Good nutrition is an essential part of living a long, active life. While you may know some of the basics of nutrition, these surprising facts about the state of nutrition in the general population may come as a bit of a shock. In a country where high-quality food and nutritional education is plentiful, these issues are generally easy to correct once you’re aware of them.
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Average calorie consumption is rising. While this little fact may not be surprising in and of itself, it is estimated that the average adult in the United States consumes 300 more calories per day than the average person 30 years ago. The really surprising fact? Added fats and sweeteners account for as much as half of those calories. Higher levels of unhealthy calories are a primary cause of the rise in obesity, a serious condition that can lead to numerous health issues or even death.
There is rampant vitamin D deficiency in the developed world. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, without which we are at greater risk of a plethora of serious issues. Today, the rate of vitamin D deficiency is extremely high, despite numerous vitamin D fortified foods on the market. This may be due to the fact that arguably the best source of vitamin D is natural sunlight, and fewer people work and play outdoors now than in the past. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, of the National Institutes of Health, “Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can indicate inadequate vitamin D levels, but such symptoms can be subtle and go undetected in the initial stages.” If you find that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, seafood and fortified dairy products are also excellent sources.
There are only three primary plant foods in the average United States diet. Variety in a diet is possibly the best way to avoid nutritional deficiencies, as well as keep up your overall satisfaction with the food that you eat in order to avoid overeating. In many countries, people live on literally hundreds of different plant-based foods — in the United States, corn, soy and wheat consumption far outpace that of any other plant food. Many individuals have little or no fresh fruits and vegetables in their everyday diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that higher consumption of fresh produce correlates with lower incidences of chronic diseases — namely heart disease and cancer.
Junk food comprises nearly half of the calories for a huge portion of the population. Food with little or no nutritional value is readily available, and generally pretty inexpensive in the United States. Most of the time it tastes pretty good; high levels of fat, salt and sugar lend to its “addictive” qualities. However, studies show that roughly one-third of all people in the United States get nearly half of their calories from junk food every day. Combined with statistics that show too-high average calorie consumption, the extremely high incidence of weight-related health issues should come as no surprise.
Certain lifestyle factors can impact your nutrition level. If you smoke heavily, drink excessive alcohol or do drugs, these could be causing nutrient deficiencies. The most well-balanced diet won’t do you any good if your body can’t absorb what you consume. Many nutrients require the presence of others for proper uptake, so unhealthy habits may produce chain reactions that impact your health in a variety of ways. Generally, the best policy is to practice moderation in everything, especially potentially hazardous lifestyle factors.