2016 Food Guidelines Are Here

February 22, 2016

2016 Food Guidelines are Here! Seismic Shift 

 Published: Feb 22, 2016 Reference:   J Acad Nutrit Diet, Health.gov

 Finally, the 2015 Guidelines have been published – 6 months late. So they called them 2016 Guidelines and haven’t even actually published them, just a teaser page saying they are coming and a reference to studies looking at Healthy Eating Index, or HEI. They claim to have extracted data from 34 high quality studies released as late as May 10, 2014, from fifteen different cohort populations, covering over 1,020,000 people. 

Those who followed the healthiest diets had risk reductions as much as 21% for the onset of chronic disease. That’s pretty good, but for the fact that they didn’t release any guidelines! Did you get that? It’s just a promise that they are coming in the months ahead. (That much delay means that much controversy and change behind the scenes.) 

 Why is that important? Well, it is important because 20% of America’s meals come from institutions that have to follow those guidelines. Every schoolchild, every hospital, every nursing home, prison, armed force dining room, dietician in health care facility must follow those guidelines. And it should be noted that those people and those institutions, when following our guidelines have brought us the largest public health disaster in history, by ushering in the current obesity epidemic in America.  

 They got it dead wrong in the 1970s with the first food pyramid, adopted visually from Sweden that then had one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world. We do have clues at to what is coming. Science Friday, a Public Radio program reviewed some of America’s most esteemed leaders in nutrition and disease prevention, Walter Willet and Steve Nissen from the Cleveland Clinic.   What we heard on that segment were some intriguing thoughts. For one, eggs are no longer on the “hate list”. In fact, there will be no prohibition at all against dietary cholesterol. Did you get that? After 40 years of bashing eggs and eating egg beaters, eggs are off the list of foods to avoid. (Some irony as I was at the grocery store last night looking at a woman taking 4 pints of Egg Beaters off the shelf.) 

In fact, the revolution appears to be even bigger than that.   They noted that the “Mediterranean Diet” was better for heart disease prevention than the American Heart Association Diet. Ok, so what is the Mediterranean Diet? It is from the Mediterranean, but no one can tell you what it is, as there are 23 countries on the Mediterranean, all with different cuisines. But they tend to have some things in common. Mostly, fat. Olive oil. In fact, you can just substitute 50% fat, mostly olive oil, lots of vegetables and much, much less sugar, and you get the Mediterranean diet. 

 Much, much less sugar. Did you get that?   The NPR Science Friday basically came down on sugar and refined flour. That is the principal enemy, not fat. And the interview on NPR suggested that instead of a ceiling on fat, we should likely have a floor on fat. Eat no less than 40% fat. So, the recommendations are to cut your sugar in half.   Oh dear. We all like sugar. 

WWW. What’s My Take on This? Hooray. Finally. I can’t wait to see details, and then the 2020 Guidelines. To reverse this current epidemic of chronic disease, we all need to lose weight first. That takes a diet that turns off insulin, and that is typically 70% fat, with NO sugar or carbs. But a long term healthy diet.   The Government seems to be edging to get it right. Finally. It’s timid, it’s slow but it's a start. Perhaps we can finally get rid of low fat, chocolate milk in schools. And I’m eyeing my Chocolate on Chocolate Dove Bars in the freezer. Longingly.  

 Pop Quiz

  1. The Mediterranean Diet is mostly olive oil, lots of vegetables, 50% of calories from fat, much less sugar and white flour?   T or F                      Answer:  That’s it
  1. The new food guidelines are clear about what we should do next? T or F              Answer:  False
  1. As best as we can tell from radio interviews, the ceiling on fat is out, meaning you can eat eggs.   T or F               Answer:  True
  1. These huge changes have shown up in research. T or F                          Answer:  Yes. We have finally learned how to do chronic disease research instead of taking the opinions of experts.
  1. The most concrete thing you can personally do is commit to cutting down on sugar.        Answer:   True. There goes my stash of Dove Bars.