Your diet can greatly affect the development of many chronic diseases, and it may also reduce your risk for having multiple diseases at once.
A recent study found that eating more fruits, vegetables and certain grains was associated with a lower risk of having multiple chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
These findings support current US Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition guidelines that recommend eating more of these types of foods.
This study was led by Dr. Guillaume Ruel of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec in Québec, Canada. The research team wanted to determine the association between consuming a variety of foods and nutrients, and the development of multimorbidity. Multimorbidity is the presence of two or more diseases in one person.
This research team looked at data from 1,020 Chinese people in the Jiangsu Longitudinal Nutrition Study. In the beginning of the study, each participant kept a three-day record of the foods they ate. The researchers went through these records to determine the types of nutrients that were being consumed.
The researchers also looked at the development and progression of eleven chronic diseases: hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, anemia, coronary heart disease, asthma, stroke, cancer, fracture, arthritis and hepatitis. Chronic disease status was determined at the beginning of the study (2002) and during follow-up (2007).
Based on this information individuals were put into six categories: healthy, healthy to a single chronic disease, stable with a single chronic disease, healthy to multimorbidity, stable multimorbidity and increasing multimorbidity.
When looking at the findings, several factors were taken into account, including age, sex, BMI (a measure of healthy weight), marital status, inactive lifestyle, smoking status, annual income, education and energy intake.
The researchers found that the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables was significantly higher for healthy individuals and for those with only one chronic disease than for individuals who had more than one chronic disease.
Healthy individuals ate nearly twice the amount of grain products (excluding wheat and rice) as any other group. Good grain products included oats, corn, rye, barley, quinoa, millet and sorghum.
Additionally, the researchers found that consumption of these grain products was associated with a higher intake of dietary fibers, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.
The study authors concluded that eating more fruits and vegetables and grain products other than rice and wheat may be beneficial to prevent the development of multiple diseases.
This study is currently in press and will be published in an upcoming issue of Clinical Nutrition.
The authors reported no competing interests.