Less Meat, Less Heat, More Life!

“Less Meat, Less Heat, More Life!” That is what Arnold Schwarzenegger had to say with James Cameron along with China’s big announcement to cut meat consumption by 50% by 2030.

He didn’t say become a vegan or vegetarian, which may be the right thing for you; he said less meat and the driving force is that this is the #2 cause of greenhouse gases that are heating the planet.

Nutrient Rich Superfoods could not be more behind this message that came with the big announcement from China.

China’s health ministry released new dietary guidelines — with profound implications.

The guidelines encourage the nation’s 1.3 billion people to reduce their meat consumption by 50% between now and 2030.

If achieved, these guidelines would lead to a reduction in meat consumption that would be greater than all the meat currently consumed in the United States.

The Chinese communist party has found unusual allies. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Avatar producer James Cameron have produced a series of provocative videos aimed at supporting the cause.

Here’s a look behind the scenes of their efforts and to watch the above video.

"Less meat, less heat, more life!"
In the last 30 years, Chinese meat consumption has quadrupled.

As Dr. T. Colin Campbell documented in “The China Study,” the rapid rise in Chinese meat consumption has produced exploding rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Tragically, more than 114 million people in China are now suffering from diabetes, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And 28% of men and 27% of women are overweight or obese, as found in a paper published in The Lancet.

The primary goal of these new guidelines is to improve the health of the Chinese people. But this dramatic change would also have an extraordinary impact on the world’s climate, water supplies, and food security. Millions of lives would be saved, and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by a billion tons per year.

A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables would have staggering benefits, researchers from the Oxford Martin School reported in March 2016. Such a shift could save up to 8 million lives by 2050 and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages amounting to $1.5 trillion.

China’s new guidelines are a huge step in that direction.

Currently, the average Chinese person eats 63 kg of meat per year. The new guidelines call for reducing this to 14 kg to 27 kg per year — which would be the most rapid drop in meat consumption by a population even remotely near this large in world history.

For the last 30 years, China has been following the American example — with an explosion of restaurants like KFC and McDonald’s — and with a corresponding explosion in rates of a long list of diet-related diseases. But now, the nation is seeing where this path leads — and is beginning to change its course. Perhaps now, the United States will follow China’s lead.

The future of the planet may depend on it.

Ref: The Food Revolution.

So You Want to Balance Your Hormones? This is Not The Way

hormonal balance2Balancing Hormones, as if that was something you could actually do with any level of accuracy (which you can’t), other than providing the right “conditions” for natural, healthy hormonal balance, is a popular topic today. Ironically, many people who are attempting to do so, don’t realize the effect that animal protein has on hormonal balance, and are promoting the proliferation of one of the most influential growth-promoting hormones in our bodies, beyond what’s natural or what’s healthy, often two times per day, when they eat a diet rich in animal protein.

It’s called raising IGF-1 – insulin-like growth factor.

Here’s a great article by Joel Fuhrman M.D. on why minimizing or eliminating animal products is important from a scientific perspective, not humane, moral or environmental reasons alone. If you want to balance your hormones, this is a great place to start.

Of course, the reason we define animal products as nutrient poor here at NutrientRich.com, is because they are largely devoid of micronutrients – phytochemicals and fiber, among many other factors. I touched on this subject a while back, in this video series with Michael Greger MD as well.

You can learn more about Dr. Fuhrman’s knowledge, food and nutrition products here.

Most people are aware of the connections between red and processed meats and cancer – that there is convincing evidence that these dangerous foods are a cause of colon cancer.1 In addition, cooking any meat at high temperatures (for example, grilled or fried chicken) forms carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines, which contribute to cancer risk.2,3 However, animal foods such as non-fat dairy products, egg whites, and fish are considered healthful by most people.  It not yet widely recognized that foods such as these, since they are so high in animal protein, can also contribute to increased cancer risk.

When we consume animal protein, the body increases its production of a hormone called IGF-1, (insulin-like growth factor 1). IGF-1 is one of the body’s important growth promoters during fetal and childhood growth, but later in life IGF-1 promotes the aging process.  Reduced IGF-1 signaling in adulthood is associated with reduced oxidative stress, decreased inflammation, enhanced insulin sensitivity and longer lifespan.4 In contrast, IGF-1 has been shown to promote the growth, proliferation and spread of cancer cells, and elevated IGF-1 levels are linked to increased risk of several cancers, colon cancer included.5-8  Several observational studies have suggested that high circulating IGF-1 may translate into promotion of tumor growth in the colon.  For example, one study in men and one another in women found that those with higher levels of IGF-1 had double the risk of colorectal cancers compared to those with lower levels.9,10

Which foods raise IGF-1?
Since the primary dietary factor that determines IGF-1 levels is animal protein, the excessive meat, fowl, seafood, and dairy intake common in our society elevates circulating IGF-1. Refined carbohydrates, like white flour, white rice, and sugars can also raise IGF-1 levels, because they cause rapid increases in insulin levels, leading to increases in IGF-1 signaling. In fact, IGF-1 signaling is thought to be a major factor in the connection between diabetes and cancer.11,12

It is the amino acid distribution of animal protein that sparks IGF-1 production.13 For this reason, isolated soy protein, found in protein powders and meat substitutes, may also be problematic because the protein is unnaturally concentrated and its amino acid profile is very similar to that of animal protein.

