Artificial Sweeteners, Gut Health, and Obesity Posted on April 22, 2018
Artificial Sweeteners, Gut Health, and Obesity Posted on April 22, 2018, 0 Comments
The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium affects the gut microbiome and body weight gain in CD-1 mice
Artificial sweeteners have been widely used in the modern diet, and their observed effects on human health have been inconsistent, with both beneficial and adverse outcomes reported. Obesity and type 2 diabetes have dramatically increased in the U.S. and other countries over the last two decades. Numerous studies have indicated an important role of the gut microbiome in body weight control and glucose metabolism and regulation. Interestingly, the artificial sweetener saccharin could alter gut microbiota and induce glucose intolerance, raising questions about the contribution of artificial sweeteners to the global epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Acesulfame-potassium (Ace-K), a FDA-approved artificial sweetener, is commonly used, but its toxicity data reported to date are considered inadequate. In particular, the functional impact of Ace-K on the gut microbiome is largely unknown. In this study, we explored the effects of Ace-K on the gut microbiome and the changes in fecal metabolic profiles using 16S rRNA sequencing and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) metabolomics. We found that Ace-K consumption perturbed the gut microbiome of CD-1 mice after a 4-week treatment. The observed body weight gain, shifts in the gut bacterial community composition, enrichment of functional bacterial genes related to energy metabolism, and fecal metabolomic changes were highly gender-specific, with differential effects observed for males and females. In particular, ace-K increased body weight gain of male but not female mice. Collectively, our results may provide a novel understanding of the interaction between artificial sweeteners and the gut microbiome, as well as the potential role of this interaction in the development of obesity and the associated chronic inflammation.
Original Source found here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0178426
Counting Calories? Posted on September 01, 2015, 0 Comments
What are your thoughts on calorie counting? I've always been against it and understand a 'calorie doesn't equal a calorie' ideology from Paul Chek. Though all I ever see nutritionists go on about for weight loss is to ensure you are on a calorie deficit. Again which I've always taught has many more hormonal problems long term. Interested in your thoughts on the whole matter even tho the question is rather vague. Thanks.
I speak more about this in my latest book (http://triumphtraining.com/collections/books/products/spot-on-nutrition), but I think it's a slippery slope. Most foods worth eating don't have a label. And the USDA allows for a 20% margin of error in both calories and nutrition in a food. So while I think it can prove insightful when people track what and how much they actually consume in the short term, it's not like the human digestive system is the same as a combustion engine. As I say in my book, "the impact a given amount of food has on a person's physiology is predicated less on the total calories in that food and more on the total of what that person has done to themselves via nutrition and lifestyle choices." My experience has shown that many people don't eat enough. But since they're so metabolically damaged for the reasons mentioned in my book and otherwise, their scales and their health both move in the wrong direction.
How Aspartame got "approved" Posted on July 05, 2015, 0 Comments
In Defense of Red Meat Posted on June 23, 2015, 0 Comments
How Americans Got Red Meat Wrong by NinaTeicholz
The idea that red meat is a principal dietary culprit has pervaded our national conversation for decades. We have been led to believe that we’ve strayed from a more perfect, less meat-filled past. Most prominently, when Senator McGovern announced his Senate committee’s report, called Dietary Goals, at a press conference in 1977, he expressed a gloomy outlook about where the American diet was heading.
“Our diets have changed radically within the past 50 years,” he explained, “with great and often harmful effects on our health.” These were the “killer diseases,” said McGovern. The solution, he declared, was for Americans to return to the healthier, plant-based diet they once ate.
The justification for this idea, that our ancestors lived mainly on fruits, vegetables, and grains, comes mainly from the USDA “food disappearance data.” The “disappearance” of food is an approximation of supply; most of it is probably being eaten, but much is wasted, too. Experts therefore acknowledge that the disappearance numbers are merely rough estimates of consumption.
The data from the early 1900s, which is what McGovern and others used, are known to be especially poor. Among other things, these data accounted only for the meat, dairy, and other fresh foods shipped across state lines in those early years, so anything produced and eaten locally, such as meat from a cow or eggs from chickens, would not have been included.
And since farmers made up more than a quarter of all workers during these years, local foods must have amounted to quite a lot. Experts agree that this early availability data are not adequate for serious use, yet they cite the numbers anyway, because no other data are available. And for the years before 1900, there are no “scientific” data at all.
In the absence of scientific data, history can provide a picture of food consumption in the late-18th- to 19th-century in America.
Early Americans settlers were “indifferent” farmers, according to many accounts. They were fairly lazy in their efforts at both animal husbandry and agriculture, with “the grain fields, the meadows, the forests, the cattle, etc, treated with equal carelessness,” as one 18th-century Swedish visitor described—and there was little point in farming since meat was so readily available.
Settlers recorded the extraordinary abundance of wild turkeys, ducks, grouse, pheasant, and more. Migrating flocks of birds would darken the skies for days. The tasty Eskimo curlew was apparently so fat that it would burst upon falling to the earth, covering the ground with a sort of fatty meat paste. (New Englanders called this now-extinct species the “doughbird.”)
In the woods, there were bears (prized for their fat), raccoons, bobolinks, opossums, hares, and virtual thickets of deer—so much that the colonists didn’t even bother hunting elk, moose, or bison, since hauling and conserving so much meat was considered too great an effort. A European traveler describing his visit to a Southern plantation noted that the food included beef, veal, mutton, venison, turkeys, and geese, but he does not mention a single vegetable.
Infants were fed beef even before their teeth had grown in. The English novelist Anthony Trollope reported, during a trip to the United States in 1861, that Americans ate twice as much beef as did Englishmen. Charles Dickens, when he visited, wrote that “no breakfast was breakfast” without a T-bone steak. Apparently, starting a day on puffed wheat and low-fat milk—our “Breakfast of Champions!”—would not have been considered adequate even for a servant.
Indeed, for the first 250 years of American history, even the poor in the United States could afford meat or fish for every meal. The fact that the workers had so much access to meat was precisely why observers regarded the diet of the New World to be superior to that of the Old.
“I hold a family to be in a desperate way when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel,” says a frontier housewife in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Chainbearer.
In the book Putting Meat on the American Table, researcher Roger Horowitz scours the literature for data on how much meat Americans actually ate. A survey of 8,000 urban Americans in 1909 showed that the poorest among them ate 136 pounds a year, and the wealthiest more than 200 pounds.
A food budget published in the New York Tribune in 1851 allots two pounds of meat per day for a family of five. Even slaves at the turn of the 18th century were allocated an average of 150 pounds of meat a year. As Horowitz concludes, “These sources do give us some confidence in suggesting an average annual consumption of 150–200 pounds of meat per person in the nineteenth century.”
About 175 pounds of meat per person per year—compared to the roughly 100 pounds of meat per year that an average adult American eats today. And of that 100 pounds of meat, about half is poultry—chicken and turkey—whereas until the mid-20th century, chicken was considered a luxury meat, on the menu only for special occasions (chickens were valued mainly for their eggs).
Yet this drop in red meat consumption is the exact opposite of the picture we get from public authorities. A recent USDA report says that our consumption of meat is at a “record high,” and this impression is repeated in the media.
It implies that our health problems are associated with this rise in meat consumption, but these analyses are misleading because they lump together red meat and chicken into one category to show the growth of meat eating overall, when it’s just the chicken consumption that has gone up astronomically since the 1970s. The wider-lens picture is clearly that we eat far less red meat today than did our forefathers.
Roger Horowitz, Putting Meat On the American Table (Baltimore, MD: John's Hopkins University Press, 2000): 11 - 17; Adapted from Carrie R. Daniel et al., "Trends In Meat Consumption in the USA".
Meanwhile, also contrary to our common impression, early Americans appeared to eat few vegetables. Leafy greens had short growing seasons and were ultimately considered not worth the effort. And before large supermarket chains started importing kiwis from Australia and avocados from Israel, a regular supply of fruits and vegetables could hardly have been possible in America outside the growing season. Even in the warmer months, fruit and salad were avoided, for fear of cholera. (Only with the Civil War did the canning industry flourish, and then only for a handful of vegetables, the most common of which were sweet corn, tomatoes, and peas.)
So it would be “incorrect to describe Americans as great eaters of either [fruits or vegetables],” wrote the historians Waverly Root and Richard de Rochemont. Although a vegetarian movement did establish itself in the United States by 1870, the general mistrust of these fresh foods, which spoiled so easily and could carry disease, did not dissipate until after World War I, with the advent of the home refrigerator. By these accounts, for the first 250 years of American history, the entire nation would have earned a failing grade according to our modern mainstream nutritional advice.
During all this time, however, heart disease was almost certainly rare. Reliable data from death certificates is not available, but other sources of information make a persuasive case against the widespread appearance of the disease before the early 1920s.
Austin Flint, the most authoritative expert on heart disease in the United States, scoured the country for reports of heart abnormalities in the mid-1800s, yet reported that he had seen very few cases, despite running a busy practice in New York City. Nor did William Osler, one of the founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, report any cases of heart disease during the 1870s and eighties when working at Montreal General Hospital.
The first clinical description of coronary thrombosis came in 1912, and an authoritative textbook in 1915, Diseases of the Arteries including Angina Pectoris, makes no mention at all of coronary thrombosis. On the eve of World War I, the young Paul Dudley White, who later became President Eisenhower’s doctor, wrote that of his 700 male patients at Massachusetts General Hospital, only four reported chest pain, “even though there were plenty of them over 60 years of age then.”
About one fifth of the U.S. population was over 50 years old in 1900. This number would seem to refute the familiar argument that people formerly didn’t live long enough for heart disease to emerge as an observable problem. Simply put, there were some 10 million Americans of a prime age for having a heart attack at the turn of the 20th century, but heart attacks appeared not to have been a common problem.
Ironically—or perhaps tellingly—the heart disease “epidemic” began after a period of exceptionally reduced meat eating. The publication of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s fictionalized exposé of the meatpacking industry, caused meat sales in the United States to fall by half in 1906, and they did not revive for another 20 years.
In other words, meat eating went down just before coronary disease took off. Fat intake did rise during those years, from 1909 to 1961, when heart attacks surged, but this 12 percent increase in fat consumption was not due to a rise in animal fat. It was instead owing to an increase in the supply of vegetable oils, which had recently been invented.
Nevertheless, the idea that Americans once ate little meat and “mostly plants”—espoused by McGovern and a multitude of experts—continues to endure. And Americans have for decades now been instructed to go back to this earlier, “healthier” diet that seems, upon examination, never to have existed.
Original source found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/how-americans-used-to-eat/371895/
BPA Free Has a Significant Health Cost Posted on June 19, 2015, 0 Comments
A new study suggests the long-held industry assumption that bisphenol-A breaks down safely in the human body is incorrect. Instead, researchers say, the body transforms the ubiquitous chemical additive into a compound that might spur obesity.
The study is the first to find that people’s bodies metabolize bisphenol-A (BPA) — a chemical found in most people and used in polycarbonate plastic, food cans and paper receipts — into something that impacts our cells and may make us fat.
The research, from Health Canada, challenges an untested assumption that our liver metabolizes BPA into a form that doesn’t impact our health.
“This shows we can’t just say things like ‘because it’s a metabolite, it means it’s not active’,” said Laura Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved in the study. “You have to do a study.”
People are exposed to BPA throughout the day, mostly through diet, as it can leach from canned goods and plastic storage containers into food, but also through dust and water.
Within about 6 hours of exposure, our liver metabolizes about half the concentration. Most of that — about 80 to 90 percent — is converted into a metabolite called BPA-Glucuronide, which is eventually excreted.
The Health Canada researchers treated both mouse and human cells with BPA-Glucuronide. The treated cells had a “significant increase in lipid accumulation,” according to the study results. BPA-Glucuronide is “not an inactive metabolite as previously believed but is in fact biologically active,” the Health Canada authors wrote in the study published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Not all cells will accumulate lipids, said Thomas Zoeller, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor who was not involved in the study. Testing whether or not cells accumulate lipids is “a very simple way of demonstrating that cells are becoming fat cells,” he said.
“Hopefully this [study] stops us from making assumptions about endocrine disrupting chemicals in general,” he said.
The liver is our body's filter, but it doesn't always neutralize harmful compounds. “Metabolism’s purpose isn’t necessarily a cleaning process. The liver just takes nasty things and turns them into a form we can get out of our body,” Vandenberg said.
BPA already has been linked to obesity in both human and animal studies. The associations are especially prevalent for children exposed while they’re developing.
Researchers believe BPA does so by mimicking estrogen hormones, but its metabolite doesn’t appear to do so. In figuring out why metabolized BPA appears to spur fat cells, Zoeller said, it’s possible that BPA-Glucuronide is “hitting certain receptors in cells”.
Health Canada researchers were only looking at this one possible health outcome. “There could be other [health] impacts,” Zoeller said.
Industry representatives, however, argue the doses used were much higher than what would be found in people.
Steve Hentges, a spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers, said the concentrations used in which the researchers saw increased fat cells were "thousands of times higher than the concentrations of BPA-Glucuronide that could be present in human blood from consumer exposure to BPA.
"There were no statistically significant observations at lower BPA-G concentrations, all of which are higher than human blood concentrations,” he said in the emailed response.
Zoeller agreed the dose was high but said “the concentration is much less important than the fact that here is a group testing an assumption that’s uniformly been made.” Vandenberg said the range is not that far off from what has been found in some people’s blood.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the Health Canada study but couldn’t comment before Environmental Health News’ deadline, said spokesperson Marianna Naum in an email.
The agency continues to study BPA and states on its website that federal research models “showed that BPA is rapidly metabolized and eliminated through feces and urine.”
Health Canada, which was not able to provide interviews for this article, has maintained a similar stance to the U.S. FDA, stating on its website that it “has concluded that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants.”
However, the fact that Health Canada even conducted such a study is a big deal, Vandenberg said.
“Health Canada is a regulatory body and this is pretty forward thinking science,” she said. “Hopefully this is a bell that can ring for scientists working for other regulatory agencies.”
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.
High-salt prevents weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet Posted on June 14, 2015, 0 Comments
Summary: In a study that seems to defy conventional dietary wisdom, scientists have found that adding high salt to a high-fat diet actually prevents weight gain in mice. The findings highlight the profound effect non-caloric dietary nutrients can have on energy balance and weight gain, and suggest that public health efforts to continue lowering sodium intake may have unexpected and unintended consequences.
In a study that seems to defy conventional dietary wisdom, University of Iowa scientists have found that adding high salt to a high-fat diet actually prevents weight gain in mice.
As exciting as this may sound to fast food lovers, the researchers caution that very high levels of dietary salt are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease in humans. Rather than suggest that a high salt diet is suddenly a good thing, the researchers say these findings really point to the profound effect non-caloric dietary nutrients can have on energy balance and weight gain.
"People focus on how much fat or sugar is in the food they eat, but [in our experiments] something that has nothing to do with caloric content -- sodium -- has an even bigger effect on weight gain," say Justin Grobe, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology at the UI Carver College of Medicine and co-senior author of the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports on June 11.
The UI team started the study with the hypothesis that fat and salt, both being tasty to humans, would act together to increase food consumption and promote weight gain. They tested the idea by feeding groups of mice different diets: normal chow or high-fat chow with varying levels of salt (0.25 to 4 percent). To their surprise, the mice on the high-fat diet with the lowest salt gained the most weight, about 15 grams over 16 weeks, while animals on the high-fat, highest salt diet had low weight gain that was similar to the chow-fed mice, about 5 grams.
"We found out that our 'french fry' hypothesis was perfectly wrong," says Grobe, who also is a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI and a Fellow of the American Heart Association. "The findings also suggest that public health efforts to continue lowering sodium intake may have unexpected and unintended consequences."
To investigate why the high salt prevented weight gain, the researchers examined four key factors that influence energy balance in animals. On the energy input side, they ruled out changes in feeding behavior -- all the mice ate the same amount of calories regardless of the salt content in their diet. On the energy output side, there was no difference in resting metabolism or physical activity between the mice on different diets. In contrast, varying levels of salt had a significant effect on digestive efficiency -- the amount of fat from the diet that is absorbed by the body.
"Our study shows that not all calories are created equal," says Michael Lutter, MD, PhD, co-senior study author and UI assistant professor of psychiatry. "Our findings, in conjunction with other studies, are showing that there is a wide range of dietary efficiency, or absorption of calories, in the populations, and that may contribute to resistance or sensitivity to weight gain."
"This suppression of weight gain with increased sodium was due entirely to a reduced efficiency of the digestive tract to extract calories from the food that was consumed," explains Grobe.
It's possible that this finding explains the well-known digestive ill effects of certain fast foods that are high in both fat and salt, he adds.
Through his research on hypertension, Grobe knew that salt levels affect the activity of an enzyme called renin, which is a component in the renin- angiotensin system, a hormone system commonly targeted clinically to treat various cardiovascular diseases. The new study shows that angiotensin mediates the control of digestive efficiency by dietary sodium.
