government tells us which diet is best

OUR GOVERNMENT FINALLY
REVEALS WHICH DIET IS BEST

Best Diet

Zuzyusa – Praha/ČR – Pixabay

“Diet is established among the most important influences on health in modern societies. Injudicious diet figures among the leading causes of premature death and chronic disease. Optimal eating is associated with increased life expectancy, dramatic reduction in lifetime risk of all chronic disease, and . A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention and is consistent with the salient components of seemingly distinct dietary approaches.”    From the abstract of the Annual Review of Public Health’s study Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?
I would agree whole-heartedly with the quote above from Dr. David Katz and Dr. Stephanie Meller, respectively of Yale University’s School of Public Health and School of Medicine.  I would go one step farther and say that diet is undoubtedly the single most important aspect of healthAnd did you catch the phrase, “amelioration of gene expression?  This is dealing with EPIGENETICS (HERE), which in many cases, actually trumps genetics.   Eating foods as “close to nature” as possible is what I have been promoting for the past two decades (HERE).   The thing you have to remember is that when it comes to dietary advice is that no two experts will give it to you quite the same way.  It has always fascinated me to hear two people with impeccable credentials tout extremely different ways of eating (for instance, PALEO -VS- VEGAN).  In this review, Katz and Meller looked at the differences / similarities in numerous diets, including……

  • LOW CARB DIETS:  
  • LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX DIETS:
  • LOW FAT DIET / VEGETARIAN:
  • DASH DIET:
  • MEDITERRANEAN DIET:
  • PALEO DIET:
  • VEGAN DIET:

LOW CARB DIET

Katz defines Low Carb thusly, “the Dietary Reference Intakes of the Institute of Medicine, which establish the recommended range for normal carbohydrate intake at between 45% and 65% of total calories. Total mean daily carbohydrate intake below 45% of total calories is therefore a low-carbohydrate diet.” 

When speaking about the epidemic of both OBESITY and DIABETES, Katz indicates that there are many who believe the Low Fat diets of the past, have led to a corresponding backlash of Low Carb Diets.  He then says, “Such assertions are a valid appraisal of prevailing nutritional epidemiology……“.    In other words, he is completely agreeing that SUGAR and starch jack levels of BLOOD SUGAR so that we will eventually gain weight.  I would agree with this part of his assessment, but would argue that it does not go far enough.   We know that beyond Diabetes and Obesity, virtually every single non-genetic disease known to man, is being tied back to UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR in some form or fashion.

Katz ends this section with a seeming contradiction.  He says that it is difficult to get enough calories with a carb-restricted diet by letting us know that, carbohydrate-restricted diets are calorie restricted as well“.  He goes on to indicate that this is bad by letting us know that, “in the absence of calorie restriction, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets can contribute to weight gain and adverse metabolic effects.  But this is contradicted by telling us in the next sentence that, “However, metabolic benefits of low-carbohydrate dieting under diverse circumstances have been reported,” and gives several studies to back this up.   In fact, he tells us that, “intervention studies of short to moderate duration demonstrate the efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss, with potentially beneficial metabolic effects and favorable implications for quality of life“.  “Metabolic effects” would be lowered blood sugar and slowing down the process of Diabetes that is running roughshod over the citizens of this country.  “Quality of life” means long term.

Katz goes on to say that, “most studies suggesting benefit from low-carbohydrate eating per se in comparison, generally, to either the typical Western diet or some version of a low-fat diet“.  He talks about Low Carb eating’s effect on WEIGHT LOSS, implying that much of the weight lost might be to calorie restriction as opposed to the effects of Low Carb itself.  Again, I would challenge this assertion by having the reader get and read Gary Taube’s Good Calories, Bad Calories — (HERE is the video at the end of the link).  Calories themselves play a very small part in weight gain.  The way the foods you eat act upon your ENDOCRINE SYSTEM plays a far bigger part.

