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How Your Diet Influences Your Disease Risk

How Your Diet Influences Your Disease Risk

We know that eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is good for our bodies. But did you know that eating too much sugar, salt, and fat can increase your risk of developing certain diseases? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 1 in 10 adults and adolescents eat enough fruit and vegetables, and 9 in 10 Americans consume more than the recommended amount of sodium. This can cause an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more.


In the United States, 40% of adults are identified as being obese. Obesity is a complex disease that can be caused by several factors including physical inactivity, dietary patterns, medication use, and more. Overeating, eating too frequently, and eating too many saturated fats, carbohydrates, sugars, and salt can lead to obesity. For example, fried foods and sweets have a lot of calories in a small amount of food. Eating too much of these can contribute to weight gain.

Being obese also increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and more. Your risk of a heart attack also increases by three to four times. A study by Oxford University found that being obese can shorten your life expectancy by three to 10 years.

Heart Disease and Stroke

The leading causes of heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Highly processed foods, saturated fats, salt, and fried foods can increase blood pressure. These foods include bacon, hot dogs, potato chips, and french fries. High cholesterol foods include full-fat dairy, red meat, and baked goods. It's very important to your health that you try to limit how much of these you eat on a daily basis.

The best diet for preventing heart disease and stroke is one filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and poultry. People with diets like these have a 31% lower risk of heart disease and a 20% lower risk of stroke.

Type 2 Diabetes

If you’re overweight or obese, your risk of type 2 diabetes increases because your body slowly becomes less able to use the insulin it produces. More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have prediabetes, and more than 80% of those with prediabetes don’t know they have it.

Diets high in fat, calories, and cholesterol increase your risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Eating highly processed carbohydrates, such as those made with white flour, white sugar, and white rice, increase your risk because they’re so easy to digest. This can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

The good news is that type 2 diabetes is highly preventable—about 9 in 10 cases in the U.S. can be avoided by making lifestyle changes. By eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 33%.


An unhealthy diet can increase the risk of some cancers. Research has shown that as much as 30% of all cancer cases are linked to poor dietary habits. Obesity alone is associated with at least 13 types of cancer, including endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and colon and rectal cancers. These cancers make up for 40% of all cancers diagnosed.

Diets high in processed meats, fried foods, full-fat dairy, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, have all been linked to increased cancer risk. recommends diets high in plant-based foods, antioxidants, and dietary fiber to help reduce your risk of developing cancers. A few foods in these categories include whole grain oats, beans, lentils, nuts, berries, onions, and bell peppers.

If you need help getting your diet on track, Frederick Health Nutrition & Weight Management can help. Our dietitians work with you to manage and improve your health and lifestyle choices, nutritional needs, and more. To schedule a consultation, visit our website or call 240-215-1474.