In the United States alone, approximately 655,000 people a year die from heart disease. That’s one person every 36 seconds. With nearly 18 million annual deaths globally, it’s the leading cause of death around the world. This does, understandably, motivate researchers and others in the medical and health fields to identify the risk factors that cause this killer disease.
We now have more insights into these risk factors after the release of a major study a couple of years ago. It was called the Global Burden of Disease Study, and it tracked the prevalence and incidence of heart disease as well as deaths caused by it from 1990 to 2017. It uncovered a number of causes for this global killer. Most of them were not very surprising. This is especially true for one of the biggest causes which is diet.
The Importance of Diet In Heart Disease
The best way to quickly uncover how important diet is in the list of risk factors for heart disease is to look at how it affects many of the others. The impact of the following 11 factors was examined.
- High blood pressure
- High plasma glucose
- High body mass index
- Low physical activity
- Impaired kidney function
- High levels of LDL cholesterol
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Lead exposure
- Air pollution
It was noted that age and family history were potential causes as well, but people can’t really do anything about those. The researchers were more interested in causes that you could alter through changes in behavior. When you look at the list above, you can see that diet can also affect your blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index (BMI) and LDL cholesterol level. The researchers found that 69 percent of worldwide deaths from heart disease
The Dangers of Processed Foods
We all know the advice that doctors and nutritionists give people to stay healthy. They say to eat right and exercise regularly. When giving specifics about eating right, the recommendation always includes eating more fruits and vegetables. They also advise people to eat less sugar, salt and fat. Processed foods are typically high in at least two if not all three of these things that we’re supposed to avoid.
Fast food is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of processed foods. However, the vast majority of the food sold at your local supermarket that is not in the fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, or dairy section will typically be processed food. Over 20 years ago, a study came out
Bad Diet and Increased Risk Factors for Diseases
Eating a diet high in processed foods can increase your risk for many diseases and ailments that are common today. Sometimes, these risks can be interconnected. In other words, if you have one disease, this may increase your chances of catching another one. Type 2 diabetes is a perfect example of this.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your chance of dying from heart disease is two to four times greater. Those with diabetes typically contracted that disease from a poor diet. This, in turn, will make them more likely to become susceptible to high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and obesity, which will then make them more likely to get heart disease.
The Benefits of Eliminating Processed Foods
No one sets out to get fat, lack energy to exercise, get high blood pressure and blood sugar and then die from heart disease. It happens gradually over time. It’s the accumulation of thousands of little decisions you make each day about what to eat and whether to go to the gym or not. This fact, however, is also your saving grace. If many negative small decisions on a daily basis bring you to a negative long-term outcome, then positive decisions will have the opposite impact.
Every small change you start making today in your diet will make a tremendous impact over the long haul. Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will give your body and immune system everything it needs to fight off illness. Eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, processed foods that contain a lot of sugar and salt will also give you the energy to make other healthy choices such as working out.
Along with getting a good night’s sleep, eating right is the cornerstone that will enable you to live a full life and to stay healthy into your later years. Old age and its attendant infirmities catch up to all of us eventually, but taking control of your diet by reducing or eliminating processed foods will help you stave off premature disease. One of the most prevalent of these is heart disease, and thankfully, it’s also one of the most preventable. So, the next time you reach for a snack, try an apple or an orange rather than a sugary or salty processed snack.