The Standard American Diet and the Sugar Epidemic
After leaving you last time with a prelude to why the standard American diet will wreck your health, I feel it is time to start arming you with information that will help you make the best decisions about your dietary choices. Even more so, I think you will begin to look at food in a whole new perspective once we complete these next few articles. Food should be life to us. It should provide us with the key cofactors that we need to flourish. So with no further wait, let’s get right into why the standard American diet will wreck your health.
Put down the sugar!
First, and probably the most significant, is the glycemic load. This is a fancy way of saying how much sugar we are consuming. In short, we are consuming dramatically more sugar than our forefathers did. The primal caveman diet, where you are eating foods that you could gather and hunt on your own, does not provide contain a high sugar content. These foods would not have been refined and only had limited sugar content, if any at all. In comparison, sugar is found in many foods today. You might remember that in the prelude article I mentioned the curse of having foods with labels. I challenge you to pick these foods up and look at them. Many of them have sugar added, including the ones that you would not suspect.
The Problem with Eating Sugar
Most of us know someone with diabetes now. Diabetes is the disease state that manifest from challenging the body repeatedly with sugar. It is probably the disease most directly correlated with the demise of the standard American diet. This alone says something about the amount of sugar that is being consumed. This is nothing to shrug off. The numbers for the increased cases of diabetes is almost becoming exponential. We are seeing a continuing upward trend in the numbers of cases. It is not bad enough that eating sugar leads to diabetes, but there are more tangible effects such as memory loss, loss of blood flow into the small vessels of the body that affect the heart, kidneys, eyes, and sex organs. This is serious and all results from eating the standard American diet. It has clearly contributed to a state in our country that can be considered a sugar epidemic.
A great deal of the increase in sugar in the standard American diet can be attributed to the concerns of saturated fats leading to cardiovascular disease. As a result, society became fat phobic and started turning to fat free options. That created a problem. Without fat, food does not have flavor. If you want something to taste good, adding fat helps. With the removal of fat from the standard American diet, the way to add flavor back was with sugar. Thus the amount of sugar significantly began to increase. Fat free options should also be labeled as high sugar, or high in artificial sweeteners. But of course no one would buy them if they said that.
The most dramatic increase in sugar consumption can be found with sodas and fruit juices. Fruits juices are not just squeezed fruit in most cases. Many times there is additional sugar added to the final product. Soda has the added insult of containing high fructose corn syrup, a substance known to contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. That’s right. You can develop liver disease from drinking soda if consumed frequently enough.
Sugar consumption is problem number one within the standard American diet. If you are trying to make dietary modifications, this is the area that you have to start. As a clinician, I see more problems originating out of uncontrolled blood sugar than any other factor I assess. The sad part is that as significant as this is, it is only part of what is wrong with the standard American diet. Much more to come in the following articles.