The latest study could change how to pack your kid’s lunchbox (and yours too).

For decades (and decades) most scientist, dieticians, and even the general populations knew what culprit was causing all our major health issues. It was cholesterol and fat. Cholesterol and fat were causing our heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, etc. But in the most recent edition of the Department of Health and Human Services (along with the Department of Agriculture) “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” (this is where the food pyramid (now “my plate”) came from), almost hidden they write: “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption”.

Wait, what?

After literally 60 years of telling us that we should avoid cholesterol, they are just going to slide that little nugget in a 500-page document almost like they hope we don’t notice?

Here’s the thing.
When they started essentially telling us to carb load years ago, it’s not exactly like our heart disease rates (or cancer rates for that matter) went plummeting. The government started telling us to stop eating cholesterol and saturated fats in 1961. The CDC has put out a graph detailing deaths from heart disease and cancer since 1950. If you check it out, you will note that there is no correlation whatsoever between 1961 and a decrease in either heart disease or cancer. The first major dip in heart disease comes around the end of the 1970s, followed by a steady decline starting in the mid-1990s. My hunch is that pharmaceuticals have had a large impact on that decline.

So why, then, has the government been so down on fats and cholesterol, and so high on bread and grains (Remember, the food pyramid had “bread, cereals, rice, and pasta” below vegetables!!)? Well, I could go all “conspiracy theory” on you and bring up the point that the USDA’s primary stakeholders (and major lobbyists) are major food producers and manufacturers. Think Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Mars, Frito Lay, etc.… point being, there is a lot of money at stake whenever the USDA puts out its guidelines, and let’s all agree that money trumps the welfare of the public on a consistent basis in the government. So, is it possible that the food pyramid just went to the highest bidder? Considering they essentially said you should eat more Cinnamon Toast Crunch than cucumbers, I think the answer is, yeah, probably.

What can we do with this new information?

I have always been a pretty staunch proponent of cholesterol and fats (even the saturated kind, but not the trans kind). There are some foods that you may have been avoiding that can be reintroduced to you diet (in my opinion) immediately. Those are eggs and shellfish (shrimp, lobster, etc.). To think that we have been eating cereal instead of protein and fat rich (read: more fulfilling) eggs for breakfast seems ludicrous.

The one caveat I feel that comes with all this exciting news about cholesterol and fat is that you need to be extra careful about your sources. For example, SPAM is not a good source of dietary fat. And you have to be careful about where and how you get your meat. I would say one of the biggest lessons we have learned from all of this,ise we just don’t really know what we are doing! That goes for scientists, dieticians, and (especially) the government. We have no idea what the long-term effects of antibiotic fed animals, hormone fed animals, cruelly caged chickens and their eggs, etc. etc. etc. has on us over a lifetime of eating them. Why are rates of cancer, autism, ADHD, etc? Going up, up, up with no real hope for improvement? We just don’t know. There are zero long-term studies on feeding people these foods against a placebo and there probably never will be. And, remember, we just found out that long-term use of certain sleep aids can cause cognitive impairment in the elderly, which up until then we didn’t know and therefore used with careless abandon.

I am not trying to scare everyone into some elaborate conspiracy theory, evil government plan, but we need to just admit what we don’t know, and I would say that when it comes to health and diet, we know very very little.

So what do we do?

Cholesterol Managment

All we can do is the best we can do. I feel like there are certain foods we can eat where we are pretty safe: fruits, vegetables,nuts, whole grains, good meats, olive oil, butter, and milk. But, in the same way, that I always say “it’s not what you say, its how you say it”, it’s not necessarily what you eat, but in what quantities and ratios you eat them. You don’t want to eat as much butter as broccoli. Be smart, do your best. We did a blog about what cholesterol management plan might be right for you. As always if you have questions or want more guidance contact us for a free consultation.

Then there is a whole other issue of organic, GMOs, etc. I eat organic as much as I can because again, we don’t really know the long-term effects of pesticides. Is it safe? Maybe, but I don’t want to be the guinea pig (nor do I want my kids to be guinea pigs). Let me quote here from the EPA: “the presence of detectible pesticide residue does not mean the residue is at an unsafe level” Ok, but how do they know that? This is coming from the same basic institution that told us to eat more grains than vegetables? Are the major farming lobbyists telling them that it’s OK because it is the most profitable? I don’t know, but in the meantime, I am going to eat as clean as my budget allows. But, this is probably a topic for a whole other post. Stay healthy!

Until next time…. Dr. Kent