If I keep the four basic food groups in mind when I’m fixing meals, I won’t have to worry about my children’s nutritional needs being met. Right?

I wish it were that simple. The truth is that the four basic food groups we all grew up with – dairy, meat, vegetables and fruit – are not the best foods for us. Actually, they were the brain child of special interest groups, including the dairy and beef farmers. These businessmen wanted to ensure a market for their products! Today our food group list should look quite different. Let’s see why.

To begin with, in my opinion, the dairy group could better be called the junk food group. Studies have proven that humans don’t benefit as much as was once thought from eating dairy products. Dr. Benjamin Spock, for 50 years the most beloved pediatrician in America, has stated that infants should not be fed cow’s milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that during the first year of life, children should have human milk for as many months as possible. And the late, great, former editor of Yearbook of Pediatrics and the former Director of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Frank Oski, asserted over and over again that cow’s milk is for cows and not for people.

Granted, milk and cheese do provide calcium and protein, but these benefits are far-outweighed by the dangers of eating a high-fat, high-chemical, allergenic diet. In 1992, researchers at Boston University Medical school reported that dairies were adding excess amounts of vitamin D to their milk, causing customers to become ill. In follow-up studies of dairies in five states on the east coast, 10% of the milk was found to have too much vitamin D and 61% had too little. Vitamin D regulates the body’s absorption of calcium. If too little is added, you won’t retain calcium. Too much Vitamin D can cause calcium to accumulate in the blood and may lead to kidney failure.

Synthetic growth hormones are now showing up in milk from some dairies. The dangers of consuming this powerful hormone are unknown.

Researchers also found that there may be health risks from animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans through consumption of dairy products. Other studies in Canada and France had indicated that diabetes may be traced back to an immune reaction to the protein’s in cow’s milk. And then there are all the veterinary medicines and fee lot pesticides that are routinely found in cow’s milk. I see no reason to subject my child to these dangers.

If you’re worried about calcium, don’t be. Have you ever seen a cow drink a glass of milk? Of course not. They get calcium from the grains they eat, and so can you. One and a half ounces of tofu will provide the same amount of calcium as a glass of skim milk. Look for calcium on the label. Some labels list it; some do not. Ounce for ounce, there is as much calcium in fresh-cooked broccoli as there is in milk.

Meat is another food group that you could eliminate from your child’s diet. The protein provided by meats, fish, and poultry doesn’t begin to offset the disastrous effects of fat and pollutants.

The new food groups that are being recommended for the nineties and into the new century are: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Legumes (dried peas and beans). From the fruits and vegetables, you get vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber. From the grains and legumes, you get protein and more fiber. Feed your children from these food groups and you’ll be teaching them to eat from the very best food sources available to us. They will be lean, muscular, and energetic because they won’t be filling up on fats. They will have the natural energy that comes from carbohydrates and fruit sugars instead of the frantic hyperactivity that can be triggered by processed sugar.

As a doctor, I can tell you that we’re a nation of people who have a very high incidence of obesity and chronic illness. Our children would rather sit and play video games than run around outdoors. They consider fast food a treat and a gourmet dining experience. Some parents even “reward” their children with a trip to the local fast food restaurant.

We have enough new nutritional books, and medical journals to fill a warehouse, yet we continue to feed our children based on the small thimbleful of myths and misinformation that was out of date decades ago.

I encourage you to break free from the old misconceptions. Tear up the old food groups poster. It’s just paid advertising for special interest groups. In its place, put up the new food groups. You’ll be giving your family a gift for a lifetime.

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