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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Apparently Endorses Nutritionally Unsound Fad Diet

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Apparently Endorses Nutritionally Unsound Fad Diet
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Bowl of RiceWhy is the AND considered a nutritional authority by anyone? And why do they want a monopoly on nutrition counseling?

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND, formerly the American Dietetic Association), has endorsed a fad diet built around regimen of white rice and fruit: “The thing about nutrition is you blink your eyes and things change. People are looking for the freshest, the hottest, the latest, the greatest. The Rice Diet is nutritionally sound. Because it’s not the latest and the greatest, I’m wondering if it kind of fell out of popularity.”

What is this Rice Diet? It’s an extremely rigid approach that is designed to cause weight loss and reverse disease, dramatically limiting salt, sugar, protein, and fat—in fact, almost everything except white rice and fruit. Dieters are promised fast weight loss of up to thirty pounds the first month, followed by three pounds per week in the later phases. Originally designed as a two-to-four week “boot camp,” the program was developed by a Registered Dietitian and her husband to become a book, The Rice Diet Solution.

The AND supports the Rice Diet, with few concerns such that it is “difficult to follow” and that it is low in vitamin D and calcium.

There is so much wrong with this diet that it’s difficult to know where to start.

  • First, the reason people lose so much weight is that dieters consume only 1200 calories per day—many of which are empty calories.
  • The diet is low-fat and low-protein, even though healthy fats and proteins are essential for maintaining health.
  • Despite the fruit, it’s low in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and this may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging. Many micronutrient deficiencies are associated with chromosome breaks and cancer in humans, such deficiencies having caused DNA damage in rodents or human cells in culture.
  • White rice is extremely high on the glycemic index, which means that rice is rapidly digested and absorbed, resulting in dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels—the very things that can develop into type 2 diabetes.
  • Too much fructose in fruit can be dangerous as well. While it’s better to have fructose in the form of whole fruits, people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol should be careful to limit fructose to 15 grams per day or less and even healthy people should probably not exceed 25 grams a day. One way to assess your fructose sensitivity is to have your uric acid levels tested.

This wrongheadedness should come as no surprise. This is the organization that receives funding from junk food companies, and has had professional education courses sponsored by Coca-Cola, where it was claimed that sugar, artificial colors, and nonnutritive sweeteners are safe! The Vermont AND chapter is even wishy-washy on high-fructose corn syrup: “No persuasive evidence supports the claim that high-fructose corn syrup is a unique contributor to obesity, however, like all nutritive sweeteners, it does contribute calories. This is where moderation and portion size become important.”

The Rice Diet, of course, runs counter to exemplary, natural dietary approaches like the Paleo Diet, which advocates staying away from or at least limiting grains (such as rice), since we are evolutionarily designed to eat like our paleolithic ancestors: lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, and fresh fruit in moderation.

In addition, eating in rhythm with the body’s internal clock is important. A number of animal studies and growing research on humans show that the timing of eating is important for optimizing energy balance and good health. Our metabolism is linked to the circadian rhythm of our genes. There can be health consequences when our body’s clock is out of rhythm. For example, the brain receives one signal at nighttime that the lack of light means it is time to sleep, but late-night eating and the use of artificial light (particularly from our beloved electronics) give the body another signal that it’s time to be active. These conflicting signals can mess up the metabolism.

Research also suggests that eating the first thing in the morning—having a heavy morning breakfast—is not as healthy as previously believed, as it coincides with your circadian cortisol peak. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and this peak affects insulin secretion. So eating at this time results in a large and quick insulin release coordinated with a greater drop and greater destabilization in sugar levels than at any other time in the day. Dr. Mercola recommends delaying breakfast or skipping it altogether, and limiting one’s eating window to six to eight hours a day while maximizing the body’s fasting time (up to sixteen or even eighteen hours, including sleep).

Our advice? Study this fascinating subject on your own. In particular, check out Ignore the AND’s bizarre idea of “nutrition” and focus instead on good, high-quality proteins, healthy fats (including but not limited to omega-3s), lots of fresh, non-starchy organic vegetables, plenty of exercise and clean air, and plenty of sleep.

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