What one thing can prevent 1 in 5 deaths?

This isn’t new news. We know diet affects our health. Studies like the below just help us refocus and remember, because we need to hear this over and over again.

A headline in a recent BBC News article reads:

‘The food we eat is putting 11 million of us into an early grave each year’.

The article, based on a new study in the Lancet, goes on to say that 1 in 5 deaths are now down to food, which is more than smoking.

You’re likely going to think, ‘Well, that can’t be me. I don’t eat that badly.’ We all might need to think again. Let’s look into exactly what could put you in an early grave then you can revisit that thought.

Yes, obesity leading to type 2 diabetes isn’t good. A poor quality diet is damaging your heart and causing cancer. However, salt – soy sauce and processed meats and meals – is the one that shortened the highest number of lives.

This study published in the Lancet found that about 10 million of the 11 million diet-related deaths come back to salt, because it’s really cardiovascular disease that is killing 10 million. The rest of the diet-related deaths are from cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Too much salt has an effect on the body called hypertension or high blood pressure. That, in turn, increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

The Global Burden of Disease Study looked at the diets of 195 countries. BBC News said that this is “the most authoritative assessment of how people are dying in every country in the world.” The latest analysis of dangerous diets were those containing:

  • Too much salt – three million deaths
  • Too few whole grains – three million deaths
  • Too little fruit – two million deaths

Also, low levels of nuts, seeds, vegetables, omega-3 from seafood and fibre were the other major killers.

Globally we need to consume 22g more nuts and seeds, almost 100g more whole grains and 370g more milk (I disagree on this one) and reduce 5g red meat, 3g salt and 2g processed meat, every day.

There are still many people who turn away from eating too many nuts and seeds because of their fat content. After years of having the high-fat-diet-makes-you-fat narrative drilled into us, these essential-fat-rich gems aren’t our go-to anymore. That needs to be reframed.

Around the world, Mediterranean countries France, Spain and Israel are well ahead of countries in Southeast, Southern and Central Asia, who have the highest diet-related deaths in the world. China because of the high use of the cuisine staple soy sauce, and now processed, salty foods.

Canada, Australia and the UK are on the lower end of the evaluation, so there’s work needed.

Listen to my chat with Jerry Agar on NewsTalk1010 radio for more:


Let me know where you know you could reduce salt in your diet. Is it processed food, soy sauce, added salt, processed meats or somewhere else? Also share which are your favourite nuts and seeds to eat! Could you eat more today?

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