What Dietary Habits Are Costing 11 Million Lives A Year?

Top 5 diets of 2019

A systematic analysis in the Lancet has revealed that people’s daily diets can end up being deadlier to their health than smoking or alcohol. The findings showed that as much as 1 in 5 are having their lives cut short every year because of what they’re eating regularly.

This analysis wasn’t actually focused on weight or obesity, but more so on how poor diets can lead to heart damage, and even to the development of cancer.

What diets are the deadliest?

Those diets that include low amounts of nuts, seeds, vegetables, fibre and omega-3 from seafood are considered to be amongst the deadliest – being responsible for many deaths each year. However, the biggest killer in any diet was revealed to be salt.

Whether from bread, processed meats, pasta sauces or other sources; salt has been highlighted as being responsible for shortening the highest number of lives.

An analysis by The Global Burden of Disease Study used estimates of countries’ eating habits in order to determine how often a certain diet was cutting lives short. The three most

dangerous diets were found to be those that contained:

  • Too much salt – responsible for 3 million deaths.
  • Not enough whole grains – responsible for 3 million deaths.
  • Very little fruit – responsible for 2 million deaths.

How are these diets affecting people?

Too much salt is known to raise blood pressure, which in turn raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes significantly. Cardiovascular disease was the result of millions of diet-related deaths, and this links to high salt intake.

The heart and blood vessels can be seriously affected by the continued high intake of salt, leading to heart failure when the organ stops working effectively. Also, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes currently make up the rest of the diet-related deaths.

What foods are missing from diets?

The biggest healthy foods that tend to be missing from the majority of these body damaging diets are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods are actually considered “cardioprotective” and can help to significantly lower the risk of heart problems.

Also, nuts and seeds are worryingly absent from the majority of diets around the world. This has partly been attributed to the presumption that nuts and seeds will make you gain fat, when in fact they contain only healthy fats.

While it’s true that the high levels of sugar intake and the link between red and processed meats with cancer have been the main health headlines over the last few years; larger issues such as the lack of whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables in diets have flown under the radar.

There have been continuous calls for health campaigns to start promoting healthy food that people are missing out of their meal plans, as opposed to focusing on just sugar intake etc. By not including these foods in their diets, many people are knocking years off their life expectancies around the world.

How’s it looking in the UK?

The UK isn’t as bad as some other countries, especially when it comes to the intake of salt, however, there is still a huge problem when it comes to missing out whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

According to the findings, an estimated 14% of UK deaths are related to diet, with 127 diet-related deaths per 100,000 people a year. Showing that the quality of the food we eat certainly plays a pivotal role in health no matter what weight we are.

There perhaps needs to be a widespread shift in the health industry, from topics surrounding fats, sugars and salts – to focus on the actual foods everyone should be incorporating into their diet on a daily basis.

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