Veganism, Human Health and Conspiracies.

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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Hearth Supporter
Jan 27, 2008
5,573
SE PA
Okay, this is a rather large and rambly and potentially polarizing subject. I am interested in your collective opinions and conversation. It is a 'green' topic, if not a space heating one.

As touched upon last August in a Climate Change thread, I have been moving in a vegan diet direction, perhaps better termed a 'Whole Food Plant Based' WFPB diet. Veganism is a philosophy that includes the ethical treatment of animals, and has a plant based diet as just one component.

I have been doing a deep dive on human nutrition and health, largely via science-based YouTubers.

'Gil' at 'Nutrition Made Simple': https://www.youtube.com/@NutritionMadeSimple
'Mic' at Mic The Vegan: https://www.youtube.com/@MictheVegan

Gil is an MD Nutritionist in his 40s, Mic is a Nutrition Master's student in his 30s (I think). Both make a point of interviewing actual scientists doing the research, and cite peer-reviewed studies heavily in their work.

Both people eat a 100% vegan diet. Gil is 'live and let live' about people's dietary choices. Mic strongly advocates for a WFPB diet and veganism.

Where they stand on the science overlaps about 98% as far as I can tell.

I have learned a number of things.

1. A high-fiber diet is needed for heath. it both reduces/regulates blood cholesterol and regulates hunger. Our livers actually excrete cholesterol (and other fat soluble compounds) into our small intestine, and then we selectively reabsorb the molecules we need lower in the GI. I had always heard that 'fiber lowered cholesterol', and never believed it, bc it made no sense to me. But this 'non-selective excretion plus selective re-adsorption' is exactly how our kidneys work for water soluble species. The point being that a low fiber diet leads to much higher readsorption than would otherwise occur... boosting cholesterol. Check. Also, bacteria digesting fiber in our GI release small molecules (short chain fatty acids, SFAs) that go into our circulation, cross the brain-blood barrier and help regulate hunger. So a low fiber diet can directly lead to higher hunger, over eating and weight gain.

2. Saturated fat is worse than you have been led to believe. Basically everyone eating a Western/omnivore diet has some form of cardiovascular disease, CVD, defined as artery lesions and plaques. This includes most of us before we hit puberty, even if only 30% of us will eventually die from it. The same plaques are present in the brain, in the kidneys, in peripheral circulation, and are a leading cause of ED. I had previously believed that the problem was just one of excess... that 'moderation' in meat eating would be OK... we're omnivores, right? But you can look at peer reviewed studies and ask how much animal (or plant) based saturated fat can you eat, and have essentially zero cardiovascular disease... what is the 'threshold for harm'?? And the answer is: essentially ZERO meat/dairy and very LITTLE refined vegetable oil. To have a 'healthy' cardiovascular system you need to not ONLY be vegan, but also to eat refined oils sparingly! Also, chicken is no more healthy in terms of CVD than red meat with the same saturated fat content!

Around the world the people that eat like that are handily the longest living people, and are often very fit/sharp to an advanced age!

But but, we're omnivores! you say. Well, a dog eats a diet of mixed animal and vegetable matter (omnivorous)... do they get cardiovascular disease? They do NOT get cardiovascular plagues on a meat based diet! They are biologically suited to such a diet, while we clearly are not. Our animal cousins (the great apes) are all herbivores, and our digestive tracts and biochemistry remain very similar to theirs. So science says that we humans are, sadly, herbivores, and there is no 'safe dose' of meat eating.

3. Obesity and (type II) Diabetes are not caused by an excess of 'carbs'. Obesity is caused by an excess of calorie consumption, period. This is likely exacerbated by the eating of very energy-dense foods (junk food with refined sugar and fats, which are low in fiber). But carbs do not get transformed into fat by the body in any significant amount. If you eat too much of mixed carbs and fats, you body will store the fat as fat and store the carbs as glycogen. So its excess total calories (and lack of satiety), not macro nutrients, that leads to obesity. Type II diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is caused by the excess storage of fat inside muscle cells: 'intramyocellular lipids', which inhibits insulin receptors. What causes such intracellular fat storage? When we eat a high fat diet, that fat enters our bloodstream (in carriers) and is absorbed by our muscle cells for future energy demands. So persistent, excess fat consumption, especially saturated fats such as animal fats leads to excess fat INSIDE our muscle cells, which then refuse to respond to insulin by absorbing sugar. A low carb, high fat or 'keto' diet thus increases insulin resistance (even if it lowers blood sugar) perpetuating the disease.

4. Cancer and hormones. Processed meats (with nitrites) are potently carcinogenic, higher consumption of those foods a century ago (prior to refrigeration) led to stomach cancer being the #1 killer. Unprocessed red meats are also human carcinogens (independent of how they are cooked), with colon cancer being the strongest association. Dairy products contain significant amounts of bio-active sex hormones and growth factors. Eating dairy transiently increases estrogen and decreases testosterone in the blood of humans. Some of these hormones and growth factors are implicated in cancer progression/growth, with prostrate cancer in men and endometrial cancer in women having the strongest associations.

The major protein in dairy, casein, metabolizes into short chain peptides called casomorphins, that actually engage the same brain receptors as morphine and other narcotics (at about 5% of the potency). There is currently speculation that this might literally make dairy products such as cheese biochemically addictive. This chemistry is probably functional, as it leads to more stable nursing behavior in baby mammals, that are getting a bigger 'hit' from these compounds.

5. Plant proteins and nutrients (e.g. calcium) are sufficient for human dietary needs. We are supposed to eat a lot of dairy to stave off osteoporosis... yet osteoporosis is much rarer in countries around the world where dairy is NOT consumed. Western vegans do not appear to suffer from protein deficiency in detectable numbers, nor do they have unhealthy bone density. Historical studies of plant protein and nutrient absorption appear to have been flawed. Omnivores have a microbiome that is poorly adapted to eating plants and fiber, leading to gas, bloating and poor absorption from many plant foods. Those on a vegan diet get an adapted microbiome (in a week or two) that processes plant foods efficiently, including high absorption!

The exception is B-12. B-12 is made by bacteria, and drinking dirty water would have given ancient people enough B-12. With clean water, vegans must take B-12 supplements or eat fortified or fermented foods.

-------------------------

The takeaway from all of this is that the healthiest diet for humans is a WFPB diet. It is healthier than ovo-lacto vegetarians, or pescatarians, or flexitarians, or whatever.
Corroborating the five findings above:
1) Vegans are the only group to have an average BMI in the Normal range.
2) People eating a WFPB diet have far less CVD (and LDL markers well below govt guidelines). A low-fat WFPB diet has been shown to reverse CVD.
3) Vegans have 78% lower incidence of Diabetes. Many patients report a reversal of disease on a vegan diet.
4) Vegans have about 20% lower incidence of cancer mortality.
5) Vegans have higher blood protein (albumin) and higher blood testosterone than omnivores. Most take B-12 supplements.

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Now, none of this make me happy at all. I LIKE non-vegan food. But I am going to switch in the New Year.

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This all begs the question of, if all of the above is something like scientific consensus (and has been for years or decades), why aren't we getting a clear message from the USDA, or the AMA, or the American Heart Association, or the Diabetes Society or the Cancer Society? And instead we get influencers, and snake oil, and the Liver King and Joe Rogan telling us how to eat!

This is where we come to our Green Room trope: Tobacco Lawyers. There are a bunch of people out there being PAID to lobby for unhealthy foods, by agriculture and pharma companies.

Here is a documentary on NetFlix called 'What the Health?' that makes this case: https://www.netflix.com/watch/80174177

Many would dismiss it as 'Vegan Propaganda'.

I don't love 'gotcha documentaries', which I think often get things wrong. But given the scientific case around human health, and the lack of action being taken by our govt and medical establishment, I find this one sadly plausible. I think just looking at research funding sources is limited. In the interest of full disclosure, I, woodgeek, have received a $200,000 research grant from the American Petroleum Institute. You may discount all my postings in the Green Room henceforth since I am clearly a shill for the oil industry. :)

May you all have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
 
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Just don't eat commercially grown food that relies on chemicals.

good dirt equals good food whether beast or plant.

I have a really hard time with unethical treatment of animals. At least my own have a very nice stress free life with lots of food, water, and space to roam before they go to slaughter. I have been considering veganism over the past several years for one reason alone; I'm not sure if I can continue killing animals. I don't think eating meat is the least bit bad for us as part of a varied diet, as long as that meat has not suffered unduly while alive. Stressed meat is bad juju.

