Home Healthy Eating The Cost-of-Living Crisis Is Damaging the Nation’s Health: Doctor Reveals 5 Ways to Eat Yourself Healthy on a Budget

The Cost-of-Living Crisis Is Damaging the Nation’s Health: Doctor Reveals 5 Ways to Eat Yourself Healthy on a Budget

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Brits are compromising on their health in the face of the rising cost of living, research from home blood test provider Medichecks reveals.

Analysis of blood test results of over 300,000 Medichecks customers in its Annual Health Report has revealed a decline in key health markers like vitamins and minerals and an increase in cholesterol between 2021 and 2023, suggesting that the cost of living crisis is taking an invisible toll on people’s overall health.

How is the rising cost of living impacting our health?

The research also revealed that over a quarter (28%) of UK consumers admit to eating more processed foods due to higher living costs. Medichecks has seen the impacts of this change reflected in blood test results. Non-HDL (or bad) cholesterol has risen by 3% in women and 2.6% in men throughout 2023, while blood sugar levels have risen by 6.1% in both sexes. Data from the Office of National Statistics demonstrates that inflation is rising more slowly for processed foods like ready-made meals than for fresh ingredients, which may be driving poorer diets across the UK.

“Our research has uncovered a concerning decline in general health across adults of all ages in the UK in response to the cost-of-living crisis,” comments Dr Natasha Fernando, MBBS, MRCGP, medical director at Medichecks.” The rise in blood sugar and cholesterol is likely to not only drive down people’s physical health and expose them to increased risks of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, but also increase the risk of mental health concerns like anxiety and depression.”

How to stay healthy amid the cost-of-living crisis?

“A nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and a regular exercise routine are two of the core pillars of maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr Fernando. “Here are some of my top tips for maintaining these pillars amid the cost of living crisis, including eating well on a budget and exercising without breaking the bank.

5 tips for eating well on a budget

1. Plan your meals from scratch

Eating at home also gives you more control over your ingredients than eating out, takeaways, or buying ready-made meals.

2. Buy in bulk and freeze food

Frozen fruits and vegetables can retain just as many nutrients as fresh ones, so don’t be shy about filling up your freezer.

3. Love your legumes

Chickpeas, lentils, and other foods in the legume family are excellent and inexpensive sources of protein, iron, and vitamin B12, making them a great option for those looking to save money and those opting for a more plant-based diet.

4. Buy seasonal produce

Buying fruits and vegetables which are in season at the time of the
year are often fresher than those not in season, and they tend to be cheaper too. A little
research into your vegetables can go a long way here.

5. Snap up cafe and restaurant leftovers

When you fancy a treat, don’t go straight for a takeaway; you can usually grab delicious food at a hefty discount with food waste apps like Too Good to Go.

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