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  • Writer's pictureJanice Tracey

Poor Diets Deadlier Than Smoking

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Does this shock you? The research findings are a few years old now and not much has changed.

This is a hard pill to swallow, that poor diets are deadlier than smoking and yet the policies to encourage healthy eating and lifestyles are weak, ill thought out and ineffective. The campaign to turn the issue around is beset with the same challenges as with reducing deaths from smoking, the challenges of the profits and power of big industry and claims of protecting personal choice and blaming the issue on personal choice.

As this debate rages, we all must do what we can to support each other in making changes so that we can live longer and stronger. The power is on your plate.

Here's a few pointers from a study in The Lancet indicating where we might start to make changes.

  • Consumption of nearly all healthy foods and nutrients was suboptimal (topped by low intakes of nuts and seeds, milk, and whole grains),

  • Consumption of all unhealthy items exceeded the recommended level (eg, sugary beverages, sodium, and processed and red meat)

  • Burden of disease globally attributable to dietary factors was huge: 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYS)

  • More than half of all diet-related deaths and two-thirds of diet-related DALYs were attributable to just three factors: high intake of sodium, low intake of whole grains, and low intake of fruit.

  • Disproportionate burden in low-income settings

We have sprung into Summer and whilst some days it still feels like Winter, the brighter mornings and lighter evenings are welcome signs of change and hope rises for a nice sunny few months,

It's a good time not only for a clean out of the house, the wardrobes and the garden but also a good time for a spring clean of the inner workings of the body and a fresh look at what we are eating day in and day out.

And if you need any extra motivation, the recent global study into the worlds dietary habits might help. The study, printed in the Lancet Journal, has been widely reported in the press early in April with headlines such as:

‘Bad diets are now responsible for more deaths than smoking’
‘Poor diets deadlier than smoking’
‘Western Diet now killing more than smoking and high blood pressure’

The researchers found that in 2017, across 195 countries, poor diet was responsible for 11 million deaths, or 22% of the total recorded whilst smoking was associated with 8 million deaths.

Low intake of whole grains and fruits, and high consumption of sodium (salt) accounted for more than half of diet-related deaths. The rest were attributed to high consumption of red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks, and other unhealthy foods including those containing trans-fatty acids. Most diet-related deaths were due to heart disease, followed by cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Poor diet also caused a huge burden of disability, the researchers reported.

And whilst the headline is new, with our diet taking over from smoking as the biggest cause of preventable death globally, the dietary elements studied are nothing new. We know too much sugar, bad fats and salt are bad for us and that fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes are good for us.

What this research suggests is that government policies should now concentrate more on what we should be eating rather than what we should not be eating.

This is exactly what I advise clients who want to make changes. I suggest they focus on including more of the good stuff - more fruit and veg, more pulses, more good quality protein, more healthy fats. Eventually you crowd out the bad stuff and get the balance.

These changes will increase your nutrient intake and absorption, and up the fibre consumption. All these nutrients, antioxidants, fibre and water will help the body to naturally spring clean (detoxify) by supporting the liver and elimination pathways.

Research shows that when making changes, it's easier with support. My passion is helping people like you to make changes that stick, so that you feel better, quicker. How does a Personalised Health Plan sound, designed specifically FOR YOU after a consultation with a registered Nutritional Therapist and then follow up sessions to help keep you on track. Or why not book a FREE Discovery call to see how I can help.

If weight loss is part of your health goal, why not check out my Signature Programme - Nutrition for Happy and Health Weight Loss.

Why not follow me on Facebook janicetraceynutrition for my Friday Facebook Live at 1pm and @janicetraceynutrition on Instagram for more tips and inspiration to help you on your journey.

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