Functional Nutrition Practitioner with Lisa Jacobsen

Why Does Every Nutrition Pro Tell Me To “Heal My Leaky Gut” — How Can It Be Leaking?!

There’s A LOT of talk in the health world about gut health these days. You’ve probably even heard that the key to reversing a whole host of health issues, ranging from skin issues to serious autoimmune conditions, starts with healing your so-called leaky gut.

Afterall, Hippocrates is famously credited with stating that “all disease begins in the gut”.

Several factors are thought to disrupt the normal intestinal environment and contribute to a leaking gut.
But what the heck is a “leaky gut” – and how do I know if mine is actually leaking? (Eww!)
This refers to damage and/or thinning of the lining of the small intestine (aka, your gut). Your small intestine acts as the barrier between the outside world and the rest of your body – a pretty important job!

The small intestine is also where partially digested food from the stomach (and anything else you take in from the outside world, like medications and supplements) is further broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, where it is then carried for use throughout the rest of the body.

If your intestinal wall is damaged, thinned, or has gaps in it – known as impaired intestinal permeability, the breakdown and absorption of the food you eat is also impaired.

Partially digested compounds, bacteria, and chemicals that shouldn’t be absorbed can quite literally “leak” across the intestinal membrane and into your bloodstream.

The immune system then kicks into action, reacting to these foreign substances that have crossed the intestine as dangerous intruders.
It is believed that this immune response (from leaky gut) may be the underlying cause of other diseases, like:

● Systemic inflammation
● Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
● Food allergies and intolerances
● Nutrient deficiencies
● Celiac disease
● Diabetes
● Autoimmune disorders
● Mood disorders
● Skin conditions like eczema

Several factors are thought to disrupt the normal intestinal environment and contribute to a leaking gut.
Contributors to leaky gut include:
● Excessive intake of calories, unhealthy fats, refined grains, sugars, and alcohol, which promote inflammation and digestive trouble.
● The use of antibiotics and NSAIDs (i.e. ibuprofen). These can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and cause damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal system, respectively, if used frequently.
● Disturbances in the gut microbiome. Overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine in relation to the good, healthy bacteria (your gut flora) that help digest your food.
● Chronic stress, which can also cause inflammation throughout the body, including your gut.

Most healthcare professionals don’t recognize leaky gut as a real diagnosis and there isn’t a standard test to determine if you are suffering from it.

Whether the claims about leaky gut are true or not, gut health is something to consider when it comes to your overall health.

If you’re experiencing digestive woes, like bloating and irregularity, it’s possible your gut health and digestion may be impaired and that your gut is, in fact, in need of healing.

Good habits to support a healthy intestinal environment and properly functioning gut include:
● Eat whole, minimally processed foods with a focus on fiber-rich plant foods.
● Include fermented foods, like raw sauerkraut or kimchi, naturally cultured yogurt & kefir (unsweetened), or kombucha, which contain good-for-your-gut bacteria.
● Sip bone broth or take a collagen supplement. Collagen (particularly from chicken bones) is thought to help rebuild and restore the gut lining.
● Take an omega-3 supplement or include 2-3 servings of fatty fish each week to help combat inflammation.
● Take a daily probiotic supplement to support your gut microbiome.
● Find natural alternatives to pain relief, like essential oils or meditation, instead of relying on over-the-counter NSAID’s which are known to damage the lining of the gut and cause digestive issues.

RECIPE

Gut Soothing Banana Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup kefir (or plain, unsweetened whole milk, naturally cultured yogurt)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup berries, any kind
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds or ground flax
  • 1 scoop collagen powder

Preparation

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until desired consistency reached.
  2. Blend in a few ice cubes if you prefer a cold, frosty smoothie OR use frozen fruit.

REFERENCES

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2009: Intestinal Barrier Function: Molecular Regulation and Disease Pathogenesis

BMC Gastroenterology 2014: Intestinal Permeability – A New Target For Disease Prevention & Therapy

Is Leaky Gut Syndrome a Real Condition? (An Unbiased Look)

How Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Gut?

“Leaky gut” is a popular topic in the health and wellness spheres these days. It’s been blamed for many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, even autoimmune diseases can all be linked back to leaky gut.

But what exactly is leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?

What is a leaky gut?

Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s not as simple as a hose or pipe; it’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.

It’s also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don’t want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?

FUN FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.

Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they’re allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what’s being absorbed are fluids and nutrients. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.

How does a gut become “leaky?”

The gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you’re intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut.

Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.

Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become “permeable” or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.

Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.”

As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.

But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts. Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.

Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren’t properly digested, their nutrients aren’t properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.

Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin. Acne, dry skin, itchiness, rashes, eczema, and hives can all be symptoms related to leaky gut. Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.

It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, inability to sleep, and general moodiness can also be related.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Things like Crohn’s, colitis, celiac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

What to eat for leaky gut

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.

Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.

In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous veggies. These are full of nutrients and contain fiber to help feed your friendly gut microbes. You also want to add more sources of vitamin D which can come from fish and egg yolks, and also from the sun. Eat more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt, and kombucha (fermented tea). Make sure you’re getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in seafood and seaweed. Finally, make sure you’re getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), and bone broth has essential amino acids.

Recipe (gut soothing): Slow-Cooked Chicken Broth

Serves 6-8

1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery, chopped
4 bay leaves
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Herbs and spices as desired (salt, pepper, paprika, parsley)
2 handfuls spinach

Instructions

1 – Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.
2 – Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.
3 – Cover with hot water (about 2 liters/8 cups).
4 – Cook 8 h on medium or overnight on low.
5 – Add spinach 30 minutes before serving.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause/
https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health
http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section3
https://www.dietvsdisease.org/leaky-gut-syndrome/
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837168
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531603

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong

Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health. 

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What you eat and drink

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important.  Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.   

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat. 

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

     A colorful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack.  You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

     Enough protein.  Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).

     Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones).  There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.  Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat free-range egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don’t need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor every bite.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less.  Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?

Thought so!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food. 

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness. 

Don’t get me wrong, a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack.  And don’t gulp it down too fast.

If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.

Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie (Serves 1)

A handful spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 banana
1 chopped peach
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened milk such as coconut, hemp, cashew)

Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).

Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions.  Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they  contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.

 

References:

http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend 

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing.  And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.  And perhaps the alcohol, too…..

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those special days.

But it doesn’t always stop there.  Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or, All. The. Time.

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(Psst … turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass of water an hour before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast, but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

It’s a win-win!

Tip #2: Eat “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  And don’t forget to breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there.

(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They’re “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

If you’re not much of a plain water drinker, here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) combos to add to your large glass of water:

     Slices of lemon & ginger

     Slices of strawberries & orange

     Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick

     Cucumber slices and fresh mint leaves

     Blueberries & raspberries

The possibilities are endless.

Tip: Buy a bag (or more) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning.  They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

Can I do something about my Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?

Well, technically, “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry, you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
● Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
● Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heartbeat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
● Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.  This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
● Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
● Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
● Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

So, the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

What affects your metabolic rate?  In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.  How big you are counts too.  Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial.

Muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.  The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate. Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).  You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Sugar, on the other hand, slows your metabolism. It rapidly increases your blood glucose levels because it quickly finds its way into your bloodstream. This triggers your body to store extra fat and burn fewer calories.

And don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

Check out my 5 Day Sugar-Free Challenge eBook for a straightforward way to increase your metabolism.  It’s FREE! 🙂

 

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 350F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve with a hearty green salad and other veggies & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

References:

All About Energy Balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Stress Less, Be More

Stress is involved in every common health complaint. Stress affects the adrenal glands which affect your hormones.  Common symptoms such as low energy, foggy thinking, sleeplessness, weak muscles, weight gain, depression, mood swings, blood sugar issues, skin and hair problems, osteoporosis, PMS, premature aging, loss of libido and hot flashes can all be attributed to chronic stress, adrenal malfunction and hormone imbalance. Yet most doctors only treat the symptoms.

Anyone who is interested in feeling good and maximizing their energy and productivity, needs to be proactive in the pursuit of underlying causes of their symptoms to find real solutions.  The “If Nothing is Wrong, Why Do I Feel So Bad?” seminar offers a valuable treasure chest of information and real solutions to common health issues.  Lisa will also give attendees tips on ways you can enjoy the holiday season without packing on the pounds.

Does any of this sound familiar?

