jupiter inflammation doctor

Inflammation: The Silent Killer

If our concierge primary doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter could pinpoint a single factor that is responsible for more illnesses than any other, it might be inflammation. This is the result of various attacks on the body by irritating or even harmful stressors on the body, such as pathogens, injuries, or poor lifestyle habits. The body then tries to heal the resulting tissue damage by rushing white blood cells and their protective chemicals to the site.

Thus, inflammation is necessary to keep the body healthy. But when the body is repeatedly assaulted by various harmful stimuli, the inflammation never ends and can eventually cause long-term damage.

 

What is inflammation?

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute is the healthy kind, in which the body mounts a defense against sudden injury or illness like the flu. Chronic is the dangerous kind, in which the body spends months or even years attempting to fight off constant, lower-level threats, such as pollution, poor nutrition, and the effects of ongoing stress.

 

A cause, not just a result

Because inflammation is seen with injuries, people used to believe it was the result of disease or illness. But over the years, it became more apparent that inflammation actually caused numerous chronic and deadly diseases.

 

Some of these include:

  • allergies
  • Alzheimer’s
  • anemia
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • colitis
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • gout
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • psoriasis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • wrinkles and other signs of aging

 

Inflammation linked to heart disease

The deadliest condition that was recently confirmed to be linked to inflammation is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading killer not only in the United States, but also worldwide, claiming the lives of 634,000 people in this country and 15 million people around the world in 2015.

The connection between inflammation and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) has been suspected since the 1800s. No definitive research had actually confirmed this hypothesis, however, until a study released in 2017.

Known as CANTOS, the study included over 10,000 patients who had previously suffered a heart attack and were then were given a drug meant to reduce inflammation. The drug, which costs about $200,000 per year, is not only prohibitively expensive, but its fatal side effects offset any gains in cardiovascular mortality reduction.

So why were cardiologists so excited about this research? Because it proved that reducing inflammation in the body will result in fewer heart attacks. (The drug also proved effective against certain forms of cancer, another illness thought to be tied to chronic inflammation.)

The drug had no effect on cholesterol, which is what is reduced with the use of statins, thus proving that inflammation reduction was solely responsible for the mortality reduction seen in the study. In reducing inflammation and demonstrating a marked decrease (15%) in cardiovascular events or death, it paved the way for possible development of safer, less-costly drugs that can accomplish the same thing.

 

Prevention is the best route

Of course, we can intervene medically with various drugs and treatment that can address all these illnesses and diseases, but the best treatment is to reduce inflammation before it causes a problem.

Some causes of chronic inflammation are beyond our control. These include environmental pollutants and certain genetic factors.

But many other causes are within our control. Here are some steps you can take to reduce chronic inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Quality sleep

Sleep is when the body lowers cortisol and repairs the damage to cells encountered during the day. Seven to eight hours nightly is optimal.

 

  1. Exercise

When you engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two hours and thirty minutes every week, the cells release a protein called Interleukin 6, which has an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.

 

  1. Healthy diet

Poor-quality foods—sugar, salt, fats, processed foods—all trigger inflammation throughout the body. Opt instead for fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, high-quality/low-fat protein, whole grains, beans and legumes, and water.

 

  1. Stress reduction

Chronic stress causes the body to react with chronic inflammation as it tries to “fight off” what it perceives as an invader. Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, meditation, yoga . . . anything that helps reduce stress will also reduce inflammation.

 

  1. Stop smoking

Every puff of a cigarette triggers inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system.

 

If you’d like more information on inflammation’s effect on the body and how to combat it, please talk to us.

primary care jupiter fl

The Danger In Ultra-Processed Foods

Sausages. Mayonnaise. Pizza. Potato chips. Bacon. Even whiskey, gin, and rum. All these foods and many more share two common traits: All were “processed” into their familiar form by humans, and all have been implicated in an increased risk for early death.

Our concierge primary doctors in Jupiter want to make you aware of the latest studies on the dangers of consuming these foods as the primary part of your diet.

The difference in these studies is that they don’t just address so-called “junk” foods like cookies and fast foods, but many of the items that all of us have in our kitchens and rely on as staples of our diet.

