The Protein-Combining Myth

The Protein-Combining Myth
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The myth that plant proteins are incomplete, necessitating protein combining, was debunked by the scientific nutrition community decades ago.

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All nutrients come from the sun or the soil. Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is created when skin is exposed to sunlight. Everything else comes from the ground. Minerals originate from the earth, and vitamins from the plants and micro-organisms that grow from it.

The calcium in a cow’s milk (and her 200-pound skeleton) came from all the plants she ate, which drew it up from the soil. We can cut out the middle-moo, though, and get calcium from the plants directly.

Where do you get your protein? Protein contains essential amino acids, meaning our bodies can’t make them; and so, they are essential to get from our diet. But other animals don’t make them either. All essential amino acids originate from plants (and microbes), and all plant proteins have all essential amino acids. The only truly “incomplete” protein in the food supply is gelatin, which is missing the amino acid tryptophan. So, the only protein source that you couldn’t live on is Jell-O.

As I covered previously, those eating plant-based diets average about twice the estimated average daily protein requirement. Those who don’t know where to get protein on a plant-based diet don’t know beans! Get it? That’s protein quantity, though, but what about protein quality?

The concept that plant protein was inferior to animal protein arose from studies performed on rodents more than a century ago. Scientists found that infant rats don’t grow as well on plants. But infant rats don’t grow as well on human breast milk either; so, does that mean we shouldn’t breastfeed our babies? Ridiculous! They’re rats. Rat milk has ten times more protein than human milk, because rats grow about ten times faster than human infants.

It is true that some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids. So, about 40 years ago, the myth of “protein combining” came into vogue—literally, the February ‘75 issue of Vogue magazine. The concept was that we needed to eat “complementary proteins” together, for example, rice and beans, to make up for their relative shortfalls. This fallacy was refuted decades ago. The myth that plant proteins are incomplete, that plant proteins aren’t as good, that one has to combine proteins at meals—these have all been dismissed by the nutrition community as myths decades ago, but many in medicine evidently didn’t get the memo. Dr. John McDougall called out the American Heart Association for a 2001 publication that questioned the completeness of plant proteins. Thankfully though, they’ve changed and acknowledged that, “Plant proteins can provide all the essential amino acids, no need to combine complementary proteins.”

It turns out our body maintains pools of free amino acids that it can use to do all the complementing for us, not to mention the massive protein recycling program our body has. Some 90 grams of protein are dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, and so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, whatever we eat, making it practically impossible to even design a diet of whole plant foods that’s sufficient in calories, but deficient in protein. Thus, plant-based consumers do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances from the plant proteins that make up our usual diets.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

All nutrients come from the sun or the soil. Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is created when skin is exposed to sunlight. Everything else comes from the ground. Minerals originate from the earth, and vitamins from the plants and micro-organisms that grow from it.

The calcium in a cow’s milk (and her 200-pound skeleton) came from all the plants she ate, which drew it up from the soil. We can cut out the middle-moo, though, and get calcium from the plants directly.

Where do you get your protein? Protein contains essential amino acids, meaning our bodies can’t make them; and so, they are essential to get from our diet. But other animals don’t make them either. All essential amino acids originate from plants (and microbes), and all plant proteins have all essential amino acids. The only truly “incomplete” protein in the food supply is gelatin, which is missing the amino acid tryptophan. So, the only protein source that you couldn’t live on is Jell-O.

As I covered previously, those eating plant-based diets average about twice the estimated average daily protein requirement. Those who don’t know where to get protein on a plant-based diet don’t know beans! Get it? That’s protein quantity, though, but what about protein quality?

The concept that plant protein was inferior to animal protein arose from studies performed on rodents more than a century ago. Scientists found that infant rats don’t grow as well on plants. But infant rats don’t grow as well on human breast milk either; so, does that mean we shouldn’t breastfeed our babies? Ridiculous! They’re rats. Rat milk has ten times more protein than human milk, because rats grow about ten times faster than human infants.

It is true that some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids. So, about 40 years ago, the myth of “protein combining” came into vogue—literally, the February ‘75 issue of Vogue magazine. The concept was that we needed to eat “complementary proteins” together, for example, rice and beans, to make up for their relative shortfalls. This fallacy was refuted decades ago. The myth that plant proteins are incomplete, that plant proteins aren’t as good, that one has to combine proteins at meals—these have all been dismissed by the nutrition community as myths decades ago, but many in medicine evidently didn’t get the memo. Dr. John McDougall called out the American Heart Association for a 2001 publication that questioned the completeness of plant proteins. Thankfully though, they’ve changed and acknowledged that, “Plant proteins can provide all the essential amino acids, no need to combine complementary proteins.”

It turns out our body maintains pools of free amino acids that it can use to do all the complementing for us, not to mention the massive protein recycling program our body has. Some 90 grams of protein are dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, and so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, whatever we eat, making it practically impossible to even design a diet of whole plant foods that’s sufficient in calories, but deficient in protein. Thus, plant-based consumers do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances from the plant proteins that make up our usual diets.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Mark Pouley, Steven Zolneczko, and PSC1121-GO via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

I cover protein quantity in my Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein? video.

For more detail on the benefits of protein from plants, see:

Plant protein also doesn’t have the same effect on the cancer-promoting growth hormone IGF-1 that I discuss in the cancer section of my Food as Medicine presentation. Meat-heavy maternal diets may even affect the obesity rates and stress responses of their children, as I explore in my videos Animal Protein, Pregnancy, and Childhood Obesity and Maternal Diet May Affect Stress Responses in Children.

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

263 responses to “The Protein-Combining Myth

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  1. The media is still perpetuating this protein myth garbage! Please get Slate to retract this article.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2016/04/vegan_preschools_now_exist_do_kids_on_vegan_diets_get_enough_nutrition.html

    Another major issue is protein. Proteins are involved in pretty much every biological process—according to the National Institutes of Health, they “are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs”—so it’s crucial for kids to get enough. Protein is made up of amino acids, some of which are called “essential” because the body requires them for survival but can’t make them. Most animal-based foods contain all of the essential amino acids, but many plant-based foods either contain only small amounts of each or lack some entirely—which makes it important for vegans to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods within a single day.

    Yeah, right. I might be able to get my kids to survive on a plant-based diet, but add “a wide variety” as a requirement and I’m laughing all the way to the butcher. There’s a reason that many kids prefer to eat the same simple foods over and over again: They have “food neophobia,” or a fear of trying unfamiliar foods.




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    1. It boggles the mind how they get away with this misinformation. Dr. Greger’s video should be shown on every major media outlet. Multiple times. Instead they keep cranking out the same old myths.




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      1. I’m in Toastmasters and we recently had a subject for the meeting about he incredible edible egg? The amount of garbage propaganda being spouted off back at me from actually intelligent adults was shocking. Thus I’m not shocked at the protein myths still getting around.




        3
        1. I’m glad you’re in Toastmasters MikeonRaw and trying to share research-backed nutrition information. Discouraging about the amount of misinformation that is accepted as gospel by misguided folks, but important that we keep trying to get the right information out there amidst all the myths.




          3
      2. Nancy, it is going to be 100 to 500 years before this nutrition thing is really scientifically proven. Best thing is to follow Drs Greger,Esselstyn,Ornish and Fuhrman along with the five Blue Zones, especially the old traditional Okinawan diet. They are not going to all be identical but close enough that you can decide on the hair splits. In my case I look at the five Blue Zones to determine my diet in the case of differences, for example nuts/seeds and avocado are in my diet but not Esselstyn’s plan.
        I find that even most diet “experts” and doctors simply do not know what they are talking about. For example, the DASH is determined to be the best diet of the year often but includes provisions which are proven problems. One reads the fine print and learns that “ease of acceptance and following” is one of the criteria in determining the “best” diet. Well, I am sure you as well as most followers of the doctors I listed are interested in the best for the human body long term and do not consider how easy it is to follow…




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    2. I read the Slate article, and I think it must have set some kind of record for the number of factual errors per column inch of any nutrition article written for the general public. In fact it rivals meat, egg and dairy industry funded research papers for the sheer number of errors and misleading statements.

      I wonder of writers of articles like this are just ignorant dupes of the animal food industry or are active participants in the effort to mislead the public.




      1
      1. Gotta be charitable. I’m going with ignorant dupes though I sometimes find myself substituting willfully imbecilic for ignorant.




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      2. Salon actually might top them in stupidity.

        http://www.salon.com/2016/05/01/why_its_impossible_to_actually_be_a_vegetarian_partner/

        Clearly, animals eat plants. What’s not so clear from this picture is that plants also eat animals. They thrive on them, in fact (just Google “fish emulsion”). In my new book, “A Critique of the Moral Defense of Vegetarianism,” I call it the transitivity of eating. And I argue that this means one can’t be a vegetarian.




