Health

How a Western Diet affects health

The Westernized Diet refers to the food that the majority of people in the Western world, including the majority of Americans, consume. On the other hand, the manner in that people eat has changed significantly over the past century and a half, more so than it has in the previous 10,000 years, and the diet that is prevalent now is unhealthy.

How a Western Diet affects health
How a Western Diet affects health

Table of Contents

Whole food vs. Western diet

The typical Western diet is characterized by high consumption of processed grains, refined oils, bad fats, sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. To put it another way, it contains an excessive amount of processed foods but very few fruits, vegetables, and other foods that are rich in nutrients.

In a nutshell, the Western diet is to blame for a whole host of health issues, including overweight and obesity as well as poor nutrition. Let’s contrast the Western diet, which is also known as the Standard American Diet (SAD), with the Mediterranean diet, which is one of the diets that has been investigated the most and is based on eating whole foods.

The typical diet of a Westerner typically consists of highly processed meals that are filled with harmful fats, artificial sweeteners, large amounts of sugar, and other additives. To give you an idea, a dinner might include a hamburger topped with cheese and served on white buns, along with french fries, maybe a salad, a beverage or coffee, and a slice of cake for dessert.

This dish is loaded with refined carbohydrates and bad fats, including the trans fats that may be found in processed cheese. Additionally, it has a significant amount of both sugar and salt. The Western diet often consists of only a few servings of fresh vegetables, most of which are doused in butter or coated in dressings or sauces that have undergone extensive processing.

Each of the following, a muffin, a coffee Frappuccino, and a salad with dressing, contains around 500 calories: It’s possible that a large order of French fries has the same number of calories as the main course.

The average complete meal contains a large number of calories, frequently exceeding 2500 calories, yet it is low in critical elements such as vitamins and plant-based substances. Although a person’s calorie consumption and level of physical activity might vary greatly from day to day, it is believed that the average diet contains about 2000 calories.

On the other side, the Mediterranean diet places an emphasis on the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meats and fish, legumes, nuts, and herbs. Healthy fats like olive oil are also a key component of this diet.

 It is also recommended that amounts of red meat be kept to a minimum and that processed foods be avoided. A fresh salad topped with lemon, olive oil, or roasted veggies would be a good example of a lunch menu, and it would go well with steamed salmon and pasta made from whole grains.

Additionally, salt can be replaced by a variety of herbs and spices for seasoning food. Dessert typically consists of either fruit or yogurt. The Mediterranean diet is mostly composed of plant-based foods since plants have relatively few calories despite their high concentrations of beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. By adhering to this dietary pattern, a person can cut back on unnecessary calories while still taking in sufficient amounts of nutritional food.

New research: Western food and lifestyle may raise cancer risk

A research study that was conducted in 2022 and published in Nature in September of that same year reveals that a Western diet is one of the lifestyle factors that may play a role in the development of cancer in individuals under the age of 50 who are diagnosed with the disease at an earlier stage.

A group of researchers from the United States of America, led by Drs. Ugai, Sasamoto, Lee, and Ando, found that the onset of 14 different types of cancer has moved up in age over the course of the past several decades in a number of different countries.

Cancers of the breast, colorectum, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, liver, prostate, stomach, and thyroid are some of the types that fall under this category. Even while there are more cancer screening options available now than there were in the past, it is highly improbable that this is the only factor contributing to the increased incidence of cancer in younger people.

After conducting a comprehensive analysis of the relevant scientific literature, researchers have come to the conclusion that certain aspects of the Western way of life, such as drinking alcohol, not getting enough sleep, smoking, being overweight, and eating foods that have been highly processed, may all contribute to an increased risk of developing cancer at an earlier age.

An additional piece of evidence indicating the importance of a Westernized diet is the fact that eight of the fourteen different forms of cancer being researched impact the digestive tract. This diet has a direct impact on the composition of the gut flora, and the gut flora has been shown to influence the risk of developing cancer and other diseases.

Westernized diet linked to other disorders

Several other research studies investigated the dangers to one’s health that are associated with consuming a Western-style diet. The consumption of diets that are typical of the Western world has been shown to have a significant link to obesity.

 In addition, the consumption of foods of this nature leads to inflammation and suppresses the immune system, which raises the risk of developing a variety of diseases.A person’s chance of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and cancer is considerably increased when they are overweight or obese.

These diseases include type 2 diabetes. In addition to dementia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, problems with fertility, and more severe types of COVID-19 infections, obesity has been linked to a number of other health conditions.

¬†Inflammatory bowel illnesses including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have been related to westernized diets as well. It has also been found that adolescents who eat in a Western way are more likely to have ADHD.

Adopting a diet that is healthful

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has been shown to have a number of positive effects on health, including the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the maintenance of a healthy weight, and possibly even the warding off of cancer.

People who are interested in dropping a few dress sizes ought to seek the guidance of dietitians or nutritionists. It is essential to stay at a healthy weight in order to preserve one’s general health; nevertheless, even a minor weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of total body weight is likely to result in positive changes to one’s health.

Weight reduction should be done on a slow and steady basis, at a rate of roughly one to two pounds per week, according to the recommendations of health professionals. Avoiding processed foods and instead eating complete foods that are high in nutrients is more important than keeping track of the number of calories you consume.

A healthy lifestyle should also include elements such as managing stress, practicing excellent sleep hygiene, and engaging in regular physical activity.

Conclusion

The typical American eats a Western-style diet, which has been related to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the findings of a recent study, this food pattern, in addition to other harmful lifestyle choices, may also play a role in the development of 14 different forms of cancer in young adults.

The good news is that one can reduce exposure to this potential risk factor by adopting a diet high in whole foods, such as the diet followed in the Mediterranean region. A healthy lifestyle includes activities such as regular exercise, adequate sleep of high quality, and effective management of stress, all of which can help prevent chronic illnesses.

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