How can we keep IGF-1 in a safe range?
Reducing IGF-1 levels by dietary methods is now considered by many scientists to be an effective cancer prevention measure.  Minimizing or avoiding animal protein, isolated soy protein and refined carbohydrates can help to keep our IGF-1 levels in a safe range. Green vegetables, beans and other legumes, and seeds are rich in plant protein and they have cancer-preventive, not cancer-promoting properties. For optimal cancer protection, vegetables, beans, fruits, intact grains, nuts and seeds should comprise the vast majority of our calories.

1.Continuous Update Project Interim Report Summary.  Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer. . World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research.; 2011.
2.Thomson B: Heterocyclic amine levels in cooked meat and the implication for New Zealanders. Eur J Cancer Prev 1999;8:201-206.
3.Zheng W, Lee S-A: Well-Done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer Risk. Nutr Cancer 2009;61:437-446.
4.Bartke A: Minireview: role of the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor system in mammalian aging. Endocrinology 2005;146:3718-3723.
5.Chitnis MM, Yuen JS, Protheroe AS, et al: The type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor pathway. Clin Cancer Res 2008;14:6364-6370.
6.Werner H, Bruchim I: The insulin-like growth factor-I receptor as an oncogene. Arch Physiol Biochem 2009;115:58-71.
7.Davies M, Gupta S, Goldspink G, et al: The insulin-like growth factor system and colorectal cancer: clinical and experimental evidence. Int J Colorectal Dis 2006;21:201-208.
8.Sandhu MS, Dunger DB, Giovannucci EL: Insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF binding proteins, their biologic interactions, and colorectal cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:972-980.
9.Ma J, Pollak MN, Giovannucci E, et al: Prospective study of colorectal cancer risk in men and plasma levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF-binding protein-3. J Natl Cancer Inst 1999;91:620-625.
10.Giovannucci E, Pollak MN, Platz EA, et al: A prospective study of plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 and binding protein-3 and risk of colorectal neoplasia in women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2000;9:345-349.
11.Cannata D, Fierz Y, Vijayakumar A, et al: Type 2 diabetes and cancer: what is the connection? Mt Sinai J Med 2010;77:197-213.
12.Venkateswaran V, Haddad AQ, Fleshner NE, et al: Association of diet-induced hyperinsulinemia with accelerated growth of prostate cancer (LNCaP) xenografts. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99:1793-1800.
13.Thissen JP, Ketelslegers JM, Underwood LE: Nutritional regulation of the insulin-like growth factors. Endocr Rev 1994;15:80-101.

The Failure to Thrive–Speculations on the Nutritional Adequacy of 100% Plant-Based Diets, by John Allen Mollenhauer and Michael Klaper, M.D

Years ago, I made the Switch to a More Plant-Based, Nutrient-Rich healthy-eating style. I did so after almost two decades of eating the SAD, Standard American Diet, and another five years as a bodybuilder, where I was essentially a professional dieter eating a predominantly animal product-based diet by calorie. This is not far from how many people eat today who attempt low-carbohydrate, high-animal protein diets to manage their weight. At first, I did not make the “nutrition transition” correctly and experienced a variety of symptoms, like fatigue, which were heightened, for what was in-retrospect, a relatively short period of time–even though it didn’t feel short when I was going through it.

For anyone making the Switch to a plant-based diet, a vegan diet, or what we refer to here as a 90% or More Plant-Based Nutrient Rich® healthy-eating style–the “nutrition-transition” is different. At first, the change can be challenging. Over time, it gets easier, and eventually it will get so pleasurable, for so many reasons, that you will never even think of going back to eating the Standard American Diet, or to the typical weight loss-only or muscle-building diets.

I made the Switch when people and professionals were really just learning how to make such a change, the field of nutrition was just on the verge of an explosion, but was still operating on outdated models of thinking, and the “high-nutrient density” or “nutrient-rich” healthy eating styles were not understood, and weren’t even terms people were using. The idea of eating a plant-based diet was just coming into vogue, on the heels of the vegetarian movement–and all of this was considered “alternative.”

That was 1990. Over the past two decades, early adopters of a plant-based, nutrient-rich eating style have learned so much about what it means to eat healthy that it will probably be decades before the masses even catch up. There is a lot to know (80% of which, is about what you no longer want to do, not what you need to do) and so many people in the nutritional field are clinging to outmoded ways of eating. In fact, many professionals and the people they serve may find themselves locked in either the vicious cycle of eating nutrient poor for many more years to come, or eating “healthier” for decades, but falling short of their true potentials.

That said, this post is not about the history or emergence of dietary changes or the healthy success results one can experience when they learn how to make the Switch to nutrient-rich healthy eating style. Rather, this article is about why some people thrive when making these changes, and others don’t. I can completely understand why many people get tripped up during a nutrition transition, and go back to eating the way they once did. Note: Not everyone has the same experience and please read our disclaimer.

Everyone who makes a nutrition transition, for the purposes of detoxification, wanting healthy and natural weight loss, as opposed to dieting, improved health, disease-reversal, and/or for slower aging and longevity purposes, will experience the symptoms of change. It’s just what inevitably happens when you no longer consume significant quantities of foods that are super-stimulating, rapid growth-promoting and toxic to the body.

