|Vol. 5, Issue 3||March 2015|
|"Big changes" to the US Dietary Guidelines for 2015|
Everything you need to know to sort through the hype and come out healthier than ever
Every five years, the government sits down and decides what they think the public should be eating. Then they bestow their recommendations on us in a report called, simply, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans." The latest edition is scheduled to come out later this year, but there are already some proposed changes on the docket that are causing a stir.
I'll tell you about the top five things to look out for in 2015 in just a minute. But first, let's take a look at how these guidelines are determined-and why you should be wary of them.
"Guidance" you could do without
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the first Dietary Guidelines back in 1980. Which should give you a clue about how effective they are.
Since 1980, rates of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and, of course, diabetes have all skyrocketed. And as you know, all of these conditions have direct ties to diet. Granted, diet isn't the only thing that determines disease risk...but it is a big one. In fact, it may be the most important factor, particularly because you can control it-for better or worse.
Which is precisely what makes the government's Dietary Guidelines so maddening. In almost every instance, the recommendations don't follow scientific evidence. They don't offer sound, research-based advice on what foods promote optimal health and reduce disease risk. Instead, they're based on political and corporate agendas.
I've said this before and I will say it again, the USDA uses these guidelines as an excuse to help the agriculture industry get its hands on billions of dollars in federal subsidies.
Sadly, these Dietary Guidelinesare quite influential. They're the basis for any government-issued meal (like you'll find served each and every day in military mess halls and public school cafeterias). They also influence food-related laws and regulations, including labeling. And they also function as the only dietary advice you'll hear from mainstream doctors (if you hear any at all, that is).
With this sort of clout, the guidelines should be determined by experts in the field of medicine and nutrition. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Here's how the Dietary Guidelines are created: The HHS and the USDA appoint 15 people to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Typically, there is not a single practicing physician or working nutritionist in the bunch. They are all academics. And they don't want to hear about real-world clinical experience. I know this because I was asked to be an advisor-to-the-advisors one year and was literally asked to leave after one day.
Don't get me wrong. Not all academics are bad. Many of them are doing valuable research into the role nutrition plays in health. But in order to make the Dietary Guidelines truly effective, we need a diverse group of people on the Advisory Committee. It's also critical that the members not be biased in one way or another and are willing to look objectively at all the science. Not just the science that they, or their particular field of specialization has endorsed. But that is exactly what has happened with the most recent Advisory Committee.
Which brings me to this year's guidelines.
The top 5 new Dietary Guidelines you should be wary of
As I mentioned earlier, there's been a lot of buzz about some "big changes" to the Dietary Guidelines for 2015. But whether or not they're scientifically justified is another matter entirely.
Let's take a look at some of the supposedly "new and improved" recommendations...
It's encouraging to see the government acknowledge sugar at all. But, as I've said before, "cutting back" won't cut it. And therefore neither will official Dietary Guidelines that call for "limiting" added sugar. The only thing this will accomplish is a huge influx of even more "reduced-sugar" products that are full of preservatives and other chemicals-and aren't even necessarily low in sugar anyway.
Sugar kills. And you should eliminate it from your diet altogether. That's what the guidelines should read, period.
But don't forget... Sugar is one of the main crops subsidized by the government. So they're not likely to ban it anytime soon.
So it's up to you to do your own regulating. And limit how much-if any-is allowed in your house.
You can start by reading the ingredients lists of the food you buy very carefully. It's surprising how many seemingly "safe" foods hide sugar, corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates. (Soups, stocks, and sauces are especially common offenders-not to mention processed meats like bacon or sausage.)
Other ingredients to avoid include honey, concentrated fruit juice, barley malt, rice syrup, cane sugar, agave, maple sugar, and anything that ends in "-ose" or "-ol."
Or you can take the even simpler approach, and avoid packaged, processed foods altogether. Shop at your local farmers' market, or, at the very least, the perimeter of the supermarket (the produce department, deli, meat and seafood cases, and dairy section). The foods you buy in these parts of the grocery store are less likely to have a ton of added sugar. (But that doesn't mean you shouldn't still read labels to be absolutely certain.)
It doesn't appear that they're going to change the existing guideline, which recommends 2,300 mg of sodium per day for the general public. And just 1,500 mg per day for people over 50 (as well as African Americans, people with high blood pressure or kidney disease, and diabetics).
But as I've said many times before: I have seen no solid scientific evidence that low-salt diets prevent heart disease. Salt only contributes to hypertension in a small fraction (about 5 percent) of cases. In fact, there's solid evidence showing that limiting salt can be harmful for your health.
According to a study done 20 years ago by the American Heart Association, men who consumed the least salt had 360% more heart attacks than men who consumed the most.1 In 2011, Harvard researchers found that low-salt diets trigger insulin resistance (which leads to type 2 diabetes).2 And in 2012, a review of 167 salt studies found that sodium restriction caused a significant increase in triglycerides, one of the most important risk factors for heart disease.3
Based on this scientific proof, the dietary guideline advisory panel should repeal the current recommendation. But guess what? Unlike sugar, salt isn't subsidized by the government. Which means it has fewer friends in high places. So the Advisory Committee is perfectly content to leave it as-is. Even though they've already admitted there's no benefit to excessive salt restriction (and decades of evidence shows the current guideline is actually downright dangerous).
For the most part, I don't think you need to worry about how much salt you're consuming. Especially if you don't eat packaged, processed foods (which are notoriously high in sodium). A light sprinkle of salt on top of your pan-seared salmon or steamed broccoli is NOT going to hurt you.
However, there is one fact about salt that most people don't know...
Iodized salt-the kind you'll find in the salt shakers sitting on most dining room tables in this country-actually contains sugar. Manufacturers add it to keep the grains of salt from sticking together.
So if you do use salt in your cooking or like to add a sprinkle to your food before you eat it, make sure you're using natural sea salt. I recommend a brand called Real Salt, which is available in many supermarkets, as well as markets like Whole Foods (they also have a website if you can't find it near you).
Let me remind you of all the health benefits of eating meat-starting with the most obvious. Lean beef is a complete protein source. And protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Yet, contrary to what you may have heard, most people consume far too little.
As a general rule of thumb, I usually recommend eating your weight in grams of protein every day. (And up to twice your weight if you're hitting the gym hard in an active effort to gain muscle mass.) So if you're a 140 pound woman, you should eat 140 grams of protein per day. And a 200 pound man should aim for 200 grams.
Eating meat is the easiest-and, in my opinion, tastiest-way to accomplish this. For instance, just one 3 oz. T-bone gives you 22 grams of protein. Three ounces!
But beef's health benefits go way beyond protein. If you think about it, beef is nature's best tasting multivitamin. It's loaded with 10 essential nutrients, including zinc, B vitamins, and iron.
In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, red meat provides most of the zinc in an average American's diet. And zinc is responsible for a healthy testosterone level, which helps boost sex drive in both men and women. It's also a great source of B12 in particular. As you might remember, B12 keeps your levels of homocysteine-a major marker for cardiovascular risk-in check. And it's absolutely essential for a healthy heart. Not to mention a healthy nervous system.
Plus, beef is the only natural source of one important cancer-fighting nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Please understand: I'm not trying to convert anyone who has become a vegetarian or vegan on ethical grounds. That's a personal decision that I support fully.
But the claims that giving up meat is good for you? They've got to stop.
Here's a novel idea. Perhaps it's the quality of supermarket meat that's bad... and not the meat itself.
The way conventional cattle farmers care for and feed livestock changes the composition of their meat. It changes the fat content and the fatty acid composition. Not for the better, either. And this is where it all goes wrong.
So instead of telling people to eat less meat, how about the USDA sees to it that cows are fed the food they were meant to eat-grass. (You know, instead of stuffing them full of genetically modified grain with a side of pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, and antibiotics.) Then, perhaps, we would get the meat that we were meant to eat.
In the meantime, I recommend opting for organic, free-range, grass-fed meat. Yes, it costs more. But it's worth every extra penny.
The first time I had organic beef was well over a decade ago. And I never looked back. If you've ever tried it, you know why. Not only is it better for you, but taste-wise, it's unlike any of those "regular" steaks or burgers in the local supermarket.
Just make sure you're getting real organic, "grass-finished" beef. That means the cow grazes on grass its entire life. Some organic cows are "grain-finished" at the end to fatten them up-yet the meat can still be labeled organic. Read labels carefully. And if you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask. If you can't get a straight answer, wait and buy your meat from a source that does know the important details about the products it's selling.
As far as caffeine: I don't think you need to worry about your coffee- or tea-drinking habit one way or the other-at least, not if it's limited to two or three cups in the morning. Just make sure it's black. And if you need a sweetener, stick with stevia.
The only thing these guidelines ensure for future generations is even bigger, deadlier epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The world we live in would be a better place if we focused on what makes us healthy rather than some "pie-in-the-sky" notions of saving the planet.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for clean air, sustainability, etc. But truly healthy dietary guidelines will help achieve that automatically. Organic farming, for instance, is far more environmentally conscious than conventional farming, which relies heavily on pesticides, herbicides, and GMO crops.
Stick with what you know is good for you-fresh, whole, natural, organic, local foods-and you'll not only save your own future, but the future of the planet as well.
The only thing the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines MIGHT get right
I have to admit, this one caught me off guard. But in February, news broke that the Advisory Committee has recommended getting rid of the current guidelines on dietary cholesterol. Considering government health "experts" have been warning people against cholesterol for 40 years, this is a big deal-to say the least. But after decades of research, it looks like they're accepting the fact that eating foods that contain cholesterol doesn't increase the risk of heart disease.
Finally! I've been saying this for years.
But while we can hopefully bid the dietary cholesterol guidelines a long-overdue "good riddance," don't expect it to change the way mainstream medicine views cholesterol.
According to an article from The Washington Post, "The new view on cholesterol in food does not reverse warnings about high levels of 'bad' cholesterol in the blood."4 Translation: doctors will still be doling out statins like they're Halloween candy.
But there is no-and I repeat no-scientific evidence to support the use of statin drugs for anything but lowering cholesterol levels. And there is no evidence that lowering your cholesterol level will decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke.
The only thing that statin drugs have really made healthier is Big Pharma's bottom line.
Equally frustrating? Apparently, the Advisory Committee believes, "The greater danger...lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter."5
Clearly, the Advisory Committee was too busy reading cholesterol research from 10, 20, 30 years ago to see the brand new meta-analysis that concluded "current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage low consumption of total saturated fats."6
When you get right down to it, the new Dietary Guidelines for 2015 are one step forward, two steps back. But that's why I'm here. So stick with me-and the news and recommendations I outline for you here in Logical Health Alternatives and in my Reality Health Check e-letter. And I'll continue to give you real, practical, science-backed solutions for living a long, healthy, vibrant future.
1 "Low Urinary Sodium Is Associated With Greater Risk of Myocardial Infarction Among Treated Hypertensive Men," Hypertension 1995; 25:1,144-1,152
2"Low-salt diet increases insulin resistance in healthy subjects."Metabolism. 2011; 60(7): 965-968
3 "Effects of low-sodium diet vs. high-sodium diet on blood pressure, renin, aldosterone, catecholamines, cholesterol, and triglyceride (Cochrane Review)."Am J Hypertens. 2012; 25(1): 1-15
4"The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol," The Washington Post, 2/10/15
6 "Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Annals of Internal Medicine 2014; 160(6):398-406
The miracle muscle protector no |
weight-loss program should be without
Why cutting fat isn't cutting waistlines or disease ratesIf you want to lose weight healthfully, whey protein is a critical component. It helps ensure you're losing the right weight, and maximizing the health benefits of dropping those pounds. This is something I've known-and have been telling my patients and you-for awhile. And now a new study backs up my long-standing advice.
Researchers found that whey protein helps prevent the muscle loss that can occur while you're losing weight.1
To test the effects of whey, the researchers had 40 subjects follow a low-calorie diet for 14 days. One group supplemented with 27 grams of whey protein per day. Another group supplemented with 26 grams of soy protein. And the third group got a serving of carbohydrates that had an equal amount of calories to the whey and soy protein.
Researchers measured fat loss and muscle maintenance both before and after the two-week diets.
And whey protein came out the clear winner. Muscle maintenance decreased by 31% in the carbohydrate group and by 28 percent in the soy protein group. But it only went down 9 percent in the whey protein group. (Also, a quick side-note worth mentioning: The carb group had a harder time losing fat than the protein groups.)
