The Influence of Color
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Hunger And Malnutrition Here In America

Image of beautiful colorful healthy fruits and vegetables at the Farmer's Market.

The beauty of fresh colorful fruits and vegetables is much more than skin deep.

 

So, We Are What We Eat.

The Good News…

When we go to our local farmer’s market or nearby grocery store to choose the very best produce for our families, we use all of our senses.  Touch, smell, sight… and finally, taste. Often the color and appearance of the food item is a very important part of the selection process.

Are you aware that the colors we find in various foods represent 25,000 chemicals that are beneficial? [nutritionvista.com].

Foods that are vivid shades of orange, yellow, green, red, and purple are visually stimulating but are also packed with many health benefits. We cannot forget their paler cousins ~ garlic, onions, leeks, cabbage and celery and the nutrients they provide.

The very compounds that give produce their bright colors are also responsible for giving them their unique health promoting properties. These compounds occur naturally in these particular foods [called phytonutrients or phytochemicals] and appear to boost our immune system. Scientists know the most about carotenoids [red, orange and yellow pigments; webmd.com] Research shows that fruits and vegetables that are high in carotenoids appear to protect us against certain cancers, heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration. Dark-hued edibles such as grapes and blueberries have flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties including protection for your heart. Phytonutrient research is currently experiencing phenomenal growth. The future looks very promising. For the time being, it appears that an effective strategy for reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease is to increase your consumption of phytonutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, grains and teas.

The Unfortunate Bad News…

As you look at the fresh and delicious variety of fruits and vegetables in the image above, it just might startle you to know that more than 30 million Americans regularly go hungry. According to the Child Welfare League of America, 8.5 million Americans {including nearly 3 million children) go hungry daily. It could happen to you.  With the current economy in shambles, there are many households without an adequate steady income and many have lost their homes to foreclosure. Many families are just one paycheck away from being on the street and homeless. These are good, hard working Americans doing the best they can to help their families survive. Food banks, church sponsored- hot meal programs, and many non-profit organizations assist as well.  For those who do not get enough to eat or drink each day, they run the risk of becoming malnourished and dehydrated.

True hunger and malnourishment are more common than you may be aware of in this country. Most of us think of developing countries when we think of people being malnourished or regularly experiencing hunger [and it is true that their state is a more dire one]. Poverty, those with limited access to nutritious food, the elderly on fixed-incomes, and many others regularly miss several meals each week. Then there are those with eating disorders, some with certain medical conditions or those with adverse reactions to prescription drugs ~ these things can affect some people so that the nutrients they truly need are not accessible by their bodies even if they are trying to eat nutritious meals.

Some symptoms of malnutrition may include dizziness, weight loss, and fatigue. However, some people show no symptoms at all [National Institutes of Health]. Malnutrition in children may also include higher levels and instances of aggression, hyperactivity and anxiety. They have more trouble learning and focusing academically than their well-nourished counterparts. Long-term malnutrition in children can actually lead to mental and physical disabilities and/or stunted growth. Think also of their lowered self-esteem.

 

What Can Be Done…

We cannot afford to just look away and pretend that this is an issue for someone else. This is an issue for our children, our elderly, and our local communities. So if we are indeed what we eat, then we are either healthy or malnourished. If you have the means and would like to donate to help those that truly need nutritious meals daily, you can:

* Donate to Feeding America: Feeding America will help provide food to an estimated 14 million children this year. The organization says that for $45, it can feed a family of four for a month. To donate to Feeding America Click Here.

* Or you can contribute $10 by texting FEED to 50555 and replying “YES.”

*You can also make a food donation to your local food pantry. For a list of food pantries in your area click here.

I know all of us can do at least one of these things. If you are an individual that doesn’t think the need really exists here in America, get up-to-date facts on hunger by taking a quick quiz to see if you are really that knowledgeable.

Take some type of positive action. You may need the help for your family some day.

 

 

To your success and empowerment,

Deborah A. Ten Brink's Signature

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