For years and years, people have been told that is it necessary to eat certain foods in order to live longer and be healthy. Individuals are fed the idea that if they do not eat healthy they will suffer a substantial amount of detrimental negative consequences that will impact them long term, and largely contribute to morbidity and mortality in [countries like] the United States (Mosher, et al. 23).
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Many people claim that eating healthy is very important. People are told what they should consume on a daily basis and the benefits to it. But in reality, this is not the case. It does not guarantee anything and the foods that are considered healthy constantly change and so does the research behind it. Healthy eating is completely subjective.
Dairy is considered to be an integral and essential part of one’s diet. According to the American Food Guide Pyramid, developed by the USDA, Americans [are] encouraged to consume foods from each of several major food groups”grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat or meat alternatives (Dixon, et al. 461). Dairy has been advertised in several commercials and is known as a reliable source for Calcium. Ironically, recent research shows the opposite and is not discussed in the media. Many researchers are finding that during the last couple of years, increasing body of evidence are indicating another property of hormones in dairy products as possible impact on human health including the role of some estrogens and insulin-like growth factor-1 in initiation and provoking of breast, prostate and endometrial tumours (Malekinejad and Rezabakhsh, 742). Previously, this information was unknown and milk products [were considered] good sources of calcium (Tu, et al. 1).
Vegetables and fruits are considered to be a staple in a healthy individual’s diet. They have been shown to have high concentrations of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, especially electrolytes; and more recently phytochemicals, especially antioxidants (Pem and Jeewon 1309) Unfortunately, these benefits are outweighed by the cons, as majority of these products are sprayed with pesticides and have gmos. This impacts [the] food quality and nutrient composition (Qaim and Kouser, 2013) that this food group has. Not only that, but studies on the correlation between pesticides and diseases have shown potential health risks, including birth defects, hearing loss, cancer, and infertility, in addition to symptoms related to acute intoxication, such as weakness, vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and nosebleed, among others (Gerage, et al. 1). Overtime, people have begun to become aware of this and expressed their concerns. Companies have started to market and advertise organic products, which do not include pesticides and gmos. These products are the minority of the groceries stores across America. Organic products are expensive and can be considered to be unaffordable for a large percentage of the population. Even if consumers buy organic products to be healthy, if they consume dairy products, they will have to deal with the risks of that group. It is simply not worth spending more money if the individual will still be at risk for other health issues.
Buckwheat, Quinoa, and Bread are three common foods that are a part of the Grain food group that Americans consume on a daily basis. Recently, the side effects of consuming gluten (which is in grain products) have become well known. This has contributed to the rise of the market for gluten-free products, [which grew] at an annual rate of 28% from 2004 to 2011 with an estimated $2.6 billion in sales in 2012 (Jones, 118). People began to become more educated about this, and in 2013, [studies] found that 65% of American adults think gluten-free foods are healthier (Jones, 118). Yet some researchers disagree and say that grain products are actually beneficial, explaining that [those who are] consuming diets high in dietary fiber [which are in grain products] have a lower incidence of chronic diseases compared to populations that consume diets lower in dietary fiber, (Capuano, 1)which minimizing the concern for gluten. So it is up to the consumer to make the choice and form their opinion on whether or not they should consume grain produce and what sources they decided to trust. Even though this shows conflicting research and has become well known across the country, the USDA still recommends individuals to consume grain produce.
Research has shown that high consumption of red meat and processed meat may increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers (Larsson and Orsini 282) amongst individuals. Yet, the American population is directed to consume these products due to the fact that it provides a rich source of high biological value protein (Wyness 227). Other researchers tell people to just avoid red meat and that will solve the problem. It becomes a issue of which researchers to trust and believe. Some say avoiding all meat and becoming vegetarian is the solution as there as alternative ways to find protein, and the diet can easily meet human dietary protein requirements (Marsh, et al. 7) without the need to consume animals, while others saying all meat is healthy and to continue consuming it without worries. But then another issue comes up about whether or not the protein is equivalent to the amount in meat, which researchers also have conflicting opinions about.
Superfoods are considered the epitome of all healthy foods. Chia seeds are popular amongst Americans. The USDA does not include these as necessary produce to consume. Even though this produce may have beneficial ingredients, its high content of nutrients are not necessary for consumption and cannot guarantee improvement on one’s health, as literature reviews and controlled trials in humans have not shown a specific benefit of chia seeds on cardiovascular risk factors including body weight, blood pressure, lipid levels, blood sugar, and inflammation (Harvard University, 1). Yet, several media outlets claim otherwise. People still consume this product and pay large amounts of money on it as they believe it will vastly improve their health, even though research shows it does not make a significant difference.
Unconventional diets that are not recommended by USDA standards, have several benefits for peoples’ health. Many argue that consuming large quantities of sugar contributing to diabetes and other diseases, but studies show that is not the case. Evidence has been shown that it is Obesity [that] is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes (Barnes, 142) and Excess weight [that] increases risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, (Barnes, 142) not sugar directly. Individuals can become overweight by eating a significant amount of calories. It does not matter what kind of food is consumed, whether its chocolate bars or chicken, it is actually due to the calorie surplus that one may gain weight from, which increases the risk for obtaining these diseases. Coffee is also known as an unhealthy beverage due to its high caffeine levels. People say that it makes them anxious and increases their blood pressure and heart rate. This depends on the individual and the amount they consume. Coffee has been shown to help people have enhanced mood and alertness, improved exercise performance, improved ability to remain awake and mentally alert after fatigue, and [have] heightened awareness and attention (Gareth and Smith, 1236). It is not a concern when it is consumed in moderation it appears that there are no serious adverse health effects associated with its use by adults or children (Gareth and Smith, 1236). It is dependant on one’s self control. Only those who are highly sensitive to [caffeine] should not consume more than 400 mg/d, in order to avoid headaches, drowsiness, anxiety, and nausea (Gareth and Smith, 1236). Some people have allergies to foods that are considered healthy according to the USDA, so they cannot consume those products as they would also produce negative side effects. Even though red meat could provide an individual with the aquadent amount of protein, if they were severely allergic to it, in the worst case scenario, it could cause them to die.
Everyone has different opinions on what is considered healthy and what is not. There are pros and cons to every type of food, and the research behind them is constantly evolving. What was considered healthy one year, was later discovered to have negative side effects the next year. There will always be conflicting research about health. Eating a specific way or following USDA food guide lines does not necessarily mean that one will live a longer life without any health issues. Regardless of how someone chooses to eat, there will always be risk factors. Every type of food has had some kind of research that shows that it has positive benefits along with negative ones. The research and opinions behind healthy eating will continue to provide people with information that has not been discovered yet and further the discussion of what people should be consuming. Individuals will have to continue to make their own decisions and choices on what they should be putting into their body and understanding how it affects them.
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