Nutrition & Your health
The relationship between diet and emotional and mental health (or food and mood) is interesting and is increasingly recognised as important.
A balanced diet (including all the food groups and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables) keeps the body healthy, but can also be really important in keeping the mind balanced.
Currently, a lot of media coverage is given to low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets and dieting in general. Consequently, people often exclude essential food groups in order to try to lose weight or feel healthier. In fact, proteins, carbohydrates and some fats are essential for keeping the mind and body healthy.
Equally, an important part of stabilising emotional health through food is about how you eat, not just what you eat. In order to keep your blood sugar level stable, it's important to eat regularly and not skip meals; especially breakfast.
Eating foods with a slow release of energy (those with a low glycaemic index) will keep body and mind fuelled much more steadily. These foods include wholegrain rye bread; basmati rice; and oats.
Often, in times of stress, people's good intentions about food go out of the window and they snack on whatever comes to hand, skip meals and generally don't pay much attention to what they're feeding their bodies with.
Although it's difficult to say what specific foods you could eat to decrease your stress levels, certain vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and vitamins in the B group are used up quickly when you are stressed, so it's important to replenish these on a daily basis.
Wholegrain foods (such as wholegrain bread, pasta or rice) are good because they include B vitamins and are also a slow-releasing carbohydrate. Finding out more about the foods you should be eating is an important step in achieving better overall health. Spending time with a nutritionist or simply doing some research yourself would help.
Nutrition has been proven to also help with decreasing the risk of Coronary Heart Disease and many other chronic diseases.
The following are some of the most common affecting the adult population:
Cardiovascular disease (CHD) is the UK’s biggest killer of both men and woman in the form of heart attacks, strokes and thrombosis. Three people die every minute due to cardiovascular disease, and whilst a small proportion of cases are due to congenital defects and the like, the vast majority are due to lifestyle and are totally preventable.
The average person in the UK takes to little of exercise, has an average diet which is high in animal and processed fats and is low in good fats, whole foods (not processed), and dies of cardiovascular disease. Many of these deaths are premature.
This is the process generally referred to as furring up of the arteries. Fatty deposits of cholesterol and other fatty substances build up on the walls of the arteries, gradually narrowing them.
These deposits are called atheroma and are believed to be due to the oxidation by oxygen of particular types of fats and cholesterol in the blood.
Severely narrowed arteries can restrict the blood flow to vital organs, and if the blood has a tendency to clot, a clot can form and become stuck in a narrowing, cutting off the blood supply from that artery.
If that artery is supplying the heart, then part or all of the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and dies. If only a small part of the heart is affected, the person may well survive the heart attack, as the heart continues to work or can be resuscitated.
If the heart attack is larger it may stop completely and irretrievably and is then fatal. If an artery supplying the brain becomes blocked, then a stroke occurs.
There is much misunderstanding regarding cholesterol. Cholesterol is vital to health and the liver produces large amounts of cholesterol every day. It is used in every cell in the body. If cholesterol is taken in the diet, then the liver, if working correctly, will simply produce less.
The liver requires fats with which to make cholesterol, and it is saturated fat in the diet which encourages excess cholesterol to be produced by the liver.
Example of things that can help prevent CHD is eating omega 3 or 6 fatty acids, fibre, Polyunsaturated fats (seeds, nuts, oily fish) and decreasing Saturated fatty acids, alcohol, and reduced salt intake.
Hypertension is the third leading cause of death in the world, with 1 billion individuals worldwide affected.
Hypertension is high blood pressure that increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It can be caused by consuming too many calories and too much saturated fat, sodium and alcohol, not balancing calorie intake with physical activity and smoking.
Blood pressure gives an indication of the overall health of the arteries. Blood pressure may be raised due to the following:
Atherosclerosis- narrowed arteries reduce the space in which blood flows.
Arteriosclerosis- hardening of the artery walls makes the less flexible against the pressure of the blood flow.
Raised Blood Volume- this can be due to a number of things, kidney disease or high salt diet is most common.
Viscous Blood- some diseases or poor diet can make blood more sticky and viscous.
Stress- stress is known to temporarily raise blood pressure.
Lifestyle modification, including body fat reduction, increased physical activity, and moderation of dietary sodium and alcohol intake is recommended to help prevent and lower high blood pressure.