Promoting Healthy Eating to Prevent Non Communicable Diseases

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Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are diseases that cannot be transferred from one person to another. The four main non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. They are responsible for 75% of deaths worldwide, killing 38 million people each year.

Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are amongst the main risk factors of NCDs. They raise blood pressure, increase blood glucose, elevate blood lipids and lead to obesity.

The last decades have witnessed a huge increase in meat, sugars, fats and highly processed food consumption. On the other hand, the consumption of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, pulses and roots has been declining. This phenomenon is known as nutrition transition, it occurs due to globalization, urbanization and the development of the food industry that produces less nutritious food costing less money. NCDs can be prevented by following a heathy lifestyle through healthy eating and physical activity. This can be easy and doable by following some recommendations:

  • Quit smoking and stay away from smoking areas.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Watch your weight (gain or loss) regularly.
  • Try to follow a plant-based diet: eat more fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and nuts, but less red meat and dairy products.
  • Decrease your intake of junk food and processed food and replace it with home-cooked meals based on fresh ingredients.
  • Avoid (decrease) eating these types of food:
Food Group Example Associated Risk Associated NCDs
High salt/sodium food Processed meats, chicken stock cubes, fried chips, salted fish, pickles, etc. Increase blood pressure Cardiovascular diseases, cancers
Food rich in saturated/trans- fats Fried chips, deep fried foods, fatty meats, etc. Increase blood lipids Cardiovascular diseases, obesity
Energy-dense food Candies, chocolates, desserts, fried chips, etc.

Increase blood lipids,
increase blood glucose

Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity
Sugary beverages Carbonated beverages, energy drinks, etc. Increase blood glucose Diabetes, obesity

 

The key for healthy eating is constructing a balanced diet based on the Food Pyramid. Taking the correct number of servings of all food categories every day is essential to fulfill your daily needs of nutrients.
• The base of the Food Pyramid is WATER. Drinking 8–10 glasses of water every day to hydrate your body and ensure optimal functions of the organs.
• Eating carbohydrates such as bread, cake, biscuits, cereals, rice or pasta is important to provide energy to the body. Choose whole grain products to ensure more nutritious benefits.
• Eat a colorful salad dish every day and eat a fruit after every meal. Fruits and vegetables are rich with vitamins and antioxidants known for their anti-cancerous effect.
• Milk and dairy products have numerous benefits. Rich with proteins, vitamins and minerals specifically calcium: necessary for bones health.
• Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans are the main source of protein. It is the building unit of the human body and its presence is required for growth and tissue renewing.
• Fats and added sugars also contribute in the healthy diet. Consuming them, in small amounts, is necessary to provide energy to the body.
You are what you eat. Choose your food wisely, eat fresh, drink plenty of water and stay active; not just to prevent NCDs, but to live a healthy disease-free life, and remember prevention is always better than cure.
For additional information about NCDs and nutrition, please watch this video
 

References

who.int
cdc.gov

 

 

 

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