The 11 Most Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told
#11
(12-05-2014, 05:00 PM)PrairieMom Wrote:
(12-03-2014, 04:38 PM)J Michael Wrote: Just curious...Have you  read or are you  familiar with the works of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, T. Colin Campell ("The China Study"), et. al.?  If so, what's your  take on their conclusions/programs?  Are they right (and if so, why?), wrong (and if so, why?), or something else (if so, what and why?)? 

Am I allowed to comment?

I agree that us, as Westerns, eat too much animal protein. We only require a fraction of what we intake in order to stay healthy.

But a strict vegetarian diet is also not healthy because it lacks certain nutrients without resorting to highly processed supplements or synthetic/fortified foods. In history, strict vegetarians diets did well because they weren't strict vegetarians - food was almost always contaminated with bugs etc that provided the animal nutrition we needed, especially in grains. Part of the problem with the modern vegan diet is it's sterility and cleanliness.

A major critisim of the studies you have cited are that the data collection and sampling themselves are flawed. I don't remember off the top of my head the exact details, but I could find them if you wished. I am also very familiar with Esselstyn and Campbell, and while there are elements of truth to what they propose, like anything else that is extreme they make dubious claims.

I am also suspicious of their reliance on soy as a protein source. There issues with uncultured soy is numerous, and is further complicated these days with the appearance of GMO soy  with unknown and unsubstantiated health effects.

The best diet is likely one that eats a wide variety of foods, not only types of food but eating a wide variety of sub-types resulting from genetic diversity. Only a few hundred years ago, we had over 10,000 different plant and animal varieties in our diet - now we have less than 100 in the SAD.

Of course you're allowed to comment, PM!

Can you specify which "certain nutrients" are lacking in a strict vegetarian diet, other than, perhaps,  vitamin B-12?  Dr. McDougall claims that, with the *possible* (i.e., not certain) lack of that, a vegetarian diet consisting more or less as he discusses provides ALL essential and many non-essential nutrients for human nutrition.  All *without* supplementation, too, except, again, possibly some small doses of B-12 in the form of methycobalamine.

There is also no need whatsoever to depend or overly-depend on soy to fulfill one's protein requirements.  A diet such as McDougall discusses provides plenty of protein.  Now...the question can become, how much protein is enough?  He suggests something between 30-80 grams per day.  And he discusses why.  He also discusses and shows how there's no need to worry about so-called "complementary proteins", because all the starchy foods, grains, etc. all contain all the essential amino acids needed by humans.

If you look at his program (or those of some of the others I mentioned) you will see that they ALL suggest a balanced diet of a wide variety of foods............excluding animal products.  McDougall also claims that a mono-diet of a single starchy food (e.g. potatoes) can sustain you.  Well, God willing, we hope to be able to afford more than just potatoes! Grin
Reply
#12
12.  Myth: There is only one healthy diet that all people should follow to ensure a long and healthy life.

13. Myth:  Animal food has little vitamins and minerals.

14. Myth:  There is only one metabolic state in the body that will ensure cardiovascular health, a healthy immune system, less risk of cancer and the major western diseases, and that has a high success rate of reducing and maintaining weight.

15. Myth:  All large, healthy populations in a part of the world thoughout history ate an almost vegetarian diet.

16. Myth: coconut oil has unhealthy fats and is bad for you. (bought some "virgin coconut oil" today for my smoothies)
Reply
#13
17. Myth:  bread, and "flour" for making bread, is by definition made from grains, especially wheat.  Flour is really anything milled until it has tiny pieces small enough for baking.  They could be as tiny as white flour particles, or as big as say a piece of an oat grain.  Breads, cookies, cakes, crusts, you name it can be made with flour from: any nut like almonds or peanuts, any seed like flax, coconut, whole grains like oats that aren't pulverized, etc.  And the taste is as good or better!  You can make a low carb, sugar-free three-layer chocolate cake, using almond flour, how about some coconut flour too, with a supplement of flax meal (some people prefer golden flax for the non-dark color), butter, unsweetened cocoa, natural sweetener, that tastes like it was made by grandma.  And best of all every ingredient is actually VERY healthy for you!

