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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Dietary guidelines; Terri Roberts

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 12, 2016 9:00 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, January 11, 2016:

The federal government is out with new dietary guidelines that are designed to advise Americans on foods that are healthy to eat and those that are not.

This is the eighth edition of the guidelines and even though they're based on research, the guidelines still change and that sometimes creates confusion.

For example, previous guidelines recommended against eating a lot of eggs because too many could increase cholesetrol.  However, eggs were taken off the not recommended list this time because they contain good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Sugar and salt were targets this time.  Vegetables and fruits were not surpringsly recommended.

Capital Blue Cross Registered Dietitian Hilary Gillette appears on Tuesday's Smart Talk to discuss the guidelines.


Hilary Gillette

Also, Terri Roberts, whose son Charles shot and killed five Amish girls and wounded five others in October, 2006 joins us to tell her fascinating story.

Terri Roberts tells a story of forgiveness by the Amish community and how she befriended one of the victims who was disabled in the shooting.

Terri Roberts.jpg

Teri Roberts

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  • Finnegans Wake img 2016-01-12 08:42

    " However, eggs were taken off the not recommended list this time because they contain good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats."

    This seems to be incorrect. Numerous peer-reviewed studies show that eating eggs does not adversely affect serum cholesterol or contribute to disease. Eggs are also chock full of nutrients such as choline; vitamins A, B12, B2, and B5; phosphorus; selenium; and protein. But to say that the reason eggs are again considered healthful is not that they contain MUFAs and PUFAs -- SFAs still comprise a third of the total fat content -- seems to be a reach.

    I would suggest that the evidence against SFAs and the consumption of meat was based on a large body of rather weak correlational science (cf. Nina Teicholz's book The Big Fat Surprise). Nutrition studies are fraught with methodological issues, relying on wildly inaccurate food frequency questionnaires, weak correlations, multiple interventions, lack of randomized controls, and confounding variables. This is why nutrition studies are frequently contradictory, and why bias and influence can play a significant role. The use of epidemiological and observational studies can only ever be suggestive, and do not show cause.

    An example of a strong correlation would be smoking: because there is a single variable that can easily be measured and controlled for, the correlation between smoking and the incidence of various cancers, CVD, emphysema, et al., are quite clear. Human health is multi-factorial, and it is difficult to accurately assess diet and its influence, much less to measure the effect of physical activity, stress, quality of sleep, genetics, exposure to toxins, etc. Combined with the inherent issues with EOSs, we have relied on largely suppositional information for 35 years of DGAC recommendations.

    Removing dietary cholesterol from nutrition labeling has long been overdue, as it is now clear that dietary intake of cholesterol has little bearing on serum cholesterol in all but a very small percentage of individuals. Recent meta-analyses of SFA intake and red meat consumption are likewise walking back decades of prevailing wisdom (the science on processed red meat still suggests a potential link to disease). But DGAC recommendations to replace red meat with other proteins, to consume a large quantity of grains, and to replace SFA with "vegetable" oils has correlated with dietary patterns that are high in refined CHO and pro-inflammatory omega-6 consumption, and rather strikingly, with the increase of obesity in the U.S.

    • Robert D Colgan img 2016-01-13 09:02

      Very nice comments, FW. Can't disagree at all.

      Only one addendum to what you've said might be of utility:
      that eating habits -- dietary intake of food and liquids -- are also at all times idiosyncratic.
      While there may be some broad applicable generalizations that fit humans and other animals (e.g."Don't eat plutonium") it's difficult to define exactly what works best for each person as they change through life.
      The increasingly-sweetened American diet post-WWII with its alteration of the insulin setpoint may finally now be finally coming into greater consciousness as an unhealthful one...fingers crossed.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-12 09:25

    Susan in Elizabethtown emails:

    I was surprised last week when I heard the new guidelines, because there has yet to be any specific reference to carbohydrates. My husband, a physician, is convinced that carbs need to be part of the conversation regarding diets and lifestyle if long-term health and weight changes are to be made. Thoughts?

