Fast-food outlets near schools could put your kids on the fast track to obesity — and poorer school performance. And that’s particularly true for kids who live in urban areas with fast-food restaurants that are closer than grocery stores with fresh produce. It also disproportionately affects kids without resources who, understandably, opt for incredibly unhealthy but filling $1 meals.
Despite tough-to-overcome obstacles to making healthier food choices, you have to help your kids before they find themselves on the slippery slope to becoming unhealthy adults and everyone ends up footing an impossibly high health-care bill.
So here’s our four-point plan to help kids become healthy, happy adults.
Parents: Learning how to make smart food choices starts at home. Get your kids into healthy food by involving them in shopping and cooking. Provide healthy, tasty school lunches, and urge them to choose well in the cafeteria or when eating out.
Kids: Be a leader, not a follower. If all of your friends hang out at the local fast-food restaurant and you want to hang with them, opt for no-sugar-added yogurt and fruit, salad-based wraps or grilled chicken and sugar-free drinks.
School administrators: Introduce nutrition education into every classroom — kids want to feel good, look good, do good. Help them understand that a $1 meal is a down payment on a long line of painful disabilities that’ll cost them, big time, in the future.
Communities: You have a drug-free zone around the school. Why not a fast-food-free zone too? Let’s chew on that!
There may be 120,000 to 150,000 different species of bacteria on Earth. Some live in volcanic vents, others thrive in frigid Antarctica. But these days, scientists and doctors are concentrating on identifying various species that live on and in each of us.
One study found a total of 4,742 varieties of bacterial species on the hands of 51 college students, but only five of those varieties were common to each of the students. Interestingly, women had many more than men (something about hormones and pH), and a person’s left and right hand shared only about 17 percent of the same little critters. But wait, there’s even more inside us!
The trillions of bacteria from hundreds of species that make up your gut biome (found inside your intestine) provide life-enhancing benefits, like a strong immune system — if you give the little guys their due. But recent research shows they’re harmed by poor nutrition (they gotta eat right) and by overloading your system with too much fat and calories. That keeps good bacteria from elbowing out nastier species that need to be kept in check, and amplifies your risk for obesity. Poor nutrition that damages the biome also can trigger allergies in infants, and even fatty liver disease and depression in adults.
So what are gut-friendly foods? Anything rich in fiber, like 100 percent whole grains; omega fatty acids in salmon, olive oil and nuts; vitamin D; fermented foods, like low-fat, no-sugar-added yogurt; and low-sodium pickles.
Tip: Take a daily spore probiotic containing bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 and lactobacillus GG.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.