The clinical usefulness of reducing digestive efficiency for treating obesity has been proven by the drug orlistat, which is sold over-the-counter as Alli. The discovery that modulating the renin-angiotensin system also reduces digestive efficiency may lead to the developments of new anti-obesity treatments.
Lutter, who also is an eating disorders specialist with UI Health Care, notes that another big implication of the findings is that we are just starting to understand complex interactions between nutrients and how they affect calorie absorption, and it is important for scientists investigating the health effects of diet to analyze diets that are more complex than those currently used in animal experiments and more accurately reflect normal eating behavior.
"Most importantly, these findings support continued and nuanced discussions of public policies regarding dietary nutrient recommendations," Grobe adds.
In addition to Grobe and Lutter, the UI research team included Benjamin Weidemann; Susan Voong; Fabiola Morales-Santiago; Michael Kahn; Jonathan Ni; Nicole Littlejohn; Kristin Claflin; Colin Burnett; and Nicole Pearson. The study was funded in part by grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association.
Original source found here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611114419.htm
Original study found here: http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150611/srep11123/full/srep11123.html
Calorie Restriction and Longevity Posted on June 07, 2015, 0 Comments
To those who enjoy the pleasures of the dining table, the news may come as a relief: drastically cutting back on calories does not seem to lengthen lifespan in primates.
The verdict, from a 25-year study in rhesus monkeys fed 30% less than control animals, represents another setback for the notion that a simple, diet-triggered switch can slow ageing. Instead, the findings, published this week in Nature1, suggest that genetics and dietary composition matter more for longevity than a simple calorie count.
“To think that a simple decrease in calories caused such a widespread change, that was remarkable,” says Don Ingram, a gerontologist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who designed the study almost three decades ago while at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Bethesda, Maryland.
When the NIA-funded monkey study began, however, studies of caloric restriction in short-lived animals were hinting at a connection. Experiments had showed that starvation made roundworms live longer. Other studies had showed that rats fed fewer calories than their slow and balding brethren maintained their shiny coats and a youthful vigour. And more recently, molecular studies had suggested that caloric restriction — or compounds that mimicked it — might trigger a cascade of changes in gene expression that had the net effect of slowing ageing.
In 2009, another study2, which began in 1989 at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) in Madison, concluded that caloric restriction did extend life in rhesus monkeys. The investigators found that 13% of the dieting group died from age-related causes, compared with 37% of the control group.
One reason for that difference could be that the WNPRC monkeys were fed an unhealthy diet, which made the calorie-restricted monkeys seem healthier by comparison simply because they ate less of it. The WNPRC monkeys’ diets contained 28.5% sucrose, compared with 3.9% sucrose at the NIA. Meanwhile, the NIA meals included fish oil and antioxidants, whereas the WNPRC meals did not. Rick Weindruch, a gerontologist at the WNPRC who led the study, admits: “Overall, our diet was probably not as healthy.”
Further, the WNPRC control group probably ate more overall, because their meals were unlimited, whereas NIA monkeys were fed fixed amounts. As adults, control monkeys in the WNPRC study weighed more than their NIA counterparts. Overall, the WNPRC results might have reflected an unhealthy control group rather than a long-lived treatment group. “When we began these studies, the dogma was that a calorie is a calorie,” Ingram says. “I think it’s clear that the types of calories the monkeys ate made a profound difference.”
Researchers studying caloric restriction in mice have become accustomed to mixed results, which they attribute to genetic diversity among strains. Genetics probably explains part of the variation between the monkey studies, too, as the NIA monkeys were descended from lines from India and China, whereas the Wisconsin monkeys were all from India.
The molecular effects of caloric restriction have also turned out to be complicated. Using compounds such as resveratrol, found in red wine, scientists have triggered the stress response that caloric restriction activates, which shuts down non-vital processes in favour of those that ward off disease. But hopes that ageing could be delayed by targeting a single gene or protein in a single molecular pathway have faded, as researchers have learned that the key pathways vary according to the animal.“It may take us a decade to sort out longevity networks,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, there is a dearth of evidence that caloric restriction slows ageing in humans. Observational studies have found that people of average weight tend to live longest3. Nir Barzilai, a gerontologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, says that the centenarians he studies have led him to believe that genetics is more important than diet and lifestyle. “They’re a chubby bunch,” he says.
A more nuanced picture would suit Ingram, who enjoys an occasional feast of Louisiana crawfish. Ingram says that he looks forward to studies of how diet composition, rather than caloric intake, affects ageing. “Is the human lifespan fixed?” he asks. “I still don’t believe that for a minute.”
Impact of caloric restriction on health and survival in rhesus monkeys from the NIA study
Calorie restriction (CR), a reduction of 10–40% in intake of a nutritious diet, is often reported as the most robust non-genetic mechanism to extend lifespan and healthspan. CR is frequently used as a tool to understand mechanisms behind ageing and age-associated diseases. In addition to and independently of increasing lifespan, CR has been reported to delay or prevent the occurrence of many chronic diseases in a variety of animals. Beneficial effects of CR on outcomes such as immune function1, 2, motor coordination3 and resistance to sarcopenia4 in rhesus monkeys have recently been reported. We report here that a CR regimen implemented in young and older age rhesus monkeys at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has not improved survival outcomes. Our findings contrast with an ongoing study at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC), which reported improved survival associated with 30% CR initiated in adult rhesus monkeys (7–14 years)5 and a preliminary report with a small number of CR monkeys6. Over the years, both NIA and WNPRC have extensively documented beneficial health effects of CR in these two apparently parallel studies. The implications of the WNPRC findings were important as they extended CR findings beyond the laboratory rodent and to a long-lived primate. Our study suggests a separation between health effects, morbidity and mortality, and similar to what has been shown in rodents7, 8, 9, study design, husbandry and diet composition may strongly affect the life-prolonging effect of CR in a long-lived nonhuman primate.
The Baneful Consequences of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Posted on February 02, 2015, 0 Comments
The next set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), the public health nutrition policy that directs all federal nutrition activities “including research, education, nutrition assistance, labeling, and nutrition promotion,”1 are due out in 2015. The DGA are meant to address a simple question: What should Americans eat to be healthy?2 As the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) begins to create the report that will advise any possible changes to the DGA, they appear poised to provide the same answer to that question that has proven largely ineffective for the past thirty-five years.
Although the DGAC has retreated from the recommendation that Americans reduce their intake of total fat, limits on saturated fat and cholesterol from animal products remain firmly in place and these levels may be restricted further. Thus despite the superficial movement away from reduced-fat guidance, in terms of which foods are permitted and which are restricted or forbidden, nothing has changed.
According to the 2015 DGAC, eggs, meat, butter and full-fat dairy are still to be limited or eliminated from the diet altogether. Consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lowfat or no-fat dairy, fish, and lean cuts of poultry are encouraged, and, with restrictions on fat intake relaxed, Americans will now be allowed to consume even more vegetable oil than before.
While the 2015 DGAC has acknowledged that when Americans replaced dietary fat with starches and sugars obesity rates climbed, there has been no recognition of the relationship between this phenomenon and DGA guidance. Rather, the implication remains that high rates of being overweight and obese in America are due to the fact that Americans have simply failed to comply with what the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (DHHS)―the two government agencies in charge of the DGA―have determined is best for the public. “Poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to an epidemic of overweight,”3 not poor dietary recommendations based on inadequate science.
A PRIMARY MISCONCEPTION
In fact, a primary misconception in public health nutrition is that current national nutrition polices are based on scientific agreement about what constitutes a healthy diet. However from the beginning, federal dietary guidance has been based more on ideology, including romantic notions of returning to a “natural” way of eating, than science. Although nutrition science has changed dramatically in the thirty-five years since the first national dietary recommendations were issued, the recommendations themselves have remained virtually unchanged. The historical and cultural influences behind federal dietary recommendations, their controversies and their consequences, warrant a close critical examination. They demonstrate that although science and policy perform very different functions, they can be mutually reinforcing. Though this does serve to make science more political, it does not make policy more scientific.
A cascade of unintended consequences has resulted from those original dietary recommendations, guidance that remains entrenched, held in place by politics, ideology, institutional agendas, and the influence of interested industries.4,5 This entrenchment has resulted in millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent on nutrition policies, programs and practices that do not result in good health, while the very same taxpayers are expected to shoulder the blame for these negative outcomes.
HISTORY OF THE DGA
When the first national nutrition recommendations for the prevention of chronic disease, the 1977 Dietary Goals for Americans, were originally proposed, not only was the content of the recommendations hotly debated, the very concept of one-size-fits-all, population-wide dietary advice was itself highly controversial. The 1977 Dietary Goals introduced a diet―high in grains and cereals and low in fat, with few animal products, and vegetable oils substituting for animal fats―that was an extreme departure from what Americans were then eating. Not only was the diet recommended by the 1977 Goals a radical change for many Americans, the very idea that the federal government could know what foods were best for any given individual was a dramatic shift in how public health nutrition was understood and administered.
Before the 1977 Goals were created, the determination of which foods were “good” for you and which were “bad” was located within the family and community, rather than with the government. Packaged food did not carry a nutrition label, and government dietary guidance focused on acquisition of adequate essential nutrition, rather than the avoidance of foods that might cause chronic disease. Despite the lack of government guidance on how to prevent chronic disease through nutrition, heart disease rates had been decreasing in America since 1968,6 and in 1975, less than 15 percent of the population was considered obese.7
In many regards, the health of Americans in the 1970s had never been better. However, concerns about “lifestyle-related” diseases permeated the consciousness of much of middle class America, and food manufacturers responded accordingly. The American Heart Association (AHA) had created a national platform for a theory proposed by a physiologist named Ancel Keys, which asserted that dietary fat—especially saturated fat and cholesterol from animal products—led to heart disease. Responding to these interests, manufacturers of “heart-healthy” margarines and meat substitutes began claiming their products could reduce the risk of heart disease, although the federal government remained unconvinced.
Evidence that dietary fat and cholesterol had significant effects on heart disease was elusive, and the Federal Trade Commission repeatedly warned manufacturers not to make false and misleading claims linking food products to the prevention of heart disease.8 Although the AHA primarily aimed its fear-of-fat message at businessmen who might be lucrative donors,8 the counter-culture thinking that emerged from the social upheavals of the 1960s picked up the refrain, marrying concerns about chronic disease to anxiety about the environment and world hunger.
Earlier in the decade, a popular vegetarian cookbook by Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, suggested that a meat-free diet would be low in saturated fat and cholesterol, thus reducing risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer; furthermore, Lappé asserted, a vegetarian way of life would reduce world hunger, energy costs, and environmental impacts of agriculture.9
While Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet popularized vegetarian ideology, then-Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, an economist with many ties to large agricultural corporations, was enacting policies that encouraged the planting of large-scale, monoculture crops on all arable land.10
The “fencerow to fencerow” policies Butz initiated helped to shift farm animals from pasture land to feed lots. Making room for government-subsidized corn and soybeans would increase efficiency of food production; what didn’t go into cows could go into humans, including the oils that were a by-product of turning crops into animal feed.
The agenda of vegetarians and health reformers who urged Americans to consume fewer animal products, eat more grain and cereal products, and to substitute polyunsaturated oils found in corn and soybean oil for saturated animal fats like butter and lard, fit neatly into large agribusiness efforts to increase the market for processed foods that have a wider profit margin than eggs and meat.11
These cultural forces coalesced around Senator George McGovern’s Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, which was first created in order to address malnutrition in America. The work of the Select Committee had been so successful that it shifted its attention from malnutrition to “overnutrition” and focused on the creation of a report that was meant to do for diet and chronic disease what the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report had done for cigarettes and cancer.12 This work took on renewed urgency and significance as the committee’s tenure seemed about to come to an end.13 Such a report would address the public’s growing fears about obesity and chronic disease and policymakers’ concerns about rising health care costs―and perhaps extend the lifespan of the committee itself.14
During the summer of 1976, the committee conducted a series of hearings, entitled “Diet Related to Killer Diseases,” from doctors and scientists specifically chosen for their willingness “to talk about eating less fat, eating less sugar, eating less meat.”15 The title of the hearings and the experts chosen to testify set the direction for their findings. In early 1977, the committee released the Dietary Goals for Americans, blaming what they saw as an “epidemic” of killer diseases—obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer—on changes in the American diet that had occurred in the previous fifty years, specifically the increase in “fatty and cholesterol-rich foods.”16
The report claimed that in order to reduce their risk of chronic disease, Americans should reduce their intake of food that contained fat, particularly saturated fat and cholesterol from animal products like meat, whole milk, eggs and butter, and instead consume more grains, cereals, vegetable oils, fruits, and vegetables. These particular recommendations reflected not only concerns related to health, but the “back-to-nature” ideology that was becoming increasingly popular with regard to food and diet. The committee used material from Diet for a Small Planet, along with research on vegetarian diets, to argue that a shift to plant-based protein could reduce intake of calories, cholesterol and saturated fat, as well as reduce blood pressure, risk of cancer, use of natural resources, and food costs.16 This message gave official sanction to the romantic notion that a plant-based diet could not only prevent chronic disease, but feed the hungry and save the planet.
These recommendations were met with vehement objections from scientists, doctors, and public health professionals, who argued that the recommendations were scientifically unsound and potentially harmful.17 Those who supported the Dietary Goals felt the proposed radical change in the American diet presented no risk to the health of the American people.16 In contrast, the American Medical Association said, “The evidence for assuming that benefits to be derived from the adoption of such universal dietary goals . . . is not conclusive and there is potential for harmful effects from a radical long-term dietary change as would occur through adoption of the proposed national goals.”18 Yet this warning went unheeded, and the controversy over the Dietary Goals had little effect on future USDA/ DHHS recommendations. With few changes, the 1977 Goals became the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980. The DGA have since become a powerful policy document, although the limitations that have afflicted them since the beginning have resulted in several unintended negative consequences.
The controversy surrounding the original 1977 Dietary Goals took shape along several lines. Critics raised doubts regarding the appropriateness of a single, population-wide dietary prescription, applied to all individuals regardless of level of risk, to prevent diseases that were not established as nutritional in nature.19 In addition, they made strenuous objections to the fact that these recommendations had not been tested for safety or efficacy and would be the equivalent of conducting a population-wide dietary experiment.20
Critics of the report pointed to the report’s “new age, neo-naturalist” stance, noting that the nutrition scientists at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the DHHS), who urged caution in the face of the limited science on nutrition and chronic disease, could not compete with this popular ideology either for public support or for government funds for additional research.21
That the creators of the 1977 Goals had used a thin veneer of science to support their preconceived notions of what diet was best for Americans was evident in the contradictory nature of the report’s own data. For example, the 1977 Goals suggested consumers should increase vegetable oil consumption. However, dissenting scientists pointed out that increased consumption of vegetable oils and decreased consumption of saturated fats were, according to data supplied by the 1977 Goals themselves, associated with increased levels of heart disease.17 As a result of this shaky scientific foundation, significant scientific controversy continues about some of the original and current assertions upon which the DGA recommendations are built. These can be seen generally as an on going inability to firmly establish the connections between dietary patterns and chronic disease with available methodology. More specifically, controversy continues to surround the theories that 1) dietary fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol cause heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer and should be replaced in the diet with polyunsaturated vegetable oils; 2) a diet high in carbohydrates will reduce the risk of chronic disease; and 3) excessive sodium intake is the primary variable in the etiology of hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.
The case against saturated fat and cholesterol has been particularly difficult to maintain in the face of evidence to the contrary that has accumulated in the past three decades. When the first DGA were created, there was no agreement regarding the relationship of diet to blood lipids and atherosclerosis. The reasons given then for the difficulty in clarifying the relationship were “the complicated nature of this disease, as well as the multitude of contributing factors and their relationships.”22 Large observational and intervention studies conducted early in the history of the DGA, such as the Framingham study, Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, and the National Diet-Heart Study, are frequently cited as proving that a lowfat, low-cholesterol diet reduces risk of heart disease, yet the results from these studies are weak or inconclusive with regard to the relationship between diet and the development of heart disease.23-26 The science since that time remains inconsistent, limited, and open to question.
