Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.
Last week, a segment on DATELINE focused on SYNDROME X--a term used
to describe a cluster of symptoms that predispose folks to diabetes,
heart disease and stroke. They used hot phrases like, "insulin
resistance" and "metabolic problem" and "lipid problem" to describe
these people that are overweight. Physicians, biochemists and
dietitians made diet recommendations that these time bomb patients
eliminate simple carbohydrates (sweets, alcohol, pasta) from their
diet and eat balanced meals that lean slightly toward recommendations
for diabetics. They showed the patients scrupulously weighing food
portions and counting calories and exercising on a treadmill. Then,
with pleasure, the patients reported that several months after they
adopted this lifestyle, (one admitted he didn't like it but complied)
they'd lost weight, felt better and, best of all, their blood sugar,
triglyceride and cholesterol levels were much improved and their
blood pressure decreased. The segment closed with comments that this
diet WORKS. Once again I found myself jumping up from my LAZ-Y-Boy
and yelling, "You missed the point." The reason these people got
better is because THEY EXERCISED. Unless there's a genetic
disposition to diabetes or elevated triglycerides or cholesterol,
exercise will CURE these symptoms. PEOPLE WHO EXERCISE DO NOT HAVE
INSULIN RESISTANCE. If they exercise regularly they can pretty much
eat what they want (assuming they stick to SMART EATING guidelines
for a lower in fat, lower in sugar, higher in fiber, balanced and
varied diet. Athletes can probably break those rules, though in my
experience they eat more healthfully to assure good performance.
I know I sound like a broken record, BUT:
If we could get doctors to insist that their patients exercise first before they gave them special diets, pills and surgery I believe we could cut medical costs in this country considerably. In 1978 I sat on the floor in my exercise studio with a new friend from the Association for Fitness in Business (now the Association for Worksite Health Promotion). We speculated on what would happen if insurance companies would provide significantly lower rates for people who exercised. Since then the Surgeon General declared war on cigarettes. Insurance companies now give financial breaks to people who don't smoke (and, therefore don't have the health risks incurred by smokers). Hopefully the effort by the Surgeon General to get people to put some physical activity into their life will yield the same result.
If you are already exercising regularly, you can enjoy the tables of food that are part of every holiday celebrations--including the sugar. If you haven't jumped on the fitness bandwagon yet, watch your calories. Meanwhile, don't wait until New Years resolution time rolls around to change your lifestyle. You could pay for it with your life.
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