Sunday, February 17, 2008

Disease Prevention

Disease Prevention

With so-called "lifestyle" diseases on the rise, medical doctors and insurance companies alike are looking to find new ways to maintain health and prevent and control diseases. With obesity reaching epidemic proportions, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction to combat the trend. Health providers are now looking more closely at diet and exercise as a way to prevent disease.

Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is important for several reasons. Maintaining health through diet and exercise can help to prevent loss of bone mass and vitamin deficiency. A healthy diet also helps to prevent diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis, some cancers and obesity. A healthy diet can also help to treat and control diseases like lupus, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease and mellitus.

The body runs on a series of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals to sustain healthy organ function. Vitamins and minerals are critical to the body and are necessary for proper growth and proper functioning of systems inside the body.

With obesity and heart disease on the rise, they are a major public health issue for the United States and other countries. Many of the dietary recommendations nowadays are aimed at the preventing these two diseases. Obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns off. When obesity becomes chronic, then other diseases start to develop such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, just to name a few.

Losing weight requires that people take in more low energy-dense foods. These foods include vegetables and fruits. Foods like this contain few calories per unit so a person can consume large volumes without taking in many calories. High energy-dense foods like sweets, fried foods and foods containing trans fats. These foods have high cholesterol and saturated fat content which has been linked to heart disease. Avoiding processed foods is also recommended as well as a regular exercise routine.

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a new guideline detailing changes in the dietary recommendations for Americans. The new guidelines emphasize more fruit, vegetable, whole grains and lean meats. There also should be close attention paid to saturated fats and added sugars.

Eating healthy nowadays is more complicated than ever. We are often victims of our own convenient society that we've forgotten how to listen to our bodies and our own instincts for health. In our highly industrialized and technical world we've gotten away from knowing where food comes from. These guidelines are one voice in the din of many. I hope that we may all choose to listen more carefully.

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