 

The studies

Published last month in the journal BMJ, one study followed more than 100,000 adults in France for five years. They found that those who ate the most processed foods were 23 percent more likely to experience a heart condition or stroke than those who consumed the lowest amounts.

The second study, also published in BMJ, tracked 20,000 Spanish adults over 20 years. Those who ate the most processed foods were 62 percent more likely to die during the study period than those who ate the lowest.

“High consumption” was defined as four or more servings of ultra-processed foods daily, with health risks rising 18 percent for each additional daily serving.

While researchers cautioned that correlation doesn’t prove causation, both studies controlled for such other possible risk factors as lifestyle, demographics, physical activity, weight, and overall health in drawing their conclusions. They also noted that their findings correspond to other earlier studies showing an association between highly processed foods and higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers.

 

The cause

Researchers classified foods into roughly three categories:

  • “unprocessed or minimally processed” foods included fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, legumes, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, white rice and pasta, and natural juices;
  • “processed” foods included cheeses, breads, beer, wine, ham, and bacon;
  • “ultra-processed” foods included potato chips, pizza, cookies, chorizo, sausages, mayonnaise, chocolates and candies, artificially sweetened beverages, and whisky, gin, and rum.

 

They also created a separate category called “processed ingredients,” which included salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter, and lard.

The problem seems to stem from the processing, which changes foods from their natural state into something that will last longer on our shelves. These tend to be high in poor-quality fats, additional sugar, salt, and preservative chemicals, and low in vitamins and fiber. The common factor can be summed up in the phrase “convenience foods”; that is, foods that are quick and easy to prepare at home.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study, told CBS News, “I like to say: The longer the shelf life, the shorter your life.” Freeman directs cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.

 

The solution

The takeaway in both these studies, as well as preceding ones is, the closer to a food’s natural state that you can eat, the better the effect on your overall health.

Freeman told CBS News that the most heart-healthy diet is one rich in whole foods, particularly plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. He added that, for affordability and convenience, fresh-frozen vegetables were perfectly acceptable.

Simply switching from sodas to water is another good choice, as well as substituting fresh fruit for sweets. Options for quick snack foods include such treats as homemade sweet potato chips, and oven-“fried” vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, as well as celery and carrot sticks cut up and stored in water.

If you have any questions about a healthy eating plan, please let us know. We can help you substitute a healthy diet for foods likely to negatively impact your health.

jupiter family doctor

How To ‘Break the Grip of the Rip’

This week is National Rip Current Awareness Week, so our concierge doctors in Jupiter want to acquaint you with this common, often-deadly, phenomenon. The National Weather Service (NWS) has already reported 17 surf zone fatalities nationwide this year, including one in Jupiter, and another nearby, from rip currents. The beach, while beautiful, needs to be approached respectfully.

An average of 100 people die in rip currents every year, and nearly 80 percent of all rescues—30,000 a year—made by lifeguards at ocean beaches are from rip currents. Although they can occur at any time, they are especially prevalent when the ocean is churned up with powerful offshore storms.

But bad weather is not necessarily a requirement for developing a rip current. Great weather for the beach does not always mean it’s safe to swim, or even to play in the shallows. Rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.

 

What is a rip current?

Rip currents are often incorrectly called “rip tides.” A tide is something different: a very gradual change in the level of water, occurring on a regular basis over a period of hours.

A rip current is a powerful, narrow channel of fast-moving water that can rush at speeds of up to eight feet per second, pulling swimmers away from the shore out into open water. They usually extend through the line of breaking waves, but can flow a hundred yards or more offshore. They can be as narrow as 20 feet or as broad as several hundred yards wide.

Often referred to as “undertow,” rip currents don’t actually pull swimmers under the water. The strongest pull is actually felt about a foot above the bottom of the ocean’s floor, which can knock your feet out from under you, making you feel you’re being pulled under, even though you’re not. But because of the current’s power, as the shoreline rapidly recedes, swimmers panic, struggle, exhaust themselves, and drown.

 

How to spot a rip current

Rip currents are most prevalent at low tide, when the water is already receding from the beach. They are also more likely to occur with a strong onshore wind.

Though often difficult to discern from the shore, some of the telltale signs are:

  • an area with a noticeable difference in the color of the water, caused by sand and sediment being churned up by the water;
  • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving out to sea; or
  • a place where the waves aren’t breaking, but has breaking waves on either side.

