The foods you eat and the nutritional choices you make every day not only affect your health but also how you feel today, tomorrow and in the future. That being said, proper nutrition is a critical aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. When combined with physical activity, your nutritional choices can help promote and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer while improving your overall quality of life. According to recent studies, unhealthy eating habits have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Approximately one-third of adults in the United States are obese and approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. Even for individuals at a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that may cause illness and even death. Some of these major health risks include heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. By incorporating smart and healthy food choices into your daily routine, you can help protect you and your family from these health problems.

In today’s modern society it has become easier and easier to obtain ‘fast’ meals with little nutritional value. Because of that, certain risk factors for adult chronic diseases, like hypertension and type-2 diabetes have been increasingly seen in younger children. Many of these diseases are a result of unhealthy eating habits and increased weight gain.

The real risk is that unhealthy eating habits established in childhood often carry into adulthood so it is very important to teach children how to eat healthy at a young age so that those skills and habits can stay with them throughout their lives. The association between proper nutrition and healthy weight, reduced disease risk, and overall health is too important to ignore. Your body is a machine and by making smart nutritional choices, your body will receive the proper nutrients it needs to stay healthy, active and strong. As with physical activity, making small changes in your diet can have a huge impact.

Medical professionals recommend combining diet and fitness as the best possible combination to health success. Choosing nutrient dense foods and participating in regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, induce weight loss and provides the basis for cardiovascular fitness. The combination of physical activity and healthy eating is so essential for good health that the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association recommend combined diet and fitness as a primary disease prevention and management tool.

Recent studies show that a combination of good diet and exercise are essential to achieving optimal health. As stated previously, your body is a machine; so when you exercise and eat right, your body will function properly due to the intake of healthy nutrients. Some benefits of combining exercise and diet are the ability to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, a thinner appearance with increased muscular definition, increased self-esteem and energy, reduced risk of chronic disease such as, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

For years, experts in the health and fitness industry have recommended controlling caloric intake for the promotion of weight loss. The key is the balancing act between calories in versus calories out. In simple terms, food contains calories, which are units of energy your body uses to function. Your body attains these units of energy from the things you eat. In the caloric model of weight control, when an individual eats more calories than they burn through physical activity, they gain weight. When an individual burns more calories than they consume, they lose it.

By incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine, energy expenditure will increase, which will not only increase the amount of food you can eat without gaining weight, but also, reduce the number of calories you need to reduce to lose weight. That being said, regular physical activity will also generate an additional metabolic advantage. When you exercise, your body will increase in muscle mass, which utilizes more fuel than fat. In simple terms, the more muscle mass your body has, the more calories you will burn at rest. Last but not least, the trick to using the caloric model of weight control is that in order to lose weight successfully by combing diet and exercise, you need to avoid overcompensating for exercise energy expenditures with additional food intake.

By putting both diet and exercise together, individuals will improve their health while feeling so much more vibrant. Many individuals often try fad diets that promote quick weight loss, and assume because they have lost the weight, they do not need to exercise. You can lose weight or be naturally thin without being fit. You can also be strong and overweight without being healthy. There, it is the combination of the two, proper nutrition AND exercise that will propel you forward to higher energy levels, decreased disease risk and overall better health.

Joseph E. Figurelli