You Are What You Eat (Featured Guest Post)


girl holding salad and chocolate cakeThe foods you eat are choices you make every day. Choices about what you eat, when you eat it, and how much you eat; however, determine more than just satisfying your schedule and your appetite.  They affect your health, your immune system, your blood glucose levels, your energy levels, your bones, joints and every organ in your body.  If you’re wondering if “you are what you eat”, the answer is a resounding YES.  And practicing good nutrition habits can make a world of difference, not to mention reduce the risk of short-term and long-term illness and disease.

Food Affects Your Glucose and Insulin Levels

If you have diabetes, understanding how various food affects blood glucose is very important.  Having diabetes means that your body has trouble controlling blood glucose levels. When blood glucose stays too high for too long, serious health problems can develop. However, by controlling your blood glucose through medication, exercise and most importantly diet, you can delay or prevent problematic conditions associated with diabetes, such as kidney malfunctions, eye problems, heart disease and other complications.  According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), following a diabetes meal plan can help you keep your blood glucose levels on track.

Insulin does a lot of things for the body, most importantly, it helps glucose move from the blood into your muscle cells, where it can be used for energy. Some oral diabetes medications help you produce more insulin or help your insulin work more efficiently, so your medications and food plan have to work together. If you take insulin shots, you need to be especially careful to match the amount of carbohydrates you eat with your insulin dose. If you eat too many carbs without adjusting your insulin dose, your blood glucose might spike. If you consume too few carbohydrates, your blood glucose might bottom out, or become too low.  Your physician can help you match your food choices to the medication that has been subscribed to you.

Immune-Boosting Foods

A healthy lifestyle is your first line of defense for good health and a strong immune system. Your body simply functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies.  Make sure you’re eating a diet high in fruits, whole grains and vegetables; exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight; cut down on smoking and drinking; get adequate sleep and control your blood pressure. These steps make a significant difference, and can really help as you age.

While some people age healthily, studies compared the elderly with younger people, and found that the elderly are far more likely to contract infectious diseases because of a lower immune system. Respiratory infections, pneumonia and influenza are leading causes of death for those over 65.  Eating healthy foods increases the production of T-cells, which help fight off infection and helps the body’s ability to mount a more vigorous immune response.

Eat Food Every 6 Hours

You can manage your blood glucose better if you eat the same amount of food at the same time every day. That keeps your glucose levels stable and helps your medication work best. Overloading or under-loading yourself with food surprises is not great for the body.  Eating every 5 to 6 hours ensures that your body is consistently getting nutrients, and those nutrients regulate blood glucose.  If you can’t eat a full meal, try snacking.  Healthy snacks are a fantastic way to reduce those “lows” you get throughout the day, due to low glucose levels.

Your body needs food.  Don’t let anyone tell you that eating less often is better.  Sure you want to avoid bad foods low in nutrition and high in calories, but with good foods like fruits and vegetables, you can literally eat a lot more than you thought, and you’ll experience regulated glucose levels and a healthy weight in the process.

Eat Smart

Carbohydrates can make or break you.  They are foods that have the biggest effect on your blood glucose levels. After you eat carbohydrates, your blood glucose rises.  Starches, sweets, dairy  and fruits all contain carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates are important for health, when you eat too many at once, your blood glucose can rise too high.  Other carbs, such as sweet potatoes and vegetables, are better for you and less risky when considering a glucose spike.  Additionally, avoiding processed foods and eating more fiber and nutrients is another good strategy.

If you’re overweight, you can eat the same foods as everyone else, but the devil is in the details. A smart meal plan will tells you when, what and how much to eat.  It’s important not to completely deprive yourself of the foods you like, so your diet can include your favorite foods.  Just make sure your meal plan is also covering the following:

  • Fruits and Vegetables

  • Low-Fat Dairy

  • Whole grains

  • Fish, eggs, peas, poultry, dried beans and lean meats

Micro-Nutrients

To have a strong immune response, you need regular nourishment. There is evidence that suggests that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Various “micronutrient” deficiencies — for example, deficiencies in vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as zinc, copper, iron, folic acid and selenium — alter immune responses. If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs, taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement brings health benefits of many types, especially a healthy immune system. Taking megadoses of a single vitamin does not. More is not necessarily better.

Additionally, a number of vitamins and herbs can influence the immune system in good ways. These include things like ginseng, aloe vera, echinacea, garlic, licorice root and probiotics. And while science has not proven that these nutrients unequivocally promote good immune function, if you do choose to take these nutrients, it can’t hurt.

Bottom Line

Eating good, healthy and natural foods can constitute the keys to great health and a long life.  By choosing those foods that beneficially support the major functionality of your body, you’ll be on your way to health benefits you only thought were possible with youth and a rigid work out regiment.  Fortunately, your diet, (along with proper sleep and moderate exercise) is perhaps the most important health strategy you should focus on.  A healthy diet, more than any other healthy lifestyle choice, will give you the most rewards.

david novak journalist Written by: David Novak is an international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.

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