Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are You What You Eat? (part 3)


In my previous two posts I highlighted the Standard American Diet (SAD) and some reasons why we're eating this way. In this article, I would like to focus a bit on its effects.

The Centers For Disease Control estimates that 95% of Americans are not meeting minimum nutritional  requirements for basic vitamins and minerals necessary for proper bodily functioning. As a result, lifestyle-related illnesses are killing Americans in escalating numbers. In fact, the top killers of Americans are: heart disease, stroke, and obesity-related illnesses. Lifestyle-related illness are costing more American lives than terrorist attacks, drunk driving, influenza or even guns, yet there is no public out-cry about this.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last spring, Harvard's Walter Willet and colleagues found that a greater consumption of soda (regular AND low-calorie) was associated with a higher risk of stroke. This fall, the same journal contains the article by Colin Chapman, et al, defining three activities that contribute to recent rising obesity rates: an increase in TV/computer use, higher alcohol consumption, and sleep deprivation. Americans are now consuming 500 calories per person per day than we did 30 years ago. As a result, nearly 70% of adults and 33% of children in America are overweight or obese.

Type-2 diabetes, which used to be referred to as "adult on-set diabetes," is now affecting young children. Often, within 10 years of a diagnosis, patients develop heart disease. It is bizarre to believe that college-aged kids are now contending with illnesses that, a generation ago, were only affecting older adults. Understanding these facts, it should come as no surprise that a recent press release by Loyola University Medical Center proclaimed that today's children are not expected to live as long a life as their parents. It should be no surprise, but it should be horribly frightening.

The current Standard American Diet has detrimental effects on our health and there are alarming statistics to back this up. We need to get back to eating real food again - food that people just a few generations ago would recognize as actual food - not the "food" that is entering the market place at the pace of 20,000 new products (on average) every single year. Our bodies recognize and know what to do with every single element in a strawberry, a peach, an avocado or stalk of asparagus. This is not true when it comes to the chemicals, additives and enhancements in Doritos, Ramen Noodles or Gatorade.

Joel Fuhrman, MD sums it up pretty simply when he states, "If you don't want to die like the average American, stop eating like the average American." Yes, "our food supply HAS changed more dramatically in the past 50 years than in the previous 10,000" ... unfortunately, our digestive systems haven't , and we are paying the price with our health.

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