Who Is Really In Charge of Your Health?
Would you prefer your family’s food recommendations to be based on politics or science? My opinion is that the government has a hard enough time doing government well, so should they really be meddling in science? Hmmm….
Let’s start by taking a look at the role of the USDA, the regulatory agency that dominates nutrition in the U.S. They actually have 2 primary responsibilities, and herein lies the problem. First, is to ensure the success of food producers of America (ie. assure profits, subsidies, corporate grants, promote the farm belt). Second, is to protect the American consumer by providing dietary advice. How in the world can one agency have the best interest in mind for both the food industry and public health?
The answer is clear …. they can’t!
The bottom line is that Americans are increasingly overweight, unhappy and unhealthy. Obesity in America is up near 70%, and heart disease, diabetes, depression, stroke and even reproductive issues are on the rise at alarming rates.
Even as far back as 1917 when the USDA released their first dietary recommendations with the food group format, they ignored the evidence that Americans were eating too much fat and sugar simply because the food manufacturers wanted to encourage more eating! It wasn’t until the 1970’s that there was finally discussion about the clear correlation between overweight individuals and chronic disease. Of course, no surprise, the new dietary goals of 1977 brought with it huge opposition from the meat, sugar and dairy industries!
What really gets me is, that this battle is what continues to shape the public awareness around nutrition! While there have been HUGE steps taken in the right direction from the first Food Guide Pyramid we saw in 1991 to the revised version of 2005 ( now called MyPyramid), we are a FAR cry from coming close to addressing the current health crisis we are facing.
I applaud the new pyramid for all the advancements, including the inclusion of beans, nuts and seeds as legitimate protein sources, the importance of exercise and even an attempt to customize recommendations on their website. All that being said, it is clear that much of what is recommended is political, not scientific!
For example, notice how they always add foods in rather than take foods out. Eat more lean meats, not less red meat. And what about the fact that the “milk” section is as large if not larger than the vegetable section. Does this mean we should consume the same amount of milk as we should vegetables? And why is milk not in the protein section anyway?
To say that milk is critical in our diets is nonsense, in my opinion. All we have to do is look to Asia, where they have very little dairy in their diets, yet have LESS osteoporosis than Americans and certainly are not dying younger! I’m not saying dairy should be avoided all together, but knowing that the number of people who suffer from adverse side effects related to dairy is significant, I’d say it warrants some consideration!
Also, I mentioned that the website attempts customization by offering 12 different pyramid options based on age, gender, activity level. “Attempts” being the operative word. Upon closer investigation, you see that each of the options offers a VERY similar recommendation!
Where in this plan is there room for the reality that each person has a completely unique genetic and metabolic makeup? All we need to do is look to the fact that there are over 100 BEST-SELLER diets out there, all with their following of raving fans, to know that different food work for different people!
It is clear that Food pyramid has less to do with sound nutritional advice and more to do with appeasing food producers. Unfortunately, politicians with backgrounds in the agri-food industry continue to use their positions, at the FDA & USDA, to advance their industry interests. In the case of the USDA, it is often at the cost of small farmers, consumers and the environment.
And as if all of that were not enough to deal with, dealing with the medical community is just as bad. The message we’re getting from them is, “Hey America, live it up! When you get sick, we’ll give you a pill to make it all better, and if that one doesn’t work OR if it gives one of these really lovely sounding side effects, no worries, we’ll get you another pill! Should that happen to backfire, we are ready to perform whatever surgery may be necessary so you are as good as new!”
Clearly this crisis is rooted in our country putting a priority on a pro-business model rather than a pro-health model. We spend ridiculous amounts of money on medications, procedures and operations, while spending almost nothing on education, prevention and holistic health!
That is why I am committed to being an agent of change for the health and well-being in America and the world! I am currently enrolled as student through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the world. I’ve had my eye on for years but never so much that I was willing to move to New York where the school is based. And then last fall they launched their distance learning program. Woo Hoo!
IIN teaches all the dietary theories from Eastern to Western, ancient to modern, traditional to innovative. The guest speakers are the nation’s leading health and wellness authorities and include authors, alternative practitioners and scientists. The combination of their unique disciplines, backgrounds, and viewpoints offers the students a diverse education that really sets IIN in a class of its own.
When I saw the Integrative Nutrition Pyramid, I knew this school was the perfect fit for me. The school teaches bio-individuality, taking in to account that one person’s food is another person’s poison. The emphasis is on the importance of high-quality vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats and water.
But the school goes so much further!
IIN addresses the fundamental concepts, issues and ethics of eating in a modern world, and bridges the gap between nutrition and personal growth by teaching a concept that IIN calls primary food. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, fulfilling careers and a spiritual practice all nourish our souls and satisfy our hunger for living. The food we eat is Secondary.
The bottom line is that while the food we eat plays a critical role in our health and happiness, food can fill us, but it cannot fulfill us!
I look forward to supporting you in your journey towards truly vibrant health on all levels, and if you enjoyed this post, please RT and share on Facebook with your friends and followers!