18. Myth:  Animal fat is usually pure saturated fat.  There is usually less saturated fat than mono-unsaturated fat, which is healthier, in meat.  That strip of fat on the side of your steak has a lot of healthy fats your body tissues need.

19. Myth:  eating fat makes you fat.  It is a simplistic equation, as if fat going into your mouth goes right to your waist-line or to clogging your arteries.  Eating green spinach does not make you green.  Fat is an essential macronutrient we need a generous amount of each day. For example, fat fuels and maintains the brain, the most important organ.

20. Myth: weight gain or loss is mainly caused by calorie deficit, ie burning more calories than calories consumed in a day.  Calorie deficit can help with weight loss, but what is more important is a metabolism that is like a furnace.  Going too low calorie makes the body go into survival mode and retain fat.  Its interesting that on some diets that do not follow the simplistic calorie in-calorie out model, people can actually lose a lot of weight consuming more calories than they burn doing their daily activities.  The burned-up calories that cause weight loss come mainly from the body's metabolism acting like a furnace.  Restoring a healthy and active metabolism is key to weight maintenance and overall health.

21. Myth: The USDA Food Pyramid represents the optimal nutrition plan for Americans.  Since this food pyramid was created, research is regularly showing major problems with it:  it does not promote the most healthy sources of fat, protein, and carbs; the best kind of vegetables, fruits, and grains.  It is heavily influenced by the American food industry pushing refined, fake food.  And it implies that there is only one correct way of eating.  There are other ways.  Low carb, high fat:  http://www.edify.net.au/images/food_pyramid_small.jpg    High carb, plant-based, "anti-inflammatory": http://www.drweil.com/drw/ecs/pyramid/pr...ramid.html 
 

Reply
#14
I'm one of those dreadful Philistines that don't believe any of that guff. The stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years before "preserved" and "fast food" were invented seems quite adequate to get one from cradle to grave.
Reply
#15
(12-07-2014, 08:00 AM)Oldavid Wrote: I'm one of those dreadful Philistines that don't believe any of that guff. The stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years before "preserved" and "fast food" were invented seems quite adequate to get one from cradle to grave.

What, you mean like grains, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and maybe a little animal protein here and there? Grin Grin
Reply
#16
(12-07-2014, 02:15 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 08:00 AM)Oldavid Wrote: I'm one of those dreadful Philistines that don't believe any of that guff. The stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years before "preserved" and "fast food" were invented seems quite adequate to get one from cradle to grave.

What, you mean like grains, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and maybe a little animal protein here and there? Grin Grin
If you try to convince an Eskimo of that I want to be there... it should be a barrel of laughs. Grin
Reply
#17
(12-07-2014, 05:12 PM)Oldavid Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 02:15 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 08:00 AM)Oldavid Wrote: I'm one of those dreadful Philistines that don't believe any of that guff. The stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years before "preserved" and "fast food" were invented seems quite adequate to get one from cradle to grave.

What, you mean like grains, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and maybe a little animal protein here and there? Grin Grin
If you try to convince an Eskimo of that I want to be there... it should be a barrel of laughs. Grin

I'll convince the Eskimo of that if you can convince native Filipinos to eat plain raw caribou and walrus meat, with a side of whale blubber  Grin Grin.
Reply
#18
(12-07-2014, 07:29 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 05:12 PM)Oldavid Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 02:15 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 08:00 AM)Oldavid Wrote: I'm one of those dreadful Philistines that don't believe any of that guff. The stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years before "preserved" and "fast food" were invented seems quite adequate to get one from cradle to grave.

What, you mean like grains, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and maybe a little animal protein here and there? Grin Grin
If you try to convince an Eskimo of that I want to be there... it should be a barrel of laughs. Grin

I'll convince the Eskimo of that if you can convince native Filipinos to eat plain raw caribou and walrus meat, with a side of whale blubber  Grin Grin.