In 1997, Ancel Keys, the scientist whose theories about dietary cholesterol and heart disease first warned Americans away from meat and eggs, acknowledged, “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. None. And we’ve known that all along.”27 Studies cited by the 2010 DGAC Report demonstrate varied metabolic responses to lowered dietary saturated fat, with certain subpopulations exhibiting adverse rather than improved health outcomes.3 Two recent comprehensive meta-analyses indicate that saturated fat is not linked to heart disease.28,29 In fact, in a definitive review of forty-eight clinical trials, with over sixty-five thousand participants, the reduction or modification of dietary fat had no effect on mortality, cardiovascular mortality, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, or diabetes.30 Yet, avoiding saturated fat remains a cornerstone of national dietary guidance. Surveys show that the vast majority of Americans have come to believe that consuming animal fats increases one’s risk of heart disease, and many try to limit their intake of foods that contain these fats.31
UNDERMINING INDEPENDENT FARMERS
The 1977 Dietary Goals did more than change the health beliefs of Americans. They affected all aspects of the food environment. That the 1977 Goals would have a powerful effect on the food industry was apparent even before they were finalized, but it is unlikely that the result was the intended one. While the initial hearings were being held, members of McGovern’s committee were warned that the food industry would respond with an explosion of products designed to meet whatever new dietary standards were established.32 With the creation of the 1977 Goals, the federal government had unmistakably designated who the “winners” and “losers” in the food sector would be. The “winners” would be manufacturers of breads, cereals, margarine, cooking oils, and soy products; “losers” would be producers of meats, butter, eggs and cheese.
Experts recognized at the time that many processed food manufacturers could “reformulate existing products to remove their allegedly deleterious nutritional effects,” something that would be very difficult for farmers who produced eggs and meat.33 To compound the advantage, for “food producers and processors whose product categories are favored by the goals, greater promotional emphasis on the nutrition value of these products may be expected. In effect products can be promoted using the national dietary goals as a ‘stamp of approval’ to gain greater acceptance in an increasingly nutrition-conscious marketplace.”33 The group most likely to be hurt by the new paradigm was not food processors but farmers: “The farmers feel especially threatened . . . because their livelihood could be most directly affected by the recommended changes. As the primary element in the food chain, farmers tend to be the most specialized and do not enjoy the flexibility and insulation of a multi-product line food processor.”33
Indeed, since the advent of the first DGA, the amount of money farmers receive for food produced has fallen by half.34 As consumers adopted eating patterns recommended in the DGA, a much larger share of their food dollar went to increased processing and marketing and the labor costs associated with these activities. Since the DGA encourages Americans to consume fewer of the products that generate a higher farm value―in other words, what the farmer is paid for the product that leaves the farm―and more of the products that generate a lower farm value, farmers overall receive less of each dollar spent on food in America. For example, the farm value of eggs, a food the DGA tells Americans to limit, is worth 54 percent of the consumer’s dollar. Instead, the DGA recognizes cereal as a preferred “healthy” breakfast; its farm value is worth only 8 percent of the consumer’s dollar.
Conventional arguments that promote plant-based diets as the most beneficial for health, the environment, and feeding the world neglect to address the way in which those diets are compatible with the agricultural policies that benefit large agricultural corporations and undermine the interests of farmers. Creating a more “democratic, socially and economically just, and environmentally sustainable” food system that supports farmers may need to begin with a reassessment of what foods may be considered nourishing.35
INCREASING CHRONIC DISEASES
With federal nutrition directives to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol driving food manufacturing and consumer demand, eating patterns in America have changed dramatically since the first DGA were created. Consumers, whether they were interested in reducing the saturated fat content of their diet or not, were faced with food choices that had changed according to the DGA. As a result, despite accusations that they have ignored federal dietary advice, Americans have increased their intake of flour and cereal products and the vegetable oils that could be added to them, changes that are in line with DGA recommendations. Consumption data gathered from national health surveys indicate that virtually all of the increase in calories in the past 30 years has come from carbohydrate foods (starches and sugars such as would be found in flour and cereal products), while calories from saturated (animal) fats have decreased.36 While these changes are in line with recommendations from the DGA, they may have transformed the American diet in ways incompatible with good health.
In 1988, a vegetarian-oriented food activist group, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), warned the American public against the dangers of saturated fat and campaigned for the food industry to switch from beef tallow and lard to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil—specifically soybean oil. This is the kind of oil that is now associated with harmful trans fats. But in 1988, CSPI insisted trans fats were an improvement over saturated fat from animals.37 Oil seed companies were prepared with the technology to make this switch; Earl Butz’s agricultural policies provided plenty of the soybeans needed to create the oils that would be partially hydrogenated. Thus, far from resisting this change, “nearly all targeted firms responded by replacing saturated fats with trans fats.”37 For consumers, CSPI’s successful campaign meant that natural animal fats that cause no danger to health were replaced with highly-processed and harmful trans fats―whether t he public w anted t hose changes or not.
Surplus corn provided another substitute for saturated fats in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). As Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist specializing in obesity has noted, “When you take the fat out of a recipe, food tastes like cardboard, and you need to replace it with something— that something being sugar.”38 HFCS offered a cheap, plentiful, sugary replacement for the animal fats that Americans were now told to avoid. For example, “fat-free” yogurt, sweetened with HFCS, appeared on grocery store shelves, as a “healthy” alternative to full-fat yogurt.
In time, scientists on the 2000 DGAC realized that the emphasis on reducing fat in the diet could lead to “adverse metabolic consequences” resulting from a high intake of sugars and starches.39 They went on to note that “an increasing prevalence in obesity in the United States has corresponded roughly with an absolute increase in carbohydrate consumption.”32 At least some of that increase in carbohydrate consumption came from the HFCS that replaced saturated fats in food.
Obesity was not the only thing that increased in prevalence since the creation of the first DGA. In fact, trends indicate that, since 1980, the rates of many chronic diseases have increased dramatically. Prevalence of heart failure and stroke has increased significantly.6 Rates of new cases of all cancers have gone up.40 Rates of diabetes have tripled.41 In addition, although body weight is not in itself a measure of health, as the 2000 DGAC noted, rates of overweight and obesity have increased as Americans have adopted the eating patterns recommend by the DGA.7
In all of these categories, the health divide between black and white Americans has persisted or worsened, with black Americans especially negatively affected by the increase in diabetes. When following DGA recommendations, African-American adults gain more weight than their Caucasian counterparts, and low-income individuals have increased rates of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.42,43 Despite adherence to healthy eating patterns as determined by the DGA, studies have shown that African-American children remain at higher risk for development of diabetes and prediabetic conditions.44 African-Americans are almost twice as likely to have diabetes as non- Hispanic white Americans, and these differences in health outcomes have not been adequately explained by social and economic disparities in these populations.45 Long-standing differences in environmental, genetic and metabolic characteristics may mean recommendations that are merely ineffective in preventing chronic disease in white, middle-class Americans and are in fact detrimental to the long-term health of black and low-income Americans.
ADEQUATE ESSENTIAL NUTRITION
While on the one hand the DGA have failed to prevent chronic disease, on the other hand they have also failed to provide Americans with guidance in accordance with obtaining adequate essential nutrition. Before the 1977 Dietary Goals were created, federal dietary recommendations focused on foods Americans were encouraged to eat in order to acquire adequate nutrition, not on food components to limit or avoid in order to prevent chronic disease.46 Meat, eggs, butter and whole milk were considered important sources of essential nutrients, and avoiding saturated fat in food was considered a “questionable dietary practice” adopted by “food faddists.”47 During World War II, meat and fats were considered such valuable sources of nutrition that Americans back home were asked to save them for the troops and eat fish and vegetables instead. In fact, prior to the creation of the DGA, Americans got about 36 percent of their calories from grains, fruits, and vegetables and over 50 percent of their calories from meat, eggs, cream, cheese, and fat.48
From the beginning, scientists were concerned that recommendations warning people to limit their intake of foods that were traditionally considered to be highly nutritious would adversely affect intake of essential nutrients. In response to the 1977 Dietary Goals, one scientist argued that “there are serious nutritional problems that affect many Americans that are clearly related to dietary inadequacies, particularly of high-quality protein . . . implementation of your recommendations could have a negative effect on these problems.”17
In fact, research has found that following DGA recommendations can have a detrimental impact on intake of essential nutrition. A 2013 study demonstrated that sodium restrictions in the 2010 DGA are “incompatible with potassium guidelines and with nutritionally adequate diets, even after reducing the sodium content of all foods by 10 percent.”49 The reduced-fat diet recommended by the DGA has also been linked to lower intakes of several important essential nutrients. In one study, lower fat intake was associated with lower intake of nine out of fourteen important micronutrients, independent of calorie intake.50
Choline, which was not recognized as an essential nutrient until after the first DGA were created, plays an important role in brain development in fetuses, and adequate amounts are important for the prevention of liver disease, atherosclerosis, and neurological disorders.51 Current average intakes of choline are far below established adequate levels.40 Scientists have suggested that, “Given the importance of choline in a wide range of critical functions in the human body, coupled with the less than optimal intakes among the population, dietary guidance should be developed to encourage the intake of choline-rich foods.”40 However, consumption of eggs and meat, two foods that are rich in choline, is restricted by current DGA recommendations that limit intake of cholesterol and saturated fat.
