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The Typical American Diet Is Killing You
We’ve been trained to think that when we get sick, the proper way to respond is to take a pill or some other form of manufactured medicine. Scant attention is paid to the lifestyles and diets of people who are affected by disease. This is unfortunate, because sometimes making some changes in these areas is all it takes to drastically improve health and reduce one’s chances of disease. But how does it get to this point in the first place?
Your Diet Is the Problem
If you are following a typical modern American diet, and not getting regular exercise, then you are almost certainly on the way to becoming overweight and unhealthy. This diet is filled with processed foods, high-glycemic-index carbs, unnatural oils and sugars. Let’s examine each of these in more detail.
Think about how many processed foods people eat on a daily basis. It’s much easier than you think to eat these kinds of products without realizing it. Have you eaten fast food recently? How about a frozen microwavable meal, or a bowl of breakfast cereal? Almost all processed foods like these are filled with preservatives, hormones and artificial ingredients.
Then there are the oils used to make those foods. Now, some people have the misconception that oils in general are unhealthy. Some, like extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil, can be quite healthy. Unfortunately, those are not the kinds used in many processed foods in the standard US diet. Polyunsaturated fats like those found in vegetable and cooking oils are known to have inflammatory properties, and inflammation is in turn linked to an increased risk of cancer and other diseases.
The abundance of high-glycemic-index carbohydrates like breads and white rice in the standard American diet is due to the “food pyramid,” an FDA-approved nutritional guide which encouraged Americans to make breads and grains the base of their diets for decades. This contributed to an increase in obesity, along with all the problems associated with it.
Finally, the overwhelming use of sugars and sweeteners in so many products is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes. A single can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar! Even seemingly healthier options like fruit juice are often packed full of added sweeteners. To make matters worse, oftentimes the “sugar” in these products is actually high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to numerous health problems.
The Problem With the “Take a Pill” Approach
All the factors mentioned above lend themselves to a high probability of developing disease and poor general health. The default response in many cases when ill health manifests itself is to take a medication. While modern medicine can be very effective, it can also be overused (as in the case of antibiotics) or simply serve to mask the issues. Taking a medicine can be the right thing to do in many situations, but it does not address the underlying issue of why someone became ill in the first place. As we have hopefully established by now, in many cases, illness can be attributed to poor diet and lifestyle choices.
That old saying ,“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is as true today as it ever was. The prevalence of many health problems like chronic inflammation, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and more could be significantly reduced if people just made better choices with what they eat and how much exercise they get.
Oftentimes what you choose not to do has just as much, if not more, of a positive impact on your life than what you choose to do. The first step to preventing illness should be to clean up your diet. Eliminate processed foods, unnatural oils, and especially the egregious amounts of sugar from your diet. Replace these with lean proteins, good fats (like omega-3s), and lots of fruits and vegetables.
If you are eating bad food and popping pills to address the health problems this causes, you are really just chasing your tail in terms of getting healthy. Choose to eat clean and be active, and it will help to protect your health.