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Health Impacts of the Modern American Diet

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Published: Tue, 27 Mar 2018

In contrast to the epidemics of infectious diseases in the 18th and 19th centuries, the conventional dietary guidelines Americans have been receiving in the past many years has resulted in an epidemic of another genre, that is Obesity. The magnitude of obesity epidemic surpasses the historical epidemics in terms of causing disease and deaths, and an economic burden on individuals and nations at large.

About 25% of American populations use Statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) and more and more consume diet low in fat, but inspite of these steps more American are expected to die of heart disease than ever before.

American heart Association statistics estimate that presently 75 million Americans have heart disease; about 20 million suffer from diabetes while another 57 million are prediabetics, at risk of developing diabetes disease later. All these diseases are affecting younger population more, contrary to the myth that chronic diseases only affect old people.

In contrast to the epidemics of infectious diseases in the 18th and 19th centuries ,the conventional dietary guidelines Americans have been receiving in the past many years has resulted in an epidemic of another genre ,that is Obesity. The magnitude of obesity epidemic surpasses the historical epidemics in terms of causing disease and deaths, and an economic burden on individuals and nations at large.

About 25% of American populations use Statins(cholesterol lowering drugs) and more and more consume diet low in fat, but inspite of these steps more American are expected to die of heart disease than ever before.

American heart Association statistics estimate that presently 75 million Americans have heart disease; about 20 million suffer from diabetes while another 57 million are prediabetics, at risk of developing diabetes disease later. All these diseases are affecting younger population more, contrary to the myth that chronic diseases only affect old people.

Americans have been thriving on a typical diet full of sugars, carbohydrates and processed foods with omega 6 oils, for the last 60 years.

While we are enjoying the sweetness of a baked roll in our mouth, our bodies perceive it as a threat to its well-being like an enemy waging war.

How can an innocent looking, delicious sweet roll cause a cascade of inflammation to cause serious disease?

When you eat simple carbohydrates like sugar, it causes the blood sugar to rise.

In response pancreas secrete a hormone Insulin meant to control the blood sugar level. Insulin drives the extra sugar into cells, but if the cells do not require that sugar they throw extra sugar again into blood, as excessive sugar might impair their function. The body secretes more insulin to deal with the rise in blood sugar as a result of extra sugar rejected by cells. The extra glucose gets converted to stored fats.

Let’s talk more about that “not so innocent” sweet roll. Sugar is not the only culprit contained in it .it is baked in omega6 oils like soybean. The same omega 6 oils are used in chips and fries and present in processed foods to give longer shelf life. These omega 6 oils are essential as they are part of cell membranes ,but they need be in correct balance with omega 3 oils .A faulty balance between the two , due to excessive consumption of omega 6 can cause cell membranes to produce Cytokines ,chemical substances which cause inflammation.

The ideal ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 should be 1:1, but up to 3; 1 is acceptable considering the trends in food consumption, but today an average American diet is imbalanced to the range of 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6.This results in huge amounts of cytokines causing inflammation.

To add to the injury caused by high blood sugar, the excess weight that we accumulate as a result of these foods, cause over-burdened fat cells which release chemical substances contributing in causing inflammation. So the journey that starts with savoring a sweet roll trigger the harmful process of inflammation in our body causing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,

There is no choice but to accept that our bodies are not designed by nature to utilize foods rich in sugar and dripping with omega 6 oils. Our continued use of these foods means that inflammatory process in our bodies goes unabated.

The solution for curbing this inflammatory process lies in getting closer to nature.

  • Consume foods in their natural form. For carbohydrates choose fruits and vegetables (contain complex carbohydrates), eat proteins to build muscles.
  • Restrict the use of mega 6 oils like corn oil and soybean oil and processed foods containing them.
  • Make healthier choices, one tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg, instead choose to use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef. These animal fats contain less than 20% of omega 6, thus much lesser risk for causing inflammation, as opposed to the so called healthier polyunsaturated oils.

