Many people are aware of the very real dangers of poor diet and lifestyle. We’ve been witnesses (or victims!) to the downfalls of these types of behaviors since we could even think about it.
The Standard American diet hasn’t been doing anybody any favors, with the exception of “big business”. The truth is, unhealthy diet and lifestyle has real effects on not only the individual eating and living unhealthfully, but on the entire world as a whole.
Check out this video today where Dr. Dean Ornish explains just a few of the dangers behind eating your typical Western diet, and how making simple changes to our diet and lifestyle can radically change our entire world for the better.
- Why in just a single generation certain Asian families have gone from having the lowest rates of chronic diseases to the highest.
- How a simple change in diet and lifestyle is translating to tumor reductions and healing in once sick people.
- The surprising truth on how ill people actually are: why this generation may live shorter lives than their parents!
- How healthy living and eating can actually be good for business and the strength of the economy.
I think that Dr. Ornish brings up some great points, and it’s actually a little shocking to learn how poor the Western world’s health is becoming.
But just as he mentioned, it’s also just as easy to make the diet and lifestyle changes necessary to bring about the best health you can for yourself and everybody around you. It just comes down to a matter of actually doing it!
What have been your experiences with changing your own health with diet and lifestyle? Let us know in the comments section below.
Many people don’t really know what Natural Hygiene truly is, yet many have been enjoying its benefits without even realizing it.
Back in the 19th century, many doctors carried the medieval belief that bathing and fresh air were damaging to health. When patients had a fevers, many doctors thought they were doing the right thing by giving the poor sick person hard liquor, denying them any water, and closing the windows to prevent any fresh air from coming in.
Early Natural Hygienists of the past century fought hard to promote rationality in medicine and especially the importance of bathing. Now the medical community claims that they were the ones to promote the concepts of bathing and hygiene to the masses, when in fact this was done by rogue, outcast doctors who were ridiculed by the medical community in their time.
Let’s not forget that just 50-60 years ago, doctors recommended smoking as a health practice and white bread was considered health food!
Hygienists were way ahead of their time, and their influence are still felt today. If you can go today to a store like Whole Foods and purchase organic fruits and whole grain products, you can thank Sylvester Graham and his friends for that.
Unfortunately, these names have been forgotten from the history books, and now we only think of names like Louis Pasteur when it comes to hygiene.
So when I’m pointing out some of the mistakes of Natural Hygiene, I don’t want to sound like I’m taking anything from the movement. I just want to bring these great ideas to the forefront, shake them up a bit, and remove the few wrong concepts that just don’t stand up to the realities of human health.
It’s important to mention that Natural Hygiene is essentially a philosophy of health. Modern Hygienists have vastly different ideas on what is the best die and lifestyle for health, but all agree on the methods of the body’s healing capacities.
Fasting is an integral part of the Natural Hygiene doctrine. Unfortunately, in spite of the amazing benefits that can be derived from supervised water fasting, most of the medical community is particularly clueless about it as a real healing modality.
Although humans throughout all recordable history have practiced fasting, it really became a true method of healing with the Natural Hygiene movement in the 19th century. That’s why it was called “water cure” at the time.
Fasting is true physiological rest. It’s not just the act of not eating that works, but it’s also everything that accompanies a proper fast, such as complete rest in bed.
Fasting works because:
1) It removes the cause. Most diseases are caused by our lifestyle — mainly what we put in our mouth. By not eating for a while, you are certain to remove any dietary causes of disease.
2) Fasting is digestive rest. Digestion takes a huge energy toll on the body. Not eating redirects those energies towards healing.
3) Fasting itself is a physiological process that leads to healing and recovery. Many animals fast in times of stress and disease, and this is no coincidence. After a few days of fasting, the body starts burning its fat reserves and goes through a complex set of physiological changes that leads to having the nerve energy for the body to heal itself.
It’s a shame that water fasting has not gained yet the popularity it deserves. I’ve got nothing to criticize on the topic of Hygienic fasting, except that it has to be conducted by a competent doctor with extensive experience with it.
The Appeal to Nature Fallacy
One of the areas where I feel Natural Hygienists got some of their philosophy wrong is what we could call the “appeal to nature” logic.
This, by the way, is not just a mistake made by Hygienists, but also by raw foodists, environmentalists, paleo dieters, and pretty much any person in the natural health scene. We’ve all been guilty of it.
