Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Some days I feel like Sisyphus

struggling under a huge boulder of nutrition misinformation.

Our free daily, the Express, published an article today on how men can stay healthy. It's excerpted from Men's Health. HS subscribes to Men's Health and has taught me many things from it, but this article is dismaying, to say the least.

Two of its tips are to eat meat and to eat more dairy!

It says that substituting lean red meat for white starchy carbs can lead to a small drop in blood pressure. Details of the study are not given, but since study after study has shown that a diet high in animal fat and animal products raises heart disease risk (of which blood pressure is one indicator), I have my suspicions about this study. I think it can be explained by the fact that high-carb diets lead to high blood pressure, and the body is reacting to the subtraction of unhealthy white-flour carbs, which contain no fiber and which the body digests as sugar. To suggest that white carbs be replaced with meat is going from worse to bad. I mean, you could probably substitute a venti mocha for white carbs and see the same small drop in blood pressure.

With regards to dairy, the article says that consuming 3 or more servings of dairy a day can decrease the risk of heart disease. Since blood pressure is related to heart disease, many of the things above apply here. But I'd like to give a bit of detail from a study conducted by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in 1985. Eighteen volunteers with severe heart disease agreed to follow a diet that was very low-fat and which omitted almost all animal products. (Five years into the study, Dr. Esselstyn cut out animal products entirely.)

Before the study, the 18 volunteers had had 49 "coronary events" among them. In the first eleven years of the study, only one coronary event occurred--and that happened to someone who went off the diet for two years! Also, 70% of the subjects experienced their arteries un-clogging and re-opening.

I don't know if there's much more to say here, except that
--the false claims of the dairy industry are really pissing me off,
--people don't want to hear the simple truth, which is: stop eating sugar, refined carbs, and animal products, and start eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains!


Theresa said...

When I first read the title of this post, I thought it said Syphilis!

I hear ya. On Monday there was a newspaper article about how people are lacking in certain nutrients. Young girls are often the worst off, according to this article, because they are more likely to go veg. Cutting out meat and dairy products really disadvantages you. Aside from the sexist undertones, this was a ridiculous argument. After the article was a box listing which foods are the best sources of calcium, zinc, and iron. Of course, broccoli, almonds, and soy products beat out the animal products in every category!

I don't understand how they can have that box right next to an article saying vegetarians lack nutrients...

Kumudha said...

Great post!

People assume that milk and milk products are only source of calcium and meat is only the source of proteins...

I admire PCRM for advocating vegan diet not only in United Sates, but also across the world...

I wish all doctors would agree with the PCRM...

Katyola said...

To play devil's advocate, I think one of the chief points in these kinds of stories is that there are people who go vegan (and I am talking here about some teenage girls, because it does seem to be a trend among this population) and don't do their homework about getting their protein and other nutrients from sources other than meat and dairy. Some people use it as an excuse to eat very little, which treads into eating-disorder territory.

I'm not arguing that veganism is bad, but that some people, whether on purpose or not, distort it into something unhealthy.

RV Amy said...

Theresa, the conflicting information is interesting. Hopefully people will draw their own conclusions based on the nutritional information.

Kumudha, I think the PCRM is seen as a political organization with its own agenda. I don't feel that way about it but I think it is hard for them to overcome that bias from the public.

Kate, I think that the general public needs to read up on nutrition--meat-eaters as much as vegs. Our need for protein is much exaggerated, so I think the main danger of going veg is that you can start eating more starches and cheese (if you are lacto-vegetarian). Then you will be taking in more calories and fat than you were before. I think the most important thing for new vegs is to expand their eating horizons if they were fussy eaters (like I used to be). Middle Eastern, Indian, Ethiopian, and many other cuisines have lots of healthy veg options. I had never really eaten those foods before I turned veg.