US Dietary Health Part 2: Suggested Solutions

The just released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 makes recommendations for promot¬ing health and lowering risk of diet-related chronic disease. And many of them will look very familiar to our Pathway to Healing community...

While the comprehensive US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is 112 pages long (, their following Key Recommendations provide brief evidence-based activity and nutrition suggestions – many of which have been discussed on this website.

Balancing Calories to Manage Weight

• Prevent and/or reduce overweight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity behaviors.
• Control total calorie intake to manage body weight. For people who are overweight or obese, this will mean consuming fewer calories from foods and beverages.
• Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.
• Maintain appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life-childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and older age.

Foods and Food Components to Reduce

• Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.
• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
• Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
• Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible, especially by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
• Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
• Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
• If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation-up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men-and only by adults of legal drinking age.

Foods and Nutrients to Increase

Individuals should meet the following recommendations as part of a healthy eating pattern and while staying within their calorie needs.
• Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
• Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
• Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
• Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.58
• Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
• Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
• Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
• Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
• Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.

Building Healthy Eating Patterns

• Select an eating pattern that meets nutrient needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.
• Account for all foods and beverages consumed and assess how they fit within a total healthy eating pattern.
• Carry out these recommendations in their entirety as part of an overall healthy eating pattern.
• Follow food safety recommendations when preparing and eating foods to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

And while the emphasis is on eating habits, for the first time, Dietary Guidelines 2010 included a more expanded role of supplements and fortified foods, saying, "Dietary supplements or fortification of certain foods may be advantageous in specific situations to increase intake of a specific vitamin or mineral." They specifically mention vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid for those who may become pregnant, and supplemental iron for women who are pregnant.

They go on to say, "Supplements containing combinations of certain nutrients may be beneficial in reducing the risks of some chronic diseases when used by special populations. For example, calcium and vitamin D supplements may be useful in postmenopausal women who have low levels of these nutrients in their diets, to reduce their risk of osteoporosis."

The current state of American health, as summarized in US Dietary Health Part 1: The Problem, may be bleak, but making changes to our dietary and activity habits can greatly improve that outlook.

Dr. Reginald B. Cherry ( is a member of the American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, Harris County Medical Society, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Cherry has authored numerous articles on Preventive Medicine, emphasizing nutrition and exercise. He also speaks extensively on these topics nationwide and conducts numerous seminars for various groups and organizations. Currently, his weekly television program reaches 80 million homes.