by Dr. Leo Galland
The standard American diet (SAD), with its excess of sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat and trans fats, is the primary cause of obesity and diabetes. Although the American style of eating began here in the U.S., this eating pattern has spread around the world, contributing to the rise of obesity and its related conditions worldwide.
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
The main reason that obesity increases the risk of these disorders is that obesity increases the level of inflammation throughout your body.
Even in people who are not obese or overweight, the SAD directly causes inflammation and plays an important role in creating or aggravating many of these diseases.
Numerous studies have shown connections between specific dietary components and a range of diseases:
- Diets high in saturated fat raise cholesterol levels.
- Diets high in sugar and white flour products raise serum triglycerides.
- Diets high in processed foods increase the risk of depression.
- Diets high in cured and processed red meats increase the risk of colon cancer.
The Road Back from SAD: Shifting to Whole Foods
Switch from eating mostly processed foods such as white bread, white rice and sugary products to eating whole foods that have high nutrient density.
What are Whole Foods?
Foods as close to their natural state as you can find, unprocessed, without a label or a barcode. Think of fresh apples, berries, lettuce, broccoli, whole grains. And raw nuts, seeds, eggs and fish.These foods have no added fats, sugars or artificial ingredients.
Whole foods are generally more nutrient dense than processed foods, which means they have a high ratio of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to calories. Phytonutrients simply means nutrients from plants. They have been well studied for their ability to help reduce inflammation and contribute to well-being. The best way to get a range of phytonutrients is by having whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, and beans.
In summary, the road back from SAD begins with dietary and lifestyle patterns that may also prevent inflammation. Protective factors include:
- Eating more vegetables and fruits that are rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients like carotenoids and bioflavonoids.
- Eating more omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flaxseed, leafy greens and sea vegetables.
- Eating more dietary fiber.
- Regular mild to moderate aerobic exercise, about 30 to 60 minutes a day