It has long been known that diet is a significant factor in our biological vs our chronological age. Eat whole minimally processed foods most of the time, and we may have a biological age that better matches our chronological age. However, one article last week quantified the impact of a poor diet and pulled no punches, “What we are eating is killing us!” Poor diets now account for one in five deaths globally according to this report. Bottom line, there may need to be some serious reflection about the global food environment and our food choices, and there is no time like the present to begin the process and have a happier, healthier 2019.
Biological (health related age) vs. chronological age (calendar age) is one way for doctors and scientists to look at populations and understand why not all 40 year olds have the same disease and death risk. A scientific group at Harvard is working to develop an algorithm using nine modifiable risk factors, including diet, to help identify people who do and do not have biological ages consistent with their chronological ages. In particular, they are focused on identifying modifiable factors, those over which people have control, to improve their health. Enough scientific evidence exists to place diet (food and beverages) as one of the most important modifiable health risk factors.
Major themes in the report, What we are eating is killing us!, are for governments and businesses to do more to increase access to affordable wholesome food while minimizing fresh vegetable and fruit waste, limit or restrict advertising of low nutrient density foods, and provide safe public drinking water.
While others focus on systems and structures needed to support more nutrient dense eating, we have an opportunity to impact our health, and that of our families, today. Small incremental changes in food choices are not only doable, they are sustainable, and can really impact health. With the few weeks left in 2018, what is one small thing that you can do to eat more whole minimally processed food?
- Set aside time to plan a daily nutrient dense breakfast
- Add an extra vegetable to lunch
- Choose foods with fewer than 5 ingredients on the label
- Plan and pack a post-workout snack
- Include a fruit with dinner daily
- Prepare a whole food afternoon snack (fruit and nut or seed butter) to beat the afternoon slump
- Eat out one less night per week
Coming up with an idea of your own is even better than choosing one that I have listed here. Start with just one change, practice it, work out any kinks, and celebrate your success. Then you are ready to work on another one!
Happy and healthful eating,
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN
Ready to fuel your life? Contact me at [email protected]