The appeal to nature fallacy is this concept that the wild state of nature, or perhaps the way humans were living thousands of years ago (presumably: in nature), should be the way we should live our lives today.
- Humans should not eat ANY foods other than fruits, greens and nuts, because those are our natural foods (why? look at our modern cousins, the chimpanzees, who live in “nature”).
– We should never take drugs, under any circumstances, because they are not natural.
– We should not eat foods that we can’t make a meal out of, because obviously, in nature, we wouldn’t be able to do that
– We should never process our foods in any way
– Human progress and civilization is wrong, because it takes us away from our natural state, where we would be healthier and happier
I want to be clear that Hygienists aren’t the only ones confused by this fallacy.
Paleo diet promoters will claim that we should eat meat, fruits and vegetables, and avoid all grains because those foods have only been part of our natural diet for the past 10,000 years. On the other hand, meat and produce have always been part of our natural diet.
There are also people who will refuse to eat fruit as they feel it’s been too hybridized and the fruit “in nature” would be the only kind we were/are really supposed to eat.
The Appeal to Nature is a subtle underlying philosophy that has actually been with us since the dawn of civilization. People will always want to revert back to “the good old days”, as it were!
Forbidden Foods: Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, and Other “Unnatural” Items
Natural Hygiene forbids a lot of foods. Generally, animal products are off the table completely. Cooked foods are frowned upon for the most part, and so are absolutely all seasonings you could imagine.
Prominent Natural Hygienist Herbert Shelton rejected all spices, garlic, onion, seaweed, and even mushrooms.
I must say that I followed that philosophy for a long time, and it’s not specific just to Natural Hygiene. Many Asian health philosophies eliminate garlic, onion and strong spices, finding them too “stimulating.”
The reasoning they give is quite simple. Garlic and onion are simply too strong. You could never make a meal out of them. They contain toxic mustard oil that irritates the digestive track.
Mushrooms are not human foods. They contain almost no nutrients, and are largely indigestible.
Seaweed is pond scum. Would you salivate in front a pile of seaweed? I didn’t think so. Makes sense because it’s not that natural to eat plants growing in the ocean.
This reasoning sounds good on paper, but the problem is that science is actually showing that some of these foods are good for us, and there’s no reason to avoid sources of nutrition on a modern world given they prove time and time again to be health promoting.
At the very least, these foods are not evil or toxic for you. You can eat and enjoy them and be just fine. Most likely, you’ll even enjoy some health benefits in the process.
Although I avoided onions, mushrooms, and spices for a long time, I now eat them regularly. I find they digest just fine for me and my body accepts them without any issues at all.
Likewise, I don’t like raw garlic except in small quantities in hummus or guacamole.
But I don’t mind a bit of cooked garlic or onion, and I do like some red onion on my salads.
As for seaweed, I’m not a big fan either. That’s just my personal taste. I don’t mind nori in a recipe, but I don’t enjoy eating seaweed in general.
But that’s just my personal taste, and what I’ve found to be perfectly acceptable and healthy within my own health regime. It’s changed over the years, but this is where I currently feel best.
What have been your experiences with Natural Hygiene, forbidden non-hygienic foods, and any other fasting or hygienic healing modalities? Let us know in the comments below!
We’re all familiar with how a plant-=based diet is great for the planet. It cuts down significantly on your carbon footprint by using far less water and fossil fuels to produce the food, and this is great for the environment as a whole.
Eating a plant-based diet also tends to obviously be better for the animals that are not getting consumed, which is great overall, too.
But what about when the plant-based diet turns into a “vegan” diet (or the other way around) and you end up eating a diet strictly of plant foods, but not necessarily the healthiest plant foods.
I’ve found that there’s a big difference between a “plant-based” dieter and a “vegan”, much of the time.
When you say plant-based, you would likely be brought to mind that of a diet based on plants, where mostly plants are eaten in the diet. Rice, beans, veggies, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods.
However, a “vegan” diet can be all over the map. Everything from cigarettes t o cashews butter chocolate cookies to deep fried vegetable tempura is all clear in the vegan realm of eating. Obviously, this makes for some different looking vegans.
Check out this video today where Dr. John McDougall discusses how somebody can become overweight following a vegan diet, and ow they can void doing so.
- How you can differentiate between what a healthy vegan diet is and what a junkfood vegan diet is.
- Why it’s so important for people to actually care for themselves first and foremost, and how doing so can help them spread their message in the most effective way.
- Which foods that are so commonly eaten in large amounts by many vegans ultimately aren’t healthy for them or their causes.
- Which foods do support a healthy vegan diet that allows for the best health and wellbeing of the planet as an entire whole.
I think that Dr. McDougall brings up some great points. We should all remember that YOUR health, first and foremost, is what’s most important in your life. If you aren’t the healthiest you can possibly be, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to be healthy enough to fully support and give your all to whatever your cause is.
What have been your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!
One reader recently asked me a question in regards to what I think of about published Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s stance on raw foods versus cooked foods, stating that all cooked food is not created equal.
Dr. Fuhrman has written in an article that:
“Raw food advocates mistakenly conclude that since many cooked foods are not healthy for us, then all cooked foods are bad. This is not true.”
In his article, Dr. Fuhrman points out that:
- It is true that high temperature cooking or boiling destroys many nutrients, but more conservative methods preserve many of those nutrients
- Steaming vegetables and making vegetable soups breaks down cellulose and alters the plants’ cell structures so that fewer of your own enzymes are needed to digest the food, not more.
- In the end, Furhman thinks there are no benefits and only negatives from not including cooked greens in your diet, because cooked greens are the most nutrient dense foods. He thinks the ideal diet includes 50% raw vegetables and 50% cooked vegetables.
I tend to agree with Fuhrman’s reasoning as I feel he has a very sound judgement on data that he collects as well as a real solid foundation of nutrition research backing his findings, but I do not necessarily agree with his conclusion here.
It’s true that some nutrients are more easily available after vegetables have been cooked, while others are destroyed or reduced by cooking.
It’s also true that by eating only raw vegetables we’re missing out on a lot of nutrients, since they could be “locked” in the fiber and not always assimilated properly.
The ideal way to get your nutrients would be to eat your vegetables raw and chew the heck out of them! However, due to poor dentition and lack of time, most people are not able to eat enough raw vegetables and chew them well enough, so that they can extract all the nutrients.
And besides, many people find great difficulty in attempting to eat larger amounts of raw vegetables (let alone the amount that some people say you need to eat!), and who wants to spend their time gnawing on a big trough of leaves, and not even enjoying it?
It’s true that cooking breaks down the fiber of vegetables and makes them easier to chew and digest (in some cases). For example, steamed broccoli is a whole lot easier to eat than raw broccoli, and a fair bit more enjoyable too I may add.
But if you cooked all of your vegetables, you’d be missing out on a lot of important nutrients that are damaged by heat. There’s a distinctly different nutritional profile and overall feeling to cooked vegetables and raw vegetables.
I do agree with Dr. Fuhrman in the sense that vegetables (especially green vegetables) are among the healthiest, most health-promoting foods a person could possibly eat, and we all should probably be eating more of them. About one pound of greens per day is great aim or minimum for most people to eat. This abundance of vegetable nutrition is great for anybody, whether they follow a raw food diet or not.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you should probably be eating more vegetables, cooked or raw.
You should also eat your vegetables in a way that your body can totally digest and assimilate them. It doesn’t do you or your body any good at all if you eat a massive pile of leaves and stalks and your body can’t digest 79% of the nutrients in them.
It ends up just turning into expensive, albeit colorful intestinal fiber for people’s body’s.
Which is great and something people should b e having more of as well, but that doesn’t mean you want to count on not digesting the majority of the food you eat.
So digesting your vegetables (and everything you eat) is essential to your wellbeing.
For some people, that may mean steaming their vegetables so that they are easier to chew and digest for them. I personally like to eat cooked vegetables like spinach and broccoli on a regular basis. I find that I enjoy the taste of these vegetables much better when they are cooked, and my body is able to extract the nutrients from them that I take in much more easily.
I’ve had my share of chewing through some monster raw salads! And if you’re somebody who just doesn’t enjoy doing this, or wants to change things up, adding in some steamed vegetables will likely only do good for your health program.
Some of my favorites for steaming include:
– Collard greens
– Brussels sprouts
However, my number one, favorite way to eat greens, which is by far the easiest, is to make green smoothies.
By blending greens with fruit into a smoothie, you get the best of both worlds. Your vegetables stay raw and nutrient-dense, yet the blending process makes them easier to digest and assimilate and overall more enjoyable to eat.
If you drink one or two liters (or quarts) of green smoothies every day, you WILL totally transform your health in a matter of weeks or months. It’s that easy to completely change your health regime. Just start adding some more good things in!
