Diet for Chronic Health Conditions

What is a chronic disease?

Chronic disease is a health condition of long duration and generally slow progression.

These are defined as multifactorial health ailments that last for 3 months or more, which require ongoing medical attention and cause disability.

Incidence–  Total number of people dying from chronic diseases is double that of all infectious diseases, maternal, perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies combined.

Main causes of chronic diseases 

  1. Unhealthy diet
  2. Physical inactivity
  3. Tobacco use
  4. Alcohol

Common chronic health diseases

  1. Cardiovascular diseasesincluding heart diseases and stroke
  2. Chronic respiratory diseasesincluding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD ) and asthma
  3. Cancer
  4. Diabetes
  5. Alzheimer’s disease
  6. Chronic Kidney Disease
  7. Chronic Liver Disease

Recommended lifestyle changes

  1. Avoid tobacco
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Maintain daily physical activity
  4. Eat a healthy diet



Encouraging a healthy diet in patients promotes the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases.

One should focus more on quality than calories.

Diet for cardiovascular diseases

American Heart Association encourages  Life’s simple 7 to promote heart health

1. Manage Blood Pressure

2. Control Cholesterol

3. Reduce Blood Sugar

4. Get Active

5. Eat Better

6. Lose Weight

7. Stop Smoking

This includes-

  • 3-4 servings of dairy products (low fat)
  • 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables
  • 6-11 servings of whole grain
  • 6 oz of lean meat or fish or poultry
  • 3-5 servings of nuts in a week

Include the following in your diet-

  • Garlic– Contains Allicin which helps in reducing bad cholesterol and maintain the blood sugar level.
  • Whole grain
  • Soya bean increases HDL and decreases LDL
  • Flax seeds contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Nuts
  • Ginger– It is an anti-inflammatory, increases good cholesterol and controls blood sugar level.
  • Turmeric powder used empty stomach is good for high cholesterol.

Diet for respiratory disease

  1. Fluid intake should be 2-4 liters
  2. Fruits including apple, cherries must be added to the diet.
  3. Anti- inflammatory foods like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon
  4. Avoid dairy products
  5. Sip drinks that hydrate and are mucolytic like ginger tea, cinnamon tea.
  6. Avoid refined products like refined sugar, cookies, white bread.
  7. Avoid spicy food
  8. Add healthy fats to your diet like avocado, flax seeds

Diet for cancer

  1. Stick to a balanced diet with lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
  2. Limit your sugar, caffeine, salt, and alcohol.
  3. Fluid intake should be 2 liters.
  4. Avoid unpasteurized food
  5. 5-6 small meals are preferred instead of 2-3 bigger meals
  6. Include healthy snacks like yogurt, cereals.

Diet for diabetes

  1. Gluten free products like barley, wheat
  2. Food with low glycemic indexlike carrots, chick peas, kidney beans etc.
  3. Healthy carbohydrates such as:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes, such as beans and peas
  • Dairy products ( low fat), such as milk and cheese

Avoid sources of unhealthy carbohydrates, such as foods or drinks with added fats, sugars.

  1. Fiber-rich foods
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Legumes, such as beans and peas
  • Whole grains

5. Heart-healthy fish – Eat fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines at least twice a week as these are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and prevent heart disease. Avoid fried fish.

6. Good fats – Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol levels. These include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Canola, olive and peanut oils

7. Foods to avoid

Diabetes increases risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of blocked and hardened arteries. Foods to be avoided for heart-healthy diet are-

  • Saturated fatslike high-fat dairy products and animal proteins such as butter, beef, sausage and bacon.
  • Trans fatslike processed food, baked goods

Diet for Alzheimer’s disease

  • Provide a balanced diet with a variety of foods- like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods.
  • Limit foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol- Limit fats that are bad for heart health, such as butter, fatty cuts of meats.
  • Cut down on refined sugars
  • Avoid foods with high sodium and salt.
  • Eating green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale reduces inflammation and are antioxidants.
  • Add food rich in flavonoids such as berries to your meal .

 Diet for Chronic Kidney disease

  1. Low sodium and salt food– Apples, apricots, pears etc.
  2. Right type and amount of protein– Eat small portions of protein which is a combination of plant and animal proteins.
Animal protein Plant protein
Chicken Beans
Fish Nuts
Meat Grains
  1. Foods with less phosphorus – like fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, rice, corn and rice cereals
  2. Food with the accurate amount of potassium– like apples, peaches, berries etc.
  3. Limit fluid intake- To help quench thirst, one might try:
  • Chewing gum containing mint
  • Rinse your mouth

Diet for Chronic Liver disease

  1. Avoid food with high-fat sugar and salt
  2. Avoid fried foods including fast food
  3. Eat a balanced diet with fruits vegetables, milk, grains etc.
  4. Eat fiber rich diet
  5. Drink plenty of fluid
  6. Avoid raw or undercooked seafood or meat
  7. Avoid alcohol
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