What Is Wrong With The American Diet?
By now you have read the “10 Steps”. We are going to examine each step in greater detail starting with diet. (If you haven’t received your copy, sign up for the “Say No To Stroke!” email newsletter. Once you confirm your email address you’ll receive your copy of the “10 Steps”.)
How many of those brain healthy foods do you eat regularly? Too many of us consume diets high in fat, salt, and sugar. Doughnuts for breakfast, Big Macs and fries for lunch. Soda and multiple snacks throughout the day. This type of diet has become common in the United States. Unfortunately, these eating habits have made heart attacks and other cardiac diseases much too common here and in other parts of the Western World. 1.4 million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year. Of those, one million will survive. The same atherosclerotic plaque that compromises blood flow to your heart and causes heart attacks is often present in other important arteries. Plaque in brain arteries can reduce blood flow and cause a stroke. How did we get to this point?
We started the 20th century as a nation that was already shifting from rural to urban. Better roads and interstate highways made this trend easier. The Industrial Revolution meant there were jobs in the cities. Greater numbers of women joined the workforce. Previously, most women were home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. As time went by, more of them were working outside the home, although they remained primarily responsible for much of the same housework. Many technological advances made this possible. Canned and frozen foods became available, making meal preparation easier and less time consuming. More households acquired refrigerators, and eventually, dishwashers and microwaves.
TV dinners could be taken out of the freezer and popped into the oven for almost zero preparation time. Then various fast food restaurants started opening, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc., for really zero preparation time.
More food has become available, much of it requiring little or no effort to obtain or prepare. Few of us hunt our food and not many of us grow our food. Unfortunately, the change in our dietary patterns has resulted in a greater intake of fats and sugars. A large part of this increase is the corn sweeteners used in carbonated soft drinks and other sweet beverages. This, accompanied by a decrease in activity, has resulted in greater numbers of people who are overweight or obese. Obesity has been clearly linked to many health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, gout, gallbladder disease, atherosclerosis, and cancer.
So what to do? Where to start? We all need to take a long, hard look at what we are eating every day. I ‘m not telling you to stop going to McDonald’s. (I love their fries!) But, you may have to go there less often. Do you want to change your diet? First, think about why you want to change. You want a better body. You want a better brain. You want to decrease your risk of stroke and dementia, (and heart attack, kidney disease, cancer, etc.) Are you convinced yet? Think of it as an investment in your future. If you don’t invest now, you may not have a future. Second, list everything you eat or drink for the next week. You can carry a pad of paper or an index card. You can download an app to your smartphone. You must keep your list up-to-date and you must record everything. Meals and snacks… every chip, every M&M, every drink. For some of us it will be an eye-opener.
Every day…Say NO To Stroke!