"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Friday, February 11, 2011

New U.S. Nutrition Guidelines

There has been a lot of press coverage of the new US government's nutritional guidelines, but it's focused almost entirely on sodium. Finding the actual documents to see what's there is not as simple as one would expect. (They're here. It's 2.9 megs. in size.) I took some time to look them over and found a few surprises, such as addressing veganism and not using a "food pyramid" approach.

The guidelines call for Americans to eat more fruit, eat more vegetables, eat more whole grains, eat more beans and peas, eat more fish, eat more low-fat dairy products, eat more protein... but still eat less overall and exercise more. That hasn't changed much.

The sodium upper limit is still 2300 mg./day, unless one has a risk factor for hypertension (including being over 50 years old), and then it drops to 1500 mg. Considering that the minimum for optimum health is probably 900 mg., this is upper limit is fairly tight.

More interesting to me is that the allowable daily ingested cholesterol limit has been raised to 300 mg. This is undoubtedly due to evidence that cholesterol manufactured by the body as a function of fat intake, particularly saturated fat and trans fat intake, is more important to serum cholesterol levels than is dietary cholesterol consumption, but the fact that eggs are now said to have less cholesterol (and more vitamin D) than previously causes me to wonder if the egg council has had some influence here.

The guidelines have been adapted by age and gender for the first time and there's some interesting discussion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (one needs at most 1.6g. and 17g., respectively) and vitamin D sources (which are listed in mg. and not International Units, causing me to have to do conversions in my head, to see what, if anything, has changed).

While the guidelines aren't particularly interesting in themselves, it is interesting to see what the focus is (decreasing obesity and heart disease and some cancers) and what's new, to see where people's interests lie at the moment. The guidelines seem to reflect the popular press's obsessions of the day.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I fully support the government's (or just about anybody else's) attempt to reduce obesity and get foax in this country to eat more healthily. (I feel I need to start with that disclaimer so that no one will, based on what I am about to say, accuse me of being one of those fucking idiot Hannity/Limbaugh types who think government guidelines are a plot to Steal Our Freedomz By Forcing Us All Into Re-Education, er ... Fat Camps.)

I went to the page on mypyramid.gov where you can put in your age, height, gender, weight and exercise regime to see what it recommended I eat to get/stay healthy. The first thing I got was a warning that I, as a 6'5" 50-year-old male who exercises in excess of an hour a day and who is roughly 220 pounds, am probably overweight. This warning didn't go away until I reduced my weight to 210, which is evidently the upper limit for a man of my age, height and activeness. At 211? I was still overweight.

I was not warned I might - might, mind you - be underweight until I reduced my weight to 155. At 156, everything was hinky-dinky, weight-wise.
Frankly, I think I am healthier at 220 than I could EVER be at 156. Obesity is the big problem in this country, despite what fucktards like Hannity and Limbaugh may say, but it seems to me that being underweight can be as much of a problem and anyone who is 50 years old and is 6 feet 5 inches tall should weigh AT LEAST 180 or so. Anything less is underweight.

That said, I agree with mypyramid.gov's argument that, currently, I am a bit of a fatass.

Better that than Faux Newz fucktard, though.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

O, also - Trinidad and Tobago has a population of 1.3 million, according to the state dept.

So I generated as much traffic for your site as 1.3 million people would.

Thanks for pointing that out.

And you're welcome.

joyRuN said...

Thanks to V8, I've been closer to hitting my 4 fruit/4 veggie servings a day.

I think my GI tract is adapting, judging from the decrease in flatulence.

They weren't stinky, mind you.

I think I have to mind my salt intake more though - my diastolic BP still hovers in the 80s-90s.

No such thing as low-sodium cheetos apparently.

Stacey (aka Ultraprincess) said...

Great post!

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shannon said...

I think cholesterol gets a bad rap. Cholesterol and cholesterol derivates are essential components of membranes and steroid hormones. If not consumed in the diet, they will be synthesized in the liver.

Damage to the endothelium attracts macrophages which then adsorbs LDL. This can obstruct blood flow, leading to heart disease. On the other hand, HDL, the "good cholesterol", mediates the repair of endothelial damage before plaques form.

A great way to increase HDL, ... exercise. Although diet definitely plays a role in chronic disease, I think the lack of exercise outweighs diet as a contributing factor.

This bodes well for my theory that I can eat anything I like as long as I go for a run afterwards! :)