Eating Right May be the Key to Better Health: Study Suggests Typical Western Diet Lessens Quality and Length of Life

April 26th, 2013

Western Diet:  Fast food, deep fried food, salty and sugary foods.A new study with results that will appear in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine finds that those who follow a Western-style diet which typically consists of fried and processed foods, sweets, red meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products, reduces the likelihood of reaching old age in good health and with high functionality.

The study, reported by ScienceDaily.com, was led by Dr. Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, Inserm, Montpellier, France, with the research team seeking to identify dietary factors that can promote ideal aging and prevent premature death.

Dr. Akbaraly noted that “avoidance of ‘Western-type foods’ might actually improve the possibility of achieving an older age,” but more important,” achieve a lengthier life that is “free of chronic diseases” allowing the individual to remain highly functional.

The study reveals what many have suspected and even experienced in their own lives already. There has been much research done on the connection between inflammation and virtually all chronic illness and disease, including migraines, arthritis, diabetes, obesity as well as heart disease, cancer, depression and dementia.

An easier way to explain the devastating effects of inflammation is to imagine a car that is left out in the elements for a period of time. Eventually, that car begins to rust and ultimately disintegrate and fall apart completely. The process is similar within the body. A little inflammation, such as swelling after an injury, is a natural and positive part of the healing process. It is uncontrolled inflammation that is allowed to remain over longer periods of time that does serious damage.

Pro-inflammatory foods contribute to this overabundance of inflammation. This includes those foods that are typically of the Western diet, such as:

  • » Packaged and processed foods including fast food and packaged desserts or snacks like cookies and cakes
  • »Common cooking oils that contain unhealthy fats such as sunflower, safflower and vegetable oil
  • » Margarine and heavily processed foods that contain Trans Fats
  • » Refined sugar and sugary foods
  • » Fried foods
  • » Many high-fat dairy products (the exception is kefir and some yogurts like plain Greek-style yogurt)
  • » Gluten and refined grains
  • » Feedlot-raised meats, red meat and processed meats
  • » Alcohol

Of course, as with anything, moderation is key. It would be difficult if not impossible for a person who eats the average American’s diet to change overnight. Limiting the above items and filling your diet with as many nutritionally packed, high anti-oxidant foods will go a long way in reducing the chances of developing chronic illness or reducing symptoms in someone who is already suffering.

Foods that are high in anti-oxidants can help neutralize the free radicals that result from too much inflammation.

Include as many whole fresh foods in your diet as possible. Foods that are especially rich in antioxidants include deeply-pigmented vegetables and fruits. Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and arugula as well as beets, blueberries and any richly colored purple, red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Include healthy fats like the omega-3 fatty acids in wild-caught salmon and monounsaturated fats in most nuts and olive oil.

Making gradual diet changes can lead to a happier, healthier, and much higher quality of life – without the constant pain and debilitation that can come with chronic illness and disease. Isn’t your life worth it?