 

Remember, though, that many rip currents are completely invisible. The only time you can be certain there are no rip currents hidden in the water is if there are no breaking waves. No waves, no rip.

 

How to ‘Break the Grip of the Rip’

jupiter family doctorThe U.S. Lifesaving Association (USLA) warns that not even Olympic swimmers can swim against a rip current, because the pull is simply too powerful. According to the USLA, the most important thing to do when caught in a rip current is to remain calm. This helps you conserve energy and think clearly. Realize that you will not be pulled indefinitely out to sea; remember that most rip currents dissipate within a hundred yards of shore.

  • Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following (that is, parallel to) the shoreline. Once you’re out of the current’s pull, swim at an angle through the waves back to shore.

 

  • If for some reason you can’t reach shore, draw attention to yourself: Face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

 

  • If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If one is not available, call 911. Throw the victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

 

Finally, never swim at a beach without a lifeguard nearby. The USLA reports that the chances of drowning at a beach with a lifeguard are 1 in 18 million.

 

If you have concerns or questions about this or any other health-related topic, please feel free to contact us.

Coping with Pet Grief

Our concierge family practice doctors in Jupiter have heard it more than once: “I don’t understand it. I’m grieving more for my pet than I did when my parent died.”

That statement may be shocking to some, but research has shown this reaction is not uncommon. This may be due to a number of reasons.

 

Not ‘just an animal’

People who have never had pets, or who haven’t shared a close relationship with them, may not understand the deep bond that can exist between a human and their companion animals. They may minimize or even dismiss the grief that can accompany the death of a pet.

 

Pet owners may grieve more for their animals than humans in their lives because our relationship with our pets may be more uncomplicated than those we share with humans. They offer unconditional love, and let us offer that to them. In addition, we see our animals every day, whereas parents, siblings, and friends may not be as physically close to us.

 

As with the loss of humans in our lives, we also feel grief when a pet dies because, as anyone who has spent time around an animal knows, each of them possesses a unique personality, so we miss that “person” as we would any human individual we’ve come to know and love.

 

Finally, there’s the fact that our animals totally rely on us to feed and care for them, offering a kind of normalcy to every day, similar to the way infant children are dependent on their parents for constant care.

 

Guilt often involved

This dependent relationship also complicates the loss, because pet owners may feel unneeded after an animal dies, or—quite commonly—feel they’re somehow responsible for the death.

 

“If only I’d taken him to the vet sooner.” “Why didn’t I close the gate so she didn’t get into the road?” “I should have had him euthanized sooner/later” is an especially common reaction. These natural feelings add to the grief, and may make it more difficult to cope with.

 

When guilt rears its ugly head, it’s best to remember you did the best you could for the animal you love given the information you had at the time. If the pet died through a preventable accident, you need to forgive yourself and remember it wasn’t deliberate. Also, try to focus on the good life you gave him/her.

 

How to cope

  1. Jettison any expectations that you will “get over” your pet’s death. With any loss, we don’t “get over” it; we eventually learn to live with the new reality and incorporate it into our daily lives. And never set a timetable for when you should start feeling better. Grief is different for every person, and depends on many factors, including your relationship with the animal, your social network, and other things going on in your life.

 

  1. Try to find at least one person you can talk to, not only about your grief, but about what made that particular animal special. If no one in your life offers this safe place, there are numerous online and in-person support groups that can provide this service. Your veterinarian likely knows of support groups in your area.

 

  1. Memorialize your pet. Hold a funeral or memorial service; create a photo album; write down memories; plant a tree. If you were present for the death of your pet, you may become “stuck” on those last moments. Focusing on the entirety of the pet’s life can help you put those final memories in perspective.

 

  1. Take care of yourself. Grief is exhausting. If the pet was ill for a long time, by the time he or she died, you were already worn out from the worry and medical care you gave the animal. Try to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and at least take walks if you’re not yet up for strenuous exercise. You need to support your body as it recovers from the difficult work of mourning.

