Dr. Dawn Sherling was recnetly interviewed for an article at Spy.com about the FDA’s update to dietary guidelines.

From the original article on Spy.com:

On September 29th, 2022 the FDA proposed updating their definition of “healthy” food as part of their dietary guidelines, revising the criteria food manufacturers need to meet in order to legally label their food as “healthy” in the commercial setting.

The original guidelines for “healthy” food were created in 1994, and haven’t been updated since, and according to a few of the dieticians and nutritionists we spoke with, this move marks a notable attempt by the FDA to keep up with what nutritional science has known for a while.

“A person can think they are making healthy choices and can be trying really hard to do the right thing, but they are being undermined by marketing. I’m hopeful that the new FDA rules might help us to course correct a bit,” said Dr. Sherling.

Read the full article here.

best diet for losing weight

“Which diet is best for losing weight?”

That’s a question I’m asked a lot.

Few seem to have a straight answer for that one, except for people who have deeply held religious-like, ideological beliefs around food. Keto adherents are quite sure that avoiding carbs is the way to go. For vegans, eliminating animal products provides a clear path to health. If you’d like to experience the passion of an old school religious war without the bloodshed, head over to your favorite social media battlefield and read a few keto responses to a vegan post or vegan responses to keto posts. While they may not actually be killing each other, each is convinced that the other’s dietary habits will do it for them.

Low-carb, High-fat vs. High-carb, Low-fat

That brings us to Dr. Kevin Hall of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who has entered the arena as a peacemaker of sorts by providing combatants with a healthy dose of science. Dr. Hall designed a study where participants would be fed either a high-fat, low-carb diet or a low-fat, high-carb diet. The participants had two weeks in each arm of the trial, so that they could be compared to themselves. Like a previous study he had done at the NIH looking at an ultra-processed diet vs. a whole foods diet, all the food was provided to the participants and their activity was carefully tracked. Also like the former study, participants could eat as much as they wanted and the food was rated by them as pretty good in both arms of the trial.

The folks on the low-fat diet ate about 500-700 fewer calories a day, but had higher insulin and blood sugar levels (suspected drivers of some diet-related diseases). The people doing the high-fat diet ate more calories, but had lower insulin and blood sugar levels. There were possibly advantages to both diets.

So, back to the original question, which one produced more weight loss?

Examples of dinners given to study participants: low-carb, animal-based diet (top) and low-fat, plant-based diet (bottom). Amber Courville and Paule Joseph, NIH

Here’s where we need to go back to Dr. Hall’s previous work on ultra-processed vs. whole foods diets.

Participants in this study lost about 2 pounds on the whole foods diet and gained 2 pounds on the ultra-processed one. When he designed the low-fat vs. low-carb study, he pretty much avoided giving the participants ultra-processed foods.

The short answer is that they both resulted in weight loss, but the low-fat diet resulted in more body fat loss in the participants. Case closed? The vegans win, right? But wait! These weren’t restrictive diets. I told you earlier that the people in the study could eat as much as they wanted. Neither the low-fat nor the low-carb participants were hungry and they both lost weight, though the low-fat participants lost a little bit more. How?

OK, but the vegans still win? Sort of. Plant-based diets are probably better for you, both in the short term, like in this study and in the long term, as Dean Ornish and others have shown with improved cardiovascular outcomes. So, if you can avoid eating animals, that might be best for you and for the environment. But even if you can’t or don’t want to (and I don’t want to either, so don’t feel bad), if you can avoid ultra-processed foods (think stuff that has ingredients on the list that you wouldn’t have in your own pantry or in anyone’s pantry for that matter), you’ll be a lot healthier and quite possibly weigh a bit less too.

So, how do I answer the question, “Which diet is best?”

It turns out that it’s not so complicated after all: Any style of eating that avoids ultra-processed foods that you can stick with and enjoy.

Dr. Dawn Sherling on Eat Burn Sleep podcast with Yalda Alaoui

Dr. Dawn talked about gut health and the shocking effect ultra-processed food has on our health on the Eat Burn Sleep podcast with Yalda Alaoui.

From the show notes on Eatburnsleep.com:

Eat Burn Sleep video interview

Watch the inteview on EatBurnSleep.com

Food Additives and your Microbiome

Have you ever wondered why you don’t have IBS symptoms when you are traveling in Europe, but it returns when you get back to the US?

What food additives should you avoid for Gut Health Issues?

