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Last Updated on April 12, 2021
A worldwide diet analysis published in The Lancet on April 3 studied about 27 years worth of data and revealed the number one cause of death around the world. Over common health ailments such as high blood pressure and smoking, a poor diet leads to the highest number of deaths in the world.
What The Study Found
According to this research, 11 million deaths happened in 2017 because of diets that contained too much sodium and lacked whole grains, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Ashkan Afshin, the lead author of the study, pointed to the fact that while the traditional conversation about a healthy diet is focused on lowering a person’s consumption of unhealthy food, this study revealed that the more important strategy may be to increase intake of healthy food.
To complete the analysis, Afshin and his colleagues looked at 15 dietary risk factors. These factors were partially made up of high amounts of unhealthy foods, such as sodium, red meat, trans fat, and sweetened beverages. The risk factors counted low amounts of healthy foods as well, such as vegetables, calcium, and milk. The study also considered nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in two times the normal amount in organic meat and milk options.
The study found that over half of the deaths in 2017 were due to just three of the 15 factors: not enough fruit, not enough whole grains, and not enough fruit. According to Afshin, those three risks remained true despite the differing socioeconomic levels of most nations.
Of course, the people in this analysis didn’t just die from unhealthy diets, but from the conditions that the diets caused. Nearly 10 million of the diet-related deaths in 2017 resulted from cardiovascular disease and 913,000 were from cancer. Type 2 diabetes accounted for 339,000 deaths.
While the exact diet gaps varied from country to country, the study shines a light on the need for individuals to focus on adding healthy foods into their diet rather than cutting out bad food. Many people already try to do this, as 88% of consumers cite health benefits as one of the reasons they eat fish and seafood. But is that what our bodies are lacking for optimal health? Let’s take a look at which healthy foods you should start incorporating into your diet in order to fight against the statistics found in this study.
What Foods You Need For A Healthy Diet
We know that adults who engage in over seven hours of physical activity per week have a longer life expectancy, so a healthy diet certainly isn’t the only key to living a healthy life. Simply adding key healthy foods to your diet can nicely complement the physical work you’re already doing. Together, eating nutrient-rich food and exercising can make a major difference in your health.
Start making this difference a reality by adding more whole grains and nuts into your diet. Afshin advises that since the study revealed that people were only eating about 12% as many nuts and 23% as many whole grains as they should have been, these foods could be key to good health.
As simple as they may seem, nuts are full of heart-heathy fats and a variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Getting a higher intake of whole grains has been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. These are the same conditions that caused a majority of the of diet-related deaths in the study.
In combination with a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains can help your body fight against these dangerous conditions. At the same time, they’ll strengthen your heart, immune system, and liver, which is the second largest organ in your body.
What’s striking about the recent study isn’t that our diets impact our long-term health. We’ve known that for decades. Rather, the study indicates that all of those diets that cut out things like carbs and sugar may not be as effective as we want them to be. Anyone striving for a long life should instead welcome healthier options into their pantry and fridge that work to provide their body with the vitamins and nutrients it so desperately needs.