Why Diet Is Important

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on October 9, 2019
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Do you know that around 50 percent of deaths due to diabetes, strokes, and heart diseases are linked to a poor diet? This is according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (1). Since dietary factors are found to be causes of these diseases, this information should help guide public health planning, determine priorities, and inform strategies to change our dietary lifestyle and improve health.

healthy fruit smoothies in a bowl

Out of 702,308 adults in the US who died because of cardiometabolic diseases, nearly half or 45.4 percent of which are due to dietary factors. That is the reason why we should find ways in order to motivate people to engage in a healthy lifestyle by having a balanced diet.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is a diet that fulfills our body with all the nutrients it needs to maintain good health and lower the risk of various diseases. Our body requires a certain amount of nutrients and calories to function correctly.

It means that we should consume foods within the range of the daily required calorie intake. According to Healthline (2), our body can get proper nutrition if we consume more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and lean proteins.

According to a study published in NCBI (3), healthy eating means that we should eat food, but not too much. And these foods should be mostly plants. But, diet is just a way to prevent diseases. Aside from limiting our caloric intake, we also need to exercise regularly and stop harmful habits like smoking.

What about calories?

The amount of energy a food can provide depends on the number of calories it contains. We all know how calories are very essential in our daily activities. We need calories for us to breath, think, walk, and other crucial functions.

Our body requires calories in order to survive. Just come to think if we don’t have energy. Our cells will most probably die, our lungs and heart will most likely stop, and our organs will eventually stop functioning.

According to Medical News Today (4), calories will give us healthy lives, but it should be consumed in the right amount. Too high or too low-calorie consumption will eventually lead to various health problems. And we should not allow it to happen! We should know how much calories our body needs.

The amount of energy required by every individual differs. The required daily calories depend on sex, size, age, and activity level. But, an average person is required to consume 2,000 calories a day in order to maintain weight.

Why a balanced diet is crucial

Our tissues and organs work effectively if we obtain the proper nutrition from the food we eat. Without proper nutrition, our body will be prone to various diseases, infections, poor performances, and fatigue. Children who do not have a proper diet may be at risk of delayed growth as well as poor academic performance.

In fact, obesity and diabetes are suffered by Americans due to a lack of exercise and a poor diet. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (5), four of the top ten main causes of mortality in the US are linked to diet, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

What a balanced diet looks like

Here are the foods that we should eat in order to have a balanced diet:

Fruits

Fruits are not only healthy, but they also make delicious snacks. Besides, there are many fruits choices that we can find in our area. We should choose fresh fruits in order to get the most nutrients.

Although some fruits contain a high level of sugar, this sugar is natural, which means that it is still good for us as compared to other foods with added sugar. Since there are lots of fruits available almost everywhere, it’s good to find for fruits which are low in sugar such as peaches and citrus.

Vegetables

We need vitamins and minerals in our body. The good thing is that vegetables are primary sources of these nutrients, which can help us fight against various diseases.

Probably, the most nutritious vegetables that we have to choose are dark, leafy greens such as green beans, spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and Swiss chard. These can be eaten from breakfast to dinner.

Whole grains

Any food made from oats, wheat, rice, barley, cornmeal, or any other cereal grain is a grain product. But, there are two kinds of grains- whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains have the entire grain kernel while refined grains are processed, which means that these are milled.

We should choose whole grains because all the dietary fiber, B vitamins, and iron are already removed in refined grains. Although most refined grains are enriched with these vitamins, they are still not as healthy as whole grains.

According to United States Department of Agriculture (6), at least half of the grains we eat should be whole grains. The sad truth is that most people in the US consume enough grains, but not whole grains. Well, the number of grains our body needs depends on our sex, age, and physical activity.

Proteins

Our body needs proteins to develop our brain and muscles properly. Usually, meats and beans are good sources of protein. Although we can get more protein in meat sources, plant-based protein sources are actually healthier. The main difference between animal and plant proteins is the amino acid contents.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (7), the consumption of protein from animal sources, especially those which are processed, will most likely increase the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases.

That is the reason why the consumption of more plant protein can improve our entire wellbeing. Perhaps, nuts, beans, tempeh, and tofu are healthy alternatives to meat.