My wife is a native Filipino and she loves my low carb lifestyle.  Filipinos have a lot of diabetes they attribute to eating too much rice, and heart disease.  To me the weaknesses in their modern diet are too much rice, mainly white rice vs. brown rice, in combination with too much fat from deep frying (high carb/higher fat)., plus they love Pepsi at every get-together.  And there are a lot of get-togethers!

Low carb/high fat for a Filipino would not be hard:  fish and vegetables, eggs, bacon, sausages, veggie/meat soups, chicken adobo, pork lechon, panceat made with shirataki noodles or mostly veg and meat and a little noodles, a small amount of rice, small servings of root vegetables, tempeh, low glycemic index fruit, the tropical fruits that are highest in fiber, nuts, etc.  And they love cooking with coconut oil which is healthy on low carb. 

And I love pork skin pulled of a freshly roasted pig.  It is like candy.
Reply
#19
(12-07-2014, 11:49 PM)christulsa123 Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 07:29 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 05:12 PM)Oldavid Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 02:15 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(12-07-2014, 08:00 AM)Oldavid Wrote: I'm one of those dreadful Philistines that don't believe any of that guff. The stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years before "preserved" and "fast food" were invented seems quite adequate to get one from cradle to grave.

What, you mean like grains, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and maybe a little animal protein here and there? Grin Grin
If you try to convince an Eskimo of that I want to be there... it should be a barrel of laughs. Grin

I'll convince the Eskimo of that if you can convince native Filipinos to eat plain raw caribou and walrus meat, with a side of whale blubber  Grin Grin.

My wife is a native Filipino and she loves my low carb lifestyle.  Filipinos have a lot of diabetes they attribute to eating too much rice, and heart disease.  To me the weaknesses in their modern diet are too much rice, mainly white rice vs. brown rice, in combination with too much fat from deep frying (high carb/higher fat)., plus they love Pepsi at every get-together.  And there are a lot of get-togethers!

Low carb/high fat for a Filipino would not be hard:  fish and vegetables, eggs, bacon, sausages, veggie/meat soups, chicken adobo, pork lechon, panceat made with shirataki noodles or mostly veg and meat and a little noodles, a small amount of rice, small servings of root vegetables, tempeh, low glycemic index fruit, the tropical fruits that are highest in fiber, nuts, etc.  And they love cooking with coconut oil which is healthy on low carb. 

And I love pork skin pulled of a freshly roasted pig.  It is like candy.

Yes, it's the "modern" diet that's problematic.  What does a "traditional" Filipino or other South Asian diet mostly consist of?  According to most of what I've read, grains (rice or wheat for the most part), vegetables, and a little animal protein, almost as a condiment.  Is that incorrect?  Remember, we're talkin' 'bout the common folk here, not the oligarchs and autocrats and rich fat-cats.

Pork skin off a freshly roasted pig?!?!?!? Shocked  Sorry, but even I, as one of the world's biggest meat lovers, am grossed out by that!
Reply
#20
(12-04-2014, 08:06 PM)J Michael Wrote: Great!  I look forward to it.

I began reading some of your links, but when I saw 'The China Study', well, a bunch of 'Black Spider' alarms went off. This particular study has been all but totally discredited and if it is used as a basis for anything but a comedy skit, I couldn't believe any conclusions based on that data. I am not swerved in my stance and after a visit to my doctor today, I shall remain on my diet as is.

Here is a nice review of the china study and afterwards, a well done review on Veganism and it cites your trio in it as co-heretics (grin):

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/385/

The China Study
Posted by Harriet Hall on March 10, 2009 (71 Comments)

One of our readers asked that we evaluate a book I had not previously heard of: The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, by nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell, PhD, with his non-scientist son Thomas M. Campbell II. The China Study was an epidemiologic survey of diet and health conducted in villages throughout China and is touted as “the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.” The book’s major thesis is that we could prevent or cure most disease (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye and other diseases) by eating a whole foods plant-based diet, drastically reducing our protein intake, and avoiding meat and dairy products entirely.

