It’s harder than ever to stay well-nourished — much less optimally nourished.
First of all, grocery shelves are full of packaged junk foods.
Additionally, the nutritional content of even healthy fruits and vegetables has been on a steep decline for decades in light of 20th century agricultural practices. I’ll report the disturbing details on pesticide contamination in wheat crops within the upcoming October issue of Insiders’ Cures.
And to add insult to injury, the government has sent the vast majority down the wrong path by advising us to limit meat and full-fat dairy.
Of course, government health experts now admit they were wrong all along about nutrition, particularly regarding meat consumption.
Today, more and more well-intentioned men and women sabotage their health by choosing to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Typically, they do it for “health reasons.”
But as the science shows, giving up meat and dairy actually causes disastrous health effects.
Humans are omnivores
When you consider the human diet from an anthropological point of view — which includes the study of human biological history, dentition, metabolism, and physiology — it’s “settled science” that humans are omnivorous. We’ve evolved to consume a wide variety of food sources, including meat, in order to meet our nutritional needs such as:
Meat is, by far, the best source of this essential nutrient, needed for optimal health. Plus, studies show “animal flesh” is a much better source for building and maintaining muscle mass, especially as we age.In fact, research suggests that aging men need to eat more, not less, red meat.
Evidence suggests that a meatless diet deprives mental and emotional health. Indeed, modern scientific studies show that vegetarians are more prone to anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In fact, a 2010 study from Australia examined the dietary habits of 1,000 women. Turns out, women who followed a traditional, balanced diet — which included adequate fish and meat — had a 32 percent lower risk of developing anxiety disorders. Plus, they had a 35 percent lower risk of developing major depression or mood disorders.
In another study involving 4,000 German men and women, researchers linked avoidance of meat with a higher risk of mental disorder.
Of course, these kinds of studies can only show association — not direct causation. So, we must pose the proverbial “chicken or the egg” question. What comes first — the mental instability or the poor diet?
German researchers suggest that mental instability comes first. Their research concludes that people who gravitate toward vegetarianism may be more “neurotic” to begin with. (If you’ve ever enjoyed a German feast, filled with sausage and other meats, you may understand how the researchers could have reached that conclusion. Who could pass up such tasty options on the menu?)
But in my opinion, the problems all stem from the diet….
- Vitamins and minerals
Just consider the nutritional science that shows the importance of vitamin and mineral nutrients for brain health. Science unquestionably shows that healthy human cognitive and mental functions require essential fatty acids, B vitamins, and fat-soluble vitamins D and E. These nutrients are abundant in meat and fish. But they’re hard to find in plants.
- Essential Amino acids
Furthermore, vegetarian and vegan diets often lack essential amino acid precursors required for the body to produce “feel good” chemicals, like catecholamines (dopamine) and the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Without adequate fats and proteins to stabilize blood sugar responses during meals, vegetarians and vegans may feel the anxiety associated with low blood sugar.
Emotions play a part in vegetarianism
I find that those who promote vegetarianism often base their stance on emotional issues (which itself may provide an object lesson). Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “Nothing will benefit human health or increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
Other famous Germans of the 1930s and 1940s who were strict vegetarians and/or strong proponents of animal rights included Adolph Hitler and Hermann Göring.
Today’s proponents of vegetarianism often cite large studies from the 1960s and 1970s that found strict vegetarians had better control over their emotions than those who followed a balanced diet with meat.
Mind you, those studies followed Seventh-Day Adventists. And living in a strict, religious community which provided a high level of support and “guidance” probably had more to do with participants achieving “emotional control” than the vegetarian diet itself.
In addition, more recent studies show that Seventh-Day Adventists and other vegetarians also pursue many other healthy lifestyle choices. So — those healthy choices may cause the increase in longevity and mental health, not the restricted diet itself.
But the real question is whether a balanced diet that includes fresh fish and meat is healthier than a diet composed only of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains?
Proponents of vegetarian/vegan diets argue that eating meat and dairy violates animal rights and welfare. This issue poses a real dilemma. And I certainly understand the ethical reasons for not exploiting animals according to mass-industrialized, modern agronomy.
If you have these ethical concerns, you can (and should) take high-quality dietary supplements to provide the missing B, D and E vitamins. Only remember — you won’t find optimal levels (or correct forms) of these nutrients in popular, useless, “once-a-day” multivitamins.
With all things considered, you’ve got a better chance of achieving optimal health when you follow a balanced diet, with meat, and supplements.
- “Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2,” Jama Intern Med. 2013 July 8; 173 (13): 1230-1238