A fast food-based diet is also known as the 'Western diet'. It contains high amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and salt. As the name suggests, it is related to the Western world and busy lifestyle. One of its main features, despite the low cost, is its extremely intense taste. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that such strong flavors produce an addictive effect.
In addition to an unhealthy diet, lifestyle in this part of the world is increasingly becoming inactive and stationary. Lately, this lifestyle has spread like wildfire around the world, therefore naming it 'Western' becomes meaningless.
A typical example of this is China. China's economic growth is one of the largest in the world. That means accelerated urbanization and lifestyle. The rate of obesity in China has risen by more than 20% in just two decades, the number of cardiovascular diseases by 15%, and the number of related deaths has therefore doubled in the same period.
The list of negative effects of the 'Western' diet is constantly expanding!
A number of scientific studies have suggested various side effects of this lifestyle. In this article, we will look at a scientific study conducted at Macquarie University in Sidney, Australia. This study looked at the damage caused by a diet high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. One of the main conclusions of this study is that this diet can impair our cognitive abilities.
The researchers selected 110 students, aged 17-35, and divided them into 2 groups. The first group was a control, and the second passed through the experiment. All participants in the study were healthy and with normal weight.
The second group was put on a 'Western diet': they were asked to eat sandwiches, milkshakes, Belgian waffles, burgers, and other fast food. Members of the control group were asked to continue their balanced diet.
On a daily basis, members of both groups were given a memory test. The differences in results were visible after only 8 days: the group that consumed the 'Western diet' had significantly worse results. These conclusions were supported by a previous study conducted by the same University.
The researchers found that first-group respondents were more likely to suffer from hippocampal dysfunction. The hippocampus is an important part of the brain that helps control short-term memory and long-term memory. This is the part of the brain that suffers from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Do we have an alternative?
Fortunately, there are ways we can 'get back to normal'. In practice, it turns out that lifestyle change is quite difficult, but it's worth the sacrifice.
The value of that 'sacrifice' is nothing in comparison to consistent, unequivocal, and well-documented data that harmful effects of consuming foods with a high percentage of saturated fats, sugars and salt adversely affects human health.
There are alternatives
The healthiest diets include eating more fresh, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and healthy fats. Japanese and Mediterranean diets can be used as an example. The Mediterranean lifestyle is based on a diet containing seeds, legumes, whole grains, fresh foods, fish, seafood, and cold-pressed olive oil. Physical activity is also suggested.
The world is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of preventing chronic diseases
Healthy eating campaigns and a healthy lifestyle, in general, are increasingly part of the policies of countries around the world. This is necessary for the protection of people's health, having a healthy workforce, and avoiding the growing cost of health systems due to a growing number of people suffering from chronic diseases - usually directly caused by an improper lifestyle.
According to a study by the World Economic Forum, diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease, along with mental illness, can cost the global economy about $50 trillion, due to loss of productivity of workers and money spent on treatment by health systems.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this text is to stimulate critical health thinking. Medical information does not amount to advice and if advice is needed an appropriate professional help should be asked. No warranties or representations are given in respect of the medical information, and the website operator should not be held liable if a user suffers any injury or loss after relying upon the medical information.