Nutrition plays a role in every different disease and can help to prevent these diseases from occurring. There is a lot research coming out and a lot of information on this topic, so in this post I want to focus in on a few key diseases that good nutrition can help prevent. Its difficult to pare down all of the information, so if you have a question about a specific topic, feel free to email me for more information!
Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke- and is the number one cause of death in the US. Nutrition plays a big role in these diseases. Here are a few of the foods to focus on:
These are the really healthy fats that are found in fish, flaxseed, walnuts and even grass fed beef. These fats are essential to get from the food that we eat, and most of the population does not get enough of them. Omega-3 fats help to reduce inflammation- the type of chronic inflammation that can lead to a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and cancer.
Berries are good sources of fiber, which can reduce blood cholesterol levels. They are also good sources of anthocyanins, compounds that can relax the blood vessels-helping to lower blood pressure.
They are rich in monounsatured fats, which are heart healthy fats. Nuts are also good sources of magnesium, which can help to lower blood pressure. Eat a handful of nuts as a snack, add peanut butter or almond butter to a smoothie, or sprinkle some nuts in yogurt in the morning.
Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are packed full of fiber and protein. As discussed earlier, fiber can help to lower the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, as well as triglycerides. Getting protein from legumes a few days a week instead of animal sources can also help to lower saturated fat intake. Studies show that diets high in saturated fats increase the risk for heart disease.
Added Sugar and Trans fats
These are two things to avoid with regards to heart disease. The American Heart Association has even gone so far as to put out their recommendations for the limit for how much added sugar should be in the diet. Added sugar is hidden in a lot of foods, so its important to read ingredient lists to find out if it is in the foods you are buying. Check out this website for other names for added sugar.
Trans fats should also be kept to an absolute minimum in the diet. These fats not only raise “bad” cholesterol, but they also lower “good” cholesterol. They can also be hidden in foods, so its important to read ingredient lists. Food labels are required to list trans fats in the nutrition facts panels, but if a product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, it can be listed as zero. Processed foods still might have some trans fats, so look out for “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient lists to make sure you are not consuming any hidden trans fats.
Cancer is a disease that has many causes different causes, and nutrition is just one piece in the puzzle. It can play a role and can help in prevention of certain types of cancer. Here are some foods that can help in cancer prevention:
This category includes broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, cabbage and brussels sprouts, and research has shown that compounds in these vegetables can help the liver in its process of detoxification. They might also help to prevent cancer cells from proliferating. Studies show that high intakes of cruciferous vegetables may help to lower the risk of colon, lung, prostate and breast cancer.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that is common in curry. There are a lot of studies that show that turmeric can help to reduce inflammation associated with exercise, and recent research also shows that turmeric might inhibit tumor development.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, and its been shown that cooking tomatoes helps to release the lycopene for better absorption.
Fruits and vegetables
Numerous studies show that various compounds in fruits and vegetables can help to lower the risk for cancer. There are a lot of new studies coming out every year that show various compounds in different fruits and vegetables can help to prevent many diseases, including different types of cancer. Studies suggest there may be synergistic effects of eating various fruits and vegetables, so load up on all the different colors!
Julie Cornelius, MS is Co-founder of Potential Energy Training & Nutrition. She has an extensive background in nutrition and graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ with both her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Nutrition. She has worked in fitness studios helping clients achieve their nutrition goals, spent two years teaching college nutrition courses, and was the founder of Julie Bar, an energy bar company. Julie is a long time cyclist and mountain biker who loves being outdoors. Julie helps individuals to meet their nutrition goals, whether it is eating to win an endurance mountain bike race, losing weight, or just eating to be healthier.
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