Diet-Related Diseases Contribute to Drop in Life Expectancy

1/2/2017 9:36 AM

The Centers for Disease Control recently released new life expectancy statistics and for the first time since 1993 life expectancy declined.  CDC reports the new life expectancy is 78.8 years.  Deaths due to illnesses commonly associated with poor diets are increasing and contributing to the life expectancy decline.  These illnesses include heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Analysis of the CDC report shows that economically disadvantaged populations are the most affected due to less access to medical care and poorer life choices, which includes diet.  This is why access to affordable and accessible fruits and vegetables is an important public health priority.  This is also why certain groups need to stop promoting fear-inducing and inaccurate messaging disparaging the safety of popular produce items often calling them “pesticide laden” and “contaminated.” Especially in light of new peer reviewed research which shows low income consumers report they are less likely to buy any produce items – conventional or organically grown – when exposed to this messaging.

Some groups carry these negative and inaccurate messaging because they want to promote one growing method over another.  However, there are numerous positive things to say about both organic and conventional production and among the most important is that each yield very safe and healthy foods we should all be eating more of each day. 

And, shouldn’t consumers also hear more of this: 

  • Concerned about heart disease?  Consider eating more strawberries. Studies show that berry consumption may positively impact cardiovascular health and brain health too. Or throw some extra tomatoes into that salad. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, a potent antioxidant, which has been associated with heart health. 
  • What about strokes? Eat some apples. Research has found that consumption of two apples a day may cut your stroke risk by one-third.
  • Feeling a bit forgetful lately – order a spinach salad for lunch.  A recent study found that those who ate one or two servings of spinach on a daily basis had the mental capacity of someone ten years younger.
  • Or how about this:  According to a recent study, people who consume seven or more servings of fruits and veggies a day can reduce their risk of premature death by 42%, their risk of heart disease by 31% and their risk of cancer by 25%.  

One bright spot in the CDC report, as in previous years, deaths associated with cancer continue to drop. "The only decrease in age-adjusted death rates among the 10 leading causes of death was for cancer," wrote the CDC.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional produce for better health and a longer life.

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