If you’re at all familiar with the Healthy Dimensions philosophy, you know that it doesn’t place much faith in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and the USDA Food Pyramid. It appears that many nutrition professionals and researchers don’t have much faith, either.
You may not be aware of the ongoing kerfuffle about the most recent version of the DGA (finally released on January 7 of this year). Or perhaps I should say donnybrook, because many punches have been thrown – not in the literal sense, of course, but it’s gotten uglier than a lot of academic disputes.
This latest iteration of the government’s position about what every person in this country should eat does suggest we all reduce sugar to 10% of total daily calories, which is a step in the right direction.
But 10% is a LOT for people who are sensitive and overproduce insulin with ALL types of carbohydrates, not just sugar. This point doesn’t seem to be upsetting many people, except perhaps in that it didn’t go far enough.
However, the DGA still stubbornly maintains the position that all people should continue to limit saturated fat (most commonly found in meat and dairy products). This position, it seems, is at the root of said kerfuffle.
A little history:
• In 2007 science writer Gary Taubes published the exhaustively researched Good Calories, Bad Calories, which makes the case that refined carbohydrates are the primary cause of obesity and that saturated fat is NOT an unhealthy nutrient.
• Since 2010, there have been at least three meta-analyses (reviews of 40, 32, and 21 studies respectively) that found NO link between eating saturated fat and increased mortality. You can review them here, here, and here.
• In 2013, the DGA Advisory Committee (DGAC) started gathering information, as it does every five years, pursuant to US law.
• In 2014, investigative journalist Nina Teicholz published The Big Fat Surprise, another beautifully researched book that builds on the work of Taubes and boldly shows that the last 60 years of low-fat nutrition advice is based on shoddy science. It also reveals that much of what we’ve been taught about saturated fat in the last 60 years is wrong.
• In 2015 the DGAC made its Advisory Report – the basis for the final guidelines – available for public comment. For whatever reason, there were more than 10 times as many comments as ever before! This report made little or no mention of the recent studies about dietary fats mentioned above.
• In September 2015, Ms. Teicholz wrote an article for the distinguished British Medical Journal (BMJ) about the upcoming guidelines. Her article called into question the legitimacy of the DGA because the committee hadn’t considered all the relevant evidence. In other words, she delivered a pretty solid thwack to the US nutritional establishment – many of whom are now reacting like angry bees, defending their hive.
This blog post by Dr. Michael Eades about the guidelines in general and the furor caused by the Teicholz BMJ piece makes for some interesting reading. And hopefully it will provide you with some food for thought (pun intended) when you hear about the 2015 DGA.
We don’t know if the powerful members of the DGA committee are simply mired in circular thinking, ignoring evidence that is in conflict with their long-held beliefs (aka cognitive dissonance) or if there is some other cause. I for one appreciate what Ms. Teicholz has tried to bring to our attention and am somewhat fascinated by the fervor of her detractors.
Please let the research and your body guide your food choices, not the bureaucrats. Because only you know what feels right in your body and we are NOT all the same.
The fundamental flaw is in the entire concept that there is one way of eating for every human. That is simply ridiculous.
What do you think?