SAD Truth: More than 60% of Calories from Highly Processed Foods

bag-of-chipsIn light of a new study from the University of North Carolina, the nickname given to the standard American diet—SAD—seems more fitting than ever. That’s because study author Jennifer Poti and her team determined that more than 60% of our total daily calories come from heavily processed foods loaded with unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt.

Researchers looked at grocery purchasing data from more than 157,000 American households, which included over 1 million different products. What they found was that the biggest chunk of calories came from highly processed foods such as pre-packaged meals, refined breads, chips, snacks, desserts, candy, and sugary drinks—all of which have been linked to inflammation, obesity, diabetes, and more.

These findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, point out that not all processed foods are bad, since pasteurized milk as well as frozen fruits and veggies undergo minimal processing, but that Americans clearly seem to prefer their highly processed foods—those defined as “multi-ingredient industrial mixtures that are no longer recognizable as their original plant or animal source.”

The bottom line is this: we are consuming nearly 1,000 calories a day from foods that barely even resemble real food, but it is never too late to make smarter choices. Experts suggest cooking more meals at home with simple, fresh ingredients such as poultry, seafood, and non-starchy veggies; swapping unhealthy snacks for low-sugar fruits, plain Greek yogurt, and nuts; and replacing sugary drinks and soda with purified water.

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Obese Boys at Higher Risk of Inflammation, Bowel Cancer

boy_eating_burgerThis month as we focus on men’s health, it is important to remember that healthy habits start early. With obesity rates rising steadily among American children, teaching our adolescent and teenage boys the value of a wholesome diet and an active lifestyle is now more important than ever, especially in light of a new report.

Researchers from the United States and Sweden recently completed an analysis of more than 240,000 boys between the ages of 16 and 20 to determine whether or not being heavier at a young age affected bowel health later in life. As it turns out, the more weight the boys carried, the higher their risk of developing bowel cancer as well as widespread inflammation.

Over a period of more than three decades, researchers monitored the boys’ height and weight as well as inflammation levels in the body and found that those who were “very overweight” or obese in young adulthood—with a BMI ranging from 27.5 to over 30—doubled their risk of developing bowel cancer in adulthood in their 50s. In addition, those with a high inflammation rate were 65% more likely to develop bowel cancer, spotlighting the relationship between chronic inflammation and disease.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women.i Report authors point out the importance of advocating a healthy diet and lifestyle early on to promote bowel health and wellness later in life.

i http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/statistics/

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