·  No matter what you do, you can’t get a good night’s sleep

·  You battle with weight gain, gas, bloating and other digestive symptoms

·  Caffeine, sweet treats and junk food are staples to get you through the day

·  You’ve talked with your doctor about your symptoms but your blood work comes back “normal”

·  Seasonal allergies knock you out; frequent colds take longer to go away

·  You have pain in your joints or just general aches

….Well, it doesn’t have to be this way

While symptoms are common, they are not normal.  And they are not synonymous with “getting older”.  Feeling your best can be easy when you identify the underlying cause at the root of your health complaints.  This approach leads to long-term resolution of symptoms, not just temporary relief.

What I do:
As a functional health coach, I work with busy people to regain their energy and start to feel like themselves again. I seek out the underlying causes as to why you are not feeling your best. By employing detailed client intake, appropriate lab work and focusing on each individual’s unique biochemistry, I help my clients build their health from the ground up.  My goal is to help educate and empower you to make the best decisions for your own health. Nobody else knows what it feels like to be in your particular body. I’m here to act as your guide, your wellness educator, and your advocate.

About Lisa Jacobsen:
I received my certifications as a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner from Picture for flyerFDN, Inc. in San Diego and as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City.  But the most effective coach shows up to her clients having drawn from a diverse set of experiences ranging from a varied education and work experience to overcoming her own struggles and challenges.  For fifteen years, I worked in a stressful environment in a Fortune 50 company. I traveled quite a bit, managed a large budget and staff and, for some time, had a long commute. While I absolutely loved my job, I took a lot of shortcuts to keep myself going each day and ultimately paid a price in terms of my health and weight. Indeed, there were times, when trying to figure out what to serve my family for dinner, I convinced myself that pepperoni pizza satisfied the four major food groups.

Additional education:
B.A. – Political Science and Biology – Fairfield University
M.P.A. – Financial Management – New York University

Humans are the only animal that need advice on what to eat

It’s a crazy statement, right?  Do we really need to be told what to eat in order to feel healthy and vibrant?  Our ancestors, barring dietary variations based on religion, climate and food preparation, ate real food. But most of us have gotten so far away from how our ancestors ate.  One only needs to go back two or three generations to see this.  We have become addicted to sugar, soda, fast food, and other convenience foods that we have since forgotten what foods are truly nourishing and will give us the energy and vitality that real food is meant to provide.

Just eat real food should be considered common sense. But it’s not so common because many of us fall prey to a combination of misleading messages from the food industry, media reports and by our own government.

This January, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture updated their jointly-issued Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Guidelines are updated every five years and are based on current scientific knowledge about how dietary intake can reduce risk for major chronic diseases. They provide recommendations on what foods Americans should and should not consume.

The average American may not think about the US Dietary Guidelines too much, but they generally make their way into our collective conscious.  They also factor heavily in school lunches, hospital meals, the military, prisons and programs for women, children and the elderly. The Guidelines actually affect a large number of Americans.  We also export our way of eating to billions of people around the world.

The Guidelines were first issued in 1980, which is when the US Government officially recommended that all Americans eat a diet low in fat.  What ensued was not a run on the local grocery store for lettuce, lentils and lean meats but, rather, there was a dramatic increase in the production – and consumption – of highly-processed foods that were labelled as “low fat”.  Without fat, sugar had to be added to make the food tasty. But, unlike healthy fat, processed foods made from flour and sugar don’t keep you feeling full for long.  So Americans started to eat more. It was this double whammy that has many believing spawned the nation’s obesity epidemic.

While the new Guidelines do not take into account all of the recommendations made by the Advisory Panel, they have made important strides by making two new recommendations:  Americans should reduce their sugar and meat consumption.  Sugar is an obvious one.  Meat, perhaps not so. Americans eat a lot of meat.  What most people do not know, however, is that unused protein in the body turns to sugar.  In addition, the meat from grain-fed animals has higher levels Omega 6 fat.  Animals on a grass-fed diet turn the grass they eat into Omega 3 fat which is then stored in the flesh that we eat.  The average American has too much Omega 6 in their body (which can be pro-inflammatory) and not enough Omega 3 (which is anti-inflammatory).

So, what is my advice?  I believe that Michael Pollan advises us best when he says, “Eat [real] food, not too much, mostly plants.”