Views: 0 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2022-06-16 Origin: Site
The fact that diet can impact an individual’s health is well acknowledged by healthcare providers worldwide. People who have access to adequate nutrition are more likely to have strong immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and they live longer. The reasons for this are myriad, complex, and not yet well understood. Some research has shown that a diet rich in added sugars, saturated and trans fats and excess sodium may induce chronic inflammationTrusted Source — an underlying risk factor in the development of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, poor gut health, and other chronic diseases. Likewise, the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source recently made diet and lifestyle recommendations that included a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, and plant-based or lean animal protein to support cardiovascular health. Experts think that this diet supports good health through its potential to reduce harmful risk factors of cardiovascular disease, including inflammation, elevated cholesterolTrusted Source, high blood pressure, and poor sleepTrusted Source. The World Health OrganizationTrusted Source (WHO) also links nutritional status to immune health. Furthermore, research also shows that carotenoids — antioxidants naturally found in some vegetables and fruits — in the diet can improve the blood metabolites of people with liver diseaseTrusted Source. Decades of scientific findings support the integral role of diet in health managementTrusted Source, which should not be understated. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source, the core of a healthy diet is built on high intakes of a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages, including: fruits vegetables whole grains low and non-fat dairy lean protein healthy fats and oils. Added sugar, salt, saturated fats, and alcohol intake should be limited for good health. Some dietsTrusted Source that may bring health benefits include the Mediterranean dietTrusted Source, dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASHTrusted Source), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Healthy Eating MyPlate approach. Food as medicine “Food as medicineTrusted Source” is a practice built on the knowledge that food and diet play important roles in disease prevention and management. There is no single definition of the “food as medicine” concept, but it generally refers to prioritizing food and diet in an individual’s health plan, with the goal of either preventing, reducing symptoms of, or reversing a disease state. It is focused on the increased consumption of a variety of whole, minimally-processed plant-based foods, and limited intakes of highly processed foods rich in added sugar, oil, and salt. Foods that proponents claim have medicinal properties, often due to supposed high levels of a particular micronutrient or biomolecule — sometimes referred to as functional foodsTrusted Source — are of particular interest by people who consider food as medicine. These include a variety of herbs and spices, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. The “food as medicine” approach to health management challenges the construct of conventional medicine, which relies primarily on technological medical advancements to manage health and disease with pharmaceutical drugs. It is worth noting that conventional, Western medicine does prescribe dietary and lifestyle changes as a first-line treatment for some conditions, notably polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOSTrusted Source). However, the focus is on the balance of macronutrients in the diet, and there is as yet little clarity as to what that should look like in humans, as outlined in a paper published in NatureTrusted Source. Disease management Medical nutrition therapyTrusted Source is a part of evidence-based health practice that uses diet and food to support the treatment of diseases, and it is a clear demonstration of the role that diet and food play in managing chronic disease. For instance, an increase in dietary fiber supportsTrusted Source lower blood sugar levels in persons with pre-diabetes or diabetes, reducing the occurrence of nerve and blood vessel damage associated with high blood sugar levels. Improvements in diet quality can also reduce disease symptoms and improve quality of life. One studyTrusted Source suggests that a modified Mediterranean diet can reduce pain, fatigue, and discomfort in persons with lipoedema, a condition where there is an abnormal accumulation of fat in the lower extremities. Likewise, observational studies identified that a healthful diet during breast cancer treatment may reduceTrusted Source negative symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Cost-effective The prevalence of chronic diseases has increased worldwide, along with associated healthcare costs. In 2010, an estimated 86%Trusted Source — over $400 billion — of healthcare costs in the U.S. alone were due to treating patients with at least one chronic disease. These costs are shared between public resources and patients’ out-of-pocket expenses. Using “food as medicine” could conceivably reduce healthcare costs by potentially reducing disease severity through better labwork, fewer medications, and fewer hospitalizations. However, the issues and policies surrounding food apartheid and accessTrusted Source to healthful foods among low-income communities across the U.S. that support improved health and lower healthcare costs must continually be addressed.
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