Eating Your Way to Health: How Good Nutrition Keeps You Healthy
Numerous studies have shown that most Americans do not eat a healthy diet. In fact, according to the CDC, fewer than 1 in 3 adults and an even lower proportion of adolescents eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day. Yet just as many studies have demonstrated time and again that a balanced and healthy diet helps you to maintain a healthy weight, can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases (including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer), and promotes overall health. Clearly, diet is an important key to health in our modern society.
So What Is Considered a Healthy Diet?
Official dietary guidelines for Americans are jointly issued every 5 years by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Human Health and Services (HHS). These dietary guidelines describe a healthy diet as follows:
- Strong emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat milk and milk products.
- Inclusion of lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Minimal consumption of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt/sodium, and added sugars.
The Connection between Nutrition and Health
The impact of eating a healthful diet (along with including regular physical activity into your daily routine) cannot be understated when it comes to one’s health. A properly balanced diet that steers away from unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar yields several important benefits:
- It helps you to achieve and maintain a weight that’s healthy for you.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as certain forms of cancer.
- It helps strengthen muscles, bones, and joints.
- It elevates both mood and overall energy level.
Good versus Bad Fats
There is a lot of conversation in our society concerning ways in which fat consumption negatively impact diet, but in fact the human body requires some fat to be healthy and strong. Experts agree that what’s most important is not the avoidance of fats but in eating the right kind of fat that is most effective in preventing disease. “Good” or beneficial fats come from plants and fish, rather than animal sources.
A healthy diet gives your body the nutrients it ultimately needs to perform well physically, fight disease, and maintain overall wellness. Americans whose diets include a variety of fresh whole foods (including plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish) have a lower incidence of major chronic disease overall. If you are not sure about your diet, consult your physician, as he or she may have some suggestions about easy ways you can improve it.