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June 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 4)

A long and healthy life is down to the food you eat
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

A long and healthy life is down to the food you eat image

The food we eat has a bigger impact on our health and longevity than any other single factor, as a new study underlines. People who regularly eat processed food suffer more chronic disease and live shorter lives than those who follow a healthier diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

There's a 'stark' difference in the health and longevity of people across much of the US who regularly eat potato chips, sugar-sweetened drinks, sweets, refined grains and processed meat compared to those in the 'blue zones', regions where people live to 100 and older without suffering chronic disease.

Researchers from George Washington University have discovered that processed food affects key biological processes, including the gut microbiome—its universe of bacteria—and blood glucose levels. Becoming overweight and obese is one of the first reactions to a processed-food diet, but this can quickly lead on to diabetes, heart problems and also cut years off your life.

Instead of just relying on a pill for every ill, researcher Leigh Frame says it's vital that the food we eat is seen as medicine. "Chronic disease in later years is not predestined but heavily influenced by lifestyle and diet. Decreasing obesity and chronic disease in the US will require limiting processed foods and increasing intake of whole vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruit and water," she said.


References

(Source: Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology, 2019; 17: 577)

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