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        1. The Slate, and Salon have been caught on so much fake news, debunked often, that they’re like the boy who cried wolf.
          I’d go check WebMD, even then they make disclaimers just in case, and tend to cite sources so that you can go a check on that . The key is search often, and read thoroughly, ask questions. Even the wording, you can usually tell when something looks missing or word-play.
          Primary sources, those writings from the original source may be best; but, for some, may have to ask questions for something maybe too technical to understand.




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    3. its not just the media perpetuating it either… I am a first year medical student and that is the exact kinda crap they teach us… that “ONLY animal based products contain ALL the amino acids” hence they are called “high biologic value” foods while plant-based is deemed “low biologic” and cannot offer all the AA’s we need so that is why we need to supplement with meat to have a “well-balanced diet”, it is all baloney!!! The fact they they are teaching us this NOW in 2016 in medical schools all across the nation is a despicable view of just how much control industry and companies have on society….. if the AHA can change and move forward with the times, so can the other mainstream organizations!




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    4. Vegans do not have to consume a wide variety of plants within a single day and if you brought your kids up to be as you describe that is your problem. My two did fine on plants and today are healthy and happy adults. However, we did have a variety of plants but not because of the protein but the nutrients that are dispersed among the top plants, especially the greens.
      The only items that we consumed almost daily were legumes and sweet potatoes.




      1
    1. B12 is made by microbes in the dirt. That’s where cows get theirs. We humans tend to wash our food carefully to avoid all the nasty disease causing bacteria that tend to get all over our industrialized food supply. Many foods are fortified with B12, or you can get a supplement. Dr. Greger has a whole bunch of videos on that topic. http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=b12




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      1. Cows eat grass all day long, and on that grass are worms (high in B12), grasshoppers (sky high in B12), and other insects that make up “complete proteins”. The grass they eat is not cleaned of life. No, it has life, protein, blood, intestines,cholesterol = similar raw materials that are in poultry, fish, meat, etc. Yes, the majority of their diet is likely grass, but cows do in fact eat live insects (complete protein and full of B12) everyday.




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              1. All the herbivore creatures in nature that many humans mistake for vegans actually indiscriminately eat
                bugs, worms, etc. that are crawling on the plants. They eat complete proteins. Flesh, guts, digestive tracks and all as they devour plants and the bugs on the surface. It is enough to give me pause. There is something normal and natural about this, it seems.




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                1. Did you even watch the video? Plants are a complete protein.

                  Also, only humans can be vegans as it is not just about being a herbivore, but also not using animals for any purpose to the best of a person’s ability. I am sure all animals, including vegans, will unwittingly consume smaller animals/bugs/insects at some point. Vegans and herbivores would not choose to. But by accidentally consuming these insects etc does not mean that we (humans) might as well concede that we should then eat animals… thereby enslaving, often mentally and physically torturing them and murdering these innocent sentient beings so that they can be hacked up into pieces and served up on a plate for a momentary taste pleasure.

                  Melanie Joy’s Carnism talk is a great watch and helps to make sense of it all based on cognitive dissonance https://youtu.be/o0VrZPBskpg




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                  1. It is commendable that you are concerned about animal welfare however ethical questions are usually complex and not easily resolved e.g. if you or a loved one were dying of a disease that could only be cured with a drug sourced from an animal, that had to be killed to procure the drug, would you take it? How about if the animal belonged to an endangered species. Also, people are interested in good nutrition for a variety of reasons, other than concern for animals e.g to improve personal health or looks. In the long run that may have good ethical outcomes that in the short term are motivated by self-interest.




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                    1. Thanks for commending me on my beliefs towards treating our fellow animals with respect and equal rights and not believing they should be killed to satisfy humans desires. I feel great to have your blessing. Peace, love and unity




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                  2. I eat pasture raised eggs. I know the egg farmer who cares about the chickens. The eggs come from hens that run around on over 7 acres, get plenty of sunshine and bugs to eat. Sometimes room around around the orange groves. I know the people who raise the hens and seen the land where they roam. No debeaking, no cages and not killed for meat. Trying to convince my Mom not to buy factory eggs is a losing argument. She won’t watch or read anything about the egg industry.




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                    1. mm: I wonder what happened to all the roosters that were born along with your egg farmer’s hens? (Ie, for each hen born, a rooster is also born. What happened to the roosters?)




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                2. Why would you call insects complete protein? Did you watch the video? They are not anymore complete then what is found from plant foods.




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        1. Mich, although cows may be eating some worms or grasshoppers along with their staple of grass, as you mentioned, Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria. Those grasshoppers and worms had to get their B12 from the same places the cows do. Many people point to B12 as the “reason” we humans are not “supposed” to be herbivores. However, in the days before we had water purification systems and washed our foods well, we would have gotten our Vitamin B12 from the same places as all the other animals. Also, before we humans invented a toothbrush and toothpaste, the bacteria in our mouths made some B12. I don’t recommend drinking dirty water, eating dirty food, or ditching your toothbrush, as this would likely cause more problems. Therefore, the recommendation now is to eat a whole plant based diet, take care of your oral health, a supplement with Vitamin B12.




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          1. The theories about why we can only source our B12, in sufficient quantities, mainly from animal products or synthetic sources today are very interesting but AFAIK there is no reliable information about how much we required in the distant past, nor how we acquired it and if we did produce it ourselves, at any time, why we no longer do that? All discussion around those points is speculative.




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    2. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant-Derived Food Sources :

      Various types of edible algae are consumed worldwide as food sources. Dried green laver (Enteromorpha sp.) and purple laver (Porphyra sp.) are the most widely consumed edible algae, and they contain substantial amounts of Vitamin B12 (approximately 63.6 μg/100 g dry weight and 32.3 μg/100 g dry weight, respectively) [53]

      Link 1 : “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042564/”
      Link 2 : “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8926531/”

      This is a good subject for a video on nutritionfacts.org !




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      1. Thank you for your links on laver sources, Ciprian. Algae supplies a surprising amount of good nutrition for us, doesn’t it?




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    3. “Research has convincingly shown that plants grown in healthy soil that has a good concentration of vitamin B12 will readily absorb this nutrient.” – T. Colin Campbell, “The China Study” (p.232). This quote includes a citation in the book.




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  2. Dr.Greger,

    Thanks for a great video. As we are on the (big) topic of protein again,
    perhaps you might elaborate on the fact that too much protein of any source is
    problematic, not just of animal origin. The food and supplement industry has
    been on an extra protein formulation binge for a few years now and it is also
    being fed by proponents of high protein for weight loss, both from within the
    medical/ dietician community and outside it. While the China Study does not, as
    far as I recall, go into the issues with high protein from plant sources,
    Campbell’s Cornell online program does. As many don’t seem to realise this and
    readily add pea and bean powders to their meals it might be worth a mention
    here.

    Secondly you have referred to the deleterious consequences of high
    concentrations of sulfur containing amino acids in the gut in previous posts,
    and I am wondering is there research that characterizes the levels of ammonia,
    H2S etc that must be present even from a “normal” WFPB diet microbome
    which is getting fed with plant levels of sulfur containing amino acids. That is,
    at what level does this become a problem.

    Thanks and
    keep up the great work. D. R.




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    1. Interesting. I was always under the impression that high levels of plant protein were less problematic than high levels of animal protein, but maybe I’m wrong about that.




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    2. For the rats Campbell studied that were fed aflatoxin: 20% animal protein diet – all got cancer, 5% animal protein diet – none got cancer, 20% vegetable protein diet – none got cancer.




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  3. Hi there. Just a quick question on the comment that there is :

    “No need to combine complementary proteins”

    Ignoring the essential/non essential side of the euqation, let’s agree there are 20 amino acids and we need all 20 (we’ll get the ones our body produces naturally and find the others in food).

    If we need all 20 amino acids and a particular plant source only has, say 14 of those 20…

    …do we not HAVE to go to another sources to get the missing ones?




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      1. I am gobsmacked.

        “No plant food is missing a single dietary amino acid” (except gelatin)

        I’ve always known I wouldn’t be protein deficient as a vegetarian but I’ve always been led to believe that very few plant sources were complete proteins (eg quinoa, soy were rare exceptions in that they contained all of the amino acids). I thought most plant sources of proteins contained some but not all of the essential amino acids.

        I am amazed. Can you confirm just so I’m not going mad here. Are you actually saying that ALL plant sources of protein contain ALL 9 of the essential amino acids?




