Eating to improve health
Those who eat healthily throughout their lives are more likely to remain disease-free than those who follow the typical North European diet, which is high in artery-clogging fat and low in nutrients.
Healthy eating can help treat health-related problems. For example, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease is starting to fall in the UK, thanks to medical advances. However, people are still eating more fat than they should and exercising less, which is resulting in a rise in rates of obesity. As we gain weight the risk of cardiovascular disease rises. We need to increase our exercise levels and control our fat intake to continue to reduce this risk.
Maintain a healthy weight
Research shows that if you are overweight and lose weight, your life expectancy increases. It also shows that by improving your diet and exercise habits to lose weight, your health will also improve.
Regular exercise, combined with a well-balanced, nutritious diet, is the key to managing many of the diseases discussed in this chapter.
Ageing and diet
As we age, our bodies and our dietary needs change. Ongoing research looking at the impact of calorie restriction on health and longevity indicates that adults can improve their health by eating less. If you are overweight, the reasons for losing weight are clear. But even if you are a “healthy” weight, it may be possible to live longer and live better by eating less. This does not mean starvation, it means making smart choices and eating foods that give maximum nutritional benefit for the calories.
Talk to your doctor
Your doctor is your best source of reliable health advice. The information given here should not be used to prescribe or provide treatment for yourself. Instead, this chapter should be a starting point to help you determine the most important dietary changes you can make to improve your health. Seeing a state-registered dietitian can also help you make the dietary and lifestyle changes your doctor recommends to you.
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