Good Nutrition for Long-term Health
You've probably heard the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." When it comes to good health, starting right now with a healthy eating plan is prevention that can lead to much better health outcomes later in life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy eating can reduce the risk of obesity, malnutrition, some cancers and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. Chronic diseases are quickly becoming a global crisis: the World Health Organization points out that by 2020, almost three-quarters of all deaths will be attributed to chronic diseases. Two key elements to combating this concerning health trend are regular physical activity and a diet filled with fresh produce and low in saturated fats.
Eating right for longer life
There are so many diet plans popping up every week that it's hard to know which ones really work best for prevention against chronic diseases. Rather than plunge into fad diets that might actually harm you, it could be better to stick with tried-and-true diets that have shown significant improvements in health.
The American Heart Association recommends a heart healthy diet loaded with things that promote cardiovascular health. Fill up your plate with these great foods:
- Fruits and vegetables: 4.5 cups per day
- Fish: At least two 3.5 ounce servings each week
- Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least four servings each week
Indulge in very minimal amounts of sodium, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks and saturated fats.
An anti-inflammatory diet is also considered an excellent option for good health. A very close cousin of the popular Mediterranean diet, these diet plans can be great for weight management, as well as potentially stopping chronic diseases in their tracks.
According to WebMD, the basic anti-inflammatory diet includes:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Plenty of fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids
- Lots of whole grains, such as brown rice or bran cereals
- Lean protein, such as chicken
- Spices for flavor, such as ginger or curry
The anti-inflammatory diet steers clear of red meats and dairy products, cuts out refined or processed foods, and allows for only a minimal amount of saturated or trans-fats. The anti-inflammatory diet can also be easily modified for those who have specific medical needs, such as gluten allergies or decreased sodium intake.
These two popular healthy eating plans make it clear that a diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fiber can be an excellent way to help preserve your long-term health. Before you embark on any significant diet change, speak to your doctor to make sure these healthy eating options are right for you.
The principles of good health
In addition to a healthy diet loaded with all the good things your body needs, certain lifestyle changes can also help you live a longer, healthier life. Research has shown that engaging in regular physical activity, managing blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight can all contribute to a longer life. If you smoke, now is the time to stop. Limit alcohol intake, as excessive amounts of alcohol have been shown to contribute to some cancers, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Also keep track of your cholesterol, glucose levels and any other health issues that your doctor recommends monitoring.
"Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Road to Good Health," WebMD, Kathleen Doheny, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health
"Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases," World Health Organization Technical Report Series, 2003, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/trs/WHO_TRS_916.pdf
"Focus on Diet's Role in Disease Prevention and Management, says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics," Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, April 2, 2013, http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=6442475705#.UauPuJzwLF9
"Healthy Diet Goals," American Heart Association, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Healthy-Diet-Goals_UCM_310436_SubHomePage.jsp
"Nutrition Resources for Health Professionals," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 21, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/professionals/index.html