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Posted on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 9:32 a.m.

Diet and exercise are important to maintain total health

By Melissa Gerharter MS, RD


Regular exercise revs the metabolism and improves sleep quality.

The following is a guest post from a Julie Green. Julie Green is a senior in the dietetics program at Eastern Michigan University. She is currently completing a specialty rotation with Melissa Gerharter MS, RD, CSSD at Joust Fitness and hopes to one day have her own business incorporating culinary skills, nutrition, and personal training.

Overweight and obesity is at an all time high, and expected to continue the increased prevalence rate according to the Center of Disease Control, 2012. The risks of this nation-wide epidemic are the increase disease prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. Increased cost of health care is a serious concern. According to the Atlanta Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an additional $1,429 per person and an estimated $147 billion was spent on obesity related health conditions in 2008.

A common misconception—Fats!
There are many different types of fats, some are healthier than others. Did you know that unsaturated fats can actually help you lose weight when eaten in moderation?

Saturated fats are found naturally in animal products such as dairy and meats. This type of saturated fat sticks to the arteries and clogs them when consumed in high quantity, and can lead to cardiovascular disease, overweight, obesity or diabetes. Other saturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, oils, and fish; however the difference in saturated fat in animal products is cholesterol.

While animal products contribute to bad cholesterol (LDL) nuts, avocados, seeds, fish, and oils all help to decrease bad cholesterol and promote cardiovascular health (raising HDL, good cholesterol). Most of the total fat found in nuts, seeds, avocados, fish, and oils are from unsaturated fat, also known as mono- and polyunsaturated fat. These fats are full of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Helpful hints:

  • Try to eat leaner protein foods such as low-fat dairy, chicken, turkey, fish and pork chops or pork loin. If you are craving some red meat, try to get ground sirloin instead of ground chuck or round, and drain the fat after it cooks. Eat less cured or salted meats or fish such as ham, hotdogs, bacon, cod, salami or gravalo.

  • Incorporate more healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds or fish into your diet. Instead of using butter, try using oils that are liquid at room temperature. Safflower, sunflower, canola, grape seed and soy oil are all great oils for cooking and for salad dressing.
  • Try to keep total fat to 20-35 percent of your diet, comprised mostly of healthy fats.
  • Try to keep total cholesterol under 300mg per day and, if at risk for cardiovascular disease, 200mg per day to avoid complications.
  • Being active doesn’t mean you have to get bulky muscle. 30-60 minutes of physical activity five days a week is the recommended standard. Exercise helps increase bone density and general muscle and tendon strength to help support the body as it ages, decreasing the likelihood for injuries.

    Exercise helps you:

  • Boost metabolism and increase blood flow to keep the brain awake.
  • Lose or maintain weight.
  • Balance out mood fluctuations with serotonin.
  • Combat diseases and health conditions from beginning, or improve your quality of life with a current condition.
  • Look and feel better about yourself and body image.
  • Improve your quality of sleep.
  • The food that we eat is what our body uses to survive. Choose nutritious foods over convenience or processed quick fixes. We eat to sustain our lives. We eat for energy. Use the energy that is consumed to stay healthy and fit!


    Rork Kuick

    Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

    "Did you know that unsaturated fats can actually help you lose weight when eaten in moderation?" If I could figure out what the sentence is actually saying in detail, I might be able to answer. Some reference would have helped.


    Thu, Oct 25, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

    This may be of some help:


    Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

    Diet and exercise are essential. We now rank number 37 on the World health organization list of countries health care. Right behind Costa Rica at 36 and ahead of Slovenia at 38. Of course we are number one is spending, by a huge margin. But not as massive a lead as in defense spending. America spends more on defense, and offense: ) than all the rest of the world combined. Not bad for 5% of the people on the planet. God Bless America. Someone has to be the bad guy. Why not us ?

    David Brown

    Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

    Julie Green wrote, "Saturated fats are found naturally in animal products such as dairy and meats. This type of saturated fat sticks to the arteries and clogs them when consumed in high quantity, and can lead to cardiovascular disease, overweight, obesity or diabetes." To be sure, this has been dietary dogma for many decades. But does the scientific evidence actually suggest a link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease? Not really. And consuming lots of saturated fat does not necessarily translate into high levels of saturated fat in the bloodstream. There's growing realization that saturated fats are benign over a wide range of intakes as long as they are consumed in the context of adequate supportive nutrition.

    Sarah Rigg

    Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

    Also, the prevalence of obesity and overweight has probably plateaued in the US since about 2003/2004:

    Sarah Rigg

    Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

    I would take those studies about the "cost of obesity" with a grain of salt. It is NOTORIOUSLY hard to make those calculations. Racial minorities and the working class tend to be fatter, and they also have less access to preventive health care AND work in more manual labor jobs and therefore are more likely to have on-the-job injuries. It's likely that those things have some impact on why fat people appear to "cost more" to the health care industry. Also, read the medical studies for yourself. They tend to show that fat people actually recover faster & better than thinner people when the DO face medical crises (heart attacks, cancer, etc.). Some analysis here: