It is fair to say that in this country we are in the midst of a health crisis. 3.9 million of us are living with diabetes, a number that has doubled in a little under 20 years. There are an estimated 700 new diagnoses PER DAY! 62% of us are overweight or obese, and 2.3 million of us are living with cardiovascular disease that will claim the lives of 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women.
The saddest part of this grim picture is that in the large part, much of this comes from our lifestyle, with diet being the top of this list and inactivity and stress being second and third.
How did we get to this point?
Well, many changes occurred in the last 6 decades that have radically altered the way in which we eat. Post WW2, the phenomena of the convenience food began to arrive, along with the ‘supermarket’ and a new industry of ready meals. The quest for cheaper ingredients and better margins for these businesses came with that. Around the same time, certain data became published, such as the Seven Countries Study
by Ancel Keys that (not very accurately) made links between saturated fat and heart disease. This led to public health messages that encouraged us all to ditch the fat and instead build our diet around starchy foods and low fat versions of anything you could imagine. These two large changes to our eating habits basically altered the macronutrient composition of our diet (macronutrients are the proteins, fats, carbohydrates), and the micronutrient composition (micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, etc). The knock-on effects of this shift were the catalyst for the disturbing pattern of diet-related lifestyle diseases that are shortening our lives today.
What do we do about it?
What IS the right diet? Well, as you have probably noticed there is a lot of noise and there are a million and one theories and ideas, which can leave most people completely lost and overwhelmed. What I am going to attempt to do over the coming months is to offer some kind of guidance in this respect, but I’m going to do this by looking at the picture we are currently facing and working backwards.
We are now clearly beginning to understand how our modern eating patterns are, in essence, killing us
So, I am going to look at the individual elements of the modern Western diet that are contributing to the disease patterns that are plaguing us, then offer you solutions to each of these elements, followed by a simple action plan in each of these areas for you to implement that will help you gravitate towards better eating for a lifetime. Not any daft fad or crash diet - real healthy eating patterns that are easy, enjoyable, and will offer you some health insurance to boot.More from the Journal