The new US dietary guidelines, published in January of this year, tell us more about what we should be eating as opposed to what not to eat, which is a departure from the previous USDA communications on diet.
It really is simple – salt, saturated fats, sugar, solid and trans-fats, refined grains and fast foods are unhealthy and create nutrition deficiencies and cause wear and tear on our body and immune system. While healthy oils, seafood, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, whole grains provide much needed nutrients for our body and prevent disease and metabolic stress.
This is not new information for most of us. The challenge is how do we develop a taste and even desire for the healthy, nutritious food and not the foods that deplete us and lack nutrition? One big change we can all make that will immediately improve our health and health risk factors is reducing our sodium intake.
It is well documented that we take in too much sodium. More than half of Americans, which comprise people over 51, African Americans and individuals with high blood pressure, are taking in two to three times the recommended amount of sodium, which is 1500mg for this group of Americans.
For the rest of us, the guideline of taking in fewer than 2300 mg per day of sodium will prevent hypertension, kidney damage and weight gain. So why are we reluctant to do so? The main reason seems to be conditioned taste. The powers that be are hoping to influence the food processing industry to cut back on the amount of salt used in prepared foods, which will go a long way in re-educating our taste buds and be the first step in reducing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated at a joint meeting of the U. S. Dietary Association and Health and Human Services news conference: “We want to move away from our over-reliance on sugar, sodium and saturated-fats.” This makes complete sense with all the current research which shows how these substances affect our health. The big thing is not just to know the facts but to re-educate our taste buds. This is something we have to do as a culture and individually.
- Dr. Georgianna Donadio