It is very common for us to look at people who are ‘skinny’, such as the models in magazines, and assume they are the picture of health; however this is not always the case. Low body weight is quite an inaccurate measure of health.
One of the best predictors of health is an adequate balanced diet. It can be quite alarming to know what some people do to keep a low body weight, and it is just that- body weight. The scales do not indicate muscle mass or bone density, two highly important factors which predict positive aging. However there two ends of the scale when referring to poor eating habits. It is not just underweight people who can be malnourished.
It is possible to be overweight and malnourished. It’s possible to be a little over weight, but still relatively more healthy than someone of lower body weight who east a poor diet. It’s also possible to be of a normal body weight and not be feeding your body what it needs to be functioning optimally. Cool story Hansel, but what am I trying to get at here?
“It’s just as much about what you do eat as what you don’t eat.”
Feeding the body with empty poor quality calories to the point of excess, will still leave your body starving for the nutrients it needs to function properly, and likely overweight or obese. Running your body on the bare minimum for extended periods of time leaves you open for poor health too. Both groups in the end are at risk of being what we call ‘malnourished’- their bodies are starving. Malnutrition is basically an imbalance of nutrition. This could be from too much of the wrong stuff, or not enough of the right stuff. Either way you end up with a body in need and how it reacts to these deficiencies if pretty nasty.
Malnutrition affects your body, your mind, your immune system and everything in between. Not feeding your body with proper nutrition from varied sources results in decreases in strength, lung function, heart function and fitness, increases depression, decreases immunity and ability to heal and even affects your body’s ability to regulate temperature. And it’s a slippery slope down into disease. If you don’t eat right, your body can’t absorb what you do eat properly and is forced to take from you stores, so the longer the poor diet/lifestyle choices go on for the more health debt you’re getting yourself into. ‘Holy bajeezuz’ I hear you say….I KNOW!! It’s just as much about what you do eat as what you don’t eat. So why is there still resistance to eating well? Probably because we don’t like change….and that you can buy pizzas with corn chips stuffed into the crust *palm to face*.
“It is possible to be overweight and malnourished.”
The thing is we can get away with a lot more in our younger years. Up until the age of about 30-35, our body does a really good job at buffering the abuse we throw at it. Be it inactivity, poor diet choices, chronic stress, drug and alcohol abuse or lack of sleep, our body will do the best it can to keep you going. But the problem is, disease progression starts long before you get the diagnosis. Meaning the behaviours which got you through your 20’s are not likely to cut it as you get older, so it serves you well to know how to properly feed yourself BEFORE you get the warning bells ringing in your ears.
The key point in all this is that, unless you are trained to know what to look for, what you see on the outside is a unlikely to give you the full story on what’s happening inside, so it pays to invest in your health earlier and to learn what your body needs and not just make changes at the last minute, when such changes are harder to make.
Being ‘healthy’ is as hard or as easy as you make it. There are a thousand choices we make each day and even if a handful of these are changed towards improving your health, you are a bit closer to good health and a bit further away from all the crappiness that poor health brings. Even just starting to think about the impact that each mouthful can make is a start. Is it adding to your overall health or is it taking away? Simple questions which may bring big results!