Our diet is the number one cause of premature death and the number one cause of disability (Lenders, et al., 2013; Murray et al., 2010).
This article looks at the most recent evidence-based research and offers sustainable lifestyle and nutrition changes you and your clients can make right now.
- The link between diet and disease
- Lifestyle and Dietary Guidelines to enhance health and prevent disease
- The foundation of a healthy dietary approach
- Basic components of whole foods everyday meals
Today we lament over our diet more than ever before with endless dietary related afflictions and varying dietary approaches:
- Food intolerances and allergy concerns
- Drug related restrictions, compromised digestive ability
- Health complications
- Ethical practices
- Specific diet/lifestyle preferences like:
- Raw only, etc.
This can make the joy of eating somewhat of a challenge for many of our clients.
Our eating “norm” is anything but simple or normal. In the meantime, we develop diseases younger than ever, we live with more chronic and debilitating disease and we die pre-maturely from diet and lifestyle related diseases such as the top killers: cancer and heart disease. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Center (n.d.) reveals that numerous diseases, rampant in today’s world, are related to our diet.
Diseases Related to Diets:
- Allergies/Food Sensitivities (All dairy, peanuts/tree nuts, soy, wheat/gluten, fish, egg, seafood…)
- Digestive Diseases and Disorders
- Disordered Eating
- Heart Health
- Kidney Diseases
- Weight and Obesity
Given that these are diet and lifestyle related, the below key elements have been proven in the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases.
Key Prevention Strategies:
- Proper nutrition
- Stress management
- Regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
The Diet and Lifestyle Link to Disease
The American Heart Association came up with “The Simple 7” factors that can lead to a healthier life. Research confirms that following four simple behavior patterns can have a strong effect on the prevention of chronic diseases (Yancy, 2011).
The EPIC study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed 23,000 people for close to 8 years examining smoking habits, food consumption, exercise and maintenance of a healthy weight and showed that adherence to just four of the “Simple 7 Lifestyle Pillars" established by the American Heart Association can dramatically lower the risk from virtually every major chronic illness (Ford et al., 2009; Platz et al., 2000).
Researchers discovered that those participants who:
- didn`t smoke,
- consumed a diet high in fresh vegetables and low in meat,
- exercised at least 3.5 hours per week and
- maintained a normal weight (BMI less than 30)
reduced their risk of:
- developing diabetes by 93%
- heart attack was reduced by 81%;
- stroke was reduced by 50%; and
- 36% of all cancers were prevented.
Treating the Disease and the Price
All too often the allopathic world limits their prescription for health with medications rather than diet and lifestyle revamping. This results in reducing symptoms and creating a false sense of improved health while neglecting to address the actual cause of the disease(s). If we are to overcome the epidemic of diet and lifestyle related diseases, we need to take ownership of our own health rather than rely on medications to treat the conditions.
A perfect example of this is with the use of one of the top selling drugs, statins:
Statins are known to cause a wide variety of side effects such as muscle deterioration and cognitive decline, two of the most commonly reported detrimental effects that result from the unnatural suppression of cholesterol from long term statin therapy. Research reveals increased likelihood of liver dysfunction, impaired muscle function, acute kidney injury and cataracts, increased risk of diabetes and a reduction in CoQ10 (Dormuth, 2013).
Despite these risks, Americans take this pill with most doctors prescribing statins before suggesting lifestyle changes. Before you accept these risks consider that plant based diets have been shown to lower cholesterol just as effectively as first line statin drugs, but without the risks (Roberts, 2010).
Another side effect of statin therapy is increased levels of insulin. Again, adherence to a natural dietary protocol does not raise insulin and has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides and alter the ratio of atherogenic dense LDL particles toward the harmless large buoyant variety. Most are familiar with the wisdom of Hippocrates: “Food is medicine,” and evidence-based science continues to prove this to be true.
