WHY IS GOOD NUTRITION IMPORTANT?
The typical American diet is too high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, and does not have enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and fiber. Such a diet contributes to some of the leading causes of death and increases the risk of numerous diseases5, including:
- heart disease;
- high blood pressure;
- osteoporosis;6 and
- cancers, including cervical, colon, gallbladder, kidney, liver, ovarian, uterine, and postmenopausal breast cancers; leukemia; and esophageal cancer (after researchers took smoking into account).
Few recognize that unhealthy diet is a leading cause of disability. Yet unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity are leading causes of loss of independence:
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and loss of limbs. Roughly 73,000 people have lower-limb amputations each year due to diabetes.
- Bone injuries due to osteoporosis are most likely to occur in the hips, spine, and wrist. Even just a slight fracture in these areas can result in loss of independence. Twenty percent of seniors who break their hip die within just one year.
- Heart attack or stroke can result in difficulty with everyday activities—such as walking, bathing, or getting into or out of bed—or cognitive impairment.
A change in nutrition and exercise can easily decrease these factors. Good nutrition can alleviate poor health.