Nutrition Tips for Preventing and Managing Chronic Conditions

Preventing and Managing Chronic Conditions Through Nutrition

The most common, costly, and preventable health problems are chronic conditions: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are familiar examples. These conditions are considered preventable because they can be managed, eradicated, or avoided by lifestyle choices, such as proper nutrition and exercise.

  • More than one-third (36%) of teenagers and 38% of adults said they ate fruit less than once a day, while 38% of teens and 23% of adults said they ate vegetables once a day.
  • More than half (52%) of adults aged 18 or older did not meet recommendations for physical activity

About half of all American adults suffer from preventable chronic diseases as a result of their diet and lifestyle choices, such as adequate nutrition. What does adequate mean? Here is a look at the basics of nutrition for everyone, regardless of height, weight, age, or gender:

  • Pay attention to portion control; quantities depend on whether you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. In most restaurants, an appetizer serving is often closer to an appropriate serving size than an entree! Use smaller plates and bowls when serving yourself at home and wait 30 minutes before deciding if you’re truly hungry and need a second serving.
  • Drink plenty of water a day. Specifically, drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. This not only keeps you hydrated and satiated, it also helps your organs function at peak performance and aids in flushing your body of toxins.
  • Enjoying a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important, however it’s just as important to vary the fruits and vegetables that you’re eating. Trying buying seasonal produce to get a wide variety of nutrients throughout the year. The easiest way to buy seasonal produce is to shop locally. 

These tips will provide you with more specific diet and nutritional guidelines for managing chronic conditions:

Basic Nutrition Tips for Prevention of Chronic Conditions

Heart Disease Prevention

Heart disease refers to all conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels (hypertension) that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, are also considered forms of heart disease. Heart diseases are initially diagnosed through an intake of a patient’s detailed personal and family medical history, regular physical exams, and blood tests.

For preventing heart disease at any age or stage, choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. As part of a healthy diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, oil fish 2x per week, legumes, and nuts in moderation. Doctors and nutritionists alike are also recommending that patients with a higher risk choose to eat some meals without meat and when choosing to eat meat, to eat the leanest possible cuts available, avoiding artery-clogging red meat. 

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Plain and simple, prediabetes is a diagnosis of high blood sugar that indicates that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not quite high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Because prediabetes often shows no noticeable symptoms, quality consistent primary care from a doctor is the only to detect it before high blood sugar transitions into type 2 diabetes.

Diets rich in whole grains protect against diabetes and reduce your risk by as much as 30%. Diets rich in refined carbohydrates -- white bread, white rice, mashed potatoes, donuts, bagels, and most breakfast cereals -- lead to an increased risk.

The bran and fiber, like the fiber in vegetables, make it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches into glucose. This results in lower, slower increases in blood sugar and insulin, and a lower glycemic index which may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Obesity Prevention

Obesity is defined as having an overabundance of body fat which is determined by an individual’s body mass index (BMI), a score that is measured by doctors during annual wellness visits. Obesity leads to a number of cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, clogging of the arteries, and stroke.

For obesity prevention, a nutritional diet of “slow carbs” is best. Whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, barley, etc.) especially in their unprocessed forms, are digested more slowly than refined grains. As mentioned in the above section on type 2 diabetes prevention, these foods have a gentler effect on blood sugar and insulin. The same is true of fruits and vegetables in their unprocessed form. Because of this slow digestion process, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will also keep hunger at bay versus quick burning white breads, pastas, and candy.

Primary Care and Prevention

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. 117 million have one or more (poly-chronic) health conditions. 86% of all healthcare spending in the U.S. is for chronic conditions and make up a vast majority of emergency room visits in already overcrowded ERs across the nation.

This is why Medicare is taking steps to strengthen primary care practices by reimbursing doctors for creating care plans and follow ups through CPC+. Medicare wants to manage and in some cases eliminate some cases of chronic diseases by making regular, quality care more accessible by alleviating part of the burden that is crippling these primary care practices. These efforts will allow doctors to ensure their patients are following their care plans and nutrition guidelines.

CPC+ and Oculus Health work together to enhance primary care delivery and put quality, accessible health care in the hands of more patients in the United States. Learn more about what you can do to achieve excellence in healthcare at blog.oculushealth.com.

Let's Talk