Is creating a eating healthy plan in 2016 one of your resolutions? The government is here to help with new dietary guidelines for Americans just released on Thursday.
The dietary guidelines are jointly issued every five years by the U.S. government’s Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture. They directly affect what meals are served in American schools and prisons, as well as helping professional dietitians design an eating plan for clients.
The guidelines also provide essential information for the average American to create a healthy eating plan for themselves and their families.
“These recommendations help Americans make healthy food and beverage choices and serve as the foundation for vital nutrition policies and programs across the United States,” according to the government’s health.gov website.
In the U.S., approximately 117 million Americans have one or more preventable, chronic diseases and the rate continues to rise. It is believed that many of these diseases are due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise.
According to government statistics, the costs associated with these diseases are crushing. In 2012, just diabetes alone cost Americans a total of $245 billion. Of which, $176 billion was in direct medical expenses and $69 billion in decreased productivity.
This new edition of guidelines concentrates on the deterrence of diet-related diseases, not treatment, through a healthy diet. The guidelines were written to encourage a complete change in an individual’s eating patterns.
The 2015-2020 dietary guidelines seek to limit sugar to only 10 percent of daily calories. Which translates to no more than 50 grams of sugar, or one can of soda, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Previously issued guidelines did not put a limit on sugar.
Past scientific studies have linked excessive sugar consumption to heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes. To reduce sugar intake, experts recommend using sugar substitutes and paying close attention to food labels that list sugar under different names like fructose, sucrose, or corn syrup.
Eating more food rich in protein like seafood, lean meat, and poultry is another recommendation from the new dietary guidelines. Whether it be poultry, seafood, or even eggs, Americans should include at least 26 ounces of meat per week in their plan. For vegetarians, eating soy products, beans, lentils, and seeds can be used as protein sources.
While some nutrition experts suggest cutting back on processed or red meat, the government’s new guidelines do not. Yet, they do mention that eating less meat in general can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease.
For optimal health and a longer life, the 2015-2020 guidelines want Americans to eat at least two-and-a-half cups of vegetables, two cups of fruit, and at least six ounces of grains per day. While providing essential vitamins and fiber, studies also suggest a meal plan rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains decreases the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Recommending 10 percent of calories come from saturated fat was included in the 2010 dietary guidelines and it remains the same for the new version. However, this time, more emphasis is put on “good” fats like Omega-3 fatty acids. Trans fat, the kind that potentially increases unhealthy cholesterol, should be avoided as much as possible according to the government.
Americans also need to reduce the amount of salt in their diets. The guidelines say to keep salt under 2,300 milligrams, or about one teaspoon per day. Food experts say alternative spices like thyme or turmeric are good replacements.
Although not in excess, the new dietary guidelines say it is fine for both American men and women to drink alcohol. Women should limit their liquor to one drink a day, while men can drink two.
Health practitioners warn that the guidelines are just a suggestion for Americans to follow. The recommendations put out by the government are to be used to encourage a healthier pattern of eating and allow meal plans to be flexible.
Dietician Lisa Drayer says Americans should make food choices based on what is right for themselves.
“Of course, keep in mind, half of all Americans have some kind of chronic disease already, so people will need to take a closer look at what works on an individual level. In other words, talk it over with a health professional and see which parts of this advice you should be listening to.”
In a related Inquisitr report, a study from the Weizmann Insitute of Science suggests nutrition experts evaluate several factors specific to an individual before recommending a healthy eating plan.
Experts have seen a significant uptick in diet-related diseases and a decline in physical activity among Americans. The new dietary guidelines are the government’s latest effort to reverse that trend.
As part of nutrition and food-assistance programs, the U.S. government has issued dietary guidelines since 1980 and the 2015-2020 version is available at healthcare.gov. With help from the new dietary guidelines, now Americans can more easily design a daily healthy eating plan that is right for them.
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