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It’s Time to Stop Eating the Standard American Diet (SAD)

The idea that we need to restrict fat (all fats – including the healthy ones) from our diet is a holdover from the deep rooted, hypothesis that dietary fat is the cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and obesity. The vilification of dietary fat originated as long ago as the late 50's, spearheaded by American scientist,  Ancel Keys's Seven Country study.  The result of his work, followed by the publication of the first American Dietary Goals to reverse heart disease in 1977,  has resulted in what is now known as the SAD (standard American diet).

The American Dietary Guidelines are designed for policy makers and health professionals to help the public eat a healthier diet.

The most recent guidelines (2015-2020) still recommend 'the fruits food group includes whole fruits and 100% fruit juice. The recommended  amount of fruits in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 2 cup-equivalents per day. One cup of 100% fruit juice counts as 1 cup of fruit'.  And for grains, 'The recommended amount of grains in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 6 ounce-equivalents per day'. That's equal to 2 slices of bread, 1 cup of pasta, 1/2 cup brown rice and 1 serving of whole grain crackers.

These types of dietary recommendations have comprised the Standard American diet for over 5 decades and the rate of obesity, heart disease and cancer has not improved. What's the definition of insanity?

The simple carbs in the bun, fries and in the soda are staples in the SAD of many Americans.

An alternative to the SAD

A low carb/high fat diet is one that drastically reduces your intake of most forms of carbohydrates and embraces fats, fiber and sufficient amounts of protein. The human body is fueled primarily by glucose, and the SAD (standard American diet) provides plenty of those in the forms of pasta, bread, potatoes, fruit juice and a wide array of other simple and refined carbohydrates.

However, when an individual consumes far less in the way of carbohydrates, the body shifts to primarily burning fat for fuel, a state called nutritional ketosis. Just as glucose is the by product of carbohydrate metabolism, ketones are the by product of using stored fat for fuel. Fasting will produce ketosis, but so will sticking to a low carb/high fat diet in which only about 5-20% of calories come from carbohydrates.

Keto Diet Used in People with Epilepsy for a Century

The ketogenic diet has long been used as a treatment option in children with epilepsy.  It was created in 1924, by Dr. Russell Wilder, as a treatment method for epilepsy. When the body uses ketones rather than glucose as its energy source, a chemical called decanoic acid is produced. Ketones and decanoic acid appear to reduce seizures in some individuals. In the “classic” keto diet for epilepsy, most fat comes from naturally high fat foods, like butter, oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and high fat protein sources. Very little carbohydrate are part of the diet, and ratios of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins are strictly followed.

Mainstream Publications Are Beginning to Address a  Low Carb/High Fat Diet

The U.S. News & World Report annual list of 40 best diets finally included the ketogenic diet in 2017. This is a big deal, because it goes against much of the “conventional wisdom” that developed 20 or so years ago that made fat the chief dietary villain. Minimal carbs, moderate amounts of protein, and higher quantities of healthy fats are the foundation of the low carb/high fat diet. It turns out that dietary fat is a cleaner, healthier fuel for the body than glucose by releasing fewer free radicals, which leads to less cell damage. Fat is also a longer sustaining energy source, helping suppress appetite and reduce insulin spikes, which can promote weight loss.

 Switch to a High Fat Diet for Heart Health and Cancer

Medical researchers are realizing the dangers to the heart of high carb diets.

It isn’t only popular periodicals that are drawing attention to the low carb/high fat diet. Studies such as the one published in the medical journal, The Lancet, in 2017 on nutrition and cardiovascular health concluded that too many carbohydrates are the real threat to heart health. Researchers found that as dietary fat consumption increases in the diet, cardiovascular mortality drops by around 23%.

Research scientists and University professors, such as Dominick D'Agostino, Ph.D have dedicated their careers to understanding the myriad of health benefits associated with metabolic therapies, such as nutritional ketosis. Dr. D'Agostino's research has focused on nutritional ketosis and how it impacts a variety of diseases and health conditions such as neurological disorders like epilepsy, ALS, but also cancer.

Duke University Researcher: Quell Appetite, Lose Weight

Dr. Eric Westman, the director of Duke University’s Lifestyle Medicine Clinic has done research suggesting that carb-restricted diets can reduce appetite, encourage weight loss and improve heart disease markers. He emphasizes that healthy fats need to account for most calories, and you can get these healthy fats from foods like olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish and seeds, for example, protect against oxidative stress and blood sugar swings.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Hydration with Water

Finally, it’s important to remember that water is an essential nutrient. We can’t survive without hydration, because of water’s unique physical and chemical properties related to functions throughout the human body. So when you abandon the SAD (standard American diet) and transition toward a low carb/high fat diet, it’s essential that you continue to pay attention to basic hydration.

Many assumptions about dietary fat have been turned on their heads in recent years, and the value of the low carb/high fat diet is becoming more apparent, even to mainstream researchers and publications. If you want to know more about healthy eating and lifestyle changes, we encourage you to contact us at any time.

About the Author: Lisa Jubilee

Lisa Jubilee

Lisa Jubilee is a New York State Certified Dietician-Nutritionist, who has been counseling individuals on sustainable weight management and disease prevention for over 15 years. Her mission is to empower individuals to obtain healthy food relationships and to clearly understand the concept of food as medicine. Lisa chose to create a functional nutrition practice where what, why and how we eat are all part of the conversation. In 2005, Lisa co-founded Living Proof Nutrition Strength Pilates, a private nutrition, HIST (high intensity strength training) and Pilates studio, located in midtown Manhattan. Inspired by the growing prevalence of autoimmune conditions, particularly those linked to sugar, wheat and gluten, Ms Jubilee started an entrepreneurial food business in late 2016 to provide a gluten-free, grain-free, low in sugar cookie that fits into virtually any diet. Her mission to educate the public on the power of food as either health promoting or depleting continues with her Every Day, Anytime Cookie; Keto-Snaps.com.