Food guidelines have been around since 1894 in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) came up with the suggested guidelines for protein, carbohydrates, fat, and mineral matter to keep Americans healthy. In 1980 the USDA and Health and Human Services department issued the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans that would eventually become the Food Pyramid in 1992.
The man who was the main advocate of what is known as the Lipid Hypothesis is Ancel Keys. He came up with a study that was called the 7 Countries Study that examined the diets of people in seven countries. The result of the study was that the countries that consumed the most fat in their diet had the highest numbers of heart disease. Where the study was a failure was where it left out countries such as Holland and Norway that consumed a lot of fat and had very little heart disease. There was also the country of Chile that consumed low amounts of fat and had a high rate of heart disease (Kris Gunnars, Authority Nutrition). This is known as cherry picking the data. Ancel Keys only used the data from countries that supported his theory. This study is what eventually lead Americans to eat the low fat/cholesterol diet. Personally, I think this is what lead America down the road to processed food.
What kind of diet do I recommend? A whole food diet that contains lean meat, chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, oils, and dairy. There is a simple way to shop in the grocery store. When looking at the layout of a store all of the meat, dairy, and fruits and vegetables are stocked around the outside edges of the store. The isles in the middle of the store contain all of the processed food that we currently eat in the Standard American Diet (SAD). My suggestion, shop in these isles sparingly.
Look at a label of ingredients on the box of one of your favorite foods the next time you go shopping. The list is usually long and starts out with Enriched Wheat Flour. Because of the processing of the wheat most of the nutrition has been stripped out and has to be enriched to make the flour nutritious again. If you want to eat grains try whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, spelt, and oats. If it is made with whole wheat be careful. There could be other added ingredients that are not healthy. Shop wisely and read the list of ingredients.
In regards to dairy I do not suggest low or non-fat dairy be used in the diet. There has been no real data that suggests consuming low-fat or non-fat diary is healthier and leads to lower body weight (Alexandra Sifferlin, Time). Scientists actually found that children who drank lower fat milk had a higher body weight. If you are going to use dairy in your diet just go ahead and make it whole fat dairy.
How many carbohydrates, fats, and protein should we be consuming daily? That will be the subject of my next post. Until then, eat whole foods and be healthy.