Soon, The Dietary Guidelines for 2020 are due to be released. As usual, there will be a flurry of discussions, debates, praise and criticisms somewhat dependent on what sections of the food industry are happy and those who are not. The Dietary Guidelines, in my opinion, reflect who won the battle for the food industry’s interests this time around, to make sure their profit margins are kept intact. Little else new is gained from them and little attention is paid to them after their endlessly repeated advice based on lobbyists and politics. Who will win out this time? In the past few decades, the advice has lacked conviction, e.g. what is moderation, and has been so diluted, it plays little role in how our food supply affects our health. Enjoy a little history of past advice and forgive me for the cynicism.
Month: September 2020
How to Eat (most of the time)
Do you feel guilty if you do not eat healthy foods? Most of us don’t but there are people who now comprise a group exhibiting a new eating disorder called orthorexia.
The following article by Mark Bittman may put this eating pattern in a reasonable perspective. The Bottom Line? Enjoy food but make healthy choices (most of the time). This philosophy as stated by Bittman is refreshing – Seems to resemble the traditional diet of the French – the Good Life Savored.
“Eating well is an integral part of their national heritage. To say the French know their food is an understatement and it has been said that even their children are serious “foodies” with two-hour multi course lunches (not uncommon in France)” – all this without guilt. Contrast that with the typical American with a quick drive-through grabbing a burger with fries and eating them in the car with some snacking throughout the day. The French also maintain their weight with little dieting, calorie counting or snacking.” They simply say: If you eat too much one day, cut back the next day. Pretty simple advice but it seems to work (at least for them).
Source: 30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines. by Steven Jonas, M.D, and Sandra Gordon.
Note: Obesity rates in France are among the lowest in Europe, but have been increasing steadily. The increase has been attributed to an increased adoption of the Western diet or Standard American Diet.
In France, almost 40% are overweight (including obese). You can contrast that with the U.S. at 70% (overweight and obese).
The Nutritional State of the Nation: Does it Affect Covid-19?
A number of diseases and disorders share common risk factors of low intakes of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, excess calorie intake, body fat, and high animal fat intake. These risk factors are associated with the development of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, conditions that are strongly related to the development of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other chronic diseases that include stroke, osteoporosis, and obesity.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three of five conditions: hypertension, high blood sugar, obesity, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. These diseases are all related to our diets and other lifestyle factors – namely exercise and smoking habits.
A new study in the journal Diabetes Care is the first to look at the impact of metabolic syndrome on outcomes for Covid-19 patients. “Together, obesity, diabetes and prediabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels are all predictors of higher incidences of death in these patients and were more than three times more likely to die from the disease.
“The more of these diagnoses that you have, the worse the outcomes”, says lead author Joshua Denson , assistant professor of medicine and pulmonary and critical care medicine physician at Tulane University of Medicine.
“The underlying inflammation that is seen with metabolic syndrome may be the driver that is leading to these more severe cases.” Dr. Denson adds. In this study, the most common conditions were hypertension (80%), obesity (65%), diabetes (54%), and low HDL (39%.)
Dr. Denson would advise anyone who meets the criteria for metabolic syndrome to be vigilant in taking measures to reduce risk or exposure to the coronavirus. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, we took that into account” he says.
Dieting in America: An Ongoing Issue
After 150 years of becoming a nation obsessed with weight loss, we still have not grasped the true experience of how difficult it is to lose and more importantly maintain that loss (if it occurs) so many still seek the “quick fix” Of course, the obesity industry likes it that way – success does not help them obtain more business and appears to keep their customers coming back for more promises and sometimes unhealthy claims.
This post addresses with more detail a previous post on a diet time line, tilted Is Dieting Dead ? from Banting to weight loss surgery for the morbidly obese. The obese get blamed for their dilemma which adds to their guilt, whereas, the emphasis should be more focused on not only how hard weight loss is, but keeping it off avoiding the Yo-Yo dieting phenomenon. This leaves the obesity industry even more gleeful as their customers keep returning. From Obesity Soap in 1903 to the dangerous Tape Worm Diet, the Drinking Man’s Diet, and eating disorders, the quest furthers our national obsession with weight. An excellent book,The Hundred Year Diet: America’s Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight, by Susan Yager aptly addresses this issue.
