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Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Obesity

23
Oct

Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Obesity

The state of health in the U.S. is woeful. Let these numbers sink in a bit:

  • 20% of children in the U.S. are obese and children today are the first generation to have a life expectancy SHORTER than their parents’ generation.
  • 66% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
  • 25 million Americans take cholesterol lowering medication.
  • 67 million Americans (33%) have hypertension (high blood-pressure).
  • 29 million Americans have Type II diabetes (9%) and >84 million have prediabetes.
  • Chronic diseases, like obesity and Type II diabetes, are the single largest cause of mortality (death) in America, killing approximately 7/10 people annually.

What’s perhaps most disturbing is that most chronic diseases are preventable and/or reversible by modifiable lifestyle factors. That means that genetics are but a small piece of the puzzle while diet, exercise, sleep, etc., are actually quite powerful.

Diet, in particular, has changed dramatically, even just since 1970, resulting in our current chronic disease epidemic. Here is some food for thought:

  • Refined sugar consumption per year in the U.S. has increased by 30 pounds/person since 1970.
  • 70% of the American diet is made up of processed grains and sugar.
  • Modern Americans live principally on three varieties of plant foods: corn, soy, and wheat. These all are carbohydrate sources.
  • Americans have purchased over 100 million diet books in the last 30 years, yet obesity rates continue to climb.

There’s a lot of reasons for how we got here. The government-backed high-carbohydrate/low-fat craze in the 70’s/80’s did not help, but the modern desk-job with too-little-exercise combined with an on-the-go and up-all-night lifestyle is certainly a factor. And you can’t ignore the fact that high-sugar, high-fat, and highly processed food tastes quite good (it’s easier to eat a whole bag of chips versus that same amount of plain, boiled potatoes!). The end result is a too-calorically dense and nutrient-poor diet ravaging our nation’s health.

Many people start CrossFit to address the exercise component of their health and fitness but ignore the nutrition component. The fact is, nutrition is as important, if not more important than your exercise regime for your overall fitness and health. Take a second and re-read that, it’s a powerful concept.

CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman, has stated that doing CrossFit without paying attention to your nutrition is “like having one oar in the water.” It is possible to improve your fitness by just working out alone, but the results will not be as impressive nor as beneficial to your health until you also pay attention to nutrition. Nutrition is considered so important that CrossFit, Inc., puts it at the bottom of their Theoretical Hierarchy of the Development of an Athlete, meaning nutrition supports all the layers above it — from how well your cells can create energy to the ability to perform in any chosen sport.

As such, at CrossFit Roots, we assess your workout and nutrition regime by your performance. Your back squat will increase and your mile time will decrease not just by doing the workouts but also by eating well. And what you also find is that by eating and exercising our way, your health markers (e.g., cholesterol, body fat percentage) trend favorably. Form follows function: you won’t find our top athletes eating poorly with an undesirable body composition and poor health markers.

As a society, we are obsessed with how we look in the mirror. We define fitness by how someone looks. The problem with this is that they overlook the long-term health effects of the way we eat. Being “thin” or working out to balance overeating does nothing to prevent the onset of heart disease, Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, or stroke. The food you put in your mouth does.