 

Finally, check with us if your grief interferes with your life, you feel that these steps aren’t helping, or you have thoughts of suicide. We can help.

heat summer

Beware the Danger of High Temperatures

May 30th is Heat Safety Awareness Day, so our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to take this opportunity to acquaint you with this important health concern. The fact is, heat is a killer, and we here in south Florida need to pay particular attention to the danger high temperatures can present.

Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration are some of the leading weather-related killers. For example:

  • A 1980 heat wave killed more than 1,250 people.
  • In 1995, a heat wave in Chicago took more than 700 people (the deadliest weather event in Chicago history).
  • In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives.

 

Some people are more susceptible to negative effects from the heat. These include:

  • people 65 and older, who are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature;
  • people with chronic medical conditions, who may be taking medication that can worsen the impact of extreme heat;
  • infants and young children; and,
  • outdoor workers and athletes, who may be more likely to become dehydrated, particularly in extreme heat.

It’s vital to know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the warning signs for each, and what to do in the event you or someone else experiences them. You should also know how to avoid these serious conditions.

 

Heat exhaustion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-related illness. It lists the warning signs of heat exhaustion as:

  • heavy sweating
  • weakness
  • cold, pale, clammy skin
  • fast, weak pulse
  • nausea or vomiting

If you or someone you’re with experiences these symptoms, you should move to a cooler location, lie down and loosen your clothing, apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible, and sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

 

Heat stroke

The signs of heat stroke are:

  • high body temperature (above 103 degrees)
  • hot, red, dry, or moist skin
  • rapid and strong pulse
  • possible unconsciousness.

This is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. While waiting for the ambulance, move the person to a cooler environment, and try to reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths, or if possible, a cool bath. Do NOT try to give fluids.

 

Stay safe in the heat

Following are steps you can take to avoid experiencing either of these potentially deadly conditions.

Limit outdoor activity. The sun is hottest from 11 a.m. (D.S.T.) to 3 p.m., so try to stay indoors, or at least in shaded areas, during those times. If you must be outdoors, take frequent breaks, preferably in air-conditioned environments, and, if possible, take cool showers or baths to cool down.

Dress appropriately. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a hat with wide brim.

Stay hydrated. Drink water frequently, from two to four cups of water every hour. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, because by then you’ve already started to dehydrate. Monitor urine color: If your urine is dark, you’re not drinking enough water. Urine should be light yellow or clear. And avoid alcoholic drinks, which can not only impair judgment regarding time spent in the heat but also dehydrate you.

Check the car. Despite all the awareness and warnings in the last few years, more children—51—died in hot cars in 2018 than any year on record. It happens to the most conscientious parents who simply have too many things on their minds. When transporting children, place something necessary—a purse or briefcase—next to the child. Keep car doors locked and never allow children to play in a car. And countless numbers of pets die when owners leave them alone in a hot car “just for a couple minutes.” Never leave pets alone in a closed car, even for a few minutes.

 

Check with us to see whether any medical conditions might make you more susceptible to heat.

screen time for kids

Screen Your Kids’ Screen Time

Our concierge family doctors in Jupiter understand that, in a world dominated by screens, trying to limit your children’s screen time can be a daunting task. But the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released new guidelines that largely track those issued two years ago by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

 

What is ‘screen time’?

First, let’s define what constitutes “screen time.” The AAP defines it as time spent using digital media for entertainment purposes. The organization does not include time spent doing homework in its recommendations. The WHO has a similar definition of passively watching entertainment on a screen. But the overall thrust of its guidelines were aimed, not just at the sedentary activities of viewing computers, smartphones, and televisions, but at improving physical health through sufficient exercise and sleep.

In addition, the AAP guidelines addressed screen time for children of all ages, while the WHO recommendations focused on children under age five.

 

Problems with infants

Both groups recommend no screen time at all for infants 18 months and younger.

“The noise and activity of a screen are distracting for a child,” Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos told CNN. Chassiakos is the lead author of the AAP’s report. She said banning screen time for babies is crucial, not only for brain development but for healthy parent-child connections.

 

“Even if the baby isn’t directly looking at the screen—for example, if a mother is nursing her child on the couch while watching TV—the baby can be overstimulated by the lights and sounds, which may cause distress and sleep problems.”

