"We are unnecessarily wasting our precious resources in wars... if we must wage war, we have to do it on unemployment, disease, poverty and backwardness." -Atal Bihari Vajpayee
In 2013, in the UK alone, 506,790 deaths were registered. The reasons for death were varied but the most common causes were cancer, causing 29% of deaths, followed by diseases of the circulatory system (heart disease or heart attacks) killing 28% and diseases of the respiratory system (influenza, pneumonia) accounting for 15% of registered deaths.
These statistics are very sad. It is never very enjoyable talking about death but this depressing reality faces us all.
A positive fact, however, is that people are living longer than ever before with men in the UK living to an average of 79.5 years of age and women living longer at 83.1 years of age. Nevertheless, the extra time lived is usually spent in poor health due to bad alimentation and eating habits.
However, hope is not lost! There are many things we can all do to make sure that our last years are truly golden ones.
Many diseases can be prevented by a healthy diet and lifestyle. There are various foods that contribute to vitality and strength during the senior years.
As a young person, now is the time to make sure that you will age healthily and gracefully. Superprof is here to offer tips about a healthy diet that can prevent unwanted diseases.
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Why Eating Healthy Prevents Diseases
I'm positive that you have heard this over and over again: eating well favourably affects your diet.
Let's look at 3 reasons how eating the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients contribute to better health:
- Prevents Obesity: how is someone considered obese? Well, if a person's Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 they are observed as overweight. Obesity is claimed if someone's bodyweight 20% higher than it should be. Unfortunately, in 2016, 26% of adults in the UK were assessed as obese. This is a serious issue because being obese makes you prone to many diseases and conditions at a young age such as strokes, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis etc. Eating too many added sugars and saturated fats make the body heavier weakening the bones and having your organs work extra hard. A healthy diet of the correct fruits, veggies and proteins can prevent these sad causes.
- Healthy Nutrients Affect Different Parts of the Body: without the correct amounts of calcium, your bones can become brittle and weak which will in the future cause osteoporosis. Intaking the correct nutrients gives your body the stuff it needs.
- Healthy Diets Enhance Better Cholesterol: if you ingest too many saturated fats and processed foods in your diet you will be more prone to having high blood pressure and high cholesterol, of the bad kind. Both of these conditions lead to higher risks of cardiovascular diseases. However, the more healthy foods you eat the higher your "good" cholesterol levels will be. This will help your body fight against diseases in style.
There is no doubt about it, healthy diets make healthy people and healthy persons can fight against life-threatening diseases more effectively.
It is crucial to start a healthy lifestyle from your youth onwards. This is true because it can be harder to implement new foods into your diet when you are older.
What foods might one include in their diet to prevent disease?
Let's have a look!
Foods that Fight Against Cancer
The consumption of many superfoods can prevent and fight against the spread of diseases like cancer.
What is a superfood?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a superfood as a food that is rich in compounds such as antioxidants, fibre or fatty acids, considered to be beneficial to a person's health.
The earth has many nutritious foods and plants that can prevent and lower the spread of cancer. There are more than 100 types of cancers, in the world today, killing millions each year.
Therefore, let's take a look at what superfoods we need to include in our diets to avoid the deadly threats of cancer:
- Alfalfa Sprouts: a small portion of these greens has less than 10 calories. Basically fat-free and contains phytochemicals called saponins. Such chemicals have been discovered to fight against cancer. They can be eaten in a simple salad or on top of a black-bean burger.
- Pumpkins: delicious in a hearty soup on a cold fall day. These beautiful orange globes are high in fibre and pack with beta-carotene which dramatically reduces the risk of lung cancer.
- Spinach: delicious when tossed in a salad with cranberries and a low-fat vinaigrette. Many scientists have come to find that the antioxidants in spinach can fight against a great level of cancers such as ovarian, breast and colon.
- Oranges: a small orange, maybe the size of a baseball provides your entire intake of Vitamin C, which is a strong immunity booster and cancer fighter. A large glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice never sounded so good!
- Apples: of all fruits, apples are the greatest source of pectin. What is pectin? It's a soluble fibre that has many health benefits including the ability to decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers.
Cancer is a nasty disease. However, with the right diet and food items, it can be prevented and slowed down.
All of the aforementioned foods are delicious, flavourful and easily found in any supermarket. Maybe you are already eating most of these daily!
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Foods that Fight Against Cardiovascular Diseases
Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, strokes, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure are all cardiovascular conditions and diseases are suffered by many UK citizens.
Some of these conditions are genetic but others can be avoided following a strict diet of healthy foods.