    • Finnegans Wake img 2016-01-12 10:55

      It's probably difficult for exact macronutrient recommendations to be made, since there will be a great deal of variation in how people utilize CHOs due to physical activity. Also, there's a great deal of flexibility in the ratio of macronutrients that people can consume day to day and week to week and still be eating healthfully. As Ms. Gillette notes, the food source for CHO is very important, and there is likely far too much refined CHO in the U.S. diet (refined grains and refined sugars). Contra Ms. Gillette, I am reluctant to separate "whole grains" from refined grains in terms of nutritional value. Once milled, any grain loses much of its nutritional value, especially the volatile omega-3 FAs. Also, to be labeled "whole grain," some amount of the milled germ and bran must be added back to the endosperm (the largest constituent part, and highest in CHO). But the actual amounts are not regulated by FDA or USDA, and most "whole grain" flours are little better nutritionally than white flours, which in turn are little better than table sugar. (Fortifying flours with nutrients like B-vitamins and iron is problematic because of forms of nutrients used and our body's ability to absorb them in those forms.)

      Very few people eat actual whole grains: whole wheat berries, quinoa, farro, etc. Even oatmeal is processed for consumer convenience (steel-cut groats less so, instant varieties -- often with lots of added sugar -- more so).

      Eating whole foods (unprocessed fruits and vegetables) may contain CHOs and higher levels of fructose, but they also include natural fiber that makes it less likely to over-eat, and which also contain a variety of nutrients. (Even fruit with a high glycemic index like watermelon has a very low glycemic load.) It's just easier to over-consume sodas, candy, cookies, and the like than to eat a dozen apples a day.

      It's curious to me that Ms. Gillette mentioned a food like pasta as being satiating, when pasta, bread, cakes, and other foods made from refined grains and sugars are actually anything but satiating. Adding more vegetables, meats, and fats to a serving of pasta will help individuals stop eating before over-eating.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-12 09:26

    Manuel in Carlisle emails:

    The best advice when it comes to eating any specific thing is moderation, moderation, moderation. Too much of ANY specific food item or group is bad for you. Eating 100% vegetable… bad for you. Eating 100% fruit… bad for you. Eating 100% meat… bad for you. If you balance your diet… good for you. Second piece of advice you NEVER hear, cut down on processed foods and stick to outside parts of grocery store where you find mostly unprocessed items with… very little salt and sugar. Ta da!!!

  • Finnegans Wake img 2016-01-12 09:39

    Of course, we had to have a "plant-based" advocate muddy the waters of nutrition advice with environmental impact. While environmental impact is an important issue, it is totally separate from what is best for the human body. (Why does our nutrition expert continue to state that we should moderate dietary cholesterol, however? Not keeping up with the latest research?)

    Environmental sustainability is nowhere near as clear-cut as "meat bad, plants good." Permanent pasture land sequesters GHGs, whereas tillage agriculture releases CO2 and contributes to loss of topsoil, water cycle instability, reliance on fossil fuels, and loss of soil microbiota. There are a variety of agricultural practices in raising produce and raising livestock that can be either detrimental or positive to the environment, but usually the argument is reduced to the single issue of GHG emissions.

    • Finnegans Wake img 2016-01-12 09:49

      Anyone interested in the sustainability of food should read 3 books:

      Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization, by Dr. David Montgomery. A third of all arable land in the world has been lost since WWII because of modern agricultural methods (e.g., the ironically named Green Revolution).

      Defending Beef, by Nicolette Hahn Niman. Niman, a vegetarian environmental advocate, dissects the accuracy of GHG emission claims and concludes that if done properly, raising beef can be a net positive for the environment and for human health.

      Cows Save the Planet, by Judith Schwartz. Schwartz examines the (literal) grass-roots movement of farmers who are using cattle to sequester carbon in the soil, and improve the health of soil in myriad ways.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-12 09:55

    Manuel in Carlisle emails:

    As a celiac, reading labels is more than a lifestyle choice. Can your guest talk about hidden items on labels by companies using scientific language or misleading terms. For example, not listing wheat or gluten as an allergen, but the item contains malt, which is a barley product, which is a trigger. The same goes for sugars, starches and carbs…