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Commentary: Improving health through nutrition

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

For years, I never thought about the food and drinks I put in my body. My breakfast would consist of Dr. Pepper and honey buns. I’ve always been a gym rat running marathons, lifting weight and playing basketballOn the outside I looked fit and healthy but on the inside I was causing serious damage to my body.

In November 2011, I went to the doctor due to a sore throat. The doctor told me I had strep throat. However, she was more concerned with my high blood pressure and psoriasis on both elbows.

My blood pressure was through the roof, and my body’s immune system was fighting itself. My health was a mess and I didn’t even know it. I was a candidate for blood pressure medication and would need to do a 3-to-5 day blood pressure check. In addition, I was given steroid cream and told I would need further treatment for psoriasis. I had come to the doctor because of a sore throat, and was leaving on a mission to fix my health.

To be honest, I knew my diet was a problem but didn’t want to admit it. The food I ate was delicious and easy. Fixing my diet would be uncomfortable, and I wasn’t ready to be uncomfortable. However, the blood pressure revelation combined with an autoimmune disease was an awakening for me that prompted change.

I began doing research and the first study I found told me to quit soda. Soda and I had been friends since childhood; but I told my old friend good bye. I learned a valuable lesson that day: you never get rid of a bad habit, you just replace it with something else. I did some research for a replacement drink and found the health benefits of green tea. I made green tea a new friend and it has become a friend my whole family enjoys.

In order for change to be long term, I knew I had to find foods I would want to eat. I began looking at foods with the potential to lower blood pressure and not shut down my overactive immune system. I found foods with healing powers that were easy to prepare and spices to which add flavor to foods. Over the course of five years, I’ve added more than 60 foods, spices and drinks to my palate. In the process, I changed my health.

Populations at any age, especially those over 50, can change their health status with good nutrition. Changing your diet and eliminating disease and the medications required to treat the disease. It’s estimated that 75 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 take 10 to 13 prescription drugs daily. This number increases to 87 percent of adults ages 65 to 79, and 91 percent for adults older than 80.

So just how did I change my diet?  I can tell you it didn’t change overnight and it’s still a work in progress but I began by making a few very conscious decisions. I added lots of anti-inflammatory foods. I found Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid and began adding foods and spices from his pyramid. In addition, I have learned about the powers of fermented vegetables and have used them to heal a condition called leaky gut syndrome. I have been psoriasis free going on 4 years with no medication needed. I encourage everyone I meet to do their own research and discover the benefits of anti-inflammatory foods and the health risk of leaky gut syndrome. You are your own best health advocate.

I didn’t push my new diet on my family, they ate the same way they were used to eating. I didn’t always eat what they ate, but I would if I could choose things that agreed with my new plan. If their choices didn’t fit my plan, I would make my own lunch or dinner and no one caused a fuss. As time has gone by, they make many of the same choices I make today, but like anyone, we all must choose our own path in our own time.

I invite you to make the same changes and use food to heal your body and prevent disease. If you’re burdened with chronic illness, I encourage you to change the way you eat and work with your doctor to take back your health one food at a time.

Remember, food can be medicine or poison depending on what you’re intake is. The choice effects health, so choose wisely.

For more information about nutrition, contact Mr. Vaughn or the Health and Wellness Center at (501) 987-7288.

Editor’s Note: The following commentary is one person journey into becoming healthier good nutrition. Never stop taking medication without consulting with your physician first.

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