Heart disease and type 2 diabetes often go hand-in-hand because they have similar risk factors.
Both diabetes and heart disease are considered non-communicable or chronic diseases. Unlike viral infections like the common cold or flu – or even infectious diseases like COVID-19 – which are caused by one thing, chronic illness is caused by a number of risk factors.
“While there are some risk factors that people are born with or cannot change, [such as] Age gender, [and] Family history, the way we live, move around, and eat also contribute to the risk of developing these conditions – especially when people have more than one risk factor, “says Becky Ramsing, MPH, RDN and Senior Program Officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for a future worth living.
However, according to ramsing, most risk factors – including diet, physical activity, and smoking – are largely preventable. (See Also: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make).
What Are Some Simple Ways To Prevent Heart Disease And Diabetes?
Diet plays a huge role in preventing chronic diseases. For example, having a pint of ice cream every now and then doesn’t necessarily increase your risk if you likely eat these types of unhealthy foods on a routine basis.
“Studies show that people who regularly eat more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts – and less red meat, processed meats, saturated fats, highly processed foods, and sugars – tend to have less diabetes and heart disease,” she says.
A predominantly plant-based diet is an important way to reduce the risk of chronic illness, as foods tend to be higher in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Not to mention, plant-based foods tend to be much lower in saturated fat as well.
“Red and processed meat, on the other hand, is rich in saturated fat,” says Ramsing. “And eat Too much can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. “
On the contrary, replacing red meat with beans and lentils can help improve blood sugar levels, which are vital in preventing diabetes, as well as cholesterol and blood pressure levels – two main risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
“Whole grains are possibly one of the most important food groups in preventing diabetes,” says Ramsing. “Consumption of whole grains was associated with 11% and 7% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women, respectively, per whole grain serving (16 grams) per day.”
How could a plant-based diet help you prevent chronic diseases?
Fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts all contribute to the diversification of intestinal bacteria. A wide variety of bacteria in the gut are linked to good health, according to Ramsing. Lower bacterial diversity, on the other hand, is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and high cholesterol levels.
“Much of this is believed to be due to fiber from diets high in vegetables and fruits, which promote healthy bacteria,” she says. “Fats from nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and seafood can also have a positive effect on our intestines. They are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as protective phytochemicals and polyphenols.”
Of course, exercise is also the key to preventing chronic diseases. Take a brisk walk, jog the local trail, or cycle for 30 minutes each day.
“While you can’t guarantee you won’t get heart disease or diabetes, even if your family does, you can significantly reduce the chances of getting them,” says Ramsing.
For more health tips, see 8 Ways To Support A Healthy Immune System, Harvard said.