They gave no mention to any adverse side effects from dairy, such as digestive upset, mucus, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, iron. In most areas of the world, it is not consumed at all and a high proportion of people are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.
This hidden comment barely scratches the surface of explaining the complications of dairy or the myriad of alternatives. The guidelines do not explain the benefits of eating an actual whole grain, such as brown rice, quinoa, kasha or millet, as opposed to a processed whole-grain product like pasta, bread or crackers.
Try asking the employees at your local supermarket where to find whole grains. Americans are left guessing where to buy, and how to cook or prepare genuine whole grains. You would think the USDA would do a better job of teaching people about the foods they are telling them to eat. The way whole grains are presented is a good indication of how unwilling the government is to prioritize our collective health and shake out the industry hold on our dietary habits.
Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and author of the book Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, created a score card to rank who benefited most from the guidelines. The new design turns the original pyramid on its side, dividing it into six different colored sections representing the food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans, and oils. The design is colorful and appealing, but the pyramid itself contains little information about how much to eat.
For instance, the vegetable section is about the same size as the milk section. Does this mean that you should consume the same amount of milk and vegetables? MyPyramid, reflecting advice from the Dietary Guidelines, shows some improvement from the previous pyramid. It draws attention to both leafy green vegetables and whole grains, two groups the old pyramid was missing. It addresses the concept of healthy fats with advice to get most of your fat from fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Even with these advances, MyPyramid is far from an easily understood, legitimate and accurate presentation of what foods are necessary for health.
To get specific instructions on the appropriate amounts of food, you must visit the MyPyramid website.
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But a closer look reveals that the advice in each of the pyramids is very similar: make half your grains. The disparity is minimal, missing the concept of different diets for different people. How about a pyramid for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet?
Or what if the website asked people if they felt better with more protein or more carbohydrates in their diet, and then specified dietary advice based on that information? MyPyramid also promotes the idea that we can eat as much as we want, as long as we exercise every day. Calories in, calories out is a concept that benefits both the food and the exercise industries. The pyramid was constructed for people who exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day. A better plan would create a pyramid for people who do not exercise at all, since that is what most Americans are doing.
Directing people to a website for nutrition advice makes the issue more complex than it needs to be. It is not difficult to clearly state what foods are beneficial or detrimental to health, yet somehow the USDA has missed the mark. So much so that a Minnesota couple.
Web designer Molly Nutting said she wanted to alert people to the political and financial interests behind the food industry. The site has since become the home of the Agribusiness Accountability Initiative, tracking links between the food industry and the USDA. The intended purpose of these guidelines is to provide the public with information on what to eat.
How is the government persuading consumers and food producers to implement its advice?
Has it restricted the amount of salt or sugar permitted in certain foods or reduced advertising of junk foods to young children? Does it support farmers who grow predominantly vegetables and whole grains? The government does not financially support its advice to eat more vegetables and whole grains, eat less sugar, unhealthy fats and soda.
The sad truth is that most Americans eat less than one piece of fruit per 8 day. And, even sadder, is that the three most popular vegetables are iceberg lettuce, tomatoes either canned or in the form of ketchup and potatoes. Think about it: when was the last time you saw a government sponsored commercial, magazine ad or billboard promoting whole grains, vegetables or exercise?
The government simply develops the guidelines and leaves the advertising and education in the hands of the corporations who make money off product sales. Why would a wealthy country in the middle of an obesity epidemic not allocate resources to help its citizens with diet and nutrition? The Other White Meat.
Be creative and discover what you can do to bring your body into a more relaxed state during your meals. Add more to your diet rather than cut back. Sometimes it takes millions of dollars in funding and years of research for scientists to prove what we already know. Mouse over to Zoom - Click to enlarge. Posts to:. The most prevalent GM crops were created to resist harsh chemicals; these crops have DNA traits from bacteria, fungi or other plants that create this resistance. Why do we continue to tolerate this archaic, ineffective form of healthcare?
Checkoff programs demonstrate that what the government tells us to eat is contradictory to where it focuses its time and money. This most recent report, which specifically addresses an overweight and obese American public, may be the best yet. I commend these guidelines for praising plant-based diets and devoting more attention to how one can healthily consume a vegetarian or vegan diet.
While there are some high points, it takes some reading between the lines to really decipher the meaning of the guidelines. Walter Willett said in a National Public Radio interview. Why is it so hard for the government to call out the main culprits? Although the potential for conflict of interest still exists among committee members, these guidelines seem to be significantly more transparent than in years past.
The guidelines committee recommended that the USDA and HHS convene separate committees to develop strategies for implementing these recommendations. It makes you wonder why it took so long to present such a basic, recognizable tool. Unlike the pyramids of the past which attempted to convey how much you should eat based on the colors and relative sizes of sections on the pyramid, MyPlate focuses on the portion sizes at each meal through simple divisions of a plate. It makes it visually obvious that half of your plate should be.
MyPlate is a huge step toward instilling healthy changes in Americans, but it still has many shortcomings. Why does dairy continue to be an essential part of the meal, when the evidence showing the risks of dairy consumption outweighing the benefits continues to mount? These corporations are more or less free to deceive the public about the nature of their products, often using the Food Guide Pyramid as a vehicle for their own agendas.
When the new pyramid was released in , General Mills announced that about million boxes of its Big G cereal brands would carry MyPyramid on them, citing that the cereal box is one of the most read items in the home.
Also in , Frito-Lay, the potato chip manufacturer, devised its own food pyramid, showing packets of chips with happy, smiling faces filling the bottom section, implying that chips provide the carbohydrate foundation needed for good health. This is nonsense. The carbohydrates in chips are covered in fat, drenched in artificial flavoring and so highly refined that they immediately break down into simple sugars in the body.
The supermarket shelf is a free-for-all in which companies can make many claims about their products, and public health authorities rarely interfere. Food corporations are big business.
Recently, it seems every food corporation is trying to create a healthy image and pass off its products as being good for you. So these food corporations are using their millions and billions of dollars to trick the public into thinking their products are healthy, simply because one of the ingredients is derived from a whole grain. You may be wondering, how can food corporations get away with these tactics? Let me explain. The food industry spends a tremendous amount of money on lobbyists in Washington. I do want to point out some progress made in January , when the FDA required all packaged foods to list trans fat content on their Nutrition Facts labels.
Trans fat is a compound created by chemically adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils. Food manufacturers have used trans fats for years to enhance flavor, extend the shelf life of packaged foods and give a more solid. In the early s, studies began to link trans fats and heart disease.
Research now shows that eating trans fats increases cholesterol and risks of developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Despite these facts, food corporations have dragged their feet to eliminate trans fats from their products. Most corporations continued to use this substance until the law required them to list it as an ingredient. Companies had to choose between listing an unhealthy ingredient on their products and risking decreased sales, or finding an alternative ingredient.
You may think nothing of it, but our government policies and practices help lower the prices of unhealthful foods. Since the s, American farmers have received government subsidies to help maximize production, reduce cost of raw materials, stabilize crop prices and keep the cost of food down for the American public, allowing farmers to stay in business.
This originally well-intentioned government money has led to the overproduction of corn and soybeans, and consequently, lower prices for these crops and foods containing them as ingredients. This may seem harmless. Corn and soybeans are healthy, right? In their natural states, these foods are not bad, but the outcome of the overproduction of these crops has led to their increased use as cheap, unhealthy ingredients found in processed foods on the grocery store aisles.
High fructose corn syrup—an artificial ingredient found in most sodas and junk foods—is an inexpensive use of corn. Low corn prices have led to artificially low meat prices, because corn has become the number one feed for cattle—a major shift from a traditional grazing diet. The overproduction of soybeans and corn provides an inexpensive way to add flavor to packaged junk food, fast food, corn-fed beef and pork, and soft drinks. For consumers, these less nutritious foods are cheaper, and particularly tempting to people living on a budget.
These subsidies contribute to the obesity epidemic by making it cheaper to produce and purchase unhealthy, packaged foods. Less than ten percent of USDA subsidies are spent. This disparity in government funding points out an awkward truth about the USDA: what it urges people to eat does not match what it pays farmers to grow. Another influential factor is political campaign contributions. Dependence on financial contributions from powerful lobbies prevents government agencies from stating the simple truths about nutrition.
Politicians say the money they receive from corporate donors does not influence the policies they promote, but why would companies give money if this were true?
Corporations are not known for their spontaneous generosity.