As professionals in the health and wellness field, we have a captive audience, eager for the best ways to optimize their state of well-being. Rather than the bulk of their nutrition information coming from the media, we can both lead by example and guide them to resources where the scientific information hasn’t been bought and paid for by corporations and industries with conflicts of interest. Heed this advice:
The American Institute for Cancer Research has established 10 recommendations for cancer prevention, and beyond not using tobacco, the dietary message is: “Diets that revolve around whole plant foods—vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans—cut the risks of many cancers, as well as other diseases significantly” (“Recommendations,” n.d.).
Researchers attribute the significant reduction on the incidence of developing cancer due to decreases in the levels of a cancer-promoting growth hormone called IGF-1, likely due to the reduced intake of animal protein (“AICF,” n.d.).
According to this research, here are the basic components of a healthy diet:
- Mostly plant based
- Mostly alkaline
- Whole foods (unprocessed)
- 50% raw
- Variety (macro and micro nutrients)
- Organic/bio-dynamic or pesticide/herbicide/fungicide free
When planning well rounded meals:
- INCLUDE: Both raw and fermented foods with each meal as digestive aids. For example:
- Breakfast – raw veggies and fruits, whole grains, alkaline proteins, healthy fats.
- Lunch – raw foods, salads, quality carbs and proteins.
- Dinner – vegetables and quality proteins (mostly plant based – legumes, nuts, seeds, or pseudo Non-GMO whole grains such as amaranth, teff, buckwheat, farro, quinoa).
- Snacks – quality carb/protein/fat combos: fruits, veggies, nuts/seeds, grains, legumes.
- Sweets – fruits, unrefined natural sugars, whole food quality fats, carbs, protein.
- AVOID: Refined sugar, gluten, casein, protein isolates, refined/processed and GMO foods including oils, Agri-farmed protein sources, mono-food diets, food colorings, additives, preservatives, high pesticide residue produce and heavy metal fish, etc.
The information is intended for education purposes ONLY and is not intended to replace a physician’s advice.
Dormuth, C. R., Hemmelgarn, B. R., Paterson, J. M., James, M. T., Teare, G. F., Raymond, C. B., . . . Ernst, P. (2013). Use of high potency statins and rates of admission for acute kidney injury: Multicenter, retrospective observational analysis of administrative databases. Bmj, 346(Mar18 3). doi:10.1136/bmj.f880
Ford, E. S., Bergmann, M. M., Krord, J., Scheienkiewitz, A., Weikert, C., & Boeing, H. (2009). Healthy Living Is the Best Revenge. Arch Intern Med Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(15), 1355. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.237
Lenders, C., Gorman, K., Milch, H., Decker, A., Harvey, N., Stanfield, L., . . . Levine, S. (2013, January). A Novel Nutrition Medicine Education Model: The Boston University Experience. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4(1), 1-7. doi:10.3945/an.112.002766
Murray CJ, Atkinson C. Bhalla K, et al. The state of US health, 1990 – 2010: burden of diseases, injuries and risk factors. JAMA. 2013;310(6):591-608.
Platz, E. A., Willett, W. C., Colditz, G. A., Rimm, E. B., Spiegelman, D., & Giovannucci, E. (2000, August). Proportion of colon cancer risk that might be preventable in a cohort of middle-aged US men. Cancer Causes Control, 11(7), 579-578. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10977102.
Prescription medication use by Canadians aged 6 to 79. (2015, November 27). Retrieved August 01, 2016, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2014006/article/14032-eng.htm
Recommendations for Cancer Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved August 01, 2016, from http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/recommendations-for-cancer-prevention/recommendations_04_plant_based.html
Roberts, W. C. (2010). It's the Cholesterol, Stupid! The American Journal of Cardiology, 106(9), 1364-1366. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.09.022
Yancy, C. W. (2011). Is Ideal Cardiovascular Health Attainable? Circulation, 123(8), 835-837. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.110.016378