Summary of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines
As we celebrate Fresh Start’s 6th Birthday, we are pleased to share some valuable information obtained from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines to help you boost your health and fitness. It’s a pleasure to be a part of such an inspiring system of health and fitness holidays that is constantly striving to make the world a healthier and fitter place. Our guests visit us from all over the globe, including the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia and it feels fantastic learning about their cultures and eating patterns. Just a few weeks ago we had a lawyer from Mexico, discussing a healthy lifestyle with us – it makes our morning power walks even more exciting.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines are deigned to help people improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic illness – it makes no claims about treating a condition. Infectious diseases that were once rampant have dropped in numbers over the years. On the other hand, rates of chronic diseases, especially those related to your diet, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, poor bone health and certain cancers, have increased dramatically due to certain lifestyle changes and behaviors. The guidelines state that about 50 percent of American adults, or 117 million people, have at least one chronic disease that is preventable and is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. In addition, more than two thirds of adults and around one-third of children are overweight or obese in the US. The increase in obesity rates has not only elevated the health risks among individuals, but has increased their health costs too. The medical costs related to obesity were estimated to $147 billion in 2008 and 2012, the estimated cost for those diagnosed with diabetes was $245 billion. 
The guidelines clearly mention that healthy eating patterns are strongly associated with growing health outcomes. There’s strong evidence on healthy eating reducing cardiovascular disease risk and moderate evidence on healthy eating reducing risk of type-2 diabetes, obesity, being overweight and certain cancers such as colon or breast cancers. Studies also show that your eating patterns may have an impact on your mental health and genetic problems. As you may have already guessed, consuming plenty of vegetables and fruits along with sufficient whole grains, low-fat dairy, legumes, nuts and seafood is considered healthy. Meat and poultry should ideally be organic/grass-fed/pasteurized. Furthermore, lowering your intake of processed meats and poultry, liquid calories (sugar-sweetened and fizzy drinks), refined grains and their products can lead to a myriad of health benefits.
• Sugar There’s a strong link between weight gain and high sugar consumption. Therefore, the guidelines recommend limiting calories from added sugars to less than 10% of your total calories per day – this is equivalent to 200 calories from sugar for a 2000 calorie diet.
• Saturated fats Ideally, you should be obtaining less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat, which is equivalent to 20 grams of fat in a 2000 calorie diet.
• Sodium/salt Individuals of ages 14 and above are recommended to consume less than 2300 mg of sodium per day. One teaspoon of salt consists of 2300 mg of sodium. To reduce blood pressure, consuming less than 1500 mg of sodium is ideal.
Healthy eating is just 70 to 80 percent of the game. In addition to eating healthy, you must also meet the Physical Activity Guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which explains how much physical activity you need per day.
According to the guidelines, “adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intense physical activity and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on 2 or more days each week.” Moreover, individuals of ages 6 to 17 years require at least an hour of physical activity every day, which includes, aerobic and muscle and bone-strengthening exercises.
There are three ways you can include aerobic activity into your routine:
• 150 or 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking OR
• 75 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes of high intensity exercise, such as jogging or swimming laps
• A combination of moderate and high intensity workouts
The minimum duration of an aerobic workout should be 10 minutes, spread throughout the week. For greater benefits, the guidelines recommend one of the following:
• 300 minutes or 5 hours of aerobic activity every week
• High intensity aerobic activity for 150 minutes or 2 hours and 30 minutes every week
Additionally, you must also include 2 days of high or moderate intensity muscle-strengthening workouts that utilize all muscles and involve lifting weights or using resistance bands.
Exercise does not only help you lose and maintain a healthy weight when combined with a proper diet, it also lowers your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer and early death. In addition, exercise triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine, which increase feelings of positivity and wellbeing.
To maintain a calorie balance, it’s important to manage your calorie intake every day. Calorie balance is the balance between the calories you get from foods and the calories you expend while working out. To determine whether you’re consuming the right number of calories, the Dietary Guidelines recommends monitoring your weight and adjusting your calorie intake and workouts accordingly. For example, if your scale won’t budge, you may have to lower your calorie intake and/or increase your workout intensity. The total number of calories in a food depends on its macronutrient content. Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram, whereas fats contain 9 calories per gram. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram on average. The total number of calories you need depends on your age, activity levels, weight, height and sex. Furthermore, if you have to lose, maintain or gain weight, you’ll have to adjust your calorie or macronutrient intake as well. For example, if your aim is to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds per week, you’ll have to reduce your calorie intake by 500 to 750 calories. Fortunately, with exercise you won’t have to cut down your calorie intake dramatically.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines were definitely informative but the health arena is constantly evolving so it’s best to keep your eyes open to the latest researches and news. Here, at Fresh Start, we are always on the lookout for science-backed health information and research studies that we can apply and share with our guests. Let us know what your thoughts are on the latest US Dietary Guidelines in the comments below!