Standard American Diet: S.A.D.chshkt
According to a growing body of research, the trillions of friendly bacteria living in your gut have such a powerful influence on your overall health—from helping you absorb nutrients to managing your metabolism and hormones—that they are now being called the “forgotten organ.”
Unfortunately, the modern Western diet is anything but conducive to a thriving healthy gut…and its negative impact is greater than we may have ever realized.
What IS The Standard American Diet—aka SAD?
Think processed, processed, processed. Frequent contenders on the SAD meal plan include processed meats, fried foods, soda, alcohol, refined grains, high-fructose corn syrup, and sugar. All of these foods tend to be high in calories, low in nutrients, and linked to serious health problems.
The standard American diet isn’t only problematic because of the unhealthy foods in it, but also because of the healthy foods that aren’t in it. According to Health.gov, the majority of American don’t consume enough fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, among other important nutrients.
3 Ways the Standard American Diet Harms Your Health
If your nutrition looks anything like the standard American diet, it may need an upgrade. For extra motivation, note these surprising ways a poor diet can affect your health:
Increases the risk of age-related diseases.
Not giving your body enough of the nutrients it needs—and instead filling it with actively harmful compounds like refined sugar—accelerates aging and inflammation and increases your risk of conditions like dementia, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
A poor diet also throws off the healthy population of bacteria in your gut, which has a direct effect on your immune and nervous systems. Accordingly, research connects poor gut health to an increased risk for infections, the common cold, and even depression.
One study published in The Lancet even suggests that 1 in 5 worldwide deaths are directly attributed to poor diet.
Contributes to the obesity epidemic.
SAD food is high in calories and low in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This has created a health crisis in which the majority of us are “overfed and undernourished.” Highly processed foods are also designed to fuel overeating, further contributing to the obesity epidemic seen in children and adults.
May harm the future generation.
A pregnant woman’s gut health directly impacts her health—and her unborn baby’s, too. One 2018 paper from The Journal of Immunology found that an unhealthy maternal microbiome in rodent models increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders among offspring.
Additionally, the standard American diet may make it harder to have children in the first place! 2018 research from the journal Epidemiology showed that consuming soda reduces fertility in both men and women.
Simple Ways to Boost Your Stomach and Digestive Health
Want to improve your health and longevity? Start with your gut. Here are four ways to boost your digestive health:
- Take probiotics and eat probiotic foods, including sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and other fermented products.
- Eat those greens (and other pretty colors). A 2017 meta-analysis from International Journal of Epidemiology suggests that eating as many as 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day provides the optimal level of protection against common diseases.
- Exercise. The United States Department of Health and Human Services advises people to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week, as well as two weekly sessions of resistance training.
- Get enough sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation is scientifically linked to weight gain, chronic disease, infections, and poor immune and gut health. Protect your Zzz’s by practicing good sleep hygiene and remember the importance of “resting and digesting.”
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