I have commented before about the striking discordance between the amount of money that we spend on health care in the United States and the health outcomes that we achieve with all of those dollars. At more than $2 trillion dollars per year, or more than $7,000 per citizen per year, the U.S. spends more on health care than virtually every other country in the world. One would, therefore, assume that all of those trillions of health care dollars would translate into a globally unsurpassed level of health and well being in America. However, one would actually be mistaken in this assumption, as the United States lags behind many other countries of the world, including a few relatively underdeveloped countries, in several very important public health benchmarks. As if this were not bad enough, the world’s richest nation has an estimated 47 million uninsured citizens, with millions more possessing utterly inadequate health insurance coverage (millions of us in this country are just one serious illness away from financial ruin).Health care reform in the United States continues to be a political “third rail,” although virtually all stakeholders are in agreement that our healthcare system is dysfunctional and inefficient, and that it offers the American people very poor value for their money. However, there is considerable disagreement regarding the root causes that underlie the acknowledged deficiencies in our health care system, which means that there is also pervasive disagreement regarding the best interventions to undertake. Amidst the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and with no end in sight to the ongoing Not-Quite-As-Great-Depression, it is unclear whether or not the fledgling Obama Administration will be able to assemble the political capital and the will to wade into the treacherous waters of health care reform within the foreseeable future.A new research study, just published in the American Journal of Public Health, provides a rather stark comparison between the health status of rich and poor adults in the United States and Europe. In this study, more than 17,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 74 years were interviewed from among 10 European countries. Nearly 7,000 Americans of similar age were also interviewed for this study. The researchers assessed these 24,000 middle-aged and elderly adults for 6 chronic illnesses that are commonly accepted as indicators of the overall health of a society.In general, the American adults reported poorer overall health than their European counterparts. While the differences in health between the two groups of adults were, not surprisingly, more pronounced among poorer patients, even the wealthier Americans reported more problems with their health when compared to wealthy Europeans. At the same time, the gap in health status between rich and poor was much smaller among Europeans than was observed among the American patients who participated in this study. (As a striking example of the health disparities between Americans and Europeans, heart disease, the number one cause of death in most developed countries, was present in 18 percent of Americans, but in only 11 percent of Europeans, in this study.)This study puts some important numbers on health trends that have become increasingly obvious over the past few decades. When comparing health outcomes between two populations of patients that live in similarly modern, industrialized, and western societies, the United States fares very poorly, indeed.Our nation’s focus on disease prevention is haphazard and poorly executed, resulting in unacceptably high rates of preventable diseases and disease-related complications. Rather than investing our nation’s wealth in disease prevention and screening programs, we, instead, backload our inefficient and byzantine health care system with trillions of dollars, every year, to treat the complications of diseases that are, in many cases, almost entirely preventable. European countries spend, on average, only 50 to 60 percent as much on health care, per capita, as we do here in the United States, and yet their health outcomes frequently exceed ours in multiple critical areas of public health.While we may not all agree on every detail, almost all of us agree that our health care system is fundamentally broken, and that we cannot go on with “business as usual” any longer. Despite the ongoing implosion of the economy, we must somehow find the will and the foresight to overhaul our current fractured and wasteful health care system, including a much greater emphasis on promoting healthful lifestyle habits, and improved disease prevention and screening programs. As the average age of our population continues to rise, our ongoing failure to step up to the plate and fix our dysfunctional health care system will, increasingly, cost our nation dearly.
It’s like an open secret among athletes, once you understand the concept of sports nutrition and apply its principles in training, the difference between winning and losing is like night and day, and it’s that simple. But how many athletes truly understand this concept between nutrition and performance and are willing to endure another disciplined program in the face of upcoming events?Apparently, not many athletes regard nutrition as a necessary component to striking goal in the arena, and dismal performances have resulted. Moreover, coaches are being blamed for their contribution in this thought-process-their nonchalance in emphasising the significance of a nutrient-dense diet that balances with training–is being passed on within sporting groups.The Link between Sports Nutrition and Increased PerformanceSeveral scientific studies have been conducted over the years that link enhanced performance with a balanced diet, and the results are exciting for serious minded competitors.Studies reveal that any athlete who is willing to follow the guidelines of nutrition in the proportions required–consuming a diet that caters to the person’s training and physiology–is likely to have a lead over the person who does not.Sports Nutrition definedThe study of nutrition is nothing new and dates back over 200 years; however, the discipline of sports nutrition is relatively new.This interdisciplinary field has a rather complex curriculum, rooted in scientific formulations, but at its most basic, focuses on dieting principles that enhance athletic performance.Sports nutritionists are experts who counsel athletes on how best to achieve their athletic goals using nutrition; they are an athlete’s best friend owing to their nutrition plan.5 Reasons for Sports Nutrition in Competitions1. Utmost Gains from TrainingA well-planned diet has the biggest impact on training simply because it supports the rigors of a workout program, promoting mental and physical prowess. A good tailor-made diet allows adaptations to the work-out stimulus and increases skill and endurance.2. Enhanced Recovery between EventsNutrition affects every process in the body involved in energy production and exercise recovery. When a competitor is taught the guidelines for optimal nutrition that matches body composition, and is sports-specific as well as appropriately timed, healing and recovery occurs at a faster pace.3. Reduced Risks of InjuryInjury is the enemy of athletes. A serious enough injury like a hamstring or groin insult can set back a contender a whole season or longer. In addition to taking precautions with proper warm up and conditioning exercises, the risk of injuries is also minimized with quality nourishment received into soft tissue cells. Muscles, which enable movement, depend on a well-nourished diet to reduce spasms, cramps, tears and other similar injuries.4. Consistency in Achieving High Level PerformancesAs numerous studies have shown, nutrition affects performance in a positive way. The eating and drinking habits of sports persons influence how well they train and execute their skills at desired levels, at all times.5. Confidence in Feeling Fit to ExcelMental fitness is just as crucial as physical fitness. Confidence is that added element which gives athletes the bravado and rights to vanquish their opponent. Successful completion of training-acquiring technique, agility, and power-backed by a diet that caters to fitness needs, allow that moment of glory to draw near.The margin between victory and defeat is very small among equally fit athletes in fierce competitions. Therefore attention to detail will determine the outcome; sports nutrition provides that eating strategy for winning.