Often times, I hear that certain diseases run in someone’s family based on genetics, and while it may be a factor, living a similar lifestyle as your family members could also be a contributor. For example, one family member had liver problems and died in their early 70s. When you start to have the same problems, you can’t forget that the similar way you live your life—such as what you eat and how little or much you exercise—plays a role too.
Ask yourself, “Am I eating appropriately for my body?” “Am I treating my body with respect?” and, “Am I taking care of myself?” When you reflect like this, then making positive changes will follow.
I remember growing up, and eating whatever was thrown in front of me. From T.V. dinners to fast food hamburgers and fries, taste over health was my priority.
The name of the lifestyle I lived actually has a name, called either the industrialized or the North American diet, which is basically made up of fatty meats, fried oily foods, artificial flavors and additives, refined sugary snacks, and constant stimulating drinks such as carbonated colas and coffee. On the surface, these foods seemed like my friend, not my enemy. But, I was not healthy—in my body, mind, spirit or heart.
All I used to think about was that food was meant to be eaten to fill you up and that cheaper, fast foods were fine to live on. It was a lifestyle I grew accustomed to, however, I’ve learned the unhealthy foods were just using me, sucking up my health and money. And I trusted them.
I obtained my eating habits from my parents and advertisements preaching on T.V. what inexpensive healthy foods I should be eating. And, what I would tell anyone else who grew up like I did is that it’s not your fault.
In 2011, I had an awakening: food and proper nutrition are important for a quality life. I learned that habits can be only temporary, change is possible, and any time is a good time to heal. I recently read this perfect quote: “Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.”
A 2010 New York Times article indicated that Americans eat 31% more processed than fresh foods. Processed foods, in general, are part of nearly 70% of the U.S. diet, according to MarketPlace, a business news program.
I get the impression that processed foods are controlling the U.S. population. But eating more fresh and whole fruits, vegetables, and plant-based meals puts you on the road to better health.
When you don’t eat the basic healthy foods, what happens to your health? It important to understand the long term cost when you don’t eat your fruits and vegetables.
Here are four consequences of what happens when you don’t eat healthy foods, specifically fruits and vegetables.
Eating fruits and vegetables are good for digestion, but why is that? It is because they contain healthy fiber, which improves the health of your intestines, and it allows your food (which becomes waste) to move effortlessly through your system.
Fiber helps your body treat and prevent several digestive-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, diverticulitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
There aren’t many calories when you eat fruits and vegetables. If you want to maintain a healthy weight, increasing your fruits and vegetables intake is exactly where to start.
Your overeating will decrease because the high water and fiber content in them allows you to feel full, and not wanting more. Eating fatty meats and processed grains, and less vegetables and fruits, definitely impacts any aspirations for a healthy weight.
When you avoid your vegetables and fruits, a mineral or vitamin deficiency could result. Your body craves vitamin A for skin and vision care, B-vitamins for energy, vitamin C to help heal wounds, and vitamin K to support blood clotting. Magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium are minerals found in fruits and vegetables, which assist your nerve, skeletal, and cardiovascular functions.
If you take supplements, they aren’t a complete solution. According to the Cancer Institute, multivitamins don’t adequately replace eating fruits and vegetables.
From diabetes to many types of cancer, your North American lifestyle could be the culprit. Consuming fruits and vegetables can help you control your blood pressure, helping to prevent stroke and heart disease.
Eating your non-starchy veggies such as leafy greens, garlic or broccoli, and fruits, protects you against cancers such as throat, esophagus and stomach. Because fruits and vegetables are loaded with plant-based phytochemicals, they may prevent tumor growth and reduce inflammation.
The FoodsForBetterHealth Bottom Line
Family members, eat your fruits and vegetables. Friends, eat your fruits and vegetables. Everyone, eat your fruits and vegetables. Period. This way you will decease your risk of the many health problems that succumb within North America later in life. You don’t want these healthy foods to be missing from your diet, or you can be sure you’ll pay the price later down the road.
Haas, E. et al, Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine (New York: Ten Speed Press, 2006), 369-370, 372.
Ryssdal, K., “Processed foods make up 70 percent of the U.S. diet,” Marketplace web site, March 12, 2013; http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/big-book/processed-foods-make-70-percent-us-diet.
Fairfield, H., “Factory Food,” The New York Times web site, April 3, 2010; http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/business/04metrics.html?_r=0.
Annigan, J., “Consequences of Not Eating Fruits & Vegetables,” SFGate web site; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/consequences-not-eating-fruits-vegetables-6202.html.
DeVault, N., “Consequences of Not Eating Fruits & Vegetables,” LIVESTRONG web site, Oct. 22, 2010; http://www.livestrong.com/article/286624-consequences-of-not-eating-fruits-vegetables/.
Morgan Griffin, R., “The Benefits of Fiber: For Your Heart, Weight, and Energy,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/diet/fiber-health-benefits-11/fiber-digestion.