According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases are the most common causes of disability and death around the world. Globally, the number of people having these diseases are increasing regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Four of these chronic diseases – cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – are associated with preventable risk factors, including high blood cholesterol, hypertension, and being overweight. These risk factors are further linked to major behavioral risk factors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy diet.
Thus, here are some diet tips to help prevent these common chronic diseases:
1. Consume Food with Unsaturated Fats and Food Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Saturated and trans fats are linked to raising your cholesterol levels which increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Food with a high percentage of saturated and trans fat is solid at room temperatures such as pork or beef fat, butter, coconut oil, margarine, and shortening.
Healthier fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are known to improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk for heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. If you suspect you have type 2 diabetes, here’s a list of common symptoms you can check. Food composed of mostly healthy fats is liquid at room temperatures such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil.
Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids includes tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, and herring. Plant sources include chia seeds, walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
2. Include Vegetables and Fruit into Your Daily Diet
Data suggest that a high intake of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of stroke. Adequate intake of folic acid and potassium is also said to play a role too. Folic acid supplementation also reduces the occurrence of neural tube defects in pregnant women and the risk for breast and colon cancers.
3. Consume Whole Grains
Another way to be healthy is to add whole grains to your diet. Cereal products, when consumed in their high-fiber and whole-grain form, come with twice the benefits. Fiber consumption has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, which could be due to the presence of vitamins, minerals, and fiber itself in whole grains. Fiber is also known to help control weight and prevent constipation. Avoid consuming refined starches, which may worsen diabetes and increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
4. Reduce Intake of Sugar and Sugar-Filled Beverages
Refined sugar, obtained from sugar beets, sugarcane, and high-fructose corn sweeteners, is filled only with calories and has no nutritional value. It has negative health effects for people at risk of being overweight. Additionally, sugar increases the dietary glycemic load, worsening diabetes. The upper limit of energy from sugar, as suggested by WHO, is 10 percent. However, if you can have a lower sugar intake, it’s usually more desirable.
5. Avoid Excessive Caloric Intake
It’s best to avoid excessive caloric intake, regardless of source. This step will ensure that you don’t become overweight or even obese – conditions that have been linked to various chronic diseases. It’s specifically more important to limit your intake of sugar-filled beverages as these products are less well-managed compared with calories coming from solid food.
6. Limit Sodium Intake
The main reason for reducing sodium intake is its effect on blood pressure which is a primary risk factor for coronary disease and stroke. As per WHO’s suggestion, you should only have a maximum of 1.7 grams or 5 grams of salt each day.
Instead of stressing yourself out because some of your family members have these diseases, know that you can prevent chronic disease. This includes doing positive lifestyle and diet changes to help lower risk. Ensure that you eat a variety of healthy food, get your body moving, and avoid excessive alcohol and tobacco use.