The coming of Westernization sure has brought an abundance of advantages. But when it comes to a western diet, we cannot deny its adverse effects on human health. Is there a relationship between western diet and chronic disease? There are tons of research and studies suggesting that the Western diet leads to several non-infectious chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and so on.
In this write-up, we’ll try to break down the core relationship between the western diet and chronic diseases.
What Exactly is Western Diet?
Western Pattern Diet (WPD) or Western Diet is a modern dietary plan. The primary elements of this diet include processed food, red meat, candy, fried foods, butter, high-dairy products, potatoes, etc. Additionally, it includes a low intake of healthier foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, and the like.
Today’s modern “Western Diet” resulted from fundamental lifestyle changes after the Neolithic Revolution, also known as Agricultural Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. But let’s not get into the entire history today!
The bottom line is that though Western Diet is extremely delicious and can satisfy your palate, it is not beneficial for your health. And in worst-case scenarios, if you only stick to a Western Diet, it could lead to many chronic diseases.
Western Diet and Chronic Diseases
Over the last two-three generations, there has been a significant increase in the rate of “civilization diseases” (chronic health conditions) among the westernized populations. These diseases include diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, and many others. To date, these diseases are not showing any signs of slowing down in developing/developed countries.
In comparison, civilization diseases are very rare among non-westernized populations. Thanks to their traditional diets filled with nutritious and organic foods, non-westernized people have excellent insulin sensitivity. In contrast, transitioning to a Western pattern diet plan will lead to a significant increase in insulin resistance, thereby leading to a number of chronic diseases.
Effects of Western Diet on Human Health
Several analyses show that a western diet can lead to increased weight gain in adolescents and females. Furthermore, a western diet may also affect mediators of obesity in your body, such as leptin, HDL cholesterol and fasting insulin.
At its core, a western diet includes consuming food products that are high in saturated fat, sodium and low fibre. Hence, foods high in saturated fat lead to obesity as well as increase breast cancer risk.
Simultaneously, since a western diet contains low fibre, it increases the chances of colorectal cancer. And the high amounts of sodium and low-potassium may also cause stroke and hypertension.
Other common chronic diseases associated with a western diet include diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and cancer.
Western Diet Scene in the US:
In 2004, a review of eating habits was conducted in the US. The review concluded that about 75% of restaurant meals in the US were from fast-food venues. Almost half of these meals ordered included french fries, burgers, chicken, and carbonated beverage drinks.
Additionally, from 1970-2008, it was found that the consumption of calories in the US increased by about one quarter. Out of this, 10% of calories came from corn syrup.
Also, Americans consume more amounts of oils, added sugar, sodium and saturated fats than the required amount as recommended by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
All these data mean that Americans are active followers of the Western diet pattern. Hence, if you and your family fit into this category, it may be time for you to give your diet plan a second thought! Completely eliminating the Western diet may seem very difficult or nearly impossible. But the least you could do is reduce the intake of western diet foods and balance it out by including more nutritious meals.