How Eating a Low-Glycemic Diet Lowers Your Risk of Chronic Diseases - dummies

How Eating a Low-Glycemic Diet Lowers Your Risk of Chronic Diseases

By Meri Reffetto

Did you know you don’t have to hit your goal weight to gain health benefits? You don’t need to eat a perfect low-glycemic diet to lower your risk of disease either. Research shows you can improve your overall health just by incorporating simple dietary and exercise changes.

A low-glycemic diet works well for most people because it focuses on eating high-nutrient, plant-based foods. Guess what. Eating those same foods is also the key to weight loss, disease prevention, and wellness.

Following are some research statistics that show how making simple dietary changes (such as eating low-glycemic, high-nutrient foods) helps protect you from developing a chronic illness:

  • Losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight reduces the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

  • Estimates from a multistudy report show that if the only change people made was to include five servings of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet, overall cancer rates would decline by 20 percent.

  • According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men and women with the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables, a median of 5.8 servings per day among women and 5.1 servings per day among men, were found to have a 31 percent lower risk of suffering from a stroke.

    One stroke can lead to a host of chronic health conditions (one of which is being at higher risk for having a second stroke).

  • People consuming four or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a decreased risk for coronary heart disease. Those with an intake of at least eight servings a day produced an even greater decrease. Green leafy vegetables and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables appeared to contribute most to the apparent protective effect of total fruit and vegetable intake.

  • The Nurses’ Health Study found that women who ate the most high-glycemic foods had a 50 percent greater risk of developing diabetes than those who primarily ate a diet of low-glycemic foods. A 2013 study published in Diabetologia found similar results with participants who followed a Mediterranean-style diet combined with a low-glycemic load were 20 percent less likely to develop diabetes.

Although eating the right amount of low-glycemic, plant-based foods contributes a great deal to your body’s wellness and disease prevention, it doesn’t do the job alone. Other lifestyle components — exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, sleeping, and stress — matter too. Work on all aspects of your health to feel your best and significantly reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease.

The younger you are, the more important it is to start taking an active approach to your health. Many studies show that long-term dietary and health changes may make a bigger impact than short-term changes. All changes are good and will help you no matter what your age, but starting off when you’re younger gives you a leg up!