A healthy eating plan lowers your risk for heart disease and other health conditions. A new study shows how the things you eat can influence your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. The findings suggest ways to change your eating habits to improve your health.
Experts already know that a healthy eating plan includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. A healthy diet also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. It limits saturated and trans-fats, sodium, and added sugars.
NIH-funded scientists analyzed how these 10 dietary factors affect your risk of death from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These are known as cardiometabolic diseases.
The team relied on data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and national mortality data.
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The scientists found that risk of death from the 3 diseases was higher for those who consumed too much sodium, processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and unprocessed red meat. Risk of death was also higher among those who didn’t eat enough nuts and seeds, seafood omega-3 fats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or polyunsaturated fats.
According to the analysis, nearly half (45 per cent) of deaths in 2012 from the 3 diseases was associated with too much or too little of these 10 dietary factors.
“This study establishes the number of cardiometabolic deaths that can be linked to Americans’ eating habits, and the number is large,” explains Dr. David Goff, a heart disease and public health expert at NIH.
“Second, it shows how recent reductions in those deaths relate to improvements in diet, and this relationship is strong. There is much work to be done in preventing heart disease, but we also know that better dietary habits
can improve our health quickly, and we can act on that knowledge by making and building on small changes that add up over time.
According to a Lagos doctor, Sunday Olalekan, the food we eat gives our bodies the “information” and materials they need to function properly. If we don’t get the right information, our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines.
“If we get too much food, or food that gives our bodies the wrong instructions, we can become overweight, undernourished, and at risk for the development of diseases and conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and
heart disease. What we eat is central to our health.
Consider that in light of Webster’s definition of medicine: “The science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease.”
He said: “Food acts as medicine to maintain, prevent and treat disease. The nutrients in food enable the cells in our bodies to perform their necessary functions.”
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According to a study, nutrients are the nourishing substances in food that are essential for the growth, development and maintenance of body functions. Essential meaning, that if a nutrient is not present, aspects of
function and therefore human health decline.
When nutrient intake does not regularly meet the nutrients needs dictated by the cell activity, the metabolic processes slow down or even stop.
Instead of viewing food as the enemy, we look to food as a way to create health and reduce disease by helping the body maintain function.
As a society, we are facing significant health problems. Many researchers now believe that these problems are partly related to diet. While they used to believe that diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, were caused by single gene mutation, they are now generally attributing these conditions to a network of biological dysfunction. And the food we eat is an importance factor in that dysfunction, in part, because of diets lack the necessary balance of nutrients.
Benefits of healthy eating
A well-balanced diet provides all of the energy you need to keep active throughout the day and nutrients you need for growth and repair, helping you to stay strong and healthy and help to prevent diet-related illness.
Keeping active and eating a healthy balanced diet can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Deficiencies in some key nutrients – such as vitamin A, B, C and E, and zinc, iron and selenium – can weaken parts of your immune system.
Type 2 diabetes
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet that’s low in saturated fat and high in fibre found in whole grains can help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy can help to reduce your risk of heart disease by maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
High blood pressure and cholesterol can be a symptom of too much salt and saturated fats in your diet.
Eating a portion of oily fish – such as salmon and trout – each week can also help to lower your risk of developing heart disease. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are good for heart health.
Strong bones and teeth
A diet rich in calcium keeps your teeth and bones strong and can help to slow bone loss (osteoporosis) associated with getting older.
As vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, make sure you get outside (your body gets vitamin D from the sun) and have plenty of foods containing vitamin D in your diet – such as oily fish and fortified cereals.
Eating a healthy diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats, meat and dairy can help you maintain a steady weight. Having a good variety of these foods every day
leaves less room for foods that are high in fat and sugar – a leading cause of weight gain.
Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet in the right proportions can also help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.