Sometime ago, I was chatting with a friend about his recent consultation with a doctor. During this encounter the doctor stressed to him over and over the importance of food in our health, in order to keep his high blood pressure in check. He wasn’t really impressed about it, and he told me that he was beginning to think that there is too much fuss about what we eat, and given how people’s diet is generally wrong, we should have much more sick people.

I am a firm believer that we are what we eat, and I told him so. Then I added that there all sort of diseases linked to malnutrition, and not all of them are easily spotted, and many people tend to ignore them, or just live with them. Therefore, in my view, his statement was not correct, but I saw he was not convinced with my answer. I thought about that a lot afterwards, because I felt I should have found a better argument to support my belief.

Healthy food
The importance of healthy food in our wellbeing

The impact of food on our wellbeing

It bothered me a lot, so I started some research to ensure I had a better argument, and ended up being even more convinced about the importance of eating to maintain our health.

Health is a complex thing that is influenced by many different factors: our genes play a part in that, together with what we eat, our lifestyle and habits, our economic condition, our social conditions and the environment we live in (Including adverse life events, exposure to chemicals, etc.).

Reading this you might think: there you have it, food has only a small part in determining our overall state of health and wellbeing! There are so many things involved, why should I bother to focus on nutrition and eating well?

I surely learnt in my relationship with nutrition, that the money spent on your food are the best investment you can make on yourself! No matter how small the contribution of food in our overall wellbeing might be, it is still the more constant and repetitive contribution that we can control! It might not be the same for the others, but we have power on what we eat, and we might learnt along the way that the contribution is not so small, after all.

Buying organic food means finding a food that conserves as much as possible its nutritional properties, without the downside of the nasty chemicals that add only more stress and toxins to our organism. Farmer markets and health food shops are a must to find fresher products

Control what you can

Well, once we have acknowledged that eating well might not be the most important factor at play in our wellbeing, let’s reinforce again that it surely is one of the few factors we can actually control. We might not have power over our genetic inheritance, or over our economic condition, or over the adverse events we face in our life, but we sure have power over our lifestyle and our diet.

For me taking care of yourself naturally means taking charge of the factor that you CAN actually control and influence, to ensure that you are doing all you can to help yourself. Focusing on improving your diet to make it healthy is one of your best weapons to fight diseases, and you should put all your attention to it, precisely because is one of the few things you can do.

The importance of food in our health is clearly understandable if we have a look at some wide spread illnesses. Do you know how many diseases are strictly linked to our diet? Let me remind you how many diseases and conditions food help fighting, and I’ll tell you why they are linked to what we eat.

Avoid obesity

The number one problem of our modern society, caused by overeating and not being active enough. If over a long period of time we eat more calories than the ones we burn we gain weight. If it becomes our lifestyle, then obesity occurs, leading to a good number of other health issues. High blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and of course back pain, limb pain, due to the strain we put on our body.

Prevent Coronary heart disease (CHD)

It occurs when our coronary arteries are obstructed by fatty deposits, and are not able anymore to do their job well, which is supplying our heart with oxygen rich blood. In this way our heart suffers, and we might experience angina (chest pain.) If a complete blockage of the arteries occurs, it can cause a heart attack. What causes it is the amount of fat from animal produce that we assume in our diet (saturated fat is fat that is solid at room temperature), the more we eat it, the more likely we are to develop these conditions.

Meat is a source of saturated fat
Meat is a source of saturated fat

Fight High blood pressure

As suggested by its name, it happens when our blood is pumped in our body with too high a pressure, and this can lead to a coronary heart disease or a stroke. The main responsible for this is the amount of salt we assume with our diet, for this reason we should limit our salt intake to 6g max per day.

Protecting from type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when our body is not able anymore to regulate the production of insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. When this happens, our body can’t regulate the blood sugar levels, and as a result we might risk blindness, stroke, limb amputations and kidney disease.

Sweets and sugar rich products are the main cause of type 2 diabetes
Sweets and sugar rich products are the main cause of type 2 diabetes

Prevent different types of cancer 

Multiple studies have confirmed that breast cancer and bowel cancer are linked to our diet. They are linked to a diet low in fruit and vegetables, grains, and rich in processed foods and saturated fats.

Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are a good weapon against cancer

If all of the above doesn’t seem enough to show you the importance of food in our health, I can add more. Even tooth decay, mood variations, and a great number of minor illnesses are linked to food. Food intolerances, stomach and bowel problems, and I could go on. But I really believe that I made my point here! There are so many things about our health that are necessarily left to chance, why would you give up one of the few powers you have to influence your health and wellbeing?

Hence, roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, and start focusing on what you can control: it could indeed make a big difference! The importance of food in our health is undeniable. And in the end, you will have learned the basics of self-care: taking care of your body and of the fuel you use to keep it running. You are probably doing it already for your car, so why not for yourself?

If you want to know more about being aware of what you eat, read my article on why reading the labels is the smartest thing to do.

Let me know in the comments if you believe is worth improving our diet, are you willing to put in the effort?

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