As you think about your health in the New Year, doctors say limit the amount of unhealthy fatty foods you eat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading killer of men and women. However, for decades health research has focused primarily on men. The Medical college of Georgia’s Dr. Jennifer Sullivan is dedicated to changing the amount of research with women as the primary focus.
“I’m a woman. I have a mother. I have daughters,” Dr. Sullivan says with a smile after she points out her commitment to women’s health. Dr. Sullivan is a pharmacologist and physiologist at MCG.
Dr. Sullivan says historically the term “women’s health” mainly referred to the female reproductive system and nothing else because for decades research has been primarily focused on men.
“We’re studying men, and women are just scaled sizes so we’re learning something of them. It will be fine” she says alluding to the past mindset. “We realized, they are not the same and we now have this complete dearth of information about half of the population in the world. Our medicines that we’re using to treat people are less effective in women… all of a sudden it was like oh my goodness, we’ve done a huge disservice and now we’re playing catch up.”
Now they are better caught up on the effect of a high fat diet. In a recent study, they found fatty foods are bad for blood pressure in both men and women, even if they are young.
“That’s unique in the young animal,” Dr. Sullivan explains. “Typically you would see greater increases in blood pressure in the male than you do in the female. The fact that you see the equivalent increase, kind of that protection that we’ve always thought of young women having, they don’t have when they’re on a high fat diet.”
The next step is to figure out the “why?” They want to learn what happens to the body to cause young women lose the protection from high blood pressure when they eat lots of fat.
“The practical part is, we are eating these foods. They’re not going away,” Dr. Sullivan emphasizes. “I’m looking at from a more practical standpoint of—ok, people are eating these foods. Let’s understand what these types of diets are doing to our bodies how are they affecting our health.”
The more they understand the better doctors are able to treat. Dr. Sullivan says their findings highlight the importance of understanding what you eat because we may be underestimating how bad a consistently high-fat diet is for our bodies.
The CDC says 1 in 3 adults struggle with high blood pressure.