Poor nutrition can have far-reaching effects on our health and ability to avoid and survive illnesses. It can also affect the quality of life and the impact of health costs. By eating a healthy diet, you can reduce the risk of developing many health problems across your lifetime. Chronic diseases are of particular concern because of how long they can last and the severe damage they can cause. About 6 in 10 adults in the US suffer from some form of chronic disease. Some of the most common types afflicting populations include:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths in the US and are becoming an increasing burden on developing countries. By making healthier food choices and practising portion control, people can reduce the risk of developing such conditions. Here is how nutrition can be used to address specific health problems and improve the wellbeing of society.
Reduces Cancer Risk
Certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients have been found to reduce the risk of developing some cancers. Antioxidant-rich foods help protect against cell damage that can lead to certain cancers. Foods that are high in vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium have been found to boost antioxidant levels and help combat this damage.
Vitamins A, B, D, and K, calcium, and iodine are also beneficial. High fibre foods aid in proper digestion and encourage good bacteria in the gut that reduces the risk of certain cancers. Highly processed and salty foods and burnt foods have been found to increase the risk of certain cancers including bowel and stomach cancer. It is advised to limit salt intake and opt for lower-temperature cooking methods.
Controls Heart Disease Risk Factors
The food you eat can influence whether you develop chronic heart disease and how well the condition is managed for sufferers. Heart disease is characterized by the build-up of plaque on the walls of arteries, causing them to become narrowed and the heart to work harder in pumping blood throughout the cardiovascular system. At its worst a blockage can occur, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Those that are overweight with a high BMI and waist size are considered particularly vulnerable. Having high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels also contributes. Diet can be used to correct this problem by aiding weight loss, better regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Making smarter food choices and developing a healthy diet plan is made easier thanks to resources like Nutrition Realm. Here you can discover the nutritional profile of various foods and supplements, and discover an array of recipes you can try to add more variety and tastiness to a healthy diet.
Improves Gut Health
A healthy gut is important to your overall health. It is through the digestive tract that the body absorbs nutrients and water while preventing the entry of toxins and eliminates waste. Much of our immunity is dependent on the state of our gut. A failure anywhere along the line can expose you to serious infection that can lead to pain and inflammation, amongst other symptoms. A healthy diet can ensure your gut remains in good working order and that beneficial bacteria thrive.
A diet rich in fibre helps support this system by promoting better digestion. It also encourages healthy bowel movements and regulates pH balance that contributes to good bacteria flourishing. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and beans also help encourage healthy microbiomes. Fermented foods can be a rich probiotic source that is also beneficial. Overall, a diverse diet, rich in plant-based foods works best.
Supports Strong Bones and Teeth
While a well-balanced diet is best for growing and maintaining strong teeth and bones, calcium and vitamin D are of particular note. Calcium must be absorbed from foods and needs vitamin D to facilitate that absorption. Vitamin D primarily comes from sun exposure, but can also be found in oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, and various fortified foods. Good sources of calcium include:
- Dairy foods like milk, yoghurt and cheese
- Green leafy vegetables like kale
- Calcium-fortified juices and cereals
With nutrient-dense food choices, much can be done to reduce the burden of chronic and other diseases on communities. Eating a varied and nutritious diet should, however, also be balanced with an active lifestyle and limiting the consumption of alcohol and smoking. Healthier lifestyles allow people to achieve happier and more fulfilling lives without the constant worry of illnesses that are difficult and costly to manage and cure.
Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay