Vegetarian diet questioned.
Vegetarianism (Health aspects)
|Author:||Eslinger, Robert A.|
|Publication:||Name: Townsend Letter Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 The Townsend Letter Group ISSN: 1940-5464|
|Issue:||Date: Oct, 2009 Source Issue: 315|
|Topic:||Event Code: 310 Science & research|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
I am writing this letter in response to the articles by Gary Null,
PhD, about a vegetarian diet. Philosophical and ecological
considerations aside (this is, after all, a medical journal) the bulk of
his information is faulty at best. Unfortunately for his argument,
anatomy and scientific research are not subject to philosophical
alteration. I am not a fan of factory farming either, but that does not
change how we are built.
For 99% of our time here on this planet, we (the human species) were hunter-gatherers. This meant a high-protein (animal source)/low-carbohydrate diet. Anthropologists have documented the fact that when agriculture developed roughly 100,000 years ago, we as a species became weaker, because what we first planted was the cereal grains. Never before did we have such a concentrated source of carbs (sugar) in our diet. Our teeth and bones became softer, and we became much more prone to many diseases.
If you look at the teeth and GI (gastrointestinal) system of any animal on the planet, they will tell you what that animal is supposed to eat. We absolutely do not have the anatomy or dentition of a vegetarian. We are meant to be omnivores. This means that we need to eat a little bit of everything, including meat. Cows do not have canine teeth; we do. It is true that carnivores have very short GI systems and vegetarians very long. Ours is in the middle, not short and not long. If there are problems with poorly digested food of any type creating toxicity in the body, then the answer is to improve the digestion and elimination processes, not switch to another type of food.
The problems that we face in this country with the development of metabolic syndrome X, with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hperlipidemia, have been traced to an overabundance of carbohydrates in a person's diet, not too much protein. Elevated insulin levels (from excess carbohydrate intake) have been linked to this metabolic syndrome.
I am sure that, as a nutritionist, Dr. Null is aware of the research published in 1997 by Albion Research Notes on Human Nutrition, showing that "natural sources of fiber, mostly found in grains, fruits and vegetables, generally have a depressing effect on absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and copper." The phytates found in the fiber act as "mineral magnets" and bind them up so that they pass out in the feces.
So you see that eating "more vegetables and grains" is not a viable, healthy alternative to eating animal-based protein.
Unfortunately, the most common food chosen by those seeking to replace animal based protein is soy. Research over 10 years old (1998) in such journals as American journal of Clinical Nutrition and Cancer Research has shown what a poor choice this is. That information showed "soy protein supplementation stimulates proliferation in mouse and human breast tumors." Further studies in Brain Research in 1999 found that the phytoestrogens in soy "have an adverse effect on brain chemistry." This is only a short list of the growing research that shows soy is a poor dietary choice for anyone, anytime.
I was fortunate to have been able to work with the late Dr. Douglas Brodie for two years before he died. He was a giant in the field of alternative medicine cancer therapy. We had many discussions about nutrition. He believed that the most frequent form of malnutrition he saw in his cancer patients was lack of enough protein in their diet after being told that they have to become vegetarian in order to cure their cancer. "Nothing could be further from the truth" is what he had to say about that. Thirty-one years of clinical experience have taught me the same thing.
Vegetarianism may be a viable choice for some highly informed, highly motivated individuals; but the facts and research simply do not support the idea that we "should" eat that way.
Robert A. Eslinger DO, HMD
Reno Integrative Medical Center
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