NARROW APPROACH TO NUTRITION AND HEALTH
In 1977, the Dietary Goals acknowledged that “genetic and other individual differences mean that these guidelines may not be applicable to all.”16 However, this qualification has been muted in subsequent DGA. Although it is clear that good nutrition plays an important role in long-term health, when the first DGA were created the particular dietary pattern that would be optimal for achieving lifelong health was unclear; that is still the case today. Early critics of the Guidelines felt that the scientific model used to address nutrient deficiencies did not apply to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.52 Scientists thirty years later express similar concerns, adding that “nutrient-based metrics [of current recommendations] are hampered by imprecise definitions and inconsistent usage,” and “few individuals can accurately gauge daily consumption of calories, fats, cholesterol, fiber or salt.”53 However, current Guideline recommendations urge Americans to track food and calorie intake as means of achieving a healthy diet.3
Furthermore, the DGA have institutionalized the idea that overweight and obese people are different from “normal”—establishing, as part of national dietary policy, the notion that they are less likely to accurately or honestly report on their own eating habits. The 2010 DGA indicate that, on the basis of national survey data, Americans do not seem to be consuming excessive amounts of calories. Thus the inexplicably high rates of obesity in America must be due to the fact that people who are overweight or obese lie about how much they eat: “[T]he numbers are difficult to interpret because survey respondents, especially individuals who are overweight or obese, often underreport dietary intake.”3
This moralistic approach to obesity and weight loss has contributed to extensive and unrecognized “collateral damage” in the form of fat-shaming, eating disorders, weight discrimination, and poor health from restrictive food habits. At the same time, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control have shown that overweight and obese people are often as healthy as their “normal” weight counterparts.54
Finally, the emphasis on plant-based nutrition and the demonization of animal-based foods is a culturally biased perspective. Although the 2010 DGA claim that the recommendations they contain “accommodate the varied food preferences, cultural traditions and customs of the many and diverse groups who live in the United States,”27 this is most certainly not the case. Animal products containing saturated fat are an important part of many food cultures: sausages of Eastern European and Chinese cuisine; ghee, the clarified butter of Indian cuisine; chorizo and eggs from Latin America; liver patés eaten by Jewish Americans; greens and fatback of Southern and soul food traditions.
As a dietitian, I was taught to respect the preferences of those who choose vegetarian or vegan diets. However, when it comes to animal products, dietitians, in accordance with the DGA, are encouraged to engage in “pork-shaming,” counseling people on how to eliminate, limit, or modify traditional foods in order to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol. As a dietitian, I found that people who were told to give up their traditional dishes, or to change them in ways that reduced saturated fat and cholesterol, were very likely to give up those dishes altogether; substitutions were not as good as the “real thing” and for a reason. For example, in Southern U.S. cooking, salt pork cuts the bitter taste of greens and fatback provides a vehicle for flavor as well as for fat-soluble vitamins. Greens made with little or no fat may actually be less nutritious; certainly they are if people don’t eat them.
FAILURE TO FULFILL THE ORIGINAL MANDATE
The first DGA, created in 1980 without a specific legislative mandate, began as a very simple twenty-page, one-column booklet directed at consumers. However, it became apparent in the decade following the release of the first DGA that obesity rates in America had increased, despite the fact that Americans were making alterations to their diets in line with their recommendations.55,56 In light of these circumstances, the DGA needed not only to explain the noted discrepancies between behavior and outcome, but should attempt to prevent further negative changes in the health of Americans. In 1990, Congress passed a law indicating that DGA should be reviewed and reissued every five years, emphasizing that: “Each such report shall contain nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public,. . . and shall be based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge which is current at the time the report is prepared [emphasis mine].”57
However, the DGA have never been able to overcome their original shaky scientific foundations. They have grown in size, right along with the waistlines of Americans, but have failed to improve health outcomes. Over the years, the seven recommendations from the 1980 DGA became twenty-three complicated instructions to micromanage food components in the 2010 DGA. As a result, the DGA are considered too complex for consumers to use and are instead meant for policymakers and healthcare professionals, who “translate” the DGA for consumers.
Both the lack of science and the lack of simplicity that current DGA exhibit are violations of their legislative mandate. At the same time, the DGA have become a powerful and influential document that goes far beyond providing information to consumers. These recommendations shape all government dietary guidance, dictate nationwide nutrition standards, influence agricultural policies and nutrition research protocols, direct how food manufacturers target consumer demand, guide healthcare practices, and affect how the American public thinks about diet, weight, and health. They can be considered the most influential health-related pronouncements in the world.
The 2015 DGAC has made sustainability and environmental concerns part of its agenda, indicating that one of their goals is to “develop dietary guidance that supports human health and the health of the planet.”58 There is no mistaking the fact that protecting the environment and ensuring a sustainable food supply are important issues. In fact, they are far too important to be entrusted to a committee of nutrition scientists with little knowledge or expertise in the vast and complex interactions that make up the American agriculture and food production system. The American public has already been subject to the unintended effects of policy established by the USDA and DHHS without the support of sufficient evidence. The world simply cannot withstand the consequences if the DGA’s impact on the environment is similar to its impact on obesity and chronic disease.
WHAT CAN BE DONE INSTEAD?
In 1977, the Dietary Goals presented a single perspective on food and health to the public as if it were a commonsense approach to nutrition grounded firmly in science and applicable to all Americans. This was not the case. However, there is such an approach available to the leadership at USDA and DHHS. Dietary recommendations that focus on a food-based guidance that assists Americans in acquiring adequate essential nutrition is based in solid, non-controversial science and is equally applicable to all Americans. Although scientific understanding of essential nutrition is not complete by any means, it is nevertheless supported by evidence that has stood the test of time with little controversy. All Americans require essential nutrition; without exception, inadequate intake results in diseases of deficiency. It is not necessary to eliminate, restrict or modify culturally traditional foods under the essential nutrition paradigm.
Focusing on essential nutrition is an approach that includes and celebrates a wide variety of food traditions. Such guidance would shift the focus of public health nutrition towards general health and wellness, and away from weight and other surrogate markers like cholesterol levels and blood pressure, leaving those areas of concern for the healthcare setting. Importantly, guidance that emphasizes adequate essential nutrition would be clear, concise, and useful to the general public. Contradictory messages about nutrition―unavoidable when most dietary guidance lacks a strong scientific basis because it simply echoes the DGA―have led to widespread general confusion and a lack of confidence in the science of nutrition.59 The proliferation of “food rules” that stem from DGA guidance have left many consumers frustrated by the feeling that the standards for “healthy eating” are unreachable, even as they strive to meet those standards.60 DGA recommendations based on adequate essential nutrition from wholesome, nourishing foods would not only provide the foundation for good health, they would finally provide what has been missing from the past thirty-five years of federal nutrition policy: dietary guidance that works―for all Americans.
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51. Zeisel SH, da Costa K-A. Choline: An Essential Nutrient for Public Health. Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):615–23.
52. Harper A. Killer French Fries. Sciences. 1988;28:21–7. 53. Mozaffarian D, Ludwig DS. Dietary guidelines in the 21st century—a time for food. JAMA. 2010 Aug 11;304(6):681–2.
54. Flegal KM, Kit BK, Orpana H, Graubard BI. Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2013 Jan 2;309(1):71–82.
55. Kuczmarski RJ, Flegal KM, Campbell SM, Johnson CL. Increasing prevalence of overweight among us adults: The national health and nutrition examination surveys, 1960 to 1991. JAMA. 1994 Jul 20;272(3):205–11.
56. Nestle M, Porter DV. Evolution of federal dietary guidance policy: from food adequacy to chronic disease prevention. Caduceus Spring. 1990;6(2):43–67.
57. 101st Congress. National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990. Sect. 301, 101- 445 Oct 22, 1990.
58. Nelson M, Abrams S, Brenna T, Hu F, Millen B. Subcommittee 5: Food Sustainability and Food Safety. 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee; 2014 Jan.
59. Nagler RH. Steady diet of confusion: Contradictory nutrition messages in the public information environment. Diss Available ProQuest. 2010 Jan 1;1–301.
60. Brenton J. In Pursuit of Health: Mothers, Children, and the Negotiation of an Elusive Ideal [Internet]. [Raleigh, North Caroline]: North Carolina State University; 2014. Available from: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/9541
Props from one of my PGA clients, Jason Dufner Posted on January 22, 2015, 0 Comments
"I talked to a pretty specialized guy in Atlanta, his name is Andrew Johnston, a friend of mine had had some chronic back issues and I got with Andrew in Atlanta and Andrew's kind of a holistic guy, he does the whole thing, diet, PT, working out, he does the holistic approach to your health.
