meatTag Archives

Looking at the USDA Dietary Guidelines

Today’s reading included a blog post by Denise Minger looking at USDA recommendations. The USDA recommends reducing saturated fat in the diet as well as reducing overall fat content. In their library of supporting documents, only one of the 12 studies cited actually supports these recommendations. The one study that does, a meta-analysis of studies, is later contradicted by a larger meta-analysis that shows no improvements. The first study is apparently confounded by publication bias. To further confound such studies, the USDA presented a pie chart showing where saturated fat in the American diet comes from. Grain-based desserts and pizza provide the largest portions of saturated fat in the American diet. But I just learned from the “Forks over Knives” post that China Study II positively correlates wheat with heart disease death and deaths from all medical causes. In fact, wheat correlates with heart disease better than any other food. Those grain-based desserts and pizza that we’re getting our saturated fat from have a lot of wheat in them. Meanwhile, animal protein and animal fat were negatively correlated in that study, meaning that death rates were lower. That’s an interesting finding from a scientist who promotes a vegan diet. So anything showing that saturated fat is harmful is likely confounded by the junkie carbohydrate and wheat intake that often accompanies the saturated fat. Furthermore, studies supporting increased intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils are confounded by the overall healthier habits of those consuming those oils. When the data are corrected for these healthy habits, the benefit of the vegetable oils disappears.

By the way, the cited USDA studies and also Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s results cited in “Forks over Knives” blog post would support my modifications to the NutriSystem diet for attempting to keep my cholesterol levels healthy. This further increases my optimism that I have made the right modifications. We’ll see when I get the results back from this coming Thursday’s blood draw.

As an interesting aside, the USDA was unable to be conclusive as to whether fruits and vegetables are actually good for you. They say further study is needed. Very interesting indeed! Results from China Study II would support the inclusion of green vegetables, at least, since they are negatively correlated to deaths from all medical causes. Fruit is positively correlated with deaths from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in that same study, though. Have I not said before that fruit poses problems due to the sugar content? That’s why I decided to eliminate fruit from my modified diet. There are better sources for the micronutrients fruits provide among the vegetables, and I do make sure to include those.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
Denise Minger. The New USDA Dietary Guidelines: Total Hogwash, and Here’s Why, Raw Food SOS.
Denise Minger. “Forks Over Knives”: Is the Science Legit? (A Review and Critique), Raw Food SOS.

Why meat must be part of our diet

Prehistoric Hunters
Prehistoric Hunters in a Cave Painting

Vegetarians and vegans like to tell us that we should eat a largely carbohydrate diet. I disagree. They like to say that our diet should resemble that of gorillas and chimpanzees since they are supposedly our nearest evolutionary relatives. But our digestive systems are very different from theirs. Barry Groves explores those differences at length in an article on his site. Our digestive system resembles that of carnivores more than it does that of herbivores.

Dense carbohydrates are a very recent addition to the human diet. Agriculture did not occur until about 10,000 years ago; and in some areas such as northernEurope, agriculture did not arrive until about 5,000 years ago. Prior to that, humans were hunter/gatherers. Modern day hunter/gatherer diets tend to be largely meat-based with a preference for the fattiest portions. It is clear from the bone piles found at sites where prehistoric human remains have been found that the prehistoric diet included a lot of meat as well. Their cave paintings depict hunting, not agriculture. And the bones of those prehistoric humans showed that they were much healthier than us. They were taller, and they did not suffer from degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Those in the northern climates particularly would have been eating a meat diet because the ice age would not have allowed much vegetation to grow.

On the other hand, arthritis, obesity, and heart disease are apparent in Egyptian mummies, a society where grains predominated.

Barry Groves. Should all animals eat a high-fat, low-carb diet? (This article compares our digestive system with herbivores and carnivores.)