Monthly Archives: February 2015

U.S. Food Panel Recommendations.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, made up of medical and nutritional experts which meets every five years, has recommended a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish & low-fat dairy.  Does this sound familiar? Mediterranean Diet come to mind? The committee has stated that these guidelines are  “more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact” than the current US diet, which is high in meat.

They have also stated in their report that  “no food groups need to be eliminated completely to improve sustainability outcomes”. So they are not recommending you become a vegetarian. This report is the same one that has changed the guidelines for cholesterol (look at my previous blog on this subject) and caffeine. Don’t panic, they recommend 3-5 cups of coffee a day as being part of a healthy diet and 2 cups if you are pregnant. I can live with that.

Limiting our sugar intake takes center stage in the report. They recommend that no more than 10% of the calories in our food and drink be sugar. The World Health Organization recommends 5% or less. “Taxation on higher sugar-and sodium-containing foods may encourage consumers to reduce consumption and revenues generated could support health promotion efforts,” the report stated. Also recommending that water be the beverage of choice for children and teens. Wow!

Here is a link to the official report: 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report.  Remember that this is a recommendation only. The government will make the final decision. The Health & Human Services along with the USDA will release the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015, later this year.

I am impressed that they are actually making a recommendation based on the environmental impact of a diet. This should have been recommended years and years ago based solely on the health impact on our population! These recommended guidelines will affect everything from reading labels to school lunches.

I read an article by Chris Taylor, U.S. food panel: Go nuts on coffee, kill your sugar intake. He begins the article with “In a country with an estimated 108 million dieters attempting to kickstart their diet four or five times a year, there’s no shortage of advice on what to eat and drink.” How very true these words are! He continues, stating,  “What is lacking: a single, simple national standard based on the latest science — one that relegates old, unscientific assumptions about dietary fat and cholesterol to the scrap heap of history.”

Let’s hope that this report will do what Chris Taylor has stated. The recommendations by this panel are based on current science not fads. If the government uses all the recommendations then I think we will see some loud opposition from the food industry. The Beef Industry is already making their protestations heard. No surprise there…just ask Oprah Winfrey 🙂

Coinciding with the release of this report was another study regarding food coloring in those sugary soft drinks! Read this article by the John Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health: Popular Soda Ingredient Poses Cancer Risk to Consumers   “–Research analysis suggests that soda drinkers consume 1 or more cans per day—possibly exposing them to 4-methylimidazole, a potential carcinogen“.

Now, the next step by the FDA should be labeling GMO foods…..another blog for another time.


Cholesterol: Bacon & Eggs Are Back!

Hi NUTs,

Bacon & eggs are back?  Don’t get too excited. Our health is about more than cholesterol levels. ABC has a great video and article about the changes that the USDA is considering. I provided a link to their video and article. I have also added the article below with my notes.

Click here for the ABC News Report video: New Cholesterol Guidelines

Here is the entire article with my comments in red.

New Cholesterol Guidelines Mean These Foods Could Be Back on the Table

Now that an influential group of nutrition scientists have indicated the U.S. Department of Agriculture may drop the cholesterol 50-year-old warning against eating cholesterol-laden foods, some changes to the American diet may be in order.

The current recommendation by the USDA is for adults to consume no more than 300 mgs of cholesterol per day from dietary sources. The agency won’t make any changes to those guidelines for at least six months and if they do, they will still caution diabetics and people who take statin medications to refrain from eating a lot of cholesterol. The key words here are “if they do”. This is going to cause a lot of debate in the nutritional & medical communities. The new guidelines are based on recent studies that indicate that dietary cholesterol has no influence on your cholesterol blood levels. We already know that our body makes its own cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of fat & is essential in cell structure; it coats nerve fibers, it is part of the production of testosterone, estrogen and bile acids for digestion, it helps absorption of fats & vitamins including vitamin D. The liver is the main source of cholesterol production. 

But for the rest of us, here are some foods that would be back on the table if the new guidelines are adopted. Caution here, stop clapping!!!


Eggs have long been the poster child of the anti-cholesterol message, possibly because one large egg contains nearly a day’s worth of cholesterol, according to the USDA nutritional database. Assuming the new guidelines are accepted, the 636 mg in a three-egg omelet with cheese won’t matter to most people. It does matter nutritionally. Eggs are fine in moderation. Cheese is dairy and is inflammatory, use in moderation or not at all.


Bacon might also make it back onto more breakfast tables. Some cuts deliver up to half the current daily limit of cholesterol. Of course, there are other health reasons for limiting your ration of all processed meats, including the high amounts of sodium, fats and nitrates they contain. Yes, there are other health reasons not to eat bacon!


One ounce of chicken liver totals 180 mg of dietary cholesterol. So a typical 4-ounce serving of this organ meat is more than 200 percent above the current recommended daily intake of cholesterol. According to the USDA and American Heart Association, other meats considered high in cholesterol include lamb, duck, fattier cuts of beef and pork. All of these are high in fat, have growth hormones and antibiotics added. These should be avoided or eaten once a month; grass fed or organic & lean cuts. It is not just abut cholesterol.