Dr. Katz goes on to tell us about a recent Swedish study that indicated, “no increase in incident cancers over nearly 20 years of follow-up was observed in conjunction with relatively low-carbohydrate intake“.  He then ends this section by telling us that, “weight loss studies of short to moderate duration suggest that carbohydrate restriction is at least as effective as any other approach“.  Weight loss is great for those who need it, but beyond Weight Loss, I am interested in overall health, as well as the ability to maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.   I believe that Low Carb in one form or another has the ability to help you accomplish this.

Finally, after telling us that the renowned cardiologist, Dr. Robert Atkins, “emphasized unrestricted intake of meat and dairy,” (something that is simply not true) the authors discuss eating meat in terms that a vegan would use, describing it as unsustainable, inefficient, unethical, and bad / harmful for the environment.   They then proceed to deal with the fact that most Low Carb diets aren’t really “low carb” because they are not restricting vegetables — and after all; vegetables are carbs. Thus, these sorts of diets should be referred to as “carb selective“.  This is an issue of semantics, unless you are talking about a truly “KETOGENIC DIET” that someone with severe NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS such as seizures would be on.  Katz then lets us know that as long as we are aware that most people are using the term “low carb” erroneously that, “in such a context, the evidence supporting health benefits of some degree of carbohydrate restriction with liberalization of protein and/or fat intake for at least short-term benefit is fairly strong and consistent.”  The biggest complaint from most folks (many CARB ADDICTS in the lot) is that they can’t stay on it for the long haul.


LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX DIET

This is another version of a “Low Carb” diet.  To understand this diet, you must understand the “Glycemic Index” and how it relates to dietary carbohydrates. Blood Sugar is known as Glucose.  The Glycemic Index tells us (on a scale from 1 to 100) how fast a carbohydrate is broken down into Glucose.  The best carbohydrates are going to convert to blood sugar very slowly.  A carrot is going to have a much lower Glycemic Index than say, a Snickers Bar.  High Glycemic Index foods not only jack your Blood Sugar rapidly, they JACK YOUR INSULIN LEVELS as well.  This not only leads to DIABETES, but at the other end of the spectrum, HYPOGLYCEMIA —– two sides of the same coin that is UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR.   The reality of this diet is that it will be Low Carb (or as Katz correctly summarized in the previous section, “Carb Selective“).

The authors begin by saying this about eating according to a Glycemic Index.  “This often extends to the exclusion of certain vegetables and many if not all fruits, along with processed foods containing refined starches and/or added sugars. In an age of epidemic diabetes, attention to the glycemic effects of food is sensible at the least.”   The only vegetable mentioned in the report was “carrots” (usually corn is also mentioned here as well, but corn is a grain and not a vegetable).  White potatoes could also have been mentioned as I have seen Glycemic Indexes showing a baked white potato as having a higher Glycemic Index than table sugar.  Atkins used to say that carrots were a no-no, but that recommendation went out the door years ago.  Fruits, however, are a different story, and for the most part, should not be lumped together with vegetables (i.e. “FRUITS AND VEGETABLES“).

People who are carb-sensitive (those who are DIABETIC, INSULIN RESISTANT, OBESE, or chronically ill), may need to stay away from many fruits.  Fruits, like the grains that we’ll deal with in the next section, have, for the most part, been heavily genetically modified and hybridized.  Bananas are a great example of this.  Modern bananas are a 100 calorie glucose bomb; far sweeter than anything from the past, and ranked near the top of a Glycemic Index.  Hybridizing or Genetic Modification is always done with a goal in mind, and one of the chief goals with modifying fruit is to create greater sugar content.  This is why many people (particularly SUGAR ADDICTS) will use fruit as a SUBSTITUTE for their fix-of-choice — white sugar.  Another thing that many people do when they are told to eat more fruits and vegetable, is to go light on the veggies and heavy on the fruits, which is exactly the opposite of how it should work.  Eat your (low GI) fruits.  Just make sure you are eating far more vegetables.  And if you have FIBROMYALGIA / ADRENAL FATIGUE, Chronic Yeast Infections (Candida), CANCER, serious weight issues, or certain other health problems, just be aware that in similar fashion to the problems listed at the top of the paragraph, anything with sugar or high Glycemic Index Carbohydrates — including fruit — is probably not your friend; at least until you get healthy.

Some of the specifically mentioned benefits of a low Glycemic Index way of eating include the same perks you would get from almost any Low Carb diet, “benefits in the areas of weight loss, insulin metabolism, diabetes control, inflammation, and cardiovascular function“.  Once we begin to understand that Blood Sugar is where most disease processes begin, we can appreciate this approach to eating.  Eating lower Glycemic Index carbohydrates will help control blood sugar, and provide all the health benefits associated with.


LOW FAT / VEGETARIAN DIET

I am not sure why the “Low Fat” and “Vegetarian” diets were lumped into a single category.  And, as many of you would have suspected, the authors found, “there is no decisive evidence that low-fat eating is superior to diets higher in healthful fat in terms of health outcomes over the life span.  One thing you need to be aware of up front is that, Veganism and Vegetarianism are not the same thing (we’ll get to Veganism shortly).  “Vegetarian diets are mostly plant based, but typically they include dairy and eggs and may selectively include other animal products, such as fish and other seafood.”  Interestingly enough, I would argue that if you were to include the words red meat at the end of the quote above, you would have a fair representation of a decent Low Carb diet.

I am not sure the authors described the “Low Fat” era (the 80’s and 90’s) as well as could have been done.  They actually argue that, “the adoption of many high-starch, high-sugar, low-fat foods” was not the reason for the, “obesity and diabetes epidemics” of those decades, and that even though people may have been eating less fat, the problem was that they were consuming more calories.  Once again, I would refer you to Taubes work that I discussed earlier.  The authors redeem themselves a bit by saying that, “adverse effects of low-fat eating may be associated with this misapplication of the original guidance rather than the intended guidance….”  In other words, we would sincerely hope that the government’s recommendations to cut way down on fat, was not an endorsement of all the crappy, heavily processed Low Fat / Fat Free foods that flooded the supermarkets in those days.  Furthermore, a vegetarian diet is not necessarily “Low Fat”. 

A vegetarian diet is not reliably low in fat, nor does it necessarily comprise mostly wholesome plant foods. Similarly, a low-fat diet need not be high in plant foods, and it certainly need not comprise wholesome foods direct from nature.  For purposes of this assessment, however, the more idealized versions of “low-fat” and “vegetarian” are intended.
The first half of this statement is is more true than you could imagine.  If the Low Fat / Vegetarian Diet is done correctly (“idealized versions“) you will typically find healthy people.  The problem is, far too many people (maybe the majority of the people eating this way) are scared to death of dietary fat, but do not understand the consequences of eating quantum amounts of sugar and heavily processed foods.  In fact, When done properly, the Vegetarian diet is, like I said in the first paragraph of this section, not much different than many Low Carb diets, were you to add a bit of RED MEAT to the equation.

One thing I do appreciate in this section is the authors making mention of the fact that, “one of the more controversial aspects of plant-based eating is the role of grains“. Many vegetarians are consuming the proverbial “boatload” of grains.  My stance on grains is that while not inherently bad, the fact that we are eating so much of them (Food Pyramid / DASH Diet), along with the fact that the majority of them have been either genetically modified or intensely hybridized, is a recipe for disaster for a growing section of the population.  To understand the “why” behind the dramatically increased numbers of Gluten Sensitive people, go HERE.  To understand why GLUTEN SENSITIVITY is a far bigger issue than a little bit of gas or bloating, go HERE.  And finally, to grasp why GRAINS are so bad for so many people, click the link.

