Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.
Continuing with a new series titled; NUTRITION
It’s beginning to look like Christmas, Dan and I took a walk into the local mall the other day and Christmas was all around us. Come winter the ground is covered with a white sheet of snow.
Kids welcome winter by catching the first few snowflakes in their mouth. For adults, winter brings a slew of festivities like skiing, snowboarding, dog sled racing, and many others. And then there is Christmas. Christmas on a wintry December night brings families closer as they cozy up.
Last year was the first time, this Florida raised girl was around snow. Visited our grandson in Minnesota and made a snowman and an angel in the snow. All new to me and enjoyed every second of it. Looking forward to getting out in the snow this year.
"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy”. - William Blake
Cold weather is mostly associated with the holidays, but once Christmas has come and gone, we're left with bitter temperatures and usually lots and lots of snow. Sure, it's a long countdown until spring, but as you wait for flowers to bloom, embrace the winter. Whether it's sharing stories along a cozy fire about snow or warming up in a cozy chair, there's a lot to love about winter.
So, until you can trade in a scarf for a swimsuit, try to embrace the cold for the duration of the season.
Today I’m blogging on you know what? Yes Nutrition!! Let’s dive a little deeper into all the ways that good nutrition can improve health and quality of life.
Diet plays a huge role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
In two large clinical trials, participants were assigned to one of 4 different diets which differed in their carbohydrate, fat, and protein distributions but all limited saturated fat, included a healthy amount of fiber, used low glycemic index (low sugar, high fiber) foods and created an energy deficit of 750 calories per day.
Essentially, these were 4 different versions of a generally healthy diet that limited the overall intake of food in order to consume fewer calories than were used by the person each day (created an energy deficit).
In both trials, participants across all 4 diets lost similar amounts of weight, lost more fat than muscle mass, maintained the weight loss similarly, and improved risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in a similar manner.
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU GOT
From this evidence, we can conclude that a generally healthy diet with reduced calorie intake can lead to meaningful weight loss regardless of the specifics.
Obesity is in itself a risk factor for some non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and even some cancers. This means that maintaining a healthy weight through good nutrition is already going a long way to prevent them.
With cardiovascular disease, weight is important as well, but there are also some more specific ways that nutrition is involved in prevention.
For people who suffer from non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, nutrition also becomes important for managing their conditions.
In addition to a generally healthy diet, people with diabetes need to regulate their blood sugar via carbohydrate intake in order to prevent complications. Those with chronic kidney disease may need to limit certain nutrients that can no longer be processed as efficiently as their condition progresses.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Aside from the prevention of chronic diseases, nutrition also plays a role in helping our bodies to be prepared for more acute illnesses and infections.
Specific micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and Zinc, among others, contribute to a strong immune system.
In a more general sense, obesity, chronic diseases, and undernutrition are all linked with poorer outcomes in acute infections or injuries. Maintaining a healthy weight and consuming a healthy diet containing lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts supports a healthy immune system.
A large portion of immune cells reside in the gut and depend on good gut health, fermented products may also be beneficial for the probiotics they contain.
Pregnancy and lactation are nutritionally demanding times for a mother, and what she eats has an enormous impact on her health and the development of her baby.
She needs to make sure that she is supplying all the nutrients that her baby needs to develop, while also maintaining her own bodily processes and functions.
Maintaining an appropriate weight and adequate diet before, during, and after pregnancy is greatly beneficial for the health of both mom and baby.
Even with regards to fertility, nutrition has an important role to play. Both obesity and being underweight can have negative effects on fertility in men and women because both result in metabolic alterations that can affect reproductive hormones.
It is also well understood that a healthy diet that includes seafood, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (basically a Mediterranean diet) is associated with better fertility in both women and men.
Proper nutrition provides us with energy and enables us to focus. We see improvements in academic performance at school and work productivity in adults with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
Eating healthy can also contribute to generally feeling good, increased motivation, and positivity, all of which have benefits for mental health. Home-made meals, eaten socially with family or friends, can contribute to both physical and mental health at the same time.
As we age, brain health becomes a concern. We are just starting to understand the role of nutrition in brain health, but research has shown that a healthy diet can help prevent cognitive decline and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, six can be linked in some way to nutrition and lifestyle: heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
That isn’t to say that these diseases are always preventable or always caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
However, if there was something you could do right now to potentially reduce your risk of a number of deadly diseases, and that something had virtually no side effects or negative impacts, wouldn’t you do it? You’re risking nothing but could be rewarded with a longer, healthier life.
There’s no downside. As Dan and I have learned its never too late, to change your lifestyle.
Research has shown that higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish are associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality (death by any cause) while higher intakes of red meat and processed meats are associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality.
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'” – Lewis Carroll
Remember, it is all about you which translates to personal responsibility for healthy living. Every day we are exposed to health-related information on the "how to " for being healthy and it can be confusing, overwhelming and expensive, especially if you buy into the quick get healthy weight loss gimmicks. Let's break it down and start with basic Healthy Eating or Nutrition 101.
Until next time the blog will be on eating a healthy diet can help you to live longer. Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering days. Can’t wait to play out in the snow.