I drive down the road with the windows rolled down listening to the Tina Turner song, “What’s love got to do with it.” I turn up the radio, sing along. This song plays through my mind all day.
Life is busy. We can find ourselves tired, burned out and at risk for health problems. I think of Hippocrates’s quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Now, after listening to Tina Turner, I ask the question: “What’s food got to do with it?”
As a VA dietitian, I teach Veterans the importance of food and nutrition. Each person is unique. My goal is to show them how nutrition can provide health benefits.
One of the many benefits of a healthy lifestyle is lowering the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Small changes can make huge differences. But, what about depression, your immune system, or even dental/bone health? Nutrition can play an important role in these conditions as well. Here’s how:
Depression and anxiety
The CDC reports the percentage of people with depression/anxiety has risen over the last year. An article in Harvard Health reports that severe deficiency in Vitamin B12 “can even lead to worsening levels of depression.”
A diet rich in antioxidants, magnesium, vitamin B12 and folate can help improve depression. Eating more fruits and vegetables is an easy way to do this. Dark chocolate, nuts, berries, avocados and animal protein are rich in these nutrients as well.
A balanced diet with lots of color can help support immunity. Colorful foods provide a wide variety of minerals and vitamins, like Zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C, that enhance the immune system. Some good sources of these nutrients include shellfish, tuna, fruits and vegetables.
Dental health/bone health
Did you know that poor oral health can increase risk of stroke and heart disease? Oral and bone health are vital to overall wellness. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D play an important role and can often be found together. Bones routinely break down and remodel; calcium helps build that new bone back up.
Milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of calcium. Sunshine helps to increase vitamin D levels, and in the darker winter months, adding salmon, egg yolks and mushrooms can provide an extra boost.
Foods rich in potassium (bananas), magnesium (spinach, nuts) and phosphorus (meats, seafood) are also beneficial for optimal oral and bone health.
Snacking wisely is important for oral health. Choose foods like raw fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt and popcorn.
A VA dietitian can help you find ways to adopt healthy habits, like establishing a healthy meal plan or exercise routine. At VA, dietitians are available to help you learn about and adopt healthy habits.
Set up an appointment to work one-on-one with a dietitian to build a personalized nutrition plan. Make an appointment and learn for yourself “what food has to do with it (your health).”