So when it coms down to how you should eat your vegetables, do what you enjoy doing and feel good with.
Just keep in mind that if you’ve been getting real bored with all of that raw celery and romaine getting stuck in between the crevices of every single one of your teeth, you may do well to try out some cooked veggies into your diet as well.
It’ll likely do nothing but good for your health and allow your body to access a wider range of nutrients.
What have been your experiences with raw vs. cooked vegetables? Let us know in the comments below!
Not all that terribly long ago, people honestly had no idea that diet played a significant role in causing or preventing cancer.
They just thought it was a bit of bad luck, or chalked it up to environmental pollutants, viruses, or genetic predispositions. So, people just went on their way, smoking cigarettes and eating burger after burger like it was nothing.
We’ve all learned a lot about health and nutrition since then, and now we are able to pinpoint what specific things in our daily diets that actually “turn on” cancer cells.
Today we have a video for you in which Dr. T. Colin Campbell discusses how he was at the forefront researching at the time since was realizing that nutrition actually did (and still does) have a huge impact on cancer cells inside the body.
Check out today’s video and you’ll learn:
- How cancer cells can be switched on and off, not unlike a light switch, depending on the types and amounts of protein consumed in the diet.
- Why genes are still relevant when it comes to determining the health of your physical body, but are NOT the final determining factor.
- How nutrition can actually control gene expression.
- Why nutrients of animal origin metabolize differently in humans than nutrients of plant origin.
There have been plenty of debates back and forth surrounding Dr. Campbell’s research and interpretations of those findings, but it is becoming abundantly clear that for humans, a plant-based diet is ultimately what will bring about the most ideal health.
What have been your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!
If there’s a country and culture that is universally admired and despised somehow at the same time, it’s France.
French is my first language, and most Americans I meet confess to having taken French in high school. They seem really proud of the fact, even though they couldn’t order an orange juice in Paris to save their lives.
But they took French. Not Spanish, but French. It’s strange because Spanish is practically the second language of the United States, yet most Americans would rather learn French.
If you ask an American what is one city they would like to visit before they die, you can bet that the vast majority would answer, “Paris”.
Read an American novel and you’ll be surprised how often the writer likes to boast his knowledge of French culture by sprinkling a few French expressions here and there, without bothering to translate them, implying that he probably speaks fluent French (even though he doesn’t).
France is THE number one most visited country in the world by tourists. And the Eiffel Tower is the most visited building in the world.
Something like 30 to 40% of the English vocabulary comes from French.
It’s even claimed that they invented modern gourmet cuisine as we know it today.
At the same time, the French people catch a bit of a bad reputation. It’s said that their manners could use a bit of an improvement, and unless you are speaking perfect French to them, they’ll turn their nose up at you and about their way.
Are these things actually true however?
When it comes to diet and nutrition, it’s said that French people eat a diet of rich, fatty foods (buttered croissants, cheeses, meats, etc.) yet are actually thinner and healthier than much of the rest of the world.
Is it the wine that’s protecting them? Maybe we were wrong all along about fatty foods causing heart disease?
Why French People Stay Thin
It is true, French people are much slimmer than Americans overall. I’ve traveled all around the US and spent time in France and can confirm this from my experiences too.
Yet, they eat some of the most decadent, fatty foods known to mankind, and they do so on a regular basis.
I’m talking about butter in everything: sauces, croissants, meat… everything contains a ridiculous amount of fat, enough to make any nutritionist cringe.
They have hundreds of types of cheese, and they love to talk about them. Being vegan here is a laughable idea, as almost no traditional meal is vegan.
The wine there is dirt cheap, being taxed less than most countries in the world. And French people definitely appreciate their wine!
With all that fattening food, you’d expect the French to be at least fatter than Americans, but the contrary is quite true. Obesity rates are less than 10% there, compared to 30% in the US.
The rates of deaths by heart disease are also almost a third lower in France than that in the US too.
Cancer rates are even lower, but not dramatically so.
Qu’est-ce qu’il se passe!? (What is going on!?)
Some have said that the reason French people stay relatively healthier is that they drink so much wine, and wine somehow protects them and “cleanse their arteries”.
There’s a lot of debate on whether or not the alcohol that the French drink (or anyone else for that matter) is actually doing them any good, but I’m still willing to say that I’m doubtful that it’s the wine that’s France’s saving grace.
What is clear now is that French people stay slimmer and have less heart disease because they eat less in general than most other Westernized countries, and they care more about what they eat.
In French, the word for lunch literally means “breakfast” because it used to be the first meal of the day.
However, when people started eating a little something in the morning, they called that meal “little breakfast” (petit déjeuner).
The average breakfast in France is still pretty light. Maybe a croissant with some coffee, but many people skip it entirely.
Lunch is a big thing. They take their lunches seriously, often taking 2 hours or more to eat and chat.
Dinner is traditionally simple, and many smart French people eat almost nothing for dinner — maybe some fruit and yogurt. However, it’s becoming popular to have bigger dinners nowadays.
My other theory on the French Paradox is the love of food that people have here.
People still like to shop like in the old days, buying their bread at the boulangerie (baker), their produce at the fruit shop or the market, their meat at the butcher, and so on.
Food is a big topic of conversation, and don’t be surprised if you get caught in a conversation with a French person where they spend half an hour to describe their particular method for picking the best wild mushrooms, or making a particular recipe.
Because of this obsession for food, they also tend to care a lot more about food quality, by buying local products they can trust, and even harvesting and growing produce themselves as much as possible.
Also, the SOCIAL aspect of life is extremely important here.
People here tend to spend more time together. When they eat, it’s not the same rushed experience you would get at a fast-food restaurant or your typical café most places back in the west.
Taking two hours to enjoy your lunch with your friends will certainly enhance your digestion, as opposed to angrily and hurriedly eating a burger alone in the twenty terrible minutes most people get on their lunch break.
In the end, it’s nothing magical that makes French people slimmer and a bit healthier, in spite of all that fattening food.
It’s a combination of:
- Healthy social lives
- Reasonable food quantities
- Placing an importance on food quality
*Are French People Truly Healthy?*
In spite of everything I have said, we should not conclude that French people have found the secret to a good life or the fountain of youth by eating buttered croissants and red wine all afternoon.
Cancer rates are almost as high there as they are in North America. The medical industry still thrives, and all the ailments that are common in Western countries are still common there, but the situation is not as out of control as it is in the USA…at least for now.
So, it’s likely there isn’t some sort of magical concoction or combination of things that protect the French, it’s likely just the result of living an overall healthier lifestyle, something we all can do yet rarely take the time for.
Here are some final points of advice that you can use to improve your diet and health no matter where you are:
- Spend more time to enjoy your meals, and in good company.
- Make your meals look beautiful in order to enhance the appreciation of the whole experience, which can even improve digestion.
- Care about what you eat. Discover as many new foods as you can, and become an expert on what you know.
- Grow as much of your own food as you can, or buy from local farmers in your area.
Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!
We all have our prejudices and judgments that we make based on what we know and have experienced before. When I say, “United States”, or “banana cream pie”, or “vegan”, your mind automatically starts placing all these different things in your mind based on what you know about them. Or at least think you know about them.
Would it surprise you to learn that many Roman gladiators actually ate an entirely plant-based diet, and did so in good health? They didn’t call them, “Barley Men” for nothing.
Check out this video today where Dr. John McDougall describes how these soldiers lived and ate, and how it affected their health and physical performance.
- Why they actually called the gladiators, “Barley Men”, and how their diet supported them in being the most efficient warriors possible.
- Why many people’s belief that you need lots of protein or meat to build strong muscles didn’t apply to the gladiators, and likely doesn’t to you either.
- How the gladiators vegan diet was able to build and maintain their powerful skeletal structure without any dairy products.
- Exactly why the gladiators specifically requested that their pre-fighting meals be free of meat and filled with starch.
I think it’s pretty interesting to learn that some of the strongest warriors in recorded history ate a plant-based diet. The idea that you need to eat incredible amounts of protein or invest in expensive protein powders to build a strong body doesn’t seem to add up in many people’s case.
Whether or not you eat an entirely vegan diet, almost everybody could benefit from eating more fresh whole plant foods. And I’m also willing to bet that all of the jocks pumping iron in the gym eating 15 raw eggs a day could stand to eat a little less protein and a little more fruits and vegetables.
What have been your experiences with the amounts of protein in your own diet? Let us know in the comments below!
Almost everybody I know has a friend or knows somebody who went vegan or vegetarian, but then allegedly suffered some sort of health problem or deficiency. They went back to eating meat or animal products and now feel, “much better.”
These stories, along with famous or semi-famous ex-vegans that come out of the closet, are enough to scare most of those new to vegetarianism or veganism away entirely.
