St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and you’re likely digging for your Irish roots so you can enjoy some cottage pie or fish and chips. Perhaps you should think again. According to a recent report, Irish adults are eating more than twice the amount of high fat and high sugar foods than they should be consuming in order to maintain a healthy diet and not surprisingly, almost one in four is now obese. Dietary Habits of the Irish Population is a sub-report of the 2007 Survey of Lifestyles, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLAN), which almost 10,000 people nationwide took part in. It reveals that the average Irish person consumes 7.3 daily servings of high fat, high sugar foods, such as oils, butter, cakes and biscuits. However according to the food pyramid, these foods should be eaten sparingly – in other words, less than three servings per day.
Alarming Statistics – An average of 273 people are diagnosed each and every day with stroke or heart disease in Ireland, the Irish Heart Foundation revealed in 2013.
Of the nearly 100,000 people that are diagnosed each year, one-third will die from these illnesses.
In stark contrast, Japan boasts just a 1.5% obesity rate and an average 82-year life expectancy. Their incidence of cardiovascular disease is well below the United States and other Western populations. Evidence suggests that differences in diet offer an explanation. So, what are they doing right and what dietary changes can you make?
1. Lot of Veggies, Less Meat – In many countries, meat is a garnish. The traditional Chinese diet, for example, consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The meat and potato diet does not leave much room for vegetables on the plate. Research finds that three servings or more a day of produce can lower the risk of stroke, heart disease, and some cancers. Harvard University’s Nurses Health Study, for example, which examined almost 85,000 women over 12 to 14 years, found that those who ate the most fruit and vegetables had a 20 percent lower risk for heart disease.
2. More Soup for You – Soup is a nutrient dense food and fills you up quickly. Just a half cup is beneficial. Most Asian soups are made with bones and/or combinations of vegetables so you’re getting lots of vitamins and minerals even with a small portion. Whether it is bone broth soup, vegetable or miso, soups are rich in vitamins and minerals and easily absorbed.
3. Pay Attention to Portion and Speed – Japanese from the Okinawa region, who enjoy the longest life span in the world, practice “hara hachi bu,” which translates to “8 parts out of 10” and means Okinawans stop eating when they are 80 percent full. To adopt the concept, set down your fork and remove your plate at the first twinge of fullness, instead of taking a break and eating more. You can also use smaller plates and bowls when setting the table. Chopsticks are an easy way to avoid the shovel techniques of eating. For the average inexperienced chopstick user, they are guaranteed to slow down your rate of consumption and give your stomach time to send the message to your brain that you’re full and it’s time to stop eating.
4. Increase Vitamin C – All those fresh fruits and vegetables have one thing in common; they are full of vitamin C. Vitamin C is rapidly finding new applications in protecting against high blood pressure, and the blood vessel changes that precede heart disease. Additional research is discovering that vitamin C can be helpful in preventing asthma, protecting against cancer, and supporting healthy blood sugar levels in diabetics. While often taken for granted, vitamin C is critical to improve cardiac health and avoid degenerative diseases. If you’re not filling your plate with fruits and vegetables, try Super C22 from Dr. Newton’s Naturals. Each serving is packed with 22 of the most powerful forms of vitamin C and delivers 1500mg, or 2500% of the Recommended Daily Value of Vitamin C.