Complex vs simple carbs, protein, good fats vs bad fats, etc., do all of these nutritional terms seem like a foreign language? There is an ever increasing epidemic of obesity and chronic pain throughout our nation, with people’s lives becoming busier and busier, we often turn to those quick and easy options to feed ourselves and our families. What people often relate to poor nutritional choices are negative effects that we can see, but not what those choices are doing to the inside of our bodies. These are 5 Key conditions that are related to poor nutritional choices

  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Pre and Type 2 Diabetes

Inflammation: Copious inflammatory foods, including vegetable oils, populate the Western diet. Most observational and interventional studies show a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and fiber, provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Among specific conditions, studies show a Mediterranean diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants provide anti-inflammatory effects that benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Epidemiologic and clinical evidence likewise shows an optimal diet can reduce inflammation that, among other things, contributes to metabolic syndrome.

Obesity: As we all know, a vicious cycle ensues as obesity contributes to numerous chronic pain conditions, and the pain in turn can lead to sedentary behavior that increases obesity. Studies prove that there is direct correlation between weight loss and improved overall health and wellness. How positive you feel about your overall appearance boosts confidence and social interaction.

Osteoarthritis: Studies have shown a relationship between pain and food intake among overweight and obese patients with OA. Fortunately, obesity is the most modifiable risk factor for knee OA. Of course, pain management is crucial to reducing OA symptoms. But even that may have a nutrition connection: one systematic review found scientific evidence to support some specific nutritional interventions–including omega 3 fatty acids–to relieve symptoms among patients with OA. Studies also show various nutrient deficiencies, including vitamins C and D as well as selenium, contribute to OA.

 Autoimmune disease: NIH estimates that 23.5 million Americans have an autoimmune disease (compare that with cancer, which affects 13 million Americans). Over 80 autoimmune disorders exist, including Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. Of course, genetic predisposition, environmental factors (including infections), and gut dysfunction play major roles in autoimmune disease development. But increasingly, researchers believe poor dietary changes over the past 50 years–including gluten intolerance’s, altered gut bacteria, and vitamin D deficiencies–also contribute to that increased rate of autoimmune diseases. Chief among those changes is our prevalent high-sugar, high-salt, processed-food heavy diet that paves the pathway for autoimmune diseases. Nutrient-poor diets only exacerbate that problem: evidence shows vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and flavanol deficiencies contribute to autoimmune diseases.

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes affects 29.1 million Americans (that’s over 9% of the population) and paves the way for serious complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetic neuropathic pain, a common diabetes complication and the most common form of neuropathic pain, affects over 90% of people with diabetes. Studies show increased musculoskeletal pain in patients with type 2 diabetes adversely impacts body mass index, quality of life, physical function, and physical activity abilities. The link between diabetes and nutrition is a fundamental one that should never be set aside.

So now that you have been provided a glimpse of how those poor nutritional choices could be effecting you and your family, I hope your asking what are some things I can do to improve my decision making now. These are 5 easy points to follow that can lay a solid foundation for improved nutritional decisions:

  • Shop mainly on the outside of the supermarket. Most of the fresh vegetables, meats, and dairy products are found on the “outside aisles.” As a general rule the easier a food will perish, the easier food will digest, they also contain less harmful preservatives, and have increased nutritional value.
  • Look for food options with the fewest possible ingredients. If you read nutritional labels that have more ingredients than your can count, or some that sound like they could be from another planet, just put it back on the shelf.
  • Cook in Bulk. Don’t like leftovers? Well they’re not my favorite either, but we all know that time is limited in our busy society, and if you have healthier options already prepared at home, it can prevent those “run through the drive thru diet derailments.”
  • Make Cooking a Family Affair. Remember the fact that we don’t have a lot of free time throughout the week? Well make valuable use of the time that we have by incorporating the kids into helping in the kitchen, who knows they may pick up some healthy decision making along the way.
  • Don’t Panic: Ever had an emergency come up throughout the day, or someone at work has a birthday and wants to go to the unhealthiest restaurant in town. Well don’t worry things like that happen in everyone’s lives, just do the best you can at that moment, and get back on track your next meal. Don’t let one bad event drag you back down that path of unhealthy choices.