According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight or obese. In addition to genetics, a large body of scientific research points to a poor diet and lack of exercise as key factors. A sedentary lifestyle paired with a diet high in processed foods and low in nutritious ingredients can lead to obesity and an array of other physical problems. These include premature aging, poor bone health, and high blood pressure to name a few.
1. Premature Aging
The effects of poor diet can be seen in the physical appearance. A diet high in processed foods generates a surplus of free radicals. These harmful compounds wreak havoc on skin cells, causing wrinkles, sagging, and age spots. A sedentary lifestyle also adds years to the appearance. A study from the University of St. Andrews reveals that lack of exercise enhances visible signs of aging, making faces look heavier and older.
2. Poor Bone Health
When it comes to bone health, exercise and a nutritious diet go hand in hand. Because it strengthens bones and muscles, physical exercise reduces the risks for osteoporosis. As for nutrition, two key ingredients help promote strong bones: calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps support bone structure, and vitamin D boosts the absorption of calcium and plays a role in bone growth.
People with osteoporosis may slow the progression of the disease and prevent fractures by consuming adequate levels of these two nutrients. Foods that offer rich sources of calcium and/or vitamin D include milk, eggs, sardines, salmon, collard greens, spinach, and fortified cereals.
Related: Are You Malnourished?
3. High Blood Pressure
Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle also affect blood pressure. Processed foods and fast foods contain significant amounts of sodium and sugar, both of which contribute to higher blood pressure. A sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to higher risks for high blood pressure.
Prevention Magazine recommends adding foods to the diet like white beans, plain yogurt, tilapia, kiwi fruit, peaches, nectarines, bananas, kale, and red bell pepper. Also recommended is regular cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, cross-country skiing, or jumping rope to reduce chances for high blood pressure and to strengthen the heart.
People see the effects of poor diet and lack of exercise across many areas. To ensure a healthy body weight, youthful appearance, strong bones, and normal blood pressure levels, it helps to clean up the diet and get adequate amounts of exercise.
- Eliminate processed and fast foods
- Add more healthy fruits and vegetables to the shopping cart
- Replace saturated fats with healthy fats
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days a week