I’m afraid the days of good, old-fashioned common sense are long gone. People don’t want to think for themselves anymore—and why should they have to? Uncle Sam is more than willing to tell you what’s what.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the modern diet. People want to be told what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat it, and what to wash it all down with.
Of course, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been more than happy to comply with the request of the uneducated masses. So, in 1992, it unveiled its grandiose food pyramid, and Americans have been basing their food choices on it ever since.
Look where that’s gotten us! Since the advent of the food pyramid—and its bottom-heavy emphasis on carbs, carbs, and more carbs—the obesity epidemic has skyrocketed—and so has diabetes, heart disease, and every other major disease you can think of.
Is it any wonder I like to call it “The Pyramid of Death,” “The Fool’s Guide Eating Poorly and Dying Young,” and a few other not-so-nice words?
Call it what you will, the USDA’s food pyramid is one of the worst examples of what a healthy diet should look like. And as long as they’ve been promoting it, I’ve been trashing it. There are better, healthier ways to eat—ways that will keep you feeling younger, healthier, and free of these modern degenerative diseases.
Don’t fall victim to The Pyramid Scheme that could send you to an early grave
Even the latest, revised version of the food pyramid isn’t any better than its predecessor. You can go to www.MyPyramid.gov to take a look at it, but I wouldn’t bother. It doesn’t tell you much. It looks like a rainbow-colored pyramid. It could make a fun coloring project for your grandkids, but that’s about where its usefulness ends.
If you want to know what any of those colors mean, you have to read through a maze of information on the USDA’s website. So much for being accessible and easy to understand!
Once you do make it through it all, you’ll be disappointed to find that there’s still too much emphasis on grains, fruits, and vegetables—and meat and dairy are still downplayed in their importance. In fact, if you tilt your head a little to the right, you might be able to see what I see. It’s the same old food pyramid, tipped on its side. How’s that for clever marketing?
And as it turns out, that’s exactly what the government’s food pyramid represents: the results of intense lobbying efforts and who-knows how many millions of dollars from the mega food industry giants. Among those organizations vying for a spot: Wheat Foods Council, National Daily Council, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, and even the Soft Drink Association.
Fact is, this food pyramid, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans it’s based on, doesn’t just guide your eating choices. It guides your spending choices, too. It’s the basis for all federally funded nutrition programs—including school lunch programs.
The slightest adjustment of a recommendation could mean billions of dollars one way or the other. And every five years or so, those Big Food corporations get a shot at climbing one step up the ladder of importance.
By law, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are required to review and revise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, so that the guidelines line up with the latest scientific research. Well, I’ve got news for you. The “latest research” is all a bunch of cockamamie.
The science of good nutrition will be the same in five years as it was five, 50, and 5,000 years ago. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. There’s no need to get complicated, or to break out the measuring cups to determine how much of this food or that food you can eat.
Unfortunately, the USDA isn’t the only organization throwing its faulty ideas of fad diets and ancient geometric symbols your way.
Even alternative health “experts” want to cash in on the Pyramid Scheme
Not to be left out of the food pyramid fad, my fellow colleague, Dr. Andrew Weil, recently came out with his very own guide to healthy eating, which he calls “Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid.”
Just in case you were considering taking him up on this ridiculously complicated method of eating, I’ve got one word for you: Don’t.
With 15 items packed into his pyramid, you’d need a spreadsheet and a day planner just to keep track of it all. (And I don’t even want to think about the dent it would put in your wallet.)
In typical anti-meat fashion, the base consists of vegetables, fruits, grains, pasta, beans, and legumes. One step higher doesn’t get much better, with his version of “healthy” fats. (They’re anything but healthy, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.) Of course, the only mention meat and dairy get on his pyramid are under the heading “Other sources of protein”—as if he tossed it in because he felt obliged to.
I’m not going to pick apart this joke of a pyramid. With categories like whole soy foods, healthy herbs and spices, tea, and cooked Asian mushrooms, breaking it down point by point would be one gigantic waste of time.
Fact is, if you follow Dr. Weil’s eating plan, you WOULD need most of the foods he recommends—because you wouldn’t be getting enough of the proper nutrients otherwise. After all, that’s one of the major problems with predominantly plant-based diets to begin with. But here’s what really gets me: Dr. Weil’s food pyramid recommends taking a daily supplement. Need I say more? What additional proof do you need that his eating plan doesn’t provide you with all of the nutrients you need?
But you can forget about the spreadsheets, and you can toss that day planner in the garbage, because
Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated
You don’t need to a B.A. in Nutritional Science or a Master’s Degree in Calorie Counting to eat a fully balanced, nutritious diet every day. You just need a good dose of common sense.
Don’t give Dr. Weil’s food pyramid a second glance—and you can forget the USDA’s food pyramid, too. A quick glance around you in the mall will show you the bulging effect that’s had on the waistlines of most Americans.
The whole idea of a food pyramid is flawed to begin with. From its very conception, it was nothing more than a clever marketing scheme, cooked up by politicians who had doctors and scientists yelling in one ear, and powerful food lobbies yelling in the other. It’s not heard to see who won out.
There are four basic food groups. Stick to them, get a good variety every day, and you’ll be just fine. If you want to be healthy and live a long, happy life devoid of this century’s chronic, degenerative diseases, just follow this basic principle: Eat high quality foods from the four basic food groups:
1. Animal foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and whole milk products)
2. Grains and legumes (whole grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, beans)
3. Fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen)
4. Fats and oils: (butter and other animal fats, palm oil and coconut oil, olive oil and peanut oil)
Why your body is crying out for animal protein
It boggles my mind every time someone talks about the health benefits of a high-carb, low protein diet. That whole concept goes against the very chemical makeup of your body.
Every scientist should know that protein is one of the most important nutrients you should be pumping into your body. Protein is the building block of the animal kingdom. It’s essential for normal growth (which is why it’s especially important for children to get plenty of protein). It’s essential for the formation of hormones, and it helps to regulate the acid-alkaline balance in your body. Not getting enough animal protein can lead to deficiencies in minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium.
And even though the veg heads out there will tell you that you can get all the protein you need from plant-based sources, they’re flat out wrong. The only source of complete protein is animal protein. Sure, other foods can contain protein—and some even in high amounts—but what they don’t contain are all eight essential amino acids. So even though the overall protein content might be high in a certain plant-based food, it still doesn’t contain adequate levels of all the essentials. And in order for your body to use ANY of the essential proteins, you need to ingest all of them.
Let’s take grains and legumes, for example. Yes, they are very beneficial. In fact, they made one of my four food groups. Legumes and cereal grains are the two best sources of protein in the animal kingdom. But even these two sources have to be eaten together in order to be beneficial. That’s because legumes (beans, peanuts, cashews) are high in the amino acid lysine but are low in methionine. Cereal grains, on the other hand, are high in methionine but lower in lysine.
So yes, eat them. They’re good for you. But don’t even think about using them as a substitute for meat.
As with everything else, balance is key. So if you’re eating a high-protein diet (and you should be eating a high-protein diet)—you need to be eating a high-fat diet, too. In fact, it’s dangerous not to. Without the fat, your body can’t utilize the protein. That’s why, in nature, these two substances are found together (in sources such as eggs, milk, fish, and meat).
But if you’re wondering how that could possibly be healthy, here’s something you might be surprised to know:
No credible scientific evidence supports the idea that saturated fats cause heart disease
There are no credible sources that show that eating fat makes you fat, either. If you want to maintain a healthy, optimal weight, just eat less. In fact, when you eat more calories from fat, you’ll eat less overall because your body is more satisfied.
Of course, my idea of “fat” is vastly different from the kind of fat you see in foods lining grocery store shelves. Healthy fats are the saturated or monounsaturated kind. We’re talking butter, lard, coconut oil, peanut oil, and some olive oil—the kinds of fat you ate when you were a kid, or at the very least, the kind your parents were raised on. In other words...the kind of fat that everyone ate before obesity and heart disease became epidemics, and doctors made saturated fat the scapegoat.
The problem is that people eat too much unhealthy fat. Most of the fats in today’s overly processed foods are polyunsaturated fats. Even though polyunsaturated fats should only make up about 4 percent of your diet, most diets contain closer to 30 percent. These fats are very unstable. A little exposure to heat or oxygen, and they form something called free radicals, which are harmful to your body in a dozen different ways. And, of course, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how harmful trans fats are.
Just remember, when I talk about loading up on fats and oils, I’m talking about animal fats (butter, lard, tallows), and saturated fats from fruits and nuts (coconut and palm oils).
Healthy fats play a number of vital roles in your body. They’re a concentrated form of energy and the building blocks of cells. And instead of making you fat, they actually slow down absorption of food to make you feel fuller longer. They transport fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K to the rest of your body, they convert carotene to vitamin A, and they help absorb minerals. Without adequate fat in your diet, none of these processes function properly. In fact, no matter what mainstream news sources tell you, saturated fat is not only good for you,
Saturated fat is absolutely essential for good health
Fifty percent of your cell membranes are made of saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats are necessary for calcium to be incorporated into your bones. (Is it any wonder so many women suffer from osteoporosis these days?) It helps protect the liver, strengthens your immune system, and guards against harmful microorganisms in your digestive tract.
(In fact, if you want to read more about why saturated fats are vital for good health—and to get more information on how to get more in your diet—see the October 2008 issue of The Douglass Report.)
But don’t stop with saturated fat. You should also be getting your daily dose of essential fatty acids (EFAs). They’re called essential because your body can’t make them on its own. You have to get them through your diet. The most common EFAs are omega-3 and omega-6. In order for these essential fats to do their jobs they need to be in the proper rati 1 to 1, or 4 to 1, in favor of omega 6s. Today, that ratio is more like 20 to 1. This imbalance can lead to blood clots, inflammation, impaired immune system, cancer, weight gain, and the list goes on.
Unfortunately, even when you try to eat a healthier diet, modern industrial and farming practices make it nearly impossible. Even foods that are good for you don’t have the same ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s as they did when you were a kid. In fact, modern agricultural and industrial practices have left good-for-you foods like eggs with an unnatural ratio of as high as 19 to 1. Organic eggs, on the other hand, have the healthier 1-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio.
Beef isn’t much better. Factory farms feed their cattle grain that is high in omega-6s in order to speed up the growth process. As a result, grain-fed beef has so little omega-3s that they’re nearly undetectable. That’s why you want to stick with grass-fed beef.
If you want to locate good sources of grass-fed beef, natural eggs—and even raw milk—go online to www.LocalHarvest.org. This website puts all the local farms at your fingertips. Just type in your city and state, and you’ll receive a full list of all the local sellers in your area.
A short word about fruits and vegetables: I know a lot of readers misunderstand my stance on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Allow me to set the record straight. These plant foods are very healthy for you, and can add a nutritious, tasty variety to your meals. But as good as they are for you, they were never meant to be your sole source of nutrition. They simply don’t have everything that’s necessary to keep your body running at optimal levels. But by all means, if you like fruits and veggies, eat them! They add a tasty, nutritious variety to your meals.
Clearing up the confusion about carbs
You’re probably wondering why I haven’t spent much time talking about carbohydrates. There’s a simple reason: Carbohydrates are not essential to your diet at all. Remember, the term essential indicates that your body doesn’t make it, so you must get it from your food. There are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, but there are no such things as essential carbohydrates.
There are two types of carbohydrates: complex (as in bananas) and simple (as in sugar and starch). Simple carbohydrates are a threat to your health, especially when you eat them in large quantities. Vegetarians end up eating them in excess to replace the calories they would ordinarily be getting from animal protein and animal fat. But processed plants—the kind you’ll find in “The Breakfast of Champions” and in all the other bean, cereal, and soy aberrations on the supermarket shelves—are not fit for human consumption.
In reality, you should be avoiding the very things these closet vegans are recommending: pastry, pasta, bread, and fructose-laden fruit juices. Fructose is sugar, and some biochemists consider it worse than sucrose.
Although you can get by just fine without any carbohydrates in your diet, not many people are willing to give them up entirely. If you must have carbs, stick with the complex ones. These are much better for you because their fiber content helps you digest the excess sugar.
They are found in foods like whole potatoes (that means the skin too) and whole oranges. (You don’t have to eat the skin, but you should eat the fruit inside and not just drink the juice.)
In order to maintain optimal health, just stick with the four basic food groups. That means no processed food, no sugary soft drinks, no carb-heavy concoctions, no artificial, low-fat, fake junk food. Keep as close to natural as you can—just like your mother used to—and you’ll be fine.
Ignore the food pyramid. It’s not even worth turning upside down, as some of the high-protein, low-carb plans suggest. The whole thing is bogus and should be tossed into the garbage heap of disproven health theories.
And if you want to read more about healthy food choices, read the classic nutrition book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Dr. Weston A. Price. It’s available through the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. Call (800)366-3748 or go online to www.ppnf.org.