New Dietary Guidelines: What You Need to Know

US health officials release updated dietary guidelines for 2020 to 2025

(RxWiki News) United States health officials have released new dietary guidelines for 2020 to 2025. Here is what you need to know.

Every five years, the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services release new dietary guidelines for Americans to follow. Read on to learn more about the newest set of nutritional guidelines for Americans.

New Guidelines vs. Old Guidelines

Nutrition and diet recommendations have not changed drastically over the last few years. Researchers understand the basics of what foods are healthy and unhealthy already. But there have been some small shifts in what health officials think the optimal American diet looks like, as well as the approach to achieving such a diet.

Reflecting that, the new guidelines contain small substantive changes from the previous set of guidelines, as well as a new approach. The new set of guidelines "purposely provides recommendations by food groups and subgroups—not specific foods and beverages—to avoid being prescriptive. This framework approach ensures that people can 'make it their own' by selecting healthy foods, beverages, meals, and snacks specific to their needs and preferences," according to the government website for the dietary guidelines.

Stage of Life Recommendations

Another new addition to the guidelines is a set of recommendations that pertains to each stage of life. Emphasizing that it is never too late to improve your diet, the new guidelines are organized into chapters that correspond to each life stage, from birth to older adulthood and including pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is the first time since 1985 that the guidelines have included recommendations for infants and toddlers.

While health officials noted that the guidelines are similar from stage to stage, there are some key changes over time, such as the shift from human milk to solid foods and the focus on foods to help prevent chronic diseases in adulthood.

'Make Every Bite Count'

"Make every bite count" is the call to action of the new dietary guidelines. The guidelines authors explain that there is little room for empty calories (such as sugar) in a diet that includes all the necessary vitamins and nutrients and stays within the recommended calorie limits.

Making every bite count means choosing nutrient-rich foods at every meal, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and lean meats.

Limiting Your Intake

While the new guidelines attempt to avoid being overly prescriptive with their recommendations, they do contain some suggested dietary limitations:

  • Alcohol – If you already consume alcohol, you should limit your consumption to two or fewer drinks per day if you are a man and one drink or less per day if you are a woman.
  • Sugar – People who are 2 years old or older should not consume more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar (not counting natural sugars in fruits). Infants and toddlers should not consume added sugars.
  • Sodium – Sodium intake should be limited to 2,300 mg or less per day. This should be even less for people who are younger than 14.
  • Saturated Fat – Adults and children older than 2 should limit saturated fat intake to 10 percent or less of their daily calories.

If you are concerned about your diet, speak with your health care provider before making any major lifestyle or medication changes.

Review Date: 
January 8, 2021