The Tumultuous Sixties: The American Plate 1960 – 1969
The New York World’s Fair: 1964
“In 1964, international cuisine was scarce in the United States , and few Americans had tasted Indian, Korean or Middle Eastern food. At the 1964 New York World’s Fair they got their chance. With 140 pavilions representing 37 countries on a concourse of nearly 650 acres, taking in the entire fare was difficult with 112 restaurants to choose from, deciding where to eat was even tougher. The exhibition boasted regional foods from Japan and Lebanon, Africa and Spain, Hawaii and Belgium. The Indian pavilion served tandoori and paratha; The Korean pavilion featured kimchi and other garlicky specialties. Jordan’s restaurant offered hummus and shwarma and the Hawaiian pavilion had a luau. Spain’s stunning pavilion complete with an art gallery displaying original works by Goya, Valezquez, El Greco, Miro and Picasso, offered authentic Spanish fare at three restaurants. the Belgium village had a 1500 seat beer Hall and a breakfast house that introduced the Belgium waffle to America. The fat, fluffy treat piled high with strawberries and whipped cream was, without a doubt, the fair’s biggest food sensation.” Bon Appetit, September, 1999.
‘Eggo waffles were invented in San Jose, California, by Frank Dorsa, who developed a process by which waffles could be cooked, frozen, and packaged for consumers. In 1953, Dorsa, along with younger brothers Anthony and Sam, introduced Eggo frozen waffles to supermarkets throughout the United States. Because of the egg flavor, customers called them “Eggos”. Eventually the name became synonymous with the product and, in 1955, the Dorsa brothers officially changed the name to “Eggo”. In 1968, as a means of diversification, the Kellogg Company purchased Eggo. Their advertising slogan—”L’eggo my Eggo”—developed by Leo Burnett in 1972 is well known through their television commercials.” WIkipedia
White House Style: The Kennedy Years
“From the moment Jacqueline and John F Kennedy moved into the White House in 1961, the world could see that a new generation had arrived. With their keen interest in history, literature, the arts, food and entertaining, the youthful, scholarly charismatic Kennedy’s roused stodgy Washington by setting new standards in everything from clothing to table decor and cuisine. The first lady, an avid recipe collector who loved French food, hired French chef Rene Verdon from New York’s Carlyle hotel to serve as executive chef at the mansion. The Kennedys hosted legendary dinners with dance, concerts, poetry readings, performances of Shakespeare, and other entertainment that showcased the best America had to offer.”
Bon Appetit, September, 1999.
Is Dieting Dead?
A Diet History Timeline
The picture above is an ad from the early 1900’s attempting to promote the effectiveness of a tonic “that not only cures everything, but adds heft to the figure.” Ironically, a full figure in those times represented wealth and prosperity.
I love timelines – they tell us where we have been and how we evolved to where we are now. This is a fun timeline on the History of Dieting. Where can we go from here?
According to the latest issue of Eating Well magazine, October 2020, it is predicting in the future that dieting will be done for good. “We will finally wake up to the fact that following a regimen of temporary deprivation to achieve health or aesthetic goals is an exercise in futility – and that healthy eating is for life and building ongoing habits, not quick fixes.”
AMEN!!! But first, what is our dieting history?
In England, William Banting consulted Dr. William Harvey for weight loss who recommended he cut most sugar and starch from his diet since foods containing those substances tend to create body fat. He lost 50 pounds and wrote the first diet book, “Letter on Corpulence Addressed to the Public” in 1862. It was a best seller!
Horace Fletcher loses 42 pounds by advocating that we need to chew food about 32 to 80 times before being swallowed and it should be in liquid form. He later became known as “The Great Masticator”.
Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters writes the first best selling diet book, “Diet and Health with a Key to the Calorie”. She promoted calorie counting over our entire life.
The Continental Scale Company produces the first bathroom scale called the “Health O Meter”.
A cigarette advertisement tells women to “reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”. Another slogan says: “Light a Lucky and you’ll never miss sweets that make you fat”.
The “grapefruit diet” also known as “The Hollywood Diet” is promoted which involves eating only 585 calories a day for 18 days with boiled eggs, green vegetables and Melba toast.
Self-proclaimed diet guru Victor Lindlahr reaches thousands via the radio to produce his regular broadcasts entitled “reducing party”. He wrote the book You Are What You Eat, one of the earliest texts of the health food movement in the United States, which sold over half a million copies.
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company published standard weight tables for “ideal weight”. The charts used weight, height, frame size, and gender but only used data from life insurance policyholders which biased the conclusions.
Amphetamines were first prescribed for some obese patients but later research determined that these were dangerous. Amphetamine –like drugs are still used today in a limited fashion.
Saccharin, the first manufactured artificial sweetener is produced and becomes a popular sugar substitute. It is still used today after years of research that absolved critical reports of its cancer connection. Some doubts still linger.
