Animal Protein, Pregnancy, & Childhood Obesity

Animal Protein, Pregnancy, & Childhood Obesity
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What pregnant women eat may even affect the health of their grandchildren.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If you expose pregnant crickets to a predatory wolf spider, her babies will hatch exhibiting increased antipredator behavior—and, as a consequence, have improved survival from wolf spider attack. The mother cricket appears to be able to forewarn her babies about the threat when they are still inside her; so, they are pre-adapted to their external environment.

This even happens in plants. If you grow two genetically identical plants—one in the sun, one in the shade—the sun-grown plant will produce seeds that grow better in the sun, and the shaded plant will grow seeds that grow better in the shade, even though they’re genetically identical. So, what we’re dealing with is epigenetics—external factors changing gene expression.

Vole pups born in the winter come out growing thicker coats. Vole mothers are able to communicate the season to their babies in utero, and tell them to put a coat on, even before they’re born. And people are no different. You know how some people have different temperature tolerances, resulting in battles of the bedroom—do you turn the AC on or off; open the windows? It’s not just genetics. Whether you’re born in the tropics or in a cold environment determines how many active sweat glands you have in your skin.

But what does this have to do with diet? Can what a pregnant woman eats permanently alter the biology of her children in terms of what genes are turned on or off throughout life? Or, what she doesn’t eat?

What happened to the children born during the 1945 Dutch famine imposed by the Nazis? Higher rates of obesity fifty years later. The baby’s DNA gene expression, reprogrammed before birth to expect to be born into a world of famine, to conserve calories at all cost. But, when the war ended, this propensity to store fat became a disadvantage. What pregnant women eat and don’t eat doesn’t just help determine the birth weight of the child, but the future adult weight of the child.

For example, maternal protein intake during pregnancy may play a role in the obesity epidemic—but not just protein in general. Protein from animal sources, primarily meat products, consumed during pregnancy may increase the risk of their children growing up overweight. Originally, they thought it might be the IGF-1—a growth hormone boosted by animal product consumption—that may increase the production of fatty tissue. But weight gain was tied more to meat than dairy.

Every daily portion of meat intake during the third trimester resulted in about an extra percent of body fat mass in their children by their sixteenth birthday, potentially increasing their risk of becoming obese later in life, independent of how many calories they ate, or how much they exercised. But no such link was found with cow’s milk intake, which would presumably boost IGF-1 levels just as high.

So, maybe, instead it’s the obesogens in meat—chemicals that stimulate the growth of fatty tissue. Emerging evidence demonstrates that environmental factors can predispose exposed individuals to gain weight, irrespective of diet and exercise. After all, even our infants are fatter—you can’t blame that on diet and exercise. Animals too. And not just our pampered pets, even rats in labs and subways. The likelihood of 24 different animal populations from eight different species all showing a positive trend in weight over the past few decades by chance is less than one in a million. And so, it appears there’s something else going on—like obesogenic chemicals.

One such candidate is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons—found in cigarettes, spewing out of exhaust pipes, and in grilled meat. This nationwide study of thousands found that the more children are exposed, the fatter they tended to be. They could measure the level of these chemicals right out of their urine. And, it can start in the womb. Prenatal exposure to these chemicals may cause increased fat mass gain during childhood, and a higher risk of childhood obesity.

If these pollutants sound familiar, I’ve covered them before, in relation to increasing breast cancer risk in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. So, maybe they’re not just obesogens, but carcinogens as well—perhaps explaining the 47% increase in breast cancer risk among older women in relation to a lifetime average of grilled and smoked foods.

If you look at one of the most common of these toxins, smokers get about half from food, and half from cigarettes. But for nonsmokers, 99% comes from diet. The highest levels are found in meat, with pork apparently worse than beef. But, as you can see, even dark green leafies, like kale, can get contaminated by pollutants in the air. So, don’t forage your dandelion greens next to the highway, and make sure to wash your greens under running water.

Now, these are fat-soluble pollutants, so need lots of fat to be absorbed. So, even heavily contaminated plant-based sources may be safer, unless you pour lots of oil on your food—in which case the toxins would presumably become as readily absorbed as the toxins in meat.

The good news is that they don’t build up in your body. If you expose people to barbecued chicken at time zero here, you can see they get a big spike in these chemicals, like up to a hundred-fold increase, but your body can get rid of them within about twenty hours.

The problem, of course, is that people who eat these kinds of foods every day may constantly be exposing themselves—which may not only affect their health, and their children’s health, but maybe even their grandchildren’s health.

Being pregnant during the Dutch famine didn’t just lead to an increase in diseases among their kids, but even, apparently, their grandkids. So, what a pregnant woman eats now may affect future generations.

The issue of generation-spanning effects of poor conditions during pregnancy may help shed some light on the explosive epidemics of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease associated with this transition towards Western lifestyles.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to e_monk via fickr and Peter Trimming via geograph.org.uk

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If you expose pregnant crickets to a predatory wolf spider, her babies will hatch exhibiting increased antipredator behavior—and, as a consequence, have improved survival from wolf spider attack. The mother cricket appears to be able to forewarn her babies about the threat when they are still inside her; so, they are pre-adapted to their external environment.

This even happens in plants. If you grow two genetically identical plants—one in the sun, one in the shade—the sun-grown plant will produce seeds that grow better in the sun, and the shaded plant will grow seeds that grow better in the shade, even though they’re genetically identical. So, what we’re dealing with is epigenetics—external factors changing gene expression.

Vole pups born in the winter come out growing thicker coats. Vole mothers are able to communicate the season to their babies in utero, and tell them to put a coat on, even before they’re born. And people are no different. You know how some people have different temperature tolerances, resulting in battles of the bedroom—do you turn the AC on or off; open the windows? It’s not just genetics. Whether you’re born in the tropics or in a cold environment determines how many active sweat glands you have in your skin.

But what does this have to do with diet? Can what a pregnant woman eats permanently alter the biology of her children in terms of what genes are turned on or off throughout life? Or, what she doesn’t eat?

What happened to the children born during the 1945 Dutch famine imposed by the Nazis? Higher rates of obesity fifty years later. The baby’s DNA gene expression, reprogrammed before birth to expect to be born into a world of famine, to conserve calories at all cost. But, when the war ended, this propensity to store fat became a disadvantage. What pregnant women eat and don’t eat doesn’t just help determine the birth weight of the child, but the future adult weight of the child.

For example, maternal protein intake during pregnancy may play a role in the obesity epidemic—but not just protein in general. Protein from animal sources, primarily meat products, consumed during pregnancy may increase the risk of their children growing up overweight. Originally, they thought it might be the IGF-1—a growth hormone boosted by animal product consumption—that may increase the production of fatty tissue. But weight gain was tied more to meat than dairy.

Every daily portion of meat intake during the third trimester resulted in about an extra percent of body fat mass in their children by their sixteenth birthday, potentially increasing their risk of becoming obese later in life, independent of how many calories they ate, or how much they exercised. But no such link was found with cow’s milk intake, which would presumably boost IGF-1 levels just as high.

So, maybe, instead it’s the obesogens in meat—chemicals that stimulate the growth of fatty tissue. Emerging evidence demonstrates that environmental factors can predispose exposed individuals to gain weight, irrespective of diet and exercise. After all, even our infants are fatter—you can’t blame that on diet and exercise. Animals too. And not just our pampered pets, even rats in labs and subways. The likelihood of 24 different animal populations from eight different species all showing a positive trend in weight over the past few decades by chance is less than one in a million. And so, it appears there’s something else going on—like obesogenic chemicals.

One such candidate is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons—found in cigarettes, spewing out of exhaust pipes, and in grilled meat. This nationwide study of thousands found that the more children are exposed, the fatter they tended to be. They could measure the level of these chemicals right out of their urine. And, it can start in the womb. Prenatal exposure to these chemicals may cause increased fat mass gain during childhood, and a higher risk of childhood obesity.

If these pollutants sound familiar, I’ve covered them before, in relation to increasing breast cancer risk in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. So, maybe they’re not just obesogens, but carcinogens as well—perhaps explaining the 47% increase in breast cancer risk among older women in relation to a lifetime average of grilled and smoked foods.

If you look at one of the most common of these toxins, smokers get about half from food, and half from cigarettes. But for nonsmokers, 99% comes from diet. The highest levels are found in meat, with pork apparently worse than beef. But, as you can see, even dark green leafies, like kale, can get contaminated by pollutants in the air. So, don’t forage your dandelion greens next to the highway, and make sure to wash your greens under running water.

Now, these are fat-soluble pollutants, so need lots of fat to be absorbed. So, even heavily contaminated plant-based sources may be safer, unless you pour lots of oil on your food—in which case the toxins would presumably become as readily absorbed as the toxins in meat.

The good news is that they don’t build up in your body. If you expose people to barbecued chicken at time zero here, you can see they get a big spike in these chemicals, like up to a hundred-fold increase, but your body can get rid of them within about twenty hours.

The problem, of course, is that people who eat these kinds of foods every day may constantly be exposing themselves—which may not only affect their health, and their children’s health, but maybe even their grandchildren’s health.

Being pregnant during the Dutch famine didn’t just lead to an increase in diseases among their kids, but even, apparently, their grandkids. So, what a pregnant woman eats now may affect future generations.

The issue of generation-spanning effects of poor conditions during pregnancy may help shed some light on the explosive epidemics of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease associated with this transition towards Western lifestyles.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to e_monk via fickr and Peter Trimming via geograph.org.uk

Doctor's Note

Epigenetics is the science of altering the expression of your genes. No matter your family history, some genes can be effectively turned on and off by the lifestyle choices you make. See, for example:

For more on “obesogenic” chemicals, see:

I previously touched on PAHs in Meat Fumes: Dietary Secondhand Smoke.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

134 responses to “Animal Protein, Pregnancy, & Childhood Obesity

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  1. Fascinating stuff for sure. I’ve heard of epigenetics, but this takes it one step further. I’ll have to watch this video a few more times for all this to sink in :-) First question that arises: can the gene expression be changed somewhat after the child is born by what the child eats? This video implies they’re stuck with the gene expressions that are inherited at birth, depending on what the mother was exposed to.




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    1. Hi HaltheVegan – some food for thought …. have you heard of the expression, “genes load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger” ?




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      1. Strictly speaking, epigenetics concerns itself only with traits that are not inherited. It has to do with gene expression as influenced by environmental factors. The fetal environment influences genetic expression in the unborn baby, and whatever environment the newborn and growing child encounters will continue to affect, for better or worse, its genetic expression. :)




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          1. baggman744: Correct. Two individuals with identical DNA can exhibit very different traits depending on their environment. These differences are then said to be attributable to epigenetic factors, and in many cases they are reversible. It becomes more complicated when epigenetic factors result in a genetic mutation, an actual change in the DNA. Genetic changes have roughly 100,000 times the permanence of epigenetic ones.




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            1. So…what is the concept called that refers to the accumulated epigenetic effects of say the current US culture of industrialized agriculture…electronic pollution…media “pollution”….etc? In other words….what will be the accumulated result of all the changes from a basic subsistence life style…to our current “modern” insanity?

              If one is exposed to and can’t really get away from an “epigenetic culture”…over time the effects will likely over ride genetic inheritance?




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              1. Don’t know, but there ought to be a term for it.

                There are things that can be done, though. You can get away from some exposures – that’s the focus of many videos on this site – by avoiding certain foods (meat and dairy) and consumer products. You can also support your detoxification pathways through diet and exercise – a lot of videos here on that topic, too. Last but not least, you can make sure you get the right nutrients to support proper DNA methylation and histone acetylation. The most famous study in epigenetics was the one where the agouti trait in mice was suppressed by feeding their mothers a series of supplements that support methylation:
                http://www.nature.com/news/2003/030728/full/news030728-12.html

                The most important is probably folate, which is present in some green leafy vegetables, as well as lentils and beans (I always feel the need to point out that my favorite green leafy, swiss chard, doesn’t have much folate even though it is related to spinach, which does). Asparagus and broccoli also have a decent amount.
                http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=63




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    2. Strictly speaking, epigenetics concerns itself only with traits that are not inherited. It has to do with gene expression as influenced by environmental factors. The fetal environment influences genetic expression in the unborn baby, and whatever environment the newborn and growing child encounters will continue to affect, for better or worse, its genetic expression.




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    3. The sooner we all move away from the idea that genetics are a “LOCK” on anything, the sooner well have a better understanding of the interplay amoungst all the factors affecting expression. I read a good book on it just a few years back, but cannot recall the title at this moment.




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      1. T. Colin Campbell talks a lot about this in “The China Study” and “Whole”. Mutated genes aren’t a problem if they don’t express themselves. Cancer cells aren’t a problem if they don’t proliferate. This is obviously true. But, my understanding of, what Campbell says is that what causes expression of mutated genes and what causes cancer cell proliferation is animal protein. Particularly bad is casein, dairy protein (we have learned also on NF how dangerous dairy is in other ways). He says that a very small percentage of cancers are genetic. (Just a couple of percent as I remember?)




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      2. The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.
        is the book I read. It’s where I first learned of epigenetics. It’s more about biology than Belief.




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    4. The best explanation I have heard is from Dr Neal Barnard- ‘Genetics load the gun, but diet/environmental/lifestyle pull the trigger’. So genes may give you predispositions, but in most cases (particularly with chronic diseases) YOU still have the CHOICE as to what the outcome is :)




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      1. Thank you for the explanation. That is the understanding I had before I watched this video. I remember the Dean Ornish study where cancer genes were “turned off” with a plant based diet. So I still agree with the interpretation that genes can expressed or not expressed due to diet (ie. internal environment). But what threw me off in this video is the statement: ” even our infants are fatter—you can’t blame that on diet and exercise.” This statement seems to be saying that the infants were fatter regardless of what they ate or how much exercise they got. Similarly with the sweat gland example in the video. If one is born in a cold environment, then the person will have fewer active sweat glands. Do the inactive sweat glands become active when one moves to a warm climate? How long would it take? Or will the person always feel hotter because he/she has fewer active sweat glands. These are simply rhetorical questions. Seems to me this is a very fertile area for continued research!




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        1. I believe the infants are fatter from having poor maternal environments. So yes they may end up with more susceptible genes, but once the environment is changed, they may be switched off. I totally agree you have interesting questions, that I am not sure anyone knows the answer! I’m sure we have tendencies (from sweat glands) but I’m sure most of us are familiar with acclimatisation, so I’d guess the gene expression changes to a degree as well OR the system alters elsewhere (that controls core body temperature) to adapt. The human body is remarkably good at maintaining homeostasis!




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    1. They were eating fewer calories overall so yes they were consuming less animal protein.

      It is important to remember that most things don’t usually have just a single cause. Starvation in parents.may predispose offspring to obesity. Chronic exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by parents may also predispose offspring to obesity.




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      1. I understand that.. but its still confusing.. so the best way to make sure your kids wont be obese is to be obese yourself so their body wont feel the need to store as much energy? confusing




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        1. No. It does not follow that parents must be obese so that their children are not.

          In fact there is some evidence from animal studies that, if you do not want your children to be obese, you must not eat a high fat diet.
          http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45558/title/Obesity–Diabetes–and-Epigenetic-Inheritance/

          The best thing that you can do is maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet and follow a healthy lifestyle. And teach your kids to do the same.




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  2. I’m 99% vegan and I’ve recently read about the woes of Lectins, which my vegan diet is high in. I don’t see Lectins discussed on this site and would really like Dr. Greger’s take on this subject. A low lectin diet seems to be more meat oriented.




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    1. Lori Tompkins: I found one blog post on NutritionFacts which talks about lectins. Here is a quote:

      “Modern paleo advocates claim that these foods weren’t part of Paleolithic-era diets, but new research challenges that assumption.5 They also argue that lectins naturally present in these starchy foods are harmful to human health. Consuming too many lectins can cause significant gastrointestinal distress. However, because legumes and grains are almost always consumed in a cooked form—and lectins are destroyed during cooking—eating beans and grains doesn’t result in lectin overload. Sprouting also reduces lectin levels in plants, although not as effectively as cooking. Generally, pea sprouts, lentil sprouts, and mung bean sprouts are safe to consume, as are sprouted grains, which are naturally low in lectins. Most larger legumes contain higher amounts and should be cooked. ” from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/23/will-the-real-paleo-diet-please-stand-up/

      Since I eat my grains and legumes cooked, I consider the lectin brouhaha to be much ado about nothing.




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      1. @disqus_EXJURIXKLQ:disqus I don’t think it’s quite true that lectins are destroyed during cooking, but they are significantly reduced, and the more thoroughly they are cooked the more the lectins are reduced. But many lectins are fairly heat resistant, so it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. I’ve noticed that occasionally when I cook black beans in the Instant Pot, I get some transient gastric distress, probably because they weren’t quite well done enough.

        There is one thing, however, that consistently causes me to have gastric distress: ground flax seed. I know it’s an important source of omega-3, but when I put it in food I invariably experience a stomach ache for ten or fifteen minutes. I’m pretty sure it’s the lectin content.

        I think there’s still a lot we don’t understand about how lectins affect the body. We tend to assume that they are “bad,” since they are part of the plant’s self-defense against being eaten. But we used to say the same about phytates, which we now know to have positive aspects as well for health.




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        1. Todd: I don’t have any references one way or another to say whether or how much cooking destroys lectins. Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina are usually pretty careful with their words on these topics, but maybe they got lazy in that sentence and only some lectins are destroyed. Either way, I’m not aware of a body of evidence that says the general human population needs to worry about the lectin content of our cooked beans, intact grains, or raw nuts and seeds.

          Of course, if you are getting a reaction from eating a certain food, say ground flaxseed, you need to consider that situation regardless of what is in the flaxseed that is causing it. I wonder if you ate your flaxseed in something cooked (like a muffin?) if that would help your tummy issue??? I have no idea if that’s a good suggestion or not. Just trying to be helpful.




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              1. @Ben I’ve tried cutting back to a teaspoon, mixed into my oatmeal. This way it causes me mild stomach distress instead of…not so mild. I also notice that it irritates my throat for about 15 minutes after eating, even just a teaspoon.




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                1. Todd: If you are getting throat irritation like that after eating flax, I wonder if it is a good idea for you to be eating it at all? I’m by no means an expert, but it sounds like an allergic reaction to me. I have heard that allergies to nuts can escalate to deadly levels in some people. I don’t know, but I would guess that the same could happen with seeds for someone who is allergic. If you are having an allergic reaction to flaxseed, maybe the cons outweigh the pros in your case for consuming flax?

                  If you think this idea has merit, you could work with an allergy specialist to figure out for sure what is going on.

                  Just sharing a thought with you.




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                  1. @disqus_EXJURIXKLQ:disqus Yeah, thanks, I think you must be right. I just thought I’d try it again to see what a smaller amount would do. Usually allergies aren’t dose-dependent though, are they? I’ve never had a food allergy so this is all new to me. I eat a few walnuts every day, as Dr. G recommends, and as I mentioned above, I have no reaction to chia, so I guess I’m getting enough short-chain omega 3. And I take an algal DHA too, though not every day.




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                    1. Todd: I agree that you get plenty of omega 3s with your chia an occasional DHA supplement. What you are missing by not eating the flax is the lignans, which may be one reason flaxseed has some special health benefits. (http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=lignans&fwp_content_type=post%2Cvideo ) However, on a whole plant food diet, you have lots of other ways of protecting against say cancer. So, if I were in your shoes, I would not worry about skipping the flax. I would worry more about a scratchy throat…
                      .
                      re: your dose dependent question. I don’t really know how allergies work. I know one person who has an allergy to cats. It seems like her reaction was worse depending on the length of her exposure in any one situation. So, it seems like it might be somewhat dose dependent? Then again, I don’t think she ever really considered the situation in a rigorous way. So, I don’t know.
                      .
                      (As a complete aside: after converting to a vegan diet, her reactions to cats are a lot less now. She can still get a reaction, but now she can even pet a cat for a short time (as long as she washes her hands after) and her throat doesn’t close up. Yeah!)




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  3. Mind blown here too, the poor grandkids! Pretty disconcerting also how many potent chemicals are now ubiquitous and the myriad of effects…and we are supposed to be the brainy species?




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  4. Interesting. However, this does not account for the fact that Americans have been eating animal protein going back to the 1800s. However, the obesity epidemic has only started in the 1980s. People were consuming a lot of animal protein in the 1950s and 60s, but very very few Americans were obese. You can tell by looking at the photos of that time as well. However, the difference came with the addition of sugars and high fructose corn syrup as well as a high intake of fatty carb rich foods like fries and chips. Fructose is leading contender. We can see the rise in obesity related to the rise in sugar consumption world wide. Hunter gatherer societies that consume animal protein but do not consume processed sugars do not gain weight and are no obese. However when those people are introduced to processed foods with sugars added they immediately gain weight and become obese. When looking at the overall picture, fatty meats, fried chicken and fish for sure would be a factor, but the sugars issue shows a much closer connection to the problem.




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    1. This video by Dr. G. is very educational about Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and childhood obesity.
      Also Heidi you make a good point about sugar and sugar industry in contribution towards obesity in the 1980’s era to which I also like to add salt, processed food, meat, dairy, egg industries have great part to play in confusing general public about nutrition.
      Big Salt – Getting to the Meat of the Matterhttp://nutritionfacts.org/video/big-salt-getting-to-the-meat-of-the-matter/




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      1. The size of the animals is larger, they aren’t running around on pasture, they are creating an environmental mess, and it is cheaper to eat this kind of meat.
        John S




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    2. This is just keto and paleo ideology. There is no solid science to support it apart from some spurious observational correlations, misrepresented studies and industrial-strength speculation. People may have been consuming a lot of animal protein in the 1950s and 1960s but cardiovascular disease death rates were very high then. There was less obesity simply because people consumed fewer total calories then than in later decades..
      http://www.prb.org/pdf/UStrendsheartdiseasecancerstroke.pdf

      You would find it useful to read the serious science on this and give a pass to the highly-sensationalised books and crank websites that misrepresent the facts and omit contrary evidence that refutes their claims.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078442/
      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10408363.2015.1084990




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  5. Just noticed the chart referencing creatine levels. My athletic son and all his buddies take creatine supplements for muscle growth and endurance. Is this an unhealthy supplement?




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    1. “T”-
      I think you are referring to the graph that appears at about 6:16 in this video that shows creatinine adjusted concentration of 1-hydroxypyrene in urine excretions from 9 participants that were given barbeque chicken. Creatinine is not the same thing as Creatine. Creatine is a compound formed in protein metabolism that is involved in energy supply during muscle contraction. (Hence why it it often taken as a supplement by body builders) Creatinine is a chemical waste by product of muscle function that passed through the kidneys and is measured to determine kidney function. The graph in this video is showing that they adjusted for differences in the kidney function of the participants when calculating the concentration of 1-hydroxypurene in the urine. So basically, Creatine (the supplement your son is taking) is not the same thing as creatinine (the substance referred to in the graph.




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  6. I about pooped my pants to see Ms. Spider as a close-up for the beginning of this video. Of ALL of the animals, Dr. Greger, that you could have chosen to illustrate the lovely Mother-Child relationship (think kitties, pandas, kualas, puppies, baby elephants perhaps, a fluffy bird, or . . .you get the idea) and you chose a friggin spider!!??!! I am just going to assume you did this because we are 3 days from halloween and you simply just wanted to make my skin crawl. Congratulations! You were successful. Yech!! :-)




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    1. The wolf spider (illustrated) frightened the pregnant cricket, and her babies were hatched exhibiting anti-predator behavior as explained in the first few sentences of the video.. the spider is the predator




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        1. hI Lemonhead – I figured I’d get a comment from someone like you who thinks eepy-creepy spiders are cute!! :-) It’s people like you that make great spider scientists – and more power to ya! I remember seeing that old black and white film – for those of you old enough to remember – when I was a child called “The Spider”. A giant spider lived in a cave and would go hunting in the nearest town at night and kidnap people, wrap them in its spider silk and house them back in her(?) cave. Of course the towns people finally found the cave and all the missing dead people hanging from the cave in cacoons, dead. A big fight ensued, giant spider killed and the town saved – you know how it goes. I saw that film as a child – maybe 7 years old – and it absolutely haunts my psyche today.
          Despite my obvious psychological torture at Dr. G.s hand I do enjoy his warped, sick, and timely sense of humor. Happy halloween to everyone. :-)




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          1. hahaha Rachel, that is too funny. Brings back memories of friday night midnight horror movies we watched as kids (sneaking downstairs secretly to watch them). I remember one The Fly’ in black and white and the origional Frankenstein uggghh. I think Dr G’s spider is cute by comparison.. must be the charming four pairs of eyes !




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          2. I had something similar happen with the movie Psycho at the same age; took me longer than most kids to transition from using the bath to the shower.

            Now I have similar issues with images of firearms and sharp, loud noises after having been shot (rifle) as a young teen and, many years later, threatened with handgun at my place of work. My husband has encouraged me to go to the range with him to get desensitized; I think I’ll take him up on the offer. Better to learn to face one’s fears, I think.




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  7. A woman’s diet when she is pregnant effects her grandchildren because her daughters eggs are formed prenatally. The woman is creating her daughter and her daughters eggs. This was dramatically demonstrated in Pottinger’s cat studies.




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  8. For good health you need balanced diet with protein, saturated fats,vitamin,carbohydrates every thing with proportion required according your health. Meat of cow , goat fish are not harmful until they goat and cow feeding healthy feeds.




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    1. Hi Huma,

      As this site is evidence based, please supply peer-reviewed journal articles to support your claims so not to confuse visitors to the site thanks!

      There is plenty of protein in plant-foods, and no minimum requirement for saturated fats.

      Animal protein has been shown to have detrimental health impacts REGARDLESS of what it is fed.




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  9. i asked but no one answered i tried being vegetarian but the only diet that works for me to lose weight is low carbs and i know animal protein is not good but beans and grains blow me up. so if vegan or veg what do you eat if you want to lose about 10 pounds and can’t really do beans and wheat products?




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            1. Renee,

              Not everyone can indeed use a traditional water fast. There are multiple styles of fasting such as juice or protein sparing modified fasting that might be a better option. I would also recommend that you consider getting access to a glucometer and measuring your blood sugar periodically. Without raising any alarms, you might find some meals are less than ideal causing either a high or low level of blood sugar, hence your dizziness or you could have issues with your regulation of blood sugar. Regardless don’t fast until you determine why you’re getting dizzy. It would be remiss of me to not ask if you had adequate hydration during the fast. As a suggestion that works for many folks, try a hypoallergenic plant protein sparing based fast and see how you feel. You can moderate the amount of your ketones, the fat being broke down, by using some fruit juice. This can also cause your dizziness and a headache. By using over the counter ketone sticks and keeping to the very low levels this can be avoided. And to make sure you get the best of care, see your physician and discuss this as he/she can give you a free glucometer and make sure other issues are not present. Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger




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    1. Hi Renee-
      Rather than focus on weight loss, how about focusing on optimal health? Almost all the long term studies show plant-based eaters have lower rates of diseases, and incidentally lower BMI. So by focusing on health you get the weight loss you desire anyway and will be a lot healthier.

      As for no beans or wheat that leaves you still with an abundance of foods-
      1. All fruits, fresh/dried/frozen etc….
      2. All vegetables and salads
      3. All starchy vegetables- potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, winter squash
      4. Wheat free grains- rice, millet, cornmeal/polenta, oats- try soaking overnight and sprouting
      5. Pseudograins- quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, teff
      6. Nuts and seeds (small amounts recommended for weight loss), especially omega three-rich ones- flax, chia, walnuts, hemp
      7. Possibly lentils? Try soaking +/- sprouting beans- can make easier to digest

      Exclude all animal foods, refined oils, sugars and salts.

      Make sure to combine this with a physician’s check up to find what’s a healthy weight for you, and whether there are any contributing health issues, and exercise regularly, have some form of relaxation and get plenty of sleep!
      Very few people cannot lose weight this way!

      Hope this helps :)




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      1. My Heath and blood work is like a 25 year old dr says but great tips I need to start this the only problem I would have is giving up fish




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        1. That sounds wonderful. Do what you can, when you can. Don’t stress about the fish but make sure that, if you eat it, it is wild-caught and unpolluted.




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            1. Renee Reamer: You may love seafood and fish, but that protein you are talking about is cancer-promoting, diabetes/insulin promoting protein, kidney disease promoting, etc. See http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/animal-protein/ and http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/igf-1/ I call that bad protein! Very bad protein.

              Fish is also has a host of other problems from saturated fat and cholesterol to serious health hazard contaminants. See http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fish

              I’m not telling you what to eat, I’m just suggesting that you not kid yourself that fish is an overall healthy food. Depending on what your health goals are, you may want to choose to unlearn your craving for seafood.




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              1. Renee Reamer: One more suggestion for you. If you decide to give it a real go, there are some pretty good vegan options for some seafood dishes. For example, here is a recipe for vegan clam chowder: http://www.forkandbeans.com/2014/05/10/vegan-clam-chowder/ When you eat a dish like this, what you are enjoying is a set of tastes and textures. If you can get something similar (it won’t be exactly the same) in a healthy way, it might be worth trying.




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            2. Haha taste is one thing… I suggest you watch the videos on ‘animal protein’ and all videos on ‘fish’ on this website and you may change your tune nutritionally. It’s considered virtually impossible to be protein deficient in the context of caloric sufficiency, and easily met cleaner, cheaper, more environmentally friendly, more ethically, and more nutritiously from plant foods.




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      2. About the optimal health part, I always wondered, what do most vegans die from? Considering that dying from “old age” almost always has a specific cause of death in the body.




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        1. I don’t think vegans are immune to typical causes of death, I feel like the goal is to suffer a lot less! There’s theories on limited breath and limited beats and so that dying of ‘old age’ is just respiratory or cardiac failure when asleep that impacts the person minimally but is fatal. I would love to know a scientific answer though!




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    2. Hi Renee, You might check out the book, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss, and you can read more by doing a google search for those terms. He advocates a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle similar to this site. I, too, have problems with digesting beans. I have had much better experiences since taking a digestive enzyme before meals with beans. There are a variety of products available for this. Good luck!




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    3. Renee, let me add to the good advice Renae wrote. You said you tried being vegetarian, but didn’t lose weight (at least not to your satisfaction). Not all vegetarians eat a diet of strictly whole plant food, in fact most don’t. If you include vegetarian junk food, or dairy, or eggs in your diet then weight loss will probably not occur.

      For example, my brother was a non-junk food vegetarian (including cheese, some dairy, and eggs) or flexitarian (a little meat here and there) for years and participated in strenuous exercise regularly (hiking, mountain climbing, backcountry skiing) but could not lose weight down to his natural “ideal” body weight. But when he switched to a 100% whole plant diet, as recommend by NutritionFacts.org and Forks Over Knives, he lost about 15 lbs down to his ideal. I experienced the same result. I would be shocked if a 100% whole plant diet didn’t do the same for you, especially when augmented with some aerobic exercise such as brisk walking 45 min or more.

