The Food Pyramid was a construct of lobbyists, and not nutritionists. Dieticians may have been involved, the RD credential was doubtless listed behind several names of panel members, MD as well, but that certainly wasn’t the capacity they were hired to fill. American capitalism has created a landscape where the truth of many things requires an astute, lengthy examination, which often requires special subject-matter knowledge to discriminate fact from bullshit. The deck is egregiously stacked against the layperson.

For decades, the USDA Food Pyramid had, at it’s base, grains and refined starches. The core and base recommendation for human dietary consumption were foodstuffs that do not occur in nature and require processing to facilitate digestion by the human digestive tract. Do you not find this suspect? How could the ground-level recommendations for dietary consumption not be foods that occur in nature without refinement?

Metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, Type II diabetes, hypertension, stroke — all of these things have risen against the backdrop of the Food Pyramid. It is easy to point to the human in this equation, we’re simply not adhering to the Pyramid as intended. This could be true, to an extent, though the Food Pyramid certainly stacks the deck against the consumer.

Starches and grains are poorly satiating. Ghrelin becomes the dominant hormone in the consumption/satiation cycle, continually asking for more, rather than Leptin saying, “we’re good”. Sugars and starches cause blood sugar to rise quickly, and fall again quickly. The journal, Circulation, cites intake of foods with high glycemic loads — processed and refined carbohydrates, as being highly predictive of later cardiovascular disease Howard and Wylie-Rosett, sequentially impugn the academic rigor of several landmark studies that had previously been used to elevated carbohydrate consumption, to the detriment and indictment of dietary lipid consumption. The Iowa Women’s Health Study was mentioned as having found no relationship between dietary sugar intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD) but had ignored sources of dietary sugar such as soda pop.

This defies logic and boggles the mind. Do you even science? Soda was not factored in as a carbohydrate?

Jameel, et al (2014) investigated the impact on blood lipid levels following feeding with different forms of sugar. Fructose was found to disproportionately elevate blood lipids, LDL in particular, where glucose and sucrose did not. High fructose corn syrup, anyone? High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is easy for food producers to use and is sweeter than pure sucrose, which is derived from cane or beets. Sucrose is a disaccharide, composed of a joined glucose (the 6-carbon sugar your body actually uses) and fructose — a 5-carbon sugar. Additional fructose is added to corn syrup to make it sweeter, which makes it more efficient for producers. They can use less to make more product, which does make business, if not dietary sense.

However, fructose isn’t used by the body like glucose is. Fructose heads primarily to the liver, where it tends to elevate LDL released by the liver to transport cholesterol to the tissues of the body. Stanhope, et al (2011) found that HFCS and fructose elevated LDL to an extent that exceeds glucose and go on to discuss increased incidence of fatty liver and other metabolic disorders associated with the necessary hepatic processing required of HFCS and fructose, whereas glucose is more readily used by destination tissues and doesn’t cause the same elevation of the LDL energy transport molecule.

Forsythe, et al (2007) found dietary carbohydrate intake to be associated with a systemic inflammatory response, which has arisen as an area of intense focus and suspicion for the development of CVD.–007–3132–7. The cyclic rise and fall of insulin, in response to consumed carbohydrate and the movement necessary within the body to accomodate for this nutrient, results in an ebb-and-flow of inflammatory markers. Ridker, et al (1997) found men with elevated C-reactive protein (a serum marker tested to assess inflammatory response) were up to 3x as likely to have myocardial infarction or stroke as those without elevated CRP levels.

So, why has the USDA been forcing carbohydrate upon us, going so far as to recommend grains and breads as the foundational dietary intake for those already diagnosed and under treatment for diabetes?

The answer has long been suspected as an inside job, but the proof was published September 12th of this year by Kearns, Schmidt and Glantz (2016) in JAMA. Kearns, having found historical documents detailing the original New England Journal of Medicine study, dating to the 1960s and 70s, in which research(ers) was paid for by the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) purposefully intended to describe dietary fat as the primary driver of CVD, while implicating sugar intake for nothing more diabolical than dental caries.

Each researcher associated with the original study was individually paid the equivalent of $50k in modern currency adjusted for inflation. The SRF selected the studies for inclusion, directed goals and received drafts of the study prior to its publication. This work paved the way for decades of dietary guidance, where carbohydrate was given a free pass as a dietary offender and contributor to CVD and metabolic dysfunction.

A great deal of research was started in the 1950s to account for increasing rates of CVD. Two researchers, Yudkin and Keys, rose to prominence as champions for oppositional dietary causes of CVD, Yudkin stating that dietary carbohydrate contributed to CVD, while Keys proposed dietary fat and cholesterol. Which researcher do you think the SRF had on speed dial? Did they have speed dial in the 60s?

Keys won, and his dietary recommendations grew to prominence. Fat and cholesterol were villified and Yudkin’s theories were cast aside for decades, though he has since been rediscovered, posthumously, as a dietary genius with Keys’s work becoming increasingly discredited. With carbohydrates greenlighted as the foundation of a healthy American diet, the path to our nutritional destruction was paved by lobbyist dollars.

The Kearns, Schmidt and Glantz piece in JAMA is enormously enlightening and sheds a great deal of light upon the sins of those we trust to provide our dietary advice. The ridiculousness of the Food Pyramid has been slowly fading in recent years, though the decades when it was the rule of the land will take time to erase. This new insight should provide additional energy to that movement.

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