Weight Watchers was born as a result of Jean Nidetch and several friends who met in her apartment to offer each other support about dieting. Weight Watchers and other diet programs like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig has turned weight loss into a multi-billion dollar industry. However, the results are dismal. In 1993, the Federal Trade Commission charged that five weight loss programs (including the above) made false and unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of their products. To settle the charges, the companies were required to add dislaimers, like “For many dieters, weight loss is temporary.” By 2002, the FTC released a report suggesting that little had changed.
Twiggy, 5’7” and weighing about 92 pounds becomes a supermodel and icon for the slender female.
Dr. Atkins introduced his first “Diet Revolution”, a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet.
Richard Simmons opens Ruffage and the Anatomy Asylum, a Beverly Hills restaurant and exercise studio. He quickly becomes known as a fitness and diet guru.
Dr. Herman Tarnover introduces the “Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet”, another version of the high protein, low-carb diet.
The Pritikin Diet answers the trend of the high protein, low – carb diets with a high fiber, very low fat diet. The system was originally designed for heart patients but became popular for those who followed the newer trend of the low –fat diet approach.
The Beverly Hills Diet is introduced – it recommends eating nothing but fruit for the first 10 days.
Aspartame is introduced as another alternative sugar substitute. It was marketed as NutraSweet and is still used today in many products.
Liposuction is performed in the U.S. for the first time and now becomes a popular cosmetic procedure for the obese.
Jenny Craig is formed which sells their own line of diet foods and offers diet counseling. Nutrisystem soon followed.
Oprah Winfrey loses 67 pounds on the liquid diet Optifast.
The Federal Trade Commission charged that five weight loss programs, including Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig) made false and unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of their products. To settle the charges, the companies were required to add disclaimers, like “For many dieters, weight loss is temporary.” By 2002, the FTC released a report suggesting that little had changed.
The FDA mandates that food labels must include detailed information about calories, fat, and fiber. We must thank Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters for this.
“The Zone Diet” is introduced by Dr. Barry Sears. He promotes eating lots of fruits and vegetables and protein, while cutting back on breads and pastas.
It is reported that 40% of nine and ten-year-olds are dieting and trying to lose weight.
Experts are stating that there is now a global epidemic of obesity and that for the first time in history, this number of overweight people equals the number of underfed and undernourished.
Dr. Atkins introduces his second diet book, the “New Diet Revolution” to a new generation of dieters. The Low-carb diet is back after multitudes of diet books promoting low fat diets.
It appears we may have come full circle – we are now promoting cutting sugars and counting calories (again). We have progressed from low carbohydrate, low fat, and low carbohydrate diets again along with some pretty scary schemes, e.g. the Tapeworm Diet. Many weight loss books, gimmicks and pills have come and gone over and over again and many still exist, but with no real breakthroughs.
2020 “if dieting makes us fat, what should we do instead to stay healthy and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related conditions?,” asks Dr. Sandra Aamodt, PhD? She is the author of Why Diets Make us Fat” and coauthor of “Welcome to Your Brain”and earned her doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester.
New concepts in weight loss and management are beginning to emerge like mindful eating, weight acceptance, and a different mindset about healthy weights. A new field of genetics called epigenetics may provide some answers that includes how the environment can influence gene expression. A new field of lifestyle medicine focuses not on weight alone but eating for health during a lifetime.
More effort and focus should be made on weight gain prevention and weight loss maintenance if we are finally going to declare dieting “dead”.
Nutrition News: What You Need to Know
A Rise in Metabolic Syndrome
Half of U.S. adults age 60 or older now have what is called metabolic syndrome – a cluster of symptoms that raise the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Talk to your doctor if you have three or more of the following:
- A large waist circumference
- Low HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
- High triglycerides
- High blood pressure
- A high fasting blood sugar leveL
A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CAN CUT the RISK!!
DO YOU NEED VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in two forms, Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The RDA for women and men is 15 mcg or 600 UL and the UL is 100 mcg (4,000 IU The primary functions are: needed for absorption of calcium and phosphorus and their utilization in bone formation, and nerve and muscle activity. It also inhibits inflammation and is involved in insulin secretion and blood glucose level maintenance. You may have seen lately the claim that it is needed especially in older adults for the prevention and/or treatment for COVID-19; however, so far there is no solid evidence to support that.
There is some preliminary evidence that it may offer some antiviral responses against the risk of respiratory infections in general and boost the ability of lung cells to fight bacteria and viruses. A large meta analysis) published in 2017 in BMJ (British Medical Journal) concluded that taking a D supplement with anywhere from less than 800 IU to more than 2000 IU reduced the risk of having at least one respiratory tract infection. Those most deficient saw the most benefits, and there is “no trial that has shown any benefit for giving vitamin D in any population that is getting enough vitamin D,” says F. Michael Gloth, III, M.D., an associate professor of geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University Medical School.
About 50 percent of people aged 60 and older take a D supplement and for some, it may useful. About 80% of older adults don’t get enough D in their diet as well as there are few food sources of vitamin D, since we make our own D in the skin. Because of this, The National Academy of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D a day up to age 70; 800 IU daily after that. Ultimately, whether to get tested or take a supplement comes down having this discussion with your doctor.
Lifestyle habits can make a difference:
- Don’t smoke – smoking depletes many vitamins and limit your ability to make vitamin D.
- People carrying extra weight often have low D levels. Losing that extra weight may boost D levels.
- Physical activity may increase vitamin D levels.
- Getting enough sun – just 15 to 20 minutes a day on face, arms, legs, back without sunscreen can give a healthy dose. This can be harder in the winter or if you have darker skin.
- Diet can help a little – cow’s milk and plant milks are usually fortified as well as some juices and cereals. Fatty fish and egg yolks help.
- People with bowel disease or metabolic problems can affect D absorption. A simple blood test is often recommended by your doctor. Consult with your doctor who can help you with testing your individual levels, no matter what your age or health status.
Source: CRConsumer Reports On Health, October, 2020
What is the difference betwwen ALA, EPA, and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids?
Both nuts and fish contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They help fight inflammation, boost brain and heart health and ensure healthy fetal development. However there are three omega-3 fats (ALA, EPA and DHA) that differ in how we acquire them in our diets. The omega-3 from nuts is primarily ALA, while EPA and DHA are found preformed in fish. and algae. Here are the facts:
- Omega-3 ALA cannot be created in our bodies and must, therefore be acquired from diet or supplements.
- ALA is good but EPA and DHA are better (EPA for inflammation and DHA for brain/heart health. Your brain is made up of 58% DHA by dry weight.
- Although we are technically able to synthesize our own EPA and DHA from ALA, we don’t do so very efficiently (in fact, the rates of conversion are quite low at 3% and 19%, respectively).
- So if you’re vegetarian or simply don’t like fish, you may need to supplement your diet with EPA/DHA from fish or look for vegetarian omega-3 supplements that derive EPA and DHA from algae. Simply, that is where the fish get it.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter
Diet Supplements: Beliefs and Reality
Consumers tend to believe that dietary supplements:
- Have fewer side effects than prescription drugs.
- Are approved by the FDA.
- Will improve and maintain health.
- Are safe, high quality, and effective.
- May replace conventional medicines.
DIETARY SUPPLEMENT REALITIES
- FDA does not approve, test, or regulate the manufacture or sale of dietary supplements.
- The FDA has limited power to keep potentially harmful diet supplements off the market.
- Dietary supplements may not have been tested for safety or effectiveness before they are sold.
- Dietary supplements often do not list side effects, warnings, or drug or food interactions on product labels.
- Ingredients listed on supplement labels may not include all active ingredients.
- Dietary supplements may not relieve problems or promote health and performance as advertised.
- One of the most serious consequences of supplements results when they are used as a remedy for health problems that can be treated, but not by vitamins or minerals. Vitamin and mineral supplements have NOT been found as yet to prevent or treat heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, premature death, behavioral problems, sexual dysfunction, hair loss, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, cataracts or stress. Some such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene may be harmful to certain groups of people. If taken, dosages should not be excessive.
Judith Brown, Nutrition Now, 2013.
The recent pandemic brings with it its schemes, misinformation, and claims for combating the virus. The supermarket tabloid covers feature various foods to eat to avoid viral infections. Always consult with your doctor about these claims. And thanks to Quackwatch, you can find a very comprehensive guide about COVID-19 claims HERE.
Life Was Good? The American Plate 1950 – 1959
1951 I Love Lucy debuts on CBS.
1952 The Lipton food company rolls out its dehydrated onion soup that will earn it fame as a base for onion soup mix: 2 envelopes of mix plus 1 cup of sour cream. Lipton eventually prints the recipe, “California Dip” on the package.
1953 Eggo Frozen Waffles are introduced.
1954 Employee Gerry Thomas from the C.A. Swanson Co, has an idea (although fellow workers nearly laughed him out of the Omaha plant): package the left-over turkey, along with some dressing, gravy, cornbread, peas and sweet potatoes into a partitioned metal tray, sell it frozen, and consumers could heat it up for dinner. His name for the leftover meal: TV Dinner.
1954 The first Burger King opens in Miami. A burger is 18 cents, as is a milkshake. The Whopper is introduced in 1957 and sells for 37 cents.
