A Reversal on Carbs
Fat was once the devil. Now more nutritionists are pointing accusingly at sugar and refined grains.
Most people can count calories. Many have a clue about where fat lurks in their diets. However, fewer give carbohydrates much thought, or know why they should.
But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
"Fat is not the problem," says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases."
It's a confusing message. For years we've been fed the line that eating fat would make us fat and lead to chronic illnesses. "Dietary fat used to be public enemy No. 1," says Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. "Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar."
Americans, on average, eat 250 to 300 grams of carbs a day, accounting for about 55% of their caloric intake. The most conservative recommendations say they should eat half that amount. Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years with the help of a 30-year-old, government-mandated message to cut fat.And the nation's levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have risen. "The country's big low-fat message backfired," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today." Read more
11-Year-Old Describes Broken Food System in Five Minutes
Last month, an 11-year-old had much to say about the perils of the American food system. Speaking at a TED conference for young people called TEDx in Asheville, North Carolina, Birke Baehr discussed food irradiation, GMOs, CAFOs, farm run-off, the problem with marketing food to kids and more, all in five minutes. On the subject of paying more for better quality food, Baehr said, “With all the things I’m learning about the food system, it seems to me that we can either pay the farmer or pay the hospital.”
He also talked about his future aspirations. “Awhile back I wanted to be an NFL football player. Now, I’ve decided I’d rather be an organic farmer instead,” he said to the cheering audience. “That way I can have a greater impact on the world.”