Healthy Lifestyle

Eating well and being active are the basics of a healthy lifestyle. By adopting healthy habits, you can help reduce your risk of numerous diseases and health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and osteoporosis. But that’s not all. A healthy lifestyle can help you achieve better overall health, maintain a weight you feel good about, and increase your energy levels.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle could help:

Maintain a healthy blood pressure

Hypertension is the main risk for mortality in Canada, with more than six million Canadians affected by this disease.

Managing your weight, not smoking, reducing your sodium (salt) intake, limiting your alcohol consumption, staying active, and eating a balanced diet are all healthy habits you can adopt to help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure.

Similar to the recommendations you’ll find in Canada’s Food Guide, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has been shown to be effective in lowering high blood pressure and in reducing the risk of developing hypertension. The DASH diet highlights the importance of vegetables, fruits, and milk products as part of a healthy diet, along with an adequate intake of whole grains, lean meats, fish, legumes, and nuts.

According to researchers, the health benefits of vegetables, fruits, and milk products could in part be related to their calcium, magnesium, and potassium content.

Keep your bones strong

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue. As the body’s bones become fragile, the risk of fracture increases. Even a minor trauma, such as a fall from standing height, can cause hip, wrist, and even spine fractures. Osteoporosis can severely reduce one’s quality of life, and people who are unfortunate enough to suffer from the disease can even lose their autonomy. 

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to build up and maintain good bone mass, starting in childhood, with a healthy lifestyle, which includes a calcium-rich diet and regular physical activity to build muscle strength and prevent falls.

A healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, and regular activity, help to achieve strong bones and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Milk products are a reliable source of calcium. They also contain essential nutrients including protein, which plays an important role in strengthening muscles. Plus, the vitamin D added to milk helps improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Lower your risk of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in Canada. Colorectal cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the key factors in preventing colorectal cancer are leading an active life, eating well, cutting down on alcohol, and not smoking.

Whole grains, pulses, vegetables, and fruits contain fibre, which keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Experts also recommend limiting your intake of processed meats as these have been shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

A balanced diet composed of a variety of nutritious foods is an important part of maintaining good health. Canada’s Food Guide recommends an intake of 2-4 servings of Milk & Alternatives, including 500 ml of milk each day. 

Manage your weight wisely

In Canada, three in five adults and one in three children and youth aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese. Obesity has been shown to be one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Reducing your intake of foods with little nutritional value, such as fried foods, pastries, and soft drinks can make it easier to manage your weight. However, naturally nutritious foods, such as milk products, should not be avoided as they contain many of the essential nutrients that are part of a healthy diet.

Scientific studies suggest that a higher intake of calcium or milk products, when part of a lower-calorie diet, could make it easier to manage your weight. According to these studies, milk products may even be more effective than calcium supplements as other milk components, such as protein, could play an important role in managing appetite.

Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

More than 10 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes, and 90% of those affected have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults after the age of 40. However, in recent years, what we call “adult-onset diabetes” has been occurring in younger adults and even in children. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes will double in the next 10-12 years, hence the necessity for preventive measures.

Lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or managing type 2 diabetes, such as managing your weight, being physically active, avoiding tobacco use, and eating a healthy diet.

A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with a lowered intake of sweets and pastries is recommended. Canada’s Food Guide also recommends 2-4 servings of Milk & Alternatives, such as yogurt and cheese.

Benefits of milk products

Healthier tomorrows start with getting enough today

Milk products are an important part of a healthy diet. They provide up to 16 essential nutrients that contribute to normal growth and development.

It’s amazingly tasty and full of essential nutrients

As with all other milk products, cheese is a natural source of several essential nutrients. Cheddar, Mozzarella and Swiss cheeses contain as many as 9, including calcium, vitamin A, niacin and vitamin B12.

Bone and tooth development, maintenance of night vision, normal growth, red blood cell formation... the list of benefits associated with the nutrients that can be found in cheese goes on and on.

Cheese is part of a healthy diet

While it's important to make sure that we don't consume too much fat, it's equally important to get all the nutrients we need every day. Cheese can be a higher source of fat than other milk products. However, its high overall nutrient content makes it a valuable food that can be enjoyed in moderation.

There's a wide variety of cheeses on the market, with various levels of fat content. Read the labels to find the ones that better suit your needs and taste.

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TM The Heart and Stroke Foundation logo is a trade-mark of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada used under license.