Today’s Headlines: The Good News About Americans’ Diets, Google’s New Symptom Search Feature, and Why You Should Eat More Vegetables

New data shows that Americans are eating healthier foods and eliminating sodas and other sugar-filled drinks. Although the standard American diet has a poor reputation, a recent study shows that our eating habits are better than before. “Overall, the percentage of Americans with poor diets based on these AHA standards dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent during the study period. The proportion of people with ideal diets was low but inched up to 1.5 percent from less than 1 percent.” The study noted several factors such as household income, race, and geographic location that were influential when it came to healthy eating. While the increase is a step in the right direction, American diets still need improvement overall. (Fox)

Google wants to help you accurately search your symptoms. Google’s search results for symptoms can be unhelpful and sometimes make matters worse. “On Monday, it [Google] rolled out a new feature called symptom search. The next time you use the Google search app for iPhone and Android to look up something like “my tummy hurts,” “skin rash,” or “headache on one side,” you’ll see about a half-dozen digital cards you can swipe through right below the search box. Each of these cards briefly describes a common health problem related to your search term. Google worked with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic to build the symptom search cards. Where possible, the cards will mention whether self-treatment options are available, or whether a related health problem is serious enough to warrant professional medical care. Beneath the cards, you’ll see the same old list of website links—helpful or unhelpful as they may be.” While no online information is more sufficient than a visit to your doctor, Google hopes this new system will help you get more information on the health issues that affect you. (WSJ)

Add more vegetables on your plate to decrease your risk for diabetes. New research has found that increasing the amount of plant-based foods and decreasing the amount of animal-based foods in your diet may benefit your health overall. “On average, adults who ate a plant-based diet with few animal products cut their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. But when researchers distinguished between healthful and unhealthful plant-based foods, they found that diabetes risk dropped by 34 percent among the healthful plant-based eaters. Notably, there wasn’t a benefit to plant-based eating when a person consumed a lot of refined carbohydrates and starchy vegetables. In that case, a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increased slightly.” Plant-based foods are filled with many nutrients that can help balance and stabilize blood sugar levels and metabolism. (NYT)