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The #1 Eating Habit to Significantly Lower Risk of Disease, Says Science

It's more than just adding fruits and veggies to your diet
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

While there's no magic potion to eliminate all diseases, there is plenty we can do to help lower the risk of obtaining them. A lot of what you eat is taken into consideration, as you need to watch what you're putting in your body. There are lots of foods you can eat, but also ones to stay away from to ensure your body, physically and mentally, is at its peak. One eating habit, in particular, can help lower multiple risks.

According to research posted in the Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, dietary diversity is the best eating habit to attribute to diet quality and helps lower the risk and severity of chronic diseases.

The article mentions defining dietary diversity as several food groups consumed over a certain period. It is the idea of increasing the variety of foods and food groups in your diet to help ensure a substantial intake of essential nutrients. Dietary diversity also encourages biodiversity and sustainability, allows for nutritional fairness,  and minimizes unfavorable results of food on health.

A community-based cross-sectional study took place between December 2016 and January 2017. The research studied 216 adults who took a dietary diversity questionnaire.

The results showed that an average of nearly 45.4% of participants had sufficient dietary diversity scores, meaning that more than half of the population does not achieve their dietary diversity goals. It was also found that age, residency, type of family, and occupation also have a significant impact on adequate dietary diversity.

Along with this conclusion, it was also discovered that increasing the variety of foods and food groups in the diet is essential from the very early stages of life for proper growth and development.

According to the article, several more studies have shown that the overall nutritional quality of the diet is improved with a diverse diet. A diet without diversity can have negative consequences on your health, well-being, and development. It does this by reducing physical capacities, resistance to infection, and impairing cognitive development, reproductive, and even social capacities.

Assortment of Foods
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Furthermore, the authors of the Sustainable Diet Series state that approximately 60% of all American adults live with at least one preventable chronic disease. These include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.  Different foods contain different vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals. You get all of the nutrients needed to support your health and lower the risk of disease with a diverse diet.

The World Health Organization suggests that at least 20 to 30 biologically different types of foods should be consumed each week for a healthy diet. They also suggest a diverse range of nutrient-dense and locally available foods help prevent chronic malnutrition.

How do you know you're getting proper dietary diversity?

According to the Series, there are several ways of measuring dietary diversity. A more common way is by determining the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS). For 24 hours, you record your food consumption.  The HDDS score is calculated by placing your reported foods into food groups. The food groups are split up in the following ways:

  • Cereals
  • White tubers and roots
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Legumes, nuts, and seeds
  • Milk and milk products
  • Oils and fats
  • Sweets
  • Spices, condiments, beverages

You can also keep a food journal to jot down what you've eaten in the day. Other ways include trying out a new recipe and eating the rainbow- foods that are naturally different colors. These foods tend to have different nutrients and phytochemicals.

RELATED: Doing This One Simple Thing Will Motivate You to Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Says Study

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano is a Staff Writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more