How Diet Affects Disease

 


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What you eat can determine how healthy you are. A nutritionally healthy and complete diet can reduce and even prevent many diseases and conditions including many types of cancer and heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Eating a healthy diet is not as difficult as you may think. Making a few changes in your eating habits can make the difference between good health and poor health.

CANCER AND DIET

It has been proven time and time again that diet is directly related to the incidence of cancer. Because we are inundated with so many choices of food, it is difficult to know what is healthy and what is not. Use the tips listed below to help you.

*FATS – A high fat diet increases the risk of certain types of cancer such as breast and colon. To reduce your cancer risk, cut out fatty meats and frying. Instead, bake, broil, steam or grill. Choose lean cuts of beef and pork and eat more fish and poultry.

*FIBER – A high-fiber diet can reduce the risk for certain types of cancer, especially colon cancer. Good sources of fiber are whole-grain breads, oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, dried beans and legumes, lentils, peas, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, and cauliflower.

*VITAMINS - Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and beta carotene are called phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and are full of antioxidants (they protect the cells from oxidation, a process that leads to cell damage and increases cancer risk). A diet high in these nutrients reduces the risk of developing a number of types of cancer, including stomach, colorectal, esophagus, and lung cancer.

*FRUITS AND VEGETABLES that contain Vitamins A, C, and beta carotene include dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and turnip greens; citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit; and other red and orange fruits and vegetables.

HEART DISEASE AND DIET

Diet is a major factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. Making the changes listed below can lower your risk considerably.

*FIBER – Soluble fiber binds to fats and carries the fats out of the body through the stool. Eating a diet high in soluble fiber reduces the risk of heart disease. Good sources of soluble fiber are oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, dried beans and legumes, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables.

*SATURATED FAT – Eating a diet high in saturated fat causes cholesterol to build up in the arteries, forcing the arteries to harden and narrow. The increased pressure in the arteries causes a strain on the heart greatly increasing the risk for heart disease. Additionally, saturated fat increases the risk for obesity, another risk factor for heart disease.

*FOODS LOW IN SATURATED FAT include fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Avoid butter, margarine, Crisco, animal fats, high fat dairy products, and commercially baked goods such as crackers and cookies.

*EAT A DIET HIGH IN MONOUNSATURATED FATS. Olive oil is the best followed by hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, and avocado. Monounsaturated fats lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease.

CANCER AND ALCOHOL:

Regular intake of alcohol increases the risk of developing liver cancer. The liver metabolizes alcohol. Continued use of alcohol can cause a fatty liver, resulting in cirrhosis of the liver.

The overuse of alcohol is also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Studies have determined that women who drink more than one alcoholic drink per day develop cancer at a significantly higher rate.

The old adage that says you are what you eat has never been more true than it is today with the overwhelming choices of food available. Unfortunately, most of the foods available are over-processed and stripped of their nutritional goodness. Watch what you eat. You will be healthier and feel better.

Chris Chenoweth, author of the DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME, HEALTH & MONEY GUIDE, writes articles pertaining to diet, exercise, health, and business.

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