I watched Forks over Knives tonight and although not as sensational as What The Health, it was a very good and informed perspective on our health as driven by our dietary choices.
I learned that sugary and processed food that’s high in fat is partly appealing because when we look at it our brains believe that it will provide the highest amount of dietary reward with the least amount of effort (think of an image of an ice cream cone – no effort and totally delicious). That’s what we’re programmed to seek out and our food is now manufactured to appeal to that part of our brain, our natural programming. The food industry provides us with hyper-concentrated sugar, fat, and salt, in our food and they make an effort to remove e.g. water content because that won’t keep us coming back for more. Food is a drug – we’re addicted, and our dealers are very powerful people who control what we have access to on a regular basis and on a large-scale. Scary!
The link between diet and health is obvious in some instances, but here’s one that took me by surprise. It is believed that Osteoporosis could be caused by our body using calcium from our bones as a way of helping neutralize an acid overload caused by consumption of meat products. Now, logically, the instance of Osteoporosis in countries that have a high dairy intake in the diet, should (theoretically) be lower than in those that have low dairy consumption, because dairy contains calcium and calcium helps us grow healthy bones, right!? Wrong…. Osteoporosis is much more prevalent in dairy consuming nations. WTF!?
I remember drinking milk by the pint (we had milk delivered in glass bottles to our house and it was delicious) and my parents not minding the expense (I was one of 6 kids in a moderate income household) because it was good for my bones and they wanted to give me (and my fab siblings) the best possible start in life (absolutely amazing parents). Maybe it was all wrong and they should have saved their money and bought turnips instead….
I also wonder all the time now if I should be doing something different with my daughter and not just blindly listening to the powerful lobby-groups and those with a vested financial interest in us eating the ‘recommended healthy diet’. Maybe it’s time for all of us to challenge the status quo and to make up our own minds about what’s right for us, assuming of course that we can ignore for long enough our natural attraction to no effort, pleasing, and delicious food that appears to be healthy and that’s advertised to us absolutely everywhere we look.
Now, from an environmental perspective, it takes over 10x the amount of energy to produce an animal-products-based diet as it does to produce a plant-based diet. In order to use less of our finite energy on this planet, it surely makes sense to take a hard look at the energy consumption it takes to feed our effortless, addictive diet and consider how we can healthily reduce it while at the same time improving our longevity. I think we probably owe this to ourselves and to our children: it’s our responsibility.
And finally, a troubling and confusing part of all my diet reading/education is the contradictions that exist. Based on my ‘today’ education, if I eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, I’m infinitely less likely to ever suffer from cardiovascular issues. However, based on my education in the past 2 days (primarily from The Plant Paradox), if I eat plant-based, I have to eliminate so many types of plants because the lectins in them are likely to cause an inflammatory reaction in my body, which is likely to be a contributing factor to my RP, because it’s an inflammatory autoimmune disease. It’s really hard to know what to do: I certainly don’t want to have cardiovascular issues, but right now I just want my RP to go the ‘F’ away. I’m hoping my decision to go gluten-free vegan is enough to allow me to eliminate both and lots of other illnesses. Let’s see….