17 Nov 17
“You have to eat healthy”, “you must follow a varied and balanced diet”, “you have to eat more fruit and vegetables”... These are things we've heard countless times, right? Especially in recent times, with people more concerned than ever about following a healthy diet. These recommendations have always been around, but with growing information about the nutrients of each different food group, it has become more evident which are beneficial to the body and which are harmful.
Thanks to this progress, we have more and more information about healthy food all the time. In social media, some words have gone viral, like “healthy” or “foodie”, a hashtag that got more than 65 million posts on Instagram just last year. Healthy eating has flooded blogs, press supplements, TV reports... It is clear that concern for health and well-being through the food we eat has grown in the past few years. At the same time, food was the second most popular search topic on the Internet in 2016.
Fruit and vegetables are the key
Adopting a healthy diet isn't just about avoiding so-called “junk food”, which can cause so many health problems in the long term. That makes no difference unless we replace it with food that provides us with the nutrients we need. And when it comes to food that is good for our health, vegetables and fruit are two great examples. If nutrition experts and organisations specialising in food agree, it must be for a reason, right? They're not only rich in fibre, antioxidants and vitamins, but also help us to remove foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat and salt, from our diet.
But following a truly healthy lifestyle isn't that easy. Work, kids, commitments, and of course, exercise, our hobbies and dedicating time to our friends... With all this, it’s often difficult to find the time to cook at home. And other times, when we have to eat out, we don't even have the choice of selecting a healthy option. This has to end!
Did you know it is estimated that up to 1.7 million lives could be saved each year if only we’d follow the daily recommendation of eating five pieces of fruit and vegetable? Cases of cardiovascular disease, different types of cancer and diabetes, among other health problems, would be considerably reduced in this way. This is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) has included insufficient consumption of these foods as one of the ten mortality risk factors, which gives a good indication of the seriousness of the matter. Do you need any more reasons to change your eating habits?
Do we care enough about following a healthy diet?
Yes, we look on the Internet about food and nutrition and we love posting photos of those wonderful salads we prepare for ourselves on social media, but are we really so committed to healthy eating? Data shows that Spain is a long way from meeting the recommendations. According to a survey carried out by Lidl for its “5 a day” campaign, only 11% of people eat five pieces of fruit and vegetable a day. And what's even worse: more than half of people never include vegetables in their diet and 36% of parents admit that their children don't eat an adequate amount of these foods.
In the case of fruit, 47% of women claim they consume a piece several times a day, a percentage that drops to 38% in the case of men. As for vegetables, the data is even more worrying: 38% of women consume them daily and regularly, while men stay at a low 14%. These habits mean that a large part of the population has deficiencies in basic body nutrients, such as fibre- it is estimated that only between 1.5 and 7% of the population consumes the minimum recommended amount of 25 grams of fibre a day.
In short, overall, we are still a long way away from the minimum recommended amounts. These habits cause many people to suffer deficiencies in basic body nutrients that in the long term can lead to illness. This also explains why, when we add sedentary habits, Spain is the country in Europe with the second highest number of obese people, according to a study published in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet.
But it's not all bad news, because...It’s never too late! We suggest you start paying more attention to how you feed yourself, and make the necessary changes to improve your habits and improve your quality of life. Are you up to the 5 a day challenge?