Eating guidelines, http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/01/07/hhs-and-usda-release-new-dietary-guidelines-encourage-healthy-eating-patterns-prevent-chronic.html, set forth by the government and touted as ” the nation’s trusted resource for evidence-based nutrition recommendations serving to provide the general public, as well as policy makers and health professionals with the information they need to help the public make informed choices about diets at home, school, work and in their communities,” are released by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The fact that the USDA is involved in any health promoting efforts such as helping to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease is concerning because there is conflict of interest with its role in the agricultural industry.
According to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell, “Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives.” But empowering Americans to be informed decision makers in regards to food choices is NOT an act of the dietary guidelines. The British Medical Journal published an article written by Nina Tiecholz, http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4962, that questions the current dietary guidelines citing its failure to utilize unbiased and relevant scientific literature that might contradict the last 35 years of nutritional advice. Cherry picking data misleads the public and we are catching on. Concerns over this have been voiced by over 29 000 submitted public comments.
In true political fashion, The US Department of Agriculture set up the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to help keep current science literature available in its efforts to review research using a standardized fair process for identifying, selecting, and evaluating relevant studies. Yet in its own 2015 report, the committee admits that it did not use the literature from the NEL or any defined criteria for more than 70% of the subject matter they reviewed.
Instead, nutrition guidelines for professionals and the public were entrusted to “expert” professional associations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) funded by food and drug companies. “The ACC reports receiving 38% of its revenue from industry in 2012, and the AHA reported 20% of revenue from industry in 2014”, like vegetable oil manufacturers.
It seems political funding may be driving the advice given within the Dietary Guidelines. The “expert advice” provided by the AHA promotes the use of unsaturated vegetable (corn and soy) oil to promote cardiovascular health over saturated fat. The current literature does not support this position.
In fact, research shows a cause for concern when over consumption of vegetable oil changes the omega 3:omega 6 (ratio) and it becomes unbalanced. Higher intake of omega 6 unsaturated fat has a negative effect on heart disease risk, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19022225. The author suggests, “using caution when recommending omega 6 fats like vegetable oil to the general population without considering, at the individual level, the intake of total energy and fats.”
In addition, omega 6 unsaturated fats are also linked to depression, http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2007/04000/Depressive_Symptoms,_omega_6_omega_3_Fatty_Acids,.1.aspx, cancer http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583770, and other health risks, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/eat-foods-with-fat-5-balance-foods-with-fat/.
It may also not be well known that recent long term (one as long as 14 years) studies on saturated fat have shown no relationship between eating it and the incidence of heart disease or stroke, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648. Dr. William Briffa explains it nicely, http://www.drbriffa.com/2010/01/15/two-major-studies-conclude-that-saturated-fat-does-not-cause-heart-disease/.
While the debate seems to focus on sugar and saturated fat, I would say the entire system and all nutrient recommendations needs a facelift. We need to fairly assess carbohydrates, fats, especially saturated fat; and let’s not forget protein too.
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound, enough to prevent a nutritional deficiency but certainly not enough across the board for an individual’s optimal health or to support recommendations for increasing activity levels.
Weight loss and sports nutrition studies on men and women show a benefit to increasing protein recommendations, up to 1.5-2 grams, https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8, and doubling current recommendations from 15% to 30% for adults who are interested in losing weight, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847729, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/41.abstrac. It does not seem that any of this research was considered for the 2015 dietary guidelines.
If we are concerned with health and have the resources to test genetic health factors, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients, we can work towards giving the public much more than political fluff. We have the tools to make a difference and provide personalized care for each of you. Ultimately trusting general dietary guidelines may not be in your best interest. Be smart, stay active in all facets of your life and know that general politically driven advice given to the masses is likely not right for the individual (YOU)!