Why it matters:
  • An incurable disease like COPD can rock even the best-laid plans for post-work life, and tack on an average of $4,000 a year in medical expenses.
  • The more you exceed recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, chances of developing COPD are significantly reduced, scientists say.

The three leading causes of death in the U.S. face formidable (albeit colorful) opponents: fruits and vegetables.

It’s already known that the antioxidants in fresh produce can prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Now, researchers have quantified the amount of daily fruit and vegetable servings that can significantly reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The research team, doctors from Sweden and Poland, said exceeding the recommended daily amount of fruits and veggies (five servings) could protect the body from the damaging effects of smoking and significantly reduce the risk of COPD.

Their research confirmed benefits for both current and former smokers, who could face higher rates of respiratory disease even decades after quitting.

The third leading cause of death in the U.S., COPD is a condition that worsens with age – near when many of your clients are getting ready to enter or enjoy retirement.

It can not only cost them their mobility, it can reduce their chances of returning to work at a time when earnings peak.

A chronic, incurable disease like COPD can rock even the best-laid plans for post-work life, and tack on an average of $4,000 a year in medical expenses – not the kind of retirement anyone plans.

That said, it couldn’t hurt to eat a few more servings of fruits and veggies a day, could it?

Benefits of five daily servings:

Compared to a current or former smoker who only eats two servings of fruits and vegetables a day, eating more than five servings could make a significant difference: For current smokers, five daily servings reduced the risk of COPD by 40%. For ex-smokers, five servings reduced the risk by 34%.

Each additional serving above the normal recommended amount can reduce the risk of COPD by 8% in current smokers and 4% in former smokers. While the study linked a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to a reduced risk, it confirmed the connection between smoking and COPD. Of course, quitting or never starting is the best way to prevent COPD.

So if your clients smoke – or have long since quit – consider this: if they double down on their daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake, they could be reducing the chance of not only COPD, but other diseases as well.

Super-size produce intake

It’s easy to add color to your diet – it simply takes a bit more planning and willpower to pass over sugary, processed, and pre-packaged foods.

Don’t leave the house without a few servings of prepared whole fruit and vegetable snacks. (By the way, one large apple equals two servings of fruit.) But don’t worry about slicing broccoli or mangos each morning. After a trip to the grocery or farmer’s market, spend some time cutting and preparing produce for the week so your fridge is stocked with to-go goodness.

Just as we strive to save and plan for future income and protection, it’s possible to eat the foods that protect our bodies.

When your clients ask what products and plans are best suited to their financial needs, it’s not far off to ask – what’s your plan to preserve your body? Have you ever smoked?

Share this chart with your clients to promote the concept of protection – both inside and out.

Things to Consider:
  • When your clients are protecting their income streams in retirement, see if they are doing what they can to protect their bodies.
  • No matter if you’ve smoked or not, consider increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Instead of eating a processed snack or carbs, eat a cup of vegetables or fruit.