How healthy is your diet? Do you often feel like you’re tired, sluggish and run down? Your diet could be the cause. Studies have shown that even though people are living longer, poor diet is the leading factor in one out of every five deaths globally. Tackling your health and poor diet today could help to benefit your health now, as well as secure better health for your future.
‘Millions’ eating the wrong diet
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington are carrying out one of the largest studies into global eating habits, titled the Global Burden of Disease. Taking data from every country in the world, the survey reveals that after smoking, diet is the second highest risk factor for early death. Some of the other high risks, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, could also be attributed to poor diet. The study reveals a lot about how eating habits have an effect on our health, and what factors can be used to help us eat healthier.
Many conditions are preventable through eating healthier, meaning that a lot of NHS resource is dedicated to helping those with illnesses that could have been avoided.
Poor diet and lifestyle
Bad health and poor diet can contribute to a number of illnesses and conditions, poor lifestyle and bad habits can also help to contribute to different conditions that can require medical treatment. Food that isn’t cooked correctly or not practicing good hygiene when preparing food could lead to stomach conditions such as gastroenteritis and salmonella food poisoning. In addition to eating healthier, it’s important to be sensible and careful when preparing food.
Improving your health and poor diet
Eating healthier is good for both your short-term and long-term health. Eating a healthy diet will reduce your risk of becoming obese, something which could cause diabetes or high blood pressure which put you at a higher risk of heart disease. In order to eat a healthier diet, you should aim to:
- Cut down on salt and sugar
Too much salt and sugar can lead to high blood pressure, something that can increase your risk of stroke and other health conditions. Sugar and salt are found in a number of foods, especially processed foods that we may not be aware of. Eating foods which are low in sugar and salt is one way to cut down your intake, but eating foods you’ve cooked from scratch yourself will help you to cut down as you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food.
- Choose wholegrains
The research above showed that while consuming sugary drinks and eating too much red meat weren’t the best things for your health, they weren’t as much of a health risk as not eating wholegrain foods. You should prepare your meals by basing them around a wholegrain carbohydrate source like pasta or rice or potatoes with the skin on to ensure you get plenty of fibre in your diet and to help you feel fuller.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables should be an essential part of your diet. ‘5 a day’ continues to be recommended and there are a number of easy ways you can incorporate them into your daily diet. Adding fruit to your cereal or having a smoothie in the morning is one way to eat more fruit, and you could snack on vegetables during the day instead of opting for starchy or sugary snacks.
- Eat more oily fish
There are many benefits to eating oily fish, and their Omega 3s have been found to boost your brain health and help prevent heart disease. You should have at least two portions of oily fish a week, with a variety of fish such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna. Fish is low in calories so it’s a great source of nutrition if you’re watching your weight and can be a good substitute for different meats in dishes like pasta and curry.
Out of hours medical attention for food-related ailments
Food poisoning is a common condition that affects people every day, usually through eating contaminated food. In most cases, you can treat food poisoning yourself at home. It’s important that you stay hydrated and drink enough fluids, although you may be only able to manage sips. As your symptoms ease you can start eating small, bland meals, until you start getting better. If you are pregnant, have severe dehydration, are over 60, or have a condition that means your immune system is weak, you should contact your GP for advice. Our out of hours service is available should you need assistance out of hours. Contact your GP in the first instance, who may refer you to the hospital if necessary.
Eating healthier and practicing good food hygiene is all part of effective self-care. Learn more about how to ensure good health and poor diet management through eating healthier with the NHS Choices website.