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Why You Can't Wait Any Longer

by Lisa Hark, PhD, RD

Dr. Lisa Hark is a renowned medical nutritionist with more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and promoting the benefits of healthy eating in children and adults.

If you're not sure whether it's worth it to eat healthy and exercise now, rather than wait until you get older or sick, you better think twice.

If you're not paying attention to what you eat and live a sedentary lifestyle, chances are you will end up gaining weight over time. This is quite easy in such a food-laden environment. The problem is that once you gain about 10 pounds above normal, your risk of developing chronic diseases dramatically increases.

The good news is that you have the ability to prevent future diseases since we know so much about preventable illnesses. We know if you eat a low-salt diet high in fruits and vegetables, you can reduce your chances of having high blood pressure and eventually a stroke. We know that limiting foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and fried foods, can keep your LDL-cholesterol levels healthy, which can also prevent heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that changing your lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease. We also know that eating dark green, yellow and orange vegetables can help keep your eyes healthy and prevent problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

The list goes on and on with ways that you can prevent diseases, including diabetes, cancer and many others. Of course you are worth it and so is your quality of life. What will it take for you to make healthy eating and exercising regularly a priority? Start with yourself and begin with one healthy meal every day. If you can achieve this for a few weeks, gradually increase to two healthy meals each day and a healthy snack, such as fresh or dried fruit, yogurt or nuts. The same approach can be done with exercise and applied to your family. Begin slowly and work your way up to a few times a week. Walk as much as you can and you will enjoy the long-term benefits. We know that if you exercise on a regular basis, you can also reduce your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Waiting until you are sick is too late. Health benefits are seen when you begin as early as possible and continue this healthy lifestyle over many years. So what are you waiting for? Your future health and the health of your family are too important.

Dr. Lisa Hark is a renowned medical nutritionist with more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and promoting the benefits of healthy eating in children and adults. She is a leading nutrition educator of medical students and doctors and hosted the popular cable TV series, "Honey, We're Killing the Kids" which aired on The Learning Channel (TLC). Her website is www.lisahark.com

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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