Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Remake The Dietary Guidelines into FOOD Guidelines

In this new editorial, two prominent nutrition researchers, call for changing our Dietary Guidelines drastically.
JAMA -- Dietary Guidelines in the 21st Century--a Time for Food, August 11, 2010, Mozaffarian and Ludwig 304 (6): 681

The current guidelines are based on nutrients: Eat less fat, more fiber, less salt. However, most of the disease we have today can be prevented by eating healthy FOODS (not nutrients). The guidelines shy away from foods, so that a particular food industry does not get offended. Imagine Coca Cola's response to a "Do not drink soda" guideline put out by the government.

But a focus on food is what we need. The food industry has been able to craft fake-healthy foods by including a healthy phrase on the package: "fat-free cookies", "Trans-free chips", "Calcium-enriched Juice." This mislead consumers and may actually promote disease.

As the authors of the editorial state: "the greater the focus on nutrients, the less healthful foods have become".

Their conclusion: "nutrient targets should largely be replaced by food-based targets."

Doing so would bring us back to a way of eating that is based on food, using modern nutrition knowledge.
As Michael Pollan says, "Eat FOOD. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants."

Disclosure: I worked for one of the authors of this article, David Ludwig.