is avoiding illness as much as possible. One needs to take special precautions when preparing food to keep it safe, meaning it poses little risk of foodborne illness. Undercooked animal foods are potentially unsafe and subject to harmful bacteria. Proper cooking makes most meat safe. The best way to tell if meat is cooked to a safe temperature is by using a food thermometer. Keep foods hot at 140°F or above. Keep cold foods at or below 40°F. Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between these temperatures. Refrigerate foods promptly, within two hours of purchasing or one hour if the air temperature is above 90°F. Freeze foods at or below 0°F; unless frozen use refrigerated let-overs within three to four days. For the above guidelines there is one safety rule all should follow: when in doubt, throw it out. Separate raw, cooked, and ready to eat foods. This prevents cross-contamination from one food to another. Store raw meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish in containers in the refrigerator so that the juices do not drip onto other foods. Another simple way to protect against cross-contamination is to wash your hands and cooking surfaces often.

A person has control over his or her daily choices. One might not realize that part of a healthy lifestyle is making sensible decisions. Our everyday decisions can effect how emotionally fit we are as well as the other two aspects. We need some fat in our diet it supplies energy and essential fatty acids. Fat helps absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, K and cardioids. Around 30 percent of a person’s daily calories should come from fats. One of the decisions we make is the amount of saturated and unsaturated fat we consume in our diet. Saturated fats tend to raise blood cholesterol and to some extent blood pressure, where as unsaturated fats (oils) do not. Because of this unsaturated fat is healthier than its counterpart.

Tips To Lower Saturated Fats and Cholesterol Intake:

Choose vegetable oils rather than solid fats.

Limit your intake of high-fat processed meat and organ meats

Cut the excess fat and skin off meat.

Check the nutritional facts label to see how much fats are in a serving.

Choose foods with lower amounts of fats.

Choose fat-free, low-fat, beans, fish and lean meat products often.

Limit your intake of foods with creamy sauces.

Choose fruits for dessert in place of traditional desserts.

Eat plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits daily.

Another conscious choice we make is how much sugar we consume. What some people might not know is that sugar comes under many disguises. Eighteen things can appear on food labels all indicating the product is high in sugar: Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup and table sugar. During digestion all carbohydrates except fiber break down into sugars.

Major Sources of Added Sugar in the United States

Soft drinks

Cakes, cookies, and pies

Fruitades and drinks such as fruit punch and lemonade

Dairy desserts such as ice cream

Candy, many forms considered “junk food”

Consuming added amounts of sugars means consuming excess calories, which may contribute to weight gain. The formula for weight gain is simple: consume more calories than you burn. Sugar substitutes are available for those wanting a sweet taste without the extra calories.

Advice For Choosing Foods/Drinks to Moderate Your Sugar Intake

Limit your intake of beverages and foods that are high in added sugars.

Get most of your calories from grains, fruits, vegetables and the rest of the food pyramid.

Take care not to let soft drinks or other sweets crowd out other more nutritional foods needed to maintain good health.

Drink water often.

Salt is usually not viewed as harmful therefore one’s intake is seldom monitored. Salt is generally not a problem, but it is not harmful to one’s health to decrease salt intake. Salt contains sodium. Sodium is a substance that affects blood pressure. Lowering your consumption of salt can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. It may decrease the loss of calcium from your bones. Therefore, in the long term, it can lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. Lowering salt is safe. Salt replenishes iodine and sodium in your body however only small amounts are needed to meet your daily allowance. Your body can adjust to prevent too much sodium loss when you exercise heavily or if it is very hot.

Salt is found mainly in processed and prepared foods therefore that is how it enters our diet. The best way to cut back on sodium is to cut back on salty foods and seasonings.

Ways to Decrease Your Salt Intake

Look for labels that say “low-sodium.”

Read the nutritional facts label to compare the amount of sodium in processed foods amounts differ in different brands.

Ask your grocer or supermarket to offer more low-sodium products.

Choose fruits and vegetable often they’re naturally low in sodium.

When eating out ask to have no salt added when the food is prepared.