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Mediterranean Diet

greekfood-tamystika – Greece – Pixabay

This is still another of the Low Carb diets.  For those of you who do not know, the authors tell us a little bit about the Mediterranean Diet.  “Mediterranean diets are based on the common themes of the traditional dietary pattern that prevails in Mediterranean countries: an emphasis on olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, selective dairy intake, and whole grains; often fish and other seafood; and quite limited consumption of meat. Moderate wine intake is often explicitly included as well.”  Not sure what the problem is here, but other than adding a tad bit more meat, it looks pretty good to me. 

For people who are actually from the Mediterranean region, grains are not as big of an issue as here because GMO’s have been banned in Europe.  How much meat is eaten on this diet?  Not sure, but there is plenty of quality protein in the form of fish, eggs, poultry, raw dairy (much of it goat-based dairy, which is far easier to digest and less reactive than bovine dairy), etc.  The authors went on to say that, “This pattern tends to result in favorable effects on the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, high intake of fiber, and generous consumption of antioxidants and polyphenols. Overall, Mediterranean eating has been associated with increased longevity, preserved cognition, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in particular, with some evidence for reduced cancer risk“.  They then finished by describing two recent studies showing the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet over the Low Fat Diet.  Can’t say that I’m surprised.  When a Mediterranean Diet includes lots and lots of vegetables, which it usually does, it is an extremely healthy way of eating, and can easily be modified for the Grain / Gluten Sensitive American.

MIXED BALANCE DIETS

This is just the sort of confusing name you might associate with a diet invented by our government.  When the government first started delving into dietary guidelines back in the first half of the 20th century, they had the seven food groups.  By the time I was in school, it had become four.  Then in college it became the infamous “Food Pyramid”, which has been replaced by things like DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the DPP (Diabetes Prevention Plan).  Am I thrilled about these diets?  Not by a long shot (HERE and HERE are a couple of reasons why).  However, be aware that these diets are the ones touted both by our government (the USDA — an organization whose chief purpose is to promote US agriculture), and the United Nations (the WHO — World Health Organization).  Thus, they carry a lot of weight.

The DASH Diet is, “a mostly plant-based diet inclusive of some animal products, with an emphasis on low-fat and nonfat dairy products“.  The DPP Diet is not so much a diet itself, as a set of recommendations.  Many of these are good.  Eat less processed foods, cut way back on sugar, etc.  However, my biggest beef with DASH is it’s emphasis on eating lots of grains — the food of choice for fattening livestock.  Back when the Food Pyramid was being called the “Diabetes Diet” (I am not making this up), it had a huge emphasis on grains as we.  And not surprisingly, Americans got fatter, sicker, and more diabetic than any other time in the history of the planet.  I would contend that the DASH Diet still puts far too much emphasis on dietary grains (6-14 servings a day, depending on which government site you look at).  And although we are supposed to buy into this concept that we can trust our government, this is far from the case. 

Let me first say that Government Guidelines are never what they seem to be on the surface.  Last week’s arrest of anti-gun crusader, Leeland Yee for firearm trafficking should be yet another reminder that government officials are not to be trusted.  You can read about similar corruption and conflict-of-interest that is associated with both EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE, and GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES (and HERE) by simply clicking the links.  When Katz and company say, “perhaps because of the ultimate accountability of the NIH to the tax-paying population at large, these federal diets have focused both on enhancements of nutrition and real-world applicability“,  I would say, “perhaps“?   But I have very serious doubts.  How accountable are governmental organizations to the tax-paying voter?  If recent history tells us anything, it’s that governmental organizations are free-spenders and you had better be careful trusting them.  Also, when I see the term “real-world applicability“, I think GREEN.  Not that “green” is all bad, but for may people, it has become their religion.  I would guess that the majority of the American people either agree with me, or have their faces buried in a bag of Cheetos (“feed-bag” style) they are unaware of the issue.  It’s an easy argument to make since the authors concluded that, “widespread adoption at the population level has not occurred“.

