Nutrition and Disease Management

Expert Stories | Mrs. Shayana Ameresekere MHumNutr (Aus) RNutr(Aus), Nutritionist

The nutrients we provide to our body plays a vital role in our health, growth, development of functional abilities and prevention of diseases. I like to think of Nutrition as the foundation stone for good health and the prevention of noncommunicable diseases. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Nutrition and infectious diseases are related to each other in some aspects. First, nutrition affects the development of human body immune system. Moreover, nutrition can influence emerge of infectious diseases (e.g., gastrointestinal infections), food poisoning, intestinal diseases, and systemic infectious diseases. (https://bit.ly/2Namq4a).

So how exactly does nutrition affect disease management?

Firstly, healthy eating can prevent obesity which is the most common nutritional reason for disease. Obesity is a major risk factor for many conditions, like type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease to name a few. Consuming foods high in sugar, fats and calories can add extra weight to your body, weakening your bones and making your organs work harder. This automatically puts you at a higher risk for health problems in the future. (https://wb.md/3eE7l6x).

It is important to remember Certain nutrients affect certain parts of the body. Therefore it is essential to have right nutrition during childhood to have long term health benefits. Without enough calcium, your bones can become unhealthy, brittle and weak. This makes you more susceptible to osteoporosis. Therefore, a diet high in calcium may help to prevent osteoporosis. The same holds true with saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. Too much saturated fat in your diet may lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Healthy eating can improve your mood, which in turn boosts physical activity. If you're in a positive mood, you're more likely to be active. Eating the right foods can help you be happier, therefore leading to more bouts of healthy exercise. Since regular physical activity is a necessity for disease prevention, healthy eating therefore plays a vital role. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Healthy diets may help to boost "good" cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein and decrease unhealthy triglycerides. This directly impacts risk of heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure by helping your blood flow smoothly. The more healthy foods you eat, the better your HDL cholesterol levels will be, helping to prevent disease.

There's no denying the health benefitsthat come from nutritious diets. Incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle will automatically reduce your risk for serious, life-threatening diseases. (S.Ameresekere, 2021).

So what foods should we look at including in our daily diet?

Here are my recommended top 3 foods:

1) Berries

are a great item to add to your diet. They are high in antioxidants which help to neutralise free radicals which are cell damaging molecules that can lead to chronic diseases such as; cancer and heart disease. Berries, particularly cranberries, may also help minimise urinary tract infections. (S. Ameresekere, 2021)

2) Dark, Leafy Greens

One of the best disease fighting foods is dark, leafy greens, which include everything from spinach, kale, and gotukola to dark lettuces. These vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, vitamin c folate, iron, magnesium, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. A Harvard study found that eating magnesium-rich foods such as spinach can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes over time.(https://bit.ly/2Q0y5nl).

3. Beans and Legumes

These little nutritious foods are packed with phytochemicals, they are fat-free, a source of highquality protein; folic acid; fibre; iron; magnesium; and even contain small amounts of calcium. Beans are an excellent inexpensive protein source and a great alternative for low-calorie vegetarian meals.

Eating beans and legumes regularly as part of a healthy eating plan can help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels; and stabilise blood sugar and help with weight management by filling you up with few calories.

So make a conscious effort to eat healthy as much as possible because in the end prevention is always better than cure!