This is a food politics rant post. If you don’t like rants about food politics don’t read this post.
Last week the government’s advisory committee on nutrition released their new suggestions. The basic summery is eat less meat and sugar. The primary concern to eat less meat: the environment of course. I like air and trees as much as the next guy, but to ignore science and recommend people eat primarily plants is misguided at best. Fruits and veggie prices remain sky high while soy, corn, and wheat remain subsidized. Therefor a plant based diet will equal eating crap for most people. The committee finally moved on dietary cholesterol. They admitted they were wrong all along and that cholesterol ingestion will impact blood cholesterol. This is a step in the right direction but I am disappointed by these recommendations.
Food Politics Aside: It’s time to Look at Good Science, not Epidemiological Studies
Many people base their diets on these recommendations and where has that left us?
Fat and sick.
These reports impact policy. The fear of fat flies in the face of science. It’s clear that a diet based primarily on carbohydrate does not work. Yes, added sugar is a huge part of the problem but it’s not the whole equation.
Even if you take out all of the added sugar, most people don’t have the nutritional know how to navigate a high carb template and not worsen their health. I would have liked to see them change the percentages of fat and carbs. I would like to see the committee discourage eating carbs. It would be great if the committee realized that saturated fat is healthier than unsaturated fat because it is more stable. Vegetable oils should pretty much be avoided. Unsaturated fats bonds easily break when used for cooking and cause harmful oxidation. They do the same thing in the body to create unstable end products.
I try to stay out of food politics. The political issue concerning food can be distraction. People are better served focusing on nutritional fundamentals. Also, there are too many unknowns and too much complexity for me to spend time figuring out. However, this “more of the same” approach seems to favor agriculture and packaged foods. I would like to know if this committee was hand selected by the USDA. I know that the USDA has final say in the government recommendations, which is preposterous. Unless done perfectly, a plant based diet will leave you unhealthy. The perfect plant based diet is superior in many regards, but it is rather difficult to achieve.
I spent the last year on a high fat high meat diet. Last week I got my blood lipids tested, they are as follows:
LDL: 88 (VLDL 10)
These are phenomenal numbers. While they are not proof of anything, they are indicative of the fact that a high fat diet profile did not lead to issues with my cholesterol. It was also extremely favorable for triglyceride values. This is obvious because triglyceride forms primarily from over ingestion of sugar not fat. On a high fat diet I lost body fat and every single one of my biomarkers have improved dramatically.
The nutrition committee’s stance on saturated fat is wrong. Their stance on the ratio of carbs to fat to protein is wrong. Food Politics determine what the military is fed and what is in the school lunches. The bottom line is carbohydrate is cheaper than protein and fat. If you want to stay under budget to feed kids, then carbs are the way to go. The funny thing is we all pay for it on the back end via escalating health care costs. Why are the health care cost going up? Because we are medicating problems caused by these backward recommendation. This time food politics have gone too far.
They would be better served to change regulation on meat production and shift from grain fed to grass fed. This might save the environment a bit. That might harm the wheat and corn industry and that would effect GDP, which I suspect is the underlying concern here. I’m not a huge conspiracy theorist. I don’t have random newspaper clippings all over my walls with pins and yarn connecting them. I don’t sit in a dark room building a case for the motivations of the US government. If you read between the lines at all, it’s pretty clear what is going on here.
The health of the US population is not the primary concern. Otherwise this committee would not have avoided mechanistic studies just to focus on old useless epidemiological data. Check out a great article in the New York times explaining how these committees have ignored superior scientific data while creating their recommendations. This article goes into great detail to show actual controlled trials that undermine the committees recommendations.
Here’s a good talk on Food politics: Video
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