And don't forget: whey isn't only good for weight loss and preserving your muscles. I've written before about research showing it can help people with type-2 diabetes control glucose levels.2 Studies also show whey protein can help lower blood pressure and improve arterial health.3
Really, there's no one that CAN'T benefit from making whey protein a part of their everyday life.
Just remember there are a few things to consider when choosing a whey protein product. Look for one that has 8 grams of carbs or less per serving. And mix it with plain water. If you like a thicker consistency, add some ice cubes and mix it up in a blender. You can add a tablespoon of macadamia nut oil for a healthy boost of monounsaturated fatty acids (this little trick will also keep you full even longer).
For more on the benefits of whey protein, you can also search the archives on my website www.DrPescatore.com. Simply enter "whey" in the search box in the upper right corner of the home page
1 "Whey Protein Supplementation Preserves Postprandial Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis during Short-Term Energy Restriction in Overweight and Obese Adults," Journal of Nutrition, epub ahead of print, 12/17/15
2 "Incretin, insulinotropic and glucose-lowering effects of whey protein pre-load in type 2 diabetes: a randomised clinical trial." Diabetologia, 2014; 57 (9): 180
3 "Effects of Milk Proteins and Combined Exercise Training on Aortic Hemodynamics and Arterial Stiffness in Young Obese Women With High Blood Pressure." Am J Hypertens. 2014 Mar;27(3):338-4
Two brand new breakthroughs for women and |
heart disease-which one should YOU trust?
The medical establishment (rabidly fueled by Big Pharma) just loves to bring you big "breakthroughs"... Especially if it means they can put more pills in your pocket.
The latest example is a new study that supposedly offers conclusive evidence that statins reduce the risk of heart disease in women.
But there are a few major problems with this supposed "breakthrough." Not the least of which is that it will undoubtedly overshadow another new study on a TRUE breakthrough that can slash heart disease risk in women by 90 percent. More on that in just a minute.
But first, let's look at why the statin news is hardly the revolutionary discovery it's being touted as.
New "breakthrough" based on an old myth
They're heralding this study a breakthrough because, until now, there was still debate about whether statins are as effective in women as they are in men.
Researchers reviewed results from 27 different trials including 174,000 patients and concluded that statins offer a 9 percent reduction of the overall risk of death in both men and women.
So of course, the researchers concluded that more women should be on statins. "The results of this study will reassure doctors that these risk-based guidelines for treatment can be applied to men and women equally."1
I can only imagine how giddy the statin manufacturers must be. I can see the dollar signs in their eyes from here. Finally, they have "proof" that statins are indeed the "miracle magic bullets" they want us all to believe they are. Let the hype begin.
But here's the first issue: This study is based on the assumption that statins are an effective tool for lowering the risk of heart disease.
As I said , there is no scientific evidence to support the use of statin drugs for anything but lowering cholesterol levels. And there is no evidence that lowering your cholesterol level will decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke.
So, why does the medical establishment insist upon it?
Because statins are the biggest selling drugs in history. And Big Pharma isn't about to put this cash cow out to pasture.
But besides being largely useless when it comes to their intended job, taking statins has inherent, proven risks that offset ... and even outweigh...the supposed "benefits."
Statins' risk-benefit ratio doesn't add up
I've highlighted these risks before, but it's worth reviewing them here, because you deserve the full story-not just the version being trumpeted by Big Pharma and mainstream medicine.
Since this new study focused on the benefits of statin therapy for women, let's start with one of the risks women in particular face from these drugs. According to data from the Women's Health Initiative study, post-menopausal women taking statins have a 48 percent higher risk of diabetes than women who aren't on these cholesterol-lowering drugs. And when the researchers factored out what they referred to as "confounding" variables, that rate skyrocketed to a whopping 71 percent.2
Statins have also been linked to a higher risk of developing pneumonia, musculoskeletal injury (including sprains, strains, dislocations, and even arthritis), cataracts, and cognitive dysfunction.3 4 5 6 (And these risks are prevalent in both men and women.)
Research has even linked statin use to an increase in BMI-likely because folks on them have a false sense of security that statins will offset the negative effects of eating poorly.7 And, as you know, an increase in BMI leads to an increase in cardiovascular disease.