      It is not surprising that you lose weight on a low carb diet, often due to water and muscle loss, but how long have you sustained that diet and the weight loss? The low carb diet is not a health promoting diet and the weight people lose typically comes back on in the long term. By contrast, the 100% whole plant diet is healthy and sustainable. Further, people in the Blue Zones generally eat a large amount of complex carbohydrates (but not the sugary simple carbs).

      I am not sure what you mean by “beans and grains blow me up”. If you mean that they make you gain weight, then by all means limit their consumption. However, if you eat cheese or lard with your beans or oil with your grains, or the grains are not whole grains then that is a different question.

      I suggest you try the McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss. It is a 100% whole plant diet and allows you to eat freely. You don’t have to count calories or buy a book, you just eat healthy food. On average, people lose about 3.5 lbs per week on Dr McDougall’s diet.
      https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2005nl/050100pupushing.htm
      It works for me. Any time I go off the wagon (e.g., too many sweets or vegan restaurant food) I just get on the McDougall MWL diet and the extra pounds roll off.




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    4. Renee, losing weight, as I’ve recently learned, has a lot to do with caloric density. That is, when you eat your fill of nutrient-rich green veggies, fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans and whole, intact grains if you tolerate them, without adding fats, which are very high calorie, you can’t help but lose weight because there are so few calories in the amount of food required for satiety. Skimping on portions of high calorie foods isn’t sustainable because few people will go around hungry all the time, and almost everybody will get back to their old eating habits. On Youtube.com search for a video called From Fat Vegan to Skinny Bitch with Chef AJ. It’s a fascinating and entertaining story and testament to how much abuse the human body can take and still become healthy, slim and energetic.




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    5. Renee Reamer: You’ve already gotten some fantastic advice from several people. To follow up on Rebecca’s point about calorie density, I highly recommend the following free talk called How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. You will learn great info on what calorie density is about and how to make it work for you in a healthy way. It’s also entertaining. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdqLB6bTuQ And here is an article from Jeff Novick which supplements the information in the video: http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Articles/Entries/2012/5/20_A_Common_Sense_Approach_To_Sound_Nutrition.html
      .
      When you say that “wheat blows you up”, I’m guessing that you aren’t talking about wheat berries. Products like bread and crackers etc are quite calorie dense. So, you may find that you can have intact whole starchy foods just fine and still lose weight. You might just have to stay away from the more processed, calorie dense versions of those foods. Of particular benefit would be to have beans be part of your diet. That’s something to think about since eating only non-starchy foods like broccoli and fruit may not supply you with enough calories. But if you are adamant about not eating foods in the categories of beans or *intact* grains, then you might consider incorporating sweet potatoes into your diet. (Just don’t put on any unhealthy or calorie dense condiments. Salsa is an example of a good condiment for potatoes.) Sweet potatoes are another healthy whole plant food that is just calorie dense enough to appropriately complement the other healthy food groups.
      .
      Good luck.




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    6. Hi Renee – I, too, had trouble losing weight with all the beans and grains. At 63 it is more difficult for women I think. But I don’t think it’s the WFPB thing, I think it’s just harder for women. After initially losing weight (BMI 21) I gained it back (BMI 25). So here’s what I did: Muscle burns more calories than fat so I got myself to the gym and used machines to start building muscle. Nothing too strenuous, just made sure I did it on a regular basis. And walked not less than 1/2 hr each day (Sunday’s off). All concentrated starches (potatoes, grains, winter squash,pasta etc) were eaten in the morning and during the day before 3pm. AFter 3-ish I ate all low-carb green veggies: salad, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, green leafies, more salad, mushrooms, some eggplant, you get the idea. Salad/vegg dressing is balsamic vinegar with tamari (no oil) drizzle and some toasted sesame seeds. Maybe a few nuts but not every day. I stopped eating at such time that my schedule allowed me to have a 12 hr or longer fast every night. If I needed to have breakfast by 7am the next morning (for work, lets say) then I did not eat after 7pm at the latest. If I got hungry, I drank some warm herb tea – chamomille for some reason really fills the stomach and is calming. Stevia for sweetener if needed. The point is to eat lower-calorie-density foods in the evening and give the system ample time to burn it off. Also, I switch to seitan when I don’t want to be gassed by beans (although that problem has mostly gone away finally). I have slowly over time dropped the 20 lbs that I let accumulate and I am back to my BMI 21. I hope this is helpful to you. Let us know how it goes.




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      1. What do u eat for breakfast I just had 2 small pieces of gluten dairy wheat free bread w vegan cream cheese very satisfying
        I’m going to gym soon




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  10. I wonder if I could ask a question. My doctor prescribed Ramipril 2.5 mg for me for high blood pressure. When I went to pick it up, the druggist warns me about eating too much potassium as in bananas ! Several things came to mind and I wanted to tell him that fast food vanilla milk shakes have more potassium than bananas! hehehe thanks Dr G. But I did tell him I am vegan and the whole idea is to eat from the top of the potassium chart LOL. I left the rx there since I am too nervous to take it. Anyone out there that has experience with taking Ramipril while eating very healthy? Is it safe to consume my daily chard and spinach rich diet?




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    1. I do not have any experience of taking Ramipril but I do know that the standard advice says that you should avoid potassium salts (eg potassium supplements and low sodium salt) and alcohol. It does not mention food.
      https://www.drugs.com/ramipril.html
      http://patient.info/medicine/ramipril-an-ace-inhibitor-tritace-triapin
      http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/PIL.13356.latest.pdf
      https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/PIL.18373.latest.pdf

      Presumably the amounts contained in food are too small to be an issue. And this UK website states:
      “You shouldn’t use salt substitutes such as Lo-Salt while you’re taking ramipril. This is because these have a high content of potassium, which together with the ramipril can make the amount of potassium in your blood rise too high.
      Other than alcohol, there is nothing else you specifically need to avoid while taking ramipril. Just make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet to help your condition.”
      http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/heart-and-blood/a26494/what-should-i-know-before-taking-ramipril/




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      1. Tom, I can’t thank you enough for the links, and the explanation. It makes complete sense to me re potassium supplements and I feel so much better knowing I can continue to eat well, and do what I can to help myself in this situation. Your input is greatly appreciated Tom!




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    2. Here goes. Background, I am a family physician practicing for over 8 years (five years of that as a plant based, educating physician) and I have been working in the cardiology field since 1992 as a Heart ultrasound specialist.

      Ramipril (like all ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors, are Potassium sparing so there is a risk of elevated Potassium but 2.5 mg is the lowest dose there is so your risk is minimal. The most common side effect, and one that I see in about 30% of my patients, is an annoying cough that doesn’t go away until you stop the medication.

      My question to you is why are you being put on a low dose ACE in the first place. If you are eating a low fat Plant based diet I find it hard to believe you would need any blood pressure medication.

      I work with Dr. John McDougall at his immersion programs and just got back from another one yesterday. We have to take nearly everyone off their Blood Pressure (BP) medications when they arrive or they will have dangerously low blood pressure which can cause them to black out and fall down. That’s obviously not a good thing. In fact I had one pt this last week that was on 6 blood pressure medications and we had to take 4 of them off in the first two days because of low blood pressure. This pt came in on 6 blood pressure meds with a BP of 130’s/80’s and 6 days later left on two BP meds. After a 6 day immersion program their BP was 120’s/80’s on only two meds and low fat whole plant food. This person also had a cardiac defibrillator because of such ‘poor’ heart function. Visit his site here: https://www.drmcdougall.com/ to learn more.

