A Healthy Community is a Happy Community

Written by: Shannon Ghere

When it comes to health and nutrition, Potrero is struggling like communities all over the world. Obesity is an epidemic among adults and is creeping into the lives of children. Diabetes is becoming more and more common and many people in Potrero are unsure exactly what the disease is or how to address it. It is because of this that the women of the AM women’s group, Mujeres Activas de Potrero (MAP), asked for more information on nutrition. We invited Dr. Judith Lipton to join us at a MAP meeting and share information on nutrition and healthy habits.

Traditional Costa Rican food provides a healthy and balanced diet. The province of Nicoya, just about an hour from Potrero, was named one of the 5 “Blue Zones” in the earth. The five Blue Zones include: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Icaria, Greece. The populations in these regions commonly live active lives over 100 years old and suffer from a small fraction of diseases that commonly plague other communities. While a traditional Costa Rican diet is nutritious and healthy, here in Potrero processed, fatty, salt and sugar heavy foods have filled our shelves and our bellies, creating an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Living in poverty, many families do not have the knowledge or opportunity to change their current path and their children are beginning a similar pattern at a young age.

Dr. Lipton shared healthy eating tips with MAP, taught us how to read product labels effectively, and answered our questions about our own nutrition and child nutrition. She stressed the simple rule that we should all try to follow: Eat like your grandmother ate as she was growing up.

This information can be especially powerful and effective in the hands of women. In an epidemic such as this, the women of MAP can be crucial in changing the eating habits of the community as they are primarily responsible for the food in their households. Dr. Lipton will continue to join MAP to discuss other health related topics in the future including self breast exams and sexual health. Following up on our nutrition class, Dr. Lipton will be joining us early January to help us make healthy New Year’s resolutions and take our weight, measurements, and blood pressure to track our progress each month.

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