One expertnotes that “over the past century, we’ve seen the incidence of chronic diseases go up dramatically in western culture, and that’s due to changes in our lifestyle, diet, and environment” (Thrasybule 2018). If the interactions between overall health and nutrition interest you, a professional integrative nutrition diploma program may be right for you.
As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are re-evaluating their daily routines and habits. Many may be losing rest,facing more meal preparation than usual, or less opportunity for exercise. In this uncertain time, as everyone looks for ways to stay healthy at home, it is important to understand the impacts of a typical western diet.
Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional factors and impacts of North American eating habits.
Defining the “Western Diet”
In technical scientific terms, a western diet is “characterized by refined carbohydrates, highly saturated and trans fatty acids, and low levels of fatty acids and other long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids…” and the list of imbalances goes on (Abramova 2019).
In other words, a typical western diet is comprised of high levels of processed foods, animal protein, sugar, and sodium, along with low levels of fibre, whole foods, and healthy fats (Thrasybule 2018). These kinds of eating habits may be recognizable to graduates of nutritionist school who provide consultation for clients’ nutritional health.
For some, this may be due to the need for convenience: processed foodsare often more accessible and affordable (NPR 2013). For others, this may be due to habits or a preference for foods lacking in basic nutritional elements. In general, “more and more evidence shows that the types of food we eat have a worsening effect on our gut health and immune system, which play major roles in protecting our overall health” (Thrasybule 2018).
Published Studies for Students in Nutritionist School
One study on the impacts of the Western Diet determined that “reducing meat consumption could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as of several cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke, and likely, chronic kidney disease” (Bible and Smith n.d.). These claims support the results of other studies as well.
A comparative study revealed that hunter gatherers known as the Hadza in Tanzania were found to have a more diverse gut microbiome than typical North American populations (Thrasybule 2018). The researchers explained that“the digestive tract is home to trillions of microorganisms—bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and viruses, collectively known as the microbiome—that helps the body digest food, prevent infections, regulate our metabolism and control the immune system” (Thrasybule 2018). So why is the Hazda gut healthier?
The Hadza diet is more diverse, “relying on foods found in the forest, such as wild berries, honey, fiber-packed legume and fruits, and fresh game” (Thrasybule 2018). This demonstrates that changing to a more diverse diet may be one tangible way to reduce chronic inflammation, given that “what’s going on in your gut dictates what goes on in your body as a whole” (Thrasybule 2018).
How to Help Clients Improve Their Diets
It is possible to use the research and knowledge you get from a nutrition diploma to support clients in improving their diets and, thus, their overall health.
As mentioned above, “the western diet is characterized by an over consumption and reduced variety of refined sugars, salt, and saturated fat” (Myles 2014). This suggests that the solution is to increase variety and decrease intake of sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Professionals suggest eating more plant-based foods that are high in fibre; healthy fats, such as those found in fish, plants, or seeds and nuts; and minimally processed foods, such as canned beans, hummus, yogurt, and nut butters, among other things (Thrasybule 2018).Such changes can help improve health and wellbeing.
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Contact Rhodes Wellness College today!
Abramova Maria (2019). Diet and Carcinogenesis: A Dysfunction of the Brain. The Role of Functional Food Security in Global Health. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/western-diets
Bible, Adam and Smith, Brittany (n.d.). 5 Reasons the “Western Diet” Is the Worst. Men’s Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/5-reasons-western-diet-worst/
Myles, Ian A (2014). Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074336/
NPR (2013). Why Processed Food is Cheaper Than Healthier Options. Morning Edition, NPR. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2013/03/01/173217143/why-process-food-is-cheaper-than-healthier-options
Thrasybule, Linda (2018). Why the Western Diet Keeps Making Us Sick. Everyday Health. Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/crohns-disease/diet/why-western-diet-making-us-sick/