April 8, 2017

Note: this post has been updated in December 2020

The Average American Does Not get enough Nutrients

What is the good, the bad, and the ugly of the American diet? Are you wondering if you get enough nutrients in your diet? If you tend to go along and eat whatever your friends are eating, then you probably don’t. Check out this recent study on American diets and consider if any small changes in your eating habits could make a big difference in your health! Good nutrition means getting the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations to the body. Here is a rundown on the good, the bad, and the ugly of American diets:

We already know Americans have trouble keeping their diets in check, but a new study pinpoints another problem in the way we eat: Most U.S. adults don’t meet their recommended daily levels of 10 essential nutrients. The study, completed at the University of Illinois, also discovered that Americans with disabilities especially lacked these nutrients. The researchers found that many American adults fell short of consuming enough vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. In addition, Americans have a tendency to eat far more saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium than is normal or recommended. In the study, researchers used self-reported food and supplement data from 11,811 adults, 4,200 of whom were disabled. They used information from the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. “We conducted statistical analyses to compare people with and without disabilities in terms of nutrient intake,” Ruopeng An, a kinesiology and community health professor at the University of Illinois, said in the press release. “We found that American people consume much lower amounts of nutrients than are recommended. For example, only 11.3 percent of people meet the daily recommended intake of fiber. Only 4.7 percent of adults consume recommended amounts of potassium.”
– via Medical Daily

We eat too much sugar

Sugar is one of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the American diet. Most of us like sugar too much.

Do you get too much sugar weekly? Most Americans are taking in too much sugar if they follow the typical American diet. Consider these guidelines for moderating your sugar, and watch out for the chilling outcomes of overeating sugar for years on end.

The Good the Bad the Ugly

A teaspoon of sugar in your coffee or a half cup of ice cream won't kill you — all things in moderation — but the average sugar intake in the U.S. is 22 teaspoons per person per day. That's almost four times as much as the World Health Organization's new guidelines suggest is healthy.

Two major results of eating too much sugar

Insatiable Hunger

Leptin is a hormone that lets your body know when you've had enough to eat. In people who develop leptin resistance, this "I'm full" signal is never received, presenting a major obstacle for weight control. Some studies have raised the possibility that leptin resistance may be a side effect of obesity, not a contributing cause. But research in rats suggests that overconsumption of fructose can directly lead to higher-than-normal levels of leptin, which can reduce your body's sensitivity to the hormone. Removing fructose from the rats' diets generally reversed those effects. "Our data indicate that chronic fructose consumption induces leptin resistance prior to body weight ... increases, and this fructose-induced leptin resistance accelerates high-fat induced obesity," concluded one 2008 study in rats. Still, more research is needed to test whether these effects hold true in humans as well. - via Business Insider

Weight gain

Other than adopting a completely sedentary lifestyle, there are few routes to packing on the pounds that work as swiftly and assuredly as making large amounts of added sugars a staple of your daily diet. Sugary foods are full of calories but will do little to satiate your hunger. A 2013 review of 68 different studies found "consistent evidence that increasing or decreasing intake of dietary sugars from current levels of intake is associated with corresponding changes in body weight in adults." Want to lose weight? Cutting your sugar intake is a good place to start. - via Business Insider

Eating Out or Eating at Home

Another problem with the good, bad, and ugly American diet is eating out. One of the significant concerns for us all is when spring and summer roll around, we may consider eating out more often. We generally eat pretty healthily at home, but it can be a bit trickier when eating out. I know that from experience as it is difficult for me to find places to eat when we travel.

A great article that makes a case for eating at home is linked here, and I think it is right on because we can control what we put into the food and be sure that we eat healthily!

While many restaurants and fast food outlets offer us convincing marketing statements that they offer healthy and nutritional food, studies frequently find that this isn’t the case. The sugar and sodium content of most processed foods cause them to be serious threats to our health. These are also the same qualities which allow these foods to become addictive. It’s not just fast food, either. The restaurant industry encourages overconsumption and indulgence in foods that we know to be unhealthy for our bodies. Nor is restaurant food as healthy for us as what we would make at home. At the same time, the cost of eating out puts a large strain on many of our food budgets. Cooking at home is the best choice for having a consistently healthy, budget-friendly diet. Many find it to be a rewarding exercise, whether you’re cooking alone or with your loved ones. Eating at Home vs. Eating Out

Now is the time to Act

Science confirms that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods can help you live to the fullest and still get adequate protein. A growing number of physicians advocate an entirely plant-based diet for many of their patients who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. See foods that can save your life.

Check out these great sources:

Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E (Idiot’s Guides),

Nutrition Facts: The Truth About Food and

The Forks Over Knives Plan

 Forks over Knifes, a simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

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