2015-20 Dietary Guidelines Revisited
Sometimes the universe hands you a gift. Just last month, we took a look at the recently published 2015-20 US Dietary Guidelines. My general conclusion was that, as usual, the guidelines run about 30-50 years behind the curve. The problem is that in the medical and academic communities, once an incorrect concept concerning health and nutrition gets established in the mainstream, even if it's not based on any solid evidence, it nevertheless takes about 30-50 years of contrary studies to turn the ship around. Two of The Guidelines' primary recommendations that I focused on were:
- Consume fat-free or low-fat dairy as opposed to whole dairy products
- Avoid saturated fats and, instead, use vegetable oils--specifically, the polyunsaturated oils you find in the supermarket.
As any regular reader of this site knows, I disagree with both those recommendations and in the newsletter cited several studies to support my position. Well, as fate would have it, shortly after the newsletter was published, three additional studies came out supporting my position.
The Case Against Low-Fat Milk Gets Stronger
For years you've been told to go for skim over full-fat dairy. And as we've discussed, even the latest US Dietary Guidelines urge people to avoid full fat dairy. And following this lead, most school lunch programs provide only low-fat milk and no whole milk at all--even though they do allow chocolate skim milk with its added sugars. But as I've pointed out previously, large population studies that look at possible links between full-fat dairy consumption, weight, and disease risk have repeatedly called that advice into question. And now, literally just weeks after the new Dietary Guidelines were published, two new studies bludgeon the old logic even further and support what those of us in the alternative community have been saying for decades.
In a new study published in the journal Circulation, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, and Editor-in-Chief of the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter and his colleagues at Tufts University analyzed the blood of 3,333 adults enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study of Health Professionals Follow-up Study taken over about 15 years.1 They found that people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels. "I think these findings together with those from other studies do call for a change in the policy of recommending only low-fat dairy products," says Mozaffarian. "There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy." In fact, a 2013 study found just the opposite--that although the consumption of dairy fat is associated with higher LDL cholesterol, it is more notably associated with lower levels of triglycerides, lower fasting insulin, lower blood pressure, and a reduced incidence of diabetes.2
A second study of more than 18,000 middle-age women who were part of the Women's Health Study came to a similar conclusion in regard to dairy and weight. At the start of the study, all of the women, were 45 or older, were of normal weight, free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. During a mean follow up of 11.2 years, the study found that those who ate more high-fat dairy had an 8 percent lower chance of going on to become obese over time compared to those who ate less.3 No similar association was observed with low-fat dairy product intake.
"We saw less weight gain for higher total dairy and high-fat dairy intake and also a lower risk of becoming overweight and obese in those who consumed more high-fat dairy," said study author Susanne Rautiainen, a research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
In summary, as Dr. Mozaffarian said, "I am conservative about setting national dietary guidelines. While evidence remains insufficient to definitively recommend only whole-fat dairy, it certainly is robust enough not to recommend only low-fat dairy."
But don't expect any quick action on his recommendation. As I've repeatedly said, changing established dogma in mainstream medicine and nutrition is like trying to get an oil tanker to change course. It takes a long, long time--and a great deal of effort. And remember, for these studies, we're talking about commercial dairy. The benefits are amplified If you restrict your consumption to organic, grass-fed, no added-hormones dairy.
But this is all kid stuff compared to what's being published about commercial, polyunsaturated vegetable oil. You'll want to pay attention to what follows, because this gets very interesting.
The Case Against High Omega-6 Oils Gets Stronger
The traditional belief, as promoted by the American Heart Association, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and most doctors and nutritionists4, 5 says that if you eat more "healthy fats" from vegetable and seed oils and less "bad fats" from red meat and dairy products, you will diminish the deposition of cholesterol on your arterial walls,6, 7 slow the progression of atherosclerosis,8 reduce coronary heart disease events, and improve survival.9 In fact, the belief that replacing saturated fats with vegetable oils improves heart health dates back half a century to the 1960s, when studies began to show that this dietary switch lowers serum total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein.10 Following that, some studies, including epidemiological and animal studies, suggested that this dietary change also reduces heart attack risk and related mortality. In fact, as recently as 2009, the American Heart Association reaffirmed its view that a diet low in saturated fat and moderately high amounts of linoleic acid and other omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids (5-10 percent of daily calories) probably benefits the heart. That said, it's important to note that no randomized controlled trial--considered the gold standard for this type of medical research--has ever shown that the replacement of saturated fat with linoleic acid significantly reduces coronary heart disease events or deaths.
Well last month, the BMJ published a study that addressed that issue by conducting a new analysis of never-before-published trial data from the 1960s and ‘70s that pretty much blows a giant hole in the theory that eating more polyunsaturated fats (the kind recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines) can lower your risk of death from coronary heart disease. Instead, it suggests that some people who eat more of this fat from vegetable and seed oils--specifically, those that are high in omega-6 fatty acids--actually have a higher risk of death (apparently double) as opposed to those who have a diet high in saturated fat.11
The intervention group in the trial data reduced their saturated fat intake about 50 percent compared to their normal diet, and upped their vegetable oil intake more than 280 percent in the form of corn oil. The control group was put on a diet much lower in polyunsaturated fats and higher in saturated fat -- in other words, more typical of the average American diet. (Along with corn oil, linoleic acid-rich oils include safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and cottonseed oil.)
To quote from the study's conclusion:
"Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with linoleic acid effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes. Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid."
Which brings up the question: why was this trial data never previously published?
And the most likely answer is that the study's findings were never published in full because they went against the accepted wisdom that saturated fat causes cholesterol levels to rise, which leads to cardiovascular disease and death. It's not necessarily that the medical community is deliberately trying to be dishonest and "suppressing" evidence. It's more a case of arrogant inertia. Doctors are trained to think they are brilliant--the most advanced, best trained healers in the history of the world. If such a person has learned something and believes it to be true, their working assumption is that anything that disagrees with their ingrained belief is ipso facto wrong. This is the reason, as I've repeatedly pointed out, that it can take 30-50 years to overturn an incorrect but ingrained belief in the medical community.
The first thing to remember, as noted in our last newsletter, is that you can't take any single study too seriously. At best, a single study can be considered a divining rod that "possibly" points in the direction of something useful. That said, the studies we've cited today are not isolated studies, but rather three in a series of studies that all point in the same direction--one that happens to be 180 degrees opposed to the conventional wisdom. Then again, the conventional wisdom in the case of both skim milk and omega-6 fats is based more on inference and flawed studies than actual, solid data. And maybe more importantly, the conventional wisdom runs contrary to common sense.
Common sense says that:
- Natural is likely to be more body friendly than artificial.
- Moderation is likely to be more body friendly than excess.
When it comes to dairy, the conventional wisdom says that a man made, dairy construct (skim milk) is healthier for you than natural, unprocessed, whole dairy. But common sense says that whether you want to lay it at the feet of evolution or in the hand of God, when it comes to health--natural consistently trumps unnatural. Or to put it in other words: your body is designed to process natural foods by virtue of being exposed to them through thousands of years of human history.
Likewise, when it comes to fats, the conventional wisdom says that consuming all of your fats in the form of polyunsaturated, omega-6 fatty acids is healthier for you than having a balanced mix of naturally occurring, saturated, omega-6, omega-3, omega-9, and monounsaturated fats. Again, common sense says that whether you want to lay it at the feet of evolution or in the hand of God, when it comes to health--balanced, natural, moderation trumps excessive amounts of any single fat. Or in more poetic terms: too much of a good thing (omega-6 fatty acids) is bad for you. No matter how healthy it may be for you in moderation, in excess, it's harmful. It's also worth noting that most of the omega-6 oil that you end up consuming is essentially a refined, artificial construct.
So What Does that Mean for Dairy Specifically?
The studies are beginning to stack up on the side of whole dairy VS skim in terms of everything from health to weight loss. You can wait the usual 30-50 years for the medical community and mainstream nutritionists to catch up. Or you can look at the data yourself and make the smart choice.
Keep in mind that I have reservations about consuming dairy in general--not the least of which have to do with the multiple allergic protein triggers present in dairy. Cow's milk proteins damage the human immune system. Repeated exposure to these proteins disrupts normal immune function and may eventually lead to disease. Cow's milk contains many proteins that are poorly digested and harmful to the immune system. Casein is certainly the best known of these allergens--but it is not the only one and not necessarily the most powerful one. That title rests with the main protein fractions found concentrated in whey (beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and bovine serum albumin), which are all highly allergenic.12, 13
Removing dairy from the diet has been shown to shrink enlarged tonsils and adenoids, indicating relief for the immune system by reducing Circulating Immune Complexes. Similarly, doctors experimenting with dairy-free diets often report a marked reduction in colds, flus, sinusitis and ear infections in their patients. In addition, Dairy is a tremendous mucus producer and a burden on the respiratory, digestive, and immune systems.
The bottom line is that milk is great food . . . if your goal is to grow up and become a 1,200 pound cow.
So, what do you use instead of milk? Try one of the milk substitutes. Most health stores sell rice milk, almond milk, oat milk, or even soy milk (if used in moderation and never for children). Note: organic versions of these products are available. Also be sure and use common sense when it comes to children: grain milks should never be used as a substitute for breast feeding.
Note: Whenever I talk about the negatives concerning dairy, someone invariably brings up the Bible and the biblical promotion of "milk." And yes, the Bible does indeed promote the use of milk, but with two significant considerations.
- By no stretch of the imagination does the Bible refer to homogenized, pasteurized, antibiotic injected, growth hormone "enhanced" cow's milk -- not by a long shot.
- And more importantly, in biblical times cow's milk was almost never used. The tribes of Israel drank camel's milk (Genesis 32:15), sheep's milk (Deuteronomy 32:14; 1 Corinthians 9:7), and goat's milk (Proverbs 27:27). (In fact, goats were reared principally for their milk, making it the biblical dairy product of choice.) And indeed, goat's milk avoids most of the problems associated with cow's milk and is a valid food choice.
All of that said, if you do consume dairy, my recommendation is to opt for whole fat dairy products (from milk to yogurt) made with organic, grass fed, non-homogenized, whole dairy--and despite the occasional headlines, if you can find it produced by a reputable dairy with strict sanitary procedures, raw may be the best choice.
And What About Fats?
And when it comes to fats and oils, forget everything you've been told. The mainstream has been wrong about nearly every single aspect for decades--and is only now starting to catch up. Millions of people have died as a result of misguided recommendations that have persisted for decades. Consider:
For almost 30 years, you were told to avoid saturated fats and use manmade trans fats instead--until the last few years when that was flipped on its head. You've now been told to avoid all trans-fats, including natural trans-fats, some of which are actually essential for good health. How many millions of people died as a result of switching to trans-fats based on their doctors' recommendations?
After trans-fats had their day, the mainstream began pushing you into large consumption of polyunsaturated, high omega-6 oils instead--as in The Dietary Guidelines. But study after study is now showing that's a big mistake that can lead directly to heart attacks.
Which brings us to omega-3 oils. The reason that everyone in the alternative health community is so big on omega-3 oils is not because omega-3's are necessarily healthier than any other kind of fat. The problem is that you need them to balance out the excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids that have been foisted on you. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the diet is 1:1 to 2:1. But thanks to mainstream advice, that ratio is being pushed to 20:1, 30:1, even 50:1 in favor of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. That's deadly! It forces you to supplement with omega-3's to bring that ratio back down. And the problem isn't just in the oils you use. Take meat, for example. Grass fed beef runs about 2:1 omega-6 to omega-3. But corn fed beef (the gold standard in restaurants and supermarkets) runs around 40:1--reflecting the ratio of the corn on which it was fattened.14 If you consumed fats in their naturally present amounts as found in a varied, healthy, naturally produced diet, you wouldn't need to supplement with omega-3 fatty acids.
In conclusion, the evidence keeps rolling in that, when it comes to fats, the Dietary Guidelines are quite simply wrong. Millions of people have died as a result of this bad advice. Don't be one of them. The Guidelines represent outdated thinking that, true to form, the mainstream medical/nutrition community can't let go of. As stated when we first looked at the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines, you'll want to view them with a lot of skepticism. They're about 30-50 years behind the curve.
- 1. Mohammad Y. Yakoob1, Peilin Shi, Dariush Mozaffarian, et al. "Circulating Biomarkers of Dairy Fat and Risk of Incident Diabetes Mellitus Among US Men and Women in Two Large Prospective Cohorts." CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018410
- 2. Dariush Mozaffarian, Marcia C de Oliveira Otto, Rozenn N Lemaitre, et al. "trans-Palmitoleic acid, other dairy fat biomarkers, and incident diabetes: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)." Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):854-61. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607658/
- 3. Rautiainen S, Wang L, Lee IM, et al. "Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk of becoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women: a prospective cohort study." Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;103(4):979-88. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26912496
- 4. Sherwin R. "Controlled trials of the diet-heart hypothesis: some comments on the experimental unit." Am J Epidemiol 1978;108:92-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/707483
- 5. Benjamin M. Baker, Ivan D. Frantz Jr., Ancel Keys, et al. "The National Diet-Heart Study, An Initial Report." JAMA. 1963;185(2):105-106. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=666261
- 6. Getz GS, Vesselinovitch D, Wissler RW. "A dynamic pathology of arteriosclerosis." Am J Med 1969;46:657-73. 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4897055
- 7. Camejo G, Waich S, Quintero G, et al. "The affinity of low density lipoproteins for an arterial macromolecular complex. A study in ischemic heart disease and controls." Atherosclerosis 1976;24:341-54. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/184797
- 8. Armstrong ML, Warner ED, Connor WE. "Regression of coronary atheromatosis in rhesus monkeys." Circ Res 1970;27:59-67. http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/27/1/59.long
- 9. Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Majchrzak-Hong S, et al. "Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73)." BMJ. 2016 Apr 12;353:i1246. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836695/
- 10. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB. "Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials." Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:1146-55. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/77/5/1146.long
- 11. Christopher E Ramsden, Chirayath M Suchindran, Joseph R Hibbeln, et al. "Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73)." BMJ 2016;353:i1246 http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i1246
- 12. Shokouhi Shoormasti R, Fazlollahi MR, Barzegar S, et al. "The Most Common Cow's Milk Allergenic Proteins with Respect to Allergic Symptoms in Iranian Patients." Iran J Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Apr;15(2):161-5. http://ijaai.tums.ac.ir/index.php/ijaai/article/view/686
- 13. Paloma Poza-Guedes, Yvelise Barrios, Ruperto González-Pérez, et al. "Role of specific IgE to ß-lactoglobulin in the gastrointestinal phenotype of cow's milk allergy." Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2016; 12: 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4763406/
- 14. "Omega 6 Omega 3 Ratio." WellWise.org 2013. (Accessed 11 May 2016.) http://omega6.wellwise.org/omega-6-omega-3-ratio