Food for Thought: Healthy Eating Leads to Healthier Lives
By Adrian Sparrow
We know that medicine exists to treat disease and help you become and stay healthy, but it’s not always pleasant to take. What if you could trade medicine for something much more delicious? In a way, you can.
What you eat makes a significant impact on your health. Nutrients protect your body from disease and promote health. Calories give you energy. Vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and healthy fats make up a healthy diet. It’s essential to get them in the form of whole foods because the nutrients work together in such a way that supplements can’t replicate. Plant-based diets have been shown to reverse coronary artery disease and reduce or eliminate symptoms of other conditions.
Processed foods are often high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats, which contribute to problems like heart disease and diabetes. A diet high in processed foods can increase your risk of disease and cancer, and shorten your lifespan. Processed foods are cheaper and often last longer than store-bought produce, making them appealing for people on fixed incomes or little time for prep and cooking.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to healthy food. Many Americans live in food deserts, where people have limited means to fresh fruits and vegetables. These food deserts often occur due to several factors, including a limited income, lack of public transportation, or living a significant distance away from the nearest large grocery store. Even with a sizable grocery store nearby, residents may not have enough to spend after increasing housing costs. There are several barriers to eating healthy, many of which are out of a resident’s control.
Home and community gardens offer one solution, where people can grow their own fruits and vegetables. A survey in San Jose found that community gardeners could save an average of $84 per month by growing their own food. The gardeners also consumed more vegetables when they ate food from their gardens. Diverse and culturally significant crops can be grown, including foods that otherwise aren’t available or too expensive. Excess produce is often given to friends, family, and food banks.
Although adjusting your diet can improve your health and fight disease, it can’t replace medication entirely. Forgoing medical treatment in favor of diet alone can be dangerous, if not fatal. Always discuss with your doctor before stopping a prescribed medication or treatment. Your doctor can also refer you to a dietician who can help you eat healthier.
It’s always worth having a nutritious diet so you can stay healthy and fight off disease.