"I kind of specified that I was interested in what he had to offer as far as eating better and the diet. My friend Lane Savoy had great results with him changing his diet. With his back he had some really chronic back issues, so I gave it a go and feeling pretty good about it." --Jason Dufner
The mad scientist that put all of this together is actually a young personal trainer in Atlanta who does something called Triumph Training and had worked with a friend of Dufner’s.
...but consultation with Dr. Andrew Johnston in Atlanta led to an approach to reduce inflammation.
and for the record, I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on t.v.
Facebook and PUFAs Posted on September 10, 2014, 0 Comments
So a buddy of mine posted a clip from the movie Fed Up. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm sure I agree with the majority of it. However, the bit my friend put on his page showed the effects of sugar on the brain and compared it to the effects of cocaine on the brain. Coming to the defense of this poor maligned substance, I posted:
Another sensationalist (and, thus, interesting to watch) demonizing of sugar. Glucose is the body's preferred source of fuel and, in the presence of quality nutrition, is therapeutic. I agree that most of the processed crap can be a problem. But if your caloric needs warrant it, and your overall diet is supported by appropriate levels of nutrition, even some of these "foods" can be well tolerated. Also, your brain's pleasure centers activate/light up when exposed to other stimuli like sex or exercise, so I'd take that clip with a grain of salt. But that's probably another nutrient that's being bashed by filmmakers who understand more about what makes good entertainment than what makes for good nutrition.
Somebody else, let's call him--well, let's call him Josh, because that's his name--Josh chimed in with "those are a lot of if's [sic], Andrew. Processed sugar (what doesn't appear naturally in food) is a key ingredient in obesity, cancer, and heart disease in in the world."
Known for my brevity, I replied with: Think PUFAs primarily. Sugar is a red herring.
To which Josh with his knack for exhaustive research responded: "Polyunsaturated fats exists in all kinds of natural foods and there's zero evidence they cause anything. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/sugar-and-salt/. Processed sugar (and all its refined carbohydrate relatives) on the other hand, cause the body to go into starvation mode, despite the presence of food and fat in the body. And salt causes people to eat more than they otherwise would."
and then added: "coincidentally, herring also contains polyunsaturated fats"
I hadn't written a blog post in a bit, so I thought this particular subject might make for an enlightening discussion. So here's what I wrote:
You’re right, Josh. There’s nothing in Nature which occurs in isolation. For example, coconut oil is 92.1% saturated fat. The remainder is made up of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid (6.2%) and a polyunsaturated fat called linoleic (1.6%). Thus, I find it funny that you support such a reductionist approach to health/disease. Since the body is an integrated system of systems, don’t you think it’s a bit of a (precarious) leap to blame health/disease on any one factor?
I know you probably don’t study nutrition. You likely have a much more exciting job like practicing law—one which keeps you so busy you cannot do your own research. So I don’t blame you for regurgitating the misinformation you’ve been fed by the diet demigods. I’m actually quite impressed that you didn’t quote Wikipedia during your rebuttal. However, lipid science is quite clear on the subject of PUFAs.
They oxidize quite readily and are very heat sensitive due to the incomplete saturation of the carbon bonds with a hydrogen atom. Specifically, they are immunosuppressive, pro-inflammatory, and down regulate the thyroid. In the body they are known to kill off lymphocytes and block thymic cells (immunity). Prostaglandins are made from linoleic acid and arachidonic acid—both types of PUFAs—and are involved in inflammation. PUFAs decrease Vit E in the body. They also increase the development of alpha cells (which produce glucagon) while preventing the development of beta cells (which produce insulin). Oh, and they inhibit the body’s ability to use glucose for fuel. Can you say diabetes? I knew you could. Additionally, PUFAs interfere with the production of proteolytic enzymes—that’s a problem if you want to digest your food or dissolve any clots in the blood. PUFAs liberate estrogen from serum proteins (SHBG), too. This emancipation, however, is one you’d probably want to avoid. Increased availability/activity of estrogen is a precursor to many types of cancer (as well as PMS, endometriosis, etc). And in the form of vegetable oils or nut/seed oils, they are highly processed and VERY unnatural/unhealthy. In fact, since you love to quote somebody else’s research, here are a few studies you can check out:
Cancer can't occur, unless there are unsaturated oils in the diet. [C. Ip, et al., Cancer Res. 45, 1985.] Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver cannot occur unless there are unsaturated oils in the diet. [Nanji and French, Life Sciences. 44, 1989.] Heart disease can be produced by unsaturated oils, and prevented by adding saturated oils to the diet. [J. K. G. Kramer, et al., Lipids 17, 372, 1983].
And here’s a very detailed bit of research you can find on my website: http://triumphtraining.com/blogs/blog/14885549-the-fallacy-of-fish-oil-part-1
And here’s a bunch of others:
Cancer Res. 1998 Aug 1;58(15):3312-9.
Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids promote colon carcinoma metastasis in rat liver.
Griffini P, Fehres O, Klieverik L, Vogels IM, Tigchelaar W, Smorenburg SM, Van Noorden CJ.
Nutr Cancer. 1998;30(2):137-43.
Effects of dietary n-3-to-n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio on mammary carcinogenesis in rats.
Sasaki T, Kobayashi Y, Shimizu J, Wada M, In’nami S, Kanke Y, Takita T.
J Lipid Res. 2005 Jun;46(6):1278-84. Epub 2005 Mar 16.
Role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on cyclooxygenase-2 metabolism in brain-metastatic melanoma.
Denkins Y, Kempf D, Ferniz M, Nileshwar S, Marchetti D.
Clin Exp Metastasis. 2000;18(5):371-7.
Promotion of colon cancer metastases in rat liver by fish oil diet is not due to reduced stroma formation.
Klieveri L, Fehres O, Griffini P, Van Noorden CJ, Frederiks WM.
Am. J. Epidemiol. (2011) doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr027
Serum Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial
Theodore M. Brasky, Cathee Till, Emily White, Marian L. Neuhouser, Xiaoling Song, Phyllis Goodman, Ian M. Thompson, Irena B. King, Demetrius Albanes and Alan R. Kristal
I have probably a couple hundred more if you’d like me to give them to you as I think your "zero evidence" statement was a bit over the top. It’ll take some time to read. But maybe by then you’ll be able to answer a question I’ve been wondering about since you threw sugar and salt under the bus with the link you posted. If sugar/salt are so bad for you, why is it the first thing physicians give you when you’re rushed into the emergency room? Since the brain’s only source of fuel is glucose, we may both might want to lay off the PUFAs while we ponder that last one.
Do I believe sugar is abused? Most definitely. But I'd encourage everyone, including those with books or diets to sell, research to publish, or agendas to push, to consider a more holistic view when it comes to nutrition. After all, like the chaos found at the edges of a hurricane, extreme views are often more destructive than they are helpful. Somewhere in the calm of the center is where the truth is often found.
Question and then follow up comment from a client after a Nutrition/Lifestyle Consult Posted on August 21, 2014, 0 Comments
I have eliminated all sodas. I am only on water, tea, and seltzer water. I am eating more protein/fat/carbs more frequently. I am gluten free. I have been buying organic. I have a couple of questions. I am gaining weight so what I am doing wrong? I want to feel healthy in physical and mental. However, I do not want to gain 10 pounds. Also, why whole milk versus 2% or fat free when the vitamin and nutrient content is the same?
A sample meal:
Morning: chicken natural sausage
banana, strawberries (few), (few) watermelon.
snack: cheese-mozzarella and two slices of ham
lunch: sausage, strawberries and watermelon
snack: egg and almonds (10 to 15), a couple of chips to help with the carb carving
dinner: turkey burger with cheese no bun, mushrooms, butternut squash, black eyed peas, and lima beans - all vegetables small amounts.Q
Change takes time. You are wearing what you were doing to your body (thinking, breathing, drinking, eating, moving, sleeping) six months ago. And though you may have gained some weight, less than one week is likely not a trend which is what's more important to follow than any day to day fluctuations of the scale. Besides, the scale only tells a very small part of the story. I'd urge you to consider more how you look/feel/function. That's a true indication of health.
However, I know for most of us, weight is a very compelling reason why we eat, exercise, etc. So why would you gain weight and feel better?
