Posted on Aug 29, 2019, 2 p.m.
According to The Global Burden of Disease Study unhealthy diet is the leading cause of death and chronic disease, especially when paired with a sedentary lifestyle.
As published in the journal The Lancet, in this study risk factors for premature death were evaluated which included analyzing diets of individuals from 195 countries during 1990-2017, paying attention to the presence of 15 different types of food and nutrients in their diet and levels.
Bad diets were found to cause more premature deaths and diseases than other unhealthy behaviors; consuming unhealthy food can harm a person more than smoking tobacco. According to this study, maintaining a poor diet was responsible for 1 in 5 deaths during 2017, and a total of 11 million deaths stemmed from following an unhealthy diet, while 10 million of those deaths were attributed to cardiovascular disease.
“This study affirms what many have thought for several years — that poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world,” said University of Washington researcher and lead author Dr. Christopher J. L. Murray.
While the different diets were being evaluated most were found to be insufficient in adequate amounts of healthy foods such as legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and nutritionally many lacked in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. Most of the different diets also lacked in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and milk. Most only consumed 12% of the daily recommended value of nuts and seeds, and 23% of the recommended daily amount of whole grains.
Globally diets most often included processed meats, red meat, and sweetened drinks which contain polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, and sodium that can all be harmful to human health if consumed in high amounts. Most of the participants were observed to consume higher levels of processed meat and sodium than advisable, and consumption of red meat was exceedingly high.
The researchers warn that consuming excess amounts of unhealthy foods can increase the risk of early death and serious illness, and those who don’t consume enough healthy food may also have similar or increased risks.
To improve your diet it is recommended to avoid including bad foods in your diet and increase intake of good foods which include vital nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. Try to choose organically grown produce whenever possible from a trusted source. Limit the amount of salt in your diet, and remove junk foods which contain little to zero nutrients and contain a great deal of bad for health substances.
While improving the selection of food in your diet it is also important to set reasonable portion sizes and control caloric intake. Typically a person needs about 2,000 calories a day, don’t go over this is you are not able to burn off all of the extra calories which will lead to weight gain.
To help further reduce your risks get up, get active, and avoid having a sedentary lifestyle. Try to get as much physical activity as possible by taking the stairs, sitting less often, ride a bike to the store, go for a walk around the block, enjoy roller skating in the park, go swimming, try tennis, have a blast dancing with friends, take up Tai Chi, or unwind with yoga. Studies show that if you pick an activity that you enjoy doing, you will be more likely to stick to it and continue improving your health.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.