My take on “What the Health” For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, watch it and let me know what it makes you think
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Documentary Point: Chicken is not healthier than beef, it has almost the same amount of cholesterol as beef..85mg in chicken compared to 89mg of beef.
Debunker Criticism: dietary cholesterol is NOT associated with Coronary Artery Disease
I described studies that supported the debunker on this one when I talked about eggs (2). Dietary cholesterol does not severely impact coronary artery disease.
But is chicken actually healthier than beef?
Well, one study showed that poultry meats have a good overall nutritional profile. And they say it may even be beneficial in pregnant women, elderly and children. It goes on to say that eating chicken help maintain body weight, and have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer… then I read the conflicts of interest section… It was funded by Unaitalia, a company that specializes in the promotion of Italian food chains of meat and eggs.
Is that too conflicting? Maybe? Ugh, I don’t know, what do you think?
A study on 500,000 men and women did show that red and processed meat was associated with the risk of cancer of multiple organs including the colon, liver, pancreas, and others.
But what about chicken?
One study showed that although red meat does, chicken and fish do not increase the risk of rectal cancer. Another study showed chicken doesn’t increase the risk of prostate cancer.
A Harvard study looked into the effect of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs on prostate cancer progression. Eating processed meats, unprocessed red meat, fish, total poultry, skinless poultry were not associated with prostate cancer recurrence or progression. Greater consumption of eggs and poultry with skin was associated with a 2x increase in risk in comparison.
Men with high risk and high poultry intake had a 4 fold increased risk of recurrence or progression.
So, if you have to choose between meat and chicken, eat lettuce HA! right, that’s a tough one.
If the question is based on cholesterol which is better… well neither they’re both bad. Based on the risk of colon cancer, chicken is better. Based on prostate cancer, skinless chicken is better. But we never make decisions based on specific things like these. The argument becomes a bit difficult. Overall animal protein, higher saturated fat. All animal protein has saturated fat, including dairy and fish. That’s what you should know in my opinion
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Documentary Point: what about fish? Also not that great
The amount of omega 3 in fish is lower than green veggies! Has other worries too like PCBs (chemicals), mercury, saturated fat, cholesterol
Cholesterol is all over the place. Tuna in water has less than1/2 a glass of milk. Salmon or tilapia can be even higher than a pork chop.
Debunker didn’t criticize this in his video.
I chose to talk about this because a lot of people believe that we NEED animal protein to get omega 3, energy, protein, etc. This is a good topic to talk about because fish is actually not the highest source of omega 3. In fact, some fish have more omega 6, which can cause inflammation and can worsen a lot of inflammatory diseases. So, not all fish is good! But that’s another blog post.
Lastly, maybe higher cholesterol thank pork chop depends on how it’s cooked, I’m not sure. I didn’t find any evidence of this. But I’ll keep looking I promise!
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Documentary point: humans need cow milk as much as we need milk from a giraffe.
Debunker criticism: NONE
Okay so the debunker didn’t say anything about this either, but I figured it’s a good a place as any to discuss milk. There are so many milk commercials and ads. Milk gives you calcium and potassium and vitamins blah blah blah. Sure, they’re all true. Milk is supposed to nourish….just babies?
I used to think milk was extremely important to a person’s diet because of all these nutrients, so I decided to look into it.
Turns out, there is no definitive answer here. It is not bad for some things and it’s bad for others. One study found that dairy products “do not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly if low fat”. Further, it also found that “up to 3 servings per day appears to be safe and may confer a favorable benefit with regard to bone health”. Then, another study went on to say that a higher consumption of dairy products was associated with higher levels of hip fractures. Also, some of the highest consumers of dairy including Finland and Sweden, also happen to have high rates of osteoporosis.
One study explains that areas where vitamin D is low but calcium intake is high also has a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Many doctors today are sending patients home with vitamin D supplements.
A study conducted on polish women concluded that bone health depends on many things including calcium intake, vitamin D, age, and menstruation in women. They went on to say that dairy product consumption early in childhood may lower the risk of osteoporosis in adult women.
Another study, conducted recently this year found that low calcium intake and low vitamin D both contributed to low bone density, osteoporosis in menopausal women in Korea.
Overall, there is conflicting evidence that milk should be avoided. Based on all this information it is hard to decide whether milk is good or bad. As a doctor, I think vitamin D, calcium, and all other minerals and vitamins are important for health. Whether we should be getting them from milk, is not for me to say. My take on all this is that anything in excess is bad, as always.
