How Dangerous Is an Unhealthy Diet?
The latest study has shown that even though trans-fats and sugars are detrimental for our health the bigger issue is that our diets lack nutritious, healthy foods. Unhealthy eating regimens cause more than 11M preventable deaths worldwide every year. This number is bigger than tobacco-caused deaths, which is astonishing.
While most people will immediately think that this is due to the fact that our diet mostly consists of junk food, the bigger problem is not how much unhealthy food we eat. It’s the lack of wholesome, healthy, nutritious foods. The study found that most deaths are caused by the lack of these healthy foods, rather than the presence of unhealthy ones.
The study is part of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’ study of Global Burden of Disease and was published in the Lancet Medical Journal.
The researchers add that the leading causes for diet-related deaths were strokes and heart attacks, then type 2 diabetes and cancer. According to their findings, eating better can prevent 1 in 5 deaths globally. The lack of fruits and vegetables and the overuse of sodium in our diet accounts for more than half of all deaths worldwide.
What Must We Do?
Instead of trying to get people to reduce the salt, sugar and fat in their diets, we need to focus on encouraging them to eat more healthy foods, this should be the main agenda, the researchers say.
The results vary from country to country and the best score is among the countries that follow a Mediterranean diet. They include more nuts, fruits, legumes and vegetables and Iran, Lebanon and Israel are among the best performers in this area. However, even the Mediterranean diet isn’t ideal, and the intake of fruits and vegetables and other dietary supplements isn’t optimal for good health.
This study is the most complete analysis of the good and bad effects of diet on human health and its results are unlike anything we’ve seen before.
The Study Results
The study examined about 15 nutrients. Some of them were bad for our health while some good. According to their findings, 10,9 million deaths (22% of all adults who died in 2017) were caused by poor diets. Cardiovascular disorders were the number 1 cause, with cancer and diabetes following right after. 45% of them were among people under 70 years of age.
High blood pressure was responsible for 10,4 million deaths wile tobacco for 8 million deaths. The lowest percentage of diet-related mortality was in Israel, then France, Japan and Spain. The United Kingdom came 23, while the States were at 43. The last on the list was Uzbekistan.
Harvard University Professor, Walter Willett, one of the authors of the study, confirmed that their findings were in line with the already conducted analysis on the positive effects of adding more plant protein instead of meat on cardiovascular health.
How Can We Improve Our Health?
Introducing more beans, soy products and different plant source proteins will have a beneficial effect on our overall health. The study only confirms what has been speculated for years, that unhealthy diets lead to more deaths than any other health risk in the world. Despite the fact that excessive intake of sugar, sodium and trans-fat has been the main focus of discussion for the past decade, the study suggests that we need to shift that focus. Instead of telling people what not to eat, we need to tell them what they should eat to stay healthy. Our diets should include more wholegrains, nuts, vegetables and fruits and only then can we hope to improve our overall health and prevent diet-related deaths across the world.