Opinions of the book

There’s a lot of praise for this book on the Internet. It was named VegNews Book of the Year. PETA loves it (not surprisingly). Heather Mills McCartney calls it inspirational. It was featured on Oprah.com and endorsed by two of her favorite doctors: Mehmet Oz and Dean Ornish. Its author was even interviewed on Coast to Coast AM.

But I also found this critical review which makes some excellent points and accuses the authors of misrepresenting the findings of the study. And this commenter on an Amazon.com forum also charges Campbell with misrepresenting the data from the study and points out numerous flaws in his reasoning.

Problematic references

I didn’t look at the praise or criticism of others until after I read the book, and the following represents my independent impressions. I approached the book as I do any book with scientific references: I read until I come across a statement of fact that strikes me as questionable and then I check the references given for the statement. This immediately got me off on the wrong foot with this book. In the first chapter I found the statement:

    Heart disease can be prevented and even reversed by a healthy diet.

The end notes listed 2 references in support of this assertion. The first reference was not about diet alone, but about a combination of several lifestyle interventions (Dean Ornish’s intensive program). 28 patients were assigned to an experimental group (low-fat vegetarian diet, stopping smoking, stress management training, and moderate exercise) and 20 to a usual-care control group. The experimental group had less artery narrowing.

The second was a study of 22 patients with severe heart disease in a single physician’s practice. Their disease was arrested or reversed over a 5-year period not by diet alone but with a combination of a very low fat diet and cholesterol-lowering drugs. These studies were published in 1990 and 1995 respectively and as far as I know have not been replicated. And they were small preliminary studies of the kind that should be used only to guide further research, not the kind of definitive studies that can be used to guide clinical decisions.

Neither reference supports the claim that diet (by itself) can reverse heart disease and neither of them has anything to do with preventing heart disease – all the subjects in both studies already had the disease.

Reading further, I found that this was not an isolated oversight, but part of a pattern. For instance, Campbell asserts that diet is an effective treatment for melanoma and supports that claim by citing a Tijuana study of the discredited Gerson protocol, which includes coffee enemas and other non-dietary interventions. Patients allegedly cured of cancer by this method were tracked down by a naturopath who found that 5 years later all but one had died of their cancer and the only one still alive was not cancer free.

Actually there are a couple of more credible references listed on PubMed suggesting that a low-fat diet might be beneficial for melanoma. Why did the author not cite those studies but pick a disreputable one?

Sloppy citations like these do not disprove the author’s thesis, but they throw doubt on his scientific rigor and reasoning abilities.

The China Study

The China Study involved 100 adults in each of 65 counties in China. Only those between the ages of 35 and 64 were studied; for mortality rates they eliminated death certificates of those over the age of 64 as “unreliable.” They pooled blood samples from everyone in a village so they would have large enough samples to measure over 109 nutritional, viral, hormonal and other indicators in blood. They also measured 24 urinary factors, mortality rates for more than 48 diseases, 36 food constituents, 36 nutrient and food intakes, 60 diet and lifestyle factors, and 17 geographic and climatic factors. All in all, they studied 367 variables and made 8000 correlations. I’ll leave it to others to comment on the study design and the statistical analysis.

The Chinese eat far less animal protein than Americans and far less total protein than even American vegetarians. They eat more calories per kilo of body weight than Americans, apparently without weight gain even among the subset of Chinese who were least physically active (Campbell attributes this to thermogenesis from carbohydrate metabolism as compared to protein metabolism, and he claims that vegetarians feel more energetic and naturally exercise more, using up extra calories). They found that Chinese cholesterol levels are far lower than Western levels and decline as the amount of protein in the diet declines. They found a strong dose-effect relationship between the amount of animal protein in the diet and the rates of many diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Conflicting data

I found a number of studies in PubMed that reached very different conclusions. I’ll quote from one typical example and provide links to a couple of others.

