Researchers have found an answer to the question: Is the standard American diet killing us? Unfortunately, too often what we eat and what we skip contributes to disease and death.
The Link Between Diet and Death:
The investigators did a sophisticated analysis of data on what, precisely, people ate in both 2002 and 2012. They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for both years. These nutrition scientists paid special attention to 10 foods or nutrients that have been associated with a risk of cardiometabolic disease in previous studies.
Then they looked at deaths due to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and teased out which dietary habits contributed to these deaths. They found an estimated 45% of these deaths were linked to a diet containing too much salt, sugar and processed meat.
What Should You Be Eating Instead?
If people ate more nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seafood instead, they would be less prone to these lethal cardiometabolic conditions. An analysis by age showed that for adults between 25 and 64, sugar-sweetened beverages were the major dietary culprit. For those over 65, the biggest problem was excess sodium.
Differences in dietary patterns by income and ethnic group apparently contribute to higher cardiometabolic mortality in poor neighborhoods. Finding ways to eliminate food deserts and promote fresh whole foods in such areas as well as in affluent regions could help improve health overall.
We Don’t Want Your Diet Killing You:
Health food enthusiasts have been proclaiming for decades that you are what you eat. This new research published in JAMA confirms that diet may be at least as important to health as preventive heart medications.
If you would like guidance on healthful eating, you may wish to consult our book, Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy. It has two weeks of menu plans as well as recipes from nutrition scientists we have interviewed on The People’s Pharmacy. We’ve included many of our own favorites featuring vegetables, fish and whole grains.