Whole Fat Dairy

New guidelines would mean less guilt when choosing whole milk with 24 mg of cholesterol compared to 5 mg from fat-free milk. You might also consider switching from a 3-ounce serving of a low fat cheese which has virtually no cholesterol to a full-fat cheese with approximately 30 percent of the current daily limit on the nutrient. Again, this choice is not just about the cholesterol. It is dairy. It is inflammatory & contains estrogen in the fat. Unless organic, it also has growth hormones and antibiotics in it. Dairy is fine when eaten in moderation & is organic. Full fat is recommended for those who need to gain weight. I recommend Greek yogurt because it is very high in protein as well. 1 cup contains 16-24 grams of protein! Add fresh fruit & nuts to plain Greek yogurt and you have a healthy snack. The best organic Greek yogurt we have found is made by Wallaby Yogurt Company. Even the non-fat is creamy. 23 grams of protein/cup. It also contains live and active probiotics.

Let’s be cautious about these changes. I have researched this and most of the science community is calling for more research. If you are eating a plant based whole food diet as recommended then cholesterol in the diet isn’t a concern anyway.

Thanks, Mary

Coffee & Herbal Supplements Updates

Hi NUTs,

If you have been following the health news this week you have seen the newest study on coffee. “Coffee May Lower Endometrial Cancer Risk” ‘Women benefited from drinking about 4 cups daily, study suggests’  Most of you know how much I love coffee. I am also an avid tea drinker but I do need my coffee everyday. A headline with coffee in it always attracts my attention. This is an interesting study. If you will click on Topics on the menu above and click on coffee on the dropdown menu you will see the entire article and my comments.

I also want to update you on my “Bogus Herbal Supplements Fail Ingredients Test” post. Dr. Low Dog commented on this situation on her Facebook page. She brought up a good point about the testing the FDA used when it made these allegations. I agree with her; the supplement industry needs to work together and self regulate and the government needs to use good science.

In the field of Integrative Medicine we often here the phrase: ‘It must be science based’. Well, here is an example of using a test that is not ‘science based” in this particular case. Here is Dr. Low Dog’s response.

Dr.Tieraona Low Dog,  February 5th, 2015

There has been a lot of buzz around the New York Attorney General and the testing of products from large retailers such as Walmart, Walgreens and GNC. Quality control is critical. The supplement industry needs to own where it falls short and it has to do better. I should be able to go into ANY store and know that what is in the bottle is the same as what is on the label. However, for the New York Attorney General’s Office to use a non-validated testing method shows a relatively high degree of incompetence. DNA testing is highly specific and highly sensitive for identifying raw herb material but it is not a validated method (accepted test) for finished herbal extracts, as the solvents used to extract the herbs generally denature the plant DNA. The US Pharmacopeia which is the official standard setting body for the United States has testing methods for all the herbal products in question (disclosure: I have chaired numerous USP Dietary Supplement and Botanical Expert Panels at USP over the past 15 years). One of these accepted methods should have been used in addition to DNA to confirm the results. People seemed also very surprised that there could be other DNA in the supplement (rice, radishes, etc.) Almost all regulatory and/or standard setting bodies, including the USP, allow but limit to no more than 2%, foreign matter in herbal raw material. Why? Because plants grow out in nature. There is always bio burden. Pollen from the pine tree growing nearby, DNA from the spider that passed through or from the veggies growing in the field next door. The industry must do better AND government officials should use good science before they smear or attack a business. 

You are probably tired of hearing me say this…but…we need to be our own health advocates! If you have questions about something you have read, heard about, or received from family or friends, please email me and I will help you sort it out. The choices you make are yours to make. I want those choices to be based on accurate information not on sensationalism by the media. Until next week~ Mary

‘Bogus’ Herbal Supplements Fail Ingredient Test!

I just saw this article in the Health News. Could not pass it up. When you read my post on Vitamin D Update you will understand why.

Here is the first paragraph of the story:  “An investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Office alleges that some store-brand herbal supplements sold in New York by Walmart, Walgreens, Target and GNC are “bogus” – in that they “could not be verified to contain the labeled substance, or … were found to contain ingredients not listed on the labels.” Some of the ingredients that were detected include mustard and powdered rice.” For the full story and the video click here: ‘Bogus’ Herbal Supplements Fail Ingredient Test: Investigation.

In our NUT group in the past you have had to sit through my “soap box” about how important it is to be careful of buying supplements. This article is the reason why. We need to be sure that the brands are safe and belong to a group that has internal testing and studies that show that ~what is on the label is in the bottle~! Not only that. You should be able to call or write to the company on the container and ask for third party verification of their products. If they say it isn’t available to the public then it doesn’t exist. The stores they are investigating have said that their store brands go thru third party verification. This is under investigation.

So, the bottom line?  “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates