We were all told when we were younger to eat our peas and beans to grow big and strong; and they were right! Nutrition is not just something that should be focused upon as we age, but all throughout our lives. The rates of lifestyle related disease are on the rise while infections and viruses are slowly dropping. This means that now, more than ever, your nutritional choices matter. The risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and kidney diseases are all influenced by our lifestyle habits. Therefore, if you aren’t active, or you choose not to keep in mind health while making your food choices, your chances of lifestyle related diseases is higher. But why should you make more health conscious decisions? The better your health is, the lower your insurance cost is, the less sick days you need to take from work and the more energy you have to do things you want to, rather than spend that time in a doctor’s office.

There are simple changes you can make every day to help reduce your risk of chronic disease. One easy change you can make today is to stop salting your foods before you eat them. I have seen it so often, the meal is served and someone immediately grabs the salt shaker and pours it on without even trying their food beforehand. Put down the salt shaker, taste the food, and then decide if it needs salt.

Vegetables and fruits are your friend, the saying that “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t false at all! Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, which aids in hydration. Eating the skins of the fruits and vegetables will add fiber to your diet and help with digestion. Fiber adds bulk to the intestines and digested food, and makes it move along faster. They are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are important in preventing chronic, lifestyle diseases. Micronutrient deficiencies can lead to illness, like osteoporosis from Vitamin D and Calcium deficiency, or inflammation of the skin from a niacin deficiency. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables fight off free radicals in the body that can cause disease as well. They aren’t called super foods for nothing!

Hydration is key! When you are not properly hydrated, you can feel tired, sluggish, unable to focus, lethargic, and can put you at risk for urinary tract infections as well. Decreased water intake means there is less being held in your bladder, which allows bad bacteria to grow and not be flushed out. So, by drinking enough water, you can prevent UTIs! When you’re active, you should be drinking about 8oz of water every 15 minutes to prevent dehydration. Weigh yourself before and after working out, for every pound lost, you should be drinking 16oz of water. Lastly, if you feel like you’re thirsty, then you’re already on the path to being dehydrated!
These are only a few small things you can do every day to advance your health, but even the small things add up and count.