We release today our first revision of the ANH-Intl Food4Health (F4H) guide – first released in January 2015.
Why an update?
You might ask, if humans are fundamentally unchanged, why does our advice change? Is it because of progress in nutritional science, or what foods are available to us? Truth be told, it’s none of these. Our revision doesn’t change the factual basis of what we proposed some three and a half years ago. The changes, by contrast, simply reflect the incredibly positive feedback we’ve received from practitioners and members of the public in the UK, but also from further afield, including from other European countries, the USA, Malaysia and Australia.
This is in stark contrast with the iterative changes that have been applied over the years by government health authorities, whether it’s the USDA food guides or the UK Food Standard Agency Eatwell guide. These pieces of guidance appear set to maintain the Big Food status quo, while contributing further to metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Having said this, the latest revision of the UK Eatwell plate, while being deficient in many areas, has at least taken onboard the advice given in the report on Carbohydrates and Health by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition which proposes drastic sugar reduction (free sugars less than 5% of total dietary energy) and an increase in total dietary fibre intake (at least 30g per day for adults).
We don’t believe the body can distinguish between free sugars and sugars contained in fruits. Therefore we recommend limiting fruit intake, given that most commercially available fruits are now very high in sugars compared with those of our ancestral, pre-agricultural diets. The F4H guide’s drive towards substituting grains and refined carbohydrates for above-ground vegetables (not root vegetables, which are rich in starch so also need to be limited), means that total dietary fibre (soluble and insoluble) intake dramatically increases so people following the F4H guide will tend to exceed the SACN minimum intake of fibre.
How is the F4H guide different?
The changes in our first revision are both about clarification and increasing the amount of relevant information on the A4 presentation of the guide. These changes will help reduce the need to refer back to supporting articles and scientific references that underpin our advice making the guide even more practical and user-friendly.
The bottom line is that our guide retains all of the fundamental differences between the original version and the advice from government health authorities.
Seven stand out differences are:
- The F4H guide recommends only about 25% energy from carbohydrates. These being complex, primarily from non-starchy vegetables and gluten-free, as against 50% from government health authorities which still push the public towards potatoes, pasta, bread and other sources of gluten-containing grains and starchy carbohydrates, all of which when over-consumed in the absence of adequate physical activity are drivers of weight gain, blood sugar problems, insulin resistance and chronic, low-grade inflammation.
- The F4H guide recommends that over half the total energy in our daily diet should come from healthy fats, these being 1) incorporated in foods that are naturally rich in fats (e.g. avocado, nuts, seeds), 2) from protein sources that naturally include healthy fats or to which healthy fats are added in their preparation, and 3) where healthy fats are added to vegetables (salads or lightly cooked veg)
- The F4H guide strongly deters people substituting saturated fats (e.g. from coconut, whole milk/raw dairy products, animal protein sources) with Omega-6 fatty acids found in commonly available, refined vegetable oils. This substitution recommended by governments has contributed to – not reduced – cardio-metabolic diseases.
- The F4H guide recommends largely unprocessed foods, whereas other guides generally don’t deter people from consuming heavily processed grains, veg, fruits, ready meals, etc.
- F4H highlights the importance of daily diversity of plant foods, ensuring the full phytonutrient spectrum (all 6 colours of the ‘rainbow’) are consumed each day
- The F4H guide is entirely gluten-free because it is difficult to predict gluten or related sensitivities without expensive tests (e.g. by Cyrex Labs). It appears from clinical experience that over 50% of most populations may exhibit sensitivities or intolerances that contribute to bloating, inflammation, malaise or even autoimmune conditions
- The F4H guide, unlike any other, continues to recommend the consumption of concentrated, primarily plant-derived nutrients such as those found in fresh herbs, non-irradiated spices, herbal teas and/or food supplements. This is because most people are deficient in phytonutrients given the nature of the modern food supply chain.
Please click here or on the image below to download a high resolution version of our updated and revised Food4Health guide.
You can find more information on our Food4Health campaign page.