It’s no secret that eating a diet full of sugary drinks, processed meat and sodium is not the best choice for our overall health.
Now, a new study shows a diet loaded with excessive unhealthy foods, and not enough good foods, is associated with one in five deaths worldwide.
“We know that sugar is bad and people eat 10 times as much sugar as is recommended; we know that nuts are good, and prevent disease, and people eat only 12 percent of the recommended amount of nuts; so, we’re eating way too much of the bad stuff, and hardly enough of the good stuff,” said Mark Hyman, M.D., director of the Center for Functional Medicine of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.
The study looked at dietary trends for people in 195 countries between 1990 and 2017.
Researchers wanted to see if there was a connection between diet and chronic disease.
In 2017, diets low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, and high in trans fats, sugary drinks, red and processed meats, combined for roughly 11 million deaths worldwide.
Ten million of those deaths were attributed to heart disease, followed by cancer and type two diabetes.
Of the 195 countries studied, the United States ranked 43 in terms of the number of diet-related deaths.
And while some regions of the world fared better than others, the study authors said almost all countries are missing the mark when it comes to good nutrition habits.
Dr. Hyman said when we only focus on getting rid of bad foods, and not on adding nutritional ones, we make a mistake, because good foods that promote health – such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds – are like medicine to our bodies.
“Food is the biggest contributor, globally, to chronic disease and death,” said Dr. Hyman. “I think it’s important to focus on, not only what to remove – too much sugar; processed foods; junk; fast foods – but focus on what to add. For instance, fruits and vegetables should make up 80 percent of your diet.”
Complete results of the study can be found in The Lancet.