We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the USDA’s dietary guidelines have long been backwards. By telling us to replace nutrient-dense saturated fats (a basic requirement of all cell membranes in the human body) with carbohydrates, the USDA food pyramid has fostered the obesity epidemic, surging rates of diabetes, and the dramatic upswing in cardio vascular disease. That’s because if your body doesn’t get enough saturated fats in your diet, it uses carbohydrates to create them. The unfortunate byproduct of using carbohydrates this way is elevated triglyceride levels, an increase in small, dense LDL, and increased inflammation of the arteries and cellular membranes. In other words, the high carbohydrate diet of the USDA elevates all the key markers for heart disease.
Thankfully, Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price foundation, is speaking out. Yesterday she released an in-depth series of comments on the new proposed USDA Dietary Guidelines for 2010.
In a summary press release highlighting the comments, the Weston A. Price foundation had this to say:
“The proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines perpetuate the mistakes of previous guidelines in demonizing saturated fats and animal foods rich in saturated fatty acids such as egg yolks, butter, whole milk, cheese, fatty meats like bacon and animal fats for cooking. The current obesity epidemic emerged as vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates replaced these healthy, nutrient-dense traditional fats. Animal fats supply many essential nutrients that are difficult to obtain from other sources,” explains Fallon Morell.
“The revised Guidelines recommend even more stringent reductions in animal fats and cholesterol than previous versions,” says Fallon Morell, “and are tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. While the ship of state sinks under the weight of a crippling health care burden, the Committee members are giving us more of the same disastrous advice. These are unscientific and grossly deficient dietary recommendations.”
“Basic biochemistry shows that the human body has a very high requirement for saturated fats in all cell membranes; if we do not eat saturated fats, the body will simply make them from carbohydrates, but excess carbohydrate increases blood levels of triglyceride and small, dense LDL, and compromises blood vessel function,” says Fallon Morell. “Moreover, high-carbohydrate diets do not satisfy the appetite as well as diets rich in traditional fats, leading to higher caloric intakes and often to bingeing and splurging on empty foods, resulting in rapid weight gain and chronic disease.”
The proposed guidelines will perpetuate existing nutrient deficiencies present in all American population groups, including deficiencies in vitamins A and D found in animal fats, vitamins B12 and B6 found in animal foods, as well as minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which require vitamins A and D for assimilation. Moreover, low intakes of vitamin K2, are associated with increased risk of heart disease and cancer. The main sources of vitamin K2 available to Americans are egg yolks and full-fat cheese. Incredibly, the Guidelines single out cheese as an unhealthy food!
Fallon Morell notes that by restricting healthy animal fats in school lunches and diets for pregnant women and growing children, the Guidelines will accelerate the tragic epidemic of learning and behavior disorders. The nutrients found most abundantly in animal fats and organ meats-including choline, cholesterol and arachidonic acid-are critical for the development of the brain and the function of receptors that modulate thinking and behavior. Studies show that choline helps the brain make critical connections and protects against neurotoxins; animal studies suggest that if choline is abundant during developmental years, the individual is protected for life from developmental decline. The National Academy of Sciences recommends 375 mg per day for children nine through thirteen years of age, 450 mg for pregnant women and 550 mg for lactating women and men aged fourteen and older. These amounts are provided by four or five egg yolks per day-but that would entail consuming 800-1000 mg cholesterol, a crime by USDA standards. In their deliberations, the committee referred to this as the “choline problem.” Pregnant women and growing children especially need to eat as many egg yolks as possible-yet the Guidelines demonize this nutrient-dense food.
The Guidelines lump trans fats together with saturated fats-calling them Solid Fats-thereby hiding the difference between unhealthy industrial trans fats and healthy traditional saturated fats. Trans fats contribute to inflammation, depress the immune system, interfere with hormone production, and set up pathological conditions leading to cancer and heart disease, whereas saturated fats fight inflammation, support the immune system, support hormone production and protect against cancer and heart disease.
The vitamins and fatty acids carried uniquely in saturated animal fats are critical to reproduction. The Weston A. Price Foundation warns that the 2010 Guidelines will increase infertility in this country, already at tragically high rates.
“The 2010 proposed Guidelines represent a national scandal, the triumph of industry clout over good science and common sense,” says Fallon Morell. “It must be emphasized that the Guidelines are not based on science but are designed to promote the products of commodity agriculture and-through the back door-encourage the consumption of processed foods. For while the USDA food police pay lip service to reducing our intake of refined sweeteners, trans fats, white flour and salt, this puritanical low-fat prescription ultimately leads to cravings for chips, sweets, sodas, breads, desserts and other empty food-and-beverage-like products just loaded with refined sweeteners, trans fats, white flour and salt.”
Well, said, Sally!
Sadly, the state of education on nutrition in the U.S. is sadly lacking. If you’re a parent who likes to eat a traditional diet rich in animal fats and other nutrient-dense foods, your carefully chosen views are undermined virtually every day in your childrens’ schools. As one mom (Ellen @ Body Earth) recently shared about her son, “He was excited about the nutrition magic show the whole school had just seen. Walking home, he exclaimed, ‘I don’t drink the healthiest kind of milk, Mommy. I should be drinking low-fat 1% milk!’ Arrrrgh!”
But it’s not just about fats. As Sally pointed out, the guidelines “promote the products of commodity agriculture” and “encourage the consumption of processed foods.” What happened to pasture-based agriculture, eating organic, whole foods seasonally & locally? These “fringe” movements are growing, but we still need to fight an uphill battle, particularly with our kids!
If you want a counterpoint to the USDA dietary standards being spouted by those in authority, why not check out the Nutrition book I recently made available for you? In July I’ll be releasing a version of the book for elementary aged kids, complete with coloring pages and activities. That way, you can have the tools you need to teach children of ANY age the TRUTH about what makes a wholesome, healthy diet.