Simply put, a healthy diet reduces the risk for disease and premature death. A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables and fish. The diet avoids toxins found in processed foods and is balanced in terms of calories and energy expenditure. Healthy food allows the body to receive the proper nutrients to function well and gives the person energy and vitality. The experts at the Harvard School of Public Health state that what a person eats is one of the most important things a person can do to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent illness and disease.
In a 2005 article called "Effects of Exercise and Diet on Chronic Disease" it was reported that chronic illnesses in Western society are increasing and are now the leading causes of death in the modern world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. state that the top three killers in America are heart disease, cancer and stroke as of 2007. The 2005 article also states that these chronic diseases are based on three main factors including genetics, diet, and physical activity levels. They state that most people have the perception that genes cause chronic disease, but they state that the genetic factors are heavily influenced by the environment and lifestyle that the person lives and not solely based on genes. Simply put, this means that if someone has a family history of disease, they do not necessarily have the same destiny if they make appropriate lifestyle changes.
Nutrition and Diet
A healthy diet provides the human body with the raw materials needed to build healthy cells and allow healthy cell function. The elements of a healthy diet include natural foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, water, whole-grains, and an avoidance of processed foods with preservatives and chemicals inside. The Harvard School of Public Health states that eating a healthy diet is straightforward and easy. They recommend, in addition to the suggestions above, including healthy fats like olive and canola oil as well as eating red meat and unhealthy fats, like saturated and trans fats, sparingly.
The Harvard School of Public Health states that a healthy diet is essential to good health and must build upon a foundation of exercise and physical activity. They mention that one key benefit of eating healthy and exercising is the ability to maintain a healthy body weight, which can reduce the risk for many diseases. The article, "Effects of Exercise and Diet on Chronic Disease," states that a poor diet has been known for years to play a key role as risk factor for chronic diseases, but that diet, although critical to prevention, is just one risk factor. They concur with Harvard that physical activity must be included as a component of a healthy diet.
Chronic diseases develop over time and are the cumulative effect of lifestyle choices, stress, and genetics. Many times the disease takes years to manifest clinically. The health benefits of eating healthy are clear. They include more energy, a healthy body weight, and a lowered risk for disease, but perhaps the biggest benefit is the benefit of preventing a life filled with chronic disease and early death.
If getting started on a healthy diet seems challenging, you may contact a dietitian that can help plan out proper food choices and help with any difficulties that may cause problems with sticking to the plan. If a dietitian is not an option then an easy way to begin eating healthier is to start by adding at least one serving of fresh fruits or vegetables to each meal. Gradually include more fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices to the meals and be sure to engage in daily physical activity.