Is Something Wrong with Our Modern Diet?

By Dr. Mercola

Three decades ago, the food available was mostly fresh and grown locally. Today, the majority of foods served, whether at home, in school or in restaurants, are highly processed foods, filled with sugars, harmful processed fats, and chemical additives.

During that same time, obesity rates have skyrocketed, and one in five American deaths are now associated with obesity. Obesity-related deaths include those from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, dementia, and depression, as nearly all have metabolic dysfunction as a common underlying factor.

The featured1 article contains 11 telling charts and graphs, illustrating how the modern diet has led to an avalanche of chronic disease. As its author, Kris Gunnars says:

“The modern diet is the main reason why people all over the world are fatter and sicker than ever before. Everywhere modern processed foods go, chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease soon follow.”

Sugar Consumption, Especially Soda and Juices, Drives Disease Rates

Of all the dietary culprits out there, refined sugar in general, and processed fructose in particular, win top billing as the greatest destroyers of health. The amount of refined sugar in the modern diet has ballooned, with the average American now getting about 350 calories a day (equivalent to about 22 teaspoons of sugar and 25 percent of their daily calories) from added sugar.

This level of sugar consumption has definitive health consequences. One recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine,2 which examined the associations between added sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths, found that:

  • Among American adults, the mean percentage of daily calories from added sugar was 14.9 percent in 2005-2010
  • Most adults (just over 71 percent) get 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar
  • Approximately 10 percent of American adults got 25 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar in 2005-2010
  • The most common sources of added sugar are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, and candy

According to this study, those who consume 21 percent or more of their daily calories in the form of sugar are TWICE as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who get seven percent or less or their daily calories from added sugar.

Needless to say, with all this added sugar in the diet, average calorie consumption has skyrocketed as well, having increased by about 20 percent since 1970.

A primary source of all this added sugar is soda, fruit juices, and other sweetened drinks. Multiple studies have confirmed that these kinds of beverages dramatically increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mortality. Diet sodas or artificially sweetened foods and beverages are no better, as research reveals they appear to do even MORE harm than refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), including causing greater weight gain.

 

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