To determine the risk of diet and lifestyle–related illnesses in their patients, such as diabetes or heart disease, doctors have traditionally looked at the Body-Mass-Index (BMI), a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. But that may soon be a thing of the past because more precise indicators are becoming increasingly common in medical care. Many people with a “normal” BMI can still carry dangerously high amounts of body fat, which increases their risk of developing a number of potentially life-threatening diseases, especially as they get older.
It is estimated that 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and another 15 million may have it but are unaware of their illness. Nine out of ten will develop high blood pressure in their lifetime. Untreated high blood pressure can cause permanent damage to the kidneys, cause stroke and is a leading cause of heart disease. Diet and lifestyle changes can have immediate and beneficial effects by lowering blood pressure within just a few weeks. Here are some tips to consider.
Lycopene is the signature carotenoid of the tomato. Carotenoids are a family of phytochemicals, abundantly present in green and yellow and orange vegetables and fruits. The levels of carotenoids in your skin are a good indicator of your overall health. In a study of over 13,000 American adults, low blood levels of carotenoids were found to be a predictor of earlier death. Lower total carotenoids in the blood were all linked to increased risk of death. Of all the carotenoids, very low blood lycopene was the strongest predictor of mortality.
Southern Europeans are among the healthiest and longest living humans on the planet, according to studies on quality of life and longevity in different parts of the world. Considering the economic crisis that has taken hold of the region over the past few years, this seems almost a paradox. Experts have long suspected that good eating habits as well as a slower-paced lifestyle are largely responsible for these advantages.
Less salt in our food supply could save at least half a million Americans from dying prematurely over the next ten years, according to separate studies conducted at three universities, two American and one Canadian. If the average daily salt intake were to drop to 1,500 milligrams, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the number of lives saved could more than double. Americans currently consume on average 3,600 milligrams of salt daily, mostly in form of sodium, widely used as an ingredient in processed foods. Sodium is considered a significant contributor to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke, all leading causes of death in the U.S. today.