If there was a pill that could help prevent the risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, would you take it? I’m betting most of us would. In fact, it might just surpass the popularity of the “fat burning”, “fat trapping”, “metabolism boosting” products that are being cleverly advertised and sold by the millions! Unfortunately, the existence of such a cure-all pill doesn’t exist. However, there are certain measures that have been proven to reduce the risk of contracting any number of threatening diseases.
In recent studies it has been learned that the majority of consumers, although confused by the many diets, supplements and nutrition advice out there, do believe that being healthy involves eating well and exercising. You couldn’t be more right! But can maintaining a balanced diet, filled with a variety of foods, and exercising daily really protect you from cancer? From a heart attack? Let’s take a look.
Role of Nutrition
Although there are more than 100 types of cancers, the causes of which are not yet understood, health experts agree on one general approach to help reduce your risk for developing cancer. For example, diets rich in plant foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans may reduce risk for some types of cancer such as colorectal, oral and esophageal. Foods rich in phytochemicals (plant chemicals), such as fruits and vegetables contain antioxidant vitamins and minerals which are essential and may reduce cancer risk. One such agent is lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomato-based foods, which has properties effective against prostate cancer.
Consuming foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol is an absolute no-no if you’re thinking about avoiding diseases such as diabetes or coronary heart disease. A person who is overweight, or obese, is at a greater risk of contracting such diseases. These fats, found naturally in our blood, can build up in our blood stream and clog the arteries, restricting the blood flow to organs and muscles, especially our heart. It is important to recognize the fact that our bodies need some intake of fat, but this should be limited to the unsaturated fats, (monounsatruated and polyunsaturated) which are found in plant products. These include products like olive oil, cottonseed oil and soybean oil. Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol are butter, cheese, gravies, sour cream, and fatty meats such as sausage, bacon or ham.
Role of Exercise
The number one New Years Resolution, we’ve all made it, and most likely more than half of us have broken it within the first two months! Lack of time, energy, equipment and motivation are all reasons we use to get out of the most important thing we should be doing for ourselves – exercising. A lifestyle of varied exercises has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and helps maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit!
Aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, rollerblading – anything that gets the heart pumping – will increase the efficiency of your cardiovascular system, in addition to burning fat calories. Weight bearing exercises, strength training with weights or bands, will increase the strength of the muscles, which in turn builds strong bones. As our body undergoes various movements, the joint tissue is inundated with nutrients that play an important role in keeping them healthy. Taking one hour a day to perform a variety of exercises will also increase your energy levels. It’s true!
Chemicals, in the form of endorphins, are released from your brain as you exert yourself, raising energy levels for hours after the activity. This not only fights fatigue, it has amazing effects on self esteem, and produces a feeling of well being. After a few months of following this routine, you will find yourself automatically consuming healthier foods and looking forward to a brisk walk or session at the gym!
It can’t be found in a pill, and doesn’t work overnight, but following the simple rule of eating healthy and exercising can lead to a healthier lifestyle, a reduced risk for certain diseases, and a connection with yourself that will last a lifetime!