Is There a Link Between Wealth and Health?

Some ethnic groups have a natural tendency to live longer than others. While this concept makes sense due to cultural differences between various populations, what may be surprising is that wealth may have very little to do with increased health and longevity.

Not that kind of green

Many people associate affluence with good health. After all, the costs of maintaining a gym membership, hiring a personal trainer and signing up for the latest workout classes can really add up.

However, in today’s quest for living a healthy lifestyle, we may be focusing on the wrong kind of green. While exercise is certainly a key component to good health, our diets may play an equal, if not more important, role in increasing our health and longevity.

Western diet paves the road to poor health
The typical Western diet often consists of highly processed foods that can be packed full of genetically modified ingredients, trans fats, sugar and various chemicals.

As these ingredients are increasingly linked to obesity and other diseases, it may be time to rethink our definition of food and look to other cultures for clues to how to eat better and live longer.

Start from scratch

Looking beyond the modern Western world, many ethnic groups rely on whole, unprocessed foods as the staple ingredients in their diets. Ongoing research on the food habits in various cultures continues to show the link between the foods we eat and our general health.

For example, Hispanics living in their native areas cook mainly from scratch, using fresh, seasonal ingredients. This population also tends to have a longer average lifespan compared to other populations in the Western world.

As this group is generally less affluent than their Western counterparts, it’s not likely that the latest fitness craze or high-end running shoe is contributing to their general wellbeing.

Given these facts, consumers in the Western world need to shift their focus to the foods they’re eating on a regular basis if they want to improve their health.

Drive by the drive-thru

Increasingly hectic lifestyles may be partly to blame for modernized populations’ obsession with processed foods. But we are only fooling ourselves if we think that stopping at the drive-thru is a good solution to getting to the gym on time.

Instead, consumers need to learn to make better choices and plan meals ahead. Cooking from scratch needs to be reintroduced in our society, with a focus on fresh, natural and organic ingredients, a variety of in-season fruits and vegetables, and hormone and antibiotic-free animal proteins.

While time-strapped consumers often claim that cooking at home would be impossible to fit into their schedules, perhaps the time they recoup from fewer doctors’ appointments, trips to the pharmacy and days lost due to illness could help convince them otherwise.

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