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        1. IanSeed: This great article on protein needs shows a helpful graph comparing amino acid levels in common plant foods to the levels that are needed for each amino acid. Look for the horizontal bar graph in the middle of the page. The entire article is also worth reading. http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html
          .
          Also, note that gelatin is an animal protein and the quote you copied is referring to plant foods.
          .
          Hope that helps.




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        2. You can see for yourself. Search nutritionfacts.self or cronometer.com and you can see the full amino acid profile of any plant food you search




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          1. Nutritiondata.self has some unique tools that graph protein sufficiency from self-selected combinations (registration is required). Unfortunately I had connection issues there. They source their data from the USDA anyway (any company that accesses USDA data is limited to so many requests per day so that might be why the tools at nutritiondata.self were good but not regularly available).

            I assume that collectively we accept the USDA as the standard reference source?

            https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods
            Anyone can search and access an online report on the nutritional content of 1000’s of foods (options exist to access detailed reports and download either as a simple CSV file).
            Particularly helpful is the search by nutrient feature that lists, for example, say the Lysine content, in order from high to low, of all foods in the database.
            Data sources are cited and methodology is available so we can, if required, get into discussion challenging the quantity assays and the RDA’s (which is what Dr Greger appears to be implying in his video).




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            1. nutritiondata’s protein completion score is based on the amino acid ratios which most closely match our own, which as we know is an unnecessary tool.




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        3. The confusion comes from the way the word complete is used. Many experts know that all the aminos are in plant foods but still consider most incomplete because they want a certain percentage for each amino acid. This is driven in large part by the bodybuilding industry. You need higher percentages of the branced chain amino acids for optimum muscle growth.




          0
          1. I agree except that I do not believe you need large percentages of BCAAs for optimal muscle growth. I have used a lot of supps over my own 20yr weight training “career” and used BCAAs and Essential Amino Acid powders and never in all honesty found them helpful. Expensive pee! That being said, I do try to ensure I get enough protein on my plant based diet since I am very active and train often. So I guess my percentages of aminos might be higher than those that don’t train, so in that respect I see what you might’ve been getting at lol. The supplement companies just push this theory on us hard.




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        1. For someone with an ideal body weight of 150 is what I am referring to. In other words, if you weigh 150 but are overweight, these amino acid requirements would be less because your ideal weight is less. Even if you weighed 150 and were lean but ate less calories, the amino acids far surpass the requirements so it is still not a concern.

          Also consider that no one is eating 100% of their days worth of food from a single food. This is merely an experiment.




          0
          1. Here’s what I don’t get: At the top of each column, it says “2300 Kcal of corn” (or whatever.) Is 2300 Kcal equal to 2300 CALories of corn? Or is it 2300 times 1000 calories?




            0
            1. 2300 kcal is 2300 x 1000. There is no need to be concerned about the units or the scientific definition. Just remember that it is the energy we get from the food we eat and that the average person requires approximately 2000kcal or 8000 kj (kilojoules per day). It is relative to the serving size e.g. 100gram or 1 pound or 1 cup.




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      2. You can indeed get enough of all the essential building blocks of protein i.e. amino acids, from the plant source examples you give provided you eat enough e.g the USDA Basic Report: 11167, Corn, sweet, yellow, raw shows that a medium ear of sweetcorn contains, on average, 86kcal of energy. Assuming that we can all digest all the energy sources in the corn completely then we would have to eat approximately 27 ears of medium corn per day.
        I like Dr Greger’s work and his health philosophies appear theoretically valid, in the main. Sometimes his presentations even border on exciting however in practise veganism is somewhere between time consuming at one extreme and impossible at the other e.g. seeds are the most concentrated non-animal protein source but those concerned about heart health might not want to consume the amount of fat they contain and legumes, while a good source of plant protein, without the fat, require long cooking times and cause a lot of malodourous flatulence. Given that most of us live, work and play together his is not an acceptable outcome …. how could any dentist, who spends all day every day hovering over their patients, possibly live on soya beans?

        P.S Rami,
        could you please cite your sources and also include units e.g. are your amino acid quantities reported in grams?




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        1. Rada, I think you miss the point of the example. Am I suggesting that someone eat 2300 kcal of carrots as well (an obscene amount of carrots)? No, of course not. This was meant to demonstrate that when calorie needs are met no matter what the food source, amino acid needs will be surpassed. The units are in grams.

          A diet consisting of whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa, etc), tubers (potatoes and sweet potatoes), legumes (beans, lentils, split peas), with fruits and vegetables will allow for easily met protein needs and calorie needs. There is no case report of protein deficiency amongst vegans, as this can only be achieved with calorie restriction.

          It sounds like you are unsure of what to eat. forksoverknives.com provides many simple recipes to choose from. Also a note, once your gut bacteria adjusts to the intake of beans, you will no longer experience flatulence.




          0
          1. Re your comment: “I think you miss the point of the example….. (it) was meant to demonstrate that when calorie needs are met no matter what the food source, amino acid needs will be surpassed.”
            It’s a theoretical point that has no practical value, probably leads to quite a bit of confusion and is bordering on being misleading.
            As a rule of thumb it is true but technically speaking it is not 100% true …… there are exceptions.

            You said: “A diet consisting of whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa, etc), tubers (potatoes and sweet potatoes), legumes (beans, lentils, split peas), with fruits and vegetables will allow for easily met protein needs and calorie needs. ”
            Now you are qualifying your statement by saying that we will get enough protein from plant sources so long as we base our diet around tubers, grains and legumes so the food source does matter after all!
            Does this imply that we are better off eating protein from various sources at the same time or on the same day (is that different to complementing?)

            Re: your suggestion “It sounds like you are unsure of what to eat. forksoverknives.com provides many simple recipes to choose from.”
            I am 63 years of age …. I was raised on a standard western diet. At 17 I turned vegan, so did my wife and we remained so for a couple of decades … we raised three children as vegetarians. My wife spent all day every day in the kitchen. The kids were weaned on nut milks. My wife gave the kids birthday parties where the table was laden with home made vegan treats (savouries, lollies, iced confections and a birthday cake). Do I qualify?
            You said: “Also a note, once your gut bacteria adjusts to the intake of beans, you will no longer experience the flatulence. ”
            In theory Veganism is great but in practise it is difficult to implement (shall I count the ways?)
            Flatulence is just one example I picked from a long list and Soya beans are the Kings Of Wind.
            I understand that there is a video on ‘beans n gas’ on NF I will take the discussion over there at some point in time.
            I have hadq uite a bit of experience with flatulence ….. on a wholefood diet the fibre intake goes up and the gut bugs feed on it producing more gas. My bugs must be slow learners cause they still haven’t adapted after approx. 50 years.




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              1. Hi Ian,
                Farting is always a bit of a joke but maybe it isn’t such a laughing matter … excessive production of Methane, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen Sulphide within the permeable intestine isn’t a health hazard?
                I’m concerned enough to want to know the how and why …. the story ends with a change of diet.
                Rada.




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    1. The bit that comes just after that quote explains it (at least it does for me):
      It turns out our body maintains pools of free amino acids that it can use to do all the complementing for us, not to mention the massive protein recycling program our body has. Some 90 grams of protein are dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, and so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, whatever we eat, making it practically impossible to even design a diet of whole plant foods that’s sufficient in calories, but deficient in protein. Thus, plant-based consumers do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances from the plant proteins that make up our usual diets.




      1
    2. To add to Rami’s comment, there are only 9 essential amino acids. We can synthesize the rest in our body. The nine listed are the essentials.




      0
      1. I am not Darryl but I am pretty sure he mentioned glycine as the lacking amino acid in the PBDs (which is why gelatin is mentioned as necessary in the video) NOT lysine. There is NO good plant source of glycine – gelatin has the best amount of of glycine of all non-meat items at about 38%. Or you can supplement glycine directly – it is actually very nice tasting and can substitute your tea/coffee sweetener.




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        1. aribadabar: To my knowledge, glycine is not one of the 9 essential amino acids. This means that your body makes all of the glycine that it needs. There is no reason to supplement, especially not with gelatin, an incomplete animal protein.




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          1. Hi Thea, you are right that glycine is not officially classified as essential amino acid but I hold it as such.
            I never suggested to supplement with gelatin, just that it is the best food source of glycine. Personally, I take glycine directly.
            It has so many positive effects on the body that, given the minimal expense, I consider it money well spent.

            In fact, in another forum Darryl suggested glycine supplementation for optimal health and I consider his advice to be very trustworthy.




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        2. Here is Darryl’s quote: ” The amino acid in plant based diets that is likely to be limiting is lysine (not to be confused with leucine). Consume enough lysine in a varied whole plant based diet, and you’re generally assured adequate amounts of all the other essential amino acids.

          Beans, greens and potatoes have more lysine relative to their leucine + methionine content than other higher protein plant foods.”




