How Does Diet Play a Role in Disease Prevention? 

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD  

You are likely familiar with the age-old saying, “You are what you eat.” This sentence summarizes the impactful role that diet plays in determining health.  

While there are several risk factors for chronic disease that you cannot control, diet remains one of the most influential risk factors that most people have the power to change.  

Eating a poor diet that lacks beneficial nutrients has been linked to the development of several chronic diseases and health issues.  

 In particular, eating more calories than you need, especially in the form of “empty calories” from soft drinks, desserts, chips, and highly processed or fried foods, can lead to weight gain and obesity. This is especially true if the amount of energy you expend through daily activities and exercise is less than the amount you consume. 

Obesity is a risk factor for several chronic diseases. Addressing obesity through dietary changes and physical activity is therefore one of the most powerful ways to decrease your risk of developing other health issues.  

Some of the issues that are linked to poor diet and obesity include:  

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Being overweight or obese, and eating a diet that is rich in added sugar and unhealthy fats but low in fiber and beneficial vitamins and minerals, can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.    

  • Heart Disease: Poor diet is linked to developing heart disease and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight if you are overweight or obese, and eating more fruits and vegetables, fiber, and heart healthy unsaturated fats can help prevent heart disease.  

  • Cancer: Some types of cancer, including colon, stomach, and breast, are associated with poor diet. While the exact mechanisms and factors that lead to cancer are unclear, consuming more fruits and vegetables and less processed meats may decrease the risk of developing this disease.  

  • Osteoporosis: Individuals who do not consume enough calcium and vitamin D, usually as a result of eating a diet that lacks nutritious foods, are at a greater risk of having poor bone health and developing osteoporosis.  

  • Dental disease: Diets that are high in sugary foods and beverages can lead to cavities and tooth erosion, and even tooth loss over time. Not to mention the painful and expensive dental procedures that come with tooth decay!   

It is important to remember that chronic disease results from several different factors, some of which are unknown. However, it is clear that diet plays a role in the development of certain health issues.  

Knowing this, improving your diet and losing weight if you are overweight and obese can be especially beneficial for your long-term health.  

Note from Healthy For Life MealsBeing overweight or obese, coupled with a diet that lacks beneficial nutrients, can lead to the development of chronic diseases. We are here to help you lose weight and take control of your health so that you can live a happy and long life! Get started with one of our plans today to reach your health goals and prevent long-term health issues. 

Stef Keegan