Starting good habits when you are young pays off in dividends as you age
Food is the key to better health throughout your life. I, for one, had my fair share of junk food obsessions — especially regarding sugar. The amount of processed food I consumed in my teens, ’20s and some of my early 30’s made me feel sick at age 43. Thankfully, I caught myself out and stopped that behaviour many years ago — but most people still don’t realise just how impactful diet can be as you age. When you are young, risk-taking isn’t out of the norm, including making the worst food choices. Unless you have severe health issues as a younger person, you may have no incentive to eat well throughout your life. Unfortunately, very few people care about nutrition on a higher level. But, the shock of disease can hit us at any age, and all it takes is a shift in our perspective and a change in behaviour to turn it around. A study conducted in 2021 analysed two measures of healthy plant food consumption & found some great results. Researchers found that young adults and postmenopausal women had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease when they ate more plant-based foods. The American Heart Association suggests that a healthy eating plan emphasises a higher fruit and vegetable variety consumption. Eating whole grains, nuts, skinless poultry and fish, and legumes is also recommended. In addition, it limits saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, red meat, and sweets.Lead author Yuni Choi PhD and researcher in the division of epidemiology and community health, says: “Earlier research was focused on single nutrients or single foods, yet there is little data about a plant-centred diet and the long-term risks of cardiovascular disease.” Choi and his colleagues examined diet and the occurrence of heart disease in 4 946 adults enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. All participants were aged between 18 and 30 years old at the time of enrolment (1985–1986) and, at that time, free of cardiovascular disease. These participants were analysed according to their nutritional and lifestyle habits. They were not told to do anything but had a few follow-up measurements. The following information was found: One: 289 participants developed cardiovascular disease Two: People who ate the most nutritionally rich plant foods were 52% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease (this included a lot of other aspects, such as age, caloric consumption etc.) Three: Those who improved their diet and started to eat more plant-based foods (aged between 25 and 50 years) were 61% less likely to develop subsequent cardiovascular disease than those whose diet quality diminished. Four: Unfortunately, there were very few vegetarians in this study, so the researchers could not assess any benefits of a strict, vegetarian diet that excluded all animal products (and it would have been great to see this).
It’s pretty evident to see the following evidence when it comes to eating more of a plant-based diet: One: Plants are essential for anyone, no matter what age group Two: Plants help to benefit cardiovascular health and eliminate the chances of developing a disease Three: If you choose to eat animal products, do so in moderation Four: If you select an animal protein, try to keep it low fat and consume more baked fish, poultry and eggs Five: It’s never too late to start eating more plant foods — that includes people who are over 50+ I don’t think I have to encourage you all to begin eating more plant foods. Although you may not currently worry about your health, it’s essential to set a baseline when you are young so that you won’t have health issues as you age. It’s never too late to start incorporating healthy food into your diet. Keep it low calorie and highly nutritious and minimise the consumption of animal protein. Having a few vegan or vegetarian days during the week will benefit your health and family. Please click on this link if you would like to view this study.
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