Yes, you can find vitamin D and calcium from other sources so milk is not needed. Yes, what the documentary said about us only needing milk early in life is also true. But there are so many things we don’t need yet have and use and consume. Do I think people should stop drinking milk? NO. Do I think people have to drink 1-2 glasses of milk a day to stay “bone healthy”? NO.
If you crave it, drink it. If you like it, drink it. Don’t drink too much. Like everything else! Moderation guys! That’s my take.
A VEGAN DIET AND DISEASE
From the research I have conducted I have found that a purely plant-based diet alleviates pain associated with osteoporosis. Self-reported functionality was much improved after only 2 weeks of being vegan.
Another study tried to look at migraines and vegan diets. Turns outpatients reported less intense migraines after being vegan for only 2 weeks. They also had lower LDL (bad cholesterol), lower weight, and higher HDL.
Debilitating disease! A study looked into its effects on multiple areas of this disease including sleep patterns, fatigue, insomnia, pain, and tender point. They found significant improvement in all areas, but mostly concluded that a vegan diet has beneficial effects on fibromyalgia symptoms at least “in the short run”.
A study compared the basic diabetic diet recommended and a vegan diet and found that although both diets helped lower weight and plasma lipid levels. A vegan diet improved blood sugar and plasma lipids more than the recommended diabetic diet.
Another study found that a vegan diet can improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain) and improved diabetic nephropathy (kidney problem).
Mood and Anxiety
A study looked into how a vegan diet might affect mood. They did this because there had been some conflicting results that a vegetarian diet may increase the risk of mental disorders and mood disorders, while others showed it was protective. So they tried to do the same with vegan. They found that a vegan diet did not worsen mood, but that it actually improved it. More studies are needed.
WHY IS THIS DOCUMENTARY IMPORTANT?
From my research, “Beyond meatless diets, further avoidance of eggs and dairy products may offer a mild additional benefit” and “compared to lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, vegan diets seem to provide some added protection against obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes; and cardiovascular mortality.
In general, the protective effects of vegetarian diets are stronger in men than in women”. Now that you have all this info what should you make of it? Does this mean I am saying you MUST become vegan ASAP? Does it mean I myself am Vegan? NO. We all know that diets high in fruits and veggies are extremely beneficial to our health. Whether the benefits from a vegan diet are solely because you stopped eating animal protein or because you are now consuming higher amounts of veggies and fruits cannot be made. BUT! Studies have shown that purely vegetarian diets (meaning they do eat eggs and yogurt), show “a moderate reduction in mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) but little difference in other major causes of death or all-cause mortality in comparison with health-conscious non-vegetarians from the same population”.
Another study explained that adopting a vegan diet might be most beneficial to those with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Certain other chronic diseases may have additional dietary restrictions like kidney disease or thyroid disease. Often times your doctor begins to take away certain medications you are taking because your diet has changed and your disease has been either partially controlled or even completely managed by food alone, especially diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you are someone who is struggling with a disease and feel as though the medications you are taking are not working, or burdensome.. maybe you should give a vegan diet a trial run of 2-4 weeks and see how your body reacts! Don’t forget to take some vitamin b12 supplements, as they cannot be obtained from plants, and also take omega 3 fatty acids as these are not high in some of the most common vegan foods!
A lot of athletes report feeling stronger, better, less pain, better recovery. Vegan athletes.. so what now?
What I am doing here is giving you a bunch of info because I want you to make the choice for yourself.
Always, always, always! Consult with your doctor! As them to refer you to a nutritionist who can set you up with a meal plan so that you are getting the adequate nutrition and energy you need to feel great! Everyone person is different, and has different needs! Health care should be tailored specifically to you!
What I think:
After watching this documentary I myself have decided… not to become vegan… but to give it a trial run. I often deal with lower back pain and neck pain after an injury a few years back. I don’t take medications, but sometimes the pain is debilitating and maddening. So, I will do my research, speak to the right people, find the right meal plan, and exercise routine! And start my 2-week trial of vegan.
I will post my experiences here as the days go by. These will be absolutely not fact-based, but experience-based. I believe in individual medicine, we are not all the same, we won’t all react the same.
For those of you who decide to try going vegan and see how your body responds, please send me your experiences, the issues you encountered, how you felt, and who you spoke to! Let’s keep each other informed so we can all benefit!