    Vegetarians form a non-homogenous group consisting of semivegetarians (plant food, dairy products, eggs and fish), lacto-ovo vegetarians (plant food, dairy products, eggs) and vegans (plant food only). According to pure vegetarian ideologists, people consuming vegetarian diet have better health and live longer than nonvegetarians, because persons consuming milk, dairy products, meat, eggs and fish are at health risk.In fact the most healthy people in Europe are inhabitants of Iceland, Switzerland and Scandinavia, consuming great amounts of food of animal origin. Meta-analysis of several prospective studies showed no significant differences in the mortality caused by colorectal, stomach, lung, prostate or breast cancers and stroke between vegetarians and “health-conscious” nonvegetarians. In vegetarians, a decrease of ischemic heart disease mortality was observed probably due to lower total serum cholesterol levels, lower prevalence of obesity and higher consumption of antioxidants. Very probably, an ample consumption of fruits and vegetables and not the exclusion of meat make vegetarians healthful.

And there’s this one And this one.

Campbell criticizes all Western studies of low-fat and low-protein diets because the Western versions of those diets still have far more fat and protein than the average diet in China. The Nurse’s Health Study found no connection between breast cancer and the amount of fat in the diet, but Campbell points out that it really only compared carnivorous nurses to slightly less carnivorous nurses. The “low-fat” group was still eating a very high-fat diet by Chinese standards. This is a very valid criticism, and it also applies to the relatively ineffective Western efforts to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease with diet.

Observations from other countries tend to contradict the correlations found in China. The African Maasai eat a diet high in animal protein (meat, milk and blood from their cows) – yet they have low blood cholesterol levels and low rates of heart disease. Among the Eskimos (who ate an animal-based, very high protein, high fat diet) heart disease was practically unknown.

Campbell doesn’t attempt to explain a glaring exception to his data: stomach cancer rates are higher in China than elsewhere in the world – he doesn’t even mention that fact.

He cites all kinds of research to support his hypothesis that animal protein is bad. Toxins like aflatoxin and nitrosamine cause rats and mice to develop cancers, but carcinogenesis is prevented by feeding them a low protein diet. Casein (one specific animal protein in milk) has been linked to some human diseases. Links between fat, animal protein, vitamin D and other nutrients confuse the issue. The incidence of many diseases varies with latitude – is it the difference in sun exposure, the blood levels of vitamin D, the fact that people at higher latitudes eat more fat, that they eat more meat?

Diet recommendations

He marshals a lot of evidence, but is it sufficient to support his recommendation that everyone give up animal protein entirely, including dairy products? I don’t think so. There are legitimate concerns that such a diet may not be without risks. Even Campbell recognizes that strict vegetarians are likely to need vitamin B12 supplementation. If cow’s milk is prohibited for growing children and osteoporotic adults, they will likely need a supplemental source of calcium and vitamin D. Without careful nutrition guidance, children deprived of milk might end up malnourished. Breast milk is animal protein – should we avoid breast-feeding too?

He criticizes conventional recommendations for a diet with 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat and 10-35% from protein, showing how the following menu satisfies those requirements:

    Breakfast
    1 cup Froot Loops
    1 cup skim milk
    1 package M&M milk chocolate candies
    Fiber and vitamin supplements

    Lunch
    Grilled cheddar cheeseburger

    Dinner
    3 slices pepperoni pizza
    16 oz soda
    1 serving Archway sugar cookies.

But that’s a bit of a straw man argument. In reality, most current nutritional advice makes very much the same recommendations Campbell does except for his strict prohibition of animal protein. For instance, for cancer prevention the American Cancer Society recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and low in red meat and alcohol, along with regular exercise and weight control.

Except for proponents of the low-carb diet fad for weight loss, almost everything I have read recently in the way of diet advice is consistent with the ACS recommendations. More veggies, less red meat, fewer calories.

