At some point in your life, you’ll probably be diagnosed with a health condition that you can either help or remedy by changing your diet. Type II diabetes and obesity come to mind, but countless articles already discuss your sugar intake, losing weight, and exercise to combat these two serious health conditions. In this post, learn about three well-known, but less-discussed conditions that you can also improve by simply paying attention to what you eat and drink.
As you approach middle age, you need to keep osteoporosis on your health radar. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, in this condition your bones lose or don’t produce enough new bone tissue. The result is weakened, brittle bones that break far more easily than healthy bones. Studies indicate that 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men age 50 or older will suffer a fracture as a result of the condition.
To discover if you have osteoporosis, you can take a safe and painless bone mineral density (BMD) test. Mayo Clinic explains that the test involves taking a low radiation x-ray that measures the density of your bone at different locations on your body.
WebMD says that although you can’t reverse osteoporosis, certain medications can reduce your chances of experiencing a fracture from it. A great way to prevent or slow osteoporosis is to consume foods and beverages high in calcium and vitamin D. Drink a single cup of milk or eat a cup of cooked kale, and you’ve met 30 percent and 27 percent of your daily needs for calcium, respectively. Make sure you’re also getting plenty of vitamin D—your body needs it to better absorb calcium. Plus, weight-bearing activity like walking or lifting weights can help bone health. Osteoporosis can have a huge impact on your quality of life, so your doctor may also recommend that you take vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Medical News Today states that anemia is the most common blood disorder. If you are anemic, that means that you have a lower-than-normal number of circulating red blood cells. In the U.S. alone, more than 3 million people are affected by the condition. The most common symptom you’ll experience if you have anemia is fatigue.
Anemia can be caused in three different ways: when your body doesn’t produce enough healthy red blood cells, destroys too many of them, or loses them. You can alleviate the second cause of anemia by eating a diet filled with iron-rich foods because your body has difficulty producing enough red blood cells when you’re low on iron. To diagnose anemia, you’ll typically give a small blood sample for complete blood count (CBC) test. This test will reveal the ratio of red blood cells to the total volume of blood and compare it against normal ratios.
The American Red Cross has a huge list of iron-rich foods. For example, meat offers a great source for iron. A three-ounce strip steak helps you meet 10 percent of your iron needs. While red meat is high in iron, vegetables provide plenty of iron, too. That same cup of cooked collard greens you ate to maintain your bone health provides 12 percent of your daily iron needs, too. Better yet, eat garbanzo beans (chickpeas). A single cup of cooked garbanzo beans meets 26 percent of your daily needs for iron. WebMD cautions that iron from meat is easier to absorb than iron from plant sources. It goes on to recommend eating foods high in vitamin C along with foods high in iron to improve your body’s ability to absorb that iron.
Vitamin D Deficiency
You often hear vitamin D called the “sunshine vitamin” because your body produces it when you expose your skin to sunlight. People who live in northern latitudes with short winter days are more prone to vitamin D deficiency in the winter, as noted in this research article abstract posted on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) web site.
Healthline cites these symptoms of the condition: difficulty thinking clearly, bone pain, frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness, soft bones that may result in deformities, and unexplained fatigue. Sometimes, though, you may not have symptoms at all—or at least until you’ve been deficient for some time or levels have dropped to extremely low levels.
To diagnose vitamin D deficiency, you must have a blood test. In this case, the test determines the concentration of 25(OH)D in your blood—the type of vitamin D that circulates in your blood.
As mentioned above, to get more vitamin D in your body simply get more exposure to the sun. You can also get vitamin D from foods, particularly oily fishes like sardines and salmon, but also from vitamin D fortified milk.
The Power of Diet for Good Health
What you eat can have a huge impact on your health. It can often help prevent you from developing, or at least lessen the impact of, medical conditions like osteoporosis, anemia, and vitamin D deficiency. However, it’s important to note that many of these medical conditions can be caused or exacerbated by other health issues or conditions. As always, check with your doctor if you have any health concerns and before you make any major changes to your diet or health regimen.
Have you experienced any of these health conditions? How did you address them? Can you recommend certain foods that helped get your health back on track? I’d love to hear. Also consider getting a good dose of iron by eating a bowl of my hearty split pea soup. A single serving meets 23 percent of your daily iron needs, but also makes a decent dent (6 percent) in helping meet your calcium needs.