How Diet Can Help Prevent and Manage Chronic Diseases
We’ve heard the saying a thousand times: “You are what you eat." And yet many Americans have chronic diseases from what they eat. So maybe it’s time to make some changes to what we eat in order to manage these chronic diseases. Your diet impacts your health on so many levels. It’s undeniable that a well-balanced diet supports an all-around healthy lifestyle. Choosing what to eat and what not to eat are factors in keeping many leading chronic diseases at bay. The food choices you make have a huge impact not only on how you feel today but also tomorrow and all the years to come. The commitment to making smart food choices NOW is what creates and maintains health down the road. A healthy balanced diet can help fight conditions like heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, alzheimer's, cancer, and obesity among many others.
Obesity: The scary truth is that obesity is not only increasing in adults, but also becoming very prevalent in adolescents and children as well. Eating habits that are established in childhood often carry over into adulthood. This is why it’s critical to not only make healthy choices as adults, but also instill good healthy practices in the youth community. Ensuring we have the correct amount of nutrients and vitamins from whole food is key to preventing obesity. Think about eating more food in its natural form (aka from the Earth rather than man made).
Heart Disease: Preventing heart disease has to do with controlling three key components: blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. Eating a healthy diet is the best way to keep these numbers low. Try focusing on a diet that includes lean protein, fruits, veggies (follow the rainbow and choose lots of color), and healthy fats. It is also important to limit sodium, processed foods, and foods that are high in sugar.
Diabetes: Eating a low-sugar, well-balanced diet is the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes. Additional tips for a low-sugar diet would include: decreasing processed carbohydrates such as bread, cookies, pasta, cakes, etc. Another great tool is eating more high-fiber foods such as vegetables, blackberries, beans, and flaxseed.
Cancer: Obesity DOES increase the chance of developing cancer. It’s never too late to change, and luckily there are many foods that can aid in prevention. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, healthy fats, and even green and black tea all help protect against various types of cancer. While there is no single food to prevent cancer, the appropriate combination of vitamins and minerals along with a well-balanced diet can provide solid protection.
Osteoporosis: A diet lacking vitamin D and calcium can contribute to osteoporosis. A diet containing specific types of foods is recommended in order to keep bones healthy and strong. Try including more foods that are high in calcium and foods fortified with vitamin D. Calcium-rich veggies include kale, spinach, okra, and collards.