20% of Global Deaths Caused By Unhealthy, High Sodium Diets!
This week, the Global Burden of Disease study gave us an insight into the changing nature of worldwide disease. After investigating sickness in all four corners of the globe, it found a shift towards preventable illnesses. It says 1 in 5 deaths are now caused by unhealthy eating.
Poor diet has overtaken smoking and communicable infections as the commonest cause of early death.
It's a stark warning for younger generations. Despite extraordinary advances in health care - and the potential for people to live longer - unhealthy lifestyles condemn many to a grim future. The biggest risk factor is a high sodium diet. Sodium is vital for a number of critical bodily functions. It's found naturally in whole foods. However, it also gets added to processed foods to enhance taste and shelf life.
Don't Let Hidden Salts Ruin Your Health
Approximately 75% of the salt we eat is already present when we buy our food. So, it's easy to consume more than the body can tolerate. And it means cutting back on junk food and salty 'treats' is helpful, but it may not be enough. Disease prevention requires a reshaping of dietary habits.
We need to move away from readymade foods and embrace whole ingredients. One of the simplest changes is cooking more.
We all snack. We all pick ready meals over home cooking from time to time. The trick is to 'create' your meals as often as possible. The more ingredients, the better. Vegetables don't need to be fresh (canned, dried and frozen are fine), but they should be low in salt.
Check labels. You may be surprised by your favourite products.
Seizing the Day, Feeding Your Future
We should all be making healthy choices. The older you are, the more urgent the need to reform a sodium heavy diet. High salt intake contributes to high blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and strokes. In the UK, average salt consumption is between 8.1g and 8.8g. Health experts advise against more than 6g per day.
The study tells us our nutritional decisions have cumulative consequences. The way we eat throughout our lives has an impact on our futures. So, it's especially important to feed our children in a way that embeds healthy habits and prepares their bodies for fit and fortunate adult lives.
It's easy to dismiss a little extra salt as no big deal, particularly if your child is healthy now. Yet, it's worth noting most adults maintain eating habits learned in childhood. To give young people the best shot at avoiding disease, we've got to make whole foods and home cooking the new normal.