But I don’t think that’s the whole picture. Let’s take a little closer look and see what’s more likely going on:
Why Vegans Crash and Burn
My own personal diet has varied throughout my life, but regardless of whether or not I’ve been 100% vegan or vegetarian, I’ve always felt best eating mostly plants. That’s what I currently do and feel the best with that, at least for now.
What I want to emphasize is that just being vegan is really not a health choice specifically, but more an ethical choice.
The vegan diet, in itself, can be healthy or unhealthy. It is not by definition a healthy diet, something that far too many vegans and vegetarians falsely believe. There are plenty of vegans, from college campuses to suburban houses, where most of what they eat is junk! Vegan junk food, but junk food nonetheless.
Here are 3 of the most common mistakes that vegans, vegetarians, and raw vegans make:
1) Too Much Fat, Especially Omega 6
Vegans cut out saturated fats largely (with the exception of coconut and palm fruit, which is arguably in a different category), but often replace it with vegetable oils and other fat sources, which means that their diet is not only high in fat and refined oils, but also very high in omega 6 fats.
For example, many plant foods contain a lot of omega 6 but very little omega 3, which is needed to balance the two together.
Take a look at the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in some common plant foods, the first number being omega 6:
English Walnuts 4:1
Pumpkin Seeds 117:1
Sunflower Seeds 300:1
Pine Nuts 300:1
Flax Seeds 1:3.1
Chia seeds 1:3
As you can tell, many plant foods are too rich in omega 6 and not rich enough in omega 3 to be a healthy balance.
There’s nothing wrong with eating sunflower seeds and eating avocados given you are eating other foods to balance your ratios. But far too many vegans and vegetarians get the bulk of their calories from these foods, which can in time spell trouble for your omega 6/3 ratio balance.
Many ex-vegans have blamed the vegan diet for being too low in omega 3. But research has shown that the real problem is that we get too much added omega 6 fat! As a result, our body can’t efficiently utilize the omega 3 fats we do eat.
We’re told to eat healthy fats, like the foods above, which is good in a sense. But in a diet where there’s already too much fat in general and/or too much omega 6, it can make things worse.
Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats promote inflammation in the body. When you eat too much of it, it competes with your absorption of omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory.
The ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is between 1:1 and 4:1.
Fruits and vegetables, as well as other low-fat plant foods, have a natural ratio of 1:1-4:1
If most of your calories come from these foods, then adding a bit of higher fat plant foods with lots of omega-6 will not overthrow your balance. However, if a significant proportion of your calories come from high-fat foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils, then it’s likely that you’ll eventually spell trouble.
2) Too Much Fat, Not Enough Plants
Vegans eliminate unhealthy animal proteins, but often replace it with foods that are very high in fat, even higher or the equivalent of some animal foods. While there still is a difference between a ground beef burger and a TVP patty topped with vegan cheese, they aren’t as big as some vegans like to believe.
Raw foodists do the same with an overreliance on nuts, seeds and avocados, and don’t necessarily realize the implications of consistently overeating on fat and not eating enough unprocessed, fresh whole plant foods.
Too much fat in the diet not only promotes heart disease and cancer, but it also affects every aspect of your health negatively. It’s also much easier to gain weight overeat on fatty foods rather than eating low-fat, carbohydrate-rich foods.
Too much fat does the following and more to your body:
– Negatively affects insulin sensitivity and promotes diabetes and high-blood sugar
– Negatively affects energy levels and athletic performance due to lower oxygen uptake
– Promotes inflammation and omega-3 deficiencies
– Negatively affects digestion and nutrient absorption
– Promotes heart disease and high cholesterol, as even vegetable fats can cause heart trouble the same as animal fats, if eaten in excess.
For raw vegans, common sources of fats include olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, avocado, nuts and seeds — all of which are often used in large quantities in every recipe.
For cooked vegans, fat sources that pile up include: all oils, fried foods like fries, chips, donuts, crackers, “Earth Balance” products, coconut milk, vegan cheeses, “sour creams”, and fake meat products like Tofurkey and TVP meats.
Healthy plant-based eating should be centered on plants. Potatoes and other root vegetables, whole grains, beans, and any kind of vegetable are the foods that build the foundation of a healthy diet. While there’s nothing wrong with a tofu burger from time to time, the bulk of your calories should be coming from healthy whole plant foods, not boxed vegan cookies and cola.
