What is a Healthy Diet?

We are bombarded with information on what to eat on a daily basis.

Misinformation from companies trying to flog you something, contradictory findings from research studies, media reports and the latest fad, can leave us feeling confused.

One thing is for surewe need calories to sustain life and our bodily functions. The underlying issue is that foods that supply these calories can influence the risk of developing chronic conditions, which range from heart disease and cancer to osteoporosis, inflammation, auto-immune diseases and age-related illness.

We are still learning a lot about the role of specific nutrients in decreasing the risk of chronic disease, however a large body of evidence supports healthy dietary patterns that emphasize whole-grain foods, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, and that limit refined starches, red meat, full-fat dairy products, and foods and beverages high in added sugars.

Such diets have been associated with decreased risk of a variety of chronic diseases.

Food and Nutrition is just one approach to preventing illness. Limiting caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight and exercising regularly are other essential strategies.

Regular movement and exercise is beneficial to both your physical and mental health. Having a supportive group or community of like minded people can encourage you and keep you accountable to showing up!

Check out how functional movement and group classes can benefit you http://www.crossfitfeelgood.com.au/ (they offer a 1 week free trial)

Data from the Nurses’ Health Study (referenced) show that women who followed a healthy lifestyle pattern that includes eating wholefoods, exercising regularly, reducing calorie intake and not smoking were 80% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease over a 14-year period compared to all other women in the study.

A companion study, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (referenced) showed that similar healthy choices were beneficial in men, even among those who were taking medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol.

Focus on eating wholefoods

Wholefoods are foods that are either unprocessed or processed as little as possible, before being consumed. Examples of whole foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables.

 “Eat more fruits and vegetables” is timeless advice that has the backing of a large body of evidence.

Vegetables and fruits provide fibre, slowly digested carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and numerous phytonutrients that have been associated with protection against cardiovascular disease and maintenance of bowel function.

Vegetables should be consumed in abundance, which means a minimum of five servings a day—and more is better.

Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Willett WC. Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med. 2000;343(1):16–22.

Chiuve SE, McCullough ML, Sacks FM, Rimm EB. Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications. Circulation. 2006;114(2):160–7. ls

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