Doctor’s Tip: Politics versus science in new food guidelines
The Department of Agriculture (isn’t there a conflict of interest here?) and the Department of Health and Human Services came out with the new food guidelines this month, as they do every five years. What we would all hope is that the guidelines would be based only on science, but as usual they were influenced by politics.
According to Neal Barnard, M.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and others, the guidelines do contain some good points:
1. They continue to push the power of plant-based diets in fighting disease.
2. They point out the risk of “bad” fats (trans and saturated).
3. They recommend cutting dietary cholesterol in order to reduce heart disease and other conditions.
4. They recommend cutting down on salt and avoiding added sugar.
The bad things about the guidelines, according to Dr. Barnard, are:
1. They neglect important warnings about red and processed meat, which the World Health Organization (which is not influenced by American politics) recently cited as carcinogenic based on recent science.
2. They recommend seafood in spite of concerns about cholesterol and contaminants.
3. They include dairy products in spite of evidence they can cause harm (they have cholesterol and saturated fat for one thing), and have not been shown to prevent fractures.
4. They are confusing. For example, they recommend cutting down on dietary cholesterol but then say eggs are OK.
Prior to the guidelines coming out, a scientific advisory panel issued a report. But the final guidelines were influenced by intense lobbying by the food industry, and then of course Congress got involved. Do we really want Congress influencing scientific guidelines about what we should eat?
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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