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How Does Food Affect Your Health?

Your diet can improve your health, reduce or increase your risk for certain diseases and conditions or ultimately damage your health. Based on the amounts and types of foods you eat, you increase your risk for overweight and obesity and the health problems these conditions cause. Additionally, certain types of foods affect specific bodily functions enough that many health practitioners recommend diet therapy for preventive medicine and treatments.

Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attack and stroke. Many animal products are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, so reducing your intake of these, or eating lower-fat, lower-cholesterol choices can help reduce your risk for this condition. Consider substituting healthier monounsaturated fats for saturated fats, such as olive oil in cooking. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as certain types of fish, olive oil and nuts, can improve your cholesterol numbers. Eating adequate amounts of dietary fiber, present in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, also helps remove cholesterol from your colon.

As you age, your bones lose density, become more brittle and can break. Approximately half of all women will suffer a fracture during their senior years, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Consuming more foods with calcium and vitamin D help improve bone health. Low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as dark leafy greens are good sources of calcium.

If you have iron-deficiency anemia, you can improve this condition with diet. Foods high in iron will help supply your need for this nutrient. Examples of foods high in iron include leafy greens, black strap molasses, red meat, soy beans, black beans and tofu.

Physical activity, whether sports or exercise workouts, take a toll on your body, damaging muscles and depleting your body of essential nutrients. Eating certain foods before and after matches, games or runs will help you improve your body’s functioning during activity and help the repair process that occurs after. Before activity, eat complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables and whole grains, to help fuel activity. After workouts or other activities, eat foods high in potassium, such as bananas or kiwis, to help replace this electrolyte that’s lost through sweat. Eating lean proteins with amino acids will help your body repair your muscles.

Carrying extra weight around your middle puts stress on your lower back and spine. According to the Wellness Council of America, workers miss 100 million days of work each year due to lower back pain. Eating a high-fat diet and too many calories leads to weight gain and fat storage that can cause lower back pain. Eating lower-fat foods and a reasonable amount of calories will help prevent lower back pain.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.