1955 Milkshake-machine salesman, Roy Kroc tries to persuade Dick and Mac McDonald (owner of the original McDonalds in California) to franchise their concept. They aren’t interested but tell Kroc to go ahead and try his hand. Kroc opens his first restaurant in Des Plains, ILL., and eventually buys out the McDonalds.
1956 Jif Peanut Butter is introduced.
1956 More than 80 percent of U.S. households have refrigerators. By contrast, only 8 percent of British households have refrigerators.
1957 Better Homes and Gardens prints its first microwave-cooking article.
1957 Margarine sales take the lead over butter.
1958 Eighteen- year-old Frank Carney sees a story in the Saturday Evening Post about the pizza fad among teenagers and college students. With $600 borrowed from his mother, he and his fellow Wichita State classmate, opens the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, KS.
The Glycemic Response: Sugar and Your Body
Blood sugar control is the goal of people who are either prediabetic or diabetic (type 1 or 2).
- High sugar levels slowly erode the ability of cells in your pancreas to make insulin. The organ overcompensates and insulin levels stay too high. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged. Insulin resistance may ensue.
- High levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, what doctors call atherosclerosis.
Almost any part of your body can be harmed by too much sugar. Damaged blood vessels cause problems such as:
- Kidney disease or kidney failure, requiring dialysis
- Heart attacks
- Vision loss or blindness
- Weakened immune system, with a greater risk of infections
- Erectile dysfunction
- Nerve damage, also called neuropathy, that causes tingling, pain, or less sensation in your feet, legs, and hands
- Poor circulation to the legs and feet
- Slow wound-healing and the potential for amputation in rare cases
Keep your blood sugar levels close to normal to avoid many of these complications.
What is the Glycemic Response?
The glycemic response is the rate, magnitude, and duration of the rise in blood glucose that occurs after a particular food or meal is consumed. It is affected by both amount and type of carbohydrate eaten and the amount of fat and protein in that food or meal.
Refined sugars and starches generally cause a greater glycemic response than refined carbohydrates that contain fiber. This is because sugar and starches alone leave the stomach quickly and are rapidly digested and absorbed, causing a sharp, swift rise in blood sugar. For example, when you drink a can of soda or eat a slice of white bread on an empty stomach your blood sugar increases within minutes. Eating a high fiber food causes a slower, lower increase in blood sugar. The presence of fat and protein also slows stomach emptying, and therefore foods high in these macro- nutrients generally causes smaller glycemic response than foods containing sugar or starch alone. For example , ice cream is high in sugar but also contains fat and some protein , so it causes a smaller rise in blood glucose than sorbet which contains sugar but no fat or protein. In fact, the GI for a baked potato is higher than for a serving of ice cream (due to the fat and sugar).
What is the Glycemic Index? (GI)
Glycemic index is its ranking of how a certain food effects blood glucose compared to the response of an equivalent amount of carbohydrate from a reference food such as, white bread or pure glucose. The reference food is assigned a value of 100 and the values for other foods are expressed relative to this. Foods that have a glycemic index of 70 or more compared to glucose are considered high glycemic index foods those with an index of less than 55 are considered a low glycemic index food.
What is the Glycemic Load? (GL)
Glycemic load (GL) is a method of assessing glycemic response that takes into account both the glycemic index of the food and the amount of carbohydrate in a typical portion. To calculate glycemic load, the grams of carbohydrate in a serving of food are multiplied by that foods glycemic index expressed as a percentage. A glycemic load of 20 or more is considered high, where a value of less than 11 is considered low.
For example: A raw carrot provides about 7 grams of carbohydrate and has a glycemic index of 47. It’s glycemic load (GL) is calculated as:
7 X 47 = 329.
329 / 100 = 3.29
Glycemic load = 3.29
Bottom Line: Some high-GI foods, such as baked potatoes and French bread, are good sources of a number of nutrients. Just because a food has a high glycemic index doesn’t mean it should not be used as part of a balanced diet. Adjusting food choices toward selection of mainly low GI foods is most helpful for people attempting to prevent or control type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed using the: Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Normal levels are below 5.7 percent, and a result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes. It is important to see your physician who then may refer you to a certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian. Weight and carbohydrate control appears to be the best approach to deal with or even prevent diabetes type 2.
The following links can further discuss the glycemic response as well as provide a table of the glycemic index and glycemic load of 100 foods tested.
The American Diabetes Association
Nutrition. Smolin and Grosvenor, Wiley, 3rd Edition
Nutrition Now. Judith E. Brown, Wadsworth Centage Learning, 7th Edition