SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

May 4, 2011

Dr McD defining USDA bias

(This is Dr John McDougall offering his April 2011 newsletter to all his subscribers [which I have been for many years] and while I do not often do this – lifting an entire piece verbatim, nevertheless, it is so central to his thinking and program, I wanted to be fair and therefore, did not pick and choose, but cited him directly in his own words.  For those of you who are able to see the simplicity and beauty of his plan,  I would strongly urge you to subscribe at his site so that you don’t miss  the goodies he generously bestows.  His archives are huge and diverse.  .  .  so much more than I am able to offer here.

And of course, I seem to be a devotee of so many divergent disciplines.  It is easy for me to see the appeal, the logic of a number of well-thought out systems based on science.  Paleo being one of the ones who has captivated at least my mind and a part of my heart.  It works.  And carries with it an enormous following.  His laboratory tested theories have made true believers of thousands of “acne” sufferers,  crohn’s disease sufferers who have been able to give up meds and lead normal lives with nothing more than diet choices that seem to work.   Hard to beat that. 

But I am rather iconoclastic, independent, open to the new and of the belief that no one method is right for EVERYONE.  We must continuously test things in our own laboratory (read that as our body) Take what works and agrees with you and let the rest go.  Then you can do this thing and be happy.  Make up your own rules.  Its your life and your body.       Jan)

USDA Demonizes Starch, While Promoting Meat,  Dairy, and Disease

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the government agency responsible for the health of Americans, has recently enacted two national nutrition policies that limit the consumption of starchy grains and starchy vegetables, two traditional food groups that have provided the bulk of human diets for all of recordable history.The first policy will radically change the diets of school children. In the January 2011 report School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children, the USDA Committee on Nutrition Standards for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs recommended a reductionin starchy vegetables, such as white potatoes and corn, to one cup (total) per school week. Children, however, are encouraged to eat turkey sausages, egg patties, cheese omelets, chicken quesadillas, beef eggrolls, hot dogs, hamburgers, pepperoni pizza, roast beef, deli ham, chocolate milk, and margarine.

The second policy prevents needy families from getting financial assistance to buy potatoes. Currently, the USDA provides vouchers through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program for fresh fruits and vegetables. However, fresh potatoes are now specifically excluded from the list of allowable vegetables. In other words, under this second wide-reaching nutritional policy, a WIC recipient can receive butter, cheese, whole milk, and eggs through the program, but not a single white potato.

Both reports indicate that the primary reason for limiting starches, including the most popular of all vegetable foods, the potato, is to encourage people to choose more green, yellow, and orange vegetables. The net effect of both “anti-starch policies”—encouraging more nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables to be eaten—will be to harm the lives of women and children by causing them, by necessity, to get more of their daily sustenance from disease-causing animal foods.Less Starch Means More Meat and Dairy           

Green, yellow, and orange vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers, because of their high nutrient density, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other important phytochemicals; but they lack sufficient calories to support life. Focusing on nutrient density reflects a “supplementation mentality” that suggests that our health problems are somehow due to deficiencies (such as those causing scurvy, beriberi, and pellagra) and the answer is to get more nutrients. However, the opposite is actually true; the health problems of Americans are due to excesses—as in too many calories, and too much fat, sodium, cholesterol, protein, and contamination. Focusing on deficiencies will not solve problems of excesses.

To obtain 2000 calories from broccoli, at 135 calories per pound, means that 15 pounds of these “little green trees” must be eaten daily. You don’t have the will or capacity to eat that much. Thus, because of their sheer volume, eating that many green, yellow, and orange vegetables is impractical, if not impossible, for sustaining life. Starches, like the white potato, on the other hand, provide plenty of readily available energy for active living. Fewer than 10 white potatoes would be sufficient to meet the daily caloric needs (2000 calories) of men, women, and children, while also providing an overabundance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

The primary reason to eat is for energy (referred to as calories). Long-term, over several months, proteins, vitamins, and minerals are required for life, but cells deprived of fuel die within hours. In natural foods there are three molecular sources of energy: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. For energy, the body rarely uses proteins. Only under desperate circumstances, for example, during starvation or while someone is following a very low-carbohydrate diet (an Atkins-type diet), does the body resort to using protein for fuel. Fat can supply daily energy needs, especially when insufficient carbohydrates are present in our meals. However, the usual destiny of dietary fat is the storage depots in our hips, thighs, and abdomen. This fat can then be used later during times of food deprivation. The human body preferentially burns carbohydrates to sustain life and provide for our daily activities. In practical terms, for everyday living, obtaining sufficient healthy carbohydrates means eating starches, such as potatoes, corn, and rice. Beef, pork, chicken, and cheese provide only fat and protein, but no carbohydrate.

Therefore, when the USDA restricts starches (practical carbohydrates) from the diets of women and children, then their choices are limited to animal foods (fats) to obtain an adequate daily supply of energy. Whether done consciously or not, the USDA has boosted the sale of beef, poultry, eggs, and cheese to hungry Americans. With more animal foods also comes more obesity and chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Consider these two “anti-starch policies” from the USDA as two giant steps backwards for the health of Americans.

The United States Department of Agriculture

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), created in 1862, was originally referred to as “the People’s Department” by President Abraham Lincoln. This was a time in history when farmers and their families made up roughly 50 percent of the US population. The role of the USDA was expanded when congress passed the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 after the uproar caused by the publication of Upton Sinclair’s muckraking book, The Jungle, exposing the filth and brutality of the meatpacking industries during the early-20th Century. The Act was “For preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic therein, and for other purposes.”

The USDA has the responsibility for overseeing food safety. But, it also has an opposing responsibility to promote agricultural businesses. Nearly 150 years after its creation, tens of thousands of small farms have been bought up and concentrated into a few large politically influential corporations, and the USDA has become the “Agribusiness Industries’ Department,” primarily serving the interests of giant food production and distribution corporations.

In 1935, the number of farms in the United States peaked at 6.8 million, with a US population of over 127 million citizens. As of 2005, with the US population more than doubled, four companies (Tyson, Cargill, Swift & Co., and National Beef Packing Co.) controlled the processing of 84 percent of the country’s beef and three of these same four companies (along with an additional fourth) processed 64 percent of the country’s pork. Processing of chickens and turkeys is also mostly limited to four companies. As a result of all this concentrated economic power the USDA has ignored scientific evidence in favor of placating the interests of big businesses. These conflicting responsibilities have affected the lives of every American, contributing substantially to our current costly epidemics of obesity and sickness.

A revolving door policy, where the people who work for industry move to roles as legislators and regulators in the government (and vice versa), has played a major role in dietary policies. Members of the USDA have had known associations with the National Cattlemen’s Association, the Meat Packer’s Association, the National Pork Board, the National Livestock and Meat Board, the American Egg Board, ConAgra Foods, the National Dairy Council, and Dairy Management Inc.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010: A Big Step Forward

In July of 2010 I submitted A Scientific Critique of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Report for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (I sent it to you and the USDA). I wrote that, “Except for a few hopeful sentences, the committee presented a report filled with fear mongering, doubletalk, omissions of major topics, consistently biased views of the scientific literature, and inexcusable factual errors that favored the livestock industries.”

Six months later, on January 31, 2011, the USDA published a set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans more in favor of the people and less industry-friendly than I had ever expected. Americans were told to “emphasize nutrient-dense foods and beverages—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds.” In the interest of people (not agribusinesses), they should have stuck with the plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and peas.

These 2010 Guidelines clearly emphasize the importance of whole grains, tubers, legumes, green, yellow, and orange vegetables, and fruits with positive discussions about the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet, and about vegetarian (even vegan) diets. Lacking, however, is communication about the importance of getting the bulk of our daily calories from starches: a message crucial for the practical application of a healthy diet. For the most part, starches were mentioned with negative connotations, such as “refined starches,” and “to be minimized or excluded along with solid fats, sugars, and sodium.”

