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Improved Diet = Improved Health

ImprovedDietJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

For almost a century federal dietary guidance was designed for avoidance of nutrient deficiency diseases, such as scurvy and rickets. Other than obesity, minimal attention was given to reducing the risk of degenerative chronic conditions. In the past two decades there have been substantial advances in understanding the relationship between diet and health, as well as broad agreement that overall dietary modifications improve the chance of a healthier life and reduce the prevalence of diet-related chronic disease. Family history, environmental concerns, healthcare access and other health-promoting lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise and healthy sleep, are all determinants of health and wellbeing. While there is clear evidence that the daily diet directly affects both short and long term health, research shows American dietary patterns are very slow to improve.

Dietary advice has improved, but are we listening?

It’s been almost 20 years since nutrition experts, that historically promoted high-carb/low fat diets, disavowed their disastrous advice to shun all dietary fats and instead urged Americans to focus on whole grains, nuts and healthful fats. A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported some improvements in the Standard American Diet. A cross-sectional analysis among 44,000 adults found that the quality of the average American’s diet improved by two percentage points between 1999 and 2016. Researchers found decreased intake of low-quality carbohydrates and added sugars, as well as increased intake of  high-quality carbohydrates, including whole grains, plant proteins and nuts. Yet, after two decades of updated nutrition advice the majority of overall diet composition remains derived from nutrient deficient refined carbs and unhealthy fats.

Some of us are actively pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

To be sure, Americans have many different approaches to eating. While some focus on taste and nutrition, other focus on convenience. Those who focus on healthy eating say they are relatively satisfied with their diets. A majority of people who focus on convenience say they should probably eat healthier most days. When asked to confront their own eating habits, most Americans admit to nutritional shortcomings. Yet, 72 percent of adults acknowledge that healthy eating habits and exercise are the most important factors for healthy lifespan improvement. As well, the majority know that both the quality and the quantity of food consumption is a public health concern. While this public awareness shows that millions of Americans are moving in the right direction, considerable challenges lie ahead to improve the majority of American’s diet and health.

Why nutrition matters:

The typical American diet is too high in calories, unhealthy fat, sodium and added sugars, and too low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and fiber. A low nutrient, low fiber, high sugar diet contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis and many types of cancer. As well, unhealthy eating is the leading cause of mortality and disabilities stemming from bone fractures, heart attacks, strokes and lower-limb amputations. Improving the diet promotes healthy weight maintenance, reduces cancer risk, prevents strokes and supports cognitive function, cardiovascular health, strong bones and teeth, better mood, improved memory, overall wellbeing and healthier longevity.

If you’re really not sure what to eat, go for vegetables. Nine out of ten Americans fail to meet the five a day serving requirement. Full of fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, vegetables help protect the heart, the eyes and the brain, lower the risk of diabetes and some cancers, help maintain healthy blood pressure, protect blood vessel walls and support bone health. To support whole body heath, the American Heart Association recommends approximately 2100 calories of nutritious whole foods each day.

  • 5 daily servings of vegetables (one serving equals 1 cup raw leafy greens or ½ cup cooked or raw vegetables)
  • 4 daily servings of fruit (one serving equals one medium sized piece of fruit or ½ cup cut up fruit)
  • 6 daily servings of whole grains (one serving equals 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of cereal or ½ cup cooked rice)
  • 3 daily servings of dairy (one serving equals 1 cup milk or yogurt or 1.5 oz. of cheese)
  • 3 daily servings of healthy fats and oils (one serving equals 1 tablespoon)
  • 8-9 weekly servings of poultry, meat and eggs (one serving equals 3 ounces of meat or one egg)
  • 2-3 weekly servings of seafood (one serving equals 3 ounces)
  • 5 weekly servings of nuts, seeds, beans and legumes (one serving equals ½ ounce of nuts, ¼ cup of beans or 1 tablespoon nut butter)

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of healthy nutrition:

Spectrum VibranceSpectrum Vibrance by Vibrant Health®: This concentrated blend of powdered, whole food plant nutrients provides a broad range of nutrient-rich red, yellow, blue and green fruits and vegetables, as well as bioactive food substances and antioxidant-rich botanical extracts. One serving is equivalent to 4.5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Delicious Greens...Delicious Greens 8000 Original Flavor by Greens World Inc.: This powdered concentrate blends certified organic vegetables and fruits with enzymes, probiotics, natural fibers, vitamins, minerals and more to deliver the antioxidant power of 8000 ORAC units. Naturally flavored with orange and spearmint. No added sugar. Free of wheat, MSG and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation. Additional flavors available: Berry, Chocolate, Mocha Café, Fruit Punch and Strawberry Kiwi.

Spectra Purples™Spectra Purples™ by DaVinci Laboratories of Vermont: This proprietary powdered supplement blends 19 whole fruits, vegetables and extracts containing health promoting purple phytonutrients in support of healthy aging and cognitive, cellular, immune and cardiovascular health and function. Also available: Spectra Greens™, Spectra Oranges™ and Spectra Reds™.

PaleoRedsPaleo Reds® by Designs for Health®: In support of healthy aging, this proprietary whole food powder combines a variety of high quality colorful fruits and vegetables known for their phytonutrient and antioxidant compounds. Contains over 70% organic ingredients. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation. Also available: PaleoGreens® (unflavored) and Lemon/Lime.

References:
Trends in Dietary Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat Intake and Diet Quality Among US Adults 1999-2016. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2751719
Improving America’s Diet and Health: From Recommendations to Action. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235259/
New Survey Shows Changes in American Diet Trends. https://www.nutritioncoalition.us/news/2018/6/20/new-survey-shows-changes-in-american-diet-trends
What’s on your table? How America’s diet has changed over the decades. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/12/13/whats-on-your-table-how-americas-diet-has-changed-over-the-decades/
Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/opinion/food-nutrition-health-care.html
Public views about American’s eating habits. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2016/12/01/public-views-about-americans-eating-habits/
Suggested Servings from Each Food Group. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/suggested-servings-from-each-food-group