Conclusion

It would be wonderful if we could prevent cancer and all those other diseases by avoiding animal protein. It would have the extra added benefit to the environment of increasing the productivity of agricultural land and reducing the greenhouse effects of gassy cows. I look forward to future well-designed studies investigating the effects of very low protein and animal-protein-free diets. Meanwhile, The China Study makes a good case, but the case isn’t quite good enough.


Second article:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/deat...-veganism/

Death as a Foodborne Illness Curable by Veganism
Posted by Harriet Hall on February 12, 2013 (90 Comments)

Most reputable sources of nutrition information recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat. Vegans go much further. Strict vegans reject all animal products including fish, eggs, and milk. Some vegans come across like religious zealots. Here are some comments recently posted by vegans on Facebook:

    Right now the biggest social issue facing the world is the violence and suffering of animals.
    The dairy industry is the number one feminist issue facing our modern society.
    I expect within a generation that milk will be viewed as the most unhealthy habit after cigarettes. I bet it is responsible for more disease than anything else in the US. Dairy products promote all stages of cancer. [In fact, low fat dairy can be protective against some types of cancer]
    Milk contains blood and puss[sic]
    Humans are not omnivores; they are herbivores. [Most biologists would disagree.]

I was even told that that anyone who really cares about the welfare of others must promote veganism. It seems I am an evil, uncaring person if I waste my time writing about any other subject.

Vegans offer some good arguments based on ethics, environmental protection, cruelty to animals, and sustainability.  I won’t get into those issues here. I’ll only address the scientific evidence behind the health claims. How does this description of a video strike you?:

    Death in America is largely a foodborne illness. Focusing on studies published just over the last year in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals, [Hardly any of the studies he cites were published over the last year.] Michael Greger, M.D., offers practical advice on how best to feed ourselves and our families to prevent, treat, and even reverse many of the top 15 killers in the United States.[emphasis added]

That video was recommended to me by a vegan activist. I dipped into it randomly and noticed statements that I knew were not true, at least not as stated without any qualifications. I prefer to get my information from the medical literature rather than from videos. But I was eventually browbeaten into watching the whole thing when the activist impugned my objectivity and my ethics.

“If Only You Would Watch This Video”

I hear that all the time from people who have been overwhelmed by the information presented in a video that supports their beliefs. They assume that the evidence presented is incontrovertible, and that anyone who agreed to watch it would necessarily be converted to their beliefs. These videos tend to fall into an easily recognizable pattern. They feature a charismatic scientist with an agenda who makes sweeping statements that go beyond the evidence, makes unwarranted assumptions about the meaning of studies, and omits any reference to contradictory evidence. I recognized this pattern by briefly sampling the video, and my initial opinion was only confirmed by watching it in toto.

The Leading Causes of Death

He starts with a table showing the leading causes of death and goes through them one by one, presenting his evidence that a diet devoid of animal-based foods can prevent and cure each of them.

To evaluate the accuracy of his information, let’s ask:

    What exactly is he claiming?
    What references does he supply in support of that claim?
    Do those reference really say what he says they say?
    Have those studies been replicated?
    How good was the methodology of those studies?
    Are there other studies that came to different conclusions?
    Is there any good evidence comparing total avoidance of animal-based foods and a diet that is mainly plant-based but includes small amounts of animal products?

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

He cites a reference showing that “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” This is a quotation from an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal, and the footnotes there only send us to Caldwell Esselstyn’s flawed research.  Esselstyn studied only a small number of patients who already had heart disease, and he treated them with statin drugs in addition to diet, and their diet included skim milk and low-fat yogurt. You can read my criticism of his research here.  It is ludicrous to interpret that research as showing that a plant-based diet can completely prevent heart attacks.  A more accurate interpretation is that patients (only a few patients in one study) who had already had a heart attack did not have a second heart attack while being treated with cholesterol-lowering medications and a diet that was largely plant-based but also included foods derived from animals.

Cancer

That same article claims that up to 75% of cancers can be prevented, but the supporting reference indicate smoking accounts for 30% of cancers and diet alone might prevent somewhere between 20-42% of all cancers, and as little as 10% of certain individual types of cancer.  It points out that “making quantitative estimates at this time is treacherous, as the available evidence can only be interpreted roughly,” because of confounders like exercise, methodological difficulties, and the need to rely on unreliable memory for recall of intake. They conclude that “one can sensibly recommend an abundant consumption of fruits and vegetables and low intake of red meat.” This supports mainstream nutrition advice, not veganism.

Inflammation

He cites a study showing that a single meal high in animal fat can paralyze our arteries and “cripple” them. This was a small study of 10 volunteers with no control group. It measured flow-dependent vasoactivity. It’s not clear what that means, but surely it’s an exaggeration to say that the arteries were paralyzed or crippled. It would be interesting to compare the results to those of vegans who ate a meal with an equal number of calories. And what we really want to know is whether the observed changes have any practical clinical significance.

COPD

COPD “can be prevented and even treated with a plant-based diet.” He relies on a study that measured exhaled NO as a marker for inflammation, showing that it increases after a high fat meal. He describes it as causing internal damage. The study’s conclusion was “This suggests that a high fat diet may contribute to chronic inflammatory disease of the airway and lungs.” But this study showed no association between airway inflammation as measured by exhaled nitric oxide and systemic inflammation as measured either by CRP or fibrinogen. And it said nothing specifically about COPD or about the effect of removing animal foods from the diet.

Alzheimers

“We’ve known for 20 years that those who eat meat are 2-3 times as likely to become demented as vegetarians.”  This claim is based on an old Adventist health study that has not been replicated. It studied two groups: matched and unmatched subjects. The data he cites are from the matched group. There was no difference in incidence of dementia between meat eaters and vegetarians in the unmatched study.  Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarians who eat milk and eggs. And they are also a rather unique group with other healthy lifestyle practices. So it is disingenuous to claim this study as definitive evidence for veganism.

He neglects to tell us about studies that got different results, like the one showing that fish consumption reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.

What is his evidence that Alzheimer’s can be treated with a plant-based diet? He offers a phase II study from Iran that compared saffron extract to a low dose of a drug that has only a small clinical benefit. The authors only claim it provides “preliminary evidence of a possible therapeutic effect of saffron.” Not very convincing, and certainly not evidence that a plant-based diet can treat Alzheimer’s. Saffron extract was being studied here as an herbal medicine, not as a food.

Kidney failure

Can kidney failure be prevented and treated with a plant-based diet?  He points to a study showing that diets lower in red meat and animal fat may decrease the risk of microalbuminuria.  It also showed a reduced risk with low fat dairy!

Other claims

He cites a study concluding “Our results suggest that a decrease in meat consumption may improve weight management.” Suggest, may, decrease. Not veganism.

He compares raw meat to hand grenades, because of bacterial contamination. If you don’t handle them safely, it’s like pulling the pin. Are we selling hand grenades in grocery stores? This is a ridiculous comparison, and it ignores the fact that plant-based foods can be a source of contamination too.

Flu: kale stimulates the immune system.

Eating just a few fruits and veg can improve the body’s ability to fight off pneumonia.

Suicide prevention? Restriction of meat fish and poultry improves mood.

I’m bored, and I’m sure you are too. There is more, much more. But I have made my point.

What Do Other Studies Show about the Benefits and Risks of Veganism?

This study showed  mortality from ischemic heart disease was 26% lower in vegans and 34% lower in lacto-ovo-vegetarians (in other words, it’s better not to eliminate milk and eggs).  “There were no significant differences between vegetarians and nonvegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, or all other causes combined.”

Another study showed that the healthiest people in Europe, the inhabitants of Iceland, Switzerland, and Scandinavia, consume large amounts of animal foods.

This study found no significant differences in mortality between vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

There are risks. A vegan diet can lead to deficiencies in various nutrients: vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Careful planning can help avoid that; but anecdotally, the vegan who recommended the video to me recently found out he was deficient in B12 despite supplementation.

Confounders

The elephant in the room is weight loss. Vegans weigh less than meat eaters, and many of the benefts claimed could be consequences of weight loss, particularly in diabetes. And they could be a consequence of eating more fruits and vegetables, rather than avoiding meat and milk.

The data he finds most convincing are from the 7th Day Adventist study. One of his tables shows reduction in blood pressure and diabetes that are right in line with decrease in body mass index (BMI). This contradicts other data that supposedly removed BMI as a confounder. Adventists are a select group with other healthy lifestyle behaviors. Until we have confirmatory data from other studies in a general population, I don’t think it is wise to hang our hat on these decades-old Adventist studies.

Can Diabetes Be Cured?

He says it can be cured by a plant-based diet, but the general consensus of medical experts is that diabetes can’t be “cured.”  Diabetes can be treated and controlled with diet, weight loss, medication, obesity surgery, and even islet cell transplants. The symptoms subside, the blood sugar normalizes, and some patients no longer need their medication after they lose weight and make other lifestyle changes. But we don’t consider it “cured.”  If you’re going to say diet “cures” diabetes, it would only be fair to say medication also “cures” it. It’s better to think of it not as cured but as controlled and requiring continuing attention.

Other Diet Beliefs

Surprise, surprise! Not everyone agrees that the vegan diet is best. Gary Taubes has written a book (with far more references than this video) advocating a low-carb diet.  William Davis, the “Wheat Belly” doctor, tells us we must avoid a whole category of plant-based foods. He says meat is OK but wheat is addictive. The pH balance contingent tells us it is the acid in the food that is important, not whether the food comes from a plant or animal. The lacto-ovo-vegetarians don’t eat meat, but have no objection to eggs and milk. The paleo diet accepts meat, as does the Bible diet.  Fruitarians reject animal products and also all vegetables and grains; they can be considered an even more restrictive form of vegans. Some of these diet beliefs are based mainly on ideology, but most of them claim to be based on solid science. There is only one science. If the evidence were really so clear-cut in favor of veganism, we wouldn’t have all these differing approaches.

What About the Eskimos?

Some people eat meat almost exclusively and seem to thrive on it. All the nutrients the human body requires are found in meat, even vitamin C when the meat is eaten raw.

Vegans tell us the Inuit, who lived almost exclusively on food of animal origin, had a short life span. That’s not true. Statistics on the Inuit between 1822 and 1836 showed that their average life expectancy was about the same as that of European peasants of the time who ate a diet overwhelmingly based on bread. 25% of Inuit lived past 60, and some lived into their 80s and 90s.

The Inuit ate meat out of necessity. It was all they could get for most of the year. Their diet was very high in fat. If it had not been, they could not have survived in one of the coldest, most barren, most hostile environments anywhere on Earth. Even today, it would not be wise for people living in the Arctic to try to follow a vegan diet.

Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland.  In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident. Why didn’t Dr. Greger mention that research? I think I can guess why.

Veganism Prevents Harm to Animals

That sounds like a slam-dunk, but it’s more complicated. Some people think veganism is not really the lifestyle of least harm to animals.

Conclusion

The video confirmed what I already knew from evaluating the published evidence: it is healthier to eat more plant-based foods and less red meat.  It didn’t convince me that we should categorically eliminate all animal products. The vegan diet can be a healthy one, and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from following it; but the evidence for health benefits is nowhere near as impressive or definitive as the true believers think. Death is not “a foodborne illness” and eliminating all animal products is not a cure-all.

As Ben Goldacre said in Bad Science:

    The most important take-home message with diet and health is that anyone who ever expresses anything with certainty is basically wrong, because the evidence for cause and effect in this area is almost always weak and circumstantial…




Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)