Health Crisis Part 1: The Standard American Diet

Sarah’s Rap: Look around and you may notice that Americans (and others) are SADDLED with disease and worsening in rapid numbers. Not only are many people suffering from chronic illnesses, they’re getting worse  for many reasons, including:

Standard 
American 
Diet, 
Disabling healthcare system, 
Lifestyle, 
Environment and 
Denial

As a result of a combination of the above factors,  alarming numbers of people suffering from disease and obesity are being reported. The end result is a civilization that is unhealthy, dying, depressed, malnourished, overweight, brain-addled, irritable and stressed. I’m going to dive into each of these disease-causing factors to give you a better understanding of the risks with each and hopefully some ideas for how those suffering can turn their life around and enjoy life without the burden of these debilitating encumbrances. What would you rather be – SADDLED and led through life on a path you didn’t choose and might not be happy with, or to run free and fast, stopping to smell the roses when you want and steering your own course through life? I know which one I’d prefer, which is why I’m taking actions to get my health in order! I hope you choose to do the same.

Standard American Diet (SAD)

SAD is right! Also known as the Western Diet, this is not a “diet” for weight-loss, but rather the complete opposite – this is dietary regimen which millions of people unfortunately follow for much or all of their life. This is the diet we all know and, yes FastFoodI’ll admit, most of us love – made up of tons of sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, dairy, GMOs, excess sodium, red meat, processed oils and preservative-laden foods. These foods contain little or minimal amounts of the fiber and nutrients our bodies need to thrive. Go down any aisle in the grocery store and you’ll see any or all of the above list, along with chemical-laden produce and hormone-filled meats. Sit down to eat at most restaurants and you’ll find the same. Even schools are often pumping our kids full of these inflammatory and disease-causing foods.

When one is bombarded by SAD offerings at every turn, it’s no wonder that the majority of Americans consume large amounts of these foods. Sadly, this pattern of eating is not limited to just Americans. This diet may have originated in western industrialized nations, and primarily the United States, but it has spread to countries around the world. “In parallel with the increasing consumption of fast food and soft drinks around the world, obesity and type 2 diabetes have truly become global problems, afflicting countries wealthy and poor. Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 billion adults are overweight or obese. The most recent data from the International Diabetes Federation indicate that in 2011, 366 million people had diabetes, with 80% of those individuals living in low- and middle-income countries, Asia was home to 60% of the worldwide total.”(1)

In America, here’s what people are eating (2):

Calorie-Breakdown

The source of this chart and other enlightening ones is: https://draxe.com/charts-american-diet/

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of American Medicine, “nearly half of all US deaths in 2012 caused by cardiometabolic diseases — like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes — are due to poor diet. Out of the 702,308 adult deaths from cardiometabolic diseases, 318,656 — about 45 percent — were linked with over-consumption of certain unhealthy foods, as well as low consumption of specific nutrient dense edibles.”(3)

In addition, “Recent studies have linked Western diets with increased risks of colon and prostate cancer. Men eating mostly a Western diet were found to have 2.5 times the risk of dying from prostate cancer whilst the risks associated with colon cancer again linked back to inflammation and a change in the activities of gut bacteria.” (4)

Another study reported in the US National Library of Medicine goes in depth into factors of the SAD that show potential contributions to autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory fats, excess sodium and an altered gut biome (as in Leaky Gut, candida overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, etc.). For example, “MS [multiple sclerosis] incidence may be positively associated with the consumption of milk, animal fat,and meat, as well as total energy intake and resulting obesity. In contrast, diets containing high amounts of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids and plant fiber may decrease MS risk.” While research is still underway, “it is current knowledge that nutrition, the intestinal microbiota, the gut mucosal immune system, and autoimmune pathology are deeply intertwined.” (5)

In addition to the types of foods that is eaten on the SAD, the poor quality of food in this country is exacerbating health issues – pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones and poor livestock treatment all contribute to meat and produce that is more like frankenfood than something we should be putting in our bodies. And don’t get me started on the subsidies given to industrial farmers of corn, wheat, soybeans and dairy in this country. These foods as a result are in almost every processed food produced. One problem inherent in all this, is that usually frankenfood is cheaper than healthier. whole food alternatives making it all that many people can afford. In addition, it offers people conveniences that allow them to have more time for the rest of their busy lives. Sadly, though, these conveniences and “affordable” foods are slowly killing the population that consumes them and costing millions in healthcare across the country.