Just like any significant change in life–change can be hard at first. Metaphorically speaking, it’s like moving from PC to MAC. Significant changes force you to get familiar with a new operating system, so to speak, and some new routines and experiences that can really test your patience, are sometimes uncomfortable at first, and/or emotional. The same is true when you change eating styles. In the case of making a nutrition transition to a healthier diet, which inevitably means eating more plant-based nutrient rich foods, your body has to adjust to fiber-rich, phytochemical-rich foods. And this, healthy “new normal” requires your body–particularly your digestive track, to adapt its functions.

It has taken years to understand the nutrition-transition period, and how to guide people through it. I for one did not do it correctly–because understanding how to make the Switch to a plant-based “nutrient-rich” healthy eating style was not understood when I did it. Most people, when making a dietary change, make the Switch to a “plant-based diet,” by going vegetarian or vegan, and giving up animal products. Doing it this way may translate into a very unhealthy eating style, even though you may not be eating animals. Eating “nutrient rich,” which may or may not be vegan or vegetarian, is a healthy eating style, and it is about far more than not eating meat alone.

But for one reason or another, going vegan–all the way to a 100% plant-based diet– has become quite popular. I think it’s because of the animal welfare issues, and the fact that it is a simple-minded, single-variable approach to dietary change, it’s one that is very emotionally charged, and it is a real door-opener to people who want to eat healthier. The problem is–not everyone thrives when eating a vegan diet, for two reasons:

  1. They don’t know how to make a nutrition transition, and
  2. They are mainly focused on eliminating animal products, without understand the nutrient-rich healthy eating style, which causes them to inevitably end up eating a “healthier” diet that is still nutrient poor.

Now imagine these two factors compounded by the long-standing physiological effects of a previous usual diet that was disease-promoting, and a certain percentage of people will experience “the failure the thrive,” even when switching to a healthy eating style. The Failure to Thrive means they will experience symptoms that persist beyond a reasonable period of time, and will be forced to go back to the unhealthy ways of eating that their body was used to, so they can feel better. It’s the old story of the coffee addict who feels uncomfortable when he/she stops drinking coffee, and then needs another cup to feel better. That statement is packed!

It’s one thing to say that people experiencing the Failure to Thrive are simply dealing with withdrawal symptoms from nutrient-poor and nutrient-barren foods, but in reality it’s more than that and this calls into question the nutritional adequacy of 100% plant-based diets for many. This is not a post against going vegan, as we are very much in support of those who do it. Rather, this post is about the speculations on why some people thrive eating a vegan diet and others don’t. It’s also the reason we promote a “90% or More Plant-Based Nutrient Rich healthy eating style, with the option of going vegan if you choose to do so. We want everyone to thrive.

When making a nutrition-transition, the body has to go through a rebuilding process, and it has to adapt to what is now an overall nutrient-rich (phytochemical-rich, fiber-rich) diet, which will have a noticeable impact on how the body functions. For one, the body will detoxify faster and more intensely when it has thousands of cell-protective, immune system-boosting phytonutrients coursing through it, in addition to fiber-regulating food transit, and nutrient absorption among many other functions working well.

I had speculated, with a high degree of confidence, that these two adjustments alone can prompt an uncomfortable set of symptoms for a least a period of time, but I really wanted to delve deeper into why some people just feel a little better when including small amounts of animal products. So to get an in depth answer, I worked with long-time, pioneering vegan doctor, and health luminary, Michael Klaper, MD. With decades of experience, I knew he would have some great insight to add to this conversation.

Here’s what he had to say about the nutritional adequacy of 100% plant-based or “vegan” diets:

“I have been a practicing physician for almost forty years, with post-graduate training in internal medicine, surgery, anesthesiology, and obstetrics, and a strong, career-long interest in applied nutrition. Over the years, I have seen the beneficial effects of a plant-based diet, specifically, a 100% whole-foods, (vegan) diet as a specific therapy for so many of the chronic, degenerative diseases that plague modern Western society: high blood pressure, obesity, Type II (“adult-onset”) diabetes, prostate cancer, and many inflammatory and auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma .

“With its abundant phyto-nutrients (phytochemicals) and fiber, and minimal amounts of saturated fats and inflammation-inciting proteins, such as casein and lactabumin, a vegan diet is a powerful therapeutic tool for arresting and even reversing many of these feared disease states. With its smaller ecological footprint and lack of cruelty to sentient animals, it is no wonder that many people around the world are adopting a purely plant-based dietary style. Indeed, many ecologists are now advocating a plant-based dietary style as a key component in arresting global warming and feeding Earth’s burgeoning human population, sustainably, in the decades to come.

I have had the opportunity to observe many people who have adopted and maintained a vegan diet for 20 years, or more. Many of these people are thriving on diets comprised of 100% unrefined plant foods; a wide variety of whole green and colored vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds and whole grains The science seems to validate this, since, upon nutritional analysis, all the nutrients – amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and essential fats can be found within a broad-based, unprocessed, vegan diet.

