In addition to sleep and physical activity, a balanced diet is one of the key elements of health and well-being. Healthy eating not only makes you feel good but also has a variety of physical health benefits. Since food fuels bodily processes, it makes sense that good food encourages optimal overall function. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, for maximum health benefits.
Healthy eating prevents a variety of chronic diseases. Emerging research and laboratory studies have shown that a balanced diet may even reduce the chances of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society’s “ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention” recommends eating a balanced diet with an emphasis on plant sources for optimal cancer prevention benefits. Likewise, the Rush University Medical Center suggests that diet plays an important role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes and obesity are other chronic diseases that may be prevented with the aid of a healthy diet. Eating well also boosts the immune system and fortifies the body against other types of communicable diseases.
A healthy diet provides adequate amounts of vitamins and nutrients, which are essential for growth, energy and proper development. When vitamin levels are inadequate, serious health problems can result. Vitamin A deficiency, for example, can cause blindness in children and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Vitamin deficiency anemia is caused by insufficient vitamin C, folate and vitamin B12 levels, leading to extreme fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, weight loss and other undesirable symptoms. If you think you might have a vitamin deficiency, see your doctor for some dietary suggestions, and consider taking a daily multivitamin.