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Federal Dietary Guidelines Being Criticized Even by Government Cronies

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Yale scientists don’t get it right either!

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), run jointly by the USDA and Health and Human Services, has been working on releasing its 2015 report about what our diet should look like. This is revised and updated every five years.

We covered this recently because the committee finally came around to seeing the error in its previous warnings about dietary cholesterol. The committee now admits that “cholesterol is [no longer]considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

The committee’s recommendations, though, seem to have a lot of people upset. The preliminary DGAC report called for a “plant-based” diet, which has the meat industry and some legislators on Capitol Hill up in arms.

Other aspects of the report that have drawn attention are measures to promote a “culture of health”—including a soda tax, a dessert tax, and electronic tracking of the use of “screen-based” technologies to deter sedentary lifestyles that lead to obesity.

To address these and other concerns about the report, the open comment period has been extended to May 8. And it is clear that any food group (like the meat, soda, or dessert industry) that feels it has been maligned by the DGAC’s guidelines will simply use its considerable influence to get more favorable treatment. It’s next to impossible to avoid crony-capitalist influence over such guidelines—which is one reason the government should not be in the business of telling people what or how to eat.

Cronyism isn’t the only problem, though. DGAC is always woefully out of date on nutrition, and not just about cholesterol. One glaring example is vitamin D. DGAC bases its estimates on the amount of essential vitamins we need on the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommended levels, which we’ve shown before to be grossly inadequate. As a point of reference, the IOM now recommends 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D for people between the ages of 1 and 70. Note that the recommendation is identical for people of all ages and weight, which is absurd. The previous recommendation was a mere 200 IU—whereas Harvard and the Vitamin D Council recommend anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 IU a day. Also of concern is the report’s caution against dietary supplements as a means to achieve their recommended levels, despite supplements’ well-established safety record.

The report also advises Americans to reduce their consumption of saturated fat, presumably because of an alleged link to heart disease. Yet more up-to-date evidence shows that saturated fat does not cause heart disease and actually has a number of health benefits.

Finally, as mentioned above, the report recommends a diet low in red meat. But, as we’ve shown in the past, not all red meat is created equal: meat from corn-fed, CAFO-raised cows is quite different in nutrient composition than meat from grass-fed, organically raised cows, which is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Rather than telling us what to eat, government at all levels should instead stop gagging free speech about nutrition, an issue we’ve covered extensively in the Pulse of Natural Health. It is absurd, on the one hand, to be subjected to government health guidelines that are obsolete and likely tainted with crony influence, and on the other hand to be prevented from sharing nutrition advice with friends without a special license or consulting the nutritionist of our choice.

Nutrition is a science, which means that data and appropriate conclusions are constantly changing. Even some distinguished scientists can get it very wrong.

Consider an effort by Yale scientists to create a chart that would rank all foods in general from best to worst. This is very difficult, because all foods have advantages and disadvantages. It only makes things worse if you still labor under the old idea that saturated fat is bad.

Let’s look at one example: these Yale scientists say that nonfat milk is “very good” with a high rating of 100, while 2% milk has only a rating of 84, and whole milk has a rating of 52. But cream-topped whole milk at least is more natural and possibly safer, if you can find it non-homogenized (homogenization changes the fat molecules). A recent study also found that consuming high-fat dairy products is linked to a reduction in the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Other strange outcomes on the Yale list: brown eggs (also linked to reduced risk of type-2 diabetes) are ranked very low with a score of 33, while Pepperidge Farms Whole Grain Bread is ranked higher with a score of 51.

Our grade for this whole list is an F. It misleads more than it helps.

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