Is it possible that the very food we rely on to give us nourishment and nutrition is the very thing that is killing us?
The simple answer is “yes,” but the caveats of the answer are not so simple. In today’s message we will briefly look at the Standard American Diet (quite literally SAD) and two facts that are not disputed no matter which level of the “food pyramid” you stand on.
This article relies, in part, on the research findings of Michael Pollan author of “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” copyright 2009.
The Standard American Diet
The Standard American Diet (SAD) or Western Diet is one of the chief causes of the high rates “of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Virtually all of the obesity and type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease and more than a third of all cancers can be linked to this diet.” Michael Pollan
That is frightening. If it doesn’t scare you then you are either not eating the SAD way or you are highly delusional about food and the way it can affect you.
The SAD way of eating includes: processed foods, added sugar, meat, added fat, processed grains and one that is low in plant foods, like vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
A Day in the Life of a SAD Eater
A typical day of eating for me once included:
Breakfast: eggs, cheese, bacon or ham (if I ate breakfast at all)
Lunch: usually a salad with low fat ranch dressing, but sometimes tacos and nachos and sometimes chicken strips and onion rings and four tablespoons of regular ranch dressing (to dip all the fried food into)
Dinner: steak (the more fat on it the better), maybe a vegetable, but always a meat
Snack: two bags of microwave popcorn
Extra Snack: (Just in case I was still hungry after the popcorn) usually a couple of slices of toast with butter
Sometimes I ate because I was genuinely hungry. Other times—most times—I ate because I was bored.
I ate the wrong things at the wrong time, at almost all times.
Death By Food
Many of us in the United States are suffering from a very terminal disorder that is not entirely our fault. That disorder leads inevitably to death by food. The very things we eat are killing us. But why is our food killing us?
We’ll get into that in a moment, but first let’s look at what Pollan says are two indisputable facts:
“Fact 1: Populations that eat the so-called Western diet—generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and whole grains—invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer,” writes Pollan.
In other words, the SAD diet is killing us—Death by Food.
Pollan goes on to say that, “Virtually all of the obesity and type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of the
cardiovascular disease, and more than a third of all cancers can be linked to this diet…”
Information like this makes me wonder if the food industry and big pharma are somehow connected.
No one disputes this fact. This diet makes us sick and it makes us die.
“Fact 2: Populations eating a remarkably wide range of traditional diets generally don’t suffer from these chronic diseases,” Pollan wrote.
Ummm…. hello? If these other ways of eating don’t make us sick and die, then why are eating the SAD way?
Some traditional diets include those that are high in fat, high in carbs and/or high in protein. These populations don’t have the typical diseases that the Western diet produces.
Basically what this means is that humans can thrive on nearly any diet…except for the Western diet, that is.
I like what Pollan says next. “What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!”
As a sort of bonus, Pollan includes a third indisputable fact.
Fact 3, if you will, is that if people stop eating the Western diet, they can and will see dramatic improvements in their overall health.
In fact, many of the “effects of the Western diet can be rolled back, and relatively quickly,” said Pollan.
Does that mean that some or all of the diseases that are linked to the Western or SAD diet can be reversed?
Reversing the “irreversible”
Many of us with type 2 diabetes are given very little hope when we are diagnosed.
Let me sum it up:
- Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
- Talk about medicine treatments. Maybe throw in a few short sentences about eating better and exercising.
- Start taking medications.
- Take more medications.
- Gain weight because if you are on insulin it acts like a “fat magnet.”
- Get on more medications with higher dosages.
- Develop other conditions including: peripheral neuopathy, cardiovascular (heart problems), amputations, cancer, kidney failure and the like.
- Give up…
The reason I added that last one is that sometimes it just feels like this is the only option left. For my grandfather, after he had one leg amputated and they were talking about cutting off the other leg, decided to stop his dialysis treatments (kidney failure was also caused by his type 2 diabetes). After about two weeks of stopping these treatments, he died. He gave up fighting because he was so tired of being sick and tired.
There is a certain connection between type 2 diabetes and depression. We are told we will not get better. If we are told that a “cure” is possible, it is some illusive concoction that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and in the end, doesn’t work.
But what if type 2 could be reversed? What if reversing this disease and the many effects of it could be lessened or even avoided altogether?
Some doctors have taken a different approach to type 2 diabetes. Instead of first looking at medicine, they have looked at the nutrition side of things and have seen amazing results.
I wrote about Dr. Neal Barnard’s book called “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes” in my post yesterday and I will be writing about it a lot more.
Not only does Dr. Barnard believe that type 2 diabetes is reversible, but has the science in his book to back up his claims.
We will look further into this in my next post.
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About the author
Karin Nauber, is a professional journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for the past 24 years. She is also a grandmother who, along with her spouse, is raising one of their granddaughters. Karin has nine grandchildren with whom she enjoys spending as much time as possible. Karin also was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 12 years ago and has faced many challenges with the disease. If you would like to contact her, please do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org.