How important is it for us as a nation— and we as individuals— to change our eating habits?
Well, chronic diseases are also among the most prevalent and costly health conditions in the United States. Nearly half (133 million) of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease and, alarmingly, that number is growing. Healthcare spending in the U.S. has reached a total of $3.3 trillion dollars a year, and chronic diseases account for nearly 75 percent of that spending.
Of the 10 leading killer diseases in the United States, at least 6 are connected in some way to what we choose to eat. Combined, these 6 diseases —heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, liver disease, and atherosclerosis – account for around 63 percent of all U.S. deaths annually.
Recent studies have also shown that poor diets are responsible for more deaths around the world than any other risk factors, including cigarette smoking, which was previously known to be one of the greatest threats to public health.
As we know, the overconsumption of animal products and processed foods in Western diets is a significant contributor to poor health and increases a person’s risk of becoming overweight, obese or developing chronic diseases. Projections from the Eat-Lancet Commission of scientists show that continuing to eat our standard Western diet coupled with the rapid global population and economic growth we are currently seeing, will drive significant health burdens and push food systems well beyond environmental limits.
The same commission has found that widespread adoption of a plant-based diet could prevent roughly 11 million deaths each year and allow us to feed a further 10 billion people globally, both healthfully and without damaging the planet.
In view of these statistics, it should go without saying that changing what we eat to counter the chronic disease epidemic sweeping our nation is vitally important, especially if we, as a society, wish to gain access to a better quality of healthcare and an improved quality of life.
Understanding how a whole food, plant-based diet can help to manage, halt and, on occasion, even reverse chronic illnesses is the key to positively influencing our genes, taking control of our disease outcomes, and making America healthy again.
“At this point, any scientist, doctor, journalist, or policy maker who denies or minimizes the importance of a whole food, plant-based diet for individual and societal well-being simply isn’t looking clearly at the facts. There’s just too much good evidence to ignore anymore.” ― T. Colin Campbell
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