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Eat your way to a healthier, longer life


Last updated 7/6/2018 at Noon

The expression “you are what you eat” was coined in the late 1800s. The phrase implied that one’s state of mind was influenced by their diet. An advertisement in 1923 upped the ante when it suggested that “90 percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs.”

Last year a more rigorous scientific approach published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ( concluded that poor eating habits contribute to the third highest cause of death.

The analysis found that a deficiency of healthy foods contributed as much to a poor health outcome as did an excess of unhealthy foods. Let’s take a look at the 10 diet changes they suggest would have the biggest impact.

Salt was at the top of the list of things to avoid. If you are looking for one single dietary change to improve your health, take the shaker off the dinner table along with cutting recipe recommendations for salt in half. It will take a couple weeks to adapt to this change, but you will soon realize how much unneeded salt is added to restaurant meals and those processed foods you are buying at the grocery store.

Sugar, especially in sodas, was number two. Along with salt, sugar is the one additive that takes a two week commitment to break what can be a real taste addiction for many.

Processed meats, which are high in both salt and fat, were high on the “to be avoided” list.

And finally, as you might have suspected, red meat rounded out the four items to be avoided.

Now let’s switch to the foods that are often in short supply in our diets. These items, if increased, will have a positive impact on our health.

Fish, with its omega-3 fatty acids provides a great alternative to red meat. Fidh provides a win-win diet change, decreasing red meat while adding the omega-3s.

Also expected we tend to scrimp on our daily intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. When you cut down on red meat, these delicious alternatives offer a wonderful option to assure you don’t leave the table hungry.

Fats, of course, made the list. A separate study published last month, re-emphasized the cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks of “trans” as well as saturated fats. The study quoted from prior papers indicating that merely replacing dietary saturated fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduced CVD by 30 percent.

Nuts, loaded with unsaturated (good) fats, were the final “must add” with a strong association with good outcomes. When you get that urge for a few chips and Doritos between meals, a hand-full of nuts is a healthy alternative to get you to your next meal.

Another recent study also indicated that adding just five tablespoons of olive oil or 30g (a handful) of unsalted nuts to a conventional Mediterranean diet provide a 30 percent reduction in the risk of CVD mortality compared with simply lowering saturated fat intake alone.

So that rounds out 10 changes to consider in your daily diet.

If you have been reading this column over the past year, this study confirms the major themes covered prior submissions.

* Less sugar. More and more the evidence indicates it is more harmful to your health than either salt or fats.

* Less red meat. And replace it with an increase in whole grain and vegetable side dishes. Both changes support a healthier microbiome with all its benefits.

* Less saturated and more poly-unsaturated fats. Cook with unsaturated vegetable oil (or olive oil). Get a jar of unsalted nuts for snacks. They are the answer to killing that urge to snack.

* And finally, cook a meals yourself to avoid the processed foods served in restaurants. Cooking for yourself will help you succeed in the effort to limit your weekly intake of salt, sugar, and harmful saturated fats.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome. In fact, your personal reflections are encouraged as support or to question the advice provided. We are not offended by constructive observations.

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