Ever wondered what’s wrong with the American diet? Well, we overeat junk, fast food, to be precise. And it’s not in small amounts but gigantic portions! Maybe you should pore through the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report and look at the results. Close to two-thirds of adults and about one-third of children and youngsters in the USA are battling obesity.
Besides that, intake of fatty, processed, and calorie-rich foods have spiked up over the years. To make matters worse, most people do not do exercise and get adequate sleep. The type of food consumed is the real problem that’s deteriorating the immune system and gut health of many Americans continually.
What’s So Appealing About Western Diet?
The Western Diet entails replete foods with refined sugars containing fiber and healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids, for example) and saturated fats. Going by the statement of Dr. Ian Myles, MD, MPH, a large number of processed foods are all about saturated fats, sugars, and more.
In 2016, the BMJ Open published a study that suggests that more than half the calories that Americans consume come from “ultra-processed” foods. This includes foods like packaged snack cakes, potato chips, white bread candies, soft drinks, and such. With tons of synthetic trans-fats, sodium, and artificial sweeteners, it will undoubtedly appeal to you. Besides, the unmatchable flavor and shelf lives are harmful to your health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added that close to 86% of the country’s $2.7 trillion healthcare costs on an annual basis are mostly because of people suffering from acute chronic or mental health issues. Add to that the medical costs for obesity that’s estimated to be around $147 billion!
Western Diet Proves Detrimental To Gut Bacteria
Know this for a fact – the digestive tract nestles microorganisms or ‘microbiome’ as we popularly refer to them. Fungi, viruses, yeasts, and bacteria often help regulate metabolism, check on infections, and control the immune system. To talk about an ideal gut environment, it would be a place that houses varied bacteria, both useful and harmful.
Maybe you didn’t know this but eating high-sugar, or high-fat foods damage the important bacteria present in the gut. As a result, the bodily mechanisms start crumbling down, and the immune system tends to malfunction.
The gut microbiome is necessary to maintain an individual’s overall health and well-being, the disappearance of which is largely brought about by the consumption of Western diets.
The Immune System Gets Compromised
Since the time you were an infant, you learn the difference between good and bad bacteria. This is why there must be a ‘healthy balance of microbes’ inside the gut. Imagine the overgrowth or complete elimination of a few essential bacteria. There’s bound to be inflammation, and the bacterial environment undergoes severe threat. That’s because it is impossible to fight off.
In such a state, the body produces low-grade inflammatory responses, wherein certain stimuli are considered risks. While it’s true that some are real threats, but the absence of essential bacteria results in mistakenly attacking a few prime cells, tissues, and even internal organs. No wonder autoimmune diseases are on the rise!
Robin Foroutan, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a nutritionist, said that changing the diet is a ‘tangible’ way to minimize chronic inflammation.
It All Boils Down To Changing The Lifestyle
Medical research has revealed that adults who have faced massive chronic infections now resort to active lifestyle practices and healthy living. But sadly, three-fourths of Americans are still left to learn how to consume fruits, veggies, dairy products, and healthy oils optimally. At least, that’s what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans stated.
Top nutritionists have laid down a few essential guidelines. You can replace fat-based foods with plant-based ones. You can also eat less salt and sugars, or better still, choose the correct processed foods that contain ample nutrients as frozen fruits and vegetables, canned beans, yogurt, whole-grain pasta, hummus, canned and frozen fish, and so on.
Most importantly, try teaching your little kids to eat healthy from a very early age. That behavior is likely to continue as they keep growing up. So, teach them now and ensure they have a healthy and balanced diet always!