Your diet provides the necessary building blocks for the body to produce energy and maintain good health. A good diet, therefore, is the foundation of good health. Your food choices can have a significant impact on how well your body functions. Deficiencies can impair life processes such as wound healing and metabolism. Likewise, some choices can increase your risk of disease. Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a blueprint for making healthy choices.
Prevent Heart Disease
Your diet gives you a way to control your risk of heart disease by making healthy food choices. Fat is an ideal example. Your body needs fat to survive. However, you can prevent heart disease and reduce your risk by making better choices in the fat you include in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends choosing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats rather than saturated fats such as butter. Doing so will help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol. LDL increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. It is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Maintain Healthy Weight
The foods you choose can have a profound impact on weight maintenance. For example, reducing or eliminating empty calories found in foods with added sugars can help reduce your caloric intake and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars make up about 16 percent of the average American's diet, well over the recommended 10 percent. Many of these foods offer little nutritional value while contributing to weight gain. Being overweight increases your risk of developing a host of chronic health conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure.
Increased Diabetes Risk
Your diet can also affect your risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes describes a condition where the body is unresponsive to the effects of insulin on blood sugar. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. Your food choices affect your chances in two ways. Bad choices including sugary foods and high-fat foods can increase your weight. They can also lead to blood sugar spikes. Without the control that insulin provides, these spikes can lead to diabetic coma and possible death.
Nutrients found in the foods you eat provide the raw materials for the chemical reactions responsible for proper body function. If you choose to include inadequate amounts of fruits in your diet, you risk developing chronic health conditions, such as scurvy from low vitamin C intake. Insufficient vegetable intake can lead to fiber deficiencies. Dietary fiber is essential for controlling cholesterol and maintaining the health of the digestive system. Your food choices can control your quality of life and your life expectancy.
- American Heart Association; Fats and Oils: AHA Recommendation; September 2010
- American Heart Association; Know Your Fats; May 2011
- USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 -- Foods and Food Components to Reduce
- American Diabetes Association: Making Healthy Food Choices
- American Diabetes Association: Hyperglycemia (High Blood Glucose)
- Mayo Clinic; Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet; November 2009