The Western Diet Today and Heart Disease

By Hans Diehl, M.D.

Americans grow more than 8 billion bushels of corn annually.  Less than 1% of this crop is sweet corn, the kind we eat as a vegetable.  The other 99+% is used for animal feed, soft drinks (corn syrup), gasoline additives, and paper.

Americans are spending 40 percent of their food dollars eating out. Our food is processed, refined, concentrated, sugared, salted, and chemically engineered to produce taste sensations high in calories and low in nutrients. Our cattle are fattened in feedlots without exercise and with antibiotics and growth enhancers. The result: bigger cattle producing juicier steaks containing nearly twice as much fat as range-fed cattle. And we are paying dearly for these advancements. While we eat to live, what we eat is killing us. Yes, the western diet of today is killing us!

Are You Saying That Food Can Cause Disease?

The statistics are pretty convincing. In 1900, less than 10% of Americans died from heart disease. And much of that was not from coronary heart disease, but from rheumatic heart disease. Today, close to 40% die from coronary heart disease. Back then, less than 6% died of cancer, while today the figure is exceeding 25%.

This isn't nature's way. We weren't meant to die in such numbers from heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and from cancer of the lungs, breast, prostate, and colon. Significant heart disease only began to emerge in America after World War I. It escalated and became rampant after World War II, when people could afford diets rich in animal products and when the food industry began producing highly processed foods crammed with calories and emptied of nutrition.

Could This Be Coincidental?

Hardly. This heart disease problem is unique to Westernized people. Rural populations in China and Southeast Asia who have little access to rich foods experience few heart attacks. Similarly, most people in rural Africa and South and Central America not on a Western diet have little fear of diabetes and heart disease. Yet in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and the affluent countries in Europe and Asia, where Western diets are rich in fat and cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes are epidemic. The epidemic proportions are the result of the Western diet, especially when augmented with cigarettes, sedentary living, and stress.

Villains of the Western diet, like low fiber, high fat, and cholesterol, take their toll by damaging the body's vital oxygen-carrying arteries and by upsetting important metabolic functions. Because of thickened, narrowed and hardened arteries, 4,000 Americans succumb to heart disease and have heart attacks every day. Every third adult has high blood pressure, and thousands are crippled from strokes. Because of disordered metabolisms from unbalanced lifestyles, obesity is epidemic, and a new diabetic is diagnosed every 50 seconds.

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