Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~Hippocrates
Diet is by far the biggest lifestyle factor we encounter in living a healthy life. Determining the correct diet is not a simple task and there is is considerable misinformation in the media. A diet for a healthy lifestyle is not to be confused with the fad diets that are used to lose weight. These weight loss diets (Adkins, Southbeach, Weight Watchers, etc) are not healthy diets, but a short term fix. According to many studies, almost all weight loss diet attempts fail with in 1 year.
A healthy diet is one that helps to maintain or improve overall health. A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, adequate essential amino acids from protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and adequate calories and minimum or no toxins. In addition, we must expect to add nutrients to fill the deficiency gaps that we can't get from our foods.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information of diet types and criteria so that in a future blog, a few choices can be made.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) has been changed over the years, check these images below for those changes. The SAD is created by USDA and the Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These agencies look at the components of the food groups (protein, carbs and fats) and every 5 years and usually tweak the latest guidelines on the basis on nutritional studies, other trends and lobby interests.
The AMA promotes the newest American SAD diet with new guidelines announced in 2016 (2015-2020 guidelines). These guidelines are similar to past ones with a low fat, high carb emphasis and a slight reduced extra sugar content. Some odd choices still in this diet are dairy every day. soy as a food and drink, fruit juice, 50% of grains can be refined vs whole and of course high use of omega 6 fats.
It is well known that refined grains are not healthy but our lobby interests continue to influence our SAD to include them instead of omitting them. 30+% of the grocery store shelves are refined grains.
The WHO association suggests the following guidelines noted below. The main differences between SAD and WHO diets are 5% or less of free sugar (25 gm/day) and 30% of energy from fats with more unsaturated than saturated fats. Both WHO diet and SAD suggest 400 grams of fruits and vegetables a day (5 cups/day). Research suggest 10 cups/day would be better.
The Paleo diet is a well known diet that focuses on foods that our ancestors ate. Of course we have the vegan diet or Whole food Plan diet (WFPD). The next article describes the differences between them. Both diets have pros and cons. The WFPD has been shown clinically to be healthy in various studies.
So we have briefly reviewed SAD, WHO, Mediterranean, Paleo , WFPD as primary options.
The next chart shows you what we eat as compared to what we should eat.
The first is we don't get good recommendations for our gov't or health agencies that are healthy. The second problem and as important, is we don't pay attention to what we eat. We simply "live to eat" and do not understand or care about the consequences of poor eating habits.Americans are certainly under informed about a proper diet and apparently lack "behavior change" stamina to stick to a food regiment.
In summary, our government agencies and the AMA have created diets that are not healthy. The formulation of the SAD has been driven by meat, dairy and other lobby concerns over the last 40 years where the emphasis has been more directed towards profits than creating health for American citizens. For more information watch the film PlantPure nation, Food, Inc and many other books and movies on the subject.