Healthy Eating Week: Embracing a Balanced Diet

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MAC - Healthy Eating Week

Healthy Eating Week is a perfect opportunity to reflect on our dietary habits and the profound impact they have on our overall health. Adopting a balanced diet not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also significantly reduces the risk of developing several chronic conditions.

What is a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet is one that provides your body with the essential nutrients it needs to function correctly. This includes a mix of macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—and micronutrients—vitamins and minerals. The ideal diet incorporates a variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Eating a wide range of these foods ensures that you get all the nutrients necessary for energy, growth, and cellular repair.

The NHS recommend adults should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, however, research estimates that only 28% eat this amount1.

Combatting Obesity with Healthy Eating

Obesity is a major public health concern globally, linked to numerous health problems. The Health Survey for England 2021 estimates that 25.9% of adults in England are obese and a further 37.9% are overweight but not obese2.

One of the most effective ways to combat obesity is through a balanced diet. When you consume nutrient-dense foods and manage portion sizes, it is easier to maintain a healthy weight for most people. This approach reduces excess calorie intake and prevents weight gain, which is important in tackling obesity and reducing the significant risk it poses for many chronic diseases, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Preventing Chronic Diseases

One chronic disease which impacts those who are obese is knee osteoarthritis (OA). Knee OA, a degenerative joint disease, is often exacerbated by excess body weight. Carrying extra pounds puts additional stress on the knee joints, accelerating the wear and tear of cartilage. Research found that individuals with a BMI above 30 were 6.8 times more likely to develop knee OA than those with a healthy BMI between 18 and 253.

A balanced diet helps in weight management, thereby reducing the strain on the knees. Moreover, diets rich in anti-inflammatory foods—such as fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish—can help reduce inflammation and joint pain associated with OA4.

Another chronic health condition which obesity increases the chances of developing is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This condition is a severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), characterised by liver inflammation and damage. Up to 440,000 people in the UK are thought to be living with NASH5, but many of these are undiagnosed.

NASH is closely linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Healthy eating plays a crucial role in preventing and managing NASH. A diet low in refined sugars and saturated fats, but high in fibre and healthy fats, can help reduce liver fat accumulation. Including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet can help manage weight and improve liver health, reducing the risk of progression from NAFLD to NASH.

Arguably the condition most strongly associated with poor dietary habits and obesity is type 2 diabetes. Diabetes UK estimates that 4.3 million people are now living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK6.  A balanced diet is vital for both preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Foods high in fibre, such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Limiting the intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages reduces the risk of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. For those already diagnosed with diabetes, a balanced diet helps in managing blood glucose levels and preventing complications.

Improving Quality of Life for those Living with Obesity

Healthy Eating Week is an excellent reminder of the importance of a balanced diet. By making mindful food choices, you can maintain a healthy weight and significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as knee OA, NASH, and diabetes.

If you are living with one of these conditions and want to help improve treatment options, you can find out if MAC Clinical Research are currently running a clinical trial to suit you. Learn more via MAC’s Current Trials webpage.

If eligible for a clinical trial, you’ll receive a full health check-up, paid travel expenses, and potentially receive financial reimbursement depending on the trial.

1 NHS – Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2020

2 House of Commons Library – Obesity statistics

3 Indian Journal of Medical Research – Obesity & osteoarthritis

4 Journal of the American College of Nutrition – Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases

5 The European Journal of Health Economics – Disease burden and economic impact of diagnosed non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2018

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