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Dairy and fish not safe for health, says nutritionist Special

By Ernest Dempsey     Jan 12, 2011 in Health
San Diego - All animal foods including fish and dairy are a health risk for you, says nutritionist Dr. Janice Stanger, author of the book "The Perfect Formula Diet".
Animal foods damage your health in multiple ways. Even dairy and fish are not that healthy as often claimed. Instead, sugar found in dairy can destroy your vision and increase the risk of ovarian cancer in women. These and more frightening facts about the health hazards of animal foods facts are included in nutritionist Dr. Janice Stanger’s book The Perfect Formula. Following is part of the interview with Dr. Stanger, published previously in Recovering the Self, Vol. 2, No. 3., about common animals foods and their health effects.
Ernest: The Perfect Formula Diet discourages animal foods of all kinds. But most people all around us are still pretty much convinced that animal foods are invaluable for their protein content. What’s the untold truth about this protein hype?
Janice: People become obsessed with the “need” for protein because they are blinded by myths perpetuated by animal foods industries. In fact, proteins are long chains of basic building blocks called “amino acids.” All living beings, plant and animal, are made from the same 20 amino acids. Of these, for adults, 8 are essential and must come from food.
Only plants can manufacture the essential amino acids, because much energy is required for the process. While the sun powers plants, animals (including all the ones that people eat) do not have sufficient metabolic energy to make essential amino acids. This means that animal protein is recycled plant protein.
People do best getting their protein directly from plants. There is zero need to worry about complementing different kinds of foods. Any reasonable vegan diet has enough protein because only 5% of calories need to come from this nutrient, and most plant foods supply at least 10% of calories from protein.
Animal protein can have toxic effects for people. Animal protein can activate the immune system, causing systemic inflammation, pain, and chronic illness ranging from cardiovascular disease to allergies to Alzheimer’s. Animal protein also raises levels of a growth factor called IGF-1, which directly facilitates the growth of cancer cells.
Since protein feeds growth, it is fed to farmed animals to make them big and fat quickly. It does the same to people. Protein from animal sources also makes the body acidic, which can leach calcium out of bones. Getting rid of excess protein stresses and can damage the liver and kidneys.
Ernest: You also distinguish animal sugar, like that contained in milk, from other natural sweeteners. How does it harm us and what are the healthy alternatives?
Janice: The sugar in animal products is lactose in milk. Baby animals and humans are able to digest lactose – in fact, they get their energy from this sugar. However, many older children and adults lose the ability to digest lactose. This is not an illness or condition, but instead part of nature’s plan for weaning infants. Without the ability to digest lactose, this sugar can cause digestive upset and cramping.
People metabolize lactose into another sugar called galactose, which is even more hazardous. If galactose accumulates in a woman’s body, it can damage the ovaries and raise the risk of ovarian cancer. This sugar can also damage the interior walls of the blood vessels in the eyes, potentially causing cataracts.
In terms of healthy sweeteners, use a little maple syrup, organic dried sugar cane juice, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, dates, or concentrated fruit juice. Keep even these alternatives to a minimum. Best practice is to eat whole foods with no added sweeteners.
Ernest: Till now, we had always heard commendation for fish and fish oil. Isn’t it true that the Eskimos of the Arctic lived in perfect health on an exclusively fish-based diet?
Janice: Eskimos have the highest rate of severe osteoporosis in the world. This is from all the animal protein in their diets, which leaches calcium and causes inflammation that dissolves bone.
Eskimos did get lots of omega-3 fatty acids from all the fish they ate (now they get large amounts of pollutants and mercury concentrated in fish in modern times). Omega-3s are one of two kinds of essential fatty acids. Omega-6s are the other essential kind. While omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, omega-3s are generally anti-inflammatory. In a perfect diet, there will be a balance of these two kinds of fats.
The problem is that domesticated plants have fewer omega-3s than wild plants do. The reason fish are high in omega-3s is that they eat algae, or eat other fish that ate algae. The plant (algae) is the original source of the omega-3s, not the fish.
People can get a needed omega-3 boost from eating two tablespoons a day of ground flax seeds. This is a convenient, tasty, and quite inexpensive way to balance fat intake. As an alternative, there are supplements made from marine algae oil that are very high in omega-3s.
Ernest: Athletes or sportsmen are usually considered inseparable from animal foods, maybe due to the same protein hype that you just explained. Are there any special, natural, whole foods for players of sports or other people employed in hard physical work?
Janice: Athletes need more calories than people who are sedentary. Thus, they need to eat a greater quantity of foods. The kinds of foods eaten, though, are the same. All people are healthiest on a wide-ranging diet that includes vegetables, fruit, beans, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.
While muscle, like all tissue, is made from protein, the amount of additional protein that athletes need has been called “trivial” by a leading protein researcher. Recall that most plant foods actually have more calories from protein than people need. So the metabolism of athletes adapts to simply making better use of the proteins in whole plant foods.
Athletes who supplement with too much isolated protein in manufactured foods such as protein powders and bars will have additional, unneeded stress on their liver and kidneys from disposing of the excess protein.
Ernest: You also discourage taking nutritional supplements. Aren’t there some nutrients that are lacking in natural foods?
Janice: Plants are the base of the food chain. As such, plants must manufacture all the nutrients needed from food. The ratios of one nutrient to another in a varied whole foods diet are perfect. Too much is not better than too little. Supplements over-concentrate a few select nutrients at the expense of others. The person, using them, ends up with too much of one vitamin or mineral, for example, and too little of others.
Studies of supplements find that these manmade pills cannot substitute for nature’s finest foods in their effect on health. Supplements can give people a false sense of security, lulling them into thinking that a poor diet is okay as long as you take your vitamins.
Two nutrients not from plants may need to be supplemented on all modern diets, not just plant-based diets. Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria, and can be found in some animal foods that have been contaminated by bacteria. This is not a reliable source. Everyone should take B12 supplements. Vitamin D is made by the action of sun on skin. People who do not get enough sun may need a vitamin D supplement.
Ernest: There goes a common belief that vegetarians have weak bones and that milk and meat strengthen your bones. How far is this true?
Janice: Bones are living tissue with a honeycomb or cubbyhole architecture. This structure is what makes bone strong, not calcium. The cubby holes are a storage space for calcium and other minerals that the body uses and then deposits again as needed. However, heavily mineralized bone tends to fracture easily. Bones should be durable and a bit flexible, not hard and brittle. Think of a piece of chalk, which is almost pure calcium. Think how easily it snaps. Not exactly a model of how bones should react to pressure or force.
The same whole foods that nourish every single other part of the body also support bone health. There is no need to eat special foods for calcium or any other unique bone nutrient. As mentioned before, eat a varied diet based on vegetables, fruit, beans, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices to support fracture-resistant bones for life.
Ernest: How much do you agree with eating raw foods?
Janice: Raw whole plant foods are an essential part of any diet. Raw is food in its closest-to-nature form. Uncooked foods are also tasty and don’t use much energy to prepare.
It is not likely, though, that most enzymes in raw plants survive the digestive process. Cooking simply starts the digestive process and is not deadly. The diet I recommend is a mix of raw and cooked whole plant foods. People can mix and match the proportions however they want.
A food is not healthy simply because it is raw. As the raw movement evolves, many seem to be moving from eating fruits, vegetables, and sprouted legumes and grains to eating heavily sweetened and high fat raw junk foods, such as pies and frozen desserts. These manufactured foods are not really superior to cooked manufactured foods. Remember, we want whole foods, not oils and sweeteners. The dessert is fine for an occasional treat, but should not be the basis of an everyday eating plan.
Ernest: Some health experts have recently suggested that owing to genetic variations, we have different feeding requirements. In other words, we need to eat the right food according to our genes. What is your take on this view?
Janice: Each individual is genetically unique, unless he or she has an identical twin. This is true of humans and other animals as well. Yet you will observe in nature that all members of a given species eat about the same food, despite genetic variation among individuals.
For example, all seals eat fish. You don’t find some seals that thrive on fish and others that dine on seaweed. Think of rabbits. They all eat plants. You don’t find some rabbits that nibble on leaves and others that eat insects or lizards.
The form and physiology of any species is specifically geared to ensure that individuals can find, consume, and digest the food needed for survival. Humans do not have the speed, power, teeth, or claws to catch, kill, and eat swift prey. People began eating animals only after tools made this possible. Humans are designed to thrive on whole plants.
Ernest: Animal foods also imply cruelty to animals and damage to our environment. Do you feel the need for educating public on this issue through curriculum?
Janice: People desperately need to be educated to understand the hideous cruelty of raising animals for food. Information abounds on this, but most people are not interested in learning. Videos are readily available on the internet, but so many are in denial and refuse to watch.
Raising animals for food is the single biggest cause of climate change. Yet people prefer to be comfortable. Ignorance is bliss. It’s easier, at least in the short-run, to deny climate change, or at least to stick with just changing to energy-efficient light bulbs.
The curriculum in schools is not likely to reflect the dangers of animal foods. The industries opposed are too powerful. Each person on a plant-based diet needs to speak out, to educate those they know and even strangers, to serve as a role model for health and happiness on a whole foods, plant-based diet. I don’t know of any other way to accelerate education. It’s a huge responsibility for those who have chosen a plant-based diet.
Ernest: Finally Janice, what positive outcomes in terms of human behavior result from adopting an animal-free diet?
Janice: People become naturally more compassionate on an animal-free diet. When eating meat, the conflict between the reality of a dead animal and one’s innate compassion and empathy is too painful. So people naturally repress and deny their empathy for other beings. Once a person stops eating animals, he or she can then easily feel a closer bond to all life on earth. This is a natural evolution in thought and feeling.
Those who have this immediate connection with other beings will grow more spiritual. They will be more sympathetic to other people. It’s not like there is a fixed pool of compassion, and whatever is given to animals is not available to other humans. Quite the opposite. As compassion to animals blossoms, this feeling expands to fill a person’s entire life.
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