I won't start on the rest of it regarding our corrupt food system and chemical companies...
 
Just don't eat commercially grown food that relies on chemicals.

good dirt equals good food whether beast or plant.

I have a really hard time with unethical treatment of animals. At least my own have a very nice stress free life with lots of food, water, and space to roam before they go to slaughter. I have been considering veganism over the past several years for one reason alone; I'm not sure if I can continue killing animals. I don't think eating meat is the least bit bad for us as part of a varied diet, as long as that meat has not suffered unduly while alive. Stressed meat is bad juju.

I won't start on the rest of it regarding our corrupt food system and chemical companies...

I have seen many studies that indicate that plant and animal products raised intensively/industrially have lower levels of certain nutrients, such as minerals that get depleted in soil, or lower omega-3s in corn-fed beef. One example is magnesium. Deficiency of magnesium is implicated in several problems including depression.

It is currently trendy to say that 'grass fed beef' or 'cage free chicken eggs' are healthy, even if the other kinds are not. I have seen one study on humans eating grass-fed vs industrial beef, and no difference was seen in heart disease risk. More study is certainly warranted.
 
I have had digestive problems all my life. 4 surgeries and counting. Cramps and urgent bathroom trips and queasiness were the norm. Even getting the food down in the first place due to esophagus damage. Nothing will be perfect, but I have found that eliminating a lot of things helps me feel quite a bit better. Also don’t smoke or drink, but never did anyway.

I have eliminated all meat. Most dairy. Most sugar and sodium. Most bread. Don’t remember the last time I had a soda. Basically WFPB as much as I can reasonably get. I will eat fully cooked eggs sometimes, I like them and never have a problem with them. But that’s about it.

I eat a lot of oatmeal, canned vegetables with no sodium added, and plant based meats such as Morning Star.

I will only label myself mostly plant based. I do it for my own health only. I’ve already got a full plate keeping myself going. I like my leather coat and boots, so I’ll leave the actual vegan label for others.
 
While I am not in a position to confirm @woodgeek 's recent findings, I know from clinical experience WG is essentially correct in every conclusion.

When I was making home visits the range of nutritional choices I saw was mindboggling.

Imagine an active 70 year old, blew out their knee on the cross country ski trail, has a minor wound infection at the knee surgery site. What did you have for breakfast? Two cups of raw Kale with some lemon juice and cracked pepper for flavor, and about half a cup of tree nuts for some protein. I might have a banana in a few minutes.

Next stop, 62 yo with metabolic syndrome, 100# overweight, poorly controlled blood sugars, cardiovascular disease, already had one stroke and two heart attacks. Struggles to make it from the couch to the bathroom from shortness of breath. Still smoking cigarettes, admits to "about" a pack a day. How many vegetables did you eat last week? I had french fries with my cheeseburgers three times, and I had a big bag of potato chips.

One small step anyone can make is to eat more vegetables. Shoot for 5 servings daily. I know, I know, baby steps. If you got a food processor, you can toss in a tomato, half an onion and some seasonings, you got pico de gallo faster than McDonalds is currently pushing out burgers. Put a half cup on your breakfast eggs, have another half cup with some corn chips in the afternoon, boom, vegetables. I shoot for two servings of dark leafy green daily, two of pretty colors, and one of whatever. The reds and orange and purple and so on are all bringing you varied antioxidants. You need those. Doesn't matter if you have a (not fried) blue or purple potato, or a carrot, or a tomato. All those different colors bring you different stuff, your body wants a little bit of all of them. Purple salad greens. Olives. Avacado.

I got hooked on relatively high end ramen noodles about a year ago. But in a decent sized serving bowl I can drop in a few chunks of frozen broccoli, a couple scallions crosscut in half, then pour the hot broth and noodles over that, boom, vegetables that don't taste like vegetables.

I agree with woodgeek that establishing and maintaining a good gut biome pays many dividends. Juicing vegetables is OK if that is what you have to do to get the nutrients in your diet, but your body does want the fiber too.

I personally think homegrown vegetables you stick in your mouth the moment you pick them are the best, but I don't know how much DDT is in your garden dirt. In general fresh produce at the market, vegetables frozen on the farm the day they were picked canned vegetables are all perfectly acceptable (and a step up for the sickest people in Fairbanks). Most commercially canned produce is out of the canner and cooling off within 24 hours of harvest, often much quicker.

I do think hand harvested organically grown produce is 'more nutritious' than the stuff at the grocery store, but the same produce is a lot more expensive. My wife and I have three categories, 1. Stuff we grow at home in our own garden. 2. stuff we prefer to purchase organic/ local farmer. 3. Stuff we eat that is commercially produced. We are a bit limited on our growing season up here, so category one is a bit constrained.

You got to read the labels to know what else is in there with the veg once they are packaged. Flash frozen stuff where the only ingredients are "broccoli with a splash of ascorbic acid" is pretty good stuff. A spaghetti sauce with 34 ingredients you cannot pronounce is probably a vegetable, but really spaghetti sauce is not hard to make at home. Home canned (safe recipe) yellow summer squash has a LOT of sugar in it, but my kids gobble it and I am sneaking antioxidants into them, so I send them all a few home canned jars every year.

Also fruits. All those colors. Blueberries are amazing little rascals.

If you are not there already and looking for a New Year's resolution, nutrition is a great option for most Americans. Try having one dark leafy green vegetable, one vegetable of pretty color, and one fruit colored other than white every day for the first six weeks of 2023.

You may have apples and bananas, but try to get some blackberries and oranges and so on into the mix. Get back to us around Valentine's Day. Dried mango slices. Dried apricot, the options are unlimited.

Nice going woodgeek. Can you look into fermented foods a bit more and let us know what you find on your own? There are 3-4 home fermenters here that I know of already. I have moved to an indoor job this autumn, I am now taking care of medical inpatients, so all of the RSV, influenza and Covid in town, that are sick enough to be hospitalized, they all get a chance to cough on me. I have at least a tablespoon of home fermented veg every day.

I will probably die with a rack of spareribs on the plate in front of me, but I am not going to have to deal with a bunch of chronic medical BS along the way attributable to poor nutrition.
 
The takeaway from all of this is that the healthiest diet for humans is a WFPB diet. It is healthier than ovo-lacto vegetarians, or pescatarians, or flexitarians, or whatever.
Corroborating the five findings above:
1) Vegans are the only group to have an average BMI in the Normal range.
2) People eating a WFPB diet have far less CVD (and LDL markers well below govt guidelines). A low-fat WFPB diet has been shown to reverse CVD.
3) Vegans have 78% lower incidence of Diabetes. Many patients report a reversal of disease on a vegan diet.
4) Vegans have about 20% lower incidence of cancer mortality.
5) Vegans have higher blood protein (albumin) and higher blood testosterone than omnivores. Most take B-12 supplements.
Great post, as always, @woodgeek.

When I see these lists, I always wonder how much of it is actually causation, versus just correlation? We must admit that those proactively choosing a vegan or WFPB diet are generally going to be the fraction of the population more interested in their general health and diet, and so it would be no surprise of their sum of lifestyle choices does lead to lower incidence of abnormal BMI, CVD, and diabetes. It's difficult to isolate this particular life choice against the many others which may generally go along with a given personality type or religion.

I'd elaborate, but I know you already know what I'm saying, without beating the point to death.
 
Great post, as always, @woodgeek.

When I see these lists, I always wonder how much of it is actually causation, versus just correlation? We must admit that those proactively choosing a vegan or WFPB diet are generally going to be the fraction of the population more interested in their general health and diet, and so it would be no surprise of their sum of lifestyle choices does lead to lower incidence of abnormal BMI, CVD, and diabetes. It's difficult to isolate this particular life choice against the many others which may generally go along with a given personality type or religion.

I'd elaborate, but I know you already know what I'm saying, without beating the point to death.

A very reasonable concern. The summary list you quote IS based upon epidemiology observations, and indeed can be correlative.

However, the corresponding findings I mentioned above that ARE verified by multiple, randomized controlled trials (RCTs). where large numbers of participants are assigned to have one of two or more different diets for the period of months or years. Moreover, in many cases the biochemical mechanisms of the observed effect have been elucidated.

Most impressive from a 'causation' POV are the reports of reversal of disease states (CVD, Diabetes) that are commonly considered to be irreversible chronic diseases requiring a lifetime of intensive medical interventions and pharmaceuticals.

I list the epidemiology results as merely corroborating that the RCT findings are operative in the general population.

Also, many (most?) people choose a WFPB diet in mid-life as a more or less desperate response to poor health effects or scares, not because they are lifetime overachievers in following healthy nutrition and exercise advice.
 
One I found particularly compelling was the decreased incidence of CVD in the Scandanavian countries while the locals were forced into a more vegan diet since the occupiers were taking all the livestock in the early 1940s. Once the conflict was over and red meat returned to the local diet, CVD returned as well.
 
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Great post. I’m originally from the Midwest and grew up on a meat and potatoes diet. I have since moved to the northeast where I met my wife who has been a complete vegan for 11 years now. She is an oncology nurse and came upon a patient who asked about the links of diet to cancer. She was completely amazed by the amount of research done that links our western meat, dairy and processed diets to cancer and other co-morbidities. In 25 years in oncology she has never had to give chemo or radiation to a vegan. Yet we see billions of dollars made by corporations keeping our population chronically ill for decades. The healthcare system doesn’t make money off of healthy people and therefore are not incentivized to educate them.
One convincing argument to me on why humans are herbivores is we don’t have canines as seen in natural omnivores. Those canines are needed to shred and tear the meat from the animal they hunted. We simply don’t have that type of tooth structure or digestive system.
Another selling point to me is we have often heard the philosophy that we need to eat red meat in order to get the necessary proteins and nutrients in our diets. Those red meats that we consume are large, herbivorous animals who get their protein and nutrients from plant based diets.
We can all do better and it starts with decisions. I applaud Woodgeek’s decision to go vegan.
 
I’d highly recommend watching this episode of Nova before coming to a conclusion that a western diet causes obesity.

 
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I subscribe to sugar being responsible for obesity and many of the accompanying diseases modern man suffers from. Taking fat out of everything and replacing it with sugar in processed food (just about everything inside the outer perimeter aisles of the grocery store), IMO has led to an alarming global health situation in the developed countries. When the world went berserk over fats, the food industry scrambled to take them out, but the food tasted like cardboard. Enter sugar. It brought the taste back and addicted people. I do NOT subscribe to any type of diet (Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Mediterranean, Plant Based, etc.), but just cut out as much sugar as possible (both obvious and not-so-obvious sugars). I have seen too many people regulate their weight without trying, get off things like cpap's, high blood pressure medication and inflammation medications, and reverse conditions like arthritis, diabetes, etc., just to name a few. For me, I can't believe how much weight I was able to lose without trying, how many pains and ailments disappeared, and the medications I no longer have to take, and how much better I feel. My blood tests are good, and I eat whatever I want, as long as it has no or is very low in refined sugars.

If you look at the mainstream diets today, no matter how different or opposed they are to each other, you'll see the common thread that they are all very low refined sugars.

As far as I am concerned, folks are addicted to sugar, and it is making their life a living hell and killing them.

Here are a few YouTube Vids if you wish to look further into this:

Perhaps a little off subject, but I was just thinking of this too...probably the 2nd biggest killer in our diet are the "healthy" vegetable oils that we consume and that are pushed on us by the big food industry. Their unstable and rapid oxidation properties make them toxic. And if you watch a video on how vegetable oils are made, you will probably never eat any of them again.
 
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Our GI is also pretty well adapted for eating meat, just not as the main food source. Source: I am an animal science major at Unity College. However, most wild animals are not full of saturated fats like grain fed poultry and meat. When I hunt for wild game animals I'm always impressed at the basically near zero fat content of the muscle and the near total lack of subcutaneous fat. You can eat meat without having tons of saturated fats, just not with any industrially farmed meats. I agree that most people do eat too much fatty meat and other processed foods.
 
This is the internet age of disinformation. There are just as many equally qualified influencers with just as much documentation and studies saying the opposite.

If you want to support your theory on either side of this (vegan or carnivore) all you have to do is selectively listen.

It’s pretty amazing really. One thing I hope we can all agree on is that

1) the standard American diet with all of the processed food and refined sugar has been a failure.
2) staying active and not being obese are far more important than most anything else.

Personally, I was put on a low carb diet by my doctor. I was not overweight but it was for blood pressure and it worked. You can be a vegan or carnivore but low carb. Carbs are sugar and low carb does not mean no carb.
 
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I’d highly recommend watching this episode of Nova before coming to a conclusion that a western diet causes obesity.


Am I the only one for whom the primary turn-off to sumo wrestling is the outfit? I mean, I could probably watch and enjoy it, if they wore more than a thong.

How many of us are playing the odds, that coffee, bourbon, or exercise will somehow mitigate the effects of their poor diet, against all statistical evidence to the contrary. Anyone? Am I alone here? ;lol

@woodgeek, what turned you onto the WFPB thing? We've not met, but I always had the impression you lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. Was this a "desperate response to poor health effects or scares"?
 
This is the internet age of disinformation.

You mean, these guys? ;lol

Veganism, Human Health and Conspiracies.


Trouble is, disinformation was around long before the internet. We just have better access to it, now.
 
You mean, these guys? ;lol

Veganism, Human Health and Conspiracies.


Trouble is, disinformation was around long before the internet. We just have better access to it, now.


I chuckled at the meme, but lack of evidence is not the same thing as evidence in the favor of something else. Perhaps green and blue pigments simply don't stand the test of time like red and brown
 
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You mean, these guys? ;lol

Veganism, Human Health and Conspiracies.


Trouble is, disinformation was around long before the internet. We just have better access to it, now.

I mean there is a stack of “studies” and a pile of MDs that could go to the OP and tear it to pieces while stating the opposite is true but only if you choose to listen. These fad diets are like religions in many ways.

I believe that there is huge overlap among the fad diet extremes and it’s the biggest issues with the best benefit. Cut sugar and seed oils, be a normal weight, and be active.

I find the fact that vegans will die without vitamin supplements repulsive. With thumbs and tools, humans don’t need wolf like canine teeth. I eat lots of eggs, as I want complete proteins with all of the essential amino acids.
 
Am I the only one for whom the primary turn-off to sumo wrestling is the outfit? I mean, I could probably watch and enjoy it, if they wore more than a thong.

How many of us are playing the odds, that coffee, bourbon, or exercise will somehow mitigate the effects of their poor diet, against all statistical evidence to the contrary. Anyone? Am I alone here? ;lol

@woodgeek, what turned you onto the WFPB thing? We've not met, but I always had the impression you lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. Was this a "desperate response to poor health effects or scares"?
My grandfather lived to 89, and he had a bowl of soup and a glass of wine everyday. He was however very active until his latter years in life.

Look at all of the people that lived into their 90’s and smoke like freight train their whole life.

I think what a lot of these studies don’t take into account is genetics. I have a very low BMI but I have high cholesterol, that goes against the norm. Guess who else has high cholesterol, my parents and brothers.
 
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My grandfather lived to 89, and he had a bowl of soup and a glass of wine everyday.

Look at all of the people that lived into their 90’s and smoke like freight train their whole life.

I think what a lot of these studies don’t take into account is genetics. I have a very low BMI but I have high cholesterol, that goes against the norm. Guess who else has high cholesterol, my parents and brothers.
What if….. blood cholesterol didn’t matter? The guidelines have changed in the last several years. Turns out, cholesterol is not that bad and can actually be a good thing to shuttle the energy around in your body once you become less dependent on glucose for energy.
 
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I mean there is a stack of “studies” and a pile of MDs that could go to the OP and tear it to pieces while stating the opposite is true but only if you choose to listen. These fad diets are like religions in many ways.

I believe that there is huge overlap among the fad diet extremes and it’s the biggest issues with the best benefit. Cut sugar and seed oils, be a normal weight, and be active.

I find the fact that vegans will die without vitamin supplements repulsive. With thumbs and tools, humans don’t need wolf like canine teeth. I eat lots of eggs, as I want complete proteins with all of the essential amino acids.
"Complete protein" is kind of a myth. The essential amino acids, or the parts to make them, are present in all foods. You could get all the amino acids you need from plants, but you would need more plant volume than meat to get the same results. Kind of like hardwoods vs softwoods for BTUs, all wood is 7,000 BTU/lb, but you need more volume of softwoods because of the lesser energy density. Eggs are great though, not trying to say otherwise. I actually agree with you that it's not necessarily meat vs all plant diet that is the problem, but the composition of the overall diet. There's also no "one size fits all" for human diet. Some people can eat more meat than others, some people can't digest dairy after a certain age, and so on.

You are also spot on that you could find peer reviewed evidence to support most opinions. I think this is related to everyone having a different microbiome and "metabolism". You can find a cohort that is particularly good at digesting only plant based diets, and then find one that does better on meat. I think some things are universal, and totally agree that there is way too much refined sugar. I myself am trying to cut back, but it's hard! However, I disagree that carbs in general are the problem, because there are a lot of different types of carbs. For instance sourdough bread made from whole grains is mostly carbs, but the fiber and protein are also present. This is unlike plain white bread which is lacking a lot compared to whole grain sourdough. Fermenting carbs seems to be the key to consuming them with less or no issues, as most of the sugars and other carbs are converted to short chain fatty acids and microbial protein.
 
What if….. blood cholesterol didn’t matter? The guidelines have changed in the last several years. Turns out, cholesterol is not that bad and can actually be a good thing to shuttle the energy around in your body once you become less dependent on glucose for energy.
This also is spot on, but it is hard for most folks to move from the "truths" that were preached and believed for years.
 
I’d highly recommend watching this episode of Nova before coming to a conclusion that a western diet causes obesity.



Okay, I watched it, and I think it explicitly DOES say that the 'Western Lifestyle' causes obesity. The only difference between 'Western Lifestyle' and 'Western diet' is the amount of exercise. And then, elsewhere, they say that exercise is not that effective at controlling obesity, leading to maybe 10-13% weight loss in obese patients (when sustained over long term) such that they are still clinically obese or overweight! So, logically, to me that suggests that the 'Western diet' is a significant part of the problem!

While I am huge fan of Nova (and probably a scientist due to watching the show as a kid in the 70s), their murky messaging is IMO one of discouragement: diets don't work, a lot of it is genetics, exercise doesn't work that well either, drugs can help protect against CVD if you are obese.

They did talk about how junk food was bad. Check. This is also true for vegans.... there are 'junk food vegans' that live on chips, meat substitutes and beer... and some of them are obese too!

But.

1) The common genetic factors in obesity lead to a + 5-10 lbs of body weight relative to those that don't have them.
2) Folks on a WFPB diet, **eating as much as they want** (ad libidum) typically achieve a normal BMI and maintain it as long as the stay on the WFPB diet. And this is because fiber-derived SFAs are part of the satiety circuit in humans, just not one that a pharma company can patent.
3) I would've loved to hear the percent animal protein and fat those hunter gatherers were getting versus their total. My expectation is that most of their calories would be complex carbs from the tubers and seeds they were gathering. IOW, a mostly WFPB diet with no refined oils, not dairy, and just some unreported fraction of meat protein/fat and honey.
 
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Our GI is also pretty well adapted for eating meat, just not as the main food source. Source: I am an animal science major at Unity College. However, most wild animals are not full of saturated fats like grain fed poultry and meat. When I hunt for wild game animals I'm always impressed at the basically near zero fat content of the muscle and the near total lack of subcutaneous fat. You can eat meat without having tons of saturated fats, just not with any industrially farmed meats. I agree that most people do eat too much fatty meat and other processed foods.
The major source of saturated fat in the US diet is DAIRY, not fat in any meat. Chicken is #1 among meat sources.

Eliminating dairy and eating (truly) lean meat in moderation will be a big health move in the WFPB direction relative to the average US diet. And would probably be healthier than a vegetarian who eats a lot of dairy and sugar, or a 'junk food vegan' that eats a lot of food with tons of sugar and refined oils.
 
The major source of saturated fat in the US diet is DAIRY, not fat in any meat. Chicken is #1 among meat sources.

Eliminating dairy and eating (truly) lean meat in moderation will be a big health move in the WFPB direction relative to the average US diet. And would probably be healthier than a vegetarian who eats a lot of dairy and sugar, or a 'junk food vegan' that eats a lot of food with tons of sugar and refined oils.
According to the American Heart Association, the main source of saturated fat in the American diet comes not from just dairy, but from animal sources and tropical fats: "Most come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products, as well as tropical fats like coconut, palm and palm kernel."

Examples:
  • beef
  • lamb
  • pork
  • poultry, especially with skin
  • beef fat (tallow)
  • lard and cream
  • butter
  • cheese
  • ice cream
  • coconut
  • palm oil
  • palm kernel oil
  • some baked and fried foods