Today I was reading an article about the standard American diet. The author gave it the fitting acronym of the SAD diet stating it was full of additives and processed foods and making us all fat. So what is it about the SAD diet that is so bad?
What Is The SAD Diet?
Is the nutrition advice that we take causing us to expand – literally expand – at the waist? Why is it that since the advent of government advice such as the food pyramid – advice which is heavily lobbied by food giants – the American waist line has grown?
Of course at its most basic this can be attributed to increased calorie consumption and what can be described as an inactivity epidemic. There is no denying that a major contributor to the health of the nation is the diet they follow.
The SAD diet is essentially governed by only a handful of companies. Huge giants in the food industry with only one common goal, an it’s not human health. Approximately 5 profit driven food giants control 80% of our foods. Clever marketing results in us buying foods labelled as healthy, praying on our intrinsic values to make the sale.
The result is our ever expanding waist line, and despite never spending more on health care, exercise, and healthy lifestyles, we have never been sicker.
Epidemic obesity has swept the USA and Europe is catching up fast with the UK leading the way. Sub-optimal health is becoming the norm:
- Diabetes and metabolic disorders
- Heart disease and cardiovasular disorders
- Back pain and musculo-sceletal issues that cost billions of dollars to deal with.
So what is the problem with the SAD diet?
Not Enough Protein
Ideally we ought to aim for 25-35% of our calories coming from protein scources such as organic and grass fed meat, line caught fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. However, the SAD and European diets scrape a measly 15% protein, and this is from processed and factory farmed meat which lacks omega 3 fats and is pumped full of chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.
Carbohydrate Centric Advice
The USDA pyramid is based on carbohydrates, and it is debatable whether this is based on health advice or economics.
In addition to too many carbohydrates, the problem also lies with all indiscretion between carbohydrate sources. For example a carbohydrate from fresh fruit will have a vastly different insulin response than say, high fructose corn syrup found in processed food.
On face value it may appear that we eat lots of fibre. Whole grains – yes advised by the USDA – are of course a source of fibre and the SAD diet comprises a lot of grains right?
Well yes this is true but often the grain has been so heavily processed it no longer behaves as it should. In addition for many, wheat can cause inflammation and digestive intollerances.
Fruit and vegetables are where we should get our fibre from. The quality of fibre from these sources is so much better for us and will not cause inflammation. In fact the lack of quality fire (and hydration) in the SAD diet results in conditions such as diverticular disease.
As previously mentioned our factory farming methods are effective for quantity but as for quality the meat produced is well below par. Take a wild or pasture fed buffalo or cow for example. This will have a lean body composition, and a high proportion of omega 3 fat in its muscle tissue.
The equivalent beast in a factory farm will have been fed grain which is high in omega 6 fats, and so its body composition will reflect this.
The knock on effect of our population eating the omega 6 meats, a grain (omega 6 rich) diet, and other factors such as fish toxin scaremongering – eat fish lower down the food chain such as mackerel and herring – results in a high omega 6 diet and chronic inflammation and ‘western’ diseases.
High Salt – Low Potassium
In brief, the highly processed nature of our foods is salt laden. Most of the salt we eat is in processed food, not salt from home cooking. Manufacturers love it, and we have acquired a taste for it.
In addition we have lost the fresh sources of potassium and other electrolytes from vegetables, and so our blood pressure has increased – just to complement our waistlines, insulin resistance, diverticular disease and other sub-optimal health pick’n’mix ailments we are growing too familiar with.
Grain centred diet can lead to an overall acid environment in the body. This means the natural almost neutral pH of the body will be maintained by a clever recruitment of alkaline resources to be put in the blood stream as a buffer.
Compounding all of this, processed food has little or no nutritional value except calories.
Our body needs micro-nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins every day and in plentiful supply. Lack of these will lead to ill health, and again fat storage.
B vitamins help with energy while antioxidants blast free radicals.
As consumers we can aim to include more nutrient dense foods and less processed foods into our daily lives.