PALEO DIET

Paleo Diet

Andre Koch – Hamburg/Germany – Pixabay

Yet another form of Low Carb diet, the authors spend several paragraphs discussing the merits of looking at the Paleo Diet based on anthropological / evolutionary considerations.  Not being an evolutionist myself (HERE), I don’t really buy into these.  I do like PALEO for a number of reasons (follow the link to learn more) — especially for people who are chronically ill (Autoimmune Diseases / Chronic Inflammatory Degenerative Diseases / Gross Obesity).  Katz and his team sum the Paleolithic Diet up like this.  “However even those emphasizing the role of hunting and meat suggest that some 50% of our Stone Age forebears’ calories came from gathered plant foods. Given the energy density of meat relative to most plants, even this translates to a diet that is, by bulk, mostly plants. Although superficially a departure from the other contending diets, a reasonable approximation of a true Paleolithic diet would in fact be relatively low in fat; low in the objectionable carbohydrate sources—namely, starches and added sugars; high in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and fiber; and low glycemic. An emphasis on lean meat remains distinctive, however, and may represent an advantage related particularly to satiety“.

Take a look at this way of eating.  It is clean (no processed foods, and all-natural meats).  It is high in vegetation (never confuse grains with vegetation), and is not the “Meat Diet” as some have erroneously characterized it.  It’s both high in fiber and low in sugar and other “objectionable carbohydrate sources“.  On top of all that, it’s a low Glycemic Index way of eating.  Add in the fact that it allows people to get plenty of high quality protein, and it looks to me like it’s a viable choice for “Best Diet”.  Katz even says that, “There is a scientific case for the Paleolithic diet……  Intervention studies lend support as well, suggesting benefits over the prevailing Western diet in measures of both body composition and metabolic health.”  Simply put, this means that the diet does a good job of controlling both blood sugar and weight.  If you can control blood sugar, get plenty of dietary vegetation, and get ample amounts of high quality protein, you have found a healthy way of eating.

A quick side note about the Paleo Diet.  Most people (self included) who say they eat a Paleo Diet, do not really adhere to what would be considered a strict Paleo Diet.   I eat all of the nightshades, some dairy (butter and cheese), as well as some legumes / beans on occasion.   A Paleo Diet can be easily modified to your specific dietary needs.  I still recommend starting with a GLUTEN-FREE ELIMINATION DIET, incorporated into THE WHOLE 30.   Read the links to see why this is critical for chronically ill people.

Vegan Healthy Diet

Comfreak Jonny Lindner – Deutschland – Pixabay

Katz and company start the ball rolling in the section on Veganism by saying, “A vegan diet excludes all animal products—notably, dairy, eggs, and meats.  Vegans, in general, tend to be especially mindful eaters and often adhere to the dietary pattern for reasons including, but not limited to, personal health. Ethical considerations related to the treatment of animals are often salient“.  They later go on to say that, “eating only plant foods does not guarantee a healthful, balanced diet. Sugar, among the more concerning dietary components consumed in excess, is of plant origin. Vegan diets, if ill conceived, can combine the adverse exposures of plant-based junk foods with nutrient deficiencies.

Dr. Katz gives us several examples from the peer-reviewed literature of disease / health conditions that can be aided with veganism.  Some of these include heavy-hitters like, “inflammation, cardiac risk measures, cancer risk, anthropometry [body size and composition], and insulin sensitivity“. I would agree with the fact that when Veganism is done well, it can be a healthy way of eating — at least for the short term.  Katz does not really try to defend the Vegan way of eating over the long haul because he admits that the research on this topic is, “essentially nonexistent“. 

If you know me, you know that a lack of credibility in the peer-reviewed research is not enough to run me off.  However, I believe that while a Vegan approach may provide some benefits over the short term, over the long haul, the difficulty getting high quality protein that it inherent with animal sources is going to catch up with you.  This is especially true for anyone who has a difficult time with grains / Gluten.  Unfortunately, many in this category will not realize it until it’s too late (HERE) —- unless they get tested (HERE).