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    3. Complementing proteins is a non-issue. A person who lives on fruit and nuts, for example, is most likely to eat an equal amount of nuts each day from those that are cheap and readily available to them, say, walnuts, almonds and cashews. Cost (time and money) prohibits most of us from basing our diet on rare sources of food. Boredom ensures we will rotate our selection.

      For the above example simply assume equal amounts of each are eaten, download a report for each from the USDA food database, and average the amino acids available in the three nut types to obtain a composite result. I have done this in the past and found, obviously, that the essential amino acids are not equally available from the nut combination.

      In order to meet the RDA for the least available EAA (Methionine +cysteine in this example) a person of average weight would need to eat approximately 600 grams of the nut mix per day. At this level of consumption all the other EAA’s would be eaten in excess of requirements. This would provide far more energy than recommended, for that weight range, because of the high fat content of nuts.
      Note that there is no defined ‘upper limit’ for protein intake although there are some who have strong opinions on the subject.
      The issue isn’t whether we should complement proteins, or not, because we already do. The issue is how accurate are the RDA’s, for protein, and what are the consequences of going over or under requirements.
      That is the discussion we should be having.




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  4. The persistence of mythology is the defining characteristic of humanity. Most information is obtained from others and not from personal experiences. The choice to acceptable or reject it is influence by previous experiences, established core beliefs and the faith one has in the veracity of the source.

    “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man [or woman].” ― Aristotle, The Philosophy of Aristotle




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    1. Any diet that achieves caloric needs. A strict fruitarian diet is the only diet that may be dipping low in protein needs when calories are met. Then again, there are anecdotally those who do ultra marathons and thrive on a fruitarian diet.




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        1. As far as minerals and vitamins are concerned, yes. I have experimented with this on cronometer.com and found that to achieve acceptable protein needs, 3,000 kcals may have to be consumed. There are different combinations of fruits that would lead to differing results I am sure.




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            1. taurine – I’d like to see Dr Greger discuss this amino acid as Dr. Fuhrman includes it in his vegan multi. I have read somewhere (forget where) that although the body makes taurine, some external taurine might be necessary to produce sufficient quantities. Although it is not a component of any protein, it is found in intracellular fluid. Taurine is found in animal products and some sea vegetables but not, as I understand it, in land vegetables.




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      1. I can confirm that a strict fruitarian diet can certainly lead to low protein levels… as a strict fruitarian for a number of years ( 2-3 I estimate, but actually 5 if i count the time i ate minimal amounts of salad materials as well…), I had blood tests done at the end of this time and indeed my protein levels were low… Total protein was at 6.5 when the ideal is supposedly 7.5… And apart from this, my sports performance as judged by my teachers, was suffering ( though I did not feel this in my own body – I was used to performing at that level and felt it as normal for me… and i was newer to the sport than a lot of them… i had great, better than most endurance… which was very satisfying… but apparently I just did not have the physical strength that others with less endurance may have had… ) something which immediately improved as I added more protein to my diet…. ( first in the form on raw vegan “fruitarian” protein and then even more so when i stopped being fruitarian and came back to a vegan whole foods diet with lots of beans and legumes plus some soy and some plant protein powder… ) The improvement was something that I did feel physically ( though i had not felt the lack ) but there was also an immediate improvement in the feedback from my teachers…




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        1. Also, I have read older people (say, over 65) require more protein to prevent muscle loss. As a senior vegan who does some strength training, I try to get at least 1 g/kg body weight per day but prefer more.. Fortunately, on my WFPD of about 2000 calories per day, I typically get 70-80 grams of protein, and easily exceed RDAs for each essential amino acid. But then I eat a lot of grains, beans and nuts/seeds.




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  5. Dr. Greger,

    I noticed that your video mentioned the concept of plant protein being inferior to animal protein in regards to rat growth. As a teen athlete trying to follow a plant-based diet, I’m curious in regards to the bio-availability of plant proteins compared to animal proteins to us actual humans and not rats. From your video, its obvious plants indeed have all the essential amino acids, but are they absorbed as well compared to amino acids from animal origin? I noticed in the Table 11 that Myth 3 refutes that plant protein isn’t as good as animal. From the common advice that you need to eat more plant protein to absorb the same amount of animal protein, I’m confused. Do you actually need to eat 15g of protein from beans in order to absorb 10 actual grams? Is animal protein generally more bio-available than animal?

    Thanks for any answer




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    1. Hi Trey, You might want to have a look at two of the other videos listed above, Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein, and Plant Protein is Preferable. While not addressing your question directly, I would like to comment on the superiority of plant sources of protein vs animal sources. The plant sources all contain fiber, and generally do not have significant amounts of saturated fat, while the animal sources have saturated fat and no fiber. This means that the plant sources are a healthier choice overall. I think it is important to think of foods, rather than isolated nutrients. We eat, or should eat, food and that means the protein always comes in a package with other elements Hope this is helpful!




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    2. Trey, Good question. It is correct that plant protein is somewhat less bioavailable than animal protein. And that would be an issue for people who were consuming the minimum amount (in grams) of protein, since they would actually absorb less than is needed. But almost all Americans, including vegetarians and vegans, consume significantly more protein than is needed. So for most, the reduced absorption issue is both true and doesn’t matter.

      Also, while most recommendations in the lay literature say athletes should consume more protein than non-athletes, the research I see (including from the “establishment” Institute of Medicine), is that athletes’ metabolism becomes more efficient than that of non-athletes such that extra amounts of protein consumption is not needed.

      If your questions is, as an athlete, do I need to eat a higher amount of protein or supplement protein, the answer is no.




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    3. First of all, don’t stress over the minutia, it’ll only confuse you. I suggest you research this, as the science continues to advance, but not get bogged down into any one dogma, because if you do, its likely to change in no time. As to BA, there are charts out there they may help you make “slightly better” food choices geared to achieve your goals. I would also look into foods (that fit your diet) rich the amino acid L-leucine, as plants tend to have much less of it than animal foods. I’m NOT suggesting you take it as a supplement, or ANY supplement for that matter. However, education is never a bad thing. Continue to eat well, get plenty of rest, and most importantly never stop researching how to train smartly. Not training smartly is the number one mistake most young amatuer athletes make.




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  6. Thank you for this video, Dr. Greger! I’m keeping it in my favorites so the next time someone asks me, “but where do you get your protein?”, I can whip this out & play it. Everyone should see this. It should be shown on all the major media outlets, so that people can learn & stop asking us the same old stupid question that I’m so tired of answering.




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    1. When I get asked that I always reply “The same place the food animals get it…from plants, except I just eat the plants instead of getting it second hand and contaminated!” :)




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  7. Great video Thanks Doctor Greger.I’m still surprised at the smart people that still think animal protein is superior to plant protein.Even the lowly blackeyed pea contains all the essential amino acids ; )




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  8. SO I like to bodybuild and workout; however I like to keep the calories low and the protein as high as possible. I’ve been looking into Vegan protein powders – one brand was Rawfusion, a protein supplement made from rice isolate, pea protein isolate and artichoke protein; it serves 4.5 grams of BCAA’s and 21 grams of protein per serving. Any comments and suggestions in regards to what I should do would be greatly appreciated.




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    1. Trevor, here are comments I wrote to the writer “a lot” before I saw your query on protein powders;

      “alot, I just last week began using an all-plant protein powder called Purely Inspired Plant Protein that I mix with Silk soy milk before I exercise. I got it at Kroger here in SC. For years I was using whey protein powder until I abandoned all dairy and I couldn’t find a vegan protein powder until this one. I really like it and it has just two grams of sugar. I saw an add for it with that lady race car driver in a yoga pose and thought bogus but it’s great. I’m thrilled to find a powder to mix with the soy. I’m not sure what Mcdougall, Campbell, Greger would say, though, about this added protein, but it is veggie, not animal. Give its shot.”




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  9. This is amazing. I’ve been weight lifting on a a WFPB diet for the last few months and looking for ways to increase my protein intake through whole foods. I’vee made a point to always ‘properly combine’ my food. Who knew I could just crack open a can of chickpeas!

    I’d REALLY love to know how many grams we need per pound of body weight to stay healthy or even grow muscle.

    The fitness community is always spouting ‘at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day’ to grow muscle.

    Is this fact or fiction?And is eating that much protein possibly even a bad thing?

    Great stuff Dr. G. Keep it coming!!!




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    1. Hi Vanessa, I have just had a look at an article Effects of Exercise on Dietary Protein Requirements , International Journal of Sports Nutrition 1998, authors Lemon et al. I don’t seem to be able to find anything more recent when I search. generally requirements are expressed as Grams per kilogram (not pounds). Standard requirement is generally 0.8 g per kg; for endurance athletes 1.2-1.4 G protein per kg body weight, and for strength training 1.6-1.8 G protein per kg., with no benefit beyond 2.4 grams protein to kg of body weight. So when I plug in pounds (a pound is .454 kg) I get standard requirement .36 g per pound; and for strength building .72 g per pound, with no benefit above 1.08 g per pound. This particular article is available free online, you can just google the title. I hope that is helpful!




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      1. Hi Dr Maisel, wow thank you so much for the facts. Many articles on popular fitness websites state 1g per pound.

        I structured my diet off this recommendation so far. At 135lbs, I’m finding it difficult to get that much protein every day. I’m having to eat when I’m simply not hungry. Especially with protein sources like beans and lentils.

        I’m thrilled to know I don’t have to worry so much.

        Thank you so much for sourcing this research for me. I love NF and I’m constantly sharing it with everyone I know, for any reason I can find! Keep up the great work. It has enhanced the lives of so many and we are all so truly grateful.




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  10. This video is so welcome! It will be great to be able to refer people to this video. It’s not people’s fault that they have so many protein myths in their heads. As Dr. Greger says in the video, too many people continue to promote these myths. I’ve replied to several posts on this site tryng to address various protein myths. I think the best way to combat such myths is to have the scientific type of evidence presented in this video, which includes the origins of the myth. Great job!




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  11. Our bodies need salt, but is a high salt diet good? Similar with protein. The only reason people believe “more is better” with regard to protein is decades of propaganda from the animal products industry whose product has only two macronutrients. Namely fat and protein. What else could they possibly sell their product on? As far as athletic performance goes, according to the National Institute of Health “it is also a myth that a high-protein diet will promote muscle growth.” Moreover, a high protein diet is actually harmful.
    https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002458.htm




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    1. “But it is also a myth that a high-protein diet will promote muscle growth. Moreover, a high protein diet is actually harmful.” Both statements are so misleading, ambiguous, that it doesn’t even warrant consideration. There was no quantitative estimates as to what a “high protein” diet is. They didn’t refer to any studies regarding type of exercise, frequency, etc. In fact, I didn’t see any reference to the source of protein, animal or plant. I would dismiss the entire article as having any value above that of a grammar school home work paper.




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  12. Jeez, must’ve been subconscious that you showed the Vogue with Cher’s face on the cover during the Armenian genocide remembrance day(s).




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      1. Yes, I know. Trying to be a wise guy and I just wind up sounding superstitious. Cher’s Armenian (I think). Way off topic. Won’t do it again.




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  13. The finding that even a mono-diet (eating only one food) of most foods can deliver all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts should convince us that meeting our protein needs on a vegan diet (of adequate calories) is virtually unavoidable. End of story. Don’t worry about protein.

    BUT, that is not to say that a mono-diet or even a diet that includes a narrow range of foods is a wise diet. Variety is essential; include all the plant food groups daily (grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit and nuts/seeds), and over the course of the week eat a variety within each food group. That’s the key to good nutrition.




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  14. I’m glad to hear that all plant proteins have all the essential amino acids. But what does the chart with numbers mean at 1:02 ? Any number above 0 is fine? What do the differences in the other numbers mean?




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    1. Hi Lonestar, I was able to see on the screen the the numbers here are the”requirement index” , it says this index “is proposed as a chemical estimate of the nutritive value of proteins”. Article on rats from 1961. I googled the article but could only get a glimpse of the first page (without paying) where it seems that this was an experiment feeding rats different amino acid combinations when they were weaning, and monitoring their growth. I think the point here is not to get too bogged down in the details but probably a “requirement index” of zero means no nutritive value. Hope that is helpful.




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  15. PCRM says “A variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables can provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require.” Variety seems important. I’m not entirely comfortable with the saying it’s “practically impossible” to be deficient in protein.




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    1. mz: PCRM is a great source of information. But I think PCRM is a bit misleading (or perhaps trying too hard to be conservative) on that statement. The following great article on protein needs shows a helpful graph comparing amino acid levels in common plant foods to the levels that are needed for each amino acid. Look for the horizontal bar graph in the middle of the page. If you get a chance to review the article, I’m curious about your response. After reading the article, would you still be uncomfortable with the assertion in this NutritioFacts video? http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html




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      1. That’s a helpful article and it gives me something to think about. The definitiveness of the bar graph in the middle of the page seems to me to hinge on the footnote “Amino acid need from the World Health Organization.” I honestly don’t know if 1) amino acid need is settled science, 2) the WHO has accurately distilled that science into a simple chart, and 3) the author of that web page has accurately reproduced the info from the WHO. With that in mind, I wouldn’t try to live on a diet of fruit, or corn tortillas.

        Plus, there is the question how to define deficient. Did you see the post on this page from Xenia about his/her experience with a fruitarian diet? I know it is just a personal anecdote, but it’s a good one.




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        1. mz: Thank you for your reply. I agree with all your posts. I also have heard that a 100% fruitarian diet can be deficient in protein. Even the article I referred you to hints that that is a possibility. I guess I don’t support a fruitarian diet (in general), but when it comes to protein needs, I do think that just about any single starchy food has all the protein we need.
          .
          I’m not saying a diet consisting of a single starchy food is the healthiest option, because humans have other needs than just protein. I’m just saying such a hypothetical diet is likely (in my opinion) to meet our protein requirements (as it fails in other areas). I’m all for PCRM’s general power plate recommendation and the goal of eating a variety of foods. That’s just my 2 cents. Thanks again for your reply. I think you are spot on in having such reservations. I do to. I just still find the article very helpful.




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          1. I just saw a fascinating webinar on Dr. McDougal’s website with a dude who is going for one year on a potato diet! He’s at about day 115. He’s on the webinar with Mcdougall and Mcdougall is so taken with the guy that he invited him to speak at one of his 3-day weekends, all expenses paid from Australia! You can find this guy on Facebook under “spud fit”. What a hoot. Mcdougall is a spud freak and is always talking about how you can survive on nothing but spuds, like the Incas, etc., and Brad Pitt on Mars!




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            1. Ken Walden: Great post. I enjoyed reading it. And I have great respect for Dr. McDougall.
              But I think there is a big difference between survival and optimum health. I’ve no doubt someone can survive a year on nothing but potatoes. The question in my mind, and the question I think this site tries to answer, is “What diet or diets are most likely to provide optimum long term health?” What diet is going to do the most to lower risk of the risk of the worst of the diseases?
              .
              I was tickled myself just reading your post. I was even thinking of Dr. McDougall as I wrote my post. I just don’t know if I buy that particular assertion. How much evidence do we have to back it up? Either way, if I was at that particular 3-day weekend, I would enjoy listening to the “spud fit” guy. I’m guessing his story would be very interesting.




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              1. Dr. McDougal by no means suggests we should go on a single plant diet such as a spud diet. He’s just saying that we could, if we had to, survive and survive well on such a diet, since that is the power of plants. Spud Fit man has also no intention on just potatoes after one year, but will transition to a WFPB diet.
                I too have the greatest respect for Dr. McDougal and had the great pleasure of going to a 3-day Weekend in February to hear him, Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Greger et al. Quite a show!
                At the end of the program I gave Dr. Greger my ten page synopsis that I created after watching his almost 1000 videos. Way too much info to begin to remember so I boiled it down to ten pages that I can, and do, review. He graciously accepted it with a grin!




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                1. Ken Walden: Lucky you getting to go to Dr. McDougal’s weekend!
                  .
                  re: 10 page summary. Wow, that’s awesome. There is so much information on this site, it is very hard to keep in one’s mind. A personal summary like that would be a great help. Good for you!




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                  1. Thanks Thea. My synopsis really is a big help to me. I recommend everyone do one :) And I heartily advise everyone to pay attention to all the tips Dr. Greger comes up with and include them in your diet. I think diversity of diet is the way to go, instead of becoming a Potatoe Head, and Dr. Greger has pointed many ways.
                    Can you tell me what you meant when you said ” I just don’t know if I buy that particular assertion. How much evidence do we have to back it up?” It’s not clear tome what you were referring. Thanks.




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                    1. Ken Walden: re: “Can you tell me what you meant when you said…” I was responding to this statement, “Mcdougall is … always talking about how you can survive on nothing but spuds…” I think we’ve since covered that ground. ;-)




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            2. Spoiler alert: you can live on a all-potato diet for at least 167 days.

              There was such an experiment almost a hundred years ago…

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1252113/pdf/biochemj01140-0284.pdf

              If you can live on such a monodiet then you can live on a more varied diet which is necessary because of different phytonutrients in such a diet.

              BUT…

              Let’s remember that all-potato diet is still a very very poor food and although it does provide a basic level of nutrients it will not protect you from cancer, it does not provide you with some vitamins, etc. etc.

              So any problem that you encounter and that would be corrected in a simple way with your varied diet may hit you very hard on a potato diet.




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        2. mz, the USDA and WHO protein recommendations have a 100% factor of safety built into them so that it covers the tiny percentage of people who have either protein absorption issues or utilization issues are covered by the recommended protein RDI. The result is that for the vast majority of the RDI represents twice what we actually need. So even if the protein recommendations from the different organizations vary, it is almost certain that all of them overestimate the majority of people’s actual protein needs by a large percentage.

          But I agree that fruit in general does have a lower percentage of calories coming from protein. Still you can’t lump all fruit into the same class with respect to protein. Some fruits like apricots are actually an adequate source of protein while others like blueberries are not. However, my understanding of fruitarians is that while fruit might represent a majority of their diet, they don’t eat fruit exclusively. Nearly every other source of plant protein, especially leafy greens supply double the percentage of daily protein than they do percentage of daily calories. So a couple of big salads along with the fruit would likely provide all the necessary proteins and all the specific essential amino acids.




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  16. Incredible !!! To think that all that meticulous planning to ensure I have a source of methionine and lysine in every single square meal has been unnecessary just completely humbles me !! I feel relieved it is not my poor combinations that are responsible for the decline in gym productivity that I have experienced since converting to WFPB. Not that I would ever got back, but for sure, I was stronger in my omnivore days ! I guess I have to finally admit that I will need a plant protein powder supplement !! Ugh !!!… any suggestions are highly welcome




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    1. alot, I just last week began using an all-plant protein powder called Purely Inspired Plant Protein that I mix with Silk soy milk before I exercise. I got it at Kroger here in SC. For years I was using whey protein powder until I abandoned all dairy and I couldn’t find a vegan protein powder until this one. I really like it and it has just two grams of sugar. I saw an add for it with that lady race car driver in a yoga pose and thought bogus but it’s great. I’m thrilled to find a powder to mix with the soy. I’m not sure what Mcdougall, Campbell, Greger would say, though, about this added protein, but it is veggie, not animal. Give its shot.




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      1. Hi Ken, since for body building/strength training it does appear that somewhat higher protein intakes may be needed for optimal results (ISSN position stand), I use Vega Sport performance protein after strength training workouts as a quick source of 30 grams vegetable protein, and it actually tastes delicious (Vanilla tastes like cake batter and is only sweetened with Stevia!); however, I do have concerns about high protein intake, even from vegetable sources, considering I’m just getting the extracted protein and not all the other “good stuff” that comes with it. Yes, it’s low in methionine, which is important at least. The question is, although higher protein intake may help optimize results of bodybuilding/strength training, does this come at the expense of long-term health when it comes to a vegetable protein powder supplement? The best answer is probably to just eat a generous helping of whole-food based protein (beans, etc) after a workout, but a quick protein shake is so much more convenient! :)




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        1. After using many different types of protein powders over 20+ years I’ve now settled for some unflavoured pea protein isolate; for me it tastes fine and is easy on my stomach plus it’s cheapest in bulk. It is always used in a smoothie with whole veggies and fruits, plus spices. I think hemp protein is probably the best but my stomach has never really been overly happy with it.




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        2. David, I have similar concerns as yours regarding excess protein, animal or plant and think it will be quite awhile before there is consensus. Thats an excellent article on protein and exercise that you reference but I’d love to see many more studies on plant protein powders and not primarily casein and whey which I’ve given up.




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    2. Gee, I wonder how our species survived before the advent of science and grocery stores? LOL, it’s great to know the science, to optimize where we can, which is why I hang here, but sometimes I think we stress to much about specifics and lose the big picture…eat a variety of foods as close to nature as possible! And as McDougall says, make sure you get enough carbs (whole starches) or you’ll be hungry and weak!




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    3. I wouldn advocate for a plant protein powder. 100g of soy beans are way better (contains 36g), and lentils and beans contain about 24-27g per 100g. 30g of protein powder is not only less healthy due to the lack of other nutrients, but also contains about 26g per scoop. And it´s way more expensive as well.

      Also, thing is vegans might actually NOT get enough creatine and carnitine. See the following page why: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/carnitine-choline-cancer-and-cholesterol-the-tmao-connection/
      At the page on creatine I explain why all vegans probably should supplement 1 gram of creatine: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/creatine-brain-fuel-supplementation/.

      Personally, I probably also will supplement glycine. I might go for taurine and beta alanine. And I will perhaps even consider BCAAs and citrulline.
      Tryptophan is probably harmful. And tyrosine doesnt seem to hold any benefits. But not considering glycine, one might likely get these other amino acids from diet when eating sufficient amounts of protein.




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  17. I heartily agree. It’s a pretty basic topic (though beautifully presented), but we all need reassurance once in a while to quell our niggling doubts.




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  18. I have followed Karen Hurd for quite a while. If I understand her correctly it is if the body does not receive ‘efficient’ protein (meat, eggs, fish, seafood) the body has to work TOO hard to make what it needs to build new cells or repair tissue. Can you speak to that Dr. Greger?




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    1. Hi Kathy, Thank you for the great question!

      Check out this article by Dr. Greger on meat consumption and cancer related to IGF-1 levels.

      Dr. Greger often mentions that food is a ‘packaged deal’ and that basically means that you get all the good with the bad.

      The sources of ‘efficient’ protein that you mention also seem to be quite effective in a number of negative ways that are presented in videos on this site such as promoting cancer growth — there is such a thing as protein being TOO efficient! Here is another video about IGF-1.

      There are also several other health issues related to meat consumption that are extensively discussed on this website.

      A whole-food plant based diet not only meets the daily requirement for protein, it will have the added benefit of maintaining high levels of fiber and micronutrients such as anti-inflammatory agents, anti-oxidants, etc. And switching from meat sources of protein to beans, for example, can extend lifespan as discussed in this video showing how individuals who eat beans live longer.

      Watch this video on plant-based diets and protein requirements to learn more and this video about protein levels in the blood of plant based vs meat eating lifestyles.

      This is a big topic to cover — I hope this answer starts to answer your question!




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      1. After reviewing the links above, yes it is a big topic! And yes it does start to help answer the question. I have made many changes in eating since I started reading and viewing Dr. Greger’s work, still that question lingered for me. Thank you very much!




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        1. You are welcome very much — glad to hear that you are making changes AND answering your questions proactively. In my view, the combination of habit change AND self-education is what true lifestyle change is all about! Thank you for bringing your questions here.




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  19. It happened again just 2 nights ago. I was chatting with neighbours at a bbq. I could see some of them squirming about my “vegan diet”. No one had a clue what WFPB is about. So I lied, “we make sure we get a good mix of rice and beans to complete the protein”. Everyone relaxed. The myth is safe. I just get tired of it. Its like using Skype, “Can you hear me now? CAN – YOU – HEAR ….”




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  20. I worked at a place that had a world-recognized PER (protein efficiency ratio) facility. A nice little money spinner. They would evaluate samples from all over using cute little sprague-dawley rats. Meticulous to 5 decimal places, we determined over and over again that rats are hairy little fellows (shocking I know) and that hair requires lots of cysteine to grow. One outcome is a big over-estimation in the importance of sulfur aminoacids. When I pointed this out it was like that Larson cartoon where the dog says, “My vet told me I have worms.”




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    1. Considering that most doctors in medical school get literally zero hours of nutritional education and those that do only get a few hours, I guess I shouldn’t be so disappointed when I see doctors handing out such uninformed advice.

      In another comment to this video I supply a screenshot of an excel spreadsheet that I created to analyze the protein content of a number of different common plant foods. Especially I was looking to see if a given amount of a food provides a greater percentage of each of the essential amino acids than it does of daily calories. If the food provides more EAAs than calories, then that food in my opinion is a source of complete protein since it more than holds up its end of the load in the effort to consume enough of each of the EAAs in a day by the time one consumes enough calories.

      Perhaps you could share this analysis with your doctor so that she can see the hard data about the adequacy of a plant based diet in providing all the protein you need to be healthy.




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  21. A good corollary question is then do SAD eaters need to worry more about amino acid profiles? Body builders and those that like to pretend they are body builders sure do seem to worry about their amino acid intakes.




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    1. Absolutely! As I am sure you already know, it is in fact the amino acid profiles that represents one of the key health risk from animal proteins. The amino acid profile in animal protein stimulates the body to produce IGF-1, which can be viewed as cancer fertilizer. Two particular amino acids present in large amounts in animal protein have other detrimental effects. Leucine effect cell aging through activation of TOR and most cancers are methionine dependent. Animal proteins have the highest percentages of leucine and methionine. True these are essential amino acids, but the RDI in terms of as a fraction of the total amount of protein required is a small fraction of the leucine and methionine to total protein ratio in animal proteins. So eating animal proteins causes the amounts of these two amino acids to be up to 10 times greater than is needed.




