In a world where the prevalence of chronic illnesses is on the rise, adopting healthy eating habits has become more crucial than ever. The old adage “you are what you eat” holds true here. That’s because the foods we consume play a significant role in determining our overall health and susceptibility to chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, it seems that Americans are yet to come to terms with this fact. As reported by US News, the American diet is very unhealthy. The average US diet has too much salt, saturated fat, refined grains, calories, and added sugars. Such an unhealthy diet is one of the leading causes of bad health among Americans.
According to the US CDC, such an unhealthy diet is increasing the obesity rate in the US at an alarming rate. This, in turn, is making diseases and health conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer more widespread in the country.
Thus, we must consume a healthy diet to stay fit and avoid chronic illnesses, but how can we go about achieving this? That’s what we’ll explore in this article. For your convenience, here are a few healthy eating habits that will help you keep chronic illnesses at bay.
#1 Embrace a Plant-Forward Diet
Plant-based foods are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. These nutrients collectively support cardiovascular health, immune function, and weight management. They’re also naturally low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
Adopting a plant-forward diet doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating animal products entirely. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of minimizing red and processed meats while incorporating lean protein sources like fish, poultry, tofu, and beans. As you focus on plants and lean proteins, you can improve your overall nutrient intake and create a foundation for long-term health.
#2 Prioritize Whole Foods over Processed Options
In the modern food landscape, processed and convenience foods have become a staple in many diets. Unfortunately, these foods are loaded with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium, all of which contribute to chronic illnesses like obesity and heart disease. Making a conscious effort to prioritize whole foods over processed options can have a profound impact on your health.
Whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, offer an array of nutrients without the detrimental additives found in processed foods. By cooking meals at home and incorporating whole, unprocessed ingredients, you’ll gain better control over your nutrient intake. At the same time, you can also reduce your exposure to potentially harmful substances like added chemicals and food coloring.
#3 Stay Hydrated and Choose Smart Beverages
Proper hydration is often overlooked but plays a vital role in maintaining optimal health. Adequate hydration can support weight management by reducing feelings of hunger and preventing overeating.
Choosing smart beverages is equally important. Sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices can contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain. Instead, opt for water, herbal teas, and, occasionally, unsweetened beverages. Limiting alcohol consumption is also recommended, as excessive alcohol intake can lead to chronic illnesses like liver disease and certain types of cancer.
The source of your drinking water is also important here. You wouldn’t want to consume contaminated water as that would be counterproductive to what you’re trying to do. Besides, consuming contaminated water can also lead to serious illnesses, as was the case in the Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit.
According to TorHoerman Law, between 1953 and 1987, Camp Lejeune, NC, was the site of a massive water contamination crisis. Upon consumption of this water, locals developed serious health problems, including cancer. The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit was filed to seek compensation for the Camp Lejeune victims. Lawyers are now working with the victims to ensure that they get justice for the losses they incurred because of the Camp Lejeune incident.
#4 Limit Added Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates
Excess sugar consumption has been linked to a myriad of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, sugary cereals, and pastries, can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to energy crashes and overeating.
Reading food labels can be enlightening, as sugars can often be hidden under various names like high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and cane sugar. Being aware of these aliases can help you make informed choices when selecting packaged foods.
According to the UK’s Daily Express, the US is one of the top five countries in the world with the unhealthiest habits. The country’s poor diet played a huge role in this regard. Because of such a poor diet, Americans also tend to get chronically ill more often.
Thus comes the need for change, and it must start with healthy eating practices. This is something you can do by following the healthy eating habits discussed above. As you adhere to these habits and incorporate them into your lifestyle, you’ll lead a long, healthy, and disease-free life.