„Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food” – Hippocrates
New data shows that a bad diet is a top cause of early deaths worldwide, as unhealthy food can cause strokes, diabetes and heart disease. An unhealthy diet, which includes eating too few vegetables, fruits and grains, and eating too much salt, sugar and meat, is the biggest risk factor and caused more fatalities than smoking and alcohol.
Here are 5 disadvantages of an unhealthy diet:
#1 Heart Disease
Currently, 15.3 million people are estimated to die from cardiovascular diseases every year. That represents 33% of all global deaths from all causes.
A diet high in trans and saturated fats causes bad cholesterol to build up in your arteries. This puts you at risk for stroke, heart attack, and other major health problems. Cholesterol, which is an important component of certain hormones and cell membranes, is produced by the liver, but it is also present in meat, dairy products, and eggs.
A high amount of a certain type of cholesterol (LDL – Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the blood can cause its deposit in the arteries, thus restricting blood flow and causing heart problems. Cholesterol is not, in fact, required in the daily diet because it is produced by the liver in sufficient amounts.
Avoid or limit foods that are high in dietary cholesterol. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that come from vegetable sources have many health benefits.
#2 Sleep Disorder
Getting enough sleep and eating right are well-known behaviors for good health. Studies show that all mammals need sleep, that sleep regulates mood and is related to learning and memory functions.
The first step toward better sleep is eating nutritious, balanced meals and snacks evenly spaced throughout the day. Eat too little during the day and you’ll overstuff yourself in the evening, leading to a night of tossing, turning and indigestion. Eat too little for dinner and you might find yourself lying awake, longing for a trip to the fridge.
The second step is to combine foods that contain tryptophan (nuts, chia seeds, spirulina, tofu, oats, beans, lentils) with good carbohydrates. That’s because, in order for insomnia-busting tryptophan to work, it has to make its way to the brain.
Amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) compete with one another for transport to the brain. When you eat carbs, they trigger the release of insulin, which transports competing amino acids toward muscle tissue, but leaves tryptophan alone, so it can make its way to the brain.
#3 Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have demonstrated that eating a diet of calorie-dense, refined foods and beverages, such as sodas, and too little raw vegetables, fruits and whole grains can considerably increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
A 2007 study by the Department of Psychology, Yale University, found that soda drinkers tend to consume more calories overall, weigh more, get poorer nutrition and have a higher risk for diabetes.
In addition, a 2004 study reported in „The Journal of the American Medical Association” found that women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened sodas per day were twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to women who drank less than one regular soda per month.
#4 Mood Problems
Food has chemical properties, vitamins, and minerals. Recent studies have shown that the nutrients in food are precursors to neurotransmitters, which are the frontline regulators of our moods.
Some neurotransmitters, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin, help calm us. Other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, stimulate us. Having the right balance of various neurotransmitters available helps ensure that our moods and responses are appropriate to the given situation.
For example, eating unrefined carbohydrates can increase the level of serotonin in your brain, which can elevate your mood. The trick is in finding those carbohydrates that are minimally processed and don’t lead to blood sugar spikes and troughs. Foods to try: quinoa, potatoes, millet, steel cut oatmeal or brown rice.
Obesity can sometimes be traced to a medical cause, such as Cushing’s syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome and other conditions and diseases. Nevertheless, these disorders are rare and, in general, the main causes of obesity are: a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet.
The good news is that many of the foods that help ward off disease also seem to help with weight control, foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. And many of the foods that raise the risk for disease — chief among them, refined grains and sugary drinks — are also factors in weight gain.
What to do?
Cut back your fast food consumption and make a conscious effort to cook more. Preparing a meal and eating together is not only healthy in a nutritional sense, but it’s also an excellent way to have some family time. Focus your meals and snacks around fresh foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, such as brown rice, whole-grain breads or potatoes.