Here are some high nutrient foods that fight against heart conditions:
- Avocados: deliciously spread onto a whole wheat toast with a poached egg, an avocado a day will keep the heart specialist away! They are so super because they are free of cholesterol, rich in healthy fats and great for a healthy heart.
- Cranberries: notorious for helping those with urinary tract infections but they also improve the levels of blood cholesterol and aid in the recovery from a stroke. Simply add them into your infused water or enjoy them in a low-fat tart.
- Papayas: a small portion of papaya gives you your entire daily requirement of vitamin C. Filled with other vitamins like A and E, very powerful antioxidants that fight against heart disease. Papaya smoothies are really great!
- Quinoa: readily used in South American cooking, this superfood known as the "mother of all grains" by the ancient civilization of Incas is a complete protein with many benefits. Consuming dietary fibre such as quinoa reduces the risks of high blood pressure and heart attack.
- Sweet Potatoes: very tasty with melted butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. These orange beauties have properties of Vitamin C and B6 which prevents clogged arteries.
- Walnuts: a quarter cup of walnuts enjoyed in a yoghurt parfait or trail mix has the recommended daily amount of omega-3 fatty acids which can prevent the risk of many diseases and conditions including cholesterol and blood pressure.
When you know what to eat and how to prepare it, a healthy lifestyle is easy to attain!
If you are used to eating chips, fried fish and cookies transitioning to healthy food can seem like a bit of a bore. However, you'd be surprised about how many delicious recipes are at your disposal.
The Heart Foundation's website has quick, healthy and delicious recipes for your heart. The preparation and cook time varies from 15-40 minutes.
You only have one heart, take care of it well!
Powerfoods to Beat Diabetes
Controlling your blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes is as simple as eating the right stuff.
Heart disease is twice as likely to strike those who are suffering from diabetes than those who are not, according to the American Diabetes Association.
This fact is a little scary and needs to be avoided, so here are some delicious food options to choose from that combat the dangerous and damaging effects of diabetes:
- Cold-water fish: salmon, sardines and mackerel are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that fight against artery-clogging cholesterol and raise the levels of "good cholesterol." These fish can be enjoyed lightly grilled on the BBQ with a few nourishing vegetables. BBQ season just got a whole lot more interesting!
- Legumes: from chickpeas to lentils, all legumes can be enjoyed in fresh salads or ethnic dishes such as curry. They are rich in fibre which research reveals slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream which prevents sugar spikes that can worsen diabetes blood sugar levels.
- Green Tea: research has proven that chronic inflammation caused by foods that are high in fats can be reduced through daily consumption of green tea. This happens because green tea is filled with flavonoids that fight inflammation. This tip needs to be taken into consideration because high-inflammation thwarts the body's ability to absorb blood sugar.
- Leafy Greens: kale, spinach and collard greens are delicious in salads or lightly sauteed in a pan with olive oil. Not only are they savoury but they have properties of lutein which is good for the eyes. This can help people with diabetes who are suffering from eye problems, a complication of this horrible disease.
- Chocolate: kind of an oxymoron knowing that diabetics should not consume too many sugars. Nevertheless, we are not talking here about white or milk chocolate but dark chocolate with at least a 70% level of cocoa. It has been discovered that dark chocolate improves insulin sensibility, essential for treating type 2 diabetes. We are not encouraging a diet purely of chocolate but once and awhile won't kill you!
If you already have or are at risk of developing diabetes it is highly recommended to inculcate these different food items into your diet. Diabetes can drastically change your life. Preventative measures need to be applied.
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Prevention of Foodborne Illnesses
Not only will a healthy diet prevent diseases and infections but the way food is handled makes a great difference too.
Every year, millions of British citizens contract foodborne illnesses with many even being hospitalized and dying.
These illnesses are easily contracted from contaminated water or food. Proactive measures need to be taken in order to avoid these deadly infections.
If you are eating all the necessary vegetables, fruits and proteins that prevent diseases from spreading, that is very commendable. However, the foods must be fresh, cooked and cleaned well and separated to prevent cross-contamination.
Taking these preventative measures will save your health and maybe even your life!
There you have it, now you know the benefits of a healthy diet to prevent diseases. Your health is too precious to spend your days eating foods that will harm you in the long run. If you take into account what you learnt, the length of your days will be long and filled with health!
Definitions for Disease Prevention
What exactly is diabetes?
We've all heard about this disease but perhaps we do not understand what it entails. There are two types of diabetes, 1 and 2 in which the body's ability to produce insulin is impaired resulting in high levels of glucose and sugars in the blood.
A good diet can help with: