How Nutrition Plays a Role in Your Health


The food and drinks you put in your body have an effect on everything you do. Whether you’re working, exercising, sleeping or even just watching TV, what’s in your body makes a difference. Many of the chronic diseases Americans experience are preventable with the maintenance of a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, but still, one-third of American adults are obese.

Nutrition and Chronic Disease

Many chronic diseases are the result of poor nutritional habits. Often, these diseases could have been prevented or delayed with healthier eating habits:

  • Diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to create enough insulin or use the insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is most often found in patients who are overweight or obese. Lack of physical activity and a high-calorie diet are commonly found in individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 
  • Cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States. Cardiovascular disease is often caused by an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. Diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol increase the risk of blood clotting. Diets rich in sodium can result in raised blood pressure, contributing to heart disease. If a person consumes alcohol excessively, blood pressure can increase, creating a higher chance for developing cardiovascular disease. 
  • Lung disease. Many people don’t realize their food consumption affects how well they breathe. For people suffering from COPD, a progressive lung disease that makes breathing difficult, eating well is important. Poor diet can lead to weight gain, in turn leading to increased pressure on the lungs, which affects breathing. 

Diets and Chronic Disease

Proper nutrition can help prevent and manage chronic disease. However, each chronic disease is different and requires a unique approach to healthy eating.


As mentioned above, almost 30 million American adults suffer from diabetes. A person with diabetes has very similar dietary needs as those without. Aim for a healthy diet by keeping in mind the following:
  • Pay attention to the fat you eat. People who have diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease and should limit the amount of saturated and trans fat consumed. This limitation can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Pick the right proteins. For a diabetic, the best source of protein comes from plant-based proteins, like beans, as well as seafood, poultry and eggs.
  • Choose nutritious grains. The best choices of whole grains for a diabetic are whole oats, whole grain barley, and quinoa. If you skip the butter, whole-grain popcorn is a healthy choice, too!
  • Don’t forget the fruit. Fruit is an excellent and nutritious way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Pick fruits that are fresh, frozen or canned without added sugar.
  • Enjoy nutrient-filled veggies. Since non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates, diabetics should eat them frequently. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, leeks, green beans, onions, peppers and tomatoes. 

Cardiovascular Disease

A healthy diet is an important weapon to fight heart disease. If you’re at risk of developing heart disease or have heart disease, pay attention to these dietary guidelines:

  • Watch your calories. It’s important to understand how many calories you should consume per day to maintain a healthy weight. As a general rule, the more calories you consume, the more physical activity you should do.
  • Skip foods that aren’t nutritious. Skip foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. If a particular food is high in saturated and trans fat, opt for something else. 
  • Get protein from the right foods. Someone at risk for heart disease should limit the amount of red meat they consume, and try to get protein from poultry, fish and nuts. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help lower the risk of coronary artery disease. 
  • Stay away from sugar. Limit the amount of sugary beverages like juice or soda. Added sugars found in desserts, candy, yogurt and cookies provide no nutrients to the body and instead add extra calories to the diet. 

Lung Disease

Someone diagnosed with COPD should pay extra attention to their diet and take the following steps:

  • Eat complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • Avoid simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs come from soft drinks, candy, sweets and sugar.
  • Consume between 20 and 30 grams of fiber per day. You can find fiber in foods like nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit. 
  • Get protein from healthy sources. Protein should be consumed at least twice a day to keep respiratory muscles strong. Protein can be found in eggs, cheese, meat, fish, nuts and beans.
  • Limit foods that have trans and saturated fats. These fats are found in butter, hydrogenated vegetable oils, crackers and pastries. 

Make Chronic Care Manageable

Each person’s health is different and requires a unique management plan. No matter your condition, you should be able to get the care and stability you need in the comfort and privacy of your home. For more information about the exceptional care you deserve from UnityPoint at Home, contact the location nearest to you.

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