Leading nutrition specialists and physicians are repeatedly discussing the role that nutrition has in preventing illness and disease. But sometimes this can feel easier said than done. You find yourself asking: “What does ‘eating well’ actually entail? And how do I know which specific foods and nutrients will help prevent disease?”
It’s actually more simple than you might think. The answer may seem too good to be true, but eating a healthy, balanced diet can be one of the most powerful but easy ways to protect your body from disease.
Here’s a look at why it’s recommended to use good nutrition for disease prevention and what you can do to make healthier choices.
Why Good Nutrition Matters to Your Health
Many health professionals describe food with the metaphor of a car needing fuel to keep its engine running. In the human body, food is the equivalent of that fuel. This explains why it’s important to eat a healthy number of calories each day to keep your body energized and strong.
Although food keeps our engines running, it also plays a chemical role in our bodies that the car metaphor doesn’t quite address. The quality and quantity of food you’re using to fuel your body can have a significant impact on your overall health.
What Diet Best Prevents Disease?
While individual dietary needs vary, there is a strong consensus in the nutritional health community that a diet built upon whole fruits and vegetables with informed meat, fat, carbohydrate and sugar choices is a healthy one.
Reducing and removing processed foods, including fast food and boxed or manufactured groceries, is a significant way to limit your consumption of sodium and nutritionally superficial food. Swap these options out for nutritionally-dense vegetables, fruits, meats and natural fats whenever possible. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, an anti inflammatory diet that reduces or eliminates grains, dairy and sugar can also help you achieve your best health.
How to Make the Best Choices for Your Health
Many people simply hope that they won’t develop a chronic illness in their lifetime–but you can do more than just hope. You can make simple, daily nutritional changes to help prevent illnesses and alleviate or reduce the symptoms of illnesses you have already developed.
Some Common Chronic Diseases
Diabetes: The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes, which is a lifestyle related type of diabetes, is to eat a low-fat, well-balanced diet. Other diet tips include decreasing fat consumption to less than 30 per cent of calories and saturated fat consumption to less than 10 per cent of calories. Adding high-fiber foods to a diet regimen is also important to preventing this lifelong condition.
Obesity: Sadly, obesity has become the scourge amongst most kids and teens. Dietary habits that are established in childhood more often than not carry over into adulthood. This is why it’s critical to instill good diet and nutrition practices in today’s youth. Making sure children have the correct amount of nutrients and foods from major food groups is key to preventing obesity and all the related diseases.
Heart Disease: Keeping one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and weight under control are main components to preventing heart disease. Healthy eating habits are a way to keep these numbers balanced. Focusing on a diet of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and proteins, as well as limiting sodium and foods that are high in calories are good rules of thumb.
Cancer: Obesity increases the odds of developing cancer, and luckily there are many foods that can aid in its prevention. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, whole grains and even green and black tea all help protect against various types of cancer. While no single food is a sure way 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. In order to keep bones healthy and strong, a diet containing specific types of foods is recommended. This includes low fat versions of foods that are high in calcium, and those fortified with vitamin D. Calcium fortified products, like orange juice, cereals and soy-based foods are a good way to increase calcium in a diet.