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  22. Gosh Esther, that is heart breaking. These beliefs about foods come as much from school as they do the home, I think. It would be really nice if someone could develop lesson plans from K-12 to get into the schools. What a great impact that could have!




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  23. I recently finished another certification in Nutrition, and sure enough …. the misinformation Dr. Greger refers to in the video is in my book; being taught to all newcomers of Nutrition. This is just one of MANY false statements and old, outdated information throughout the book/course, yet still being taught and passed on. A real travesty.




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    1. Must be nice to be so perfect and have so many useless “certifications” … just keep loving yourself. You are the “travesty”




      0
    2. Thank you for sharing with us that you finished another certification we have all been waiting so long for that announcement. Now grow up and get a job.




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    3. BChristine: I really is bad. And it makes you wonder, if they get information as basic and old and easily accessible as this wrong, what else did they get wrong? :-O




      0
      1. Exactly Thea; and then people are hesitant and question the real truth …. “but it’s written in this Nutrition book, so it MUST be right! …”




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    4. The real travesty is that you would be unlikely to pass the exams for the course if you didn’t regurgitate this incorrect information and instead answered with the scientifically verified answer. Maybe students could get away with a little passive aggressive resistance to this false dogma by giving the required answer to pass the class but writing in reference citations in the margins of the exam paper pointing to the correct answer.




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      1. Great idea Jim; however some courses are online which doesn’t make this possible (as mine was). However comments about the information after the course is an option, if they offer a feedback form.




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    5. BChristine is a worthless piece of shit …. a REAL TRAVESTY! Finished another worthless piece of shit in nutrition certification. You wrote a book? LOLFL




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    6. BChristine: I’m sorry about the harrasing posts. I don’t know what that is about, but it has been taken care of. You should not be bothered again on this site.




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      1. Thank you Thea, it’s appreciated. This is not the first time I’ve dealt with harassment from this person … kind regards.




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  24. This is very convincing, but just to double check I went to cronometer.com and logged what my day would look like if I didn’t eat any legumes or nuts (which I’ve always thought of as protein foods), and just ate whole grains and veggies, which are my staple foods. I easily exceeded their recommended amount of protein, and easily exceeded all the essential amino acids. I’m glad I learned this.




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    1. Its fascinating that the myth has survived as long as it has when all someone has to do is simply look at the amino acid content of the foods to verify.




      0
      1. It is always easier to just accept dogma rather than to do the hard work of verification. Real knowledge starts with two questions, “how do we know”, and “what does the data say”. What President George Bush, the elder, famously said about foreign policy “trust, but verify” applies equally as well to many other areas in life, especially in areas so rife with hidden agendas as nutrition is. So while I really trust what Dr. Greger says in his summary of the research, I still will at random click on a link to the source papers for a given video and read it for myself just to verify that I agree that his take on the paper aligns with what I think it actually is saying. Since I have yet to come across a paper that says exactly the opposite of what Dr. Greger says it does, my trust continues to grow. But I will still do my due diligence and continue to read some of the papers for myself.




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  25. Hello Friends — I have an off-topic questions.

    I am trying to learn more about probiotics and how to go about taking in a good daily supply of probiotics cheaply and conveniently.

    How do you all make sure you are getting good quality probiotics?
    Do you take a probiotic supplement? What choices are the best value?

    Do you ferment your own foods?
    What are a few good ways to go about making this an easy habit?




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    1. Hello, I am a family doctor, and volunteer moderator for NF.org. Your question about probiotics is excellent. I began recommending probiotics to patients about 16 years ago, especially to prevent fungal infections in patients who needed to take antibiotics. Since that time, the importance of a healthy gut flora has gained increasing acceptance, even in mainstream medicine.

      Here is a link to a great discussion about probiotics by Dr. Michael Klaper; this link was provided by Dr. G. in one of his videos:
      http://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers06/

      Before going out to buy a probiotic, you should educate yourself about “prebiotics”. This means promoting the growth of a very healthy gut flora by eating a high-fiber, plant based diet. Probiotic supplements contain live bacteria. There are a couple of issues you have to worry about. One is that those bacteria might have already died by the time you take the probiotic. The supplement industry is not tightly regulated, and you might not be getting what you think you’re getting. Another is that, whatever particular mix of bacteria was chosen by the manufacturer, it might not be ideal for your individual situation. It would be preferable to develop your own healthy gut flora by eating the right foods. Here is a video by Dr. G. about treating the common cold with probiotics; has a good segment about prebiotics vs. probiotics:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-the-common-cold-with-probiotics/

      If you do choose to take probiotics, here is a short video by Dr. G. which discusses when is the best time. The answer is from 30 minutes before a meal, until during the meal:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/01/02/how-should-i-take-probiotics/

      This next short video by Dr. G. discusses pre-biotics vs. probiotics, and talks about butyrates, which come from plant fiber; it also discusses the role of butyrates in preventing cancer:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/boosting-good-bacteria-in-the-colon-without-probiotics/

      Hope this helps.




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      1. Any of you moderators willing to take on these questions??

        Dr.Greger,

        Thanks for a great video. As we are on the (big) topic of protein again,
        perhaps you might elaborate on the fact that too much protein of any source is
        problematic, not just of animal origin. The food and supplement industry has
        been on an extra protein formulation binge for a few years now and it is also
        being fed by proponents of high protein for weight loss, both from within the
        medical/ dietician community and outside it. While the China Study does not, as
        far as I recall, go into the issues with high protein from plant sources,
        Campbell’s Cornell online program does. As many don’t seem to realise this and
        readily add pea and bean powders to their meals it might be worth a mention
        here.

        Secondly you have referred to the deleterious consequences of high
        concentrations of sulfur containing amino acids in the gut in previous posts,
        and I am wondering is there research that characterizes the levels of ammonia,
        H2S etc that must be present even from a “normal” WFPB diet microbome
        which is getting fed with plant levels of sulfur containing amino acids. That is,
        at what level does this become a problem.

        Thanks and
        keep up the great work. D. R.




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  26. I became a vegetarian in the 1960s, and imbibed the protein-combining doctrine (as promulgated by Frances Moore Lappe in “Diet For a Small Planet”) as gospel. This fallacy was so deeply ingrained that I still find it hard to shake.




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    1. Me too. I have even gone as far a create a spreadsheet with my personal daily recommended intake for each of the essential amino acids and then for a given food compared the percentage of the RDI of each EAA supplied by a given amount of food to the percentage of daily calories supplied by that same amount. My reasoning is that if I get a higher percentage of each EAA than I get percentage of my daily calories, then that particular food is carrying its own weight with respect to protein and EAAs in particular in the daily race to get all the essential nutrients before one bangs up against our caloric limit. I have looked at a dozen or more different plant foods and every single one save apples supplies an equal or higher percentage of each EAA than it does calories.

      And yet when I look at a bowl of plain brown rice I can’t help but feel I should stir in some beans to make to make up for the “deficiencies” in the rice.




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      1. Wow! I spent a lot of time on spread-sheet analysis of EAA’s, too! At the time, I thought carbohydrate consumption should be minimized, and I didn’t think it was possible to get too much protein. I think my kidneys are probably grateful to be carrying a lighter load these days!




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      2. Have you tried cronometer? Its a web / phone app that comes in a basic free version and a premium paid version. You just have to be careful on the source data as sometimes the EAA’s (and certain micronutrients) are not always included. Usually there is more that one data source to choose from for a particular food. You can find out interesting things, like a few days ago I thought I must be fine on folate since I ate swiss chard, my favorite green leafy – nope!




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    2. Hi plant_this_thought. I also became vegetarian in that era (70’s) and also internalised the protein combining doctrine. Even though it has proven not to be necessary and France’s Moore Lappe herself has made that point, still, the up side is that is is not in any way harmful, and also, I think that at the time it gave people confidence to drop animal products because they could be assured of meeting nutritional needs. I was a growing teenager at the time so this was a concern for my parents. ( In fact I did not drop the dairy until much later, in any case).




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      1. F. M. Lappe was (and is) also strongly motivated by world hunger concerns. Vegetarian diets are hugely less taxing on our finite resources, hence the “small planet” of the title. In my thinking, this continues to be one of the most compelling arguments for plant-based nutrition.




