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Nutrition In Primary Care

We all know that what we eat and how much we eat is linked to our body weight. But have we ever considered what else food affects in the body? Food is not only calories and fuel, but also medicine. Food has the power to heal, but also the power to hurt. Nutrition is an often overlooked, but extremely influential, factor in determining one’s overall health.

A healthy diet is one that is rich complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, unsaturated fats, and includes all essential vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet includes whole grains, nut, beans, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats. Regular consumption of a healthy diet aids in preventing chronic disease. An unhealthy diet is one high in saturated fats, sugar, salt, and excess calories. An unhealthy diet often includes fast-food, fried foods, processed snack foods (chips, crackers, cookies), full-fat dairy, and baked goods. Regular consumption of an unhealthy diet increases the risk for developing several preventable, chronic conditions including:

Cardiovascular disease: Increased probability for developing heart disease is associated with unhealthy diet patterns, specifically diets high in sodium, saturated fats, added sugar, and processed foods, but low in fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables

Hypertension: Diets high in sodium and saturated fats, but low in potassium, magnesium, and fiber are associated with increased risk for developing high blood pressure

Hyperlipidemia: Increased blood lipid levels are associated with excessive intake of calories, saturated fats, and trans fats, and poor intake of unsaturated fats, fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables

Type 2 diabetes: Excessive calorie intake along with high sugar, refined grain, and processed food consumption increases one’s risk for developing diabetes

Some forms of cancer: Poor intake of nutrient-rich whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with high intake of sugar, refined grains, processed meats and fast-food increases cancer risk; specifically breast, esophageal, pancreatic, kidney, stomach, colorectal and prostate cancers

These conditions are some of the most common ailments primary care doctors see on a day-to-day basis. Medications are prescribed and treatment plans may be put in place, but for many patients, chronic disease development can be prevented through implementation of healthy diet modifications. For patients with pre-existing conditions, diet modification may be used to manage disease. For example, diet changes in patients with type 2 diabetes aids in controlling blood glucose levels, resulting in less dependence on meditation. While no specific medication, procedure, or treatment plan can be recommended for all patients, a healthy diet is universally beneficial!

Have a great day!

Birmingham Direct Primary Care team

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