“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” – Mark Twain
Life expectancy is an important indicator to evaluate the social development of a country. Health and longevity can not only improve people’s life quality but also ensure them to have more time to pursue their life goal…Nutrition is one of the most important factors affecting people’s health. Both malnutrition and overnutrition are risk factors for disease and death. – Zheng, X.Y, et al.: Progress in Research of Nutrition and Life Expectancy
To begin, we’d like to present a couple of interesting statistics.
First, the rates of obesity between the United States and our friendly neighbor to the Far East, Japan.
– A Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 is considered obese. (BMI is considered the international standard for obesity)
– 3.6 percent of Japanese have a BMI over 30.
– 32 percent of Americans have a BMI over 30.
– A BMI over 25 is considered overweight.
– 1 in every 4 of Japanese have a BMI over 25.
– 2 in every 3 Americans have a BMI over 25.
Second, the average life expectancy, in years, in the United States and Japan.
– The average life expectancy in Japan: 85 years (2nd highest in world.)
– The average life expectancy in the U.S.: 79 years (42nd in the world.)
The U.S. is not the only country in the Western world to face an obesity/overweight crisis, but we Americans—a people that many around the world continue to look up to–most certainly do not set a very good example.
Why does the U.S., one of the richest and most powerful countries on the planet, have some of the poorest health outcomes among developed nations?
Because of habit. Because of consumerism. Because we’ve bought into the well-advertised notion that convenience is king. Many of us have fallen for such tactics; many Americans–and many in the Western world–continue to believe that all foods, regardless of how it’s produced, or what it’s composed of, is simply a means of sustenance.
But the food we put into our mouths has a grave impact on our present and future health. Despite the proliferation of well-researched intelligence on the importance of nutrition, millions of Americans don’t consider or understand the essential importance of eating habits.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most unwholesome eating habits. Make no mistake, these 5 habits are a severe detriment to our health–and contribute to a reduced lifespan.
Here are 5 eating habits that can shorten your life:
1. Too much sugar
The introduction of sugar has caused the most harm, in terms of health, than any other ingredient in existence. Refined sugars, including processed grains and fructose, contribute to a host of health problems, especially diabetes and heart disease.
Processed foods, including pre-prepared and packaged vegetables and canned fruits–two food categories thought to be “healthy”–are sometimes loaded with sugar. From candy and soda, to microwaved meals and meat products, sugar is added to the majority of “convenience foods” (i.e. boxed, packaged foods).
2. Insulin-resistant ingredients
Yes, this includes sugar-laden foods and drinks. Insulin is the main driver of the aging process, and can also negatively impact numerous physiological functions.
Insulin resistance of the liver manifests into type 2 diabetes; insulin resistance of the brain manifests into dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease); insulin resistance of the kidney manifests into renal disease–and so on. The point is that insulin resistance can suppress the normal functioning of vital organs; those that sustain life.
Limit sugar, fructose, and artificial sweeteners to prevent this from happening.
3. Trans Fat
In simple terms, trans fat obstructs blood flow and promotes heart disease. Arteries are rendered incapable of producing necessary elements that promote cellular health; in conjunction, these effects can lead to (often sudden) disease, and even death.
Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed trans fats from a “safe list” that promulgates the “zero health risk” myth of the substance. Deviously, but predictably, food manufacturers continue to substitute other toxic byproducts that harm cellular health (e.g. ‘cyclic aldehydes’) in place of trans fat.
4. Low Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is essential in the prevention of diseases and expanding one’s lifespan. Research has conclusively shown that adequate vitamin D levels protect against numerous fatal diseases, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, lung disease and cancer.
Vitamin D promotes brain health by promoting nerve growth and is essential to optimal brain function. Research has shown that seniors with low vitamin D levels double their risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The vitamin also possesses immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Exposure to sunlight is the ideal method of gathering and storing vitamin D. For whatever reason (seasonal climate, location, illness, etc.) sunlight exposure is not feasible, various high-quality vitamin D supplements will do the job. Foods rich in vitamin D, including fatty fish, dairy products, cheese, and egg yolks will significantly increase ‘D’ levels.
Alcohol is not a food, obviously; and some variations of alcohol (e.g. red wine) may produce certain health benefits. Excessive consumption of alcohol, however, is detrimental to overall health.
First, alcohol abuse can damage liver and brain function. Cirrhosis (irreversible scarring) of the liver–is the leading cause of death from long-term alcohol abuse.
Excessive scar tissue causes the liver to become hardened; this can lead to shortage of blood flow to the liver and other vital organs. Cirrhosis of the liver contributed to 1.2 million deaths in 2014, up 150 percent from 1990.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2016). Country Comparison: Life Expectancy At Birth. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html
Mercola, J., DO. (2015, January 14). Foods and Other Lifestyle Factors That Will Shorten Your Lifespan. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/14/factors-shortening-lifespan.aspx
WebMD. (2017). What Is Cirrhosis?, Retrieved March 31, 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cirrhosis-liver#1
Zheng, X., Han, Y., Gau, C., Zheng, L., Qiu, Y., & Chen, G. (2014). Progress in Research of Nutrition and Life Expectancy. Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 27(3), 151-161. doi:10.3967/bes2014.036
Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. (2015). The Lancet, 388(10053), 117-171. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61682-2
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