Food for Thought — November

Are you balancing your diet, physical activity and sleep?
Close-up of an alarm clock as a woman wakes up in the morning and is sitting on the bed at mirror door side relaxing with sunlight.

This monthly feature was written by Nutrition Sciences Services Practice Manager Kaitlin Poillon and Assistant Clinical Professor and Director of the Center for Nutrition & Performance Nyree Dardarian from Drexel’s nutrition counseling and the Department of Nutrition Services in the College of Nursing & Health Professions.

A balanced diet is crucial in the reduction of many chronic diseases and health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and mental health. Effective physical activity outcomes are determined by the proper combination of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fiber and water. Sleep is also affected by diet and physical activity level, as regular exercise and optimal nutrition are linked to improved sleep quality and duration.

Sleep is crucial in giving the brain and the body time to recover. A lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke with prolonged deprivation affecting concentration and overall function. Also, a disrupted sleep schedule can interfere with the body’s release of ghrelin and leptin, which are hormones that regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. Because of this, chronic sleep loss has been linked to larger waist circumference and an increased risk of obesity.

Food intake, physical activity level and sleep quality are all connected. A proper diet consisting of all the proper nutrients needed for the body to function hugely impacts physical activity level and frequency. An increase in physical activity can lead to a better night’s sleep, aiding in the improvement of brain health and cognition. Without sleep, the body cannot recover appropriately, therefore affecting hormone levels along with physical and mental performance. The next time you are feeling a bit off when it comes to your health, try looking inward at your diet, sleep regimen, and exercise routine to see where improvements can be made. Email to set up a session at Drexel University to learn more today.