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Don’t eat SADly, eat POWERfully

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DEBORAH ANN BALLARD, M.D., M.P.H.

Flaget Primary Care

 

The Standard American Diet goes by the acronym “SAD.” This is because it promotes disease and preventable suffering. It is simply too high in calories, too low in nutrients and contains many substances which are not food at all.  It is not possible to eat this SAD way and enjoy optimal health and wellness. The effect of the SAD way of eating is not just obesity, but also a weakened immune system and increased inflammation throughout the body. The World Health Organization states, “Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are key risk factors for the major noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.”

The Standard American Diet we consume today did not even exist prior to World War II. The mass introduction of heavily processed food products, convenience foods and fast foods began in the 1950s and 60s. Within just a few years, the introduction of this new high calorie, low nutrient “food” caused an epidemic of obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most recent national data on obesity prevalence among U.S. adults, adolescents and children show that more than one-third of adults and almost 17 percent of children and adolescents were obese in 2009-10. In 1990, 10-14 percent of adults were obese. CDC data from 2008 estimated medical costs associated with obesity were at $147 billion.

The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association all recommend a Mediterranean-style diet as the preferred way of eating to prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  The PREDIMED trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine April 4, studied over 7,000 people over five years. It confirms that a diet characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables and cereals, a moderate intake of fish and poultry, a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats and sweets and wine in moderation prevents cardiovascular disease. You can view the ACS recommendations for the prevention of cancer at www.cancer.org/ healthy/eathealthygetactive/index.  You can view the ADA recommendations to prevent type 2 diabetes at http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/checkup-america/healt... You can read more about the Mediterranean diet at www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011.

You can easily remember the key components of a healthy diet by the acronym POWER:

• Plant-based: Eat lean meat only occasionally or not at all. Fish (not fried) is good.

• Only sugar-free drinks: Sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, causes inflammation.

• Whole food: Less processed foods contain more nutrients, less calories, and more fiber.

• Energy balanced: Eating more calories (even healthy ones), than you burn causes weight gain.

• Real food: Dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives, and flavor and texture enhancers are not food.

Best of all, healthy food can be more delicious and affordable than unhealthy foods. It takes about seven times of tasting a new food to learn to like it. Once you start eating POWERfully, you will find that consuming SAD foods makes you feel bloated, fatigued and achy and you will no longer crave them.

So eat POWERfully and begin enjoying better health today.