National Nutrition Month

11 Jan, 2024

The first National Nutrition awareness campaign began in 1973 with a simple presidential proclamation “Invest in yourself- Buy Nutrition.” This year we are celebrating 46 years of Nutritional Education and the importance of taking care of yourself, by reminding our caregivers that the foundation to any healthy lifestyle is understanding how great an impact food can have in our lives.

Here are 4 ways that food impacts your life:

Reduced Cancer Risk

According to research11,2, it is estimated that between 20-40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the US can be traced back to obesity, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and especially nutrition. Researchers have found that a diet rich in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean proteins (fish, poultry) resulted in a reduced risk of cancers3as well as weight loss, which can also reduce your risk.

Improved Memory

Foods rich in B vitamins, particularly vitamins B-6 and B-12 and folic acid, can help reduce your risk of dementia.4Leafy greens and fortified cereal are excellent sources of B vitamins.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve memory and learning. Oily fish, such as salmon and trout, contain an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to both your heart and your mind.5

Did you know that seaweed is an excellent source of both B vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids?6 Sushi aside, seaweed is kind of a big deal to some scientists who say Algae might be our best option to combat global challenges, like food security and maintaining biodiversity.7But you should definitely think twice before chowing down, as seaweed has a high concentration of iodine, which can affect your thyroid. If you have any thyroid conditions, you should consult your doctor before adding seaweed to your diet.6

Stronger Bones

You probably already know that bones play a vital role in the health of your body. Beyond providing support, allowing you to move, and protecting your organs from injury8, bones are important to red blood cell production9 and are also a great source of calcium for your body. It is not just your bones that need calcium to function; your nerves, and muscles11 also require calcium and if you are not consuming enough calcium, your body will take what it needs from your bones. If your body takes too much from your bones, and you aren’t replacing what was took, you will begin to lose bone mass. Losing too much bone mass will put you at higher risk of developing Osteoporosis10.

By the time you reach your mid-30s, the replacement rate of bone mass decreases making it even more important to have a diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D11. Dairy products, fortified cereals, and even orange juice are all high in Calcium.  While Vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium, can be found in supplements. Don’t forget about physical activity; bones need regular exercise to remain strong. The Surgeon General recommends that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.

As with any change in diet, you should consult your doctor before adding any new supplement or starting any new exercise.

Click here to learn more about the best exercises for your bone health.

Increased Energy Levels

Calories are what our body uses to power itself12. Unfortunately, not all calories provide the energy to power through your day. Calories from foods that contain processed grains, have added sugar, are low in fiber, or high in fat13, may give you a temporary energy boost, but you will soon find yourself looking for another meal.

Nutrient-rich foods, such as Bananas, apples, eggs, and even dark chocolate14, are better equipped at supplying your body with the energy it needs to help prevent fatigue. Also try to stay away from most energy bars, as they have been shown to provide you about the same amount of energy as a candy bar.

Not everyone who starts a healthy food journey will have the same diet. Your age, location, culture, and tradition all play a role in what healthy foods you might enjoy eating. Even if you are just starting your journey today, there are many resources available to make eating nutritious food fun and easy. Luckily, the USDA created Myplate which has an abundance of information and tips to help you learn more about eating healthy.


References

[1] The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. (2017, April 14). Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection? Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/diet-and-physical-activity.html

[2] Donaldson M. S. (2004). Nutrition and cancer: a review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet. Nutrition journal3, 19. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-19

[3] Crichton-Stuart, C. (2018, June 26). The top 10 benefits of eating healthy. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322268.php

[4] Srivastava, M. (n.d.). Benefits From Eating Healthy. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/38822-benefits-eating/

[5] Nordqvist, C. (2017, December 20). Fish oils and omega-3 oils: Benefits, foods, and risks. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40253.php?sr

[6] Glassman, K., MS, RD, CDN. (n.d.). Seaweed: A Mineral-Rich Ocean Plant That’s Not Just For Sushi. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/why-is-seaweed-good-for-me#1

[7] Kite-Powell, J. (2018, June 18). See How Algae Could Change Our World. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2018/06/15/see-how-algae-could-change-our-world/#3929ca913e46

[8] Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, January 15). How to keep your bones healthy. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/bone-health/art-20045060

[9] Science Daily. (n.d.). Bone marrow. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/bone_marrow.htm

[10] National institute of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases. (2019, January 14). Healthy Bones Matter. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/kids/healthy-bones

[11] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (n.d.). The Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis: What It Means to You. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/SGR/surgeon-generals-report?_ga=2.8519091.723311211.1551724074-1325193357.1546896864#g

[12] Szalay, J. (2015, November 13). What Are Calories? Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.livescience.com/52802-what-is-a-calorie.html

[13] Petre, A., MS, RD. (2018, February 5). 7 Foods That Drain Your Energy. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-drain-energy

[14] Semeco, A., MS, RD. (2017, December 4). 27 Foods That Can Give You More Energy. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/energy-boosting-foods

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