THE PREVENTIVE NUTRITION FOOD PLAN

“The Power of Food as Healthy Medicine”

THE STANDARD AMERICAN DIET :

HOW DID IT GET THIS BAD?

2015-08-15_11-14-49The average person today has strong opinions about what should constitute an adequate diet. For most, the way they eat has become a quality of life issue. It is no longer about eating to quench hunger, it is all about eating for pleasure.

The Standard American Diet (also known as the Western Diet in the developing world) is often defended with claims based on belief and opinion rather than facts. This results in misinformation “everybody knows” to be true. A few examples are:

“YOU NEED TO EAT MEAT AND DAIRY PRODUCTS TO GET ENOUGH PROTEIN”

NOT TRUE: This statement implies that plant foods have too little or no protein. In fact they have more than enough for good health and athletic activity.

“YOU NEED TO EAT PASTA, BREAD, CEREAL AND PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES IF YOU EXERCISE.”

NOT TRUE: This statement implies that a plant based diet has too little carbohydrate for athletic activity. You do need extra carbohydrates if you engage in sports and especially sustained aerobic activities. However, a whole food, plant based diet provides enough carbohydrate and has been used by Olympians and marathon champions.

“IT IS OK TO EAT DIARY PRODUCTS AND MEAT BECAUSE RECENT RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT A DIET HIGH IN FAT DOES NO HARM.”

NOT TRUE: Recently, a few book authors and journalists have made headlines with these claims. They have little to no background in nutritional science and therefore misinterpret the meaning of the scientific studies on which they base their opinions. Decades of research have proven that for people with atherosclerotic artery disease, fat is a very problematic nutrient.

A BIT OF HISTORY

In the 1950s meals were a central family activity. Parents and children sat down and ate together. Proper nutrition was about recommended food groups, meals were primarily in the home and restaurants were for special occasions. Obesity was an uncommon problem and dieting was for slimming a woman’s figure.

Today there are fewer intact families. Many meals are prepared by others: take-out, fast food or microwavable dishes. Restaurant eating occurs much more often and is about caloric excess or some gourmet palate experience. Obesity is epidemic, dieting is now widespread and about diabetes complications and ill health.

How did it come to this? In part because of well intentioned but misguided government recommendations. To a large measure it is also because of the success of American food industry marketing and addictive ingredient manipulation.

Government began promoting a change to the American diet in the 1970s. Saturated fat was the focus and recommendations were to reduce it. The unintended consequences were profound. Calories from animal fats were replaced with excess calories from refined carbohydrates (flour and sugar). Animal fats gave way to vegetable oils containing trans fats. An even higher daily calorie count was the result.

The food industry responded by shifting to scientific claims about the benefits of the contents of their products. They funded nutrition research to provide a basis for these claims. Some examples: “Less Saturated Fat”, “Lowers Your Cholesterol”, ” Boosts Your Immunity”, and “A Better Source Of Calcium.”

At the same time, the industry began adding sugar, salt and fat to refined carbohydrate products and fattened beef and poultry with new animal feed. This brought customers back for more. High fructose corn syrup did not exist before 1970 and now is ubiquitous on nutrition labels. Such additives to natural foods are ingredients studied by food companies using taste testing. Their goal is to sell their products and they have become expert at it no matter how dietary recommendations may change.

Finally, the food industry and government interact to control new dietary guidelines. The first major report was that of the McGovern Commission in the 1970s and its recommendations were revised and watered down after industry lobbying. Subsequent attempts to periodically revise dietary advice have met with intense lobbying resistance by the food sectors affected. As a result, there is really no public understanding of how nutrition and diet affect the cardiovascular health of the nation.

THE CONSEQUENCES

Today’s Standard American Diet has led to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke and premature death. Despite recommendations to the contrary over the last 40 years, the major components of our diet have not improved much while the proportions have changed.

  • Calories : Increased not decreased
  • Fat:  35% of calories.  Saturated fat replaced with trans fats and oils
  • Protein:  15% of calories.  More meat and poultry, less plant protein.
  • Carbohydrate: 50% of calories.  Complex plant carbs (starch) replaced by refined flour and simple sugars

At present the Standard American Diet is the product of a “Misinformation Money Machine” consisting of dietary fads and food supplements. Diet advice fuels a book and speaking industry. Lax federal regulations allow unsupported dietary claims for “super foods”, probiotics, herbs, exotic juices and vitamins. Thus the public perception of any dietary advice, even valid advice, is appropriately skeptical.

THE NEED FOR PREVENTIVE NUTRITION TODAY

For those with atherosclerotic artery disease, appropriate nutrition can be critical in their recovery and long term health. A return to a simpler diet consisting of foods our grandparents and great-grandparents would recognize turns out to close to the mark. The Preventive Nutrition Food Plan is specifically designed with this in mind.

We invite you to learn how powerful nutrition can be in preventing heart attack and stroke by stopping the progression of atherosclerotic artery disease.