09, May 2018 10:51 AM

In April, our Silicon Valley Dietetic Book Club reviewed, The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong—and how Eating More Might Save Your Life by the Doctor of Pharmacy and Cardiovascular Research Scientist, James DiNicolantonio. His primary thesis: salt isn’t the dietary culprit that we have been led to believe, and the vast majority of Americans don’t need to restrict their sodium intake. Instead, this book suggests the real dietary villain is sugar. 

The author puts forward an evidence-based argument that consuming too little salt causes hunger and increases cravings for sugar. This can lead to weight gain which has negative secondary health consequences such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes increased blood pressure and heart rate. 

The book claims there is little evidence that a low-sodium diet will reduce blood pressure in the majority of people. “Evidence in the medical literature suggests that approximately 80 percent of people with normal blood pressure (less than 120/80 mmHg) are not sensitive to the blood-pressure-raising effects of salt at all. Among those with prehypertension, roughly 75 percent are not sensitive to salt. And even among those with full-blown hypertension, about 55 percent are totally immune to salt’s effects on blood pressure.” 

Dr. DiNicolantonio is not alone in questioning the Dietary Guidelines for American’s (DGA) sodium recommendations  of <2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. In fact, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened an expert panel on the topic in 2013, concluding that insufficient evidence exists to support the current DGA's recommendations for dietary sodium1.

Areas of Agreement

Additional factors are likely at play in the sodium-blood pressure relationship that were not recognized in the past. For example, potassium intake may lower blood pressure2,3,4, while high body mass index, low physical activity levels, sugar and alcohol intake and tobacco use are additional factors that may raise blood pressure. In fact, we agreed that the real problem may not be what people are eating in excess (e.g. sodium) but what is missing, specifically fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and physical activity. Further, we agree that if adding salt to vegetables increases vegetable consumption, then that is a good trade off.

Where We Differed

When a claim in a nutrition book sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t. The book claims that by eating all the salt you desire you can:

  • “Improve everything, from your sleep, energy and mental fitness, fertility and sexual performance,”
  • “And stave off common chronic illnesses including heart disease.”

This article published in the Guardian takes it further and describes the recommendations in the book to be dangerous to public health. 

Bottom line

As health professionals it is important to acknowledge that politics can get in the way of effective decision-making. Well-meaning groups, individuals following agendas and old paradigms can influence committees to formulate policies that may or may not align with scientific facts. We must remain critical thinkers and review the science rather than accept recommendations blindly. 

Until the recommendations are more definitive, health professionals who work in clinical settings need to individualize, individualize, individualize. Acknowledge that the DGAs are a starting point for the public, and were never intended to be rigidly adopted by the individual. Ask about family history; assess body weight; examine other lifestyle factors; consider taste, culture, tradition, preferences … and then make recommendations that are feasible, realistic and appropriate for each individual client.


Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Director, Resource Development and Marketing

Kristal Shelden, MPH, RDN
Project Manager, Nutrition Sciences


1. Institute of Medicine. Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence. 2013. National Academies Press: Washington, DC, 2013.

2. O'Donnell M, Mente A, Rangarajan S et al. Urinary sodium and potassium excretion, mortality, and cardiovascular events. N Engl J Med 2014.

3. National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group. The fourth report on the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure in children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2004. 

4. Buendia et al. Longitudinal effects of dietary sodium and potassium on adolescent blood pressure. JAMA Ped 2015.

Tags: consensus science Dietary Guidelines for Americans healthy eating patterns Kristal Shelden Maureen Bligh registered dietitian book club sodium

17, April 2018 10:00 AM

Today, more than ever, consumers are genuinely interested in where their food comes from. However, in a world of information at our fingertips, it can be difficult to distinguish what is factual, and what is not. Last month, Dairy Council of California helped 20 registered dietitian nutritionists go directly to the source of their dairy foods with a trip to a dairy in Galt, CA as a California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) Public Policy Workshop pre-conference tour. 

Dairy Council of CA staff and board members Stephen Weststeyn, a third generation dairy farmer from Willows, CA; Sarah Goreham with Sunnyside Farms; and farm manager Arlin Van Groningen accompanied attendees on the bus and on the farm, sharing their passion and commitment to dairy farming and milk processing. Along the way, attendees learned about cattle feed, animal welfare, milking practices and production, milk processing safety, dairy farming sustainability and milk processing beyond the farm. 

As dietitians focused on helping humans get the right combination of nutrients for optimal health, attendees really seemed to enjoy a presentation from dairy feed nutritionist John Kennedy. Kennedy explained how dairy cow nutrition works, feed mixing ratios for optimal nutrition and even how cow biology enables them to convert agricultural waste products like cotton seed and almond hulls into nutritious milk. 

Dairy sustainability was a popular topic during the tour as attendees viewed a methane digester on the dairy, which turns cow manure into renewable energy, such as electricity.

Reflecting on the day, attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of California’s top agricultural product, milk, and the hard work that goes into dairy foods from cow to container. In post tour surveys, attendees shared what they learned about dairy farming:

“A lot. Great to learn about the ruminant stomach and how it works. That to have high production cows must be well fed and live in a low stress environment.” 

“Everything! Knowing nothing going in, I definitely gained knowledge and respect for dairy farmers.”

“It's efficient and very scientific.”

“Dairy farming is a labor of love and labor intensive!”

Attending a farm tour- whether to a dairy, a vegetable farm or an orchard- provides an opportunity for health professionals, educators and consumers to learn first-hand about the work that is required to grow and raise nutritious food that feeds the world. If you are interested in hosting a future tour at your dairy, please contact me at [email protected] 

James Winstead, RDN
Industry Relations Manager

Tags: Dairy Farm Tour nutrition education registered dietitian nutritionist sustainability
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

02, March 2018 10:02 AM

National Nutrition Month® LogoMarch is National Nutrition Month®, and one way to Go Further With Food this year is to focus on nutrition education during Food Waste Prevention Week March 5-9, 2018. 

Dairy Council of California joins the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, University of California Nutrition Policy Institute along with numerous state agencies and departments to raise awareness and prevent food waste in California, elevating the health of kids and parents.

Why Focus on Food Waste?

According to the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), Californians throw away nearly 12 billion pounds of food each year, wasting precious land, water, energy, and human resources. At the same time, according to Feeding America data, nearly 5 million Californians, including 1 in 5 children- are food insecure, lacking consistent access to enough food.  

A 2014 USDA report estimated that a staggering 1,249 calories per person, per day in the United States are wasted—more than enough to feed Californians currently experiencing hunger and food insecurity.  

Tammy Anderson-Wise invites partners to join Food Waste Prevention Week, March 5-9, 2018Can Nutrition Education Help Prevent Food Waste?

Nutrition education and food literacy embedded into Dairy Council of California programs can help reduce food waste and elevate health. Food literacy components, like knowledge of the five food groups, the importance of breakfast, portion sizes and how to plan, prepare and store healthy foods can help reduce food waste.

Reinforcing these concepts at multiple grade levels and family touchpoints helps build understanding and values that lead to healthier eating habits and less wasted food. 

How to Join Food Waste Prevent Week 

Join several agencies statewide in the Food Waste Reduction Hero Photo Challenge. Encourage students and clients to take a few photos (drawings and videos also accepted) that demonstrate:

  1. How food waste happens in the home, workplace or community; and
  2. Barriers faced in reducing food waste such as such as the food packaging or portion size options available for purchase, bulk pricing incentives, storage or time constraints, food disposal options, etc.; and
  3. What actions, or changes, can be made or you see others making to reduce food waste in homes, workplaces, and communities.

Dairy Is Best if UsedSimply share your submissions via social media platforms using the hashtag #SaveTheFoodCA and tag @SaveTheFood on Twitter and/or Instagram or email them to [email protected]. Please include your location and include mention of your department/agency/school with your submission.

What Else Helps Prevent Food Waste?

Teaching nutrition, educating on portion sizes, meal planning and shopping are a few healthy eating strategies available in Dairy Council of California resources.

Incorporating a few simple actions - such as adding a share table in the cafeteria, reminding students to only take what they’ll eat and finishing the last swallow of milk in the carton- helps to reduce wasted food at school.

Reminding clients to pay attention to how they waste food and encouraging them to meal plan and buy smaller portions of food in the store or order smaller portions in restaurants can help reduce wasted food at home.

Joining Food Waste Prevention Week 2018. Visit the Public Health Alliance of Southern California's website and follow hashtag #SaveTheFoodCA. 

Your efforts to be a Food Waste Reduction Hero this week, and into the future, will be impactful.   


Shannan Young, RDN, SNS
Program Director, Food Systems and Access

Tags: food access food waste Healthy eating meal planning National Nutrition Month nutrition education portion sizes Shannan Young

26, February 2018 3:50 PM

Dairy Council of California exhibits at California League of Schools Technology ConferenceDairy Council of CA participated in the California League of Schools Technology Conference in February. This conference provided K-12 teachers and administrators with a hands-on experience utilizing technology as a tool to ignite students’ passion for learning. Educators were able to walk away with applicable tools and resources to stay up to date with the changing classroom environment. 

With more schools moving towards 1:1 device implementation in the classroom, teachers were thrilled to hear about online education opportunities available with Dairy Council of CA’s nutrition education curriculum, such as:

These resources caught the eye of administrators and district level technicians alike. Attendees viewed Dairy Council of CA online tools as a vehicle to generate buy-in from teachers and help them begin implementing technology in the classroom. Teachers were excited to start using nutrition education lessons as an additional delivery method in teaching core subjects.Tech conference attendee learns more about Eat Move Win from Dairy Council of CA

In addition to the wide array of K-8 online extension activities, Dairy Council of CA shared a new fully-online high school nutrition education resource called Eat Move Win. This new online nutrition program was a big hit among both middle school and high school teachers, as it met some of the needs they shared with us:

  • Teen-specific nutrition education topics
  • Pre-made Kahoot games
  • Auto-graded quizzes

All in all, the California League of Schools Technology Conference was a great way for Dairy Council of CA to hear what teachers and administrators are looking for in an online resource and to continue to evolve our activities to meet the needs of the evolving classroom environment.


Becca Shupp
Community Nutrition Adviser

Tags: Becca Schupp common core Conference Eat Move Win nutrition education online games SMART Board technology

23, February 2018 4:10 PM

The Plant ParadoxThe Silicon Valley Dietetic Book Club met in January to discuss Dr. Steven R. Gundry’s book, The Plant Paradox. The premise of this book is that certain foods that typically considered to be nutritious and health enhancing are actually bad; including wheat, beans, peanuts, peas, legumes, lentils and tomatoes, just to name a few. This is all due to the lectins found in these foods. 

What are lectins? Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to other molecules, notably carbohydrate molecules. According to The Plant Paradox, the binding of lectins to cells is a major cause of illness 

The book goes as far as to say people are “at war with plants,” and the paradox is that people need to eat some plants since they contain a host of essential nutrients. The book teaches the reader exactly which plant foods to eat, which to avoid and how to prepare certain foods to reduce the impact of lectins. 

What Works

On the positive side, the book contains many testimonials of people who feel better after following this diet. One can't argue with people feeling better. It is possible that understanding of human nutrition is still not adequate to explain why some foods are health-enhancing in one individual yet inflammatory to another. It is also true that the diet advocated in The Plant Paradox is low calorie—causing weight loss, low in sugar and does not include highly processed foods. These are all dietary changes that can help people to feel better right away.

Dr. Gundry’s book also recommends using certain spices to reduce inflammation. Book club members shared first-hand experience with spices including curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, and a reduction of symptoms of inflammation. However, individuals should still consult with a health professional before adding supplements to their regimen.

Where We Differ

As dietitians, recommendations to reduce vegetable intake naturally rub us the wrong way. The overwhelming consensus of nutrition studies finds that a plant-based eating pattern, which can include some animal foods, is health-enhancing. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three different eating patterns and all recommend eating a wide variety of plants. 

Population studies show people who consume a plant-based diet (five or more servings per day of fruits and vegetables) plus two or three servings of whole grains have better health. The citations used in this book often referenced very small animal studies and these outcomes cannot be generalized to human populations. 

Gundry’s recommendations include a very expensive supplement program and the author conveniently sells these needed supplements—creating a financial conflict of interest. Buyer beware. As a general philosophy, we recommend getting nutrients from foods rather than supplements. 

The protein recommendation in the book (0.37 grams/kilogram/day) is much lower than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 0.80 grams/kilogram/day. Newer scientific studies actually recommend increasing the RDA for protein for some sub-groups in the population such as the elderly. 

Finally, this diet is complicated. It omits many foods that are nutritious and well tolerated by the vast majority of people. One thing we have learned as nutrition educators is that complicated eating regimens are not sustainable over time. We suspect most people would abandon this eating plan after the first few weeks.

Seeking another opinion? Check out this video from


Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Director, Resource Development and Marketing

Kristal Shelden, MPH, RDN
Project Manager, Nutrition Sciences

Tags: consensus science Dietary Guideliunes for Americans Healthy eating healthy eating patterns Kristal Shelden Maureen Bligh plant-based protein registered dietitian book club

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 34