Whether you’re a baby boomer, older adult, or you identify with any population group younger than 50, this question is critical to examine. Because if you’re like the typical American, the answer is probably a resounding YES! The foods you’re eating are detrimentally affecting your health and longevity.
This is the conclusion of two prominent writers in a recent New York Times opinion piece , “Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us,” (8/26/19). This doctor and former secretary of agriculture lay out the case for controlling the high cost of health care, but conclude: “Instead of debating who should pay for all this, no one is asking the far more simple and imperative question: What is making us so sick, and how can we reverse this so we need less health care? The answer is staring us in the face, on average three times a day: our food.”
So ruminate on these statistics for a minute:
- Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the US, more than half a million deaths per year
- Diet is related to most of the chronic diseases affecting this country:
- Cardiovascular disease costs $351 billion annually
- Diabetes $327 billion
- The total economic cost of obesity is estimated at $1.72 trillion per year
The authors suggest several improvements in health care systems, such as emphasizing nutrition training for medical professionals, offering patient prescription programs for healthy produce, taxing sugary beverages and junk food while providing subsidies for healthy foods.
Other private and government programs are suggested, but there are many initiatives an individual citizen can take to improve his/her health. None of these will be a surprise to any reader of this blog.
Here are a few of the dietary factors associated with a substantial proportion of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes: not enough fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, seafood omega-3 fats; too much processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sodium. And now a few easy suggestions to take control of your own health care costs:
- eat at home for often (great way to control sodium intake)
- go back to creating your own foods versus buying prepared, processed items
- include more plant-based foods in your diet
- how about Meatless Mondays?
- grow your own produce or join a community garden to increase fruit and vegetable intake
- experiment with sliced fruit or vegetables in water (strawberries, orange, cucumbers, for example) and stop buying sodas and other high-sugar beverages
What can you do to stop your diet from killing you?
For more ideas about increasing fruit and vegetable intake, check out my website.