As Dr. Mark Hyman suggests “the smartest doctor in the room is your own body”; Proper nutrition is the foundation of your healthcare prescription. What you choose to eat has significant impact on your overall health and wellness. Research shows that having an unbalanced diet can raise the risk of many diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

Certain food groups lead to serious chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Globally, seven out of ten deaths are caused due to chronic diseases. In addition, obesity and diabetes have, worryingly started to appear earlier in life.

As chronic diseases are largely preventable optimal eating, routine physical activity and a good healthcare plan is needed. Let’s create a preventive approach to health. Start by understanding the importance of food and its potential for healing.

Think of food as medicine. It is the single most important thing that you can take control of. Paying close attention to what you eat and giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal, will help you build health and reduce the risk of disease by helping the body maintain function.

So where do I start?

Start by considering food as information. Ask yourself: what signal is this food sending my body?

Will consuming this food create and support my health or contribute to the development of an illness. Asking these questions before you eat something can help you choose between which foods to include and avoid in your diet.

Remember to always include foods that are whole and natural and exclude those that have been processed.

  • Eat a variety of foods.

Variety of foods means eating foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, nuts and seeds. Variety also means including various foods within each of these categories. For example, whole grains can be whole wheat, oats, rye, or barley.

Since certain foods contain particular nutrients, eating a variety of different foods allows your body to receive a variety of nutrients. This includes protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber.

  • Increase fruits and vegetables intake.

Fruits and vegetables not only contain vitamins and minerals, but also beneficial phytonutrients. Since a plant cannot move or fight, it is equipped with “phyto,” nutrients that can help defend against disease, weather, and anything that may threaten its survival. When we consume these plants, we also benefit from the protection of phytonutrients. The color of foods indicate phytonutrients. To get a variety of phytonutrients, aim to eat at least five colors of fruits or vegetables a day.

  • Choose whole grains.

Whole grains can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease and improve the health of your gut. Whole grains contain a variety of nutrients. But when a whole grain is processed, it loses the following amounts of nutrient content.

60% of calcium

75% of vitamins

77% of potassium

78% of zinc

85% of magnesium

95% of fatty acids

95% of fiber

Manufacturers fortify the food with nutrients such as B-vitamins since nutrient content is essentially stripped during processing. However, fortification does not compensate for all of the active components in grain. An essential component that gets left out is fiber.

Stay hydrated

Drink water.

Drinking water is one of the most important aspects of maintaining good health. The body is made up of up to 65% water. We need water for absorption, digestion , and transportation of nutrients. Water hydrates the skin, keeping it smooth and soft. It also serves as a solvent for waste and flushes toxins and excess salt from the body. It regulates body temperature and is beneficial in managing hunger. The National Academy of Medicine recommends men to consume roughly 3.0 liters (about 13 cups) of water a day and women to consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of water a day.

Since chronic diseases are largely preventable, a strategy on diet, physical activity and health is required Using food as medicine and making changes in the diet can be extremely helpful in reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases. But remember diet alone should not replace medicine in all circumstances. It is important to speak with a doctor before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.

If you’re looking to manage and reverse your chronic illness, take a look at our UN-CHRONIC Yourself program.

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