Dairy

Although dairy products are also major sources of fat, they provide vitamin D, calcium, and other essential nutrients. According to a study published in NCBI (8), the intake of milk and dairy products can give us the daily recommended nutrients and may shield us from various chronic diseases.

With regard to obesity and type 2 diabetes, diet involving milk and dairy products lowers the risk of such diseases, especially if we consume fermented dairy products, yogurt, and cheese. Moreover, it was concluded in the study that milk and dairy products do not increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Oils

We should restrict our oil consumption. Good oils such as virgin olive oils have fewer chemicals and higher in antioxidants. These oils are made of good fats.

We should opt for low-sugar and low-fat versions of products containing oil, such as mayonnaise and salad dressing.

Tips of a balanced diet

It was already scientifically proven that a healthy balanced diet can provide a lot of health benefits such as reducing our risk of various chronic diseases and keeping our body healthy. It cannot be denied, but making major changes to our diet can be overwhelming.

But don’t worry, we will help you make small changes to shift to a healthy balanced diet:

Slow down

How much we eat and gain weight usually depends on the pace we eat. In fact, a study published in NCBI (9) shows the relationship between the speed of eating and body mass index (BMI). Another study shows that fast pace eaters are 115 percent more likely to gain weight than slow eaters.

Our appetite is controlled by hormones. These hormones are responsible for signaling our brain whether or not we are hungry. According to HuffPost (10), it takes 20 minutes for us to feel full once we start eating foods. It means that if we eat slowly, our brain will have enough time to receive that we are already full.

Another study published in NCBI (11) shows that the more we chew foods before swallowing them, the more we maintain our weight. It was also confirmed that eating slowly will decrease our calorie intake and will eventually help us lose weight.

Choose whole grain instead of refined grain

As we already discussed earlier, there are two kinds of grains- whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains are healthier than refined grains because they are rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins, and iron. The consumption of refined grains has been linked to various health problems such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Have a list before shopping

The two most important things to remember before we go shopping are to have a list of all the things we need to buy and to go to the grocery full.
Not knowing what exactly we want to buy may lead to impulse buying, while hunger can aggravate our impulses. So that we cannot easily give in to our impulses, we need to plan beforehand the things we need to buy and to make sure that we are full when we shop around.

This strategy will not only help us make healthy choices, but it can also help us save more money.

Eat eggs, especially in the morning

We all know that eggs are incredibly healthy. They are excellent sources of protein and other essential nutrients such as choline. Eggs are also rich in calories and are better compared to other kinds of calorie-matched breakfast.

Eating eggs during breakfast can give us a feeling of fullness. It can then help us consume fewer calories over the next hours, which can be beneficial for our weight.

A study published in NCBI (12) shows that the consumption of eggs during breakfast can increase our satiety, which can reduce our short-term food intake. In fact, it is better than an equal weight bagel-based breakfast.

Another study shows that the consumption of eggs is better than eating croissants or cereal during breakfast because the former can cause more fullness and less hunger, which means that the desire to eat more will be lower.

Increase protein intake

Food rich in proteins can give us the nutrients our body needs. It is also responsible for our satiety and hunger hormones. A study published in NCBI (13) concluded that if we increase our consumption of protein from 15 percent to 30 percent of calories, we will most likely eat 441 fewer calories every day.

Protein can also help us retain our muscle mass, which also determines the rate of our metabolism. According to a study published in NCBI (14), we can burn up to 100 calories a day if we increase our protein intake.

Drink more water

We all know how crucial water is to our health. Drinking water can help us maintain our weight or even lose weight. In fact, a study published in NCBI (15) concluded that the increasing consumption of water could help reduce weight.

It was also shown that drinking water before eating could reduce calorie intake. That is the reason why, instead of opting to other beverages, we should always drink water. Drinking water can also help reduce our sugar, which is really good for our health.

Conclusion

A balanced diet is very crucial to maintain our entire wellbeing. We should remember that our diet is linked to various diseases. If we don’t want to be affected by such diseases, then we should make sure that we get all the nutrients our body needs.

We should always aim to consume healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and lean proteins. Perhaps, a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for us to get the utmost health benefits.

References

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