The myth that saturated fats alone are responsible for heart disease has been drummed into your ears for so long that you believe it as “science”. It is time for you to leave behind all overstated science of saturated fats raising cholesterol and only saturated fats causing heart disease. In context of the new discovery, that inflammation not cholesterol causes heart disease, the concern about saturated fats no longer remains relevant.

The old cholesterol theory led to low fat and no fat dietary recommendations and consumption of foods taking the injurious effects of inflammation to an epidemic proportion.

People were wronged by the advice to increase the consumption of omega 6 oils and decreasing the use of saturated fats, leading to injurious cascade of inflammation inside our bodies; it resulted in all-time highest rates for developing heart and other chronic diseases

What you can do to Right this wrong?

I will emphasize again, go natural. Try to remember the foods your grandmother served on the table and get closer to them instead of processed foods your mother bought from the grocery store. Good news is that by avoiding the inflammatory food and consuming fresh unprocessed food containing essential nutrients, you cannot only halt the process of inflammation inside the body, but you can also turn the wheels of this process backwards and reverse the injurious effects of eating a typical American diet for many years.

Animal Proteins; You Should Eat Them for a Healthy Heart

Most people think that only health problem associated with eating a vegetarian, also called as vegan diet, is Vitamin B12 deficiency, as its present only in animal sources in its natural form.

This is a serious health hazard as research has shown that vitamin B12 deficiency can cause elevated homocysteine levels, which increase the risk for developing heart disease and stroke. But, B12 deficiency is not the only health risk associated with vegan diet.

New research is coming up with evidence that diet devoid of all animal foods leads to a low dietary intake of proteins and sulfur amino acids, thus increasing the risk of heart disease in vegetarians.

Vegetables are an excellent source of nutrients and have lots of benefits for the heart and overall health. You can eat as much vegetables as you like without any health fear, rather this is what should be aimed by every one for optimal health. The problem arises when you eliminate animal proteins completely from your diets resulting in deficiency of valuable nutrients that can only be obtained from animal sources.

According to WHO (World health Organization), 36 million people die each year because of chronic diseases also known a Non communicable diseases. The four major diseases of this group include heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, Diabetes and cancers.

In the US, in the Year 2013, more than 1,660,290 new cancer cases were projected to be diagnosed and about 580,350 Americans died from the disease. Today, heart disease is the leading Couse of death in America, both in men and women. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease annually.

Modern biomedical science has made leaps of advancement in technology in the last 50 years or so, but western medicine has failed to control the occurrence of these top killer diseases, i.e. cancer and heart disease.

Practice over the years has shown that western medicine has developed “conventional strategies” for dealing these diseases from the diagnosis to treatment .These conventional strategies are based on wrong assumptions and approaches that have proven to be more harmful than beneficial.

Moreover, these strategies of modern medicine do not address the root cause of the

problem, which is a faulty diet high in Sugars and processed foods.

For more than 60 years, saturated fats have been held responsible for causing heart disease. The conventional dietary advice and recommendations for prevention of heart diseases have remained focused on low fat diet, but these faulty recommendations have actually contributed in the epidemic of heart disease and other chronic diseases, we are facing today. Stress on low fat diets has resulted in promulgation of a very dangerous low-fat, high-sugar diet.

Actually, an optimum diet that promotes health and prevents diseases should be high in good fats and very low in sugars and carbohydrates from the non-vegetable sources.

Research conducted by some of the most prestigious institutions in the US confirms that Sugar is the main dietary factor responsible for development of chronic diseases. This information that sugar especially in form of fructose is the main culprit in causing heart disease and cancers enables you to chalk out a prevention plan for yourself.

Health practitioners and naturopaths have been warning against the health risks associated with the high consumption of sugars. Many people stop or decrease the use of sugar in tea or coffee and other sweets or confectionaries, but you have to beware of the Hidden sugar in food products. Hidden sugar is present as High fructose corn syrup’ (HFCS) in almost every processed food item ranging from sodas to yogurts, sauces, and breads. Many staple foods which are grain based like wheat, corn or rice are also eventually converted to the sugar in your body. Thus, the bagels, pan cakes and breakfast cereal are actually increasing the sugar burden in your body.

