A bold move from Brazil

As you know, I like to keep tabs on what’s happening around the globe when it comes to nutrition and health. And I just read some tremendously exciting news from Brazil.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health just released its Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population. Speaking of dietary guidelines, the powers-that-be here in the US are currently putting the finishing touches on revisions to ours. I’ll tell you more about them in the upcoming March issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. But for now, suffice it to say, they’re not nearly as progressive as Brazil’s.

You see, in its new guidelines, the Brazilian government is coming down hard on all processed foods and beverages, as well as supposedly “better-for-you” alternatives like reduced-fat foods.

I, for one, say “Bravo!” to Brazil. If only our government would take notice, and make similar declarations here. Unfortunately, our dietary guidelines are still entrenched in old, outdated dogma…and controlled by big business.

This sad fact is even evident in the commentary I read about Brazil’s new guidelines. Here’s a direct quote from the article:

“The new guidelines place great emphasis on fresh, unprocessed foods, including fruits and vegetables. This, in itself, is hardly contentious. What the industry might find unpalatable, however, is the guidelines’ outright hostility toward packaged foods, regardless of their nature. To illustrate, the document’s Ten Steps to Healthy Diets advise consumers to ‘limit consumption of processed foods’ and to ‘avoid consumption of ultra-processed foods.’ By ‘processed foods,’ the Ministry of Health is referring to items such as bread, cheese and bacon as well as canned fruits, vegetables and fish.”

How is that bad? Fresh fruits and vegetables will ALWAYS be a better choice than canned. And don’t get me started on bread.

Another quote from the article:

“A focus on fresh whole foods is one thing, but the vilification of everything that is fortified and/or reformulated with the objective of offering a healthier choice runs contrary to consumer demand for healthy convenience. The reality is that Brazilian consumers, especially those living in the country’s expanding and busy urban centers, are highly unlikely to return to cooking three meals a day from scratch. But many, led by official healthy eating advice, may turn their back on products carefully formulated to be low in fat, sugar or salt, high in fiber, or those that can help with lowering cholesterol levels.”

There’s that outdated dogma I mentioned above—clinging to the notions that low-fat, reduced-salt, high-fiber, and lower cholesterol are the gold standards we should all be striving for. (Hint—they’re not.)

But besides that, this quote illustrates something I’ve seen so many times before: the automatic assumption that people are lazy and don’t want to eat healthfully. (Ironically, that assumption is lazy in itself.) But as I’ve said many, many times before, truly healthy eating doesn’t require exorbitant effort. In fact, it can be simple, easy—and delicious.

The fact is, the so-called “convenient, healthier” options mass-produced by food manufacturers are often anything but. And to stress that fact, a government’s recommendations must be bold (like Brazil’s). Otherwise they’re not really helping anyone.

I’m glad to see one country recognizes that fact. I just wish it was ours.


“Brazil Declares War on ‘Ultra-Processed’ Products,” Nutraceuticals World, 1/5/15