It provides us an opportunity to reevaluate the importance of food in our health and well being and also honor those who continue to strive for a healthier America by providing dietary guidance. A guiding light continues to be the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics an organization that provides impactful policy recommendations and guidelines for their 80,000 plus members who are champions of healthy eating and a wealth of knowledge.
One of the more important events in nutrition that occurred in the past month was the scientific report provided by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. On February 19, 2015 this six member task force used the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition’s model for an evidence-based analysis of the existing nutrition literature to fashion actionable recommendations by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services for possible updates to the US Dietary Guidelines. The committee put forth recommendations for a “healthy dietary pattern” that includes…
Higher consumption of:
- Whole grains
- Low- or non-fat dairy
- Moderate alcohol intake of alcohol (no more than 2 drinks per day for males, 1 drink per day for females)
Lower intake of:
- Red and processed meats
- Sugar-sweetened foods and drinks
- Refined grains
Please note that many of the foods that were considered part of a “healthy dietary pattern” help fertilize your friendly gut bacteria, are anti-inflammatory, and when consumed in healthy amounts can combat diabetes, obesity and other diseases. In many respects it emulates the Mediterranean Diet and the Anti-inflammatory Diet.
There are some interesting caveats as well. There is flexibility on how the “healthy foods” are proportioned which contrasts with the present MyPlate.gov recommendations that impose limits on food type. And these recommendations are more liberal with regards to the intake of less healthy foods and beverages. The committee also reversed prior recommendations about cholesterol intake. Many of us recall growing up and counting cholesterol — the so-called evil fat. Now the evidence clarifies this misguided practice and trans-fats and inflammatory fats such as corn oil take center stage as being “evil fats”.
The committee also “rubbed salt in the wound” with its sodium recommendations. Despite some controversy in the literature, the data that we as a nation consume too much salt is overwhelming and the committee appropriately recommended caution when consuming salt. Given how foods are doused with salt for “flavor” when dining out, taking out or in a processed form, we need to be more mindful of sodium given its linkage to cardiovascular disease and mortality in many studies.
Finally, the committee emphasized the importance of health-promoting and disease-preventing physical activity, home-based meals, and mindful eating practices.
Overall, I think this is one of the most pivotal nutrition recommendations made by this committee and look forward to their transforming our nation’s dietary guidelines. Unfortunately, the nutrition field is riddled with “eat this not that” recommendations that contradict each other and leave the consumer’s head spinning. This work goes some distance to reverse that trend.
I applaud the work done by the six member 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Four of the members of this committee were experts of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Please spread the good word.
My only hope is the once published the US federal government will back up these guidelines with their own actions by subsidizing industries that produce these healthy foods. Presently, the $489 billion 2014 US Farm Bill Act like its predecessors favor crops that produce much of our nations’ fast food.
To your good health.
Dr. Gerry Mullin