Rely on the Dietary Guidelines?

Like most things in our lives it’s best to take accountability for what we can control, do the work necessary to educate ourselves and take appropriate actions. Over the last couple weeks I’ve seen reports from the recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) meeting held in Washington, D.C.

The DGAC sets the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Every five years since 1980, a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is released. Their stated goal is – to make recommendations about the components of a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet to help promote health and prevent chronic disease for current and future generations. They are working on the next edition which they will submit in May 2020. In this meeting they hosted 80 speakers from a variety of sectors to speak on their behalf.

When seeing some of the highlights reported, it made me reflect on the choices I made when I was unhealthy to when I took control of my health and turned my life around. I simply was ignorant about my own health headed down a pretty poor path. When I took control by educating myself about what I was putting into my body and the effects, I took appropriate action and turned my health and life around. One of the things I did find while educating myself was how various industries attempt to influence consumers and these guidelines. That was a significant learning for me.

I went on a quest to find information where I trusted the source. I learned early on to look for the source (funding) of an article, study, publication, etc. I have my go to sources I trust and believe they have no hidden agenda. I have cited these sources in my blogs since I started so you can see who I believe in.

Back to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee meeting held last month. I was paying attention to this news in hope the guidelines continue to move toward more healthy recommendations. They have a ways to go, but there has been progress.

In the most recent meeting there was much continued debate over the low carb/high fat vs. the high carb/low fat diet. There were several plant-based physicians and professionals who spoke to the advisory committee. They had a couple minutes each to state their case for changes to the dietary guidelines. I captured a few of their statement highlights and discussions from three doctors I do trust via plantbasednews.org:

Dr. Garth Davis 

  • Started his statement by saying to the committee, “I am board certified weight loss surgeon and medical weight loss doctor. I’ve been treating obesity for 18 years and I am begging this committee to please put me out of business. I am tired of cutting people open for obesity and rearranging their intestines.”
  • “It’s absolutely ridiculous it’s 2019 and we have a group of very smart people in this room, yet we are asking what we should be eating.”
  • Summarized how patients are confused by the guidelines, discussions at meetings like the one they were in and by bad science.
  • After failing the ketosis diet himself and seeing his patients failing as well “over and over” he set out to research why. He wrote a fantastic book sharing his findings, Proteinaholic. Result – eating low carb/high fat diets increase risks of chronic illnesses (America’s #1 killer – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.)
  • Dr. Davis shares research supporting the positive impacts of eating a whole foods plant-based diet and examples of the confusion created to put doubt in the minds of consumers.
  • In addition to these highlights, the following two podcasts with Rich Roll and Dr. Davis are fantastic as they address his practice, how he changed, the research he conducted and efforts he is after. This guy knows science and statistical analysis…mind blowing.

Dr. Michael Greger

  • Opened with, “This month, a paper was published in the journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and found that essentially there’s been no change in processed meat consumption over the last 20 years or so which represents just an abject failure of all of us and the public health community to warn people about the very real risks of processed meat, bacon, ham, hotdogs, lunch meat, sausage… These are known human carcinogens the official 2018 IARC report couldn’t have been clearer quote, ‘consumption of processed meat causes cancer of the colorectal.’ So that’s our second leading cancer killer of men and women combined. We know these foods cause cancer. We try not to smoke around our kids. Why would we send them to school with a baloney sandwich?”
  • He stressed the point the committee failed to do anything with the information and made the comparison how the cancer risk of eating processed meat is greater than second hand smoke consumed.
  • Cited 2007 report by the American Institute for Cancer Research stating one of their top 10 recommendations for cancer prevention is to avoid processed meat full stop.
  • Referenced the Global Burden of Disease Study which is the largest study of disease risk factors in history found that the number one cause of death in the United States is the American diet.
  • Dr. Greger’s website, nutritionfacts.org, has a wealth of great information.

Dr. Pamela Popper

  • Cited how the short-term results of going on a low carb/high fat where you can lose weight is not the healthiest option by explaining the increased cancer risks by doing so. She also shared how people can lose weight being addicted to cocaine but that’s not a good long term decision either.
    • From my own experience and education, people focus on carbs all the same and there are very unhealthy carbs but the good ones fuel us gloriously. I an earlier blog of mine, Are Carbohydrates Good?, I share the difference between good and bad carbs.
  • Alluded to how the healthiest people in the world eat a high carb/low fat diet. She reiterated “the science is quite clear that a plant-based diet high in carbohydrate and includes starchy foods is best.”
  • Referenced how research supports eating a plant-based diet can reverse chronic illnesses (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc….) where there isn’t a single study showing the low carb/high fat diet can.

This is consistent with what I have read over the last several years. There is so much confusion about what to eat and what not to eat people find it hard to know what to do. My advice is do your own homework. Find the sources you trust, challenge your intuitions and keep learning. If I’m one of your trusted sources, I also have more of my own blogs and pages you may find helpful in this topic area:

Keep learning, take accountability, and be as healthy as you can be…

– Add Health to Your Life

** Blog Photo

  • Top Left (Alan on low carb/high fat diet…should have seen my blood work and felt like s*%t)
  • Top Right (Alan on high carb/low fat whole foods plant-based diet…blood work on target and feel fantastic! Cut cholesterol more than half without the pill…side benefit and didn’t try….down 60 pounds…and I eat more…)
  • Bottom (Rockin’ plant-based food at the last Healthy Giraffe event…food even tastes better…)

 

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