How Dietary Habits Affects Your Health

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food, Hippocrates saying

What you choose to eat has huge and profound effects on your overall health.

Research shows how our dietary habits influence our health and disease.. Certain foods may trigger chronic health conditions and disease while others offer strong medicinal and protective qualities that enhance our health and heal disease.

Thus, many people argue that food is medicine and medicine is food just as Hippocrates has said thousands of years ago. This knowledge has been around for a very long time.

Yet, How dietary habits affects our health alone cannot and should not replace all medicine in all circumstances. Although most illnesses can be prevented, treated, or even cured by dietary and lifestyle changes, some others cannot.

How Food Nourishes, Heals and Treats Your Body

So many nutrients in food promote health and protect your body from disease. Eating whole, nutritious foods is important because their unique substances that work together to create an effect that can’t always be replicated by taking a supplement.

vitamins and minerals with examples

Vitamins and Minerals

Although your body only needs small amounts of vitamins and minerals, they’re vital for your health. However, Western diets that are high in processed foods and low in whole foods like fresh produce are typically deficient in vitamins and minerals. Such deficiencies can greatly increase your risk of disease.

For example, insufficient intakes of vitamin C, vitamin D, and folate may harm your heart, cause the immune system to not fully function, and increase your risk of certain cancers.

Beneficial Plants

Nutritious foods, including vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains, boast numerous beneficial compounds, such as antioxidants.

Antioxidants protect cells from damage that may otherwise lead to disease

In fact, many studies demonstrate that people whose diets are rich in polyphenol antioxidants have lower rates of depression, diabetes, dementia, and also heart disease. The protective qualities are astounding

Fiber with fruits and vegtables


Fiber is a very essential part of a proper healthy diet. It not only promotes proper digestion and elimination but also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut as prebiotics. High fiber foods like vegetables, beans, grains, and fruits help protect against disease, decrease inflammation, and boost your immune system.

On the other hand, low-fiber diets are associated with an increased risk of illnesses, including colon cancer and stroke.

Proteins and Healthy Fats

The protein and fat in whole, nutritious foods play various extremely critical functions in your body.

Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. They aid immune function, muscle function, metabolism, and growth, while fats provide fuel and help absorb nutrients into the body.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are found in foods like fatty fish, help regulate inflammation in the body and are linked to improved heart and immune health function.

food in a circle, healthy foods circle

A Healthy Diet Can Decrease Your Health Risks

Unhealthy diets high that included sugary drinks, fast food, and refined grains are the main contributor to serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These processed foods also harm your good gut bacteria and promote insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and overall disease risk

A study in over 100,000 people found that every 10% increase in ultra-processed food intake resulted in a 12% increase in cancer risk (20Trusted Source).

Additionally, a study on worldwide mortality and disease showed that in 2017, 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were likely due to poor diet (21Trusted Source).

person clutching chest with healthy foods on the side of the picture

Healthy and Nutritious Diets Prevent Disease

On the other hand, research indicates that diets rich in plant foods and low in processed products can affect your fietary

For instance, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in healthy fats, whole grains, and vegetables, is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, neurodegenerative conditions, diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity (23Trusted Source

Other eating patterns shown to safeguard and heal against disease include organic plant-based, whole-food-based, and paleo diets (26Trusted Source.

In fact, some diets may actually reverse certain diseases and conditions.

One example, a plant-based diet has been found to reverse coronary artery disease while very-low-carb diet may help to reverse or even eliminate type 2 diabetes in some people (28Trusted Source

Nutritious eating like the Mediterranean Diet are tied to better self-reported quality of life and lower rates of depression than typical Western diets. And they may even boost your life span. (30Trusted Source

Such findings prove that how dietary habits affects your health and do indeed function as preventative medicine.

environment exposure and disease prevention

Many other factors affect your health and disease risk

Disease risk is a quite complex subject.. Although a poor diet can cause or contribute to illnesses, there are many other factors that need to be considered.

Genetics, high-stress, pollution, age, infections, occupational hazards, artificial food additives and lifestyle choices can have an effect. Things such as lack of exercise, smoking, and excess alcohol use can also have an effect on health and the body.

Food cannot compensate or change things like poor lifestyle choices, genetic disposition, or other factors that are related to the development of diseases.

Foods With Great Medicinal Value

Transitioning to a diet based on whole foods can improve your health in countless ways. Foods that offer particularly powerful benefits include:

  • Berries. Numerous studies have found that nutrients and plant compounds in berries combat disease. In fact, diets rich in berries may protect against chronic conditions, including certain cancers
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale contain a wide array of antioxidants. High intake of these vegetables may decrease your risk of heart disease and promote longevity .
  • Fatty fish. Salmon, sardines, and other fatty fish fight inflammation due to their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which also protect against heart disease
  • Mushrooms. Compounds in mushrooms, types of which include maitake and reishi, have been shown to boost your immune system, heart, and brain .
  • Spices. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and other spices are packed with beneficial plant compounds. For example, studies note that turmeric helps treat arthritis and metabolic syndrome
  • Herbs. Herbs like parsley, oregano, rosemary, and sage not only provide natural flavor to dishes but also boast many health-promoting compounds.
  • Green tea. Green tea has been thoroughly researched for its impressive benefits, which may include reduced inflammation and lower disease risk.

Nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, honey, seaweed, and fermented foods are just a few of the many other foods studied for their medicinal properties 

healthy food, junk food, healthy eating, diet, excercise,snacks, food choices with fruits and vegtables as a background

Final Thoughts

Though changing to a healthier dietary life can indeed prevent disease, it’s critical to understand that food cannot and should not replace all pharmaceutical drugs all of the time. Medicine does have a place in our lives. Medicine was developed to save lives and treat diseases. While it may be vastly over-prescribed or used as an easy fix for  dietary and lifestyle issues it’s oftentimes invaluable.

As healing does not hinge solely on a diet or lifestyle change, choosing to not have a potentially life-saving medical treatment to focus on diet alone can be dangerous or even fatal.

Although it’s clear that following a healthy and nutritious diet is one of the most important factors in living a long, healthy life, keep in mind that you should not rely solely on food to replace conventional medicine.

Food does so much more than just simply provide you with fuel for energy. It may promote or worsen health, depending on what you eat. Make wise choices in your eating plan and you will go a long way to optimal health!

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