Americans may be living longer, but the extra years aren’t necessarily good ones. Not only that, but the food we eat is now the nation's largest risk factor for disease.
Twenty years of global health data shows that while certain aspects of American health are improving, diet continues to be a huge challenge for heart health.
“We cannot keep feeding our bodies processed sh** and then act surprised when we start dropping like flies from heart disease. We can all stand to do better,” the nontraditional health and nutrition advocacy group Thug Kitchen told Healthline.
Using data from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) compared diseases, injuries, and risk factors from populations in 187 countries between 1990 and 2010 to determine the overall health of the U.S. in comparison to other developed nations.
While the average American tacked an extra three years onto his or her life, making the average life expectancy for men and women 78.2 years, researchers say the average amount of time spent dealing with disabling health conditions rose from 9.4 to 10.1 years.
“In other words, individuals in the United States are living longer but are not necessarily in good health,” the researchers concluded.
Diet Is the Biggest Hurdle to Good Health
Of the myriad threats to health, the dinner plate is where the real battle is fought.
“Perhaps the most surprising thing to us is the No. 1 contributor as a risk factor to the burden of disease in the U.S. is the composition of diet,” Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the IHME, said in a recorded interview.
Other manageable risk factors affecting Americans, researchers said, include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, physical inactivity, and alcohol use.
The research shows that Americans are exercising slightly more now than they were a decade ago. Now, 51.3 percent of women are meeting weekly exercise guidelines, up from 46.7 percent, and men have remained relatively stable at around 58 percent.
The American Medical Association, which recently classified obesity as a disease, said it will be partnering with the YMCA of the USA and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins University to help reduce the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two conditions influenced by diet and exercise.
Experts recommend government and healthcare organizations continue to promote healthy behaviors, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, but sometimes you need a different kind of messenger for the job.
Let the Thug Life Choose You
Thug Kitchen is a wildly popular L.A.-based project that began last August, using humor to spread the word about the importance of food and nutrition by urging people to “eat like you give a fu**.”
They too believe that Americans need to take a hard look at their diets—without sacrificing flavor—and they’re not afraid to straight-talk.
“You can still have all your favorite foods but it ain’t a party if you do it every goddamn day,” they said. “Start doing right by yourself and tell heart disease to go fu** itself. There are tons of ways to keep your cardiovascular system from going all wildcard on you."
Thug Kitchen offers the following health tips for those who want to add quality into their increasing quantity of life:
- Cutting down on animal fats and sodium in your diet and increasing your fiber intake go a long fu**ing way towards safeguarding your heart against some bullsh** like heart disease and hypertension.
- Plant-based meals are a great way to increase your fiber intake without trying to muscle down those nasty-ass powders that you always forget to take.
- Bean and veggie burritos are a fu**ing delicious way to increase your fiber without having to chew on tree bark all day. Just don’t drown it with a bunch of sh** like lard, salt, a ton of cheese, or sour cream and you’re all good.
- Start your day with some steel cut oats and your heart will high-five your stomach in an act of body solidarity. Steel cut oats help lower your levels of LDL cholesterol, give you a fu**ton of fiber, and keep you full all morning. Just start by taking small steps and you can get your heart right in fu**ing no time.
Check out thugkitchen.com for more recipes and other good sh**.