Dr. Dawn Harris Sherling, MD, FACP, is an internal medicine physician and writer based in Florida. She is completing her book on common dietary misconceptions in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She joined me for a live on Instagram to discuss the impact of food additives on gut health and raise awareness about the quality of food we eat are eating.

In this episode:

  • What is the most significant difference between the European and American diets?
  • How ultra-processed foods change the microbiome.
  • Why do you still gain weight no matter how much you diet and exercise when ingesting additives?
  • What are the simple solutions to the complex problems we are facing today?
  • What food additives should you avoid and look out for on labels?
Listen (or watch) to the Episode Check out Dawn’s Book


You can also listen to this informative episode now on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Premature, Preventable Deaths, New Study Finds

Dr. Dawn Sherling was recently featured in EatThis.com’s article:
Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Premature, Preventable Deaths, New Study Finds

“Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Premature, Preventable Deaths, New Study Finds”

From the original article on EatThis.com:

“The findings contribute to a mounting body of evidence that ultra-processed foods are contributing to disease and premature deaths in a very similar fashion to tobacco use,” Dawn Harris Sherling, MD, FACP, DABOM, Clinical Affiliate Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, tells Eat This, Not That! “The scariest part of this study as an American, however, is that in this study done with Brazilian data, it is estimated that only about 20% of their diet was ultra-processed. In the US, studies estimate that nearly 60% of the average diet is ultra-processed. It’s not scientifically sound to just triple the estimate for the US population, but it does raise very scary implications for the health of the population here.”

Read the full article here.




 I went to Italy where I ate only whole foods. My years-long symptoms of irritable bowels went away—completely gone—in two days. I came back to the U.S. and my IBS was back within a day of returning.

So, I started removing different emulsifiers and thickeners (used in over 50% of what we eat in the U.S.) from my diet and my gut felt and acted exactly like it did in Italy. I advised friends and patients to do likewise and they improved too. It wasn’t hard. It just took some careful label-reading at first. And a bit more cooking, which I like to do anyway (don’t ask me about cleaning—try to get someone else to do this).

“This happened!!!” I wanted to shout from every rooftop and started to.

“That’s not possible,” I was told by some other physicians.

And maybe I would have started to think that I was wrong except for my very practical physician husband having been there for the whole thing.

“You are right,” he would insist (I told him he should say that about other things I do too, but I digress).

It seems weird that I would start to doubt my own experience. But then I recalled the idea of scientific paradigms that I learned about in college. Basically, frameworks for ideas get set up and everything that follows needs to fit into that framework. If it doesn’t fit, it gets rejected.

And dietary emulsifiers causing some bowel disease, and contributing to other diseases, doesn’t fit with the current food and gastrointestinal paradigm which says that if a substance is derived from natural sources, it is safe for us to consume. In order for a paradigm to change or shift, enough evidence has to build up and not fit into the paradigm to convince people to create a new paradigm.

And that’s happening here. But slowly. Too slowly. For the past decade researchers have been showing that certain substances added to food to make it softer, thicker, and more shelf-stable, alter our gut microbiomes and gut lining. Diets are being developed for the sufferers of the most severe bowel ailments, called inflammatory bowel disease, that eliminates these additives.

One of the biggest known offenders, carrageenan, was slated to be decertified from products marketed as “organic” in 2018 by the USDA upon the suggestion of groups that advise the regulatory agency. Instead, the USDA rejected the advice of consumer health and safety groups and kept carrageenan, not only in our food supply, but in the foods that are marketed as somehow being better for us.

And so, it seems, we are on our own here. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it isn’t hard to cut out emulsifiers and thickeners from our diet and see what happens for a week. Just eat food that doesn’t come from a package, or if it does, make sure that you read the ingredient list and you can create a mental image of what that ingredient would look like if you were to go and get it from nature. Can’t? Don’t buy it or eat it. Or, use the list I’ve made. Since we mostly don’t know what they are putting in our food (in general) in restaurants, just skip eating out for that week.

See how you feel.

If skipping the additives for a week gets you feeling better, see if you can keep doing it. It gets easier and easier the more you eat real food. There is a saying that we need to create the change we want to see. In this case, change begins with a single meal.

Get the book!


This is an excerpt of Dr. Dawn Harris Sherling’s article in Orlando Style. You can read the full piece here.

Studies comparing low carb to low fat to calorie counting to intermittent fasting abound. And yet, we still don’t have an answer. The best anyone has come up with is that some diets work for some people and no diet works for everybody. In the short term, most diets result in weight loss and in the long term, very few do.

Read Full Article Here.