12 May Life-Style part 2
This month, we are focusing on taking an active role in the LIFE that we want to live and the STYLE of living that promotes the quality of life that we are aiming for. We’ve all heard that genetics and lifestyle are two big factors in determining a person’s risk for chronic conditions such as hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart disease), and the list goes on.
When we talk about lifestyle factors as they relate to our health, the big three are diet, physical activity, and smoking. Let’s begin with diet.
Contrary to what culture and media tell us, “diet” is not something you “get on and get off” or “start tomorrow.” Rather, “diet” simply means the food and beverages we fuel our body with. As a result, each one of us has a unique diet full of unique preferences and tastes. So what makes our diet an important factor and determinant of our health? Well, as we mentioned, the food we eat and the beverages we drink serve to fuel our body. And so, our intake determines the quality of nutrition that we are giving our body.
It is up to you and me to be in control of what we put into our bodies. And we prioritize what we value, so if we are not only convinced that healthy eating is important, but we are committed to healthy eating, then we will make time to fuel our body with nutritious foods. That looks different for everyone in various season of life, like if we cook or buy healthy prepared foods, but at the end of the day, each of us is in control of what we eat and drink even when life is crazy.
To hit the high points of things we might already know, but could always use a reminder:
- Fruits and vegetables provide a myriad of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals our body desperately needs to function well. Plant-powered foods are also naturally cholesterol free.
- Hydration is important. All year round, our body needs us to be drinking water and eating fruits and veggies to take in an optimal amount of water. The list of benefits of being adequately hydrated is long, so drink up.
- Alcohol isn’t a superfood. Truthfully, alcohol has been in the news periodically for aiding cardiovascular health in low amounts, but the long-standing research tells us that it’s not essential for our body and “low amounts” isn’t realistic for everyone. While I’m all for balance and enjoying life, if you’re justifying drinking alcohol for your health, experts would urge you to reconsider. So maybe treat it like added sugar – know that it exists and it might taste good, but it’s not a health drink.
- Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are the big three in the science of nutrition and our bodies need all of them to function well. Quality of the food choices in these categories is key.
So as every supplement bottle reads, “works well with diet and exercise,” remember that our diet is a powerful factor and determinant of our health. And while modern medicine has come a really long way, we should never discount the value of healthy eating and drinking.
By Victoria Emmitt RD