Poor diet is ranked as the number #1 risk factor responsible for more casualties in the world compared to any other risk factor, such as high blood pressure and smoking. 1
As a matter of fact, the traditional western diets synonymous with high fat, high salt, and lacking fiber or fruit are to be blamed for these alarming statistics 2. Almost a fifth of global deaths can be attributed to a poor eating diet – a driver for many chronic ailments.
An unhealthy diet may not only put you at risk of developing life-changing illnesses but may impact the length of each sleeping stage (sleep takes place in 5 stages – wake, N1, N2, N3 & REM). 3
Many studies 4 on the stereotypical Western diet have shown how it has significantly changed for half a century. But this change is not necessarily for the better, as it has led to increased metabolic illness worldwide.
Was our grandparent's diet healthier than ours?
There were no processed seed oils before the 20th century, and this only changed after the introduction of oils such as canola, corn, and soy oils began to hit the shelves. 6
With this new change in the diet, the average quantity of linoleic acid (the predominant n-6 PUFA) commonly found in the Western diet obtained from seed oils 7 doubled. To put that into perspective, in just 40 years, between 1938 and 1978, there was an increase in soy oil production in the US by 2900%!
While Omega-6 and Omega-3 are essential fatty acids, the latter is packed with anti-inflammatory characteristics.
Before seed oils, people used to cook using lard and butter 8, but experts believed that food high in fat would cause heart illness, and thus they encouraged people to avoid butter from their diet. 9
What are the effects of the Western Diet on your overall health?
It may lead to weight gain
Over the last century, there has been an increase in the consumption of fructose-rich corn syrups. The United States Department of Agriculture reported that the use of fructose-rich corn syrup surged by up 54X between the 1970s and 2000. 10
Regular use of corn syrup may lead to several metabolic disorders, obesity, and disrupting dopamine hormones. 11
Your blood pressure may rise
The combination of unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar in a typical Western diet may lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for several cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart failure. According to studies, it affects 47 percent of US adults. 12
If you want a quality night's sleep every day, you should include vegetables and fruits in your diet. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol may also help improve your sleep.