Tips to live healthier and reduce your risk of disease
Maintaining a healthy diet may help you live longer and lower your risk of certain medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes and various types of cancers1. At Optum Medical Care, keeping you in good health is our priority. Here are some healthy eating tips to help you live your best life.
Eat more plant foods
Plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), nuts and seeds provide vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds that can help lower the risk of certain cancers.2,3 Studies have found a connection between fiber-rich foods — such as those previously mentioned — and a reduced risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer.3 Most plant foods in their natural form are lower in calories than many other foods. Eating mostly plant foods to meet your nutrient needs can satisfy your hunger while making it easier to stay at a healthy weight. Make plant foods the focus of your meals and snacks.
Limit foods with added sugar
A high sugar diet can lead to insulin resistance in the tissues, disrupting the endocrine system.4 These foods can add extra weight to your body and predispose you to a myriad of health problems down the road, such as diabetes, obesity and even heart disease.5 The largest source of added sugar in the American diet is in the form of sweetened desserts, beverages and snacks.6
These can include:
- Sodas, energy drinks, coffee, fruit drinks7
- Baked goods such as cakes, cookies, muffins, donuts
- Certain breakfast cereals
- Sweetened dairy products such as ice cream, sweetened yogurt or milk
Eat less red meat and avoid processed meats
Eating too much red meat (beef, pork, veal, mutton, horse, goat and lamb) is associated with the increased risk of colorectal cancer.8 However, small amounts of lean or low fat red meat can still be part of a healthy diet.9 Meat is a good source of iron, protein, B vitamins and zinc.10 If you choose to eat these meats, eat them in small amounts and less often.
Although studies have often suggested that alcohol can have protective health effects, recent studies have shown this may be untrue.11 Too much alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure, lead to heart disease, stroke and dementia12, and can increase the risk of colorectal, breast, liver, mouth, throat, voice box and esophagus cancers. How much is too much? The Centers for Disease Control recommends choosing not to drink or limiting the amount of alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.12 They also recommend that you do not start drinking if you do not currently consume alcoholic beverages.
At Optum Medical Care, we want you to live happier and healthier. Talk with your doctor about creating new healthy lifestyle habits.
The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.
- Poor Nutrition. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.htm. Revised September 8, 2022. Accessed May 1, 2023.
- American Institute for Cancer Research. AICR Food Facts: AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer™ and Foods to Steer Clear Of, Explained. https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/food-facts. Accessed May 1, 2023.
- Food and cancer risk. https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/food-and-cancer-risk. Published May 2019. Accessed May 2, 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insulin Resistance and Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/insulin-resistance.html. Revised June 20, 2022. Accessed May 1, 2023.
- Know Your Limit for Added Sugars. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/sugar.html. Last reviewed January 13, 2022. Accessed June 6, 2023.
- Get the Facts: Added Sugars. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/added-sugars.html. Last reviewed November 28, 2021. Accessed June 6, 2023.
- Added Sugars. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars. Last reviewed Nov 2, 2021. Accessed June 7, 2023.
- Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption. https://progressreport.cancer.gov/prevention/red_meat. Updated April 2022. Accessed May 2, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. pg 29. Published December 2020. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf. Accessed June 6, 2023.
- Protein Foods. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/protein-foods. Accessed June 6, 2023.
- Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm. Last reviewed April 19, 2022. Accessed June 2, 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol Use and Your Health. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Last reviewed April 14, 2022. Accessed May 1, 2023.
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