Most of the common diseases today, like obesity, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and high blood pressure, are lifestyle-related. But experts stress that many people are still not aware of this fact. What they are also not aware of is that these can also affect your daily in terms of energy levels, sleep patterns, physical movement, skin, hair, vision, and also your immunity. “Yes, food and lifestyle have a profound impact on your health. Hence, it is imperative to understand the importance of having a healthy diet and also adopting some lifestyle tools that can help heal the body,” said Karishma Chawla, a nutritionist and lifestyle educator.
To begin with, when you eat processed foods, the body uses its precious vitamin stores to “metabolise these foreign friends, and depletes itself of the nutrients it needs to sustain and grow”. “This results in vision impairment, ageing of the skin, and hair loss. On the bigger front, an imbalanced diet with insufficient protein can lead to high body percentage, and hence, muscle breakdown, lower BMR (basal metabolic rate), and reduced immune function,” Chawla mentioned.
Diet also has implications on digestive health. Chawla explained that the total surface area of the gut is “approximately the size of a studio apartment”, stressing that the foods we eat have a deep impact on gut health. The health of this digestive tract can easily be compromised by the food eaten and the irritants in the environment around it, which can lead to inflammation in the body and further on to a variety of health disorders.
Adopting fad or crash diets, extreme detox programs to lose weight or fix health can actually harm the body more than expected. “These can lead to a yoyo in weight and lowered immune function with an imbalance of micronutrients causing hormonal imbalances, hair loss, sagging or aged and dry skin along with brain fog and mood irritability,” said Chawla.
Extreme detox programs can also lead to more stress on the body, leading to a rapid release of toxins that maybe difficult for it to handle. This may further lead to increased cortisol levels in the body resulting in inflammation and high blood sugar levels.
Lastly, indulging in processed and packaged foods can cause over consumption of salt leading to increased cravings, bloating, water retention and imbalance in blood pressure levels. “Prevention is better than cure, If we treat food as information and lifestyle as medicine, we can actually use aggressive preventive measures to prevent lifestyle diseases and other detrimental impacts on the body,” said Chawla.
Quick tips of a healthy diet
– Choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates
– Consume adequate protein everyday
– Target 8-11 servings of fibre from high fibre fruits, vegetables, soups, salads and vegetable smoothies
– Target water intake: 2.7 litres for women and 3.7 litres for men
– Regular sunshine exposure, exercise, and rest
– Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night
– Avoid over consumption of salt, avoid table salt and experiment with low sodium salt
– Consume gut boosting foods daily such as fermented vegetables like carrot, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower, and home made curd
– Limit or avoid aerated drinks and alcohol
– Limit caffeine consumption
– Avoid processed foods, white sugar and refined flour
– Eat iron rich foods like green leafy veggies, and lean meat. Can add lime (vitamin c) for better iron absorption
– Eat a rainbow plate, consisting of all colors of veggies to get a variety of nutrients and antioxidants, these have anti-inflammatory properties
– Eat foods that can boost energy levels such as coconut oil, green tea, olive oil, salmon, pomegranate and spinach.