With a source of supplemental vitamin B-12 (produced by microorganisms) to compensate for the losses of intake from previous natural sources, like water from open streams and wells and unwashed vegetables, these people demonstrate that a vegan diet is the best dietary style for them, and I have no reason to dispute their claim. To me, their apparent vitality and lack of disease states are powerful validations of a whole-foods, plant-based diet as a nutrient-rich “fuel mixture” to nourish the human body.

However, despite the theoretical nutritional adequacy of a completely vegan diet, not everyone who attempts to nourish themselves without consuming animal products seems to do so successfully. After months or years on a vegan diet, but without knowledge of some basic nutritional principles, people can find themselves lacking in vitality and muscular strength–sometimes with physical signs, such as dry skin, cracking fingernails, and lack of muscle mass.

Many of these people have consulted me over the years, seeking guidance in optimizing their vegan diets. In many cases, the cause is obvious: their diet revolves around devitalized, overly-processed foods, such as veggie-burgers, soy milk, and non-dairy cheeses, yogurts and “ice creams.” Such synthetic foods are nutrient poor, excessively high in sugar and sodium, while lacking fiber and the phyto-nutrients that whole, unprocessed nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds provide.

Many of these people soon find themselves thriving when they eliminate the lifeless “junk foods” and transition to a truly health-supporting vegan diet, such as described in, Becoming Vegan, by Vesanto Melina, R.D., Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D and Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

For others, detecting and correcting deficiencies in trace minerals or omega-3 fatty acids can provide the “missing link” that allows them to achieve the good health and vitality that they seek. The balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats can be determined with a drop of blood on a card. If a deficiency of omega-3 fats are found, increasing intake of walnuts, flax, and green vegetables is indicated, and if necessary, supplementation with 300 mg of algae-derived DHA, daily.

Other supplements to consider if a non-thriving vegan person wishes to keep their diet completely plant based:

•    Multivitamin/mineral supplements to assure adequacy of minerals like selenium, manganese, iodine and zinc.

•    Supplemental taurine and carnitine and/or creatine (amino acid-based supplements available at natural food stores).

•    Supplemental DHEA, after one has their salivary, cortisol and DHEA levels measured. (Amounts will be considered later.)

Yet, despite these counseling successes, I am aware that there is a significant population of long-term vegans, who despite their best efforts, and mine, to optimize their vegan diets, still remain pale, underweight, and unable to achieve the robust health they seek. When, out of frustration, with years of trying to overcome their nutritional challenges by using various supplements and vegan food regimens, a number of them reluctantly, but finally, reverted to adding some meat or eggs back into their diets, they often achieve significant benefits–sometimes with dramatic results. Increased energy levels and muscle mass became evident in a many of them.

These people are nutritional enigmas to me and have made me theorize about what factors may be at work to prevent achieving their nutritional goals on a vegan diet. I present my speculations in the sections that follow:

However, before I present my ideas about possible mechanisms that may explain the “vegan failure-to-thrive syndrome,” I must assert that the problem ultimately lies with my lack of nutritional understanding, rather than an inherent lack of nutritional adequacy in a well-planned, whole-foods vegan diet. I am a general practitioner in private practice, not a nutritional biochemist. I feel strongly that with proper scientific study and clinical application, a 100% plant-based diet can be made to meet virtually every person’s nutritional needs–if we just knew enough about human physiology and nutrition.

It is a source of great dismay to me that in the United States, the highly-esteemed, federally-funded, National Institutes of Health consists of 27 separate institutes, like the National Cancer Institute, the National Eye Institute, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute–yet, not ONE of the Institutes has the word “Nutrition” in its name. If the United States was really serious about improving the state of health of its citizens, there would certainly be a National Institute of Nutrition as part of the N.I.H–and within it would be the “Division of Vegan Studies,” where plant-based diets and their effects upon human health and disease would indeed be studied with the technological resources and scientific rigor that they deserve.

Volunteers would be brought into the Institute and fed controlled plant-based diets for prolonged periods of time and have many parameters measured, including blood tests and metabolic balance studies. Much can be learned by examining tissue obtained through “skinny-needle” biopsies of muscle and fat to see what actually happens during long-term adherence to a vegan diet among people of various ages, races and body types. I am sure that with this kind of proper scientific study, the riddle of the “vegan failure-to-thrive syndrome” would be solved. With computer analysis of a drop of blood, a nourishing, health-enhancing, completely plant-based diet could be optimized for each individual.

However, until that golden age of nutritional research and understanding dawns, solo practitioners like me, who slog away “at the coalface” of applied nutrition must rely on only the biochemistry learned in medical school, post-graduate training, and the clinical experience gained through many years of empirical practice to help our non-thriving vegan patients. It is from this island of nutritional observation and speculation that I offer some possible mechanisms that may underlie this problem, as well as possible strategies to overcome them–while trying to do the least harm to people, animals and the planet.

So, why may a seemingly-adequate plant-based diet comprised of 100% unrefined plant foods appear to be less than optimal in a given individual? Rather than an inherent deficiency of nutrients necessary to fuel a Homo sapien’s body, the origins may lie in the early years of development of our individual digestive systems.

Like all other organs in our body, our gastrointestinal system is undoubtedly influenced by how we treat those tissues in our earliest years. When considering the gastrointestinal system, of course, it is the food we eat that exerts the greatest influence upon the developing tissues that digest and absorb our nutrients. Specifically, the food we present to the surface of the intestinal membranes, which then absorbs those nutrients and sends them to the liver, may be a deciding factor in the developing structure and function of those organs.

Specifically, if a person grows up eating the “Standard American Diet” based on meat and dairy products, the food stream that is repeatedly slathered over the 26 feet of intestinal membranes has some specific characteristics–it is high in fat, high in protein, high in cholesterol, low in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and is rich in easily-absorbed minerals like zinc and magnesium. It also contains substantial quantities of pre-formed, animal-derived nutrients, like carnitine and creatine, needed for energy metabolism and muscle function.

If this is the food stream that is continually applied to the intestinal surface membranes, day after day, month after month, throughout childhood, the membranes will adapt appropriately:

•    The mucus that the intestinal membrane secretes on its surface, and through which all nutrients must pass to be absorbed, will be optimized for absorbing fats cholesterol, and minerals from the fiber-less, fast-food slurry that is presented to it.

•    The enzymes in the intestinal cells, responsible for the absorption of amino acids, minerals, vitamins and other essential substances into the bloodstream, become the most efficient for absorbing those nutrients from a high-fat, low-fiber food stream.

•    The enzymes in the liver cells are induced to create the optimal balance needed to best metabolize that “animal-rich” nutrient mixture in the bloodstream.

It is not difficult to visualize that if a person eats this “Standard American Diet” (SAD) throughout their childhood, adolescence and young adulthood–usually for decades–their digestive system may “set” in the mode which is most efficient in digesting and absorbing the above-named nutrients from the highly-processed, high-fat, low-fiber food stream. With a daily diet that is over-the-top in calories, fats, protein, and an absorption system that has adapted to become highly efficient at absorbing those dense energy sources, the SAD-diet eaters often become overweight, and then ill with a host of blood vessel and obesity-related diseases.

If, in their twenties, thirties, or later, the person reads a book, attends a lecture, sees a program, or meets a person who extols the virtues of a vegan or vegetarian diet, the individual may decide that he or she also wants to nourish themselves on completely plant-based foods. In adopting a “healthy” vegan regimen, based upon unprocessed grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, they are effectively doing a near 180-degree reversal on many of the major qualities of their previously-eaten food stream, which was in many cases up to 90% or more nutrient-poor foods:

•    Instead of being high in fat, it is now low in fat.
•    Instead of being high of protein, it is lower in protein.
•    Instead of being low in complex carbohydrates, it is now high in complex carbohydrates.
•    Instead of easily absorbed minerals, the zinc and magnesium are firmly bound to plant fiber.
•    Very importantly, animal-associated molecules like omega-3 fats, carnitine and creatine, which are needed for energy metabolism and muscle function, respectively, that used to come into the body preformed, with meat products, are now suddenly absent. Consequently, the liver, muscles and other tissues must now “gear up” enzymes and metabolic co-factors to synthesize all of these substances on their own.

In doing so, it MAY be that after 30+ years of not having to synthesize these molecules, the liver, muscles and other organs may be unable to adequately create these substances, in the quantities required, for that individual to experience optimal function of all organs. As a result, the body’s vital tissues may find themselves functioning with sub-optimal amounts of particular nutrients. This could, theoretically, result in lower muscle mass and/or suboptimal function.

Similarly, the mineral atoms, like zinc, copper, magnesium, which are essential for enzyme function etc., that were so easily absorbed from meats and eggs, must now be wrestled away from the plant fibers to which they are firmly attached. Remember, the old adage, “you are what you eat” is NOT true. In actuality, you are what you ABSORB–and it is easier to absorb zinc and magnesium from a piece of steak than it is from a piece of kale.

This places upon the plant-eater the responsibility to do all they can to assure more efficient mineral absorption – namely, to chew each mouthful of kale or broccoli to a puree before swallowing, in order to rupture the cellulose membranes that surround each cell and thus liberate the contained nutrients for absorption.

In this high-pressure, modern world, where, it seems, we all have a plane to catch or a meeting to attend, we throw down our meals with a couple of desultory chews, and much of the minerals we eat in the plant foods may pass through our digestive tract without ever making it into our bloodstream.

Another factor that conspires to further reduce mineral absorption: the high-fiber quality of a plant-based diet. While excellent for bowel health and weight loss, plant fiber, like phytates, not only holds the minerals in tight bondage, but hurries the food mass through the intestinal tract. This is great for regularity, but not so great for mineral absorption–especially for zinc and magnesium .

As the food mass hurries its way through the intestines, there is less physical time for mineral absorption to occur. The net effect works against good mineral balance, and it may be that the people who eat mostly raw plant foods–especially, if they do not chew their food sufficiently–may draw down upon the minerals in their cells. As the years go by, they may be faced with sub-optimal levels of the tissue minerals required to make essential enzyme reactions function optimally–possibly leading to fatigue and sub-optimal physical performance.

To sum up, the mechanisms that MAY be contributing factors as to why some people fail to thrive on a purely vegan diet:

•    POSSIBLE sub-optimal mineral absorption and utilization due to phytate binding and rapid intestinal transit time, resulting in sub-optimal tissue enzyme function.

•    POSSIBLE insufficient synthesis of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, carnitine, creatine and other nutrients that previously were consumed preformed in animal products. Studies show that vegetarians have lower levels of carnitine and omega-3 fats in their blood and tissues.

These functional deficiencies would also explain why, when these people re-introduce even small amounts of flesh foods–with their readily absorbable minerals, and preformed carnitine, etc. into their diet–they rapidly feel improvement in their strength and well-being.

This places a physician like me in a difficult position. I am a practicing clinician who wants to see all of my patients thrive with abundant energy, good health and freedom from disease. I am also a long-time vegan, mostly out of a desire to reduce the violence and death in the world, for which I am responsible–including the death of animals consumed for food. It transgresses deeply-held beliefs for me to condone or recommend consumption of flesh foods, knowing that I am possibly sanctioning the death of innocent animals.

So, what is a reasonable path through this physiologic and ethical thicket?

First, I would strongly urge that anyone who wants to maintain a 100% plant-based (vegan diet) do all they can to optimize consumption and absorption of the nutrients they require:

1) Eat a WIDE variety of plant foods, especially green and yellow vegetables, fresh fruits, cooked legumes and raw nuts and seeds. Eat large green salads frequently, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, for their zinc, and with walnuts for the omega-3 fats.

2.) Whatever food is eaten, place a forkful into your mouth, then put the fork down and CHEW THE FOOD TO A PUREE before you swallow it.

This allows you to savor the food (which is, after all, the reason you are eating it in the first place) and, very importantly, to break up the plant-fiber to increase mineral absorption.

3. Include vegetable soups, stews, and blended salads in your diet on a regular basis to increase mineral absorption.

4. AVOID refined foods–especially, refined carbohydrates like pastries, candies, (vegan) ice creams, bottled fruit juices, breads and pastas made with highly-refined flours (I almost never eat breads or pastas any more–only the occasional slice of sprouted grain breads).

5. Breakfasts should generally be a bowl of fresh fruit, with or without (non-“instant”) oatmeal, with some raisins or dates added to the oatmeal, while cooking for sweetness.

Lunches and dinners should be based upon large, fresh salads, hearty vegetables soups and stews (with beans and other legumes served over quinoa, millet, or other low-gluten grains,) and generous helpings of steamed green vegetables (kale, broccoli, chard, etc.). Bean burritos, lentil stews, whole-grain pastas and casseroles provide satisfying meals, and a wide range of nutrients. A plethora of vegan cookbooks available online provide delicious easy-to-make recipes.

Desserts and snacks should be melon chunks, organic grapes or other fresh fruit, which can be frozen and blended into sorbets and “ice creams.”

6. Assure omega-3 fatty acid sufficiency by eating a small handful of walnuts every day, along with 1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds on your oatmeal. If there is any question of fatty acid deficiency, which is indicated by dry skin and/or depression, take 300 mg of algae-derived DHA (the content of one “vegi-cap” available at the natural food store), daily.

7. Assure vitamin B-12 adequacy by taking 1000 mcg of B-12 twice weekly, preferably in a liquid or sub-lingual form.

If the above measures do not produce the level of function and well-being desired, try adding supplements to supply the nutrients most likely in short supply:

A multivitamin/mineral tablet that has the RDI for zinc, and other minerals… (READ LABELS – avoid products that have preformed Vitamin A, which may increase osteoporosis and cancer risk, and folic acid, which may increase risk of prostate cancer  You get plenty of natural, safe, folate in green vegetables–you don’t need, or want, folic acid from other sources).

•    Carnitine supplement –  500 mg – 1000 mg in the mornings
•    Taurine supplement – 1000 mg., daily
•    DHEA after having levels measured in saliva

As a scientist, I have to recognize that there may be other–possibly many–nutrients found in flesh foods that are unrecognized at this time. In some people, for the reasons described above, some of those nutrients may be extremely beneficial, perhaps essential.

Consequently, in my nutritional counseling, I have (reluctantly) come to the point of saying that, if all the above measures have been tried for at least 12 months and NO improvement is noted, I do not condemn my patients if they add in a small amount of animal-based food, such as the eggs from the neighbor’s backyard chicken. If a person feels they must eat flesh-based foods to feel optimally nourished, I urge that they consume the smallest amount possible, and to choose that which causes the lease suffering to animals and damage to the planet. I make it clear that this intake of flesh should be viewed as medicinal only, and should be taken for nourishment, not for taste or gluttony, as sparingly as possible. Most of these people find that consuming such products, only once or twice, weekly produces the desired effects–and that often decreases over to once or twice monthly, or ceases altogether.

That means eating at least 90% or more, plant-based, nutrient-rich foods and keeping in mind that this may mean you eat some refined foods, while eating 100% based, and it may also mean you are eating some animal foods and not refined foods. Either way,  though my vegan purist-friends might complain that I am sacrificing my principles, I would rather have people eat a small amount of animal products and maintain a 90+ percent, whole-foods, plant-based diet than continue to eat the standard, Western, animal-based diet, which is killing our people, and our planet with ever greater momentum.

If all Americans made whole plant foods 90+ percent of their diets, the health of the people and the planet would benefit tremendously. If you can’t go 100% plant-based right away–and you may never–don’t be deterred. 90%” is a wonderful starting point from which to work toward an ever-healthier diet, body and future. You can make the choice for yourself three times per day. Choose wisely–and enjoy the learning, and the eating!

The future holds promise of two advances that may make any food derived through animal suffering unnecessary:

1. Development of “in vitro” meat–meat grown artificially in a bio-reactor–is proceeding with support of various national governments and private industry. Cultured muscle cells are then compressed and converted into a ground beef-like product. This could provide the “nutrient X” of animal tissue without the environmental damage and animal suffering inherent in conventional flesh-derived products. The production cost must come down and further technological refinements must be made, but the product is on the horizon. For those who do not find the product inherently unappetizing, it may provide the solutions to a number of nutritional and ecological challenges.

2. Advances in genetic typing are bringing us close to the day when a person–vegan or not–can have a drop of blood analyzed and thus learn how to tailor their diet to exactly meet their genetic needs. This technology would make designing a health-supporting, plant-based food program customized for each individual far more feasible.

So, until the above happy days arrive, for omnivores and nutritionally-challenged vegans, I would urge you to adopt and optimize your plant-based, nutrient-rich diet as best you can as suggested above–and when it comes to consuming flesh-based foods, “less is more.”

90% or More Plant Based, Nutrient-Rich, is the way to go and grow!

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Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets.

Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association.

Vegetarian dietary patterns are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome: the adventist health study 2.

Rizzo NS, Sabaté J, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fraser GE.

Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34(5):1225-7. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

[1]Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1525S-1529S. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Vegetarian diets and childhood obesity prevention.

Sabaté J, Wien M.

Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA.

[1] Curr Diab Rep. 2010 Apr;10(2):152-8.

Usefulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for treating type 2 diabetes.

Trapp CB, Barnard ND.

[1] J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Feb;108(2):347-56.

A very-low-fat vegan diet increases intake of protective dietary factors and decreases intake of pathogenic dietary factors.

Dewell A, Weidner G, Sumner MD, Chi CS, Ornish D.

Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

[1]Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10(2):R34. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized study.

Elkan AC, Sjöberg B, Kolsrud B, Ringertz B, Hafström I, Frostegård J.

Rheumatology Unit, Karolinska Institutet at Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, 141 86 Stockholm, Sweden. [email protected]

Br J Rheumatol. 1994 Jul;33(7):638-43.

Changes of faecal flora in rheumatoid arthritis during fasting and one-year vegetarian diet.

Peltonen R, Kjeldsen-Kragh J, Haugen M, Tuominen J, Toivanen P, Førre O, Eerola E.

Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Turku, Finland.

[1]J Asthma. 1985;22(1):45-55.

Vegan regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of bronchial asthma.

Lindahl O, Lindwall L, Spångberg A, Stenram A, Ockerman PA.

[1]Becoming Vegan by Vesanto Melina, R.D



Fatty Acid Profile “Blood Spot”

Metametrix Clinical Laboratory

3425 Corporate Way

Duluth, GA 30096 USA

(800) 221-4640


Genova Diagnostics

Genova Diagnostics
63 Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28803


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Very low n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid status in Austrian vegetarians and vegans.

Kornsteiner M, Singer I, Elmadfa I.

Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

[1] Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1627S-1633S. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Health effects of vegan diets.

Craig WJ.

Department of Nutrition and Wellness, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, USA.

[1] Vegetarians have a reduced skeletal muscle carnitine transport capacity.

Stephens FB, Kanagaraj M, Cheng Y, Patel N, Constantin D, Simpson EJ, Greenhaff PL. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul 13. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Aug;50(2):301-6.

Carnitine status of lactoovovegetarians and strict vegetarian adults and children.

Lombard KA, Olson AL, Nelson SE, Rebouche CJ.

[1] Elevated physiological levels of folic acid can increase in vitro growth and invasiveness of prostate cancer cells.

Petersen LF, Brockton NT, Bakkar A, Liu S, Wen J, Weljie AM, Bismar TA.

BJU Int. 2011 Jul 19 2010.

Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease – Almost…

Dr. Dwight Lundell, a Heart Surgeon, who I really appreciate, recently wrote an article on what really causes heart disease. He is among the first crop of cardiologists, let alone surgeons, to admit that his field has been wrong about what causes heart disease.

Dr. Dwight Lundell, is able to admit he was wrong about an earlier stance on what causes heart disease, and I think that not only takes a lot of guts, but that it’s resolving and liberating not only for him but for thousands, if not millions of others to hear. Of course, this message has been out there for sometime, particularly by people like Dean Ornish, and Caldwell Esselstyn M.D and Joel Fuhrman MD who are among our Lifestyle Health and Science Advisory team here at nutrientrich.com. Caldwell Esselstyn, calls heart disease a “toothless paper tiger”!

FYI: Heart disease is a lifestyle-induced disease, not a natural consequence of aging, and you don’t have to suffer from it, especially since it’s caused by nutrient poor diets.

Here’s what Dr. Lundell has to say:

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

This is a strong admission on his own volition and I really applaud it. Don’t you? But what he says next is why I say “almost”!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences. Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

The information in this article is right on the money until you get to point highlighted in red above, and it reveals what this truth telling article is still covering up, which is at the root of some of the biggest nutritional debates of all time such as basing your diet on animal products or plant foods, the disease-causing effects of saturated fat and cholesterol and what are the causes of inflammation and advanced chronic diseases?

