Earlier this month, a prestigious medical journal published their findings from a study spanning 27 years about the relationship between diet and health. As a part of the Global Burden of Disease Study, the authors looked at the consumption of 15 major foods and nutrients across 195 countries and their impact on chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The study found that that consumption of nearly all healthy foods was suboptimal, while intake of all unhealthy foods exceeded the optimal level. The culmination of these poor dietary habits were attributed to 11 million deaths worldwide—higher than smoking—with cardiovascular disease as the leading cause.
The worst offenders on the list were high sodium, low whole grains, and low fruits, accounting for more than half of the 11 million deaths worldwide. Diets low in nuts and seeds, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre had the next greatest impact.
This study highlights the need to act to improve the eating habits of all individuals globally. As nutrition experts,dietitians play an important role in improving dietary habits, and therefore health outcomes, at both the population and individual level.
Here are some of my tips for reducing your sodium intake and increasing your intake of whole grains and fruits:
Overall, the study suggests that focusing on adding healthy foods to your diet — such as whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds,vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre — will have a greater impact on your health compared to focusing on limiting certain nutrients like sugar or fat — with the exception of foods high in sodium.
Speak to a dietitian to get an individualized plan on how to optimize your diet and maximize your health.
Sincerely in Health,
Brittany Trueman, MHSc, RD