Alcoholic beverages have always been a controversial issue. This is true but there is nothing to argue about when it comes to proven scientific studies and one’s health. Harmful effects can come from drinking alcohol all of which impair part of your overall health. These effects include: altered judgment, high blood pressure, stroke, increased violence, suicide, and certain types of cancer. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects. Continual consumption of alcohol can lead to addiction. Too much alcohol may cause social and psychological problems, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammation of the pancreas, and damage to the brain and heart.

For health and safety reasons some people should not drink alcohol:

Children and adolescents

Individuals of any age who cannot restrict their drinking to moderate levels

Women who may become pregnant or who are pregnant

Individuals who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in activities requiring attention, skill, and coordination.

Individuals taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol

A person has to choose whether to be subject to these consequences by drinking alcoholic beverages or not. If you do choose to drink alcohol do so sensibly and in moderation. Moderation is one drink per day for women and two per day for men. Take meals with alcohol to slow its absorption. Avoid drinking before or when driving, or whenever it puts you or others at risk.

Maintaining good health is a lifelong struggle. It requires a person to be physically fit, nutritionally fit, and emotionally fit for good overall health. To be physically fit one has to maintain a healthy weight and get daily exercise. Exercise burns calories, strengthens/builds bones, muscles, and joints and improves flexibility. It also lowers risk factors for cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. It also helps to control blood pressure. To be nutritionally fit one must follow the food pyramid guide. It is important to fulfill the requirements of all the food groups. The foundation of one’s daily diet should consist of plant foods. One must monitor/lower your intake of sugar, sodium, and saturated fats. To be emotionally fit one must get exercise as it improves self-esteem and lowers feelings of depression. The other half of being emotionally fit consists of making positive choices that aid to good health. When making decisions choose sensibly. Among other things, this means whether and how much alcohol one drinks. No one but yourself can decide or put forth the effort to start the road to good health. Contemplate the facts the benefits outweighs the sacrifices. Follow the advice given because its time to start living a healthy life.

Increasing Rate of Obesity in Australia (2007)

Australian children are growing fatter at a rapid rate. The number of overweight children has doubled in recent years. Causes of obesity in children include unhealthy food choices, lack of physical activity and family eating habits. Overweight and obesity in children are among the most important risks to children’s long and short-term health. Overweight children are very likely to become overweight adults.

Here in Australia we love the open air from the outdoors, whether we are at the beach, kicking the footy or even going for a walk with the dog. However a global problem affecting countries with developed technology and high economy is obesity. Recent research has shown that the rate of overweight kids and obesity in children is increasing. But why these awful results, considering we are a very active community? There are many logical explanations. People blame technology, inactivity, junk foods in school canteens and the cheap, high-calorie junk foods that teenagers eat, but nevertheless we still have a choice of what kind of food we eat.

Obesity in teenagers is a growing concern for Australian community and is one of the pressing global health problems that we come across everyday. According to statistics one in every five Australian is obese. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 million people are overweight. We need to attack this problem from its roots.

The fight can be won if schools are more conscious of the well-being of the children placed in their care and put into practice actions to fight it. However, the schools trying to correct this unhealthy way of life will not yield much results. It will take the government and children themselves to reduce the junk food intake. Schools cannot abandon their responsibility and drop the dollar at foods. Instead schools need to take up their roles. Parents have faith in the schools that they sent their children to and are not interested in school with only a pleasant environment nor do they want one with solely academic excellence but most significantly they want a healthy canteen menu where their kids would have healthy choices of snacks and lunches to choose from. Good management and students involvement are the necessary factors that are needed in order to get the successful weight control programs that will be appealing to all students. This is regardless of their weights, to avoid excluding those with such a problem. These issues can be taught to kids in schools. With good education, students will be more familiar with the risks of being overweight. The impact of this particular matter would be better addressed in health classes. This is an excellent opportunity to help kids eat right by introducing them to appealing, healthy foods, loaded with vitamins, minerals and proteins.

