New Year, Nutrition Refresh: AdventHealth’s Lisa Markley on how Good Nutrition Supports Better Health

The Health series is presented by AdventHealth

If you’re looking for ways to be healthier in 2023, nutrition is a great place to start. While food won’t necessarily solve all your problems, proper nutrition can make a huge difference in your overall health.

“Thinking of food as medicine embraces the role of food and dietary choices in optimizing our health and reducing the risk of developing chronic disease,” says Lisa Markley, RDN, the director of culinary medicine for AdventHealth’s Whole Health Institute and a registered dietitian nutritionist. “It recognizes that nutritious foods contain unique substances, such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, that play a major role in keeping the body functioning at its best.

Using Nutrition to Prevent Common Diseases
Diet is the highest risk factor for whether we develop a critical disease. Of the top ten causes of death in the U.S., Markley says five—heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes—are significantly influenced by diet.

“When it comes to chronic diseases, diet plays a specific role, not only in reducing the risk of developing the disease, but also in its progression and treatment,” she says. “For example, if a patient comes to me with joint pain and other symptoms of inflammation, and we identify that they are not consuming anti-inflammatory omega-3s, we will discuss ways to prepare cold-water fish like wild salmon or how to practically incorporate walnuts and ground flaxseeds regularly into their diet.”

Nutrition 101
It can seem overwhelming to totally overhaul your diet. Luckily, Markley has helpful tips about where to start and what aspects to consider when planning your meals and snacks.

“Research shows that diets lacking in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, but that are high in calories, red meats, processed meats, refined grains, added sugars, fried foods, and trans fats may lead to the development of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, digestive disorders, osteoporosis, and dementia,” she says.

To improve nutrition, Markley suggests adding more plant-centered meals to your diet.

“Plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, are high in health-supportive nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber,” she says. “Every time you make or select a meal, think of ways you can add color to your plate, and shoot for eating a wide variety of colorful, plant-based foods to obtain the complete spectrum of nutrients they provide.” 

Another easy way to improve your diet is by cooking more meals at home so that you’re in control of how much salt, sugar, and fat are added to the meal. Plus, you can control your portion sizes.

Lisa Markley, director of culinary medicine for AdventHealth’s
Whole Health Institute

AdventHealth Can Offer the Support You Need
If you’re thinking you’ve tried to eat healthier so many times and haven’t been successful, you’re not alone. Markley and her team at AdventHealth have excellent resources to help you reach your nutritional goals, even if you feel stuck.

For more tips about how to improve your overall health, including cooking classes and recipes, visit to learn more about AdventHealth’s Whole Health Institute.

Markley regularly shares a variety of flavorful, easy-to-make recipes featuring health-supportive ingredients on the site. From a shredded brussels sprouts, citrus, and pomegranate salad to pumpkin spice energy bites and easy weeknight sheet-pan chicken fajitas, there are plenty of new recipes to try. She also leads monthly grocery shopping tours at Cosentino’s Market in south Overland Park.

“Making improvements to diet can help people feel more energetic, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, improve labs, replete nutrient deficiencies, have better-balanced blood sugar levels, ease digestive function, lessen joint pain, improve mental clarity, and more,” Markley says. “Many of these improvements may be noticed within just a week or two of starting to make healthful dietary changes.”