 

Chassiakos also noted that screens tend to interfere with creating intimate bonds between parents, children, and siblings and that tech-free bedrooms can help promote better sleep. Other experts have warned that screen time may inhibit a child’s ability to develop language and social skills.

The WHO took these recommendations a step further, noting that improving physical activity and sleep among young children, while limiting sedentary behaviors such as screen viewing, can help prevent problems later in life stemming from becoming overweight and out of shape.

 

The recommendations

Here are the WHO’s new guidelines:

Infants younger than one

  • no screen time at all
  • physical activity several times a day, including floor-based play and 30 minutes of tummy time
  • limiting restraint (in a stroller, high chair, or caregiver’s back) to less than an hour at a time
  • 14-17 hours of quality sleep, including naps, for infants three months and younger
  • 12-16 hours of quality sleep, including naps, for those between four and 11 months

 

Children between one and two

  1. no screen time for one-year-olds
  2. one hour of screen time for two-year-olds
  3. 180 minutes a day in physical activity (not necessarily structured exercise)
  4. limiting restraint to less than one hour at a time
  5. between 11 and 14 hours of quality sleep, including naps

 

Children between three and four

  • one hour of screen time
  • 180 minutes a day of physical activity, including 60 minutes of vigorous running and jumping games
  • 10-13 hours of quality sleep, which may include naps

 

“Too often, I see tired, overscheduled kids who eat on the run during the week and become sedentary on weekends because they are exhausted,” Dr. Jennifer Shu, an AAP spokeswoman, told CNN.

 

As always, we are here for you and your family, so feel free to consult us regarding any questions you may have about shielding your children from excessive screen time.

asthma doctor

5 Myths About Asthma

If you don’t have asthma, chances are you know someone who does. That’s because an estimated 26 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the population, have this sometimes deadly disease. Because May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, our concierge primary care doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to take a closer look at asthma and the common misunderstandings surrounding it.

Read more

Obesity Is a Little-Known Cancer Risk

When you think of ways to prevent cancer, you think of stopping smoking, avoiding the sun, getting regular screenings, and so on. But one way that might not occur to you is losing weight.

Therefore, our concierge family practice doctors in Jupiter thought you should know that there are 13 different types of cancer linked to overweight and obesity.

The risk

A recent article in The Washington Post reported that, although smoking is the number one preventable cause of cancer, killing more than 500,000 people in this country every year, “obesity is poised to take the top spot, as Americans’ waistlines continue to expand while tobacco use plummets.” It also appears that the more overweight a person is, the higher the cancer risk.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the types of cancer that may be influenced by overweight include:

  • esophageal
  • thyroid
  • colon
  • renal
  • liver
  • melanoma
  • multiple myeloma
  • rectal
  • gallbladder
  • leukemia
  • lymphoma
  • prostate in men
  • post-menopausal breast and endometrial in women

Being overweight also makes it more difficult to survive once a cancer is diagnosed.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about eight percent of all cancers in the United States, as well as about seven percent of all cancer deaths. In addition, having too much belly fat, regardless of body weight, is linked with an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer, and is probably linked to a higher risk of cancers of the pancreas, endometrium, and breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

The reasons

Despite the apparent links, researchers are not certain of the reason that increased weight raises the risk of cancer. But they do have some theories. The ACS believes that timing of weight gain plays a role.

“Being overweight during childhood and young adulthood might be more of a risk factor than gaining weight later in life for some cancers,” the ACS says. “For example, some research suggests that women who are overweight as teenagers (but not those who gain weight as adults) may be at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer before menopause.”

The Post reports that researchers are homing in on the “visceral” fat that surrounds internal organs as the culprit.

“Rather than being a harmless glob, this fat is a ‘metabolically active organ’ that produces hormones such as estrogen, which is associated with a higher risk of breast and some other cancers, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. . . . The fat also secretes proteins that drive insulin levels higher, which may spur cell growth and increase the possibility of cancer. And it can cause chronic inflammation, another risk factor for the disease, according to the group.”

“It’s a complex interplay of metabolism, inflammation, and immunity,” Jennifer Ligibel, a breast oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told the paper. “It creates an environment that is more permissive for cancer.”

It’s also possible that lifestyle choices which cause overweight—poor diet and lack of exercise—are themselves contributing factors.