CONCLUSION

Picture

Suanpa – English – Pixabay

I could not have said it better myself: “Claims for the specific advantages of diverse dietary practices abound“.  I would have to say that there are certain advantages / disadvantages to every one of these different ways of eating.   Katz goes on to say that we should all be able to agree that…..

A.)   Diets comprising preferentially minimally processed foods direct from nature and food made up of such ingredients.”  This is not only the theme I try and teach to my patients as far as their diet is concerned, it is largely the theme I try to adhere to in the Nutritional Supplements I personally use and carry in my clinic (HERE).

B.)    That your diet should be comprised of, “mostly plants” is “all but incontrovertible“.  I can certainly buy this as well.  Most of the diets above fill this bill.  The one I am most leery of in this department is the “Mixed Diet” (DASH).  It seems to have far too much emphasis on grains — almost like it is revisiting the old “Food Pyramid” of 1988 that had grains and cereals (up to 11 servings a day) as its foundation.  Be aware that I have seen government sites promoting a DASH Diet with up to 14 (that would be fourteen) servings of grain a day.

C.)    This point is extremely important, and rarely discussed.  Katz says that if you are going to eat animal animal products or animals themselves, “the composition of animal flesh and milk is as much influenced by diet as we are” (he could easily have put eggs in there as well as milk).  This goes directly back to the simple dietary rule in Functional Neurologist, Dr. David Seaman’s paper in a national medical journal (Practical Pain Management):  Eat vegetation or animals that ate vegetation.  You can read my take on his article (ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET) by clicking the link.

Katz and Meller go on to mention that following these simple principles might even affect, “the ecology within us“.  This is an incredibly astute observation, and needs much more time than I am prepared to give it here.  Just remember that 80% OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS FOUND IN YOUR GUT — mostly made up of the trillions of bacteria that live there.  Unless you have made a conscious effort to do so, you have probably been doused with ANTIBIOTICS.  This ultimately leads to a whole host of GUT DYSFUNCTIONS, including DYSBIOSIS and LEAKY GUT SYNDROME —- and even GLUTEN SENSITIVITY, which itself leads to a wide array of AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (HERE also).  Destroy these bacteria and you’ll destroy your health.  Keep these bacteria healthy, and watch your overall health flourish.

The average supermarket in the United States offers in excess of 40,000 products, the majority of which are processed foods in bags, boxes, bottles, jars, and cans—virtually all of which sport marketing messages, many pertaining to health. The clutter of competing claims likely obscures the established body of knowledge and forestalls progress, much like the proverbial trees and forest. We need less debate about what diet is good for health, and much more attention directed at how best to move our cultures/societies in the direction of the well-established theme of optimal eating, for we remain mired a long way from it. This problem is particularly acute in the United States, where life expectancy lags behind that of other developed countries, and health expectancy that much more so.” 
Katz is right about the crappy health of those living in America.  I wrote awhile back about the fact that even though we are living longer than ever, our overall quality of life — particularly in those “golden” years — tends to be suboptimal due to chronic health concerns; many (probably most) of which are a direct function of our collectively cruddy diets (HERE).  Katz speaks of how to best move our society in the direction of optimal eating.  Even though four of the seven diets his team reviewed are, by definition, Low Carb, I am not sure what it would take to move in this direction.   Without complete governmental control — something I am adamantly against — accomplishing this on a grand scale would be quite difficult.  However, a good place to start would be the SNAP (Foodstamp) program (HERE).  If taxpaying citizens are going to provide the means for 1 in 6 Americans to eat on the government’s dime (as well as turning around and supplying most of this group’s healthcare), we need to seriously limit what foods can be purchased under this program (HERE).  Oh; starting a garden would be a good thing to do as well.
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