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You Are What You Eat: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health

by Lisa Fortin, MD

The saying "you are what you eat" has been around for centuries, but it has never been more relevant than it is today. With obesity rates on the rise and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease becoming more prevalent, it's important to take a closer look at how our food choices affect our health.


Recent medical literature has shown that approximately 80% of our body habitus, or body shape and composition, is related to what we eat. This means that the food we consume plays a critical role in shaping our overall health and well-being.



So, what drives our food choices? For many people, the answer is taste. We often base our food choices on what tastes good, rather than what is good for us. This is a problem, as our tongue, which makes up less than 2% of our entire digestive tract, is dictating the nutrition we provide our bodies. The remaining 98% of our digestive tract and the secondary effects that food has on our body are often overlooked.


One of the biggest concerns with our current food choices is the high levels of inflammation they can cause in our bodies. Food substances such as sugar, white wheat, highly processed foods, and certain oils can all lead to inflammation. This chronic, systemic inflammation is at the root of many diseases we typically associate with aging, such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer.


Some studies have also found that certain foods may cause more inflammation than others, such as sugary and processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats. Some studies also suggest that diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats may help to reduce inflammation.


It's important to note that there are many factors that contribute to chronic diseases, such as genetics and lifestyle factors, but diet plays a major role in the development of these conditions. By making healthier food choices, we can take control of our health and reduce our risk of chronic diseases.


References:

  1. "Diet-induced inflammation and its impact on metabolic disease" by Andrew T Hsieh and David W E Grainger, Nature Reviews Endocrinology, vol 16, pages 243–257 (2020)

  2. "The Role of Diet and Nutrition in Inflammation and Cancer" by M. Leena R. Pradhan and Liming Li, Cancer Treatment and Research Communications, vol 22, pages 1-10 (2020)

  3. "Dietary sugar, inflammation and cancer" by Manal F. Abdel-Hamid and Peter S. R. Jenkins, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, vol 34, pages 1-9 (2016)

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