Let’s Take a Look at the New Dietary Standards

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published new dietary guidelines for Americans. These guys basically create a whole new food paradigm every five years. Their recommendations have historically come from epidemiologic studies and have often been concerned with the interplay of dietary fats, cholesterol levels, obesity, and mortality.

However, some of these studies can be and have been flawed, resulting in less-than-perfect recommendations that still change the diets (and lives) of millions of Americans. In his article Behind New Dietary Guidelines, Better Science, New York Times science writer Aaron E. Carroll, tells us that the latest food shift has got more scientific backing because it is based on randomized controlled trials, which he calls “a more rigorous form of scientific research.”(http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/upshot/behind-new-dietary-guidelines-better-science.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0)

The Huffington Post enumerates the changes this way:

1. The focus on foods, not nutrients, is a good thing.… The U.S. population should be encouraged and guided to consume dietary patterns that are rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains. These dietary patterns can be achieved in many ways and should be tailored to the individual’s biological and medical needs as well as socio-cultural preferences.

2. Cholesterol limits are gone, but that won’t change much {because of the renewed focus on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, etc}.

3. Sustainability is also part of good nutrition….The {HHS and USDA advisory} committee for the first time considered the environmental impact of our diets. To that end, they recommended eating a plant-based diet that was low in red and processed meat, and they were roundly criticized for it by meat industry spokespeople.

4. There need to be real limits on sugar. For the first time, the committee is recommending that added sugar products comprise no more than 10 percent of someone’s daily caloric intake. These recommendations are in line with the World Health Organization’s strong recommendations, which actually go a step further by encouraging people to eat no more than 5 percent of daily calories from added sugar.

5. Research about the link between food and mental health is still emerging. The advisory committee considered, for the first time, the link between foods and mental health.

6. These suggestions need your support.

You can read the full report here. Take a look and take a bite. The public comment period is open until April.

Bon Appétit