Healthy diets, good nutrition and physical activity are the foundation for wellness and necessary for living a long, happy and healthy life. Balancing energy intake through consumption of appropriate foods with the necessary physical activity to maintain a healthy weight is essential at all stages of life. Over consumption of foods high in energy (sugar, starch and/or fat) but low in essential nutrients often results in obesity. The balance between quality food consumption and physical activity can significantly impact the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. You should strive to eat less high-energy or high-calorie foods, especially those high in saturated or trans fats and sugar, prefer unsaturated fat, use less salt, and le physically active; enjoy fruits, vegetables and legumes; and select foods of plant and marine origin.
Diabetes: Obesity and physical inactivity account for the majority of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes leads to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, blindness, and limb amputations. Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight play critical roles in diabetes prevention and treatment. Regular exercise can help insulin (both natural and synthetic) more effectively lower blood sugar levels as well as control your weight and boost your energy. Keep in mind that physical activity lowers blood sugar. If you are a known diabetic, check your blood sugar level before any activity. If you take insulin or diabetes medications you might need to eat a snack before exercising to help prevent huge drops in your blood sugar.
Cardiovascular and Heart Disease: Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke and elevated cholesterol, are in large part due to bad dietary habits and physical inactivity. Risk of heart disease and stroke can be decreased by eating less saturated and trans fats, and sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats, fruits and vegetables, less salt and physical activity along with weight control. Reduction of salt intake helps reduce blood pressure. Regular exercise can help improve overall heart health.
Cancer: Dietary factors play a significant role in certain types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the risk for cancer of the esophagus, colon, rectum, breast, uterus and kidney. Limiting alcohol intake will reduce risk for breast, liver, mouth and throat cancer. Adequate intake of fruits and vegetables also further reduces risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis: Adequate intakes of calcium (at least 500mg per day) and vitamin D (at least 2000 IUs daily) help reduce risk of bone fractures which can be a common complication of osteoporosis. Sun exposure (necessary to help activate vitamin D) coupled with exercise strengthens bones and muscles. Exercise can reduce pain and joint stiffness while maintaining muscle strength in affected joints. Consider taking a warm shower before you exercise as heat can relax your joints and muscles. Also, choose shoes that provide shock absorption and stability when exercising.
Asthma: Exercise can help control the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Depression: Exercise causes endorphin release by the brain and possible weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and increased levels of endorphins elevates your mood and helps you sleep better. In addition, a colorful array of fruits and vegetables elevates your mood.
Dental disease: A large number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cause dental disorders as well as dental disease can lead to other chronic medical diseases and complications. Caries and tooth erosion are preventable by limiting consumption of sugars and dietary acids such as those found in sodas and fruit juices.
For best results in chronic disease prevention and treatment, we must recognize the important and essential role of both diet and exercise in determining wellness and optimal health.