Most urban advancements have improved our ‘Western’ lifestyle and even extended our lifespan with inventions like air conditioning. On the other side, some advancements cause damage to the body, resulting in severe health issues. For example, take a look into our mass-produced, processed food industry…
What is a Western diet?
“The biggest features [of a Western diet] are overconsumption of over-refined sugars, highly refined and saturated fats, animal protein and a reduced intake of plant-based fibers,” says Ian Myles, from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. This translates to a diet high in fat, red meat, salt and sugars, and low in fiber.
In a recent study, David Tilman, professor of Ecology at the University of Minnesota, explored global trends in diet choices and the link between these diets and health. Tilman expresses a “nutrition transition” occurring around the world. He says along with rising incomes, people are choosing more calories and meat in their diet.
Empty Calories…Why Eat?
Unlike traditional malnutrition where food is limited or absent, Tilman addresses how the ‘Western’ diet has “empty calories.” He says people are becoming “malnourished because they eat foods that…have no nutritional benefit.” Diets low in colorful fruits and vegetables are harmful to your health, and a diet high in processed foods are even worse.
Fast-food corporations are making processed foods available across the globe, using tempting advertising to gain new consumers of processed foods. The power and growth of these empires are marketing to the entire world, thus may lead to a worldly health crisis.
Your Health – Your Choice
According to Myles, highly processed and refined foods, familiar in Western meals, are disliked by the body. “It throws your immune system off-kilter,” he says.
Ingredients found commonly in candy bars, fructose and palmitic acid, can kick-start an immune reaction, Myles says.
“[Palmitic acid] can be confused by the body with bacteria like E.Coli,” says Myles. The body then begins an immune attack against the supposed bacteria, thus raising inflammation. When immune cells are attacking the palmitic acid ‘bacteria’, they will be distracted when your body has a real infection.
The global trend of high fat and calorie diets are causing obesity and diabetes worldwide. In 2014, more than 600 million adults were obese, and almost 2 billion adults were overweight, according to the World Health Organization.
Recent studies have also 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.
Without a doubt, the type of diet a population consumes will have a direct effect on their health and lifestyle. Experts stress the importance of being educated on the foods we put in our body and encourages consumers to learn how certain nutrients can boost your immune system, versus fight against your immune system.
Reader — Will you choose healthy next time? How do you and your family members avoid processed foods?
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