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New USDA Food Guidelines Strike Out Again!

Sheesh. Here we go again.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article on CNN titled Federal Dietary Guidelines Target Salt, Saturated Fats. Ugh! Will they ever get it right?

Our government is recommending “people over age 51, African-Americans (that would include me), and people with a history of hypertension, diabetes, or kidney problems limit their daily salt intake to a little over half a teaspoon”.

Thanks for looking out for me, but I’m not giving up my unrefined Celtic sea salt. My body likes those minerals. Never mind the fact that cutting refined salt consumption does little, if anything, for blood pressure.

“Systematic reviews of the evidence, whether published by those who believe that salt is responsible for hypertension or by those who don’t, have inevitably concluded that significant reductions in salt consumption – cutting our salt intake in half, for instance, which is difficult to accomplish in the real world – will drop blood pressure by perhaps 4 to 5 mm Hg in hypertensives and 2mm Hg in the rest of us.” – Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories

Just 4 to 5 mm Hg?

How motivating…

Okay, let’s say I did decide to follow Uncle Sam’s recommendations and lowered my salt intake to almost nothing. Yeah, my blood pressure would drop a bit (4 to 5 mm Hg) at first. But I’d eventually become weak and develop digestive challenges. It’s like trading one problem for two! Salt contains chloride, which is essential for the production of hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl is produced in the stomach and is responsible for the breakdown of proteins. When HCL is low (also known as hypochlorhydria), it can throw off the entire digestive process, as it is the acidity of the food leaving the stomach that initiates the proper function of the gallbladder and pancreas in the small intestine.

Is refined table salt bad for you? Absolutely. However, what you can do is replace it with unrefined Celtic sea salt (my fave brand is Flower of the Ocean). Since the sea salt has not had all of its minerals processed out of it, it provides plenty of magnesium, which helps to reduce blood pressure! I use mine several times a day and my blood pressure is awesome!

And don’t even get me started with these fat-phobic imbeciles!

The new guidelines recommend that we consume less than 10 percent of our calories from saturated fat.

My goodness.

Personally, I can’t understand how an old food (animals) or nutrient (saturated fat) can cause a new disease (heart disease).

If it were not for saturated fat, we wouldn’t be here. Our ancestors consumed tons of the stuff. And they didn’t have a heart disease epidemic!

“The commonly held belief that the best diet for prevention of coronary heart disease is a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet is not supported by the available evidence from clinical trials.” – European Heart Journal, Volume 18, January 1997

The link between saturated fat and heart disease has NEVER been proven! And dietary cholesterol has little, if anything, to do with blood cholesterol. This has been known since the 1960s.

Saturated fats are critical to human health. They make up our cell membranes. They are resistant to oxidation. They are the preferred fuel for the human heart, liver, and kidneys. They raise HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

Cholesterol is an antioxidant. It builds your hormones. It repairs damage to the arteries. It is found in the nerve sheaths, the white matter of the brain, and the adrenal glands. It helps regulate the body’s electrolyte balance. It boosts mood by way of stabilizing neurotransmitters.

You want cholesterol!

The government would like us to replace our saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Well, I kinda like the monounsaturated fat recommendation. Olive oil is good for you. Just don’t cook with it at high heat. This will make it go rancid and not so good for you.

Telling us to consume more polyunsaturated fats really chaps my hide. In the last 100 years, saturated fat consumption has gone down while polyunsaturated fat consumption (mostly processed, rancid vegetable oils) has more than tripled. Meanwhile, heart disease is still the number one cause of death!

Replacing butter, bacon fat, chicken skin, coconut oil and the like with oils made from soybean, corn, and cottonseed is NOT a good idea. The latter are loaded with Omega-6 fats, which in excess (it doesn’t take much) will cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and eventually heart disease!

Then again, we’ve gotta do something with all that subsidized soy and corn.

Thanks, Mr. Vilsack (Head of the Department of Agriculture)!

Before I move on from this topic, I should point out that not all polyunsaturated fats are bad for us. The essential fats EPA and DHA are polyunsaturated. They are found in properly raised animals and wild fish, as well as fish and cod liver oils.

The CNN article ends with a quote from noted NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle,

“The new guidelines recognize that obesity is the No. 1 public health nutrition problem in America and actually gives good advice about what to do about it: eat less and eat better. For the first time, the guidelines make it clear that eating less is a priority”

At least she didn’t say “eat less and exercise more”. I may have puked.

The problem is that the USDA would like us to eat less of what is good for us (saturated fats) and more of what is not (polyunsaturated fats). And if their intention is to address obesity, it may be a good idea to consider WHY people overeat in the first place. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that our dietary guidelines vilify the very foods that keep us satiated (animal fats).

It’s kinda hard to eat less when we’re hungry all day.

The USDA guidelines are updated every 5 years. Let’s not wait until 2015 to turn the pyramid upside down. Start making noise now! Start up a blog. Spread the word. Write your representative.

And enjoy your bacon.


Sean Croxton
I Eat the Skin!