How a Healthy Diet Can Protect You From Disease?
The word diet can mean different things for different people. Finding the best way forward can also uncover a lot of anxiety. Studies have shown, that a healthy diet can protect you from disease.
There are many reasons behind why someone should engage in a healthier diet. Primarily, a healthy diet helps give your body the edge when fighting off potential diseases. A quick juice cleanse, or incorporating one or more of the thousands different supplements offered into your diet, to any other number of popular get trim quick schemes that have been flogged for decades now just won’t cut it.
Currently, around 35% of Australian adult have some kind of metabolic syndrome (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au). Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2017, 1.2 million people have diabetes, 432,400 Australians had cancer and diseases of the circulatory system attributed to 27% of all deaths in Australia.
The connection between a balanced diet and a strong immune system is clear. Aside from medicine, a healthy diet is one of your best defences against many viruses and diseases, including dangerous and life-threatening infections like COVID-19.
So this begs the question, how can a healthy diet protect you from disease?
The development of chronic disease naturally happens over time and with four common behaviour factors linking to an increase risk. These factors include: smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and harmful use of alcohol.
A healthy diet, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can protect the human body against certain types of diseases. It can also lower your risk of getting certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and types of cancers (www.healthlinkbc.ca/).
Breaking down these common chronic diseases in detail, and the role diet may play in their prevention and management.
Heart disease, including heart failure is the number one cause of death among adults aged 65 and older (https://www.medibank.com.au/).
Reduce your risk of heart disease, by replacing energy intake from saturated and trans (‘bad fats’) in your diet with unsaturated (‘good fats’) (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au).
Furthermore, The Heart Foundation recommends including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, skim and low-fat dairy products, and low-fat meat or meat alternatives are the foundation of a heart-healthy diet. Dietary fat is a nutrient of concern because of its link to an increased risk of heart disease. Foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better for the heart than foods high in saturated fats.
People living with diabetes have no restrictions surrounding food or drink. Individuals are encouraged to eat the same healthy, balanced diet recommended for everyone.
Controlling blood sugar is the diabetes treatment for all diabetics. Australian Dietary Guidelines for Adults recommends incorporating a wide variety of nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables, legumes, protein and dairy (www.diabetessa.com.au).
Food and drinks that contain carbohydrates have the biggest effect on your blood glucose levels. This is because carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and enters your bloodstream. It is important that individuals living with diabetes choose nutrient-rich carbohydrate foods such as wholegrains and starchy vegetables over carbohydrate foods that are high in added sugars, fats or salt, such as sugary food and drink (www.ndss.com.au).
A healthy lifestyle and diet focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains it is possible to reduce cancer risks. Eating a diet that contains plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, grains and legume and limiting red meat to less than 455g (cooked weight) a week (www.cancerqld.org.au) .
It is also critical to focus on your alcohol intake alongside your food. Alcohol is classified as a type 1 carcinogen – a known substance that causes cancer (www.cancerqld.org.au). Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of an alcohol-related cancer. To reduce your cancer risk, Cancer Council Queensland recommends that you limit how much alcohol you drink. If you choose to drink alcohol, Cancer Council recommends drinking within the NHMRC Australian Guidelines. Following these guidelines will help you to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol.
As you can see, a healthy body is more than just your diet and a healthy body comes in all different shapes and sizes. It is important to know your body and how you can best look after it (with the guidance of you GP, of course). In today’s environment and the looming threat of the global pandemic, a holistic approach to health is crucial because only a healthy body and mind will give you the tools you need to ward off potential diseases. The holistic approach includes mental and your physical wellbeing.
A Holistic Health Approach
A holistic health approach includes, but not limited to:
- Get enough sleep
- Allow yourself to get enough sun exposure or take D3 vitamins
- Stay active by trying to incorporate some cardio and weight exercises into your weekly routine – but make sure you’re careful
- Drink in moderation, if at all
- Don’t smoke
- Take care of your social relationships
- Prioritise your mental wellbeing, and
- Try to keep a healthy work–life balance
It is important to pay attention to diet quality. Meeting the recommended intakes for protective nutrients will go a long way in reducing the burden of chronic disease that we face