Researchers discovered a correlation between increasing incomes of individuals in the developing world and the tendency to take on calorie-rich diets. According to a new study, adopting the unhealthy Western diet is on the rise around the world, but its popularity has nothing to do with the benefits (or lack thereof) it has on people’s health.
In a very unsurprising turn of events, the Western diet is not as good for you as we’d like it to be – to the point where adopting it can convey into various degrees of malnourishment. Researchers noted that high-calorie fast-foods do not offer us the essential nutrients we need to be healthy and score very low on nutritional benefit.
Leading study author David Tilman, professor and ecology expert at the University of Minnesota, explained that even eating processed foods offers people low nutritional substances. “Microwave meals,” as they’ve been dubbed, are full of “empty” calories, which means they satisfy your hunger for a short period of time.
If people don’t combine them with a lot of vegetables and fruit, malnutrition is ready to set in. The Western diet is known for its processed or semi-processed foods and its heavy reliance on supermarket chains that promote them in spite of their low nutritional value.
On top of that, this diet’s prominent features are overconsumption of fast-food, products with added-sugar, red meat and lots of saturated fats, and a lack of plant-based fibers. Overall, Westerners feed themselves with plenty of unhealthy fats, added sugar, salt, and meat, and almost no fibers.
According to Dr. Ian Myles from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S., people adopting this diet have a very large intake of calories, in general. The study also reveals the health risks associated with the Western diet.
Highly processed foods usually mess up the immune system, with the most damaging ingredients being fructose and palmitic acid. Dr. Myles explained that our bodies react to these as if they are bacteria, attacking them and thus sustaining a continuous low-scale inflammation.
But because the immune system is constantly deceived by these phony bacteria, it is eventually less prepared for a genuine infection. Researchers hope that the situation can get back to normal as people switch to healthier diet choices.
Moreover, several previous studies proved the Western diet damages good gut bacteria, which is crucial for the health of the body overall. The gut bacteria is also linked to how the immune system responds to inflammation.
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