When you think of the ‘nation’s biggest killers’, your first thought probably jumps to cigarettes and alcohol. However, you might be surprised to learn that bad diets could be to blame for more deaths worldwide than either of these habits.
A poor diet can lead to obesity, diabetes and other dangerous health conditions, but it is also reversible. Could your diet be putting you at risk?
Bad diets and health
A new major study has revealed that as many as one in five deaths across the world could be prevented through better diet. This is more than the amount of people who die as a result of smoking tobacco. However, eating too much junk food isn’t the sole cause of a bad diet. In fact, it could be the lack of healthy fruit and vegetables that leads to ill health.
Some of the main health risks from a poor diet include heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. It is thought that with a better diet, millions of lives could be saved each year. Even though diet varies across the globe, eating too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables were found to be responsible for half of all deaths worldwide.
What constitutes a good diet?
For a diet to be considered ‘healthy’, it needs to be rich in fruit, vegetables and legumes. Mediterranean diets full of fresh produce are considered a good example. Some of the countries with the longest life expectancy include Italy and Israel, which are known for diets that include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
However, while these countries might perform better than others in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption, that doesn’t mean that they completely avoid “unhealthy” foods. A poor diet can contain too much salt, red meat, sugar and low fibre intake. Nuts, seeds, vegetables and omega-3s are typically considered good sources of nutrition and can help form a healthier diet.
Enjoying a balanced diet
Bad diets could lead to a number of health concerns, both now and later in life. Changing your eating habits can help you become healthier, increase your life expectancy and improve your wellbeing .
Eating well involves choosing more balanced meals. Healthy habits include:
- Making sure you eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Eat plenty of protein sources such as fish, lean meat, eggs, beans and pulses
- Include some dairy, including dairy alternatives
- Control your portions and only eat as much as your body can burn during the day
- Check the labels before you buy to give you a clearer idea of how many added ingredients are in your food
- Cook from scratch more and enjoy making healthier meals for yourself.
There are a number of clear benefits that come from moderating bad diets and focusing on healthier living. Eating well can improve your mental health, as well as help you maintain a healthy weight and enjoy clearer skin. Devising a meal plan for the week ahead is an excellent way to exercise portion control and stop you giving into unhealthy cravings. Plenty of people give up smoking because it’s bad for them, and doing the same with a bad diet could also improve your lifestyle.
If you’re interested in health news and information, as well as advice to help you live a healthier life, then make sure you visit the East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours blog to ensure that you’re always up-to-date.