Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
Many of us grew up with the idea that the doctor knows best, and we needed to follow medical orders, no questions asked. Today, more and more people are looking for a different kind of relationship with their healthcare provider, whether that provider is a physician, nurse practitioner, or integrative therapy professional.
Instead of acting as a passive recipient, many people now see themselves as active participants in the purchase and application of healthcare. They are selecting skilled professionals to be part of their healthcare team, and they want to partner with these providers.
It is important to recognize that this new partnership model of care requires a change in both you and your healthcare provider. If you have expectations of an equal relationship, you must communicate this to your provider. Open communication and collaboration with your provider requires you to participate fully in the process.
Even for people at a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death. These include heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. By making smart food choices, you can help protect yourself from these health problems.
The risk factors for adult chronic diseases, like hypertension and type 2 diabetes, are increasingly seen in younger ages, often a result of unhealthy eating habits and increased weight gain. Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of health. You will likely get your blood pressure checked at every doctor appointment. Many drug stores have blood pressure machines in their waiting areas so people can track their blood pressure.
Limit your intake of fat, especially saturated fat. Reducing the amount of fats, you consume may lower your blood pressure and promote weight loss, which further reduces hypertension. Another reason to control the amount and type of fat that you eat is that high blood pressure increases the risk of arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Limit saturated fats that are in animal products such as the fat in meats, butter, cheese and whole milk products. Use monounsaturated fats such as canola oil and olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats including safflower oil, sunflower oil and soy oil in moderation.
Dietary habits established in childhood often carry into adulthood, so teaching children how to eat healthy at a young age will help them stay healthy throughout their life.
The link between good nutrition and healthy weight, reduced chronic disease risk, and overall health is too important to ignore. By taking steps to eat healthy, you’ll be on your way to getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, active, and strong. As with physical activity, making small changes in your diet can go a long way, and it’s easier than you think!
Studies also suggest that increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products may help reduce blood pressure. The nutritional value of a person’s diet depends on the overall balance of foods that is eaten over a period of time, as well as on the needs of the individual. A healthy diet is likely to include a variety of foods, from each of the main food groups, as this allows us to get all the nutrients that we need.
Article by Vera Shawiza.