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Personal Health Risk Assessment Paper

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During the past decades, health awareness has been rising tremendously in every part of the world. In our daily life, weight control and eating a balanced diet are everywhere in the media. We also constantly read articles in the news that feature a new technology that can improve one’s health in some way. This phenomenon has changed our society and created a sensation that we have never seen before. There are also a lot of people, especially women, who are supporters of an anti-aging lifestyle. Most of us wonder how old we are in biological terms. The RealAge Test was created by Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz and it has been around since 1999. It is a health measurement of how old one’s body is based on categories like general health, fitness level, emotional state of mind, and diet habits. After I took the RealAge Test, I was very shocked and surprised.

My calendar age is 21, but my real age is 28.2. I was actually hoping to see a number close to or below 21 based on my answers on the test. Apparently, my mind and my body do not think alike when it becomes to health awareness. Here are four risk factors that are most important to me based on the test: consuming more grains, varying my vegetable intake, taking vitamin D, and getting my cholesterol tested. A grain product is defined as “any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain” (ChooseMyPlate.gov). It is filled with carbohydrates, which give us energy and keep our stomachs feeling full. As a stable in any diet, it consists of two different types: whole grains and refined grains. Adults should eat “at least half of their grains as whole grains”, so about three to five servings of whole grains per day (Whole Grains Council). It is important to consume sufficient amount of grains because they contain protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and vitamin B (Whole Grains Council).

All of these nutrients are substances that our bodies need daily, especially fiber. If I continue with my behavior and not eating enough servings of grains, I will get hungry faster since fiber keeps me feeling full longer and faster. At the same time, it also “aids digestion and helps prevent constipation” (Whole Grains Council). In order to have a more balanced diet that contains at least three to five servings of grains per day, I can start by eating more whole grains, especially brown rice. According to Mark Bittman, there are dozens of brown-rice varieties, because “brown” simply means “hulled but not stripped of bran layers.” Since brown rice still has the outer shell of the grain, it contains double the amount of fiber that white rice has. This means that it will keep you full longer.

By mixing brown rice into my diet, I will not only eat more servings of whole grains but also improve my digestive system. The second health risk I face is that I do not eat enough variety of vegetables. In 2010, “only 26 percent of American adults eat vegetables three or more times a day” (Severson). Unfortunately, I belong to the other 74 percent, who do not eat enough servings of vegetables per day even though we have been told to do so since we were children. If I continue with my bad behavior, I might increase my risk of having heart disease and certain types of cancer. Eating enough vegetables will not only increase my health in general, it will also make sure that I get enough intakes of vitamins A and C. In order to consume more servings of vegetables on a daily basis, I should include more varieties of vegetables in my kitchen.

I often get bored from eating the same type of food every day, so I should try out different vegetables and use different recipes to increase the variety of my diet. There are about five groups of vegetables: dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables (ChooseMyPlate.gov). I eat beans almost every other day because I love the texture of how black beans and kidney beans taste. However, I certainly do not eat enough red and orange vegetables like squash and tomatoes. To improve my habit, I plan on making more frequent trips to the grocery store so I can purchase fresh, in-season vegetable off the produce aisle instead of buying frozen or canned vegetables and beans.

Another bad behavior that I have is that I do not have enough intake of vitamin D. “As a species, we do not get as much sun exposure as we used to, and dietary sources of vitamin D are minimal” (Brody). It is difficult to consume enough vitamin D just by eating wild-caught oily fish, fortified milk, cheese, and eggs, etc. If I am vitamin D deficient, I am at risk of “developing colon and breast cancers, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis, as well as immune-system abnormalities that can result in infections” (Brody). To ensure that I do not have vitamin D deficiency, I should start taking vitamin D supplement. I have very sensitive skin and I always wear sunscreen, so I avoid the sun as much as possible unless I am driving or walking to class. I am very likely vitamin D deficient. It is recommended that “all sun-deprived individuals, pregnant and lactating women, and adults older than 50” should take “a daily supplement of 1,000 to 2,000 units” of vitamin D (Brody).

I am also sure that I do not get enough vitamin D from my diet, because I always drink fat-free milk and low-fat cheese. Therefore, I need to get the vitamin from taking supplement. Last but not least, I am at risk of my general health if I do not get a cholesterol level test. A study in 2010 found that “barely half of all young men and women are screened for high LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol” (Rabin). High level of cholesterol can lead to heart disease, which is “a chronic condition that can begin damaging blood vessels at an early age” (Rabin). As a young adult in my early twenties, I should be aware of preventive health care like any other age group. To decrease the risk of having high level of cholesterol, I should watch what I eat. For example, I should eat oatmeal, oat bran, fish, nuts, and other high-fiber foods that will lower my cholesterol level.

Also, now would be the perfect time for me to get my first cholesterol test done, because “the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III recommends screening everyone beginning at age 20” (Rabin). Preventive health care is extremely important to everyone. After taking the RealAge Test, I realized that I should take initiative and watch out for what I put into my body. I have always been concerned with having a healthy diet because of my family’s influence. However, sometimes it is difficult for me to eat enough servings of each food group that are suggested for my age and activity level. I wish that I will be consistent with my healthy habits and at the same time, develop more and better habits over time.

Works Cited
Bittman, Mark. “Brown Rice – Not Just for Hippies Anymore.” The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2011. 13 Feb. 2012. . Brody, Jane. “What Do You Lack? Probably Vitamin D.” The New York Times. 26 July 2010. 13 Feb. 2012. . “How Much Is Enough?” The Whole Grains Council. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. . Rabin, Roni. “Screening: Cholesterol Checks for Young Adults.” The New York Times. 2 Aug. 2010. 13 Feb. 2012. . Severson, Kim. “Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries.” The New York Times. 24 Sept. 2010. 13 Feb. 2012. . “What Foods Are in the Grains Group?” ChooseMyPlate.gov. United States Department of Agriculture. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. . “What Foods Are in the
Vegetable Group?” ChooseMyPlate.gov. United States Department of Agriculture. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. . “Whole Grains: An Important Source of Essential Nutrients.” The Whole Grains Council. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. .

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