Healing is an individual process. One which requires calories and nutrition. The World Health Organization defines starvation as starting at 2000 calories/day and under. Many people I know aren't eating this minimum amount because their thyroid (and their metabolism and, therefore, they themselves) are not healthy after years of metabolic damage. Reversing this process takes time. Making matters worse is that much of people's fat stores are in the form of PUFAs. Replacing these stores with saturated fat takes time. But as it happens, lypolysis will not be as metabolically damaging. And since PUFA release will be minimized, your thyroid won't be down regulated and inflammation (i.e. swelling/weight) will be minimized. In addition, you'll actually be able to use the glucose which your body craves instead of having it adversely impact your health or your waistline. But you have to feed the flame! You wouldn't expect to drive your car long/far/fast without filling the engine. And the complexity of the human body makes the combustible engine look like an elementary school project....
Sorry if that's a long winded explanation. And if it's not clear enough, feel free to give me a call. I know this can be difficult to truly get. After all, most of us have had years of indoctrination of what's "healthy" to eat/do.
As for full fat vs. low fat, etc: It doesn't come out of the cow fat free, and Mother Nature/God/the Universe isn't stupid. The macro nutrients (carbs/fat/protein) work together as co-factors to bring out the nutrition in a food. Besides, Vit A and D (in milk) are fat soluble. For calcium to be properly assimilated into the bone structure, saturated fat is needed. In fact, there is nothing in Nature which is a carb or protein or fat in isolation. It just doesn't happen.
Fats curb your appetite, by triggering the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which causes fullness. Fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat (and which has more sugar--8 oz of fat free milk or 8 oz of whole milk...). In other words, the more fat in your milk, the less fat around your waist. Not only will low-fat milk fail to trim your gut, it might even make you fatter than if you were to drink whole, according to one large study. In 2005, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions studied the weight and milk consumption of 12,829 kids ages 9 to 14 from across the country. "Contrary to our hypothesis," they reported, "skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, but dairy fat was not." This "finding" is nothing new to me as I understand how the body works. And it's quite a bit more involved than simply calories in vs. calories out.
Hope this helps on some level. It can be a lot, I know. But I think if you'll continue to focus primarily on health, you'll be pleasantly surprised on how the body responds. And I'm here to help as possible.
Her Feedback 5 Weeks Later:
I have been doing much better following your advise of going Gluten free, water, no diet drinks, fat-protein-carb combination. I have lost a good bit of weight and feel much better. I have not had hardly any low blood sugar incidences. Thank you for your guidance. I hope to still lose more weight but I am happy to being feeling better and looking better.
PATIENCE AND CONSISTENCY (with the right program, of course)...
Unacceptable Levels Posted on June 01, 2014, 0 Comments
Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.
Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law. Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.
The BIGGEST Loser Posted on October 14, 2013, 0 Comments
“A recent study looking specifically at contestants on The Biggest Loser found that they experienced a significant drop in resting metabolic rate, burning 504 fewer calories on average, thanks to an effect known as “metabolic adaptation.” And perhaps as many as 90 percent of the contestants on the show regain all their lost weight, according to US News.”
Random Client Questions with Answers Posted on September 25, 2013, 0 Comments
No time to workout? Posted on May 16, 2013, 0 Comments
Try Tabatta Intervals: 8 repeats of 30s MAX effort followed by 90s rest (or active rest). This protocol allows for the same VO2 (and other) benefits as steady state cardio which is typically longer in duration. But the total of 4mins of actual work equals less orthopedic wear/tear and less of an adverse impact on the endocrine system.
One important concept to remember: Cardio is an expression of power which is best pursued only after the prerequisites of flexibility, stability (i.e. core), and strength have been met. To break the chain is to break the athlete. Thus, for anyone whose orthopedic condition is suspect, I would recommend choosing a non-weight bearing form of exercise to minimize impact loads if incorporating this type of training into your program. Swimming and cycling would be good choices.
Emotional Eating Posted on April 30, 2013, 0 Comments
It starts young.
Surrounded by family and friends at the Thanksgiving dinner table, you feel
like you belong. After a shot at the doctor's office, the pain disappears
as your bravery is rewarded with the sweet taste of a sucker. And even
before you had the capacity to form explicit memories, a breast or a bottle or
even a well-timed pacifier taught you that someone cared.
Then the food manufacturers step in and take it to a different level. They know how your sense of smell is the most powerful trigger of memory. They've been studying the science of taste since long before you could even wield a fork. With top secret recipes, they manipulate the ingredients in your food. A little more salt here. A sprinkle of sugar there. Like mad scientists, they play with different combinations, trying to find ways to control an old part of your brain called the appestat until you literally “can't eat just one."
Or can you?
Look down at your hand. I’m pretty sure you won’t see any strings attached there. That an outcome is predicated on something outside your power to influence can be comforting. Blaming government or your parents or just dumb luck allows you to shrug off any role your own actions may have played in getting you to where you are right now. But the truth is, as much as you may not want to admit it, you do have control. Yes, your parents gave you a genetic road map. Circumstances may dictate the actual driving conditions on any given day. But you’re the one who ultimately controls where your vehicle goes and how it gets there.
Taking responsibility for yourself and what you’re creating from moment to moment is a scary idea. It puts all the pressure on you. The moment you realize that you’re wearing the results of every decision you’ve ever made can be intimidating. Yet, having a bunch of experts or doctors or even patterns of behavior you turn to every time Life happens can easily keep you from recognizing your own guru—you.
And you is where your power lies.
In various scenarios where life hangs in the balance, one of the characteristics which separates victims from survivors is the idea of control. Survivors innately believe they have some sort of power. They think they can affect the outcome of a particular situation. And right or wrong, that belief allows them to become key players in their own destinies.
You are a survivor. You come from a long line of survivors or else you wouldn’t be here. And regardless of the programming you have around eating; despite any memory you may have which binds you to a certain food or creates some culinary cage from which you can’t seem to escape—you are the one in control. And that thought alone should empower you. And if you allow them to, all of your thoughts can serve you the same way.
Trade in scapegoats for allies. Rid yourself of blame and strengthen yourself with belief. Your thoughts create your reality. And while the past may have taught you how to use food to control your thoughts, that perspective is not only inaccurate—it doesn’t serve you anymore. To survive now, allow yourself to take charge of your thoughts. Own them and recognize when specific ones no longer contribute to the dream you want to create. The one you want to live right now.
The dichotomy of the Universe tells us that for every negative thought there must be a positive one. Otherwise the negative would cease to exist. So focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want. It may not come easy at first. You’ve had a lifetime of learned behavior which is literally programmed into you at the subconscious level. Some habits may be so deeply ingrained that they could take years to reverse. But like anything else, success is predicated on consistency.
So try being your own expert. Seek guidance from the healer in you. Practice being the optimist. For when you do, every cell in your body shares that identity with you. You can literally impact their chemical make up simply by changing the way you think. And the most powerful nourishment you can offer your cells are ideas of Love, Gratitude, Health, and Chi. More than food then, your body feeds on thought. Feed it well, my friend. And, more importantly, feed it Good.
Top 10 Moves for Fat Loss Posted on April 03, 2013, 0 Comments
1. Push away the PUFAs
2. Skip exercise that doesn't serve your biochemistry
3. Press the off button on your t.v. remote
4. Drop the Stinkin' Thinkin'
5. Pick foods you can actually digest
6. Balance macronutrients
7. Pass 12 inches or more of fecal matter daily
8. Stabilize blood sugar
9. Play and laugh everyday
10. Climb into bed by 10 p.m.
HONORABLE MENTION: tie between Squat, Lunge, Push, Pull, Bend, and Twist
Fluoridegate Posted on January 23, 2013, 0 Comments
CrossFit Posted on December 07, 2012, 4 Comments
My sister just e-mailed and asked if I would send her any info I have on why CrossFit is not a good choice. Here's my reply:
CrossFit is a GREAT choice if you want:
--a shotgun approach to "fitness"
--no pre-screening to determine the presence of any preexisting conditions which would preclude you from performing certain movements
--"guidance" from an instructor more concerned with weight and the clock than your form
--no program periodization
--insufficient development of flexibility and stability before strength and power
--inattention to stabilizers/neutralizers in favor of prime movers (and compensatory muscles...)
--to do exercises because you can (kinda) but not because you should
--to limp the fine line between having a seizure and working out
--a bulging disk
--a torn meniscus
--a destroyed rotator cuff
--parts of your body left scattered across the gym floor
--indoctrination into the Paleo Diet (don't get me started...)
PB and JEEZ you're fat! Posted on October 15, 2012, 0 Comments
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA's) inhibit the oxidation of glucose for fuel. Thus, when consuming nuts, seeds, fatty fish, or vegetable oils with sugar or starch (save Fructose), the calories tend to be stored as fat.
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