Dr Lundell goes on to say that the causes of inflammation are due to our increased consumption of processed foods and that the intake of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are basically “absurd”. I am not going to take up that debate in this blog post with a comprehensive review of the scientific literature, but when someone says…

“Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades.That saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

….It’s time to get concerned. 

The leading books on the subject of reversing heart disease, such as Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn MD, Cholesterol Protection for Life by Joel Fuhrman MD, The Lifestyle Heart Trial by Dean Ornish tell a very different story. You may know these books as the ones that provided the guidance that reversed President Clinton’s heart disease after recurring blockages, even after bypass surgery, and prompted him to become a near vegan. They are the first books that pop up when you search on “reversing heart disease” and all say different. Not entirely different to what Dr. Lundell is saying, but they don’t conveniently leave one of the biggest causes of inflammation and heart disease overlooked– and that is substantial amounts of animal foods, fat, cholesterol AND protein.

Not to mention, countless studies say that increased consumption of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol and really significant amounts of animal foods in general that also provide dietary arachidonic acid (which we don’t need from dietary sources) are at least in part causes of heart disease. What do you think is getting pulled out of the arteries during bypass surgery? It’s saturated fat and cholesterol among other plaque forming substances.

Here’s a nutrition facts video from Nutrient Rich.com adviser Michael Gregor M.D.

Here is why this valuable article is itself somewhat “Inflammatory”; this articles is not complete and is not really accurate. It’s an article that is about the cholesterol theory and how it led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine did make a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats, meaning polyunsaturated oils, neither of which are nutrient rich foods. We do now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

But low fat diets do not define nutrient rich healthy foods! He also leaves us with the message that we need to eat the foods our grandmothers fed us, which is “more protein (animal protein) loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol and other inflammatory substances, and colorful fruits and vegetables which of course contain none.

This articles makes some great points, but it will leave you just as misled as you may have been when you started reading it, with a diet style that will likely land you in the hospital needing open heart surgery.

Some salient points.

  1. We have no dietary need for dietary saturated fat and cholesterol to begin with. If you never ate any more saturated fat or cholesterol ever again from animal products, you would never be diagnosed with a saturated fat or cholesterol deficiency. You produce your own. If we have no need for those substances, then what are they doing in our bodies once they get there?These substances are doing what thousands of nutritional researchers around the world are saying they do which is clog our arteries and promote inflammation.
  2. Inflammation is NOT the cause of heart disease. It’s by definition an “effect” not a primary cause. What’s causing the inflammation?
  3. I agree, it’s not just saturated fat and cholesterol, it’s those substances, plus animal protein itself which raises IGF-1 among other inflammatory markers that many of the top nutritional doctors in the worldare talking about, plus ingested toxins (such as hormones, and dioxin…) and toxic metabolites from the breakdown of animal protein… and all the refined foods and synthetic chemicals that people eat.
  4. It’s not enough to say “stop eating processed” foods, when many nutrient-rich healthy foods are processed each day when we make a simple smoothie! We have to minimize or eliminate “nutrient poor foods” such as animal products and refinedfoods. Animal products are nutrient poor by definition, not only because they are low in a variety of vitamins and minerals and essential fats, but they have no carbohydrate, water, fiber, or phytochemicals and are extremely addicting foods that gives rise to consumption of all kinds of refined foods, from the hamburger bun on down.
  5. Animal products are not whole foods. They are if you define them as being “natural”, but they are not the original natural source of nutrients that humans, including all animal life– cows, chickens and turkey’s alike depend on. A whole food is plant-based and nutrient rich. And “nutrient rich” is defined not only by what a food has in it that we need, but also what it doesn’t have that we don’t need from dietary sources. In other words, it’s defined as much by what it has in it, as it is by what it does not have in it. You’ll learn more about this in Switch to Rich The Nutrient Rich Way to Eat and The Nutrient Rich Healthy Eating System that will explain in detail what makes a food nutrient rich.

This article is a good step in the right direction, but for perspective, it’s promoting one of the biggest cover ups in nutritional history. It’s the same coverup that Dr. Atkins promoted, that the Paleo Diet people promote, the Weston Price people promote, the Nourishing Traditions promote, and the typical fitness-diet promotes and that is that saturated fat, and cholesterol and animal protein itself do not promote disease, when they do.

Also, healthy eating is not simply about whether or not you are eating saturated fat and cholesterol, it’s about whether or not you are getting the nutrients needed by the body to thrive. And if you are eating more animal protein, you don’t be getting the nutrients I’m talking about. The ones that make your immune system work!

If you want to detoxify your body, lose weight naturally without dieting with these lower carb, high animal protein weight loss-only diets; optimize your health and reverse lifestyle induced diseases caused by nutritional ignorance, age slower, look younger and maximize your longevity… eating a diet based on nutrient poor animal foods is not your answer. You’ve got to make the Switch to Rich!

You want to eat up to 90% or More Plant Based Nutrient Rich® and optimize the way you eat for nutrient density as part of a successful lifestyle. Do that and you won’t suffer from inflammation, and heart disease because your body will be so flooded with immune system enabling, body cleansing, cause removing nutrient’s that your body that your exposure to inflammation will be limited to when you get splinters and the like.

Read the whole article here.