The politically correct nutritional guidelines you should ignore and why
The Washington Post recently ran an article about “how to fix the American diet,” according to Michael Jacobson—the man who coined the term “junk food” in the 1970s1. Jacobson is retiring as executive director of the self-styled consumer protection group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
Jacobson’s message? “A good diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seafood, low-fat proteins like chicken, and low-fat dairy products.” He also applauds the growth in whole-grain products and the gradual decline in meat consumption in the U.S.
These recommendations pose a dilemma and are, in some ways, actually worse than what the government has been recommending since the 1970s. Here’s why…
Half of CSPI’s recommendations are wrong. But which half?
When it comes to the government’s nutrition recommendations, we know they’ve been all wrong, all along. But in the case of CSPI, it’s actually more difficult. While CSPI has some very good recommendations, it also has some very bad ones…
About half of what Jacobson and CSPI say is supported by science (hence the “science” part of their name), but the other half is just more modern medical mythology and political correctness. This bad advice falls in line with other self-styled “consumer protection” groups such as the American Heart Association.
And the problem is, if you put your faith in CSPI, you will never be quite sure which half of its recommendations to believe—unless, of course, you’re one of my readers.
In just a moment I’ll explain the good and bad in Jacobson’s message. But first, a little background.
How CSPI sank into the swamp
In the 1970s, consumer advocate Ralph Nader encouraged recent MIT graduate Michael Jacobson to begin researching the food industry, findings on food additives, and the health costs of bad nutrition. At the same time, Nader encouraged Sidney Wolfe to start doing the same thing with the drug industry.
While these staffers have done a lot of good work, the problem with CSPI (like other Nader groups) is that it has grown into its own bureaucracy, where survival of the organization and the careers of those who work there become paramount. They also fall victim to political correctness, being surrounded by the Washington D.C. swamp.
In fact, for all intents and purposes, especially when it comes to funding, CSPI has become part of that swamp. So now, half of what it does is “science,” and the other half is “swamp.”
And that sad reality is reflected in Jacobson’s recommendations purporting “to fix the American diet.”
Where CSPI gets it wrong
As I mentioned earlier, Jacobson favors a diet high in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seafood. That’s a good start, but then he gets bogged down with his recommendations for “low-fat proteins like chicken, and low-fat dairy products.”
Why “low-fat proteins like chicken?” First of all, chicken isn’t necessarily low-fat, depending upon how it’s prepared. And also, isn’t Jacobson familiar with the overwhelming science of the last several years—which reveals that when it comes to the American diet, it’s not fat that’s the problem. It’s sugar and carbs!
Also, recommending chicken as your meat of choice is wrong for another reason. According to lots of careful research, high-fat meats aren’t the problem—rather, it’s processed meats.
In fact, when research is done correctly, as I’ve reported, it shows that neither fresh chicken, pork, nor beef pose a problem for your health. So Jacobson’s endorsement of the party line recommendation to cut back on meat consumption—specifically beef and pork—is dead wrong based on the real science.
And that’s also true when it comes to the next item on Jacobson’s list: low-fat dairy.
Doesn’t he know about the science showing low-fat dairy is the problem, not full-fat butter, milk, or cheese, again, as I’ve reported numerous times? The proliferation of low-fat dairy has been another disaster for the American diet. But Jacobson actually applauds it.
Jacobson also is pleased with the number of whole-grain products on the market today. While whole grains are better than refined grains, the real message should be to eliminate grains and carbs altogether.
Where CSPI gets it right
One aspect of Jacobson’s argument that is correct is his point that the real problem when it comes to salt is with processed foods—which typically have added salt, sugar, and unhealthy artificial fats.
He recommends getting around this problem by cooking at home with fresh ingredients, which we can all endorse.
So the real message should be to avoid processed foods—whether they’re grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, dairy, or meats.
CSPI’s most unhealthy recommendation
But perhaps the most dangerous of Jacobson’s recommendations is his advice to “rely on sources” like the American Heart Association (AHA), whom he says “aren’t grinding some industry ax.”
Where has CSPI been when it comes to the scandalous practices of the AHA? Together with the American College of Cardiology, the AHA relentlessly pushes the agendas of big food, big pharma, and big medicine. That’s why I call them the “delusional duo of heart disease.”
This blindness actually bothers me the most about CSPI. There’s some honest debate about some of the science, especially as it evolves over the years. But if these guys don’t recognize the mythologies pushed by the AHA, as well as its gross oversights, then they are part of the problem themselves.
The fact is, the AHA is completely bought off by the food industry. So I can’t help but wonder…Is CSPI in the same boat?
Government to the “rescue”
Needless to say, Jacobson and CSPI see big government as a solution. They fight for sugar taxes, soda taxes, and even higher alcohol taxes.
Again, why isn’t CSPI following the science on moderate alcohol consumption—which (as I pointed out in the December 2017 issue of Insiders’ Cures) is the vast majority of actual consumption?
Jacobson criticizes typical big-city Democrats for being in the pockets of beer distributors (after all, what would the urban mob be without cheap alcohol). And he castigates Republicans for being against more taxes—imagine that!
He concludes by admitting that the private sector and consumers hold the ultimate solutions, but then points to half-baked, politically correct nutritional guidelines that he claims “are great for health, and they have nothing to do with the government.”
CSPI claims to be a friend to the consumer. But with friends like these, who needs enemies?
CSPI looks like just another sinkhole in the Washington D.C. swamp it has become part of. But that’s just this month’s contribution to public health from the “fake news” mainstream media. There will undoubtedly be more where that came from.
My advice? Ignore mainstream headlines touting ANY sort of nutritional recommendation. Stay tuned here, to Insiders’ Cures—and to my Daily Dispatch e-letter—for the truth behind the headlines, and the commonsense, science-backed advice you really need to live a long, healthy life.
1“How to fix the American diet, according to the man who popularized the term “junk food.” Dewey, Caitlin. The Washington Post. 2017 December 28. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/28/how-to-fix-the-american-diet-according-to-the-man-who-coined-the-phrase-junk-food/?utm_term=.edee31b75858