Raw vegans would be wise to get the bulk of their calories from fruit, and eat plenty of it to meet their body’s needs. Greens should be consumed for minerals (but not as the foundation of a meal, or you’ll end up hungry and/or overdoing the cashews later), and fatty foods should be used as condiments, not as the main ingredient in a meal.
3) Vegans Do Need to be Mindful of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiencies are common topic of discussion amongst vegans and meat-eaters alike, and everybody has a different opinion on it. Still, many people experience issues from a lack of B12, regardless of why. Numerous symptoms can be attributed to a B12 deficiency, including fatigue and failure to thrive.
The standard recommendation is to take a B12 supplement containing 25 to 100 mcg every day, or one containing at least 1000 mcg three times a week. If you’ve had a past of B12 issues or have been eating vegan for years and never taken a supplement, you might start with some B12 injections, as low B12 levels can actually prevent absorption from dietary or supplemental B12. Taking an oral supplement later can sometimes be too late, so always get tested and see where you are at if you’re concerned.
Vegans Who Don’t Make These Mistakes
Some vegans and raw foodists say that they don’t make these mistakes, but yet still don’t feel right and think they should eat some animal products again. In many cases, cleaning up your diet, eating whole foods, and getting enough calories without too much fat is enough to make a difference. In other cases, more complex factors may be at play, and this needs to be dealt with on an individual basis.
How Can You Be a Healthier Vegan?
Vegans and raw vegans can make a few simple changes to immediately improve their diet and their health:
1) Get out of the habit of putting oil on everything. I know that expensive olive oil is good, but you don’t need to pour it everywhere! Salad dressings can easily be made with smaller amounts of nuts/seeds blended or mixed with other fruits, vegetables, and seasonings.
2) Whenever you make a recipe, tailor the recipe to suit your needs. Many a time the recipe that calls for a cup of grapeseed oil for cooking and another half cup of toasted sesame seed oil to drizzle on top tastes just as good with a fraction of, or none, of the added oil.
3) Avoid using nuts, seeds or avocados as a main ingredient in any recipe. Instead use these foods as flavoring agents to your meals, instead of making a meal out of them.
4) Vegans be aware that vegan meat/dairy replacement products are often rich in unhealthy fats and proteins, such as earth balance butter, any type of vegan cheese, and fake meat products.
5) Raw vegans: learn to make fruits and vegetables the foundation of your diet, instead of an over-reliance on nuts, seeds, and avocados.
6) Minimize the use of all processed plant foods, including ALL oils, sugar, sweeteners, white flours, and anything that’s been significantly processed.
So remember, “vegan” or “vegetarian” does not automatically mean “healthy”, as there are plenty of meat-eaters out there who eat more plants than many vegans do. Let us know your experiences in the comments below!
There’s no denying that eating a diet based mostly on plants (fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, and other whole plant foods) is great not only for your personal health, but for the health of the planet as a whole.
More and more people are making a shift to a plant-based diet in recent years. There are more vegetarian and vegan options at restaurants and grocery stores every day it seems, and people no longer look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them you don’t care for the chicken OR the fish, thank you very much.
The times are changing, however, there are still some myths spread around the plant-based circuit that just don’t add up in reality. Check out Dr. Michael Greger in this video today as he discusses the top 3 vegan nutrition myths.
• The truth about why just eating vegan doesn’t make you invincible or automatically eating a healthy diet.
• Why other factors in health are just as important for your wellbeing as the food that you eat.
• Whether or not you should eat your vegetables raw or cook them.
• The facts on vitamin B12 and whether or not it really is a concern for vegetarians and vegans.
I learned a long time ago that “vegetarian” and “vegan” doesn’t automatically equal “healthy”. There are plenty of cola-drinking and cigarette-smoking vegans and vegetarians living on boxed cookies and stray bits of fried tofu.
So whenever you are looking at a particular dish or diet and are trying to determine if it’s something that will add or subtract from your health, ask more than just whether or not it’s vegan!
One of the questions that I get all the time is, “Hey Fred, why do you never talk about the benefits of eating local foods? And how come you eat so much imported fruit?”
At least a few times per week I receive questions in regards to local food and imported produce.
A lot of people feel that we should not eat any imported foods at all, and instead only eat what can be found in the area where you personally live. One of the big red flags that are brought up by these “locavores” is imported produce.
