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I am a medical professional who works in a medical weight management program at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. Because of the nature of my work, government nutrition guidelines are of prime importance as they significantly influence the beliefs of the patients I work with on a daily basis. One problem I see with these proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines is that several of the recommendations are in opposition to what we have seen work in our medical program. Namely, our program applies a controlled carbohydrate approach to nutrition which encourages patients to eat a wide array of animal-based foods. We apply this approach for several reasons, most significant of which is that we have observed that this approach has worked best for improving patient's weight control and cardiovascular and metabolic biomarkers. The success we have seen in our program is exciting to us and to the patients we work with. In regards to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, I believe the two main issues present in proposal include 1) the recommendation to limit intake of animal-based foods (including processed and unprocessed red meat), and 2) the recommendation to limit intake of saturated fat to less than ten percent of calories. Not only have we observed in our program that in more cases than not patients have more success in managing their weight and overall health through the intentional consumption of animal-based foods (including processed and unprocessed red meat), but based on my interpretation of the research literature on animal-based foods it is apparent that many of the studies used to indict animal-based foods (such as processed and unprocessed meat) are the weakest and most misleading types of studies--epidemiological. To recommend against animal-based foods based on epidemiological evidence is a disservice to Americans. Furthermore, we have also observed in our program that saturated fat is a key nutrient in helping people lose weight and remain satiated to the point that they can successfully control their caloric intake. Most of the patients in our program consume greater than 10 percent of their calories in the form of saturated fat (some patients take in up to 18 to 20 percent of their calories as saturated fat), and we have observed this to work very well in the majority of cases. Because of my own medical experience, in addition to the research literature and the study of diets in various cultures throughout history, I believe that it is unnecessary and actually harmful to recommend that Americans attempt to limit their saturated intake to less than 10 percent. I think a much better approach would be to encourage Americans to eat "whole-food" diets--regardless of their macronutrient composition--and determine which type of whole-foods work best for them in controlling their caloric intake. In some cases I believe this type of whole-food diet will include a higher amount of saturated fat than the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are recommending.
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Last updated: 1/21/2018
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