      The current US high blood pressure guidelines is the JNC 8 (Joint National Committee for hypertension) which states if you are under 60 years old the goal is to treat to 140/90 mmHg and not below. If you are 60 or older than treat to 150/90 but not under. JNC 8 Flow Chart And that blood pressure is supposed to be an average blood pressure taken from ambulatory measurements throughout the day. To measure your BP ideally you should have your BP taken 8 times (ambulatory measurements) a day starting when you get up in the morning (fasting) to when you go to bed and this is also supposed to be over one week of meansurements. If the average is under the 140/90 mmHg then you are fine. And the first like recommendation of the JNC 8 guidelines and the British Hypertensive Guidelines are to treat with lifestyle changes first!

      That means a Whole Food, low fat plant based diet (which is the best diet for a human being on the Planet! Case closed!) and moderate exercise. If that doesn’t work to get blood pressure lower then you can start with medications but the only people I have found that don’t respond to lifestyle changes are those with tumors or genetic disorders that affect the blood pressure system.

      I hope this helps! Below is a recent pic from a McDougall Immersion and a young (shorter lol) resident physician we were educating as well. BTW he (the resident) was blown away at how everyone gets better in just 5 days eating low fat plant based. Also a pic of one of the meals that we ate. That was my second plate of food. ;-)
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0b08874345f6516e57943779207cea3624c3fe5776be4d0817344e7bb55c2bb3.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/45829e10122e212b62d367c9f1eae35c0e475c627fac4057bf85e6d732ea0704.jpg




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      1. Dear Hemodynamic, thank you so much for your response. I have studied the vids on this site, but you have provided awesome insights I have not seen previously. I am 63 yr female, heart bypass 2009 , ex smoker, always been fit, slim and good bp right up to surgery 110/70 average and for years aftwards. in the last 6 months I had 128/65 and 138/65. This week 150/70..then he handed me the prescription. I wouldnt even go into this on this forum other than I know there are lots of people with blood pressure issues who want to know what diet can do for them.
        As per your suggestion, I will get a bp monitor, take the 8 readings per day and keep records. I will drop the bread , and any other packaged food. I do swim laps an hour /day, and walk everyday.
        Thats amazing results from the McDougall immersion! And looks like a lot of fun to boot. Discipline has not been my problem, but fear/anxiety can be as I dont want a repeat bypass. Thank you for all your help , I’ll do my best




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          1. hi WFPBRunner! Yes, I have been eating wfpb since last august. I dont use oil, and rarely eat out but have on occassion had a vegan muffin from the organic bakery..rarely. I just tested my bp in town and it was 120/64. hmmm. ill keep a record of all of this




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  11. Are the recommendations of about 75 g of protein a day for pregnant women supported by evidence? I known a few people who have switched back to eating meat while pregnant to get that amount. I am 18 weeks and find I usually don’t get that much unless I am planning most of my meals around protein.




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    1. Hi Chompchomp – I can’t weigh in about the 75 g/day of protein for a pregnant woman. I’m sure there is someone more knowledgeable than me on that. But I can offer a suggestion for you. If you’re thinking you want/need more concentrated protein, one of the most concentrated proteins in vegan diets is in lentils. More protein than other beans and, in my experience, not as gassy. So lentil loaf recipes work as well as the usual recipes you find on vegan sites. Also, don’t forget that seitan, which is very concentrated high protein, is vegan and Monks have been eating it for thousands of years. So that is an option if you want more protein but don’t want to go back to eating animals. I’m not sure where you live, but my local health food stores carry a whole variety of seitan foods that are both flavored already (like BBQ for example) or plain and you can fix them how you like. You can also purchase Vital Wheat Gluten and make your own seitan which I have done when I have a meat craving. It satisfies me and keeps me from falling off the wagon. I made a “corned beef” seitan loaf complete with potatoes and cabbage that was pretty darned good!
      The other thing I’d like to share with you is that my niece, who has been vegetarian her entire life – never ate meat as a child, refused – and vegan since her teens, gave birth this year – at 29 – to her first baby. Both are healthy and happy, no nutritional problems or deficiencies on her 100% vegan diet.
      Also, Dr. Benjamin Spock – known all of his professional career as The Nation’s Baby Doctor – was a pediatrician who, in his last book, recommended vegan diets for both adults and babies. He was convinced that the human species did not need meat and dairy to live healthy lives and in fact felt that meat and dairy caused harm. His last published book (1998 I think?) has this information in it. Hope this helps.




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      1. Thank you so much for the recommendations! I will definitely add more lentils and seitan to my diet. Also, that is so interesting that Dr. Spock recommended a vegan diet. Great bit of information to tell people when they get concerned about pregnancy/children on a whole food vegan diet.




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    2. Congratulations, ChompChomp! I am not familiar with the original research done on pregnancy and nutrition, but …

      This paper based on the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register concludes that increasing protein as a percent of total calories is not beneficial, but that it is important to eat enough food so you gain the requisite weight.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583907

      This position paper goes into more detail about supplements and suggests that you get 71 g of protein in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
      http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-diets-for-pregnancy

      With your concern and research into the best diet I’ll bet you eat better for your baby than 90% of most women.




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    3. The US Institute of Medicine recommended daily allowance for pregnant women is 71g of protein per day. However, this is an average – essentially, the recommendation is 1.1 grammes of protein for every kilo of bodyweight. This is the RDA and as such is designed to meet the needs of all individuals. It is probably more than most people need. The IOM’s estimated average requirement (ie the amount needed to meet the protein requirements of half of the healthy individuals in any group) for pregnant women, on the other hand, is significantly less – 0.88 grammes of protein for every kilo of bodyweight.

      Like all IOM recommendations, these are evidence-based.
      https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/dietary-guidance/dietary-reference-intakes/dri-tables-and-application-reports




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      1. Tom,

        I think you hit the nail on the head. The intent of the studies is to issue “guidelines” based on wide and broad ranges of “healthy” pregnant individuals.

        The definition alone of “healthy” pregnant women is enough to give one pause. It’s imperative to individualize the intake relative to the person’s characteristics and follow their weight gain, hydration, fetal growth patterns, and a host of other considerations before determining their correct level/s. Not to complicate the issue further what about their metabolic rates, be that from exercise, exposures, food sources, thyroid, adrenal levels, and a host of other factors ?

        At present, we don’t have the capability to do more than estimate the appropriate protein input. With that said you could, and no I’m not suggesting this, use ketone sticks and maintain a positive nitrogen balance as a rough indicator. My observations clinically, in a moderately well to do area, was that pregnant women have significant differences in intakes from a day to day level and the variation in the quality and quantity of foods used is very individualized. Although we did diet diaries it was clear that using “averages” was not adequate to always ensure appropriate nutrient intake.

        Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger




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    1. There’s experimental evidence for the epigenetic mechanisms underlying metabolic disorders; they can be inherited from the father:

      “Male rats fed a high-fat diet, for example, beget daughters with abnormal DNA methylation in the pancreas. Male mice fed a low-protein diet have offspring with altered liver expression of cholesterol genes and male mice with pre-diabetes have abnormal sperm methylation, and
      pass on an increased risk of diabetes to the next two generations.”
      Epigenetics: the sIns of the father
      http://www.nature.com/news/epigenetics-the-sins-of-the-father-1.14816

      However, there’s some very interesting insights offered in this NIH lecture (I think it was this talk, I’ll have to re-watch). Basically, IIRC, there is opportunity for selection of female-line germ cells (oocytes) during the maturation process in which the mitochondrial DNA are sort of vetted against the ‘background’ of the intracellular environment. This only occurs on the female side, so this might offer a partial explanation of female longevity relative to males. It might also have implications for diet, a sort of mitochondrial DNA-based ‘nutrigenomics’ (‘eat right for your haplotype’??? much too soon to know, at this point… )




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      1. Lemonhead,

        There is a significant increase in the study of multigenerational epigenetic changes. It’s interesting that you’re referring to the sperm methylation as we now have as of the 17th of this month, an approved test for studying sperm at Episona.com. It’s intent is to address one of the issues of infertility but should give us another window into the changes taking place over time with generational alterations.

        Clearly, the influence of your grandparents can be imprinted in multiple levels of hormonal influences, along with RNA and DNA expression changes. There are two aspects to consider when we address this issue, intragenerational inheritance, and transgenerational inheritance. For an article discussing this in more detail go to :http://digitalcommons.wofford.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=studentpubs

        With this level of information, it now becomes imperative to think of parenting from a very different angle considering your ultimately responsible for the expression of your offspring. Bringing that to ground, your diet and the stresses of poor choices are a lifelong curse for others…… We know that the plant-based diets tend to decrease many of the multigenerational expressions that result in exposures to obesogens, decrease your exposure and necessary liver functions for detoxification of PHA’s to pesticides, you have the opportunity to make more conscious choices for your offspring.

        Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger




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        1. It’s good we now know these things. Before, mothers seemed to be blamed for everything in some vague way. Now both mothers and father’s -to-be know what they have some control over some outcomes. Of course, if a drunk driver swerves in front of you causing a near collision and you get stressed out, or someone dumps toxic crap in your water supply without your knowledge (and you aren’t rich enough to have a whole-home filtration system) – not much you can do…




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          1. Just a thought between male and females. It is believed that after a female is born, all her eggs have already been created. When this same female has a baby from one of the eggs, the egg is the “same” age as the mother. Why do I say that? Because of DNA damage accumulation. For each day, there are 60000 (sixty thousand) DNA damages per cell. Those damages do accumulate errors with time. But the age of male sperm is only days and has not had enough time to accumulate DNA damage. Thus, female DNA damage has had more time to accumulate.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oogenesis#Number_of_primary_oocytes
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics#Molecular_basis




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            1. Alas, stem cells age, too (otherwise I might not have to slather so much anti-aging goop on my face every night… ).

              Spontaneous mutations can arise in both sperm and eggs.
              As women age, for example, they have an increased risk of delivering a child with Down’s syndrome and other disorders caused by large-scale chromosome problems in eggs, such as trisomy. But unlike eggs, sperm arise from stem cells that continuously divide—about 840 times by the time a man is 50 years old (Cytogenet. Genome Res. 111, 213–228; 2005). The theory is that the chances of mutations increase with each round of DNA replication—a process that could underlie estimates that the mutation rate in males is about five times that in females (Nature 416, 624–626; 2002).

              “Any mutation you can think of occurs more frequently in the sperm of older men,” says Sebat.

              Male biological clock possibly linked to autism, other disorders
              http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v14/n11/full/nm1108-1170a.html

              More interesting details on the topic of the paternal age effect and spermatogenesis:
              Paternal Age Effect Mutations and Selfish Spermatogonial Selection: Causes and Consequences for Human Disease
              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276674/

              On stem cell aging (includes a section on germline stem cells):
              When stem cells grow old: phenotypes and mechanisms of stem cell aging
              http://dev.biologists.org/content/143/1/3




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  12. I have Marfan Syndrome and I am on Atenolol for preventative measure. I am not taking it because I have a blood pressure problem. I tried to go vegan but I feel very weak as my blood pressure is always low on the Atenolol. I eat things with protein but I just don’t seem to feel better as a vegan than an omnivore. Are there any suggestions on how to feel fuller, energized and not lower BP? By fuller I do not mean I do not eat as a vegan. Even as an omnivore for some reason I am eating every 2 or 3 hours. I am looking for things that can hold me over for more than that.




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    1. You could consider this

      “The Vegan R.D. Offers Tips On Feeling Full
      By Ginny Messina, MPH, RD
      Calorie counting may be out, but for everyone, it can be helpful to choose foods with the highest satiety value. These foods help you feel satisfied and can prevent overeating.

      Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. They produce a slow and sustained elevation in blood glucose, helping to delay hunger. Best choices are barley, sweet potatoes, oats, pasta (even when it’s made from white flour) and breads made without flour.
      Protein-rich foods like soyfoods and seitan.
      Beans. The combination of protein plus fiber gives these foods high satiety value.
      Good fats like peanuts, tree nuts and olive oil. Don’t guzzle the oil or snack all day on nuts, but adding these foods to your diet is shown in some studies to help prevent weight gain.
      Vegetables. Lots of bulk without the calories”
      http://www.ourhenhouse.org/2013/01/flock-only-the-vegan-r-d-offers-tips-on-feeling-full/

      There is a suggestion that vitamin supplementation may be helpful in some Marfan patients, but some supplements can dangerously affect your blood pressure.
      http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/22/2038.full
      http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-b6/safety/hrb-20058788

      You should always consult your specialist treating physician before making significant changes to your diet or taking supplements




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  13. If diet changes a species genes and evolution, can a herbivore over time (after a few generations) become omnivore and then carnivore species or vice versa ? Are there any species in the past that have done that ? For example Panda bear is herbivore but polar bear is carnivore. Is that because of food availability ?




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      1. I think these are very “Rare”. 99% of animals do not evolve that way. Is it possible that lions millions of years ago were herbivores and zebra’s carnivores ? If evolution worked that way then all animals would have wings (an additional tool) and big brains. Why not ? It’s additional tools. Cow’s inside factories have been fed animal protein since WW2. They are fed fish and other meat leftovers (garbage) in meat factories. Yet they haven’t evolved into carnivore or omnivore at least not yet.




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    1. Jonathan: re: “…backed by reputable science” I don’t agree with that. Every time I spend time to really investigate a paleo claim, it is not in fact backed by reputable science. If you want an in depth analysis of the paleo claims, looking at their own evidence/claims, check out the videos on http://www.plantpositive.com. He does a great job debunking the paleo claims using their own references and quotes.




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    2. Jonathan,

      Indeed the substitution of higher proteins to the exclusion of simple carbohydrates will result in lowered blood sugars. You’re so correct that there is no lack of claims when it comes to diets and the science.

      One of the discriminating aspects that takes some time and deep diving, is to look at the “identical” subjects in the studies and compare the diets and outcomes for greater than a few days or weeks period of time. It’s rare that the studies are really tightly controlled, except for those of animal based projects. The second consideration to evaluate is what’s the measures of outcome. Weight loss is typically very transient and can have some significant adverse events associated with diets. Were they evaluated well after the study ? We could add to the complexity of the matrix but I’m sure you’re getting the idea.

      I’d contend that we need to see if the results are indeed similar or different, based on a long-term and healthy basis. One of the issues that commonly adds to the lack of clear resolution of what’s really better is commonly seeing a lack of information on objective findings, not just BMI or weight. An example would be inflammatory markers (CRP/IL6/etc.) over time or other evidence of damage being done from oxidative markers due to the high protein diets. Not unusually these are higher due to the animal fats when using the paleo approach.

      It’s almost impossible to really compare apples to apples in human studies. I believe that if you evaluate the ongoing food debate, from multiple perspectives, you see trends that are clearly in favor of less processed and /or contaminated foods, that have higher fiber, fluid and nutrient densities. Translation….. a high in plant-based content diet. Keep reading the literature, as I can see the trend toward computational evaluations based on many more factors (genetics/epigenetics/deeper lifestyle inputs/etc.) is forthcoming. Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger




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    3. This is a very interesting study but the findings are not unexpected. I say that because both groups were on a high fat diet (30% of total calories). And all the subjects were obese.

      Animal studies have shown that low carb high fat diets improve glucose and insulin figures.
      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/8/1854.long
      Similar findings have come from human studies
      jn.nutrition.org/content/145/1/177S.long

      But some previous human studies have also shown benefits from high protein diets for people with type 2 diabetes.
      http://www.medicaldaily.com/high-protein-foods-make-people-type-2-diabetes-manage-blood-sugar-353198
      Also, I understand that circulating amino acids increase insulin and glucagen secretion. “However, in the presence of insulin, alanine uptake by the liver is virtually zero,20 and hepatic glucose production falls by 85%.21 Indirectly then, insulin could reduce gluconeogenesis in the liver by decreasing the amino acid substrate supply. Insulin also inhibits the degradation of body proteins and lowers the circulating concentration of many amino acids.22”
      http://journal.diabetes.org/diabetesspectrum/00v13n3/pg132.htm

      The key points for me though revolve around the facts that these benefits are only (?) demonstrated in people who have damaged metabolic and endocrine systems. That is, they are obese and (pre) diabetic. It would be a big stretch to say that such diets would benefit everybody which is the implication pushed by a number of low carbers. In fact we know that in humans low carb diets are associated with higher mortality. Animal studies also show that long term adherence to low carb diets increases mortality
      “studies on insects and mice have revealed that diets low in protein and high in carbohydrates generate longest lifespans in ad libitum-fed animals while low total energy intake (caloric restriction by dietary dilution) has minimal effect. These conclusions are supported indirectly by observational studies in humans and a heterogeneous group of other types of interventional studies in insects and rodents”
      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00018-015-2120-y

      I would add that the issue between advocates of paleo diets and vegetarians is not primarily about macronutrient ratios. It is about animal versus vegetable sources of macronutrients, and their impact on hard endpoints (mortality, strokes, heart attacks, cancers etc) rather than short term biomarkers. .




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  14. I can see the studies, so I understand that it happens, but I can see how someone could be confused as to why eating more meat during pregnancy leads to children who are more at risk for becoming obese, when the famine study showed that a lack of calories ALSO led to children who were more at risk for becoming obese.

    It seems like it offers no adaptational benefit like that example, or the example of the crickets born more likely to fend off a wolf spider. Anyone want to stab a guess?

    regardless though its a good thing to point out to people who seem to think genetics are absolute. And also yet another reason to avoid eating meat products.

    EDIT: nevermind I see, it this case it’s not an adaptation, rather an effect of compounds found in meat that stimulate fat accumulation, is that correct?




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    1. Hi Nalani, Trust your instincts re that Dutch data. I suggest those 1945 embryos were also hungry toddlers in 1946, 1947 and 1948 as Europe slowly rebounded. I suggest those people were obese 50 years later from overeating because they were dealing all their lives with the subconscious trauma of having been hungry toddlers. I don’t think that case is environment being indirectly expressed through epi-genetics; rather, I think it is the expression of direct-experience childhood trauma and genetic triggering has nothing to do with it.




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  15. We’re barely catching on to epigenetics in public health. However, when we talk about it, we blame living in stressful environments, rather than diet, for poor health outcomes. I think diet is a much more powerful weapon for affecting cognitive development, obesity and infant mortality. And you don’t have to be rich to eat healthy.




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  16. Not so sure about that Dutch data. Europe didn’t just spring out of WW-II and return to pre-war normal overnight. These 50-yr olds also experienced lean times in 1946 and 1947 and 1948 through a slow return to normal. The Dutch case is more likely direct-experience environmental, i.e., deep memories of being hungry as early toddlers that drove the response of over-consumption throughout life. I agree with the epi-genetics message; don’t agree on inclusion of the WWII-era Dutch human data.




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  17. Hi Dr. Greger,

    We have a 1.5 year old little boy and a second boy due this October. Learning how to feed a toddler has been a struggle. We see a military pediatrician who has always says he has been under weight and sent us to a nutritionist, who told us that toddlers needs to drink at least 15 oz of whole vitamin D fortified milk per day because they need the fat content for proper brain development.

    After learning what we now know about animal protein, and specifically how cow’s milk functions in the body, we are now so confused about what to feed him – we obviously want to cut the milk out but worry about him not getting enough of the fat he needs for his brain development. Do you have any thoughts or advice on toddler milk consumption or a toddler’s diet in general? We would greatly appreciate any help or direction.

    Thank you so very much for your consideration.




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    1. Hello Natalie,

      I am a volunteer who helps Dr. Greger answer nutrition questions posted to the site. I am a plant based dietitian nutritionist located in Scottsdale Arizona. And a vegan – and a Mom. You ask a great question: what is a conscious and aware Mom to do?

      Here is the science. Toddlers do not need to drink “at least 15 oz of whole vitamin D fortified milk per day” to ensure they get the fat content for proper brain development. In fact, if you feed your toddler a whole foods plant based diet with some adjustments. Here is some information I found from the North American Vegetarian Society. I find it dietitian approved (by me!) and consistent with my understanding from Graduate education on what toddlers need.

      Ensure sufficient calories. Vegan diets are often high in bulk and low in fat. While this is great for disease prevention, it may not promote optimal growth and development. This does not mean vegan diets are inappropriate for infants and toddlers. It simply means that when constructing a vegan diet for young children, growth and development must be priority number one, and the caloric density of the diet must be high.

      Provide three meals per day plus snacks between meals.
      Limit fluids with meals (can be filling).
      Add calories where possible (e.g., add sauces to vegetables, nut butters or avocados to smoothies, extra spreads on bread, etc.).
      Aim for 40 to 50 percent of calories from fat.
      This sounds high, but remember breast milk contains about 50 percent of calories from fat. Most of the fat should come from foods rich in monounsaturated fats, such as nut butters and avocados. Sufficient essential fatty acids should also be provided (an essential balance oil is a great choice – for example, Essential Balance Junior by Omega). It is NOT necessary to add animal foods to increase fat in the diet. Instead, add higher fat plant foods. Excellent choices include:

      Tofu – this is an ideal food for small children – packed with protein and fat (plus other nutrients), but low in fiber. Use it in shakes, scrambles, sandwiches, soups, stews, roasts, loaves, patties and desserts.
      Fortified, full fat soymilk – use fortified soymilk as a beverage and in food preparation. Aim for at least 20 oz. fortified soymilk per day.
      Nut and seed butters and creams – nuts and seeds may cause choking in toddlers under four years of age, so blending nuts and seeds into butters and creams works well for this age group. Use nut and seed butters in baking, on
      toast, in sauces and puddings.
      Avocados – these little gems are loaded with fat, calories and nutrients. Add them to salads, puddings, dips, spreads and toppings.
      Limit total fiber intake.
      Fiber fills the stomach and can reduce total caloric intake. Avoid concentrated fiber like wheat bran in the diet. Use some refined grains to produce weight gain (sufficient fiber will come from other plant foods). Whole grains should be included to increase intake of vitamins and minerals.

      Provide at least 25 grams protein per day.
      Insufficient protein can compromise growth. Soymilk (20 oz.) will provide about 15 grams of protein. One veggie deli slice has 4 to 5 grams, and 1/4 cup tofu has 8 to 10 grams. Even a slice of bread has 2 to 3 grams of protein. Thus, ensuring sufficient protein is not difficult if caloric intake is adequate.

      Be aware of the needs for iron and zinc.

      These nutrients are very important for growth and development. Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in infants. Iron-fortified infant cereal, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and dried fruits are all good sources. A lack of zinc can mean poor growth and reduced immunity for children. Good sources include legumes, nuts and seeds. Include a multi-vitamin/mineral zinc supplement that provides 5 to 10 mg. of zinc.

      Don’t forget the Vitamin B12!
      There are no reliable plant sources of vitamin B12. Use a supplement or fortified foods (at least 1 mcg./day). A lack of vitamin B12 can result in muscle wasting, weakness and irreversible nerve and brain damage.

      Include sufficient calcium and vitamin D.
      Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for strong, growing bones. Both of these nutrients can be provided in fortified non-dairy milks and other fortified foods. Other good sources of calcium are dark greens (excluding spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard), tofu made with calcium, almonds, legumes and figs.

      I hope this helps! Thanks for being part of our community!

      Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN
      Mindful Benefits
      Plantbaseddocs.com




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