The federal government has just released new dietary guidelines and as far as I’m concerned, they’re just as backwards as ever. My health has improved measurably since I stopped eating starchy carbohydrates–the foundation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “food pyramid”–and rearranged my diet around pastured meats, eggs and foods with whole fats such as cheese and yogurt. We eat lots of green vegetables we grow ourselves and avoid sugar.
I came to this diet on my own, after reading what may be the only truly objective review of the science on fats and health, Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories. But my food preferences seem to parallel those of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a group that believes eating a diet of traditional foods–including those that contain naturally occurring saturated fats–are the key to good health. What does the Weston A. Price Foundation think of the new guidelines? Here is an excerpt from the group’s recent press release:
“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 foundation president Sally 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.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a non-profit nutrition education foundation with no ties to the government or food processing industries. Named for Dr. Weston A. Price, whose pioneering research discovered the vital importance of animal fats in human diets, the Foundation has warned against the dangers of lowfat and plant-based diets.
“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 binging 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.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation proposes alternative Healthy 4 Life Dietary Guidelines, which harkens back to the traditional four basic food groups, but with a renewed emphasis on quality through a return to pasture-based feeding and organic, pesticide-free production methods:
Every day, eat high quality, whole foods to provide an abundance of nutrients, chosen from each of the following four groups:
ANIMAL FOODS: meat and organ meats, poultry, and eggs from pastured animals; fish and shellfish; whole raw cheese, milk and other dairy products from pastured animals; and broth made from animal bones.
GRAINS, LEGUMES AND NUTS: whole-grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, whole grain rice; beans and lentils; peanuts, cashews and nuts, properly prepared to improve digestibility.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: preferably fresh or frozen, preferably locally grown, either raw, cooked or in soups and stews, and also as lacto-fermented condiments.
FATS AND OILS: unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats including butter, lard, tallow and other animal fats; palm oil and coconut oil; olive oil; cod liver oil for vitamins A and D.
AVOID: foods containing refined sweeteners such as candies, sodas, cookies, cakes, etc.; white flour products such as pasta and white bread; processed foods; modern soy foods; polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods.