This post is inspired by my weekly trips to the grocery store. I am always appalled at what people consider food. I am constantly checking out other people’s carts to see what they’re eating. I guess some might say I’m judging them. But that is not the case. These observations area simply a glaring reminder that we, as a country, have no idea what is healthy and what is not. Because we have allowed the government to dictate what “proper” nutrition is, we have ended up a nation of highly unhealthy citizens.
Even though this is considered “old news” by now, I cannot stress the importance of disregarding anything the FDA and USDA states on nutrition. For those of you who may have missed this news the first time around, or perhaps you just want/need a refresher on the subject, I wanted to write about the revision of the USDA’s dietary guidelines and the release of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) suggested dietary guidelines. The WAPF’s guidelines are much more in tune to what true nutrition should be.
Back in February 2011, the USDA released the updated and revised dietary guidelines. These guidelines are based on the notion that cholesterol and saturated fats are bad for you. If you were to follow their guidelines, you would suffer severe nutritional deficiencies, plus set yourself up for a host of health problems. The U.S. is still advocates of a low-fat, plant-based diet with a heavy reliance on grains and carbohydrates. All of these recommendations lead to degenerative diseases and obesity. For as progressive a country as the United States, our stance on food is very much an atrocity.
Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price Foundation held a press conference around the same time the USDA released the new guidelines. The purpose of the press conference was to critique the new guidelines, as well as create awareness of the sad nutritional state of America. You can watch the press release here.
The WAPF suggested some new guidelines, but we know that the USDA would never dream of listening to them! However, if you are interested in moving away from what our government says is healthy and on to what history (and science, believe it or not!) says is healthy, here is the perfect packet of information for you.
Saturated Fats – Not the Devil They’ve Been Made Out to Be
First and foremost, saturated fats are not bad for you! No matter what you’ve been told, your body NEEDS fat in order to properly function. The human body is composed of saturate fat in the cell membranes, as well as in the protective fat around our organs. If we restrict saturated fat, then our body will convert carbohydrates to saturated fat. This sets us up for obesity because it will increase the craving for carbohydrates, which have been shown to contribute to weight gain.
If you still need convincing, here are some of the reasons your body needs saturated fats, as explained on the WAPF website:
- As saturated fats are stable, they do not become rancid easily, do not call upon the body’s reserves of antioxidants, do not initiate cancer and do not irritate the artery walls.
- Vitamins A and D, which are vital for proper growth and for protein and mineral assimilation, are found only in mostly saturated animal fats.
- Saturated fats enhance the immune system, thereby protecting us against infection and cancer.
- Saturated fats help the body lay down calcium in the bones and help prevent osteoporosis.
- Saturated fats provide energy and structural integrity to the cells.6 At least 50 percent of many, if not most, of the cell membrane must be saturated fat for the cells to work properly.
- Saturated fats protect the liver from alcohol, drugs, pesticides and other poisons.
- Saturated fats enhance the body’s use of essential fatty acids, which the body needs in small amounts and obtains from whole foods.
- Saturated fats are needed for the kidneys to work properly.
Cholesterol - Another Necessary Building Block of Optimal Health
Like saturated fats, cholesterol has been villainized and is now avoided like the plague. Unfortunately, if we avoid cholesterol, the we are avoiding one of the key building blocks of cellular health. It has been stated that cholesterol leads to heart disease, but that is simply not true. Restriction of cholesterol for women and children is particularly dangerous.
Here are a few of the roles that colestorol plays in our body, as explained by the WAPF:
- Along with saturated fats, cholesterol in the cell membrane gives our cells necessary stiffness and stability. When the diet contains an excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, these replace saturated fatty acids in the cell membrane, so that the cell walls actually become flabby. When this happens, cholesterol from the blood is “driven” into the tissues to give them structural integrity. This is why serum cholesterol levels may go down temporarily when saturated fats are replaced with polyunsaturated oils in the diet.
- Cholesterol acts as a precursor to vital corticosteroids, hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against heart disease and cancer; and to the sex hormones like androgen, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
- Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, a very important fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy bones and nervous system, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, reproduction and immune system function.
- Cholesterol is needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal tendencies.
- Mother’s milk is especially rich in cholesterol and contains a special enzyme that helps the baby utilize this nutrient.
Other Nutritional Deficiencies
In addition to the restriction of cholesterol and saturated fats, the USDA guidelines have many other nutritional deficiencies. Because their guidelines are low-fat, high-carb, and plant-based, it’s difficult to obtain all of the critical nutrients we need for optimal health.
Some of the nutrients we would miss, if we followed the USDA’s guidelines, are:
Vitamin A – True vitamin A, the kind that is most easily absorbed and utilized by your body, can only be found in animal fats, along with liver and organ meats. The precursors to vitamin A that are found in fruits and veggies are not adequate and cannot be properly converted. Vitamin A is very important for all of us, especially infants and children, as it’s needed for growth and hormone production, as well as bones, skin and eye development.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and is starting to be recognized as a serious problem, even by the scientific medical community. Vitamin D can be produced by our body during exposure to sun, however, it is most easily obtained and absorbed through butter, whole milk, cream, egg yolks, organ meats, and animal fats from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals, as well as fatty, oily fish.
Vitamin K2 – This vitamin is important for healthy bones and teeth, growth, neurological function, reproduction, and protection from heart disease. It is most readily found in meat fats, organ meats, whole milk cheese and butter.
Zinc - Important, not only for immune system health, but for neurological and reproductive health. Zinc is most readily found in shellfish and red meat.
Vitamin B12 – This vitamin is needed for healthy blood, brain function, as well as protection from depression, heart disease, cancer, anemia and MS. The best places to find it is in shellfish and organ meats.
As you can see, the following the USDA’s guidelines is destined to make you depressed, obese, and unhealthy. Following a real food diet, full of plenty of vegetables, fats, organ meats, fermented and cultured foods, and limited carbohydrates is going to help you achieve health and well being, not only physically, but mentally.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your feedback. Do you agree or disagree with WAPF?