The main culprit among sugars is Fructose. Clinical trials showed that people consuming HFCS were more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases risk factor in a short span of almost two weeks. The brighter side is that studies have also shown that if sugar consumption is restricted ,whatever sugar form it may be ,it significantly decreases the risk for developing both breast and colon cancers.

The health benefits of fruits are far more greater than any concerns for fructose damage ,but remember two principles

  • Eat in moderation ,as the newer trend to grow fruits that are very sweet has resulted in very high levels of fructose in fruits as compared to earlier times
  • Eat the whole fruit and refrain from juices, as juice contains only the sugar and vitamins and deficient in the fiber and other nutrients contained in the pulp of fruits.

The real cause of concern is the High fructose syrup that is added in almost every processed food or drink that we buy.

Healthy diet for maintaining blood glucose and Insulin levels, in conjunction with a comprehensive exercise program are two essential components of a cancer recovery program. These are also essential parts of any cancer prevention strategy. Diet and exercise also play an important role in preventing heart disease.

Research studies have shown that exercise can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by a factor of three. In a recent meta-analysis conducted at the Bloomberg institute of Public health, 305 randomized controlled trials were reviewed for comparing the effects of exercise and heart disease medications. The analysis interestingly revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between the effects of exercise and heart medicines like statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) and beta blockers.

The crux of the matter remains that a “Healthy life style”, to maintain an adequate weight with healthy eating and regular exercise is the need. A healthy diet and exercise program ensures that insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity is maintained.

As mentioned earlier, insulin and leptin resistance, resulting for the excessive consumption of refined sugars and lack of exercise, is the root cause of all chronic diseases

Things to be done to reverse insulin and lepton resistance effectively are;

  • Keep away from sugar, processed foods ,processed fructose and grains
  • Consume healthy diet of organic, whole foods
  • Carbohydrates in grains can be replaced with healthier choices like large quantities of vegetables, high quality proteins in low to moderate amounts; ideally form organically raised pastured animals.

Forget the faulty recommendation of 10% fats in diet. Consume as much as you like from healthy fats (saturated and monosaturated fats from animal and tropical oil sources).For optimum health people may use up to 50-85% fats in their diet

Deep fried food in Traditional Southern Diet makes you prone for developing- STROKE

The traditional southern food is famous for the deep fried stuff, but new medical research suggests that consumption of these deep fried food increases the risk for developing Stroke.

The results from a research study conducted at University of Alabama at Birmingham were presented at the annual International Stroke Conference in Hawaii. The results showed a massive 41 % percent increase in the risk for developing stroke for people who use the typical southern diet rich in deep fried items regularly, as compared to those who don’t use such food, and the risk was even higher for African-American which was 63 percent

How to attain Balance in Omega 6:3 Ratio

I would be giving you few tips for avoiding the consumption of foods that would adversely affect the omega 6:3 ratio.

1: Always read the label of the foods and condiments you buy.

Almost all processed and prepackaged food contains oils that are rich in omega 6 and thus would adversely affect your Omega 6:3 balance.

In the following table you would find oils rich in omega 6, thus need to be avoided and the other alternate choices of fats that are acceptable for maintaining this balance.

Oils containing Omega 6(Need to reduce)

Acceptable oils

  • Corn oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soy oil
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats
  • Margarine Shortening
  • High quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados
  • Organic, grass-fed butter
  • Rendered fat from cooking healthy animals can also be used

The paleo diet consumed by our forefathers mainly consisted of lean meats, vegetables, fruits nuts, seeds and very limited amounts of grains, along with a very active lifestyle they maintained their blood sugar levels in the range of 60 to 90 mg /dl. Meanwhile the high carb and sugary diets which are consumed today result in unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. The excess blood sugar in our blood causes many health hazards including heart disease, damage to the blood vessels and may trigger yeast over growth resulting in fungal infections


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