your diet & disease
Diet simply means the kinds of food you eat all of the time. But the word itself can cause negative reactions. Diet – arrrgghhh!
So let’s eliminate the word diet, and tell anyone who asks you’ve decided to improve your nutrition.
Nutrition is the process of providing nourishment necessary for health and healing. More than ever, it is essential to understand the connection between diet and disease.
Research on population health reveals that we are living longer, but we are also getting sicker. And a leading cause of our chronic diseases and one in five deaths is nutrition.
What these findings mean is that millions of us are eating the wrong kinds of food for good health.
It also means that we are suffering and dying from something preventable.
what are we doing wrong?
Global Burden of Disease studies concludes that we are eating too many highly refined foods and not enough whole grains. We are consuming too much salt, sugar and the wrong kinds of fats. And we are not eating enough fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
We also need to consider the consequences of ingesting artificial chemicals that are used in food processing to preserve, colour and flavour.
What too many of us are putting into our bodies is a recipe for diet-related disease.
Every time we eat or drink, we are either nurturing or undermining our health. So why aren’t we engaging in healthy nutrition?
what are our reasons?
Poor nutrition is all about food choice.
Many of us are time-poor. We live busy lives and believe healthy eating takes too much time. ‘Fast’ foods suit our hectic schedules.
Some of us think healthy meals are complicated. We prefer easy options, ‘convenience’ foods that are often highly processed and low in nutritional content.
You can also become a victim of poor nutrition, stuck in a vicious cycle of blood sugar highs and lows. You feel tired all the time and crave sugar-loaded food and drinks.
No matter what our reasons are, there is no escaping the consequences of a poor diet. What we eat and drink directly affects our health.
the healthiest food to eat
One important way to protect your health is to make sure that what you eat is not contaminated with toxic chemicals because they accumulate and poison your body. It means eating foods that are grown in fertile soil, without the use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides or genetic modification. In other words, eat organic food.
Naturally grown, organic food is the healthiest food to eat.
Eating organic food also means you avoid ingesting preservatives designed to keep food fresh longer. The cocktail of chemicals sprayed on fresh produce is linked to heart attack, stroke and cancer.
And ditch highly processed foods – they are stripped of vitamins, minerals and fibre. You might think they taste delicious, but they are empty of nutrition and contribute to preventable diseases.
Instead, eat food that is as close to nature as possible. Certified organic, whole foods are nutrition-rich – and free of artificial flavours, colours or chemical preservatives.
balancing nutrition in your diet
To provide your body optimum nutrition, eat a variety of foods to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.
Imagine a circle on your dining room table that represents the food you eat in a day.
Fill half of the circle with organic fruit and vegetables.
Fill a quarter with low GI carbohydrates.
Fill the final quarter with organic sources of protein.
why low GI carbohydrates are important in your diet
And make sure you eat healthier carbohydrates!
The healthiest carbohydrates to eat are low GI – below 55.
What does GI mean?
When you digest the foods you eat, they are rated according to how fast (high) or slow (low) sugar is released – it’s called a Glycaemic Index or GI.
Foods that are whole and natural tend to have a lower GI – so you get an even release of sugar and balanced energy.
If you eat highly processed foods, sugar releases quickly. You tend to get a quick spike of energy and a fast crash. It’s a familiar story for those who experience the highs and lows of sugar cravings.
To break this destructive cycle, make sure that the majority of the food you eat is rich in fibre to slow the release of sugar – and made up of organic vegetables, protein and low GI carbs. Fresh food is always best.
Or visit a nutritionist. They are a great resource to get your diet sorted.
You can also buy shoppers guides to low GI foods or search online for Glycaemic Indexes to learn more about food and nutrition.
resources to help you improve your diet
If you need inspiration or guidance, check out our FRIENDS directory Nutrition page where you can find links to resources and wonderful recipes. One source of delicious and nutritious food ideas we love is Chef Cynthia Louise. She offers online classes that are fun and full of flavour.