Dietary Guidelines: from Dairies to Berries

Dietary Guidelines: from Dairies to Berries
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The success story in Finland shows that science-based dietary guidelines can save millions of lives.

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Why do we care what the federal Dietary Guidelines say? Well, the Guidelines do “direct how billions of dollars are spent in programs like the School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Food Stamp Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children [WIC].” More importantly, though, is their potential to turn this country’s health around.

After World War II, Finland joined us in packing on the meat, eggs, and dairy. By the 1970s, the mortality rate from heart disease of Finnish men was the highest in the world. They didn’t want to die, so they got serious. Heart disease is caused by high cholesterol; high cholesterol is caused by high saturated fat intake; so, the main focus of the strategy was to reduce the high saturated fat intake. So that means basically cheese and chicken, cake and pork.

So, a berry project was launched to help dairy farmers make a switch to berry farming. Whatever it took! And indeed, many farmers did switch from dairies to berries. They pitted villages against each other in friendly cholesterol-lowering competitions, to see who could do the best for prizes.

So how’d they do? On a population scale, look, even if mortality rates drop 5%, you could still save thousands of lives. But remarkably great changes took place.

An 80% drop in cardiac mortality across the entire country. “With greatly reduced cardiovascular and cancer mortality the all cause mortality has reduced about 45%, leading to greater life expectancy: approximately 7 years for men and 6 years for women.” That’s what real dietary guidance can do.

Now vying for the world record heart disease death rates: the United States of America.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Peter Mellor.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to foxypar4 / Flickr

Why do we care what the federal Dietary Guidelines say? Well, the Guidelines do “direct how billions of dollars are spent in programs like the School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Food Stamp Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children [WIC].” More importantly, though, is their potential to turn this country’s health around.

After World War II, Finland joined us in packing on the meat, eggs, and dairy. By the 1970s, the mortality rate from heart disease of Finnish men was the highest in the world. They didn’t want to die, so they got serious. Heart disease is caused by high cholesterol; high cholesterol is caused by high saturated fat intake; so, the main focus of the strategy was to reduce the high saturated fat intake. So that means basically cheese and chicken, cake and pork.

So, a berry project was launched to help dairy farmers make a switch to berry farming. Whatever it took! And indeed, many farmers did switch from dairies to berries. They pitted villages against each other in friendly cholesterol-lowering competitions, to see who could do the best for prizes.

So how’d they do? On a population scale, look, even if mortality rates drop 5%, you could still save thousands of lives. But remarkably great changes took place.

An 80% drop in cardiac mortality across the entire country. “With greatly reduced cardiovascular and cancer mortality the all cause mortality has reduced about 45%, leading to greater life expectancy: approximately 7 years for men and 6 years for women.” That’s what real dietary guidance can do.

Now vying for the world record heart disease death rates: the United States of America.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Peter Mellor.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to foxypar4 / Flickr

23 responses to “Dietary Guidelines: from Dairies to Berries

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  1. It would be helpful (although perhaps too time consuming?) if the Sources Cited section included the URL for each website featured in the associated nutritionfacts.org video. For example, after a bit of Googling, I discovered that “Table 3. Top Food Sources of Cholesterol Raising Fat among US Population, 2005-2006 NHANES” was part of the following:

    Sources of Saturated Fat, Stearic Acid, & Cholesterol Raising Fat among the US Population, 2005–06. Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch Web site. Applied Research Program. National Cancer Institute. http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/sat_fat/. Updated December 21, 2010. Accessed November 1, 2011.

    Google turned up another goodie that looks very interesting: The website for Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) enables users to download, free of charge, a 300-page textbook on the North Karelia Project. The publication was written by Puska Pekka et al and updated in 2009:
    THE NORTH KARELIA PROJECT: FROM NORTH KARELIA TO NATIONAL ACTION

    http://www.thl.fi/thl-client/pdfs/731beafd-b544-42b2-b853-baa87db6a046




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    1. What a great find on the textbook Diane! I always link to the sources used in the video in the Sources Cited section, but the comments section is a great place to post related resources like that one. Thank you so much, and if you find anything else on this topic or the other 1,000 topics covered on the site please plug them in!




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    1. Shhh–us doctors would be out of a job! :) Seriously, though, there has been tremendous resistance within the medical profession to the use of diet to prevent, treat, and reverse chronic disease. See my video The Tomato Effect for one of the reasons why.




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  2. I can’t believe this! Found your site from the Forks Over Knives facebook posting and will definitely be checking back here daily. Why don’t we learn this stuff in school?




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    1. There are many reasons but most academics are doing research in other areas and most clinical faculty don’t know the studies and aren’t experienced in treating patients with a “nutrition prescription”. John McDougall has the most experience and he is involved in training medical students at his clinic. I believe in addition to medical schools nutritional information needs to be provided as a regular part of K-12 education. Of course many schools get money from deals with corporations putting dispensers in their schools and serving harmful foods in their cafeterias. Hopefully things will improve.




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    2. Because vested interests do not want students to learn the truth, it means that students may be able to both think and question what they’ve been told.

      I’m not a teacher. But, was invited to speak before a class of Ethics at the University of Southwest Louisiana at Lafayette. I checked various references I had with the university library system to be certain that whenever I referenced an article, that the article would be available to the students. And told them, not to believe what I say, but to check the references themselves.

      I spoke of the heavy metals used in consumer products like fabric dyes and lipsticks, about endocrine disrupting chemicals and what they do to test animals, and mammals, including people. Some of the stuff was very scary, but made the kids think. I handed out a list of all my references to everyone in the class and told them the references were available in their university library.