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  27. Stupid popup got me again (a daily user, and current freaking subscriber with a mailbox full of junk from this site that I don’t need, and also an “active member” of these comment sections (isn’t that enough!?)). Problem is, that it’s not third party (I suppose I’m no webxpert). Pretty sure that’s how it gets past my attempts to NOT HAVE POPUPS OF ANY SORT EVER.

    totally completely and thoroughly irritating. All of this I suppress most of the time, but damn enough is enough (now is not that time.)

    grumpy old guy on the interwebs




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  28. Here is a screen shot of an analysis I did with regard to protein and especially the essential amino acids of three common foods. I calculated the percentage of daily calories, total protein and each of the essential amino acids. Like Dr. Greger says in the video, each has all the essential amino acids. Further with the exception of lysine in brown rice, and then only just, a given amount of each food provides a high percentage each of the EAAs than it does in calories. Whether a food provides an equal or higher percentage of EAAs than it does calories is to me is the measure of whether a protein is complete or not.




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    1. And since what is really important is what we eat in total, here is a screenshot of the same analysis of a “meal” consisting of 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cup black beans, 1 cup cooked carrots, 6 cups of romaine lettuce (I like big salads), and a large apple. This doesn’t include any calories or protein from things like salad dressing. But my favorite homemade salad dressing is made with silken tofu with balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, so the dressing would also add some additional protein rather than just empty calories from an oil based dressing.

      As you can see this simple plant based meal supplies a 1/3 of an average person’s daily calories but almost 1/2 of the daily protein needs. And taken as a whole this single meal exceeds the RDIs for a number of different EAAs, while supply at a minimum 3/4 of the RDI all of the EAAs.

      So it easy to see that unless you get a lot of your calories from refined sugar and refined oil that provide zero protein, a plant based diet handily meets ones protein and EAA needs.




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  29. I’ve talked to people who said that they have certain diseases, like MS, that say they “can’t absorb plant protein”. Is there any truth to this??




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    1. I have never seen anything in all the material that I have read that says that there is any difference in absorption between plant and animal proteins. Plant proteins contain exactly the same amino acids as animal proteins, including all of the essential amino acids. What is different is the ratio of those amino acids. But your body doesn’t care. Your stomach acid and the digestive enzyme pepsin together denature and start to break down any protein regardless of its original structure. Other enzymes in the small intestine finish breaking the vast majority down to single amino acids. At this level it is impossible to distinguish whether an amino acid came from beans or a steak and your body will absorb them the same regardless of source.

      If I had to guess, I would say that these folks might have tried a plant based diet for a short period, and like so many people who do, they didn’t eat a large enough volume in order to get enough calories. It can be shocking how much you have to eat in order to not lose weight on a plant based diet, unless you drown food in refined sugars and oils or replace fatty high calorie meat with fatty high calorie plants. Given the way that this society worships protein, the fact that they started to feel tired and weak on their new diet must be because of some fault with their ability to absorb inferior plant proteins (which *everybody* knows isn’t as good as animal proteins). So while in theory a plant based diet might help with their MS, they are just one of the unlucky ones that will have to continue to eat tasty bacon and burgers. Oh darn!




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      1. I’m definitely not advocating against vegetarianism here – the epidemiological data on Seventh Day Adventists is strong evidence of the general health benefits. However, people take taurine supplements and it is apparently absorbed intact. It has a number of effects, the most popular being that it reduces the jitters associated with high caffeine intake and so it is included in many ‘energy drinks’ (which are probably really bad for health in the long run).




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    2. Thanks for your question Kat!

      I tried to search for information on this subject, but could not find any useful source to provide evidence for this statement. However, as far as my knowledge goes, it could be that some people might be referring to the biological value (BV) of protein. In this context, we can assume that plant proteins have a lower biological values than animal protein (1).

      Nevertheless, as the FAO/WHO statement explains: “determination of BV of a single protein is of limited use for application to human protein requirements”, plus there are many limitations to its use (2).

      To get more information on MS & plant protein, I highly recommend you check the links attached.

      Hope this answer helps!




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  30. Dr Greger: I have read that there is a recent study published in “Molecular Biology and Evolution” that claims to have found a gene that affects how well a person handles a vegan diet. That is, if you have right allele, your body does well on a plant-based diet but if you have a different allele, you need to eat some amount of animal-based foods. Is there anything to that?




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    1. Thanks for your comment Wes!

      Dr Greger has shared an article which addresses the study mentioned. It was written by the President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr David Katz and his explanation will certainly help you get more insight in this.




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    2. Highly recommend reading the article by Dr. Katz linked to by Darchite. For those who want the Cliff’s Notes version, no there isn’t anything to that. The study was looking at whether populations who have eaten a largely plant-based diet for thousands of years have undergone any genetic changes as a result of not eating meat and low to no dairy and egg consumption. These changes could be adaptive to better take advantage of a plant based diet or negative with regards to ability to handle animal foods, but which are not weeded out of the population due to the low animal food consumption.

      They selected subpopulations in India who have eaten a largely plant based diet for millennia and looked at how the health of immigrants from this population did when they moved to western countries and started to eat the local decidedly non-plant based diet. And they found that people in this population did indeed have some changes in their ability to handle the crappy western diet. So these populations are less adapted to a diet high in animal based foods.

      What the study didn’t talk about at all is whether there are people who due to genetic variations must eat animal based foods in order to thrive. The fact that this is what all the headlines are saying is testament to the fact that people who do eat meat are desperately grasping at anything to rationalize their meaty diet.




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    1. No animal makes B-12. All animals must get their B-12 from the ultimate producer and that is bacteria. It is absolutely the only thing we can’t get from plants. So we can use animals as a vector to gather B-12 and deliver it to us. But food is a package deal where you have to take the bad with the good, so eating animals in order to get the B-12 we need we also get a significant amount of other health damaging nutrients. The simple alternative is to use our human intelligence and extract the B-12 directly from the bacteria and completely avoid all the negative health consequences of consuming animal foods. On balance using animals as a delivery vector for bacteria B-12 rather than get it directly seems to me to be nutritionally stupid.




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  31. Unless one is truly malnourished or anorexic, documented protein deficiencies are extremely rare, even among strict Vegans. Not only is there no need to worry about combing protein, there’s really no need to worry much about protein at all.




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  32. I have read that Eskimos can’t thrive on a plant based diet due to natural selection adapting to their fish and meat diet. Sources either way?




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    1. Well there is a study that shows that populations that have eaten a very nearly plant based diet for thousands of years have had some small changes that make them less-well adapted to tolerating a meat heavy diet. So I suppose it is possible that eating mostly blubber and meat for thousands of years might have resulted in some adaption in the Inuit that makes them slightly better at coping with the negative health impacts of all that animal food.

      And there is a study that hypothesizes that some populations that have traditionally eaten a lot of grains or other starchy foods have on average more copies of the salivary amylase gene that breaks starch down into sugar, which might make them able to better take advantage of the starch in their diet. But that is just on average. There is considerable overlap in gene copy number between high and low starch populations, and there isn’t anything to show that those individuals with low copy number in high starch populations fail to thrive as a result.

      And regardless of how adapted the Inuit are to their diet, their dietary pattern has nothing to say about what humans as a species should eat to optimize their long-term health. The Inuit eat what they eat because that is what is available, not because it gives them optimum health and longevity.




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  33. As anyone heard of Dr. Al Sears – he’s written articles saying that being vegan and vegetarian is bad for you. Below is a link to one of his articles that the grandmother of my 3 year old daughter posted trying to imply that I am a bad parent for raising my daughter vegan. I’m hoping there is someone out there who has seen a rebuttal to his argument or would write one. It’s time to speak up to people spreading false information.

    http://content.alsearsmd.com/?y9UJbT0Qto-3luZFhqfGVJwN7D8otfw2y




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    1. Tired of the Lies – Here’s an older but still perinent video that may help. Video which references a statement from Dr. Benjamin Spock who recommended a vegetarian diet for all children in his last book.




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    2. A huckster with books touting “miracle” cures and newsletters (for the low low price of only $100/yr) that promise that you are the first to know about discoveries the good doctor has discovered from around the world.

      His first argument “Vegetarians aren’t saving animals, they are killing them, and rice, wheat, corn and soy devastate the environment.” is so specious that it shows his true colors, which is demagoguery rather than honesty. What he says is superficially true. Harvesting crops does cause the death of many small animals and vast mono-crops that use artificial fertilizers and toxic pesticides do indeed do damage to the environment. The demagoguery comes in when he then fails to point that getting the same number of calories from animal sources causes 5-10 times the damage because factory meat requires 5-10 times as much grain and soy than if people simply ate those grains and soy directly.

      In addition the vast amount of animal feed required to be able to feed people a substantial percentage of their calories from animal foods forces very intensive agriculture and utilization of marginal lands and often irrigation using scarