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Fascinating stats on health and diet. How do you compare?

24 May 2016 1:37 PM -

I have written many blogs about healthy eating over the past eight years (see some of the links below).  

It is my belief (and basic naturopathic philosophy) that developing healthy food habits and making nutritious choices whenever possible are the foundations upon which your good health is built.  And this is true at any age but it’s especially important as you get older.

If you are a client of our naturopathic clinic, it is quite likely we have discussed your diet and tweaked it where possible to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need for sustained good health.

But I have to say I was disappointed to see the results of the most recent national health survey published a few months ago (apparently not everyone is reading my blog…).  As a nation we have a long way to go!  So I thought I would share some of the key findings with you in the hope that, if you need a nudge to improve your food choices, this might be a helpful reminder.


How do you compare to the national average?

 

Vegetable intake

On average Aussie adults ate 3 serves of vegetables and legumes per day. A mere 7% of adults (and only 5% of children) meet the recommended 5+ serves per day. So, almost all of us are falling short on vital minerals, vitamins, fibre and plant nutrients.

Fruit intake

The average consumption of fruit was 1 serve per day and just under 50% of adults and 68% of children ate the recommended 2 pieces (and in fact, tinned fruit is included in that count).


Protein (i.e. lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans) 

Only 18% of adults met the recommended intake which means that 82% of us don’t get enough protein in our diets. I’m often talking about the importance of a small amount of good quality protein at every snack and meal. Protein is important for your immune system, hormones, muscles, mood, helping satiety and regulating blood sugar levels (among other things).

Water 

Plain water contributed approximately ½ the total beverage consumption (which was pleasantly surprising given that some people aren’t good water drinkers) but it does mean that 50% is coming from other sources such as tea, coffee, soft drinks, juices and alcohol). How does your daily water intake compare?

Alcohol 

Approximately 1 in 5 adults consume more than the recommended alcohol intake of 2 standard drinks per day (with Victorians having a slightly lower proportion at 15.6%).

Discretionary foods 

These are those processed foods and snacks high in saturated fat, salt, sugar or alcohol and low in nutritional value) contribute a whopping 35% of daily kilojoule intake.  

Discretionary kilojoules might go part of the way to explaining why almost 2 out of 3 people are overweight or obese based on objective medical assessment. And in fact, over the age of 45 almost 80% of men are considered overweight.

Exercise 

Just under 45% of adults get less than the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) per week and only 1 in 4 included exercises for strength twice per week.

 

Why do these statistics matter?


When you see statistics like those above I believe it goes some of the way towards understanding why:

  • almost 1 in 5 adults report mental health issues

  • 23% suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • 15% from some form of arthritis (and this increases significantly from the age of about 50 and moreso for women)

  • 7% have high cholesterol

  • 1 in 20 suffer from diabetes (a 13% increase in just three years)

 

And the list of chronic diseases goes on, not to mention just an inability to make the most of your life or your day due to fatigue, chronic infections, pain, digestive complaints etc.

The good news is that smoking rates are declining. Daily smokers make up 14.5% of the population now, compared to almost 24% back in 1995.

 

So what does this all mean for you?


Don’t just blame your genes on your health problems. While they do have an impact, it is your diet and lifestyle that play the bigger role in most cases. 

Eating a nutritious diet, drinking water, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking will make a huge difference to how you feel now and as you get older and we don’t just want to live long we want to live well, don’t we?

So take a look back through those stats. Where do you sit? Could your diet and lifestyle do with some tweaking? Could that be the start of a healthier and happier you?

If you feel like you aren’t at your healthy weight or if your health is not what you would like it to be, start by decreasing your discretionary foods and increasing your essential nutrients from plant foods and lean proteins. 

So, don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by all this. It’s not meant to be discouraging. It’s all about making small steps in the right direction. And if you would like some help to get you started, call the clinic on 03 9620 9503 to discuss your concerns and see if an appointment for a diet and lifestyle tune-up would be a good place to start.

 

Love  yourself; love your health,

 

Kaye Wright
Naturopath
Melbourne CBD

 

Looking for some tips on how to improve your health? Try dipping into these blogs….

 

 

Note: the statistics reported above come from the NHMRC 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines and the AustralianNational Health Survey 2014-2015.
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