Ward Off Chronic Diseases with Diet and Exercise
Ever wonder how does food & exercise impact your health? What about exercise? The link between nutrition, physical activity, and health has been extensively studied. Experts agree that modern diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, stroke, and cancer, are largely due to poor eating habits. Lack of exercise only makes things worse. Surprisingly, exercise is prescribed as medicine in the treatment of over 26 diseases, such as heart failure, coronary heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and depression.
Considering these things, it’s no wonder why health experts recommend an active lifestyle and good nutrition. Yet, most people fail to meet their daily nutrient and exercise requirements. A busy schedule, stress, tiredness, or lack of motivation are common excuses.
Think of exercise and healthy eating as an investment in your health. Serious illness will cost you more. If you need help, search for personal training services in your area. A fitness expert can recommend the best exercises for your needs and keep you safe in the gym.
The Link between Nutrition and Chronic Diseases
Most chronic diseases are largely preventable. A balanced lifestyle that emphasizes exercise and healthy eating is your best defense against stroke, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and obesity. Statistics indicate that about half of Australians are struggling with a chronic disease. One in five suffers from multiple chronic illnesses. These include asthma, type II diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cancer.
In general, these disorders have shared risk factors, including excess body weight, old age, or bad eating habits. What you eat has a direct impact on your health. A diet high in sugar, sodium, and trans fat increases your risk of chronic diseases and early death. Let’s take sugar, for example. This ingredient overloads your liver, affects insulin and leptin signaling, messes up your hormones, and raises uric acid levels. It also disrupts your metabolism, leading to weight gain, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Its side effects shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The average Australian consumes about 14 teaspoons of white sugar per day in the form of soft-drink, energy drinks, fruit juices, and snacks. Sugar consumption among teenage boys is 18 teaspoons per day. A single can of soda can have over 40 teaspoons of sugar. Additionally, many foods contain hidden sugars, such as maltose, dextrose, fructose, maple syrup, and molasses. Ditching this ingredient from your diet can improve your health on every level.
The modern diet is also rich in trans fats. Food manufacturers use this type of fat in their products because it’s cheap and lasts a long time. Several countries worldwide, including Canada and Denmark, have reduced or banned the use of trans fats in restaurants and pubs. These fats clog your arteries, raise cholesterol levels, and increase heart disease risk. They have been also linked with a higher risk of stroke and diabetes. Despite their side effects, they are used in a wide range of foods, from margarine and crackers to diet bars, cookies, and baked goods.
A long-term study has found that women who consumed trans fats regularly had a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack compared to those who only ate these fats occasionally. Research shows that swapping trans fats for polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in salmon, tuna, and olive oil, can lower diabetes risk by a whopping 40 percent. No amount of trans fats is safe for your health. The best thing you can do is to avoid them altogether. Opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, read food labels, and make an informed decision.
Food additives and preservatives aren’t better either. Common ingredients, such as aspartame, sulfites, monosodium glutamate, BHT, and BHT, put you at risk for chronic diseases. Saccharin, one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners, has been shown to cause cancer. Monosodium glutamate, which enhances food flavor, can lead to migraines, arrhythmia, chest pain, allergic reactions, and brain damage. Methyl iodide increases the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
High-fructose corn syrup promotes the accumulation of fat in the liver, damages your immune system, and speeds up aging. It also elevates your risk of metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, and insulin resistance. In the long run, it increases bad cholesterol levels and triggers weight gain.
Other dangerous food ingredients include carrageenan, brominated vegetable oil, Blue #1 and Blue #2, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 80, and propyl gallate.
What about Exercise?
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. A balanced diet can improve your health, but you still need to keep active. Regular exercise helps maintain muscle tone, strengthens your bones, and boosts cardiorespiratory fitness. At the same time, it lowers your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments.
According to health experts, physical activity helps reduce visceral fat, which is often the culprit behind cardiovascular problems. This type of fat surrounds your liver, gallbladder, and other internal organs, keeping them from functioning properly. It also promotes cancer cell growth and raises insulin levels, which further increase your risk of chronic illnesses.
The role of exercise in disease prevention is backed up by science. Studies confirm that people who work out regularly have:
- A 50 percent lower risk of diabetes and colon cancer
- A 35 percent lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease
- A 20 percent reduced risk of breast cancer
- A 30 percent reduced risk of depression
- A 30 percent lower risk of early death
They are also less likely to develop osteoarthritis, dementia, hip fractures, and insulin resistance. Older adults with an active lifestyle have stronger bones and better balance, which lowers their risk of falls.
Even though experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week, you need more than that to maintain your health. Aim for at least three weekly workouts and stay active throughout the day. Seek ways to squeeze fitness into your schedule, such as working out at home, jogging in the morning, or practicing yoga.
Focus on strength training and high-intensity cardio exercises like HIIT and functional training. Do pilates, yoga, or stretching exercises on your off training days. Mix things up to keep your routine varied and prevent plateaus. Eat a well-balanced diet that supports your fitness goals and helps maintain a healthy weight.