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Making Good Lifestyle Choices Will Result In A Healthier Life

It’s no secret that making good lifestyle choices will result in a healthier life. But a major component of a healthy lifestyle is your diet. And the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are designed to help you improve your overall eating habits. 

The guidelines are updated every five years, most recently in 2020. Nutrition experts from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) work on them together. They’re designed to help you get a better understanding of what foods you should include in your diet and which ones you should limit.

So, let’s take a look at some of them. Hopefully, the expert recommendations will help you find ways to develop a better diet and an overall healthier lifestyle.

What is a Healthy Diet Pattern?

Any healthy diet begins with a healthy diet pattern. That means eating healthy foods as a way of life, not just once in a while. Here’s what the experts with the USDA say you should do to get on track and stay on track:

First 6 months of life, exclusively feed infants human milk. Feed infants iron-fortified infant formula during the first year of life when human milk is unavailable.

At about 6 months, continue to feed infants human milk, but introduce nutrient-dense complementary foods from all food groups.

From 12 months through older adulthood, follow a healthy dietary pattern across your lifetime. 

Foods for a Healthy Diet Pattern

The core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:

  • Vegetables—Dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and others. These include all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried options in cooked or raw forms.
  • Fruits—Whole fruits and 100% fruit juice (diluted with water and without added sugars). Whole fruits include fresh, canned, frozen, and dried forms. 
  • Grains—Whole grains and limited intake of refined grains.
  • Dairy—Fat-free and low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, and cheese. Lactose intolerants can choose low-lactose and lactose-free dairy products. 
  • Proteins—Include a broad group of foods from both animal and plant sources: meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Oils—Vegetable oils and oils in food, such as seafood and nuts.

Research shows that sticking to a healthy diet pattern can significantly cut your risk for heart disease.

Foods You Should Limit

As important as it is to add healthy foods to your diet, it’s just as important to limit those that may have a negative effect on your health. The Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to consume less added sugars, saturated fats, sodium, and alcohol. Here are the recommendations:

  • Added sugars—Less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2. Avoid foods and beverages with added sugars for those younger than age 2.
  • Saturated fat—Less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2.
  • Sodium—Less than 2,300 milligrams per day—and even less for children younger than age 14. 
  • Alcoholic beverages—Limit intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women.

And limit refined carbohydrates that have been processed. Stick to foods with good carbs that come from whole grains.

The Science Behind the Guidelines

From childhood to old age, healthy eating can boost health and lower the risk of chronic disease. Here are some of the advantages of following a healthy eating pattern at different phases of life.

Birth Through 23 Months 

Studies show that a healthy diet pattern at an early age lowers the risk of multiple conditions, including: 

  • Obesity
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Iron deficiency
  • Peanut allergy
  • Asthma

Children and Adolescents 

If a healthy diet pattern is established in the first two years of life, researchers say children and adolescents can lower cholesterol levels and experience healthier weight gain.

Women Who Are Pregnant or Lactating 

Studies show a healthy diet favorably impacts folate status in women during pregnancy and lactation and favorable cognitive development in their children.

Adults, Including Older Adults 

A healthy diet pattern throughout adulthood has been shown to lower the risk of all-cause mortality including heart disease and cancers. 

Start Eating Healthier

Consult your doctor if you're not sure where to begin and assist you in creating a strategy. You won't be able to create a healthy eating routine overnight. Before you start noticing large results, you'll need to take little measures.

Members of a medical cost-sharing community are also urged to live a healthy lifestyle. If you'd like to learn more about it and how a supportive community might help you achieve your health-related goals, please contact Liberty HealthShare today.