The Positive Changes and Glaring Misses in the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) creates a 15 member panel every five years to discuss the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
During this meeting, the best food and beverage choices for enhancing health, maintaining weight, and preventing disease are discussed. The goal is to help Americans make informed health decisions. Their recommendations serve as the cornerstone of future nutritional policies for both agencies.
The latest version of the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released in 2015, and while there were several positive changes, certain culprits responsible for Americans’ faltering health still remain to be addressed by these authorities.
Positive Turnarounds in the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines
A major change in the 2015 edition of the USDA Dietary Guidelines is related to the panel’s stand on cholesterol. The warnings about dietary cholesterol were removed and it was declared that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption,”.
There has always been a negative connotation regarding cholesterol, when it should be recognized for its dietary importance. . Cholesterol is actually good for you, since it can build cell membranes, interact with proteins inside your cells, and assist in regulating protein pathways required for brain signaling.
The guidelines on artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, were changed as well. The latest version of the USDA guidelines stated that these sweeteners can be consumed in moderation, but they should not be promoted for weight loss. Although this update is a step forward advice, it is still not ideal. No one should use artificial sweeteners for any reason, period, as they’ve been linked to weight gain, worsened insulin resistance, and diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another modification in the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines was a “general focus” on eating whole foods. This is an excellent development considering the bulk of many Americans’ diets nowadays consist of harmful processed foods.
While the panelists got it right when they said that you should limit eating refined grains, remember that not all whole foods are beneficial for you — particularly whole grains. Eating too many whole grains can set you up for insulin and leptin resistance, which can lead to chronic diseases that can impair your health.
What the USDA Failed to Highlight, but You Should Know
Unfortunately, there are still recommendations in the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans that they may consider healthy, but are in fact the opposite.
One is choosing low- or non-fat dairy products over full-fat dairy products. Believe it or not, low- or non-fat dairy is counterproductive when it comes to weight loss. Mario Kratz, Ph.D., Ton Baars, Ph.D., and Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D. all concur that low- or non-fat dairy products aren’t healthy. In an article published in the European Journal of Nutrition, they noted:1
“The observational evidence [referring to studies they analyzed] does not support the hypothesis that dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk, and suggests that high-fat dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk.”
In an interview with Time Magazine, Baars added: “In terms of obesity, we found no support for the notion that low-fat dairy is healthier.”2
Sadly, the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommended that you should reduce your consumption of saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your daily calories.
This isbad advice, since saturated fat, ideally from coconuts and coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocados, raw nuts such as macadamias and pecans, grass-fed meats, and organic pastured egg yolks, is actually beneficial for you. It assists in mineral absorption and lowering cholesterol levels; provides satiety (making you feel full longer); serves as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins; delivers building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances; and works as an antiviral agent.
What the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines got right in terms of fat recommendations is the daily trans fat limit. According to the panel, trans fats should be less than 10 percent of your daily calories.
While this is a low number, you should instead work on removingall sources of trans fat from your diet, such as sugary and processed foods, since these fats, contribute to insulin and leptin resistance, and poor heart health. Trans fats are also theculprit behind common health problems among Americans: cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and asthma, to name a few.
When It Comes to Improving Your Health, Your Choices Matter
The members of the panel collectively agreed that vegetables and fruits are consistent disease-fighters, as they work well against every illness that was noted in the guidelines. With the various vitamins, minerals, and health benefits you can get from fresh, organic produce, you can do no wrong.
If you want to improve your health, make sure your diet is composed of organic, locally-grown vegetables, high-quality protein (in moderate amounts), and healthy saturated fats.
Apart from better food choices, the timing of your meals also plays a big part in boosting your health — this is where intermittent fasting comes into play. Here, you restrict your eating time to a six- to eight-hour window, (healthy meals, of course) and fast for the rest of the day.
Intermittent fasting is just a diet plan, but a lifestyle. You should consistently practice it in order for you to reap benefits, such as:
- Lessening inflammation and free radical damage
- Lowering triglyceride levels
- Normalizing insulin and leptin sensitivity and ghrelin (“hunger hormone”) levels
- Enhancing biomarkers of disease
- Retaining memory function and learning
Apart from better food and beverages choices, you should strive to add more physical activity to your daily routine. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are my exercise of choice, particularly the Peak Fitness method, where you go all-out with 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of rest, for a total of eight repetitions.
HIIT workouts are a notch above other types of workouts because they allow you to improve your muscle tone, increase your energy levels, and optimize production of the human growth hormone (HGH) that is crucial for your strength, health, and longevity.
I firmly believe there’s no better time to start improving your health than right now. With constant effort and focus, you can fulfill your goal of living the best years of your life.
Learn more about burning fat for fuel, what the USDA’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines are and find more ways to improve your health, by reading my latest book, Fat For Fuel, and the article “2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Makes Strides Toward Better Nutrition, but Fallacies Remain.”
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