Originally published December 6 2007
Is the Standard American Diet (SAD) Bad for Your Health?
by Sarah Aitken
(NaturalNews) Extreme is a good way to describe the diet that most people in America subsist on. Many people wouldn't look at the standard American diet, and call it extreme; many would just call it normal. But if you look at the diet close-up, we can see that it is pretty extreme, and certainly not healthy.
The Standard American Diet usually consists of a myriad of processed carbs (cereals, breads, pasta, cookies, cakes etc.), processed meat products, and a few fruits and veggies. What you eat is the foundation of your health – so what is in this diet?
This diet is high in many things, most of which your body doesn't really need. It is full of hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, phytic acid, acrylamide, sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lacking in basic essentials such as vitamins, minerals.
Hydrogenated oil causes a host of problems. It contributes to cancer, heart disease and obesity. A recent study showed that monkey fed these oils gained a significant amount of fat around the abdomen, even though they were not fed in such excess as to warrant fat gain. This is bad! Fat gain without consuming extra calories, and around the worst place on the body to gain it too, is one of the worst things for your health. We also know that trans fat boosts women's infertility by 70%, if you consume it for 2% of your total calories. For someone on a 2000 calories a day diet, that is only about 4 grams of fat. And 4 grams of fat is not a lot! You could get that much in one donut, or a small serving of fries.
High fructose corn syrup raises blood sugar levels quickly. There are links to the consumption of high fructose corn syrup to type II diabetes and heart disease. It provides no nutritional value, and is the ubiquitous sweetener for foods that are known as "empty calories."
Phytic acid has been proven to be an "anti-nutrient." It is in all grains, nuts and seeds that have not been soaked and dried first. If you are eating boxes of food that are grain based, not only are you eating something that has no nutrition, you are also eating something that will readily take nutrients from you.
If you eat anything with carbohydrates heated to a high temperature, you are eating acrylamide. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated that possible short-term effects of ingesting acrylamide are damage to the nervous system, weakness and incoordination in the legs. The possible long-term effects are damage to the nervous system, paralysis, and cancer. Acrylamide in fried or baked goods is produced by the reaction between asparagine and reducing sugars or reactive carbonyls. Browning during baking, frying or deep-frying or over-cooking of foods will produce acrylamides. Acrylamides can also be created during microwaving.
Sodium Nitrate NaNO2
Consumption of processed meats has been linked to cancer (colon, breast, prostate and pancreas). The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for sodium nitrate states that ingestion in the pure form could cause gastroenteritis and abdominal pains. Other symptoms may include dizziness, bloody diarrhea, convulsions, and collapse; and chronic exposure can cause methemoglobinemia. This happens in some individuals when bacteria in the stomach convert the nitrate to nitrite. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, irregular breathing, convulsions, coma, and death can occur should this conversion take place. If you truly don't want to give up your bacon, salami or whatever there is a way to fight the harm that sodium nitrate can inflict on your body. You have to consume large doses of vitamins C and E before you eat something with sodium nitrate in it. These wonderful vitamins inhibit the conversion of sodium nitrate to the carcinogenic form, nitrosamines.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is in a class of chemicals known as excitotoxins. Excitotoxins, like MSG, introduced to the body in high doses have been shown in animal studies to cause damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier. A variety of chronic diseases can arise out of this neurotoxicity. In other animal research, MSG has been shown to indirectly cause obesity. According to laboratory studies, the chemical does this by downregulating hypothalamic appetite suppression which increases the amount of food animals consume. This is another universal ingredient and can be found under names such as hydrolyzed yeast, torula yeast and autolyzed yeast.
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet is full of packaged foods. Most packaged foods have virtually no nutritional value! They are pretty packages housing calories. If this is all you eat, then you are on the fast track to being overfed, and under nourished. I know that we are told that we should be eating lots of grain products. Eat up. But a diet recommendation like that is ignoring the true science out there telling us that insulin spikes, phytic acid, acrylamide and the negative immune system responses we get from eating cooked food doesn't mean a thing. We don't fully understand what happens in the body with all these extras - the synergistic effects are simply not known. Eating a diet rich in refined carbohydrates and processed meat products is a sure fire way to walk the path of disease.
There are real health advocates that teach the right way to eat. Avoiding all those unwanted extras most people get by eating the Standard American Diet takes a little drive but it is worth it. Reduce or eliminate refined carbs and go for whole, sprouted grains instead; and use them sparingly. Or replace those carbohydrates with amaranth, buckwheat, millet or quinoa. Chose raw fats - found in extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil or the fats found in raw avocados. The food you eat should be colourful and vibrant! Most people do not get the recommended number of fruits and vegetables in their diet; don't be one of those people. Recent studies show that if we eat broccoli and tomatoes together, the health benefits are amplified. You get more results eating these foods together than if you ate them in isolation – so go for a lot of colour on your plate. For a detailed look at what it truly takes to make a healthy diet check out Mike Adams' Honest food guide. Leave "SAD" behind, and build a foundation of health and happiness!
About the authorSarah is a Chemical and Materials Engineer by education. Through years of focused self-study, she has come to see the benefit of whole food nutrition and allowing the body to heal itself. A Field Center Certified Facilitator, Sarah is passionate about being helpful to others, in any venue, in their quest for a better life.
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