      Some of the kids told their parents, who told the Dean, who had the professor dismissed. The parents told the legislators, who passed laws disallowing people like myself from talking to students of all ages UNLESS first cleared by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, Wildlife and Fisheries, oil and gas industries (Office of Conservation and Department of Natural Resources), and other vested interests.

      I did not say anything that would point the finger at any particular industry and only said what I had read and where it was read. But vested interests did not like that information from going to students. Instead, they wanted only “approved” lies to come in contact with our ears.

      When I was in school, I was taught to think and question, to look up studies and see who funded them. That apparently does not stand in the USA any longer.

      Based on how that one teacher was treated, my daughter was directed to schools outside of the South, where she would receive a more “liberal” and open-minded education, which she did. She has no desire to ever come back here, which is fine with me. I just wish we could get out as well.

      There is a reason that Louisiana is a dump for the rest of the nation, why people here are fatter and sicker as a whole than people elsewhere. I blame it on the “controlled” education students are receiving –controlled by corporations!




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      1. Susan: That is a truly jaw dropping story. It would be bad enough if that situation happened at *any* grade level, but to happen at a university level is tragic.

        That mentality is so hard to understand. I feel for you. I hope you will be able to get out at some point too. Good luck.




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  3. Why is it never mentioned what the animals are fed? This directly impacts what type of fats are prevalent in their meat/dairy. And the fat quality, as we all know, has a direct effect on ones health. Most meat/dairy is raised on corn and soy and grain and that spells bad fat in the products from those animals and bad fat for us on our plate. If they are grass-fed the fat is very different and does not pose the heart disease and other health risks. These distinctions need to be noted more often – perhaps you can pave the way for better nutritional science?




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    1.  What is your evidence that because a cow is fed different food, that the inherent substances found in meat is somehow altered? Saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats are still inherent compounds of meat.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/trans-fat-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-tolerable-upper-intake-of-zero/

      Endotoxins and increased IGF-1 levels are also unavoidable.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/protein-intake-and-igf-1-production/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=endotoxemia

       Meat still causes inflammation whether it be wild game or conventional beef.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/modern-meat-not-ahead-of-the-game/

      The issue is not organic or conventional, but the inherent compounds found in meat that cannot be avoided by what the animal eats.




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    2. Please cite peer-reviewed scientific studies that support your flawed and unresearched hypothesis. From a credibility standpoint, facts take precedence over conjecture and hyperbole.




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      1. Peer-reviewed scientific studies have led us to longer, but much worse quality lives so far. I think for every scientist open mind and critical thinking is much more important than acceptance by current peers. In fact, peer reviews and critical thinking very often leads to conflict of interests which,in turn, leads to calling some doctors – quacks.




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    3. Good points Lisa Marie. Frankly, after all the movies and statistics (that always can be modified and control points changed in order to please or not to please) I’m still not convinced that natural, organic fat is bad for us! What nations or prehistoric societies did not eat animal fat? Our brain is nth but fat! What seems very unnatural looking through the history is eating grains. Considering that cultivating grains is pretty recent invention and all scary diseases pretty much started to appear around the same time.




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      1. Why are you convinced that prehistoric societies ate the ideal diet? They basically ate whatever they could to stay alive long enough to reproduce. Modern goals are somewhat different, we want to stay alive for as long and as healthy as possible, which has different requirements than prehistoric diets and we also have a much wider range of possible foods to enhance those aims.




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        1. I will take good quality life over longevity. I strongly disagree on being healthy as a modern day goal of our conventional medicine. Re prehistoric diet. Ironically, eating what is out there is exactly the point. Animals do that and they do not suffer from childhood arthritis, disbiosis, lack of vitamin D, and die with most of their teeth intact. If you just take Weston Price book into your hands, you will see direct correlation of modern day diet with physiological changes of human being. One can only imagine the mental impact.




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          1. Jelena Evans – On this site, we are learning how to get the best of both worlds: health AND longevity. Ie, following a whole plant food diet is the best way to maximize your chances of a long and very high quality of life–at least when it comes to nutrition. You may have a point that *conventional medicine* does not seem so focused on health. This site however, with our modern goals, is very much focused on just that. We care about health and long life. Our ancestors ate what they could to stay alive for another day.
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            re: animals are all naturally healthy and have great teeth.
            I think this idea that wild animals in general do not suffer diseases and have great teeth is a common myth. I remember reading an article about a look some people got after sedating an endangered wild animal, the wild “dog” (which is not the domestic dog) while in Botswana Africa: “…eventually we all were allowed to come down and see Jones close up, pet his stiff fur and look at his two horrendously infected teeth. Ouch.” from : http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/the-illustrated-african-wild-dog-story Wild animals suffer from all sorts of health problems. They just don’t have the massive documentation modern humans have.




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  4. Hi George,

    I was unable to read the article you provided, but I can share with you what I know. Cholesterol can build up in artery walls and cause a blockage that leads to a heart attack. However, inflammation and infection are what cause plaque to develop in the first place. The cholesterol forms over parts of the artery that are injured. You could infer that if there’s no inflammation the cholesterol will pass through arteries with no problem.

    I couldn’t find one of the cited articles, but I read the Finnish one. There was a dramatic correlation between their lower fat diets and reduced CHD, but correlation does not equal causation.

    Either way, you can’t answer whether saturated fats are harmful or not with just two articles. Much more research needs looked at.

    I recommend watching some of these videos and looking up the sources yourself.

    https://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=saturated+fat&fwp_content_type=video




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