The Federal Government, namely the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture, recently released their new dietary guidelines that we, as Americans, are supposed to follow. These guidelines are put together by something called the “Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee,” and they put out new guidelines every five years.
I’d like to break down why ignoring the US Government in regards to these latest health guidelines may be a prudent thing to do.
For forty years, the “Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” has told us that eating cholesterol is bad, very bad. Eggs – particularly egg yokes were the devil, and if you ate one you would die within 10 minutes of a heart attack. I may exaggerate a little bit here. But apparently Eggs are no longer the devil.
The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern.
Great, we get to eat eggs again without worry that our arteries will spontaneously seize up as a result. But look at what such advice appears to have done to the average US citizen’s egg consumption:
Shouldn’t somebody answer for that? Forty years of misinformed and incorrect guidelines put out for the “public good”, and all it did was damage one particular industry, and do nothing in regards to heart and artery health for Americans as a whole. I think egg producers may have cause to sue the government here. How about at least an “I’m sorry” from the US Government?
According to the government, salt is terrible for you. It causes hypertension, and increased blood pressure, and ups your risk for heart disease and stroke according to the CDC and other government agencies. They say we should eat less than 2.3 grams per day to avoid these risks. Unfortunately for them, study after study over the last several years are contradicting them, some saying up to as much as 6 grams per day has zero impact on health, and even benefits us. There was even a study actually commissioned by the CDC that contradicted their caution against salt. Despite these studies, they still included this erroneous caution against salt in their 2015 guidelines, and on the CDC’s website.
I love fat. I love red meat. Both are cautioned against by current and past government guidelines. You see, Fat in and of itself increases risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, etc. Except that it doesn’t. A 2010 study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 22 different studies, and showed that significant evidence doesn’t exist in regards to dietary saturated fat intake and increased risk of heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease. A 2014 analysis of 72 different studies on cardiovascular disease and fat intake found nothing that backs up the current guidelines put out by the Government. Yet still they tell us that consuming fat is the enemy.
And Red Meat? A 2013 European study followed 450,000 people since the 1990’s, and found no increase in mortality rate tied to red meat consumption – interestingly they did notice a correlation between increased mortality, and processed meats. But still we are told we shouldn’t eat red meat.
I see two primary problems as to why the Government appears to get it wrong so much of the time:
1) The Government gets much of their data and come up with many of their policies based on studies completed by the Harvard school of public health. The problem there is that much of the epidemiological data from these studies is not reproducible in real life or in clinical trials.
2) Lobbyists in Washington. When in doubt, follow the money. But that can be tied to pretty much anything Washington funds, or regulates.
Does this mean you can go out and eat whatever you want? Of course not. There are plenty of studies out there pointing to moderation in our diets being the key. Lots of Sugar by and large appears to be bad, no matter who you are. Eat too much of anything, and chances are you are going to get fat. Just take the government’s guidelines with a large grain of salt.
If you are so inclined, you can submit comments to the “Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” until April 8th, and let them know what you think about their new guidelines.
On a personal note – I did Cross Fit for about a year, and loved it. The pain, the sweat, the blood, it was awesome. The best part about it was the community and friends I gained from the gym I went to. Unfortunately I never managed to get my eating fully under control, and that is 80% of getting healthy (at least according to me). I try to steer clear of processed foods. The owner of my gym told me once that if it looks like it did when it came off the tree/bush or out of the ground, or it had a mother, then you can eat it. Seems pretty straightforward to me, and I most definitely feel better, and notice my body responding well when I eat this way consistently.
So – What do you do to get healthy, or maintain health? What dietary guideline do you follow? What type of exercises do you like to do? Any particular exercise regiment you stick to? Share in the comments.