Q:  What is special about National Nutrition Month®?
A:  “Put Your Best Fork Forward”!

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education campaign created every year in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March we focus on the importance of making informed food choices. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” is this year’s theme, which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. Making small changes during National Nutrition Month®, and over time, helps improve health now and into the future.

Evidence has proven that making dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent diseases even before they occur, and for cancer survivors this means a decreased chance for recurrence.

Often times my patients come to see me frustrated and confused by all the conflicting nutrition information they’ve read or heard about on the internet, not to mention the “free” nutrition advice from family and friends. They are stressed, worried and fearful of eating the wrong thing, and come for guidance and clarification on what they should be eating. My approach is simple, make small changes and set attainable goals. Small changes reap large rewards, and simple, attainable goals are worth their weight in gold.

My focus is to cut out foods that cause inflammation and add foods that decrease inflammation. The first step in doing this it to incorporate more plant-based foods, whole fruits and vegetables in particular. If there’s only one thing you’re willing to change, increased consumption of whole fruits and vegetables is one to work on.   Striving to get a variety of color on your plate daily is an easy goal to attain. Variety is key. Each fruit and vegetable has a different vitamin and mineral profile, and by eating a rainbow of color every day you’re guaranteed the best benefit from your efforts.  Try to incorporate the following colors daily.

Nutrients in Red Fruits and Vegetables Include: Lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin, to name a few. These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free radicals, and support healthy joints.

Nutrients in Orange and Yellow Fruit and Vegetables Include: Beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These nutrients reduce age-related macular degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.

Nutrients in Green Vegetables and Fruit Include: Chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The nutrients found in these vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free radicals, and boost immune system activity

Nutrients in White fruits and Vegetables Include: Beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. These nutrients can reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers.

During National Nutrition Month and beyond, make small, healthier food choices, one forkful at a time.