Research suggests that even short term exposure to the standard Western diet increases risk for disease
01/19/2019 // Russel Davis // Views

As the Western diet becomes increasingly prevalent, a new study has revealed that even short-term exposure to unhealthy foods may still raise the odds of developing cardiometabolic disorders such as diabetes and heart disease. The study funded by the American Heart Association (AHA) focuses on the effects of excessive fat and sugar intake on the female population, which is known to possess protective hormones that reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions.

As part of the study, a team of researchers at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) examined female rats fed with a meal supplement that resembled the ingredients of the typical American diet. According to the researchers, the animal models were regularly given pellets that looked and smelled like fast food French fries for five months. Another set of rats were used as a control group and were given regular supplements.

The findings showed that rats exhibited common diabetes symptoms such as blood vessel damage and high blood pressure following short-term exposure to the western diet. The research team also observed that the rats developed about four times more abdominal fat compared with the control group. However, the scientists found that the sick rats did not even appear to be outwardly obese. The sick rats likewise did not show typical diabetes markers such as increased blood glucose levels and hemoglobin A1c levels. The findings suggest that the negative effects of western diet may set in long before the more traditional disease markers manifest, the researchers say.


"Our findings suggest that short-term exposure to the western diet can put individuals at risk for developing vascular damage long before the tell-tale signs of diabetes are present. This may explain why some diabetics who successfully manage their blood glucose still experience other cardiovascular diseases, like hypertension, even while receiving treatment," researcher Maria Alicia Carrillo Sepulveda told Science Daily online.

The results also highlight the importance of osteopathic medical education, which not only focuses on disease management but also trains physicians to consider the consequences of the disease and the effects they have on the patients' health care and lifestyle. (Related: TOXIC FOOD is killing humanity: One-fifth of global deaths now linked to processed junk food and toxic ingredients.)

"This experiment reminds us that focusing solely on one aspect of disease does not adequately tell the complete story of one's health. Without the presence of traditional biomarkers, there were still multiple indications suggesting the onset of prediabetes, and we would have been unaware of dire medical conditions had we simply been looking for the conventional signs. Translating the study results to potential patients, the problem is the food our patients are eating. If we can educate and encourage them to make better food choices, we can play a key role in the prevention of the development of diabetes," researcher Benjamin Kramer adds.

Expert tips to improve healthy eating habits

Adopting a better lifestyle and choosing healthier food items such as fruits and vegetables in place of oily and sugary foods may well reduce the risk of diseases associated with western diet. An article posted on the Help Guide website has listed a few tips to improve dietary patterns and the body's overall health. These tips include:

  • Establish a healthy diet that contains enough protein, carbohydrates, fiber and calcium.
  • Preparing your own meals to avoid excessive sugar, salt and fat.
  • Drink plenty of water and opt for smaller food portions.
  • Classify certain foods as off-limits.
  • Make fruits and vegetables look more interesting and appetizing.
  • Always read food labels and replacing sugary and oily foods with otherwise healthy alternatives.

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