Eating unhealthy food results in chronic diseases, noted a research by the University of Adelaide.
The research was conducted on 1,000 people in China for five years. The results showed the number of people with at least one long-term health problem has grown from f4 per cent to 34 per cent.
Dr Zumin Shi from the School of Medicine, University of Adelaide, said, "Risk factors such as smoking, lack of physical activity and nutrition are already known to be linked to the development of chronic disease. But this is the first time research has shown that nutrition itself is directly associated with the development of multiple chronic diseases over time."
He noted that those participants who ate more fresh fruit and vegetables, and more grains other than wheat and rice, had better health outcomes overall. Grains other than rice and wheat - such as oats, corn, sorghum, rye, barley, millet and quinoa - are less likely to be refined and are therefore likely to contain more dietary fibre. The benefits of whole grains are well known and include a reduction in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colorectal cancer. Rice intake was significantly lower in the healthy group. This could be because rice is mainly refined and deprived of the benefits associated with fibres, and the kinds of phytochemicals that you find in whole grains.
Shi explained that a higher daily intake of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B1 was associated with healthier participants. Based on their results, it seems that a higher intake of fruit helps to prevent against the onset of the first chronic disease, while a higher intake of vegetables helps to protect against developing more than one chronic disease.
He believed that there is already a lot of general nutrition awareness among the population, but this study reinforces the need for broad education programmes about the benefits of healthy eating.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but certainly, a bowl of fruits and vegetable will definitely keep the doctor away.