We all deserve to eat food that is truly nourishing. Yes, this might mean cooking more and reducing a budget for something else to afford better quality foods, but wouldn’t it be worth it to have your health and that of your family restored? If you’re not sure how to start, check out these resources:

For making cooking easier, enlist the help of your family or cook in bulk. To be honest, cooking up some healthy fish and steamed veggies or roasting vegetables and chicken together in the oven doesn’t take that much additional time or effort. Often doubling or tripling a recipe takes care of multiple dinners and lunches in one! Check out some great, simple recipes on our site for healthy meal alternatives to replace your SAD staples.

And if you’re not worried yet… “Research studies have found potential links between the standard American diet and risks of the following diseases and conditions (6):

  • Acidosis, which may contribute to progressive muscle loss
  • Acne
  • Greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Greater risk of atherosclerosis
  • Reduced breast cancer survival
  • Greater risk for breast pain
  • Higher levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone associated with cancer risk
  • Thicker carotid arteries, linked to cardiovascular mortality risk
  • Elevated levels of bad cholesterol
  • Increased absorption of endotoxins
  • Greater risk of enlarged prostate and heart attack
  • Dangerous types of free radicals
  • Greater risk of heart disease
  • Unhealthy inflammation and oxidation
  • Greater risk of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Reduction of inner blood vessel lining functioning
  • Declining kidney function
  • Lower back problems
  • Worsening of lung function and asthma control
  • Greater risk of pancreatic cancer
  • Greater risk of preterm delivery
  • Greater risk for prostate cancer
  • Obesity
  • Small stools
  • Traces of toxic waste in breast milk” (6)

Despite the fact that many people are aware (aren’t they?!) that the Standard American Diet is not healthy, it seems that the consumption of sugar, inflammatory oils, and more are rising as the nutrition in wheat is decreasing. (7). I’ll get to what I believe are two other causes of disease, “denial and lifestyle” in a later post, but for now I’ll just say that if you want to avoid being SADDLED and led down a path to disease, consider making these important changes to the way you eat:

Eliminate:

  • white sugar (refined cane sugar)
  • artificial sweeteners, other than pure stevia
  • white wheat flour (and preferably all wheat flours)
  • fast food
  • artificial colors, artificial flavors, MSG, nitrites and chemical additives
  • tobacco
  • canola, corn, soybean, hydrogenated and other highly-processed and inflammatory oils (replace with pure olive, coconut, palm and avocado oils)

Reduce:

  • all other grains
  • dairy
  • alcohol
  • red meat
  • farmed seafood
  • non-organic poultry and non-grass fed beef
  • refined salt
  • fruit juice
  • stress

Increase:

  • green-leafy vegetablesVegetables
  • other colorful vegetables
  • organic berries
  • water
  • low-to-moderate impact exercise, such as walking, yoga and swimming
  • sleep

Not everyone has the same recipe for good health and

well-being. We are all genetically predisposed to certain conditions and tolerate different types of foods better than others. But bottom-line is that no one can be healthy while eating a Standard American Diet high in sugar, unhealthy fats, sodium and inflammatory foods. The above recommendations are changes we can all benefit from. Forever. This is not a weight-loss fad that we should do for just a month — this is a life-changing way of nurturing your body. Don’t be like me and wait until you have Leaky Gut, innumerable food intolerances, achy joints, acid reflux and thyroid problems before making changes. Don’t wait until you have an autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes or other disease. Put your health and yourself first. You deserve it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 and a more in-depth look into other disease causing factors. The good news folks is that we can take control of most of them. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but if a chocoholic, sugar-addicted baker who’s always-on-the-go can make major lifestyle and dietary changes, I have faith that others can overcome their own similarly destructive habits as well.

Sources:

1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3401093/

2 – https://draxe.com/charts-american-diet/

3 – https://wakeup-world.com/2017/04/24/new-study-standard-american-diet-causes-nearly-half-all-deaths-heart-disease-stroke-type-2-diabetes/

4 – http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/07/health/western-diet-health/index.html

5 – https://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

6 – https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/standard-american-diet/

7 – https://authoritynutrition.com/11-graphs-that-show-what-is-wrong-with-modern-diet/

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4 thoughts on “Health Crisis Part 1: The Standard American Diet

  1. Pingback: Health Crisis Part 2: The US Healthcare System | The Sister Rap

  2. Pingback: Health Crisis Part 3: Lifestyle | The Sister Rap

  3. Pingback: Health Crisis Part 4: Environment | The Sister Rap

  4. Pingback: Health Crisis Part 5: Denial | The Sister Rap

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