If you eat a lot of salty snacks, sweet treats, and red meat, then there’s a chance your personal menu is made up of a Western-style diet. Also featuring a fair share of refined and processed foods, per the American Journal of Physiology, this particular diet lacks an adequate amount of healthier options like vegetables and legumes. So while it may not come as a surprise, it is extremely important to know that a Western-style diet can be hazardous to your health.
Linked to an increased risk of dementia and chronic pain, a Western-style diet has also been associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, according to “Effects of Lifestyle on Men’s Health” via ScienceDirect. Beyond that, it may also be the worst diet for preventing colorectal cancer.
In a study that was recently published by Gastroenterology, researchers took a look at information from 134,775 participants of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study, and found 1,175 incidents of colorectal cancer tumors. Those behind the study also found higher levels of polyketide synthase (pks+) Escherichia coli in tumors of those who relied on Western-style diets.
“Our study supports a hypothesis that Western-style diet can cause colorectal cancer via this bacteria,” study investigator Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, told Medscape Medical News.
“It’s not surprising to note a change in gut microbiome noted in those with colorectal cancer. There’s a lot of developing research linking gut dysbiosis, or an imbalance of beneficial and harmful gut bacteria, with different diseases from eczema to depression,” Paulina Lee, MSHS, RD, LD, functional dietitian and founder of Savvy Stummy, LLC, tells Eat This, Not That! “This new research continues to support the concept that an unhealthy gut microbiome and poor diet can lead to chronic disease states.”
“Western diets are typically high in overly processed foods and refined carbohydrates, which can lead to inflammation,” Lee says while pointing out that, “Western diets also lack fiber due to limited intake of fruits and veggies.” While foods that are high in fiber “‘brush’ or ‘clean’ intestinal lining cells,” low-fiber foods “don’t provide as much maintenance and cleaning action.”
Beyond that, Lee notes that “Western diets often lack a variety of foods,” which can be an issue due to the fact that “eating a larger variety of fiber-containing foods contributes to short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) production, another growth stimulator to the intestinal lining.” Lee explains that “SCFAs supply fuel from the cells that line the colon, and stimulate enzymes that assist in digestion,” while “eating a quality diet feeds the bacteria that make SCFAs, which in turn feed intestinal lining cells.” Finally, Lee says that “a variety of foods also help feed a variety of gut bacteria which may help prevent gut dysbiosis by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.”
To find out more about how what you consume can increase your risk of disease, be sure to read The #1 Worst Drink for Colorectal Cancer, New Study Suggestions.
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more