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Just Do It! Ten Dietary Habits to Stop Today

Mar 20, 2017

A new study from the Journal of the American Medicine Association found that nearly half of all deaths from heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the United States are associated with diets that skimp on certain foods and nutrients and overdo moderate levels with others. Researchers identified 10 dietary habits with strong evidence for providing either a protective or harmful association with death. Author Renata Micha says, “It wasn't just too much 'bad' in the American diet; it's also not enough 'good.’” The ten food habits linked to disease risk and early death are listed below. Looking to tweak your own eating habits? Pick one bad habit to stop this week and just do it!

  1. Not getting enough fruit. Grab two fist-size servings per day.
  2. Not getting enough vegetables. The goal is two-and-a-half cups per day.
  3. Not enough nuts and seeds. Snack on a handful each day.
  4. Too few whole grains. Choose at least three servings per day.
  5. Eating too many solid fats (like butter, margarine, etc). Replace solid fats with plant oils.
  6. Not enough seafood. Plan for eight ounces per week.
  7. Too much salt. Researchers found that almost 10 percent of all diet-related premature deaths were due to excess dietary sodium.
  8. Too much red meat. The Chick-Fil-A commercials have a point!
  9. Too much processed meat. Limit those breakfast meats, hot dogs, baked ham and deli sandwiches to only a few times per week.
  10. Too many sugar-sweetened beverages. These were associated with an early death more than any other food habit.

A larger proportion of men than women die due to diet-related causes. Poor diet was also associated with a greater percentage of mortality among younger people vs. older people. It’s culinary medicine, ya’ll. Eat healthy and live longer! This article was written by Karan Summitt. Karan is a Community Health Educator and an Employee Health Coach at St. Bernards Medical Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences from Harding University in Searcy and has extensive training and experience in weight loss and healthy lifestyle management, with emphasis on healthcare needs of seniors. She submits a weekly lifestyle column to The Jonesboro Sun titled “The Diet Gal” and also writes a “Successful Aging” column for the magazine NEA Seniors.