Terrible Diseases You Can Treat With a Healthy Diet

You could have a serious health condition right now and not even know it. But once your doctor has given you a clear diagnosis, there’s a lot you can do — beyond medication and therapy — to feel better. A healthy diet may not be able to cure chronic illness. It can, however, relieve some of your worst symptoms — and significantly improve your quality of life. Here are the conditions you can treat with healthier eating.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Woman holding her stomach.

You can calm your symptoms with yummy and healthy foods. | Champja/iStock/Getty Images

Dietary triggers: According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, many people living with IBS experience worsening symptoms after eating large meals or too many high-fat foods.

What you should eat instead: Experts recommend eating smaller, more frequent meals if large portions of food trigger IBS symptoms. Eating plenty of high-fiber foods like beans, vegetables, and rice can also decrease flares and minimize overall discomfort.

HIV/AIDS

Two pieces of toast on a plate and strawberry jam in a bowl to the side.

Toast is easy on an upset stomach caused by strong medications. | Amarita/iStock/Getty Images

Relief while living with HIV/AIDS: According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, living with HIV/AIDS can result in a weakened immune system, which a specific diet can’t heal. However, other disease symptoms, like weight loss, mouth sores, and nausea could respond well to eliminating fried and greasy foods, as well as hard and crunchy snacks.

What diet should you follow? Following the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) diet can help to relieve symptoms like nausea and diarrhea. Eating plenty of protein can help to prevent severe weight loss.

Cancer

Slices avocados on a plate and full avocados cut in half.

Healthy fats are great for your body. | Locknloadlabrador/iStock/Getty Images

Prevention versus treatment: The National Cancer Institute does acknowledge that maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent many types of cancer, depending on your other risk factors. However, when you already have cancer, many side effects of the disease — and its treatments — can make healthy eating harder.

What to eat: According to the American Cancer Society, a diet high in protein, healthy fats, and quality calories can help you maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, and better tolerate the negative side effects of some cancer treatment drugs.

Autism

A white bowl of pasta on a wooden table.

Gluten-free options might help people with digestive issues. | iStock.com

Does diet matter? Both children and adults with autism can have difficulty getting enough nutrition, either because they eat only a limited selection of foods or don’t eat enough in general. Constipation and malnutrition can both result from this behavioral side effect. A high-fiber diet and fluids can help keep sufferers nourished and in optimal digestive health.

Can people with autism follow a specific diet? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claims there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support that a gluten-free, casein-free diet improve ASD symptoms. However, you can speak with a health care provider if you’re considering giving a GFCF diet a chance.

Celiac disease

A bowl of beans in a wooden brown bowl.

Fresh beans are easy on your digestive system. | Bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

Dietary triggers: Obviously, gluten — present in wheat, rye, and barley products — will trigger your worst symptoms. However, the Celiac Disease Foundation states that focusing on eating naturally gluten-free foods — instead of just processed gluten-free junk foods — can significantly improve your overall health.

Naturally gluten-free foods: There are gluten-free grains out there, like rice, quinoa, corn, and some oats. However, fruits, vegetables, dairy, beans, meat, poultry, and nuts are all foods that can promote healthy digestion in most people. They’re also completely gluten-free.

Heart disease

Open refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables.

Heart healthy foods are available at your local farmer’s market and grocery stores. | AndrewRafalsky/Getty Images

What you should eat if you have heart disease: There’s a lot you can eat to prevent heart disease, but what if you already have it? WebMD recommends including as many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet as possible. Also eat fat for heart health — plenty of fish and olive oil.

Foods you should avoid: Whether you have heart disease or your doctor says you’re at risk, Harvard Health strongly recommends avoiding processed foods, especially processed meats like hot dogs, and refined grains like most breakfast cereals.

Type 2 diabetes

Fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator.

Stock up your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies that fight illnesses. | Ken Tannenbaum/iStock/Getty Images

The problem with sugar: The American Diabetes Association says many people with this condition can control their blood sugar with diet and exercise. Overloading your body with sugar puts your insulin production into overdrive — but it can’t keep up forever.

What you should eat to stabilize blood sugar: Foods high in fiber, like vegetables and some fruits, can help keep your blood sugar within a normal range. You should also avoid eating excessive amounts of processed foods and drinks high in added sugars, like candy and sodas.

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