The 2010 Guidelines continue to support the meat, poultry, egg and fish industries with recommendations to increase the intake of dairy products, including high-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese; to increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed; and to choose a variety of protein foods (seafood, lean meat and poultry, and eggs). The report was far from candid about communicating the importance of avoiding agribusiness’ most profitable foods: meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a politically active nonprofit organization based in Washington DC, filed a lawsuit against the USDA on February 15, 2011. In their lawsuit they stated: “The problem is word choice. For healthful foods that people should eat more of, the Guidelines are clear. They encourage readers to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But when it comes to foods people need to eat less of (e.g., meat and cheese), the Guidelines resort to biochemical terms instead of listing specific foods, apparently out of fear of upsetting food producers. That is, the Guidelines call for limiting ‘cholesterol,’ ’saturated fat’ ‘solid fat.’ Similarly, while dairy products account for more than 30 percent of the saturated (“bad”) fat in the American diet, the Guidelinesdisguise this fat by splitting dairy products into many categories, including cheese (8.5 percent), butter (2.9 percent), whole milk (3.4 percent), reduced-fat milk (3.9 percent), dairy desserts (5.6 percent), and pizza (5.9 percent), so their contribution to ill health is harder to see.” Thus, as PCRM has voiced, more has to be done before the USDA again becomes “the People’s Department.”The Pendulum Has Turned

Setting money, politics, and some clarifications needed in the wording aside, the plant-food-strong message of 2010 Dietary Guidelines has eliminated any doubt about what are the major killers of Americans and has established a steadfast direction for restoring health to our nation. This landmark is professionally welcome to me because as I have traveled a straight and narrow path over the past four decades, I have seen “popular opinion” make unexplainable U-turns in directions of nutritional nonsense.

I was an important author at Penguin Books USA Inc. up until the early 1990s. Then there was a renewal of the Atkins Diet. I was approached by my book editor and told that it was time for me to change my writing style: “Dr. McDougall, your high-carbohydrate books recommending that people eat more starchy vegetables are of the eighties. The new diets will focus on meat and other high-protein, low-carb foods. We would like you to make this change in your future books.” My response was, “You must be kidding. Essentially all of the respected science to date says that a diet high in animal products will give you heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. For the past 70 years researchers have clearly shown that a diet of starches, vegetables, and fruits is right for people.” “Besides,” I told my editor, “do you think I write these books just to make money?”

As history shows, Penguin Books was right about the direction that diet books were headed at that time. However, after six national bestselling books, over one million copies sold, during a 15-year relationship, I have had no new projects with this publisher for more than a decade. But times are changing.

Many other people now see that large-scale progress in the right direction is finally occurring, and they believe stronger than ever in my message about a starch-based diet for people. Confirming my positive attitude about the future, as the pendulum swings back with the beginning of the 21st Century, I now have a contract with one of the world’s most influential publishers, Rodale Inc., to produce my new book, The Starch Solution, which will be available April of 2012.

2011 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center   P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

5-4-11 Brief up-dates

Capital Notes

Governor hints legislators might deserve pay raise

Gov. John Kasich said last month that he has developed a “beautiful relationship” with Republican legislative leaders, and he even suggested that lawmakers might deserve a pay raise.  (What a guy!)

During his discussion with reporters last week about his first 100 days in office, the governor was asked, at a time when public workers are being asked to sacrifice through collective-bargaining changes and cuts to schools and local governments, if state lawmakers should take a pay cut, even   if  it’s largely symbolic.    “I think they should be treated like all other state employees, and state employees are actually going to get a pay raise,” Kasich said.   (To say this is mind-blowing – just doesn’t do justice to it. Jan)

Lawmakers get a base salary of $60,584, though most earn more through stipends for caucus and committee leadership positions. A bill by Rep. Terry Boose, R-Norwalk, that would cut lawmaker salaries by 5 percent has not yet had a hearing.

