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Eat well for a better future

Nutrition is a key lifestyle habit that affects longevity, and plays an important role in the prevention of diseases (1, 2) such as dementia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, some of the leading causes of death in Australia. The foods you eat can significantly impact your physical and mental health, making the right dietary choices, gives you the potential to increase your lifespan (3) and improve your quality of life.

The modern western diet can significantly, and detrimentally impact the human body. It is typically high in refined foods containing sugar, salt, refined grains, processed meats and unhealthy fats/oils. For the most part, these foods are convenient and available in large amounts. Overconsumption of highly calorific, processed foods contributes to the obesity epidemic facing Australia and many other parts of the world. The latest National Health Survey (2018) from the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that 67% of Australian adults were either overweight or obese. Obesity, particularly abdominal obesity, not only reduces quality of life in most individuals, but is commonly correlated with high blood pressure (greater than 130/85mmHG), high fasting blood sugar (insulin resistance), elevated triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol (4). This group of biomarkers are known as metabolic risk factors, and are associated with the aforementioned diseases dementia, CVD and cancer, but also other chronic diseases such as diabetes and stroke.

But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. For most of us, lifestyle-related diseases can be prevented, or slowed, by making wholesome choices and creating healthy habits each day around the foods we eat. A micronutrient dense, wholefoods, Mediterranean-style diet (5) packed with colourful fruits and vegetables, rich in healthy fats, quality proteins and high in fibre, can help to stabilise blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight. Reducing your risk of developing the unhealthy biomarkers for disease.

Whilst many people find making dietary changes challenging and boring, eating well can be tasty, and is all about creating habits. In order to be consistent, it is essential you understand the importance of why you should choose good-quality foods to fuel your body. When you choose to eat well, you are actively choosing to let go of unhealthy habits from the past, and minimise your risk of disease in the future. And once you make the switch, you will feel so good, you won’t want to go back!

Take home messages

  • Good nutrition can help prevent diseases such dementia, cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Choose a colourful wholefoods diet packed with plant foods, healthy fats and quality proteins
  • Healthy eating is habitual and doesn’t need to be boring