It’s true that exercising daily and losing weight can help you live longer. So can meditation, according to experts. But, the real key lies in your diet. A new infographic published in JAMA shows that what you eat can be a more significant contributor to your longevity than physical activity or BMI.
Researchers collected data from Lancet and developed a chart that outlines the top 10 causes of death in the United States for the past 20 years. Heart disease and Alzheimer’s lead the list. After those, there is a disparity between men and women when it comes to causes of death, though both lists contain lung cancer, COPD, stroke, respiratory infections, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
The infographic contains information regarding the various risk factors that can increase the risk of death from these main causes. As an example, high blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Overall, dietary risks are correlated to seven of the top 10 reasons for death. This risk is as high as the risk of using tobacco. Diet is more highly correlated to blood pressure, BMI, fasting blood sugar, cholesterol, poor exercise habits, kidney function, air pollution, alcohol and drug use, and certain occupation hazards.
Researchers are not sure exactly what the term “dietary risk” means. But, they did identify certain commonalities such as diets that are low in vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, milk, fibre, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, but at the same time high in red meat, processed foods, sugar, trans fats, and sodium.
The results of this analysis don’t necessarily mean that you have to be super strict about your diet, but they should inspire you to make healthier choices in your diet and consider the effects of unhealthy foods carefully.