Obviously, bananas and mangoes don’t grow too far outside of the tropics, so doesn’t that mean that only those living in tropical climates should eat these foods, or include them with any significance in the diet?
First of all, the idea of eating only local food is not new. Many Macrobiotic Diet promoters promoted it decades ago, some of who strictly forbade eating imported and exotic food unless it was brown rice, which they considered the ideal food.
The locavore movement has grown quite a bit since, and has spawned all sorts of trends and inspired many people to be more conscious about where their food comes from.
A few years ago, there was even a man who tried to live for an extended period of time on foods that grew in a 100-mile radius from where he lived in the Northwest. He called his diet the “100-Mile Diet.”
The biggest reason people give for eating only local foods is the environment and all of the fuel used in the transportation of bringing exotic foods to your local grocery store, and eventually your home.
However, some recent studies show that this concept is quite flawed. Many people imagine that fossil fuel use in the food business mainly comes from transportation, but in reality it’s only 4 to 15% of the total energy used to produce the food.
Most of the fossil fuels and energy are actually burned during the production and storage of food, not its transportation!
Transportation in ships and trucks can be extremely efficient, to the point that people might actually burn more fuel by driving to buy their groceries than the total fuel that was burned in bringing the produce to the store in the first place.
There was even a study a few years ago that showed that it was more ecological to eat imported apples from New Zealand during the spring, when North American apples are not in season, rather than buying local apples that have been stored in giant refrigerated warehouses, stored from last year’s crop.
Where do you think all of those apples you see any time of the year in supermarkets in northern climates come from? They keep them in giant storage facilities to prevent them from spoiling, even if they’re local.
Far more important than where your food is coming from is the type of food you’re eating in the first place. Imported mangos are much more ecological (and healthful) than local grass fed beef.
Buying local food in season does make sense and is a great way to support your local communities and enjoy fresher foods (not including last year’s apples). But having a variety of foods, including certain imported foods, may even make more sense for your health and wellbeing.
Another reason that people give for only eating local food is the support that it provides for local farmers.
An interesting fact is that fruits and vegetables are one of the few products that less-affluent countries across the world can export. If everybody in the West stopped buying imported bananas and mangoes, it may not actually be the most beneficial thing for the world as a whole.
All of these countries would simply switch from growing bananas, mangos, and papaya to growing unhealthy products that are next in demand, like coffee, palm oil or beef.
Eventually, everybody would quit buying all of these fresh fruits and vegetables, the price and availability for these items would rise, and there would be cheaper and more readily available cheeseburgers, cups of coffee, and cooking grease. Is that really what the world needs?
I’d rather support poor countries growing fruit!
So, I’ll continue to support the farmers in my local area whenever I can (mostly in the summertime) as well as supporting farmers across the world for the rest of the year.
I buy a lot of fruit both in-season and locally, but I also buy imported tropical fruits that may not be available where I live in Canada. Many of these fruits are not organic, and I personally think that it’s not such a big deal and continue to eat them.
In the grand scheme of things, you may be better off eating a wider variety of foods and nutrients instead of limiting yourself to eating only the purest and “perfect” foods you can always find.
One thing to keep in mind as well is that it’s not likely you’ll find produce that is totally “clean”, unless you grew it yourself. And even so, there’s still pesticide and radioactive fallout residues in our air, water, and soils from decades ago. Even organic produce can have pesticides on it (and generally does), just “organic” insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
Fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or not, are low on the food chain and are healthier than anything else you could eat, organic or not. In other words, a commercially grown banana is far better for you than organic cheddar cheese.
In the kind of world where we live today, it really doesn’t make sense to try piously to eliminate certain foods from your diet just because they are not locally grown.
It still does make sense to and is great to grow as much of your own food as possible, and to support your local farmers whenever you can, too.
But someone living in a cold climate like Norway will have to rely on more imported foods to eat a healthy diet than say someone living in southern/central California, where the local produce and farmer’s markets are abundant year-round. This also happens to be where most locavores reside and spread the local-gospel through non-local means, like the Internet and printed books…
People can eat a wide variety of diets, but people also tend to be healthiest when following certain parameters of healthful eating. This includes eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, and procuring those wherever you are in the world and being the healthiest being you can be is more powerful than spending all day trying to convince yourself that you’re really content with the boiled local cabbage and dried up potatoes you’ve been trying to live on the last 3 months in Ohio in February.
Do what it takes to be the best version of you possible, even if that includes eating some mangos shipped in from halfway across the world!