5 Dietary Recommendations That Will Make You Slimmer and Healthier

Friday Oct 9 | BY |
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An image of young woman holding basket with vegetable

It seems everyone knows the basics: don’t smoke, drink less alcohol, eat less meat, avoid sodas, and pick up fiber levels. The issue now is what’s actually an optimal diet.

As a nation, we’re tired of being fat, sick, and fatigued.

Do you have to eat like a hippie to be healthy, strong, and vital?

You may be surprised when America’s new dietary guidelines come out next year, or maybe not. After more than a half century of eating too much of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, Americans are finally starting to eat less and better. We’re drinking 25 percent less high fructose corn syrup carbonated sodas. (That’s great, but I’d recommend we drink none at all.)

We’re going in the right direction, but rather than better nutritional education, gardening advice, or tips on finding locally grown organic produce, Americans get more regulations.

The City of Berkeley instituted a tax on distributors (not consumers) of sugary beverages, which will raise $1.2 million in its first year. San Francisco requires a label on sodas that reads, “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugars contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”

In 2006, New York City banned artery-clogging trans fats in restaurants. In June 2015, the FDA gave the food industry three years to get rid of artificial trans fats in our food. Trans fats are hydrogenated oils that harden at room temperature. They are associated with raising bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL) levels.


I know that you have long eliminated Crisco from your diet, but did you know that levels of LDL cholesterol go up in people who consume large amounts of coconut oil? Coconut oil is a type of saturated fat, similar to the kind found in meat and cheese. Saturated fats are the main dietary cause of high cholesterol. Even so called “healthy” foods like fish, nuts, and plant oils, if consumed in excess, contribute to clogged arteries.

Virgin coconut oil may have heart healthy properties, but there are few scientific studies to support this claim. Until we know more, I recommend my patients do not over consume coconut oil and get their LDL levels checked regularly.


Big Government Gives Us Big Reports

Five years ago the government reshaped the food pyramid. They replaced it with MyPlate, a pie-shaped graphic to help people make better food choices. Reshaping our plate from what we grow, or supporting local growers, would be even better. We’re going in the right direction, but rather than better nutritional education, gardening advice, or tips on finding locally grown organic produce, Americans get reports.

Now we have a massive, 571-page Advisory Report. You’ll have to wait for the dietary guidelines, which will be released “soon,” we’re told. I haven’t read the entire report—it’s too long and boring—but if you’re interested, you can download a 10-page executive summary.

The proposed regulations recommend reducing sugar intake to less than 10 percent of total energy intake (it’s currently 16 percent). The World Health Organization advises no more than 5 percent. Since refined sugar and concentrated fructose is harmful, why doesn’t the report go along with the WHO recommendations?

No need to wait, however, because many Americans have already dramatically changed their diet for the better. It seems everyone knows the basics: don’t smoke, drink less alcohol, eat less meat, avoid sodas, and pick up fiber levels. The issue now is what’s actually an optimal diet.

Dietary Extremism and the Food Pyramid Making Us Sick

In Death By Food Pyramid, author Denise Menger not only debunks the bad nutrition science behind the food pyramid, but also destroys the dogma of raw food veganism.

When she started losing her hair, felt cold all the time, was confounded by brain fog, and riddled with tooth decay, she knew something was wrong. In one year, she had become nutrient deficient enough to have symptoms of malnutrition. She launched RawFoodsSOS.com to help other raw food vegans avoid her fate.

Menger didn’t stop there. She began to challenge all sorts of dietary dogmas including publishing a critique of The China Study. Then she attacked the politics and policies, as well as the food industry meddling, by going after the USDA food pyramid. It seems that her goal was to teach others how to successfully navigate the maze of dietary recommendations, all which have the purpose of selling the consumer more than they need.

The advisory report, of course, focuses on more than just sugar consumption. It recommends eating less meat, and more plants and plant proteins—in particular, more potassium. I would add that you should include more magnesium rich foods like seeds and nuts.

It also mentions sustainable agricultural practices, discusses links between what we eat and our health, advises more exercise, and addresses food safety concerns. I would add: grow your own herbs and vegetables, and plant some fruit trees.

The Joy Of A Balanced Diet

In the late 1960s, I started my own personal health quest. I was a strict vegetarian for 14 years, with many of those years as a raw food vegan. Over the following twenty years, I practiced macrobiotics, fruitarianism, went on many long fasts, countless cleansing programs, and took part in a variety of other dietary regimens promising bodily miracles. Like Menger, I eventually wised up.

In the late 1970s, I studied Eastern philosophy and Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine taught me about balance in one’s life, including how to eat right. Food choices change according the season and climate. Hot spicy foods like red chili peppers where best in hot humid climates. Warm moderately spicy foods like onions, ginger, and garlic were best in northern humid climates. The ancient Chinese, without modern science or the Internet, figured out how to eat well and live healthy and long.

In college I studied biology and biochemistry, but wasn’t impressed with Western nutritional science. The field was poorly organized back in the 1970s, and the science was not only limited but also funded by big agriculture and food corporations. By the late 1990s, nutritional science improved, and as I applied my training in functional medicine, I learned that there were several helpful rules that benefited health.

For my patients, I recommend starting with the basics and then advancing to new rules. Experimentation along the way is reasonable, but straying too far assures getting lost among the countless dietary trends, all promising wonders and delivering little.

The 5 Rules Of Dietary Balance That Will Make You Slimmer And Healthier

  1. Balance complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat energy sources by eating more nutrient-rich vegetables.
  2. Balance your energy intake by lowering consumption of refined sugar and fructose to less than 5 percent of your calories, including limiting sugary fresh fruit juices.
  3. Balance your saturated fat intake by lowering consumption of coconut and olive oil, and adding avocados, nuts, flax and chia seeds, eggs and butter made from organic milk.
  4. Balance your protein intake by eating less meat and poultry, and consuming more fish and seafood, and increase your plant protein sources.
  5. Balance your energy by getting enough calories from complex carbohydrates, but also from healthy plant protein and fat sources.

Americans are still a long ways from becoming a slim, healthy nation, but some of us are going in the right direction. For those who are already on the healthy natural lifestyle path, I argue for a balanced approach. I found that there’s a lot to learn from an Eastern way in the Western world.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

Visit Dr. Williams’ Website: https://drjewilliams.com/

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