We barely walk or ride bicycles to locations. Some would rather take lifts than climb stairs and people would rather stop at the fast food shops rather than taking the time to make nutritious home made meal. We all do this to save precious time without taking into consideration that the more movement and exercise we do can even out our energy intake and expenditure.

Many people believe a secondary problem that influences obesity is technology. In the mid 70s and 80s, people did more physical activities in their daily lives. Kids played outdoors very often and people walked or ride bicycles to nearby destinations e.g the suburban shop.

These days we drive everywhere even to close by locations and a survey done by the department of health and again show that more than half of every 9 -15 year old kids prefer to stay indoors and play computer games rather than kick the footy on the nearby oval or even play sports on the weekends. In most developing places like South America countries and African countries, a lot more of the populations are of a thin and muscular build. Due to lack of adequate technology people do more physical work and kids are usually outdoors kicking a weakly homemade soccer ball with every opportunity they get. These examples are just comparing the effects of technology in different societies.

Physical activities and sports in schools should be encouraged. Parents need to support their children to participate in sports. It would help the kids improve their physical health and even their social life.

In many busy family homes, the parents are not always around to assist their children in making right decisions in food choices. Due to strenuous jobs or timing it is a lot easier for parents to pick up a cheap Mc Donald’s meal on the way from work or give the child lunch money to spend at school. In times like these, it is important for parents to know what their children are eating. The best ideas are to pack a healthy lunch daily, make the time to create rich nutritional homemade meals and most of all educate children on what meals are beneficial to them.

Changing society has contributed to obesity. Major changes in the way we live have resulted in overweight and obesity. These changes have led to people eating more and being less active thereby contributing to increase in the number of people who are overweight and obese. Other factors contributing to this problem are:•The overall cost of food has gone down.

•More food is prepared away from home.

•Energy-dense foods and drinks are more readily available and cheap.

•Portion sizes of energy-dense foods have increased.

•Marketing of energy-dense foods and drinks has increased.

•The use of private transport has increased.

•The number of two-income earning families has increased; therefore there is more money to spend.

•People spend more time at work than they do at home, leaving little or no time for meal preparation.

•The role of physical education in the school curriculum has reduced.

Health problems associated with obesity. Most of the health problems associated with obesity tend to develop in adulthood. Potential future health problems for obese children include:•Type 2 diabetes – while it’s most commonly diagnosed in adults, it is now also being diagnosed in children•Heat problems because of too much work load on the heart•Liver problems•Respiratory disorders, such as blocked airways and restrictions in the chest wall, which cause breathlessness when you exercise or exert yourself•Sleep apnea – this is a condition which causes difficulty with breathing when one is asleep resulting in snoring, waking often and poor sleep. People who are affected do not get sufficient sleep and therefore become tired during the day and lack concentration.

Obesity is a problem that the government and community need to address because of the terrible problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension, and sleep apnea. It is interesting to note recent studies have shown that many that are overweight as children will become obese when they get older. This will lead to an increase of these in health problems.

These problems need to be fixed but cannot happen overnight. Education about eating the right kind of food is the first step followed by getting plenty of exercise. It is possible to have healthy eating habit while enjoying the food we eatBibliography :// encyclopedia

Obesity in America

“This Wednesday is Ladies Night Out. We’ll only have the appetizers and drink specials.”

“I’ll start the movie. Don’t forget the buttered popcorn and soda.”

“I thought that we could grab a quick bite on the road, that way we can get there faster.”

Food is life, both socially and nutritionally. Healthy diets and eating habits supply much needed nourishment for human growth and tissue repair. Increasingly, the fashion, style and wont of American culture are found in the consumption of easy, quick saturated fats and simple sugars. America ‘s accelerated and frenzied lifestyle is a major proponent of our widening girths and associated health issues. Thus, one must ask if popular culture creates an obesity epidemic, and, if so, promotes viable solutions/alternatives for dealing with the ever-expanding waistline.

Many people simply do not eat to satisfy hunger; rather they use food as an emotional anesthesia, a calming sedative and seductive comfort. These people may be guilty of drowning their overwhelming emotions of depression, boredom, stress, isolation, or relationships inside the sea of simple carbohydrates and fats. These underlying psychological and psychosocial conflicts must be internally assessed and resolved for people to emerge from the depths of over consumption.

American culture is witnessing an increase in the number of under active, overweight children. Family, cultural practices and religion can exert strong influences on eating patterns. Peer pressure and convenience are coconspirators to this escalating intake of high caloric processed foods. Set during childhood, these early and long lasting habits of high fats and added sugars are proven to lead to a vast array of other complications in later years. Hypertension, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, pulmonary problems, and certain cancers are the leading co morbidities associated with obesity. Furthermore, socioeconomic constraints inhibit many parents from purchasing the healthy choices, such as 100% fruit juice versus 10% juice from concentrate.

Marketing and communication executives use sophisticated and persuasive campaigns to lure consumers. Cartoon characters, vibrant graphics, and hip jingles conjoined with humor, happiness, and companionship are used to promote junk food good-times. These ads convey the message that behaviors, character and healthy attributes are attained and earned within the world of fun munchies and fizz. Conversely, these advertisements never use overweight, debilitated actors and actresses.

Western culture has a constant preoccupation with the sizes and shapes of their bodies. This obsession brings about a plethora of new recommendations and diet books that claim to contain solutions to a thin and happy lifestyle, but have little or no long-term lasting effects. Promoted by popular media personalities, American society has turned to the quick fix alternative of gastric bypass surgery. With promises of immediately trimming pounds, this costly procedure has seen almost a five hundred percent increase in the last four years. Alarmingly, no long-term mandatory postoperative programs are in place to sustain and continue with weight loss and maintenance.

Making even modest changes in diet and exercise will help diminish the obesity risk. Pop culture must concentrate on a proactive stance and conceive both weight and health as a permanent conversion in lifestyle. Through education, pop culture should be empowered to pursue necessary lifestyle changes and remain within healthy weight limits

The Benefits of Yoga.

When you hear the words “poetry of the body” or “physical art”, you may be surprised to know that these words refer to the practice of yoga. Contrary to what some believe, yoga is more than just a lot of strange poses used to increase flexibility. The benefits of yoga are physical as well as psychological and emotional.

As a person fits a regular yoga routine into their schedule, physical changes begin to occur inside and out. Through a series of poses done regularly, the muscles become strengthened and toned. From the strengthening comes improved balance and posture. The stretching that results from these poses relaxes the muscles, relieves tension, and adds increased flexibility. In addition to releasing molecule-damaging free radicals from the lungs, the deep breathing techniques used in yoga increase the burning of fat cells (oxidation) due to increased oxygen intake. Circulation is improved through out the body and blood alkalinity levels, which are harmful if too high, even out. Clearly yoga does the body good.

In addition, yoga does your emotional state good. Stress is a major contributing factor to problems such as impaired immune system disorders, cancer, herpes, chronic headaches, joint pain and insomnia, to name a few. It is a proven fact that regular exercise can greatly reduce stress levels, and yoga can help. Following a daily yoga routine can also lessen anxiety and depression, which usually go hand in hand with stress. An immediate boost in morale can be gained due to a sense of well-being as a result of doing something good for yourself. Utilizing the relaxation techniques found in yoga can help you sleep better during the night, allowing you to wake up feeling rested and in a generally better state of mind. The benefits to ones mentality are evident.

Psychological benefits are also to be gained by practicing yoga. Through meditation poses you tap into your subconscious mind and spiritual energies. Meditation quiets the mind and eliminates repeated negative messages by focusing the mind on positive thoughts and images. As you concentrate on total awareness of energy and how it flows through the body, you become aware of how body and mind work together. As you make slow deliberate movements and hold poses, you gain a heightened sense of self-control and self-confidence. The result is being able to meet pessimistic thoughts with a positive outlook, which can undoubtedly be beneficial to anyone.

The physical, emotional and psychological benefits of yoga are unmistakable. Although the practice of yoga dates back hundreds of years, only recently have the many uses in connection with modern day maladies been researched. It is anyone’s guess what the future may hold as far as linking yoga with improved overall health.