Small changes in diet can have a big impact on health

March 19, 2018 by Joe Higgins, Ohio University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

How's that New Year's resolution coming along? Getting ready for summer and want to look your best? Just want to feel better physically? Whatever your motivation, Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, an assistant professor of nutrition in Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions said just a little change in diet has a big impact.

March is National Nutrition Month and for many, resolutions made months ago to eat healthier may have waned at this point which could be chalked up to such as cutting out entire sources of food. In July, 2017, research by Sotos-Prieto was published in the New England Journal of Medicine detailing that consuming more whole grains, vegetables, fish, fruits and nuts and reducing sugary beverages and processed meats can lower the risk of premature death by up to 17 percent.

Sotos-Prieto said it is especially important to educate the youth on as many do not consider the effects eating poorly can have on . She said early education can help to prevent diseases before they occur and added that awareness in adults is crucial in setting good examples for children.

"There's no magic diet or recipe," she said. "You need to find a diet you can adhere to for a long time that includes healthy components such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, healthy fats such as olive oil and swapping refined grains for whole grains that are better for you."

Just by changing one serving of red or processed mat for one daily serving of nuts or legumes can have a big impact on your health, she added.

According to Sotos-Prieto, recent studies have shown that reduced-fat and fat-free foods aren't always a good alternative.

"High fat consumption can actually be good if the quality of the fat is good," she said. "Nut butter (made from actual nuts), can be a good source of food in addition to avocados and other oils and we have strong data that shows extra is proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

Sotos-Prieto suggests a plate be filled halfway with fruits and vegetables while the other half consists of healthy protein and whole grains. Drink water and add to your routine. She addressed the culture of going out to eat and said it's still possible to find healthy substitutes at restaurants.

"Take a burrito in a bowl. Ask for a tortilla made with whole grain, add brown rice, beans and include all the vegetables you want with chicken and guacamole. Instead of fries, get a side of vegetables or create your own pizza at home using whole and vegetables," said Sotos-Prieto.

Small changes sustained over time will benefit your health inside and out, doing away with the pressure to make diet-related resolutions next New Year's.

Explore further: Researcher finds healthy eating reduces risk of premature death

Related Stories

Researcher finds healthy eating reduces risk of premature death

October 26, 2017
A recent study has shown for the first time that a small, simple improvement in diet over the long-term – such as replacing one sugary beverage with a serving of nuts each day—may significantly reduce the risk of premature ...

Improving diet quality over time linked with reduced risk of premature death

July 12, 2017
People who improve the quality of their diets over time, eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish and less red and processed meats and sugary beverages, may significantly reduce their risk of premature ...

These foods will lower your risk of heart disease

November 6, 2017
Low-fat or low-carb? Butter or margarine? Avocado oil or coconut oil? Bombarded with contradictory media reports on the ever-changing landscape of nutrition research, it's difficult for anyone to know which fats and other ...

How to eat well for a healthy brain in later life

January 30, 2018
A new international report gives the clearest evidence to date on the impact of diet on brain health in older adults.

Antioxidants: the good health helpers

February 23, 2018
(HealthDay)—Antioxidants—it's a hot nutrition buzzword, but do you know what they really are?

Mediterranean-style diets linked to better brain function in older adults

July 25, 2017
Eating foods included in two healthy diets—the Mediterranean or the MIND diet—is linked to a lower risk for memory difficulties in older adults, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics ...

Recommended for you

Early physical therapy benefits low-back pain patients

May 22, 2018
Patients with low-back pain are better off seeing a physical therapist first, according to a study of 150,000 insurance claims.

Closing coal, oil power plants leads to healthier babies

May 22, 2018
Shuttering coal- and oil-fired power plants lowers the rate of preterm births in neighboring communities and improves fertility, according to two new University of California, Berkeley, studies.

Insufficient sleep, even without extended wakefulness, leads to performance impairments

May 21, 2018
Millions of individuals obtain insufficient sleep on a daily basis, which can lead to impaired performance and other adverse physiological outcomes. To what extent these impairments are caused by the short sleep duration ...

Avoiding the car for travel could significantly lower risk of illness and death

May 21, 2018
People who are more active when commuting to work by walking or cycling could be cutting their relative risk of developing ischaemic heart disease or stroke by 11% and their relative risk of dying from these diseases by 30%, ...

New study shows higher formaldehyde risk in e-cigarettes than previously thought

May 21, 2018
Portland State University researchers who published an article three years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine about the presence of previously undiscovered forms of formaldehyde in e-cigarette vapor revisited their ...

Sleep better, parent better: Study shows link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting

May 21, 2018
Research has shown that consistently not getting enough sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, can put you at risk for a number of health conditions. But how does sleep, or the lack of it, affect how you parent?


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.