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The Importance Of A Healthy Diet For Veterans

Life after service discharge is no less challenging than your time in the military. According to Veterans Health Administration (VHA), veterans suffer from various physical and mental health issues after military discharge, with chronic pain, sleep problems, obesity, anxiety, and depression being the most prevalent. Furthermore, data on veterans show that approximately 25% of veterans experience some degree of food insecurity, which has also been associated with chronic pain and obesity.

The most obvious reason behind such figures is the dietary habits formed during military service. During military service, many veterans feel the need to consume meals with high fat and carbs ratio, which leaves a lasting effect on their eating habits after discharge. Coupled with the low cost and convenience of highly processed food, it’s understandable why veterans may choose fast food over nutritional meals.

Importance Of Proper Nutrition

Individuals with high body mass index and poor nutrition are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disorders, type two diabetes, stroke, cancer, depression, and other chronic illnesses. Plus, a poor diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle is associated with high-stress levels, which can leave you unable to deal with even the simplest task.

It can be difficult to find a healthy breakfast that is quick to prepare and will keep you full until lunch.  Starting your day with oatmeal, cinnamon and honey can help jumpstart your metabolism. Oatmeal and Cinnamon health magic include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Furthermore, for veterans who suffer from disabilities or diseases that require long-term treatment, getting proper nutrition is key to a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. For example, a high protein and fiber diet is recommended for veterans with mesothelioma to improve their prognosis. Doctors recommend that mesothelioma patients consume more protein to strengthen the immune system, preserve muscle mass, and prevent malnutrition.

Healthy eating habits ensure you get the proper nutrition, which can help you feel refreshed and in control. Eating healthily boosts your mood, increases stamina, and even makes it simpler to handle long-term health issues. Moreover, a study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported a correlation between proper nutrition and saving costs on medical care.

How Good Nutrition Benefits Your Health And Well-Being?

Today we’ll look at how proper nutrition can help you maintain health. Keep scrolling if you wish to learn more.

1. Improves mental health

Wellness and mental health go together like peas in a pod; you can’t have one without the other. While you may know that good nutrition is directly linked to good health, it also tremendously affects your mental health. Yes, you read that right; what you eat also affects your emotions.

Eating healthy meals with complete nutritional value stimulates the proliferation of “good” bacteria in your system, which positively influences the neurotransmitters in your brain. 

On the other hand, eating fast food is associated with chronic inflammation, adversely affecting neurotransmitter production. When you consume a healthy diet, neurotransmitter production is considered healthy, ensuring that the brain receives all positive signals, which positively affect your mood.  However, a poor diet works against neurotransmitters, which may affect your mood.

Sticking to a nutritious diet puts you in a position to have more consistent moods, a more positive attitude, and enhanced focus. Some research suggests that eating healthily helps alleviate anxiety and despair. Consuming a poor diet has been shown to raise one’s vulnerability to cardiovascular disease, raising the probability of developing dementia or a stroke.

2. Improves your health

It’s a well-known fact that good nutrition keeps you in optimal health. You can lead a healthy lifestyle by adopting a healthy, well-balanced diet that fulfills your body’s nutritional needs. Healthy eating habits and a healthy diet can greatly reduce your risk of developing severe health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

According to the VHA, obesity is one of the chief concerns for veterans after discharge. Moreover, obesity and excessive body mass are also linked with cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and even cancers. Maintaining a healthy diet requires a focus on moderation. Your favorite high-calorie, high-fat, high-added-sugar items are still fair game. Limiting your intake to once every few weeks while compensating with healthier meals and more exercise.

Eating nutritious meals can help you manage weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fruits and veggies, healthy grains, and fat-free or skimmed milk and milk byproducts are staples of a well-balanced diet. 

A nutritious meal consists of high-fiber starchy carbs and a wide range of protein sources such as fish, poultry, eggs, lentils, soy, and nuts, among others. Also, ensure that your meal is low in salt, sugar, fat, and cholesterol and doesn’t exceed your daily calorie needs.

3. Reduces chronic pain

Harvard Health characterizes inflammation as a reaction to physical trauma as the body activates the immune system and releases signals to the affected area so that it can heal and recover. Research has linked excessive inflammation to health conditions, including chronic pain, cardiovascular disorders, arthritis, and obesity, among others.

Many veterans suffer from chronic pain after military service, and proper nutrition has been associated with better chronic pain management. Chronic pain has been linked with high body mass, elevated risk of multi-morbidity, and less-than-ideal eating habits and nutritional quality.

An anti-inflammatory diet can effectively alleviate pain because inflammation is the number one cause of chronic pain. According to the VHA, a nutrition-rich diet consisting of fruits and veggies is highly effective for individuals with chronic pain.

Hence, changing your diet to healthier can help you cope with chronic pain and reduce your dependence on painkillers. What you eat can influence the performance of neurological, immunological, and endocrine systems, affecting the pain you feel. So, a healthy diet sends positive signals which alleviate pain. 

Maintaining an optimal body weight also alleviates stress on joints and meta-inflammation. Lastly, a healthy diet also reduces your risk of multi-morbidity.

Bottom Line

Maintaining a healthy diet is everything when trying to maintain optimal health. Eating processed junk food puts you at an increased risk of obesity and multi-morbidity and affects your outlook on life. Furthermore, veterans are already at high risk for mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and poor nutrition can elevate that risk even further.

Following a proper nutritional diet can elevate your well-being and quality of life. A well-balanced diet can target all your deficiencies and help you maintain and regain health and vitality. It’s best to seek advice from a professional dietician, as they can help you create a meal plan tailored to your needs.

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