by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News
Our national government’s attempts at issuing dietary guidelines are usually inappropriate and ludicrous. Unfortunately, those guidelines dictate what the average certified dietitian offers as sound dietary advice. If you’ve ever had to eat hospital food, you were the recipient of a dietitian’s control over the hospital’s kitchen.
Today there are virtual food fights over different dietary approaches. It seems the advocates of each diet want to create a following and promote how their particular approach to eating assures longevity and good health. But there is no one size fits all diet.
This isn’t about therapeutic diets for overcoming specific diseases, especially cancer. Rather, this commentary is about assigned bureaucrats effort to decree a day to day dietary intake for maintaining one’s health. A recent article decrying current national efforts at dictating dietary advice by journalist Nina Teicholz was recently published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).
Nina authored The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. Her book received accolades from literally hundreds of Amazon reviewers and some New York based magazines. Those responses struck this author as a carnivores’ chorus of affirmation with a prolonged amen.
Nina Teicholz Parses the Latest Institutional Attempts at Deciding What Everyone Should Eat
In her BMJ article published 23 September 2015, Nina states:
[The]dietary guidelines advisory committee—a group of 11-15 … [their] omissions seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice.
This is a valid concern as these guidelines are released every five years to create the underpinning of nutritional education for those hospital and other institutional dietitians, food labeling, public feeding programs that affect 25% of Americans, and research priorities at the National Institutes of Health.
Nina points out that the committee’s February 2015 report awaiting congressional review has been assaulted by 29,000 public comments compared to the 2010 report, which had only 2,000 comments.
The committee’s report sticks to the tried but untrue policy of minimizing saturated fat intake despite recent long term studies that support good health from diets high in saturated fats.
Of course, this increase of comments to the diet guideline committee may have more to do with the rising tide of public health consciousness, thanks to the internet and even TV programs like Dr. Oz.
This committee as well as earlier ones simply follow lockstep with the USDA’s 1980 determination of restricting saturated fats. She accuses this committee of ignoring dietary studies of the past five years that differ from the myth of saturated fat dangers.
Apparently this committee didn’t consider Sweden’s recent decision to officially depart from the saturated fat cardiovascular and obesity myth that has endured for over a half-century.
In her BMJ article, Nina also exposes various conflicts of interest among the committee deciding this year’s U.S. Dietary Guidelines:
A cursory investigation shows several such possible conflicts: one member has received research funding from the California Walnut Commission and the Tree Nut Council, as well as vegetable oil giants Bunge and Unilever. Another has received more than $10 000 (£6400; €8800) from Lluminari, which produces health related multimedia content for General Mills, PepsiCo, Stonyfield Farm, Newman’s Own, and “other companies.” And for the first time, the committee chair comes not from a university but from industry: Barbara Millen is president of Millennium Prevention, a company based in Westwood, MA, that sells web based platforms and mobile applications for self health monitoring. … [The] report recommends a high consumption of vegetable oils and nuts as well as use of self monitoring technologies in programs for weight management.
The No-Fat Diet Myth and Saturated Fat Mythology
Nina dismisses the low or no-fat diet myth that still has had and still does have many shuddering at the thought of eating butter, eggs, avocados, and coconut oil. Instead, processed food marketing magic has most opting for highly processed toxic carbohydrate foods, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and margarine.
They all contribute heavily to the most common physiological precursor to autoimmune and coronary disease – inflammation.
The saturated fat mythology of causing cardiovascular issues and obesity included demonizing coconut oil. During those missing five years of research that Nina mentioned there have been outstanding research and anecdotal reports on the merits of virgin coconut oil, which contain medium chain triglycerides that the liver converts to energy without storing fat.
But promoting meat without considering the effects of factory farmed livestock and its confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) is a sad mistake. Those animals are treated cruelly, force feed GMO corn and soy mush, injected with lots antibiotics to compensate for their filthy living conditions and make them fatter, and often injected with synthetic hormones for faster growth or increased milk production.
Most don’t care and don’t want to know about those hidden factors. Maybe that’s why there’s no advice for eating meats from free roaming grass fed livestock that are not injected with antibiotics or hormones as nature had intended.
Real Health Problems are Connected to Processed Foods, such as High Fructose Corn Syrup
Interestingly, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease went on the rise while saturated fats were demonized and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) replaced sucrose as sweeteners for many processed foods and beverages.
Current non-biased research pegs HFCS as a major contributor to metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes 2. That’s bad enough, but add the fact that HFCS is processed from GMO corn, and the process leaves toxic mercury residues.
Despite increasingly more health experts’ testimonies and studies regarding the dangers of HFCS, these committee recommendations that translate into dietary guidelines just include HFCS as part of sugar or sucrose.
HFCS is not metabolized by the liver the way sucrose sugar is, and that’s the essence of the problem. So we are stuck with yet another dietary guideline simplification that ignores a harsh reality.
HFCS ultimately produces a specific form of LDL lipoprotein, a heavy dense carrier of normally waxy cholesterol that damages arteries’ endothelium. This cholesterol “carrier” creates inflammation that most cholesterol attempts to patch.
Wrong Guidelines on Cholesterol and Salt
Instead, cholesterol’s innocent presence while attempting to patch arterial damage has fostered the illusion that cholesterol creates arterial damage and has been the medical mantra for several decades.
This illusion has been debunked by even some MD cardiologists who dare swim against the tide of dogmatic medical disinformation.
Another health issue that’s constantly “officially” recommended is lowering sodium intake by using less salt. Sodium balanced properly with potassium provides electrolytes to maintain bodily functions.
Most food research ignores distinguishing between healthy unprocessed sea salt and highly processed chemically bleached commercial table salt, which is ubiquitous in processed foods, restaurants, and private dwellings.
A few epidemiological surveys on people with high cholesterol readings or high blood pressure have demonstrated their longevity survival rates were as high or higher than those with lower cholesterol and normal blood pressure readings.
Conclusion: Dietary Advice Should Not be Determined by Political Committees
The whole issue of what we should eat or not eat shouldn’t be decided by committee to begin with. But if it debunks a half-century of lies that created a lucrative non-fat and low-fat series of processed foods to further the decline public health like the Swedish report did, great!
But how did that half-century of lies come about in the first place? We don’t need easily corporate influenced state sponsored government authorities to determine what we eat. It has led to massive confusion and misinformation. Especially when the FDA and USDA are corrupt to the core.
In addition to corruption, there is the age old human habit of maintaining the status quo of just about anything, especially when it comes to keeping reputations, jobs, careers, or financial interests. This habit of mindset agreement coalesces and is worsened within large institutions, making them woefully behind current knowledge.
There really is no standard diet for everyone. But there are certain processed and toxic food-like substances to avoid by everyone. Diet sodas, HFCS sweetened beverages and foods, and CAFO animal sources are examples. They are not really publicized enough because of industry concerns.
Some methods of blood testing help determine what’s best for different individuals. The 5,000 year old medical practice of Ayurveda helps determine what diet is right for individuals according to body types and basic psychological profiles.
Officially approved “standardized” food “science” for the masses is a mess. So it’s really up to us to individually take responsibility for our health and diets, taking seriously the old adage of food is our first medicine.