Talk about a vicious cycle. You go on statins, you gain more weight, you need more statins. This works out great for the drug companies-but not so much for you.
The good news is, research HAS revealed a TRUE heart breakthrough for women. And it doesn't require a trip to the pharmacy...
Slash heart disease naturally by a whopping 90 percent!
Researchers looked at 20 years' worth of data on 90,000 women collected from the Nurses' Health Study II. And they found the secret to dramatically cutting the risk of heart disease has NOTHING to do with statins. Or with any other pharmaceutical drug, for that matter.
In fact, all it takes is a healthy lifestyle.8
The researchers honed in on six specific behaviors that appear to make the biggest difference in heart health:
1.) Not smoking
2.) Exercising for just 20 minutes a day
3.) Maintaining a normal weight
4.) Watching seven or less hours of TV per week
5.) Eating a healthy diet
6.) Moderate drinking (maximum of one drink per day, on average)
If these six steps sound familiar, I'm glad. These are all things I've recommended to you many, many times before. And they couldn't be simpler. Even better: they won't just help virtually eliminate your risk of heart disease. They'll also keep you safe from other killers like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer.
Now that's a TRUE breakthrough.
1 "Efficacy and safety of LDL-lowering therapy among men and women: meta-analysis of individual data from 174?000 participants in 27 randomised trials." The Lancet, epub ahead of print 1/8/15
2"Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women's Health Initiative," JAMA Int Med 2012; 172(2): 144-152
3 "The Impact of Statins on the Incidence of Bacteremia and Pneumonia in Military Personnel," 52nd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC): Abstract L1-297. 9/9/12.
4 "Statins and musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, and injuries." JAMA Intern Med 2013; 173(14): 1,318-1,326
5 "Age-Related Cataract Is Associated with Type 2 Diabetes and Statin Use" Optometry and Vision Science 2012; 89(8):1165-1,171.
6 "Cholesterol-reducing Drugs May Lessen Brain Function, Says Researcher." ScienceDaily. 2/26/09
7 "Different Time Trends of Caloric and Fat Intake Between Statin Users and Nonusers Among US Adults: Gluttony in the Time of Statins?" JAMA Intern Med 2014; 174(7): 1,038-1,045
8 "Healthy lifestyle in the primordial prevention of cardiovascular disease among young women," Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2015; 65(1):43-51
The free, one-minute heart test |
you can do right at home
I've written before about how your waistline is a clear indicator of your health status. But it's not the only measurement that can tell you whether you're at increased risk of some serious health concerns.
Several studies have shown that there's a significant connection between neck circumference and heart disease.
In fact, researchers have determined that neck circumference is an accurate predictor of risk independent of other factors, like BMI and waist size. In other words, even if you're not carrying around an obvious spare tire around your midsection, you could still be at risk-and measuring your neck may be all it takes to clue you in.
The most recent study, published in November in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at just over 300 subjects.1 And researchers found neck circumference was positively associated with blood pressure and triglycerides-especially in women.
Another, even bigger study took place in 2013 in China.2 Researchers examined 4,200 subjects and had similar findings, with the notable addition of lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels in people with wider necks.
Both of these studies also correlated neck circumference with increased risk of insulin resistance-one of the biggest warning signs impending diabetes.
In all instances, the wider a person's neck, the worse their heart health markers were. The same held true with blood sugar control.
So get out your trusty tape measure and take a minute to measure your neck.
For men, measurements greater than 14.5 inches are cause for concern. And for women, anything over 13 inches raises a red flag.
If your measurements put you in the "high risk" category, it's definitely worth following up with your doctor to get a complete picture of your heart health.
In the meantime, you can get a head start with my special report, The World's Easiest Heart Disease Cure. In it, I detail exactly which tests you need-and which ones you don't-along with safe, natural strategies for protecting and healing your heart.
1 "Compartmental neck fat accumulation and its relation to cardiovascular risk and metabolic syndrome," Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100(5): 1,244-1,251
2 "Neck Circumference as an Independent Predictive Contributor to Cardio-Metabolic Syndrome," Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013;12(76)
Until next time,
P.S. Visit my website, Drpescatore.com, to view my newest products and to check out our special offers. Online ordering is fast, convenient and secure.