A study released this week finds yet more evidence that the standard American diet (SAD) is connected to our major diseases.
It seems that older Chinese women who eat a Western-style diet loaded with "meats and sweets" have a greater risk for breast cancer than women who eat mainly soy and vegetables, the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study concluded. It was published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Previous research has found connections between a meat- and fat-heavy Western diet and several kinds of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, according to an Associated Press story. Other research has identified links between obesity and cancer.
One thing different about this study is that it doesn't single out any particular food. I've read studies before that claimed Asian women have a low incidence of breast cancer because they consume so much soy. But that didn't take into account all the vegetables they eat.
Just like there's no magic vitamin pill to cure cancer, heart disease and diabetes, so there's no single food that causes all these diseases. It's our way of life.
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer, my brother in Massachusetts sent me one of the most common-sense nutrition books I've ever read. And I've read many, because years ago I took on the responsibility of providing daily nutrition for my children and husband.
I always thought the USDA food pyramid was bad for you, with its foundation built on white bread, pasta and rice. How many of us still have that stupid image imprinted on our brains?
This book, "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy," by Walter C. Willett, M.D., chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, confirms my beliefs.
Willett is no kook. His "New Healthy Eating Pyramid" is based on hard evidence from longtime studies at Harvard and other institutions. He places white bread, pasta, rice and sweets at the tippy-top of his food pyramid, along with red meat and butter, with a note to "use sparingly."
In another reversal, where the USDA had fats and oils at the top (use sparingly) of its pyramid, Willett has plant oils (good fats) at the bottom, right next to whole grain foods (good carbs).
"Bad fats," like those found in red meat, dairy and trans fats, cause clogged arteries that lead to heart attacks and strokes. "Good fats," such as olive and other vegetable oils, whole grains and fish, are good for your heart.
"Bad carbs," such as white bread, pasta, potatoes and white rice, cause a "swift, high spike in blood sugar followed by an equally fast fall, which triggers frequent hunger pangs. "Good carbs," found in whole grains, vegetables and beans, have a "slow, steady effect" on blood sugar. The fiber and the fat found naturally in these foods are what make them good for you.
As for protein, there's plenty of ways to get that without eating red meat. Beans and nuts, fish, poultry and eggs all offer great sources of essential amino acids.
The foundation of Willett's healthy pyramid is formed by "daily exercise and weight control." The lower and more stable your weight, he writes, the less likely you are to have or die from a heart attack or stroke; of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes; of being diagnosed with many types of cancer.
The healthy pyramid also takes alcohol into account, recommending that those who drink do so in moderation. One drink a day for women and one to two for men (especially if it's red wine) cuts the chances of having a heart attack, heart disease or stroke by a third. Any more than that and you're at risk for problems like liver disease, some cancers, high blood pressure and more.
A good daily multivitamin can fill in the gaps of a healthy diet, writes Willett. The USDA offers no such advice.
Willett doesn't claim to have the only healthy pyramid. He says the Asian, Latin, Mediterranean and vegetarian pyramids are also healthy. But his is a broader guide that encompasses many cultures.
It's not easy in America to avoid its standard diet of bad carbs and fats. Even at the restaurants where I buy healthy lunches, the sandwiches are served on white bread, flatbread and pita.
That old USDA food pyramid, with its emphasis on carbohydrates of any ilk and denunciation of all fats, is still ingrained in many Americans. The new "MyPyramid" isn't much better. It recommends "at least 3 ounces" of whole grains daily. It says to look for the word "whole" on the package, but fails to warn you that the "whole" grain may not be the main ingredient in the bread.
The food industry, you see, wants you to think you're eating something "healthy" while giving you the same white-flour-and-sugar taste you're used to.
MyPyramid is also extremely confusing.
I wonder if the USDA is in cahoots with the food, medical and pharmaceutical industries, intentionally making us sick so we'll spend our hard-earned cash on health care and medications. (No, I haven't seen "Sicko.") As patriotic Americans, we gotta keep those sacred wheels of consumerism racing us toward our diseased destinies.
Um, no. Get a copy of "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy." Though it cites lots of studies, the writing is easy to read. It will make you really smart and informed.
Source: Rocktown Weekly