In today’s world, we have access to a wider variety of food than at any other point in human history. However, the irony is that we have picked up unhealthy eating habits that have led to the proliferation of diseases of civilization, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.
Your food choices each day play an impact on your health – how you feel today, how you will feel tomorrow, and far into the future. Why? The food we eat gives our body the materials and ‘information’ that ensure its proper functioning.
When the food we consume lacks all the necessary nutrients, some important information is not sent and it may result in several deficiencies. On the other hand, eating too much or consuming unhealthy sends the wrong message which leads to abnormal metabolic processes that can result in overweight and a couple of other diseases like diabetes.
These nutrients are the so-called ‘information’. Nutrients are nourishing substances essential for the growth, development, and maintenance of bodily functions. That’s why the role of nutrition cannot be overemphasized.
This post is going to explore the relationship between nutrition and some major chronic diseases.
Nutrition and Chronic Diseases
Many of the chronic health problems we face today can be linked to unhealthy eating habits. In America, over 78% of healthcare expenditures are for the treatment of chronic diseases. This is a fundamental societal problem considering that the United States ranks ninth in life expectancy among nations of the developed world. One major impact of poor nutrition in America is that we have a workforce plagued with absenteeism and reduced productivity due to chronic diseases.
Here are some of the major diseases we battle with as a society and now they can be ameliorated with proper nutrition.
Do you know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of both men and women in America, killing about 647,000 people each year? Aside from unchangeable risk factors like age, and family history, it can also be caused by correctable problems like unhealthy diet, being overweight, lack of exercise, and smoking.
Heart disease results from the narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart with blood through a process known as atherosclerosis. Diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol increases the risk of blood clotting. Diets rich in sodium can cause high blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease. Consuming alcohol increases the chance of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Here are some healthy eating habits to adopt to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Pay attention to your calorie intake: Watch your calorie intake to ensure that you maintain a healthy weight, as obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. And by the way, about 40% of American adults are obese.
Do not consume food that is high in saturated and trans fat.
Limit red meat intake: Someone with a risk for heart disease should not obtain their protein from red meat. Rather, poultry, fish, and nuts are great alternatives. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help lower the risk of coronary artery disease.
Avoid Sugar: Simple sugar in beverages like soda and juice should be avoided as they provide no nutrients but add calories.
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that over 100 million U.S. adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes. And as it stands, diabetes is the 7th in the leading causes of death in the United States.
Diabetes is caused when the body produces an insufficient amount of insulin or the body is unable to properly make use of the produced insulin. These two scenarios result in type 1 and type 2 diabetes respectively.
Many factors including genetics, exercise, and more influence diabetes, but food also plays a crucial role. A diet high in fat, calories, and cholesterol increases the risk of diabetes and other health problems.
Some eating advice that should be adopted by people with diabetes and people that want to lower their risk factor of having diabetes include:
Pay attention to the fat you consume: People with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease. By limiting the amount of saturated and trans fat consumed, it significantly lowers their risk of heart attack and stroke.
Drastically limit red meat intake: plant-based protein sources like beans should be adopted, as well as poultry, eggs, and seafood.
Eat nutritious grains: Foods like whole oats, quinoa, whole-grain barley, and whole-grain popcorn (without butter) are healthy food choices.
Fruits are a must: To satisfy your sugar cravings, do so with fruits; preferably fresh fruits.
Eat nutrient-filled vegetables: Non-starchy veggies like broccoli, onion, green beans, and tomatoes are low in calories and carbohydrates, making them suitable for diabetics.
Most people are surprised when they find out that the food they eat may affect their breathing. Well, when you think about it, the food serves as the fuel of the body; meaning it is responsible for providing the required nutrients to all body organs; including the lungs.
For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammation in the lung that causes breathing problems, certain types of food can exacerbate their condition. Therefore, eating well is important. Overeating results in obesity which increase the pressure in the lungs.
Here are some nutrition tips for people diagnosed with COPD:
Eat complex carbohydrate: It can be found in foods like whole grains, fresh fruits, and veggies.
Simple carbohydrates found in soda, sweets, and candy should be avoided.
Incorporate between 20 to 30 grams of fiber into your daily diet: Foods rich in fiber include nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables.
Increase protein intake to strengthen the respiratory muscles.
Diets high in trans and saturated fat should be limited: Some example includes butter, crackers, and hydrogenated vegetable oil.
In reality, there a whole lot of other diseases that can be caused by poor nutrition. Some include:
- Tooth decay
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
- Depression… and lots more.
Paying close attention to the food you consume can go a long way in helping you live a long and healthy life. Reach out to us today for more information.