State workers took 10   unpaid furlough days this year. Lawmakers did not participate in that pay reduction. And the “raise” is mostly a lump-sum payment already provided for in the current state contract.    — Jim Siegel


  Food safety problems re-emerge in China

  By David Pierson LOS ANGELES TIMES

BEIJING — Three years after China was rocked by a scandal over deadly tainted milk, the country once again is grappling with concerns over food safety.

In recent weeks, reports of tainted food have surfaced throughout China. The list includes diseased pigs used for bacon; noodles made of corn, ink and paraffin; rice contaminated with heavy metals; sausages made of rotten meat and fertilizer; and pork described as “Tron blue” because bacteria made it glow in the dark.

The central government implemented a sweeping food-safety law in 2009 after at least six infants died and tens of thousands of people were sickened by milk adulterated with melamine. But the new spate of food scares underscores how challenging enforcement can be.

An article Tuesday in the state-owned Global Times said food inspectors could be bribed to ignore diseased pork.

Li Duo, a food-safety and nutrition specialist at Zhejiang University, told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post that enforcement was too weak.      “Officials have always been announcing plans to clamp down on illegal food production activities,” Li said. “But why have they failed to control it, and why are the scandals appearing so frequently? The main reason is that the punishment is too light.”

(This is almost too unbelievable for words.  Aren’t you glad that you live here?   Jan)

Animal Protein contamination

(This piece is from RAYMOND FRANCIS of “BEYOND HEALTH” this day.   Nothing startling, just the facts which of course does bear repeating every now and then.  It is so easy to fall into old routines because of time constraints, budget constraints or just plain ole “what-the-hell” attitude which can overtake any of us at any time.  So, I’m just sayin’ . . .some times we need a reminder. .   be well,  Jan)

US Meat and Poultry Contaminated by Superbugs!

Radiation Update

 . . .   unfit for human consumption
Commercially produced meat and poultry is unfit for human consumption, and here’s more evidence to prove it.
A new study found that 47% of samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey collected from 26 different grocery stores in 5 US cities were contaminated with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). S. aureus is linked with a wide range of human diseases ranging from minor skin infections to life-threatening illnesses like sepsis, pneumonia and endocarditis. It can also cause low-grade chronic infections in the gut that disrupt intestinal ecology. In one animal study it impaired beta cell function and caused insulin resistance; this has led some to believe it may be a factor in our obesity epidemic.
In recent years, S. aureus has become more dangerous and led to an increased number of serious illnesses and deaths due to the development of antibiotic resistant strains like MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus). In this study, more than half the S. aureus strains found were “superbugs,” resistant to three or more kinds of antibiotics. MRSA itself was found in 3 of the 136 samples collected.
Livestock practices are directly responsible for much of this antibiotic resistance. About 80% of antibiotics sold are given to animals for growth promotion and routine disease prevention on a sustained basis. The more antibiotics given, the more antibiotic-resistant strains develop.
You can kill S. aureus by thorough cooking, although it poses a risk of cross-contamination while food is raw  if you aren’t very careful. But there are many other reasons to avoid commercially-produced meat and poultry. One is an ethical consideration for the inhumane way animals are treated in factory-farm situations. These unwholesome and unsanitary conditions in turn produce sickly and diseased animals. Other infections, such as Enterococcus, E coli and Salmonella are common. Also, when you consume these animals, you consume the antibiotics and growth stimulating hormone they receive.
Commercially-raised animals are fed the wrong kinds of food, including excrement from other animals. Excessive amounts of starch in their diets causes them to gain considerably more fat, and the wrong kind of fat. Whereas grassfed beef, for example, has a healthy omega 6 to 3 ratio of 2:1, commercially raised beef has an unhealthy ratio of 20:1.
I recommend making animal protein a very small part of your diet and choosing only grassfed, organically and humanely raised, antibiotic-free sources.
Waters AE. Multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in US meat and poultry. Clinical Infectious Diseases.                      First published online April 15, 2011. doi:10.1093/cid/cir181.

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