David Katz, MD and Marion Nestle, PhD

Worry not, people, the Food Revolution Summit is almost over! I’m tuning in to just two more speakers from Saturday, so the last update may be Monday morning. Today, though, there were two great speakers, named above.

David Katz, MD

Dr. Katz is the President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and someone I frequently retweet, so his name may be familiar to some because of that.

Most disease is caused by environmental toxins (tobacco), poor diet, and lack of exercise. He went on to expound on Dan Buettner‘s work on the Blue Zones project and how that applies to lifestyle medicine. If you’re not familiar with Dan Buettner and the Blue Zones, take a moment to familiarize yourself. It started as a fascinating National Geographic project to find the people who live the longest on the planet and how they are similar. Dan took this work and is now trying to proactively apply it to communities. Cool stuff. Anyway, combining the Lifestyle Medicine work with the Blue Zone work Dr. Katz has a list of 6 keys to health and longevity:

  1. A primarily whole food plant-based diet (in the Blue Zones they usually supplemented with small amounts of pork, but not beef or seafood)
  2. Minimize toxins (primarily tobacco)
  3. Stay physically active (note, this does not mean “cardio”, but simple walking will suffice (although Blue Zoners often walked 10+ miles per day)
  4. Get lots of sleep, regularly
  5. Minimize your stress when you can
  6. Stay very active in being social; family, friends, groups, community

“Dinner is destiny”. I love that, simple and profound. The point is that it’s what you do every day that matters the most.

“The 2015 Dietary Guidelines are a national embarrassment”. He went on to say that the report from the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee was actually quite good, but as I noted in my previous post, the Big Food interests and their lobbying power stifled the important messages and make the final product worthless. He also noted, as others have (including me) that the real tragedy is that the Guidelines are the basis of public policy. BTW, if you want to look at the Advisory Committee report, can do get the full 571 page report here to look at and download to your heart’s content.

Lastly, as Dr. Katz and John Robbin’s discussed optimal diets and the continual swirl of controversy and confusion, they both agreed that Michael Pollan probably said it best:

“Real food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Marion Nestle, PhD

I have seen Marion Nestle speak (in videos) several times and I have been a reader of her website and blog for several months. She is an amazing woman who has been virtually the “lone voice in the wilderness” for many years when it comes to discussing the politics of food and shining the light of truth onto the subject. She talked mostly about CocaCola and Pepsi and their battles to maintain themselves as legitimate and vital concerns now that the truth about high fructose corn syrup (HCFS, see Wednesday’s post with Mark Hyman) and it’s links to obesity and cardiovascular disease have become so widely known. She was a memeber of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Panel and one of the principles in getting the New York City ban limiting the size of soft drinks to 16 ounces, a move that is being challenged in the courts by Big Food. She has also been instrumental in exposing Coke and Pepsi’s attempts as anonymously funding efforts to ban GMO labeling, among other nefarious deeds.

Why would Coke and Pepsi give a rip about GMO labeling? Back to the high fructose corn syrup. Apparently almost all of the corn in the US is now GMO corn, so if there is a labeling law, all soft drinks would have to carry the GMO label. As usual, it’s all about the money. This is just another blatant attempt to maintain corporate profit selling a product that is demonstrably bad for your health. But corporations are people, as the Supreme Court has ruled, and so as long as they keep making money for their shareholders they can spend however much money it takes, either publicly or anonymously, to hide the truth and raise a small level of uncertainty and doubt as to the science. It’s just like Big Tobacco and Climate Science all over. It’s the same playbook every time and we keep falling for it.

Much of the spending in New York state trying to defeat the soda ban is being done by the National Restaurant Association. So, what’s their tie? As always, follow the dollar. According to Ms. Nestle, restaurants and movie theaters pay about 1¢ for each fluid ounce of soft drink. That’s the cost, all in (i.e. the cup, the syrup, the water, the CO2 tank, the cooling and the staff to serve it). Now imagine you just bought a soft drink at a movie theater. Say you got a 20 ounce cup and the theater is one that allows “free refills”. The theater is out 40¢ for your purchase. You probably paid $3 for it. That’s a 650% profit margin. So, yeah, they have a good reason to fight this. Guess what; no soda machine in my restaurant. 🙂

The Case Against Dairy

Disclaimer

I realize that I live just 25 miles from Wisconsin, the “Dairy State”, and that attitudes in this part of the country are solidly Midwestern, but the number of people who refuse to believe that dairy is not only unnecessary for good health, but is also detrimental to good health is a little staggering. So, let me begin with an open and honest disclaimer. I have no financial ties to any pro- or anti- dairy group. I stand to derive no financial benefit from this post (unless you click on one of the dopey ads). I do have a BS in Chemistry, an MD, 17 years of clinical practice experience in medicine and a certificate in plant based nutrition from Cornell. So you can choose to ignore what I tell you, but please admit that you’re doing so because you prefer to believe what you’ve been told by people who stand to gain financially from what you “know” and who trust you won’t be bold enough to change your habits because of new information.

OK, with that out of the way, I want to split this up thusly:

  1. What is milk?
  2. Why you think dairy is good for you.
  3. The Case Against Dairy
What is milk?

Milk is a liquid that contains macronutrients (protein, sugars, fats) and micronutrients that is made by the mammary glands of all mammals to feed their infant offspring. It is, quite literally, a growth formula that is species specific (i.e. human milk has a different composition than goat milk) and is designed to nurture the young until the digestive tract has developed enough to transition to food appropriate to the species. The particulars of human, cow, and goats milk are presented in the following table, derived from the USDA’s own food analysis tables1.

Human vs Animal MilkThe USDA and most dairy types express the amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrate as grams, but most clinical types of people (i.e. physicians (as if) and nutritionists) talk about protein, fat, and carbohydrate as percent of total calories. In the lower half of the table I’ve converted the numbers above into percent of total calories. I realize that the numbers don’t add up to 100%, so I’m just leaving them there because the raw data came right from USDA. If the number of calories for human milk was, for example, 175 per cup, then the numbers below would be 100%.

It should be obvious right away is that human milk has more carbohydrate and much less protein than cow or goat milk. Remembering that milk is a growth formula for the time of life when the individual will grow the fastest, it’s remarkable that human milk is about 6% protein, which should suggest that this is the amount of protein that is necessary for sustained growth and health. Interestingly, 112 years ago, a nutritionist at Yale University named Russel Henry Chittenden published the results of his research on the amount of protein necessary for adult humans. Challenging the status quo of 116 grams of protein suggested by Carl Von Voit, Chittenden found that active adult men (Yale student athletes and men in the Army Corps of Engineers) did perfectly well on 40 grams of protein a day2. Given an average diet of 2400 calories for these active men, Chittenden’s 40 grams of protein translates to protein as about 6.5% of total calories, almost identical to the protein content in human breast milk. Unfortunately, Chittenden’s work, although of great interest at the time, has largely been lost to posterity.

Why you think dairy is good for you.

When asked, most people say that cow’s milk is “good for you” because it is high in protein and has calcium to “make your bones strong”. Let’s look at those two things.

Cow milk does have a lot of protein. As our table shows, protein is 20% of the total calories. I’m going to keep this short and not get bogged down in the numbers, but it turns out that 20% of calories as protein is not good for your health, particularly if the proteins come from animal sources. Animal proteins are usually labeled as “high quality” because the protein sequences are very similar to our own and our bodies can use them more efficiently than plant proteins. This oversupply of efficiently used proteins does promote growth in the human body, but it’s not well regulated. And there are unintended (and unwanted) consequences including (but not limited to) cancer initiation, promotion, and progression. Cow milk protein is approximately 80% casein, which has been identified as a powerful carcinogen.

Cow milk has calcium. Yes, this is true also, but it must be said that cows have certainly not cornered the market on calcium. There are, in fact, much safer sources of calcium that don’t mix calcium with excess protein, saturated fat, and carcinogens. And where, do you suppose, cows get all their calcium? It’s not like they’re out in the field taking calcium supplements. No, cows get their calcium from the same place that you should, from their greens.

Furthermore, this study3 from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded “neither milk nor a high-calcium diet appears to reduce risk (of osteoporosis)”. In fact, as this map from the International Osteoporosis Foundation shows, high dairy consumption areas like the US and New Zealand have significantly higher osteoporosis risk than low dairy areas like Brazil, China, India and Indonesia.Osteoporosis

The Case Against Dairy
  1. Lactose Intolerance: affects approximately 95 percent of Asian-Americans, 74 percent of Native Americans, 70 percent of African-Americans, 53 percent of Mexican-Americans, and 15 percent of Caucasians.4 Doesn’t it seem odd that with this striking degree of lactose intolerance among non-Caucasians that the USDA mandates milk consumption in school age children?
  2. Growth Hormones: I know that there has been some lip service to decreasing the amount of bovine growth hormone given to cows to increase their milk production, but we’re talking about big agriculture doing the right thing when it could adversely effect profits? When has that ever worked? And that’s just the growth hormones that are synthetically given to the cow. What about all of the growth hormones that occur naturally in cow’s milk because the milk was designed to act as a growth food for the baby calf? Most worrisome is high levels of insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) that is present in cow’s milk and is linked to a number of human cancers.
  3. Bacterial contamination and antibiotics: I admit I got a little squeamish on this one, so be warned. According to the USDA5 guidelines, “the legal maximum BTSCC for Grade A milk shipments is 750,000 cells/ml”. That sentence needs a little background and if I get this wrong, I hope one of my dairy farming knowledgeable friends will correct me (gently). But as I understand it, when the milk is removed from the cows it is placed (on the dairy farm) in the blending tank (where the milk from all of the cows is blended). This is then tested periodically for contamination. Somatic Cell Counts are the number of “somatic cells” present in the sample. According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (in Britain) “The Somatic Cell Count (SCC) is a main indicator of milk quality. The majority of somatic cells are leukocytes (white blood cells).” White blood cells are also the primary component of pus and are present in increasing amounts in dairy cows because of an infection of the mammary glands (mastitis). And just so we’re clear, because there are 237 mL in a cup of milk, that means that Grade A milk in the U.S. can contain 177,750,000 white blood cells. If that isn’t enough to make you put down your glass, I don’t know what is. Of course, to treat that mastitis in the cow you have to give the cow antibiotics. The CDC has recently warned about the impending doom caused by resistant organisms, but the truth is that 80% of all antibiotics are used on our farm animals. The CDC has even put out this little infographic. ar-infographic-508c
  4. Type I Diabetes: Cow’s milk proteins are clearly linked to the development of Type I diabetes mellitus. Among other convincing evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics observed up to a 30 percent reduction in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in infants who avoid exposure to cow’s milk protein for at least the first three months of their lives.6
  5. Environmental risks: The contamination from cattle and dairy production is potentially catastrophic. Arable farmland and forests are cleared to support more cows. The nitrogen rich effluent of farms growing grain to support the cows as well as the manure cause coastal water algae blooms and oceanic “dead zones”. The methane from cow belches and flatulence is a major green house gas contributor. The Chatham House think tank from the UK came to these key findings:

    1. Public awareness of the link between diet and climate change is very low. There is a considerable awareness gap around the links between livestock, diet and climate change. While awareness-raising alone will not be sufficient to effect dietary change, it will be crucial to ensuring the efficacy of the range of government policy interventions required.
    2. Governments must lead. Our research found a general belief across cultures and continents that it is the role of government to spearhead efforts to address unsustainable consumption of meat. Governments overestimate the risk of public backlash and their inaction signals to publics that the issue is unimportant or undeserving of concern.
    3. The issue is complex but the message must be simple. Publics respond best to simple messages. Efforts must be made to develop meaningful, accessible and impactful messaging around the need for dietary change. The overall message remains clear: globally we should eat less meat.
    4. Trusted sources are key to raising awareness. Unless disseminated and supported by trusted sources, new information that encourages shifts in meat-eating habits is likely to be met with resistance. Trust in governments varies considerably between countries, but experts are consistently seen as the most reliable source of information within a country.
    5. – See more at: https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/changing-climate-changing-diets#sthash.ew3vLdLu.dpuf
  6. Greenhouse-gas-emissions
The Bottom Line (or, in Reddit speak, tl:dr)

There is no compelling reason to consume dairy from a nutritional or health perspective and a wealth of high quality data to strongly suggest eliminating it from the diet. It has too much protein, saturated fat, and a number of very potentially deleterious effects. Dairy can provide calcium, but this is readily available from many sources.

References:
  1. USDA. (n.d.). USDA National Nutrient Database. Retrieved 03 11, 2016, from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/
  2. Chittenden, R. H. (1904). Physiological economy in nutrition, with special reference to the minimal proteid requirement of the healthy man: An experimental Study. New York, NY, USA: F.A. Stokes & Co.
  3. Feskanich, D., Willett, W., & Colditz, G., Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women, Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:504-11.
  4. Bertron P, Barnard ND, Mills M. Racial bias in federal nutrition policy, part I: the public health implications of variations in lactase persistence. J Natl Med Assoc. 1999;91:151–157.
  5. USDA. (2013, July). APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service). Retrieved March 11, 2016, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/dairy/downloads/dairy_monitoring/BTSCC_2012infosheet.pdf
  6. Eidelman AI, Schanler RJ. Policy statement: breastfeeding and the use of human milk. From the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics. 2012;129:827–841.

 

The Fallacy of Fat: Dairy Exposed

say-no-to-milkAs we saw in the last post, food labeling can be tricky business. There are all sorts of loop holes and shenanigans that lure the unsuspecting consumer (us!) into believing they are getting something nutritious when, in fact, they are not. So today I thought we’d take a look at milk. As many of you know, I am not a fan. In fact, I would support complete dairy boycott as I firmly believe that milk and it’s byproducts are some of the very worst foods we can consume. The most prominent proteins in milk are casein (82%) and when (18%). By the standards set forth to test for chemical carcinogens (chemicals that can cause cancer) casein is considered one the most potent ever identified. But I’m not even going in to that (or the implications for diabetes, heart disease, or the gross inhumanity of cattle) I’m just here to talk about the fat.

In the United States we have wide access to 4 kinds of milk, which are probably familiar to everyone. There is “whole” milk, 2% milk, 1% milk and skim milk (putatively “fat free”). The Washington Post ran an article on October 3, 2014 that states:

Whole milk isn’t made wholly of fat, or largely of fat, or even substantially of fat. In fact, it doesn’t contain much fat all.

Whole milk is actually only about 3.5 percent fat.

Well, that’s not so bad, right?

WRONG!

What does that actually mean, 3.5% fat? 3.5% of what? Therein lies the magic (illusion?). Whole milk is 3.5% fat BY WEIGHT. And what makes up most of the weight of milk? Anyone? Yes, it’s water! And water has how many calories? None! Can you see where this is going?

As readers will already have heard, an “ideal” diet is 10% of calories from fat, 5–10% of calories from protein, and 80–85% of calories from complex, unrefined carbohydrates (whole foods and that does NOT include Doritos, Snickers, etc.). And this is how pretty much everyone thinks about food, macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrate), and calories; as a percentage of total calories. No one thinks about fat, protein, or carbohydrate as a percentage of the weight, unless they’re into marketing and trying to fool you. And they do it because it works.

Let’s look at whole milk again with a more rational lens:

Serving Size                             1 cup (8 ounces)

Calories                                    148

Total fat                                   8 grams

Saturated fat (the bad kind)   4.6 grams

Total Calories from fat            72 (8 grams x 9 calories/gram)

% of calories from fat             49%

Yes, it’s sadly true, almost half of the calories from a glass of milk are from fat. Here’s a table of how the different milks compare. Notice that when you take out most of the fat, almost half the calories disappear.

MilkBut even “fat free” skim milk still has 2% of it’s calories from fat, obviously much improved from it’s 1%, 2%, and whole milk siblings, but it is not free of fat. And don’t forget, there’s still that casein to contend with!

But, don’t worry, there’s always a dissenting opinion. You could certainly turn to Karen Giles-Smith, a registered dietitian and health and wellness coach. Her article tells you that milk fat is good for your body. By the way, Ms. Giles-Smith was previously employed by the Dairy Council of Michigan for nutrition communications and she does quote Greg Miller, president of the Dairy Research Institute and executive vice president of the National Dairy Council. I’m sure there was no bias in this work.

 

A moment to discuss “low fat” or “fat free” oil

pam-cookingspray-oliveoilYes, I want to spend a couple of minutes on our friend PAM purely olive oil. According to the label, this product’s first (and really only) ingredient is olive oil. But due to some sort of magical process by our friends at ConAgra Foods, this olive oil as been depleted of it’s fat. Isn’t that amazing!

pam top frontRight there on the label, just below the cap it says “FOR FAT-FREE COOKING”. If you still aren’t convinced, there’s this nifty label on the bottom of the front:

pam frontThis one tells us that it has no calories and no saturated fat as well as no sodium or sugars. But then again, we don’t really expect a lot of sodium or sugars from an oil and saturated fat, as you know (if you’ve been reading the blog) is basically animal fat or, more rarely, coconut oil.

So how did ConAgra pull off this little magic trick? I’m hoping that a couple of you already know the answer, but the real answer is that they didn’t. Magic is what it always has been; an illusion. Let’s look at the back label (sorry it’s a little blurry).

Pam labelAgain we see, no fat, no calories from fat and total fat = 0g. But! But this is “per serving”. And what is a serving of PAM purely olive oil? Well, as you can see, it’s a 0.25 second spray. A quarter of a second spray. Really? Have you ever seen anyone do a 0.25 second spray except where there’s that one little spot you missed when you doused the pan? Why would they list anything so ridiculous as a 0.25 second spray? The answer — and here’s the illusion (er, magic) — is that the FDA has an exemption that allows manufacturers to “round down” if the serving size is less than 0.5 g. And our amazing 0.25 second spray yields a serving of 0.25 g, thus ConAgra can, within the limits of the rules, round down all of their values to 0.

Let’s do a little quick math on that label. There are 473 “servings” of 0.25 grams, which means there is 118.25 grams of olive oil in a full can. A tablespoon (15 mL) of olive oil has 14 grams of fat and since there isn’t really anything but fat in olive oil, we can assume that there are about 8.4 tablespoons of olive oil in full can (118.25/14). Kind of makes the can seem expensive, doesn’t it? More to the point, 118.25 grams of fat is 1,064.25 calories, all from fat, for a full can.

Or, in more typical use, a 3 second spray is 3 (seconds) x 4 (spray/second) x 0.25 grams/spray) = 3 grams of fat or 27 calories (9 calories per gram for fat). Really, not bad for applying oil to a pan to prevent sticking and better, I’ll grant, that rubbing it up with butter or shortening, but it’s not zero and it never will be, no matter how hard they to fool us.

Making it easy

Since a lot of the commentary has been about the importance of making it easier to adopt a plant based diet, I’m going to include a few tidbits.

Thrive Market is the Amazon of WFPB pantry goods.  Prices seem pretty good and free delivery for orders over $49. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

The Purple Carrot is a service that delivers ingredients and recipes to your home. A bit expensive, I think, but the convenience factor has to have a price.

For working with your kids, here are 7 Days of Kid Friendly Dinners from Dr. John McDougall’s site.

More to come and if you have any suggestions please pass them along!

So what’s holding YOU back?

I had an interesting discussion with one of my kids last night. This is the son that is most definitely not a plant based eater. He said that it was going to take a lot more than health benefits to get a lot of people to consider changing their diet from standard American diet (SAD) to a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet. He thought that things like cost and convenience were very important. As I’ve already posted on Twitter and Facebook this morning, an epidemiological study in Spain reports that those who spend more on their food generally have a healthier diet and weight. But this is not new information. A 2012 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine described “Obesogenic Neighborhoods” and make a clear link between zip code and obesity that was at least as prevalent as genetics. In follow up work, a 2015 article in the same journal was the kind of study that doctors and researchers love. The researchers looked at people who moved into poorer socioeconomic neighborhoods and found that people gained weight after doing so.

But I digress. Rather than cover the science, I thought today I would share more personal information. Here’s why I follow a WFPB diet.

  1. Health. No secret here, WFPB diet is the healthiest diet we know. While there may be some who “feel” that other diets have health benefits, there is little scientific data to support long term health for any pattern of eating other than WFPB. This is particularly true for those who suffer the “diseases of affluence” like cancer, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, vascular disease and all of the non-disease symptoms that are diet related (like abdominal pain and constipation).
  2. The Planet. There are not a lot of ways individuals can actually make a difference, but this is one. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your planet. If you are such a brainwashed dolt as to believe that Climate Change isn’t real, well, go somewhere else and put your head back in the sand. Don’t worry, it will all be fine, just like Fox News said it would be (or, open your eyes and your mind and do a little research, it’s not hard to find). Everyone else knows that emissions from cars is bad for the environment. It turns out, cows are worse. The impact of methane emissions from livestock is worse than the impact of car emissions. A couple of “factoids” taken from The Purple Carrot website:
    • each burger you don’t eat saves the impact equivalent of 320 miles of driving
    • If everyone in the USA ate not meat or cheese for one day a week for a year (52 times a year) we would save the impact of 91 billion miles of driving
    • Eating WFPB for four days a week is the carbon-savings equivalent of three months with no car for a family of four
    • It takes 1,811 more gallons of water to produce a pound of beef vs. a pound of vegetables.
  3. Because I’m mad about being deceived. Yes, this the “let’s stick it to the man” part of me that is likely a product of being raised in the 1960’s. But this has seen a huge resurgence with millennials in response to “Big Tobacco” and it’s pretty clear that “Big Food” doesn’t want to go the way of Tobacco. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has been at the forefront of trying to hold the government and “Big Food” responsible. They successfully sued the USDA and in October of 2000, the court ruled that the USDA violated federal law by withholding documents and hiding financial conflicts of interest. In 2011 PCRM again sued the USDA over the 2010 dietary guidelines and “food pyramid” the did not give good guidance to Americans on diet choices. In response, the USDA switched to the “Healthy Plate” model that they still use. PCRM has also petitioned the FTC, USDA, and national dairy organization to stop false and misleading ads about the health benefits of milk consumption, which led directly to a cessation of that promotion. Apparently the Center for Consumer Freedom objects to all of this activity by PCRM and led to this “report“. However, the Center for Consumer Freedom is “The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), formerly the Guest Choice Network, is an American non-profit entity founded by Richard Berman that lobbies on behalf of the fast food, meat, alcohol and tobacco industries.” This whole nutrition thing stinks of greed and profit through purposeful deception and ignorance. I’m grateful that I have the time, energy and education and interest to pursue this and I truly understand that most of you do not. All the more reason why it should not be so difficult to get the truth.

So, that’s it. It’s why I am a WFPB eater. How about you?

 

 

 

Let’s Start to Talk About Protein

meat-1474538-640x960

I’ve had two people recently ask me to talk a bit about protein. I’ll admit that asking a plant based physician taking a nutrition course to talk about protein is a bit like asking a Trekkie what their favorite Star Trek episode is. So rather than diving into this topic as I am usually want to do, I thought I’d toss out a couple of snippets and see what bounces back. If you read something that interests you, let me know and I’ll make it the topic of a future post.

  1. How much protein is needed? The flippant answer is YMMV (your milage may vary) because the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) is based upon your body weight. Thus, everyone’s “number” is a little different. But, practically speaking, the numbers are not that different. The RDA figure is based upon the EAR (estimated average requirement), previously called the Minimum Daily Requirement. The EAR is 0.5–0.6 grams of dietary protein per kg body weight per day. In order to account for variations in diet, activity levels, etc. the RDA is constructed to encompass the EAR + 2 standard deviations. In this way, the RDA encompasses the needs to over 95% of the population and only about 2% (on the low side only) won’t have their protein needs met by following the RDA. So, what is the RDA? The RDA for dietary protein is 0.80 grams of dietary protein per kg body weight per day. So, if you’re a 150 pound person (68 kg) your RDA of dietary protein is 55 grams. Expressed as the percent of total diet calories, protein should comprise 8-10% of total dietary calories.
  2. It is important to note that the RDA is NOT the recommended minimum. It is the recommended TOTAL amount of protein necessary to maintain good health.
  3. A plant based diet naturally provides 8-10% of calories as dietary protein. While it is possible to push total protein intake to higher levels without consuming animals, it is difficult and requires the use of plant protein supplements. Given the inherent problems with high protein intake (see #8, below) there is no reason to do so.
  4. Is there a way to mix some meats into a plant based diet and still stay around the 10% level of calories as protein? Not really. Since a plant based diet alone provides perfectly adequate amounts of protein any additional protein as meat will push the total protein amount up into unhealthy territory.
  5. Do plants need to be “combined” to provide adequate and complete protein. Short answer: no. Long answer: no. 🙂 There was some concern about this many years ago, but it is widely understood that anyone eating a varied whole grain plant based diet need not concern themselves with protein combinations.
  6. Is animal protein needed for any reason? Again, short answer is no. The longer answer is also no, but the interested reader should have some information on why there is such a widely held misconception that animal protein is better for you than plant protein. I would argue, in fact, that exactly the opposite is true. But back in the early days of protein science, it was observed that animal proteins were used “more efficiently” than plant based proteins. That is to say, when people and animals are fed animal protein, which closely resembles their own protein in composition, the enzymes to digest the animal protein, the absorption, and subsequent utilization of the protein is all more easily done. As a result of this observation, animal based protein was labelled as “high quality” protein and plant based protein was labelled as “low quality” protein. The seemingly obvious follow up to that observation is: does it make a difference? And the answer is yes, but not how you think it does.
  7. Diets high in “high quality” animal protein do stimulate faster body growth rate and production of more growth factors. In a previous post I reported that American’s were not only getting fatter, but also taller. Unfortunately, weight is increasing faster than height, so body mass index (BMI) is increasing as well. But, it turns out that increased growth rate and growth factor production also means more cancer, which is just as stimulated by the protein as normal cells. It’s why we’re seeing earlier and earlier menarche (age of beginning menstrual cycles) in our girls, which increases the lifetime exposure of mammary tissues to increasing amounts of estrogen, which results in increasing breast cancer rates. It also means more growth factors, like Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which was implicated in increased cancer rates.
  8. Last for today, increased total protein intake is associated with “diseases of affluence”. This includes cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and similar long term illnesses. Higher protein intake is independently associated with elevated cholesterol levels. Animal proteins are, by necessity, associated with animal fats (i.e. saturated fats, the ones you’re not supposed to have). Thus a diet rich in animal protein must also be rich in fat. Lastly, a diet of animal proteins and fats is associated with elevated dietary acids, that leads to leaching of calcium from the bones and osteoporosis. It’s well established that countries with the highest meat and dairy consumption have, by far, the highest rates of osteoporosis.

Hope this gives you all a bit to ponder. As I said before, let me know and I’ll be glad to expand upon any or all!