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Are the New US Government Dietary Guidelines Correct?
Every 5 years, the U.S. Government published its "Dietary Guidelines for Americans", a guide on how to eat properly for healthy weight and balanced nutrition. 2015 saw the latest last release of the US Government Dietary Guidelines, but you may be surprised to find that they may not be as accurate as the U.S. government believes:
The Good: Healthy Foods
First off, there's no denying that the recommendation to "eat more nutrient-dense food" is an excellent one. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and animal proteins are all healthy foods, and they will do wonders to improve your digestive function, boost immunity, and help you manage your weight. This is definitely a wise recommendation, and one you would do well to follow.
The Good: Control Sugar
One of the best things about the 2015 US Government Dietary Guidelines was that it finally recommended a "healthy" amount of sugar. Americans consume A LOT of sugar, far more than is healthy. The average man (between the ages of 8 and 30) gets roughly 15% of their daily calories from sugar. That's empty nutrients that will do nothing but pack on the fat! According to the new guidelines, you should get no more than 10% of your daily calories from sugar. And that includes the sugar from fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. It's a great way to get our daily sugar intake under control.
The Iffy: Reduce Sodium
The Guidelines introduce this recommendation of only 2,300 mg of sodium per day with good intentions: to reduce your risk of hypertension. It has long been believed that salt (sodium) causes high blood pressure, but that is no longer the case. Salt consumption doesn't CAUSE high blood pressure, though it may increase blood pressure in those already suffering from hypertension. High blood pressure is as much the fault of low potassium levels as high sodium levels. Just cutting salt won't help to reduce blood pressure if you're not getting enough potassium. The key to controlling hypertension, then, is to increase potassium intake!
The Bad: Not Enough Protein
According to the federal guidelines, your daily protein intake should be limited to between 50 and 70 grams. If you're an active person, that's nowhere near enough! Protein does more than just help you build muscle--it also plays a role in your hormones, your immune system, your brain function, and more. Protein is possibly the single most important nutrient, and you need to make sure you are getting plenty of it. For those who are active (more than 3 workouts per week), it's recommended to consume at least 0.77 grams of protein for every pound of your body weight. That means a 200-pound man should eat 144 grams of protein per day. That's more than TWICE the recommended intake, but it's the only way you'll get enough amino acids to be healthy.
The Bad: Not Enough Saturated Fat
The new guidelines state that less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. While this is done with good intentions (to reduce fat intake, and thus calorie intake), it may actually backfire. Saturated fat is needed for hormones, and it plays a role in the formation of new cells. Eating more fat also helps your body to "loosen its grip" on the stored fat, making it easier for you to lose fat weight. It may even raise your good HDL cholesterol, reducing your bad LDL cholesterol without the need for medication or drastic dieting. Cutting back on fat isn't necessarily the key to being healthy--in the end, it mostly comes down to portion control, healthy food choices, and an increase in calorie burning!