The upshot

While the effect of losing weight on reducing cancer risk is still uncertain, the ACS believes reducing body weight is a good move.

“Some body changes that occur as a result of weight loss suggest it may, indeed, reduce cancer risk. For example, overweight or obese people who intentionally lose weight have reduced levels of certain hormones that are related to cancer risk, such as insulin, estrogens, and androgens.”

To improve cancer odds, Ligibel of Dana-Farber told The Post that even a five percent reduction in body weight produces a beneficial result on blood sugar and inflammation.

We know dieting is difficult, but the results are well worth it, not only in reducing the risk of cancers and heart disease, but in improved quality of life overall. If you are overweight, please see us for tips and advice on simple ways to slim down.

unhealthy food

Our Diets Are Killing Us

Question: What causes more deaths worldwide than smoking?

Answer: Food. And it’s not tainted food; it’s the unhealthy food we put on our plates every day.

Our concierge primary care doctors in Jupiter have told you many times about the importance of a healthy diet. Now a new study published this month in the journal Lancet warns that as a species, we don’t eat properly, and we’re paying for it.

“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure,” Ashkan Afshin, lead study author, told CNN.

Afshin is an assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington.

And it’s not just the bad things we eat—salt, red meat, sugar—that are contributing to premature deaths around the world; it’s the good things we don’t get enough of: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and so forth.

“Poor dietary habits . . . overall cause more deaths than any other risk factors globally,” Afshin told CBS News.

Dietary risk factors

The study took place over 27 years in 195 countries. Israel had the lowest number of diet-related deaths, followed by France, Spain, Japan, and the principality of Andorra. Uzbekistan had the highest, with the U.S. ranking 43rd out of 195.

The study results attributed one in five deaths (about 11 million people) annually around the world to the following dietary risk factors:

  • high sodium
  • low whole grains
  • low fruit
  • low nuts and seeds
  • low vegetables
  • low fiber
  • high trans fats
  • high sweetened beverages
  • low legumes
  • high red meat
  • high processed meat
  • low calcium
  • low milk
  • low omega-3s
  • low polyunsaturated fatty acids

Note: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in some nuts and seeds, salmon, and vegetable oils.

Healthy beats unhealthy

In their analysis of the 15 dietary factors, researchers found that the lack of healthy foods was worse than consumption of unhealthy foods. In other words, not eating fruits, vegetables and so forth was responsible for more deaths than eating red meat, processed foods, and the like.

As a result, Afshin recommended that policy makers should not just focus on what not to eat, but what to replace those foods with. The study estimated that three million deaths globally could be attributed to high sodium intake, but another three million were caused by lack of whole grains, with two million more caused by inadequate fruit intake.

They estimated that cardiovascular disease (CVD) was the leading cause of diet-related deaths around the world, followed by various cancers and diabetes, all of which were attributed to diet. Of course, other factors—including physical inactivity, environmental, economic, and social factors—contribute as well, according to Bruce Lee, associate professor of international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Diet can contribute to noncommunicable disease (NCDs) via increased body weight and obesity, elevated blood pressure, hyperlipidemia or high levels of fat in the blood, and conditions that lead to high blood sugar levels,” he told The Washington Post. Lee, who is also executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center, added that another problem is that “unhealthy foods such as those that are highly processed with artificial ingredients are often cheaper to make, store, ship, and prepare. Therefore, such foods have replaced more natural and healthy foods in foods systems around the world.”

Another factor is the profit motive.

“Refining grains is highly profitable,” Corinna Hawkes, director of the Centre for Food Policy at the University of London, told CNN. “Take corn, for example. You can refine it into different ingredients: animal feed, refined flours, and high-fructose corn syrup, to name three. So manufacturers are generating multiple value streams from this refining process.”

What you can do

As much as possible, try to adhere to a Mediterranean-style diet: abundant amounts of nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, use of olive oil in cooking, moderate portions of fish and poultry, and little red meat.

Also beware of marketing claims that a product is “whole grain,” because often a whole grain has been stripped of one or more of its components: the bran, the germ, or the endosperm. Look for the stamp provided by the Whole Grains Council that certifies a product actually contains all three of these components.

And as always, check with us for any questions or concerns you may have about the food your family eats.

1 2 3 16