Top Chronic Diseases and Their Nutritional Culprits

Eating certain foods too often really CAN take a toll on your health.

These Top Chronic Diseases and their Nutritional Culprits can help you better understand foods that should be consumed in modertion.

Have you ever wondered how different foods or methods of preparation can affect your health? We’re all somewhat aware of what’s good for us and what’s not. We often focus on foods that are beneficial to our health but what about foods that lead to nutrition related diseases? Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and even cancer can all be linked to frequent consumption of unhealthy options. Learning more about these top chronic diseases and their nutritional culprits will help you better understand what kinds of things you should avoid in order to live a healthier life.

Nutrition Related Chronic Diseases

Foods that are loaded with sugar, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and additives are not beneficial to your health.

Some diseases aren’t at all related to what you eat– but others are. Indulging in certain foods too often can put you at a greater risk, or even cause you to get sick. Most of the ingredients that cause issues include sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and additives. The method of preparation plays a part in this as well. For instance, fried chicken is much higher in unhealthy fat than grilled chicken. Sparkling water flavored naturally with fruit contains much less sugar than a can of soda. We’re not saying that you can never enjoy foods that contain these ingredients or are prepared a certain way. You just need to keep in mind that they should be eaten in moderation. The majority of your diet should include nutrient-dense ingredients that are prepared in healthy ways.

Type 2 Diabetes

Sweets and refined carbhydrates can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that affects 10.5% of the U.S. population. While type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease often diagnosed in childhood, type 2 diabetes is a nutrition-related illness that usually occurs later on in life. When someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it means one of two things. Either the body has stopped producing insulin, or, the receptors in cells that usually answer signals from insulin don’t work properly. This means that cells can’t take up glucose from the blood to use for energy, which causes high spikes and lows in blood sugar.

While genetics and other factors play a role in your risk for type 2 diabetes, diet and lifestyle have an affect, as well. Dietary choices can lead to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, or worsening diabetes. These include frequently eating foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates often found in white flour. Some examples are white bread, pastries, and cakes. Refined carbohydrates are lower in fiber than whole or complex carbohdyrates. Why? Because they have been stripped of their fiber. This means that they can be digested much faster, quickly increasing blood sugar. 

Hypertension

Too much salt and fried food can incresse hypertension.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very common disease and affects almost half of all adults (45%) in the USA. High blood pressure means that there is an increased amount of resistance for your blood when passing through your veins. It can be caused by genetics, your environment, or lifestyle factors like diet and lack of exercise. Diets that are high in sodium and saturated fat can lead to hypertension. Sodium causes your body to hold onto water which increases your blood pressure. Furthermore, saturated fat can lead to a build up of plaque in your arteries, making smaller tunnels for blood to travel through. This means your heart has to work much harder to pump blood throughout your body.

Heart Disease

Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease.

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, includes a large variety of heart conditions from atherosclerosis to coronary artery disease (CAD). Common dietary culprits for heart disease include diets low in fiber and high in sodium and saturated fat. Excessive alcohol consumption also plays a part. This is because heart disease can originate from issues with the veins such as a build up of plaque or high blood pressure. Hypertension is a common risk factor for heart disease, so preventing hypertension can decrease your risk for heart disease. 

Stroke

Fried food and risk of stroke are directly connected, due to the high levels of saturated and transfats that can clog arteries.

Someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds. Additionally, someone will die every 4 minutes from a stroke. Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or interrupted. This is usually due to a blood clot or a vein bursting. They can happen due to a number of reasons, but consuming a diet high in saturated fat, sodium, and alcohol has shown a higher risk for stroke in adults.

Cancer

Burnt food can have cancer-causing carcinogens.

While not all cancers are caused by dietary choices and food is not always the primary reason cancer can occur, some foods can increase your risk for cancer. Things like additives used to preserve meat and other foods, as well as burnt foods can cause you to ingest carcinogens, or compounds that have been linked to cancer. Other lifestyle factors that can cause cancer include obesity and excessive consumption of red meat and alcohol.

Now that we’ve covered what the top chronic diseases and their nutritional culprits, we can also focus on what can prevent them! Check out our list of top 10 best functional foods for all-around good health.

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Kelsey Butler, MS, RDN

Kelsey Butler is a Registered Dietitian and recipe developer. From a young age, Kelsey found a love for creating delicious recipes. Now, with a Master's in Nutritional Sciences, Kelsey uses her culinary skills to create healthy and unique recipes for many different diets. She is passionate about creating a healthy relationship with all foods and recipes that everyone can enjoy. Kelsey has a passion for cooking, but she also enjoys the outdoors, staying active, and traveling. She is currently living with her partner in New Zealand.

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