Type 2 Diabetes and the USDA Dietary Guidelines

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Past USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) dietary pyramids have done little to help Americans stay lean, healthy or diabetes free. This could have been in part due to a lack of knowledge about the composition of certain foods. In part, it was due to beef and dairy lobbyists winning debates over nutritionists.

In 2010 the pyramid looked like this:

  • 6 -11 servings of grains, with no distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates.
  • 3 – 5 servings of vegetables
  • 2 – 4 servings of fruits
  • 2 – 3 servings of dairy, with no distinction between low and high-fat choices
  • 2 – 3 servings of meat, eggs, nuts, and beans, with no distinction between low and high-fat choices
  • Fats, oils, sweets, with a recommendation that they be “eaten sparingly.”

These old dietary guidelines are a landmine for anyone — bad fat, too much fat, too much sugar, hidden sugar, and not enough fiber ….not to mention poor nutrition! If you are diabetic, six to eleven servings of grains with no distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates could mean that as much as 50% of what you are eating might be simple carbs, or sugar! The vague direction to eat sweets “sparingly” is of no practical use if you are diabetic. In fact, both of these guidelines are dangerous if you are diabetic.

We know more about food components now, many better food choices are available, and obesity and preventable illness are at epidemic proportions in America. The USDA is finally taking some responsibility and changing the dietary guidelines.

On June 2, 2011 the United States Department of Agriculture replaced the 19-year-old food pyramid with a colorful 4-section plate as the icon representing the new USDA dietary guidelines. This icon (called MyPlate) divides food choices for each day into 4 groups it deems to be healthiest. The groups are vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein. It looks like this:

  • Vegetables, approximately 1/4th of the plate
  • Fruits, approximately 1/4th of the plate
  • Grains, approximately 1/4th of the plate, still allowing 1/2 of grains to be refined.
  • Proteins, approximately 1/4th of the plate.

Vegetables are represented as slightly larger than fruits, and grains are represented as slightly larger than proteins. Beside the plate is a small glass representing dairy, the fifth food group. There is no longer a group for fats, oils, and sweets.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack backs up this MyPlate icon by giving specifics. He emphasizes making low-fat choices in dairy and proteins, choosing complex carbohydrates whenever possible, skipping fast food and processed food for fresh, healthy “live” food choices, and avoiding extra sugar. While the new guidelines go a long way to help diabetics, they don’t go far enough. There are so many healthy choices in grains — bread, pasta, or other types of grains — there is no need to continue to eat any refined carbohydrates.

Vilsack’s statements about sugar are specific and go quite a bit further to help diabetics. Added sugars make up 16% of the total calories in American diets. The USDA has released a list of the 10 foods from which Americans get most of their added sugars (and the percentage of total added sugars from each food):

  • Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks (35.7%)
  • Grain-based desserts (12.9%)
  • Fruit drinks (10.5%)
  • Dairy desserts (6.5%)
  • Candy (6.1%)
  • Ready-to-eat cereals (3.8%)
  • Sugars and honey (3.5%)
  • Tea (3.5%)
  • Yeast breads (2.1%)
  • All other foods (15.4%)

This information can help diabetics concentrate on food items to avoid. A lot more specific information is needed to understand why some of these things are such strong offenders.

Except for still allowing 50% refined carbohydrates, the new guidelines are not harmful to diabetics and can be very helpful. If you are diabetic, what you eat and choose not to eat can save your life. Exercise won’t do it. Medication won’t do it. And don’t wait for a miracle cure. But controlling your diabetes or even reversing it is within your own power in most cases by making healthy eating choices. Period.

Vegans have been advocates for this healthy type of diet (substituting other products for animal and dairy products) for a long time. A Vegan Flush with its fresh, nutritious food is a great jumpstart to adopting these dietary guidelines. Its emphasis is on cleansing the toxins from old destructive habits of eating saturated fats, too much fat, too much sugar, and undigested remnants of meat and other products.

Give the Vegan Flush a try. If you watch your sugar choices, you’ll feel healthier than you have in a long time.

(Source: Webmd.com/USDA Ditches Food Pyramid for a Healthy Plate)

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