Mind the odds

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Photo courtesy of Google Images

This year’s football season is now in full swing.  If you are like me, you are celebrating this time of year by participating in NFL survivor pools, fantasy football leagues, etc.  These weekly wagering moments can be awfully challenging, because they pose multiple difficult decisions.  Invariably, the safest thing to do each week is to use the established odds to your advantage.  In the survivor pool, I typically pick the team that is favored to win by the greatest margin, based on the Las Vegas point spread.  In the fantasy league, I routinely start the players who are projected to score the most points, based on the analysis and opinions of the professionals.  Once in a while I will deviate from this strategy, but this is a rare occurrence and it is the exception to the rule.  More often than not, I choose to go with expert opinions.

Now consider this very same scenario as it pertains to eating.  I believe that there is a strategy to eating and I believe that there is such a thing as eating with the odds, so to speak.  Some foods are proven winners and some are not.  It is up to each of us to determine what path we will choose, meal by meal, by considering our risk tolerance and being aware of the inherent consequences.

For example, let’s evaluate some odds of eating red meat.  According to a prominently published study done by the Harvard School of Public Health, researching over 120,000 people over more than 20 years, red meat consumption is associated with a greater risk of death, heart disease and cancer.  More specifically:

For Unprocessed Red Meat (i.e. Steak, Burgers)

– Every additional daily serving increases your chance of an early death by 13%, your risk of dying from heart disease increases by 18%, and your risk of dying from cancer increases by 10%.

For Processed Red Meat (i.e. Hot Dogs, Salami)

– Every additional daily serving increases your chance of an early death by 20%, your risk of dying from heart disease increases by 21%, and your risk of dying from cancer increases by 16%.

Furthermore, it was determined in this study that substituting the serving of red meat with another protein (i.e. fish, poultry, nuts, etc) can reduce an early death by 7% to 19%.

Much like red meat, there are numerous other popular and readily available foods that are associated with increased health hazards.  This is not to say that we must avoid these foods altogether, but it is absolutely critical that we understand and acknowledge the potential consequences they pose, in order to make the most educated decisions.  Eating that hamburger….in fantasy football terms, may be like starting the Running Back on your favorite NFL team, when you know darn well that he probably won’t score as many points as your first-round draft pick.  You may pull a stunt like this on a special occasion, but you certainly wouldn’t want to do it with any regularity.

You will be eating food for the rest of your life.  There are many choices.  Decisions are difficult.  Mind the odds, my friends.

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