Health and Nutrition

Food as Preventative Medicine

Eating too many calories, or eating too much of one kind of food and not enough of another, may lead to obesity, heart disease or type II diabetes. Up to 35% of all cancers may be preventable through a combination of suitable diet, physical activity, and proper body weight.

Heart Disease: The Food Connection

The Bad News

Obesity increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and alcohol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The Good News

A healthy diet low in saturated fats may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Cancer: The Food Connection

The Bad News

According to the Harvard Center for Cancer Research, 35% of all cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Good News

Diets containing many different vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

An active lifestyle — such as a one-hour brisk walk each day and an hour of vigorous exercise a week — is associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

“Overweight and obese adults and children in Canada are at a much greater risk for diabetes.”
— Improving the Health of Canadians, Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2004

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the measurement of the force exerted on the walls of your blood vessels. Your blood pressure varies throughout the day and over time. It’s also affected by factors such as your emotional state (e.g. stress), the foods you eat, your level of physical activity, and certain medications you may take. However, having consistently high blood pressure can be dangerous.

Because there are no symptoms for hypertension, you should have your blood pressure checked at least every two years by a medical professional.

The term hypertension means consistently high blood pressure. If you suffer from this condition you’re more likely to have a stroke or develop heart disease. Hypertension is more common in people who are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat foods that are high in sodium.

Over time, high blood pressure damages the blood vessels. Fatty deposits accumulate, narrowing the passageways and making the heart work harder. Extremely high blood pressure can cause thin vessels — including those in the brain — to burst.

Fortunately, when high blood pressure is diagnosed early, intervention can prevent more serious problems from developing, and various medications and/or lifestyle changes can help you manage the condition.

How Is Blood Pressure Measured?

When your heart contracts, blood is pushed out of the heart and into your arteries, increasing the force applied against their walls. When your heart relaxes (between heartbeats), the pressure decreases.

Your blood pressure is measured using both these values: the pressure at contraction (systolic) and during relaxation (diastolic). For example, if your systolic pressure is 117 and your diastolic pressure is 75, your blood pressure is said to be “117 over 75” and written as 117/75.

Blood Pressured Systolic Pressure Diastolic Pressure
Normal below 130 below 85
High above 140 above 90

High Blood Pressure in Canada

About 1 in 5 Canadians are living with hypertension. It is caused by both environmental and/or genetic factors. Environmental factors that you can control include what you eat, how much you weigh, how active you are, how much stress you endure, and whether you smoke.

For example, for someone who is overweight, losing just 10 pounds can lower blood pressure, and Hypertension Canada believes that one out of three Canadians with high blood pressure could reduce their levels to normal by eating less salt.

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