Exploring the World of American Diet and Nutrition

Americans eat too much sodium, saturated fats, sugars, and unhealthy oils than recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Adopting diets closer to these guidelines could reduce risks such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.

Dietitians are frequently consulted regarding trendy diets. Although their primary goal is advising clients on eating plans incorporating nutritious whole food options, registered dietitians also observe any adverse side effects from popular fad diets.

What does the American Diet look like?

American diets typically consist of an abundance of unhealthy food sources such as salt, sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats as well as processed and junk food – which have all been linked with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and numerous other health concerns.

The average American diet does not provide sufficient amounts of essential nutrients, such as fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Furthermore, this diet is high in calories and sodium while low in fruits and vegetables.

Over the past 25 years, diet-related chronic diseases have steadily increased across America due to poor dietary standards. At present, most American’s dietary choices do not adhere to what is recommended by Dietary Guidelines for Americans and thus increase diet-related chronic disease risks significantly.

According to the HEI, most Americans do not consume sufficient seafood, whole grains, vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy. Furthermore, they consume too much red meat, salt, sugary beverages and processed foods.

American diets lack omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids essential for brain health, such as those found in fish, nuts, seeds and leafy greens. An imbalance of these fatty acids in typical American diets has been linked with mood disorders, depression and anxiety.

One problem stems from our excessive reliance on processed foods that are high in sodium content and often devoid of essential vitamins and nutrients, leading to the rise in hypertension rates – the most prevalent cardiovascular condition.

Unfortunately, many Americans lack access to affordable fresh produce and lean meats. Many live in areas known as “food deserts” – areas without supermarkets or grocery stores nearby – where access is limited and therefore have no choice other than turning to local corner shops who receive gifts from food manufacturers in exchange for displaying their products such as salty snacks and sugary sodas prominently at their front entrance.

Diets that promote good health – be they healthy or unhealthy – have been found to contribute to many different forms of illness, from obesity and heart disease, mental illness and cognitive decline, to mental illness and cognitive impairment. A healthy diet on the other hand may help both prevent and treat various conditions.

Why is it so Unhealthy?

Americans struggle to consume an optimal diet. Eating foods high in sugar, fat and salt can contribute to weight gain as well as chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke; however, healthier eating and lifestyle habits may help protect against or treat such ailments.

Many people struggle to make healthier food choices and New Jersey obesity rates are growing. They’re easily led astray by celebrity food trends or quick weight loss programs offering quick fixes that won’t last, while being inundated with information about processed and sugar foods without knowing where they can find affordable, nutritive options.

As a result, Americans are receiving less nutrition from the foods they eat. According to the Human Eating Index score (HEI), which evaluates overall diet quality, American diets are currently considered “nutrient poor”. Most calories come from refined grains and added sugars while fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts seeds and seafood make up only small percentages of our meals.

Diets high in low-grade carbohydrates such as the Standard American Diet can create an imbalance which leads to metabolic syndrome – high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat accumulation and abnormal cholesterol levels are hallmarks of metabolic syndrome that can contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

High-carbohydrate diets have also been linked to gut dysfunction, which has been associated with various health conditions. Sugar entry overwhelms cells lining the intestinal tract and the immune system reacts by producing antibodies that destroy beneficial gut bacteria – leading to reduced digestive function, increased inflammation, weight gain and chronic diseases.

Eating healthfully can be even harder for families living on tight budgets or receiving government support like food stamps, with fast food restaurants on every corner and unhealthy processed foods on grocery store shelves, making healthy meal choices seem out of reach. Yet healthy eating habits have the power to dramatically improve health while cutting costs; read on for seven simple steps that can enhance diet quality while decreasing chronic disease risks.

What is the Solution?

Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers have all been directly tied to diet. Although the federal government spends billions on food related programs and health care systems spend trillions treating disease associated with poor nutrition, these efforts often lack coordination or synergy. To address this issue, Mozaffarian and other experts on food systems created an independent task force which proposed several big ideas – like giving SNAP recipients more money towards buying fruits and vegetables through GusNIP as one possible remedy.

What does this imply for the future of America?

Good news is the future for American diet is bright. Over recent years, the USDA has revised their guidelines and replaced their old food pyramid with MyPlate to promote healthier eating by emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins as key elements of a balanced diet.

As part of its focus on health and wellness, this new guide also calls for a reduction in sodium consumption and added sugars. We must make changes to our diets to ensure we’re eating as healthily as possible.

Over the past two centuries, America’s food supply has undergone drastic change. There has been an exponential increase in processed and ultra-processed foods such as refined sugar, industrial seed/vegetable oils, poultry meat and butter/lard/shortening while unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, high-fat dairy products and red meat (beef/pork) have decreased substantially.

As well as making changes to our dietary habits, it is crucial that we address the root causes of poor nutrition. Poor diet is currently one of the leading causes of death and disease in America; by altering our diets and taking steps to tackle its source, we may save lives while decreasing chronic illness rates.

One way of starting is through reform of food stamp and medicare programs to incentivize healthy food purchases. Another approach would be implementing medically tailored meals prescribed by doctors to treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease – several pilot programs already exist and more will likely launch soon.

The next step should be for organizations such as the Nutrition Coalition, Keys’ Diet-Heart Hypothesis and McGovern’s Dietary Goals to build upon the work that they have already accomplished by continuing education about balanced diets among the public, fighting for policies to support these guidelines from USDA and Dept of Health & Human Services as well as informing health care providers of how poor diet affects patients in care facilities.