If you read last week's blog, you know that we just began a summer series on Nutritional Transformation. This week, we are going to look at the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). This will lay the ground work for looking at four templates on how to approach healthy eating.
Does food really "evolve"?
Much of today's scientific literature, including the field of nutrition, assumes that humans have been around for 50,000 years or longer. It is not the intention of this blog to debate evolution versus creation (there are much wiser minds than mine that have done that). I personally am a Christian who believes in a "Young Earth" and that God created it in seven days. To some, that may sound ridiculous; to others, it may make total sense. However, whether you believe people, plants and animals have only been around for a few thousand or tens of thousands of years, all of us can agree that the food we consume now looks vastly different than it did a few hundred years ago, let alone a few thousand years ago. It is this difference (the last few thousand years) that many authors attribute to our health issues today. From this vantage point, I can say that our food has evolved.. unfortunately, in the wrong direction!
What exactly does the Standard American Diet consist of, and why is it so bad?
In a nutshell, the Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of about 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 35% fat. However, this breakdown is only part of the picture. Other things to consider are:
- Total Calorie Intake
- Sources of each constituent (ie, is the carbohydrate from fruit or straight cane sugar)
- Breakdown of types of each constituent (ie, "good fat" or "bad fat")
- Additional non-food items (salt, carbonation, etc.)
Dr. Axe has a great article with nine charts detailing why Americans are fat, sick and tired and how it relates to our diet. You can read the whole article here. He relates the following issues:
- Too many calories from added fat and sweeteners
- 45% increase in grain consumption
- Increase in medication use
- Decrease fruit and vegetable consumption
- Increase in sugar consumption
- Increase in hydrogenated oils and decrease in saturated fat
- Processed foods make up 63% of calories
- Prevalence of GMO food in our diet
- Increase in consumption of sodium (salt)
A few years ago, my father- and mother-in-law were at our house visiting for a few weeks. They had purchased a boxed set of the 1970's TV show Mash. One day, I was watching it with them and what really caught my eye was how narrow all of the characters waists were! I bet most of the men on the show had a 32 inch waist or less, and many of the women smaller than that! It wasn't just a select few either, it was almost all of them! Contrast that with television shows today, and you would likely be hard-pressed to find more than 50% of the shows' characters having that small a girth.
In literally a generation, our accepted normal has changed. Most of the actors from the 1970's TV shows grew up on a very different diet, pretty much the exact opposite of the points Dr. Axe lists above.
The old adage "You Are What You Eat" really is true! Next week, we will start to look at some healthy alternatives to what most of us have been eating for way too long.
- The Mediterranean Diet
- The New Nordic Diet
- Traditional Okinawan Diet
- French Paradox Food
To Your Health,
Doug Williams, D.C. Care Chiropractic Lafayette, Indiana