Why is healthy eating important? The benefits of a balanced diet

Posted in , by Echelon Health

We’re often told that we need to follow a healthy, balanced diet, but just why is healthy eating important?

In this blog post, we’re going to be looking at the importance of healthy eating and nutrition, including the many benefits that a balanced diet has and the effects of poor nutrition. We’ll also be providing healthy eating tips and advice for creating an ‘eating healthy’ plan to start you on your journey.

Find out more about the importance of healthy eating below.

What is healthy eating?

When we talk about healthy eating, we mean eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions.

Following a healthy, balanced diet helps your body to get the nutrition and energy it needs to stay healthy, active and well. This type of diet will help you to maintain good health, a healthy weight, and help you to feel your best.

A healthy diet needs to incorporate a range of different foods and should typically consist of:

  • Fruit and vegetables (at least five portions per day)
  • High-fibre starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta or bread (wholegrain or wholemeal versions are best)
  • Dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya)
  • Protein such as beans, pulses, eggs, meat and fish
  • Small amounts of unsaturated fats (healthy fats) such as oils and spreads
  • Plenty of water (or other fluids)

Eating a good variety of these foods every day will help you to get a wide range of nutrients from your diet.

The benefits of a healthy diet

What we eat and drink can have a huge impact on our bodies and our health, which is why a healthy diet is so important.

There are many benefits of eating healthily. Healthy eating can:

  • Lower your risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
  • Support immune function
  • Help the digestive system function
  • Help to maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy
  • Repair and strengthen muscles
  • Improve energy levels
  • Support brain function and brain health
  • Boost mood
  • Help with sleeping patterns
  • Support healthy growth and development in children
  • Supports healthy pregnancies

The benefits of a healthy diet are huge — providing the energy and nutrients we need to keep active throughout the day while ensuring that we remain healthy far into the future.

The effects of poor nutrition

Poor nutrition is when we don’t get enough of the nutrients we need from our diet. This may happen for a number of reasons, such as following a diet that doesn’t contain a wide variety of healthy, nutritional foods. It can also occur when we follow a diet that is high in saturated fats, salt and sugar. Poor nutrition can also be caused by not eating enough or eating too much.

Some of the effects of poor nutrition include:

  • Obesity – a poor nutritional diet full of fat and sugar can cause obesity, which is a major risk factor for many health conditions
  • High cholesterol – high cholesterol levels can cause clogged blood vessels and lead to serious health problems
  • High blood pressure – also known as hypertension, high blood pressure can be caused by poor diet and can lead to strokes, heart failure and kidney disease if left untreated
  • Diabetes – being overweight and inactive, as well as a diet that is high in fat, carbohydrates, sugar and cholesterol, are all type 2 diabetes risk factors (WebMD, 2021)
  • Cancer – research suggests a poor nutritional diet may be linked to an increased risk of developing certain cancers, such as bowel cancer
  • Osteoporosis – a poor diet without enough vitamin D and calcium can increase your risk of osteoporosis — a health condition that causes bones to become weaker and more fragile
  • Heart disease and stroke – other health conditions caused by poor diet, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease

As you can see, poor nutrition can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing, being linked to a number of chronic health conditions. So what can we do to avoid the adverse effects of poor nutrition and eat as healthily as possible?

Healthy eating tips

If you want to start eating more healthily, there are a number of easy changes you can make to your diet.

Here are some healthy eating tips:

  • Eat your 5 a day: fruit and vegetables are full of many of the nutrients we need to maintain good health and support immunity, such as vitamins and minerals
  • Base meals around high-fibre foods: a diet rich in fibre can reduce your risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Choose wholegrain or wholemeal versions of pasta, rice and bread, which contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals than the white versions
  • Eat a portion of oily fish a week: oily fish such as salmon and trout is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health (lowering your risk of heart disease)
  • Include dairy or dairy alternatives in your diet: dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are rich in calcium, which helps keep your bones and teeth strong (and can protect you from osteoporosis as you get older). Fortified dairy alternatives like oat milk or soy products can also provide this, along with various other vitamins and minerals
  • Eat plenty of legumes: beans, lentils and peas are all high in protein and fibre while also being low in fat — so they’re a great way to bulk out meals
  • Eat less red meat: while red meat is a good source of protein, too much red meat (such as beef, pork or lamb) in your diet can increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Try to limit or avoid processed meats such as sausages and burgers, which are high in saturated fat
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks: these can increase obesity and cause tooth decay. Avoid sugary snacks such as cakes, chocolate and biscuits and opt for fruit instead

Following these healthy eating tips can help you to maintain good health and reap the benefits of a balanced, nutritious diet.

Eating healthy plan

Creating an ‘eating healthy’ plan can feel hard sometimes, especially if you’re rushed for time or you’ve fallen into an unhealthy dietary routine due to convenience.

The key points to remember are to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and healthy sources of protein (like fish or pulses) while reducing processed food, sugar and alcohol you drink.

Don’t be discouraged if you fall back on old habits, and don’t deny yourself treats or food you enjoy — you’ll only feel guilty and give up on your efforts. Instead, just try to reduce your intake of ‘unhealthy’ foods and swap them out for healthier alternatives where you can.

As long as you are eating a varied diet that contains a balance of foods from the five main food groups (NHS, 2019), you’ll get the nutrients you need naturally.

For more ways to keep healthy, visit our blog post on the top 10 health tips to start the New Year well.

 

Understanding your health with Echelon Health

At Echelon Health we understand that making beneficial lifestyle changes is important. These changes may come through your diet, exercise levels, sleep routine or relaxation times. However, in order to know what changes you need to make you should be able to have a sound understanding of what your health is at the moment.

To do this, Echelon Health provide several comprehensive assessment packages that cover specific areas of concern, such as your heart through our Healthy Heart package. Or if you are more interested in a full-body assessment then our Platinum Assessment is the one for you.

The list below identifies all the scans and tests involved in the Platinum Assessment. Combining the best imaging technology, several medical experts and the scans, Echelon Health are able to detect up to 92% of preventable causes of death in one comprehensive assessment.

  • Blood Tests
  • ECG
  • CT Aorta
  • CT Heart
  • CT Coronary Angiogram
  • CT Chest
  • CT Pelvis
  • CT Virtual Colonoscopy
  • CT Bone Density
  • EOS
  • CT Upright Skeleton
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Prostate
  • Ultrasound Thyroid
  • Ultrasound Testes/ Ovaries
  • Digital Mammogram
  • Full Body Mole Screen

To find out more information about how a health assessment can help you make informed decisions about your health and your lifestyle, don’t hesitate to contact us on info@echelon.health.

 

 

 

Sources

WebMD (2021). Type 2 Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-causes (accessed 09/03/2022)

NHS (2019). The Eatwell Guide. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/ (accessed 09/03/2022)

WHO (2022). Healthy diet. Available at: https://www.who.int/initiatives/behealthy/healthy-diet (accessed 09/03/2022)

WHO (2022a). Nutrition. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/nutrition (accessed 09/03/2022)

CDC.gov (2021). Benefits of Healthy Eating. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/resources-publications/benefits-of-healthy-eating.html (accessed 09/03/2022)

Ajmera, R. (2022). The Effects of Poor Nutrition on Your Health. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/31172-effects-poor-nutrition-health/ (accessed 09/03/2022)

CDC.gov (2021a). Poor Nutrition. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.htm (accessed 09/03/2022)

Nutrition.org (2016). Cancer. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/health-conditions/cancer/ (accessed 09/03/2022)