Study Shows That Bad Diets Are More Deadly Than Cigarette Smoking - Save Our Bones

Savers know how important a healthy and balanced diet is both for bone health and for all-around wellness. A recent study is reinforcing that fact with staggering findings from across the globe.

According to the data, eating too much of the wrong foods or not enough of the right ones can raise the risk of certain diseases and shorten lifespan.

Today we'll take a close look at this research and what it uncovers about the relationship between our diets and our health.

Poor Diets Are Negatively Affecting Health Across The World

A study published in The Lancet found that in the year 2017 around 11 million people across 197 countries died because their diet was not adequately supporting their health. Furthermore, it led to a staggering 255 million disability-adjusted life years. That figure describes the number of collective years lived with a disability that researchers linked to diet.1

There were three dietary factors that the study associated with the majority of the premature deaths:

  • High sodium intake – 3 million deaths
  • Low intake of whole grains – 3 million deaths
  • Low intake of fruits – 2 million deaths

The researchers came to these conclusions by collecting information about dietary patterns, disease, and health outcomes. Survey data on diets, food sales, and household expenditures over the past three decades provided the basis for estimating the impact of a poor diet on death from noncommunicable disease.1

The researchers looked at the dietary patterns that were risk factors for certain health conditions, and how big of a risk they were. Then they looked at how many people died of those diseases and estimated how many of the cases were reasonably attributable to dietary risks.1

Remarkably, the harm caused by poor diets is more widespread than the impact of other harmful choices like smoking cigarettes. That just goes to show how fundamental and powerful our diets are for determining our health outcomes.


Researchers analyzed data on dietary patterns and health outcomes across 197 countries. They found that in 2017 about 11 million people died from noncommunicable diseases that are attributable at least in part to poor diets. That makes an unhealthy diet even more deadly than cigarette smoking.

More Grains And Fruits, Less Sodium

The researchers noted that the countries where diets were least associated with noncommunicable disease and death were those where people tended to eat a Mediterrnean style diet.

The Mediterranean diet consists of a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy oils, such as olive oil. It tends to include fish, beans, and nuts as protein sources instead of meat. Considered alongside the most deadly dietary habits listed above, we get a very clear sense of what sort of meals can help us live longer and healthier lives.

Savers won't be surprised to learn that a Mediterranean diet that focuses on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats is aligned with the Save Institute's 80/20 pH-balanced diet.

Reducing your sodium intake protects your bones because excessive sodium consumption accelerates calcium loss. Cutting back on salt helps to keep your body's pH balanced and it helps prevent heart disease– one of the leading causes of diet-induced disease in the study.

The other half of that equation is getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. These potassium-rich alkalizing foods balance out acidifying foods and sodium. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals that your body and your bones need to thrive.

The researchers found that diets that lacked enough whole grains caused millions of deaths. Complex carbohydrates and whole grains are an essential component of a pH-balanced diet for good health and strong bones. The fiber you get from whole grains helps to lower cholesterol, reduces bone-harming inflammation, and improves your utilization of bone-building calcium.2


Researchers found that countries that favored a Mediterranean diet were the healthiest. This diet has a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy oils. It's aligned with the Save Institute's pH-balanced diet. Reducing sodium and increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you live longer and build stronger bones.

What This Means To You

A healthy diet is instrumental to build your bones and stay healthy. A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains over sodium-filled processed foods and excessive consumption of animal products supports good health and a long life.

Today's study shows the incredible power of food to dictate our wellbeing. Unfortunately, the Medical Establishment typically ignores diet as a tool for improving health.

The Save Institute takes a radically different path– showing you how to use your diet to build stronger bones and live a fuller life. Savers themselves speak to it the most powerfully. Read what they have to say about how a pH-balanced diet has been a simple and effective tool for them to prevent and reverse osteoporosis.

By eating a diet composed of 80% alkalizing foods, you ensure that you're getting plenty of fruits and vegetables. That can help you avoid disease, live longer, and build stronger, healthier bones.




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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Jane

    One size does not fit all. As a
    Type 1 diabetic with low sodium, I avoid carbs unless veggies and low carb high fiber tortillas. And I use salt liberally. BP is low. So just saying everyone different

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Absolutely, Jane! But remember that as a Type 1 diabetic you can adjust your insulin dosages based on the carbs you consume.

      • Krissy

        Hi Jane – I agree with you. As a Type 2 insulin dependent diabetic (caused by a genetic illness not diet) I need to strictly limit grains to control my BSLs well. Have been on a pretty low carb, limited grain, high vegetable intake, limited high carb fruits, healthy fats and healthy sodium level way of eating for over a decade and I’m fit and healthy with good BSL control. Adjusting insulin to fit higher intake of carbs is not as straightforward as it sounds – been there done that and it’s difficult.
        I agree with Jane that there are several ways to eat to maintain great health. Probably avoiding refined sugars, bad fats, highly processed foods and eating loads of green vegetables are the biggest changes I made that have helped me thrive in the last decade. The core message of this article is very accurate though – poor diets are really damaging for our health. Thanks for your great information as always Vivian.

  2. Mary

    Thanks Vivian, for sharing all your research and giving us so much helpful advice. I have benefitted from it greatly over the years.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Mary! And I’m so glad you have benefited from my research 🙂

  3. Marlene

    Good morning Vivian,
    Thank you for sharing an excellent information.

    Have a wonderful day,

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re most welcome, Marlene!

  4. Georgene

    Is there any supplement to take in tablet form that helps you have regular bowl movements.

    Thank you

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Georgene, at the Save Institute we strive to solve health issues with nutrition and lifestyle changes, so rather than taking a laxative pill, I recommend a high fiber diet.

      This article explains why you should avoid laxatives and gives you easy and specific dietary solutions:

      • Shelley

        A tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of freshly ground flax seeds every morning in your plain yogurt or oatmeal or smoothie will do the trick!

    • M

      You might try researching 100% Psyllium husk to see if it sounds like it would work for you. It is a natural soluble fiber supplement, but as with all “natural” supplements could interact negatively with prescription medicines if you’re taking any. I hope you have a trusted medical advisor to discuss this with!

  5. Joy

    Hi Vivian,
    As usual, a wonderful knowledgeable article, I would just like your take on sour-dough bread – that is the only bread that I eat!

    Thanks Joy

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Hello Joy,

      We thank you for your kind words and are happy to answer your question. Please check your email inbox within the next 24- 48 hours for an answer.

      All the best,
      Save Our Bones Customer Support

  6. Laura

    Another informative article. Thank you!!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Laura!

  7. Anne


    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      My pleasure, Anne!

  8. Cynthia

    It’s really scary how doctors very rarely ask what we eat. We could be poisoning ourselves with the wrong foods and they don’t know or care. That’s why I switched to a naturopath and she does ask me. I follow your pH diet and she thinks it;s great. Thank you!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Cynthia! Yes, it would be so beneficial if doctors would delve more into nutrition… But unfortunately, that’s not the case (with very few exceptions)…

  9. Pat

    Thanks for sharing such interesting information Vivian! I sent this to some friends who think I am wierd because I am quite strict with my diet. Hopefully they will know better after reading this.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Pat!

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