Tag Archives: registered dietitians

RD Turn-About: Fat Not So Bad

The American Dietetic Association is a low fat bastion, with member dietitians rarely advising patients to embrace a low-carb lifestyle. Doctors routinely refer their patients to Registered Dietitians for guidance, and their advice is normally horrendous. So it was with great interest that I read the news item regarding a presentation at the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo this month (November, 2010). From a news story in Food Navigator USA:

During a symposium called “The Great Fat Debate: Is There Validity In the Age-Old Dietary Guidance?” at the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, four leading experts presented evidence suggesting that low fat diets may be less healthy than those containing at least a moderate amount of fat. In particular, all four agreed that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates – as has been widely recommended in the United States – is likely to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Emphasis mine. Just thought I’d bold that statement in case any deaf Dietitians were in attendance.

It is not that this is “new news”. The evidence has been mounting, and Low Carb Age has been documenting the end of the low fat diet craze for over a year now. But to have the ADA admit it is a very big deal indeed.

Just to recap some stories in the past year:

Dietary intakes of saturated fats are not linked to cardiovascular disease, so says a meta-analysis of 21 studies from across the world.

Data from almost 350,000 subjects obtained from 21 studies indicated that dietary intakes of saturated fat are not associated with increases in the risk of either coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD), US researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Our meta-analysis showed that there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr Ronald Krauss from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California.

Japanese researchers noted an increase in mortality – that means death, folks – from strokes in those that adopted a low fat diet:

Very low intakes of saturated fats may be just as bad for you as very high intakes, and could lead to an increased risk of death from stroke – according to new Japanese research.

The study, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that a very low dietary intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA) is associated with an increased risk of stroke.

“SFA [saturated fatty acids – saturated fat] intake was inversely associated with mortality from stroke. This inverse association was similarly observed for intraparenchymal hemorrhage and ischemic stroke,” wrote the researchers.

Some of the stories show the conflicted nature of researchers facing unpleasant results. One study looked at low fat diets and concluded that it was the type of carbohydrates in the diet that were at fault:

People who cut saturated fats while increasing intake of refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta have a higher risk of heart attack, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

However, the Danish researchers found that reducing saturated fats while increasing intake of non-refined carbohydrates – such as wholegrain bread and vegetables – could improve heart health. A recent meta-analysis published in the same journal earlier this year called into doubt the widely held theory that high saturated fat intake is linked to high rates of heart disease – but the researchers behind that review said that other dietary elements of the 350,000 subjects involved could be more important.

. . .

They found a statistically significant correlation between replacing saturated fat calories with refined carbohydrates – those described as ‘high-GI’ and thought to cause a spike in blood sugar levels – and heart attack risk. For those subjects with the highest average dietary glycemic index, heart attack risk increased by 33 percent for every five percent increase in calorie intake from carbohydrates.

See the disconnect? I have emphasized the pertinent passage. They are still preaching the “whole grain breads” line while simultaneously saying that High Glycemic Index (GI) foods should be avoided. Yet whole grain bread often has a higher GI than plain old white bread (average of 62 vs. 59). You can see the official GI of different foods at http://www.glycemicindex.com/

Not that the gycemic index should really be a guide. For most Americans, cutting out refined carbs, including all breads, cookies, muffins and cakes, would go a long way toward curing the obesity problem in this country. Whole wheat and whole grain breads are still refined carbs, and spike blood sugar. Wheat may be implicated in numerous health issues due to allergies and sensitivities, sometimes hidden behind nebulous diagnoses of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or PCOS.

Following a true low carb lifestyle, or adopting a paleo outlook to eating, would greatly enhance health while avoiding the hunger that plagues low fat dieters, and may clear up other health issues (as I found with eliminating GERD and insomnia).

Welcome to the club, dietitians!

New USDA Food Guidelines

Somehow, we got the idea that bureaucrats, politicians and academics are qualified to tell us what to eat. The same people that brought you the line in the DMV, the spectacular efforts at mitigating things like Hurricane Katrina and the BP gulf oil spill, eugenics and forced sterilization have been recommending lower fat, higher carbohydrate changes to the American diet since Senator McGovern’s commission in the 1970s.

The value of their input over the last few decades: Americans today eat less fat, but have experienced rising rates of disease related to obesity, including type II diabetes (leading to heart disease and stroke). Oh, and giant subsidies for multinational corn producers that lead to below-market prices for things like high fructose corn syrup. Wonderful.

As Tom Naughton at Fat Head observes:

So the USDA has been issuing dietary advice every five years since 1980, and they’re responsible for enforcing consistency in federal dietary guidance. As they explain elsewhere in the document, their mission is especially critical now because

“The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the US has increased dramatically in the past three decades … The 2010 DGAC Report is unprecedented in addressing an American public, two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese.”

A dramatic increase in obesity in the past three decades … hmmm, let me do some math here … that would mean we’ve gotten a lot fatter since 1980, otherwise known as the first year the DGAC provided science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk of major chronic diseases through optimal diet and regular physical activity.

Laura Dolson at LowCarbDiets.About.com waded through the “new” guidelines to find some confusion on the part of our self-appointed Wise and Wonderful advisers:

What does this mean? To me it means that they recognize that the excess calories in the U.S. diet are mainly coming from high-carb foods, but are stopping short of saying that there is something about sugars in and of themselves that is causing overeating. I think it’s also important to remember that when they say, “healthy diets are high in carbohydrates”, what they are actually saying is “healthy diets are high in sugars”. Proponents of high-carb diets like to obscure the fact that to our bodies “it’s all sugar”, and that many of our bodies have a lot of trouble with this.

The comments section includes the obligatory response from a person signing their name with letters behind it … “MS, RD”. Those letters indicate that the poster has a master’s degree and is a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are, for the most part, a group of people who put forth the accepted wisdom without ever questioning it, or doing research themselves. My very low opinion of their advice is shared by some low carb doctors, so it is more than just jealousy or ignorance at work on my part. (I have been called worse by those that disagree with me, and often I’m surprised at the language they learned in college).

Laura is nice to her though. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be so nice. I would be respectful, because we are all God’s children, but you have to remember, dietitians are harming people. Encouraging type II diabetics and those “on the road” to that disease to eat “complex carbs” is more than counterproductive. It is harmful. It advances their disease. It kills people.

Some reports are that the USDA guidelines will establish even lower fat levels for the American diet, as low as 7% of daily caloric intake. To do this, you have to increase carbohydrate intake. Laura notes the new report advises up to 65% of your calories should come from carbs. For someone eating 2,500 calories a day, that’s over 400 grams of carbohydrates.

Let’s do an experiment. Take that one pound bag of sugar out of the cupboard and get a teaspoon. Scoop out a level teaspoon and pour it on the counter. How many carbs do you think that represents? About 4 grams. Do it another 100 times and you are just under the amount of carbohydrates the USDA is recommending.

That bag of sugar will be close to empty. Nearly one pound of it will be on your counter. Now, if I had “RD” after my name, I might suggest you eat it, but I won’t.

Wait, I’m being unfair. The “RD” people will tell you to eat “complex” carbohydrates, which means “whole grains” and other “slower to absorb” forms. OK, get several hundred empty medicine capsules that dissolve in your stomach. Put the sugar in that. Now you have the metabolic equivalent of “complex carbohydrates”, carbs that take longer to break down into sugar. “To sugar they will turn, they must”, as Yoda would say.

The USDA guidelines are more stringent this year, even with the conflicting messages that Laura observed. Like a light bulb’s light output increasing dramatically right before it burns out, the USDA is having one last hurrah with the low fat nonsense. The USDA, like all the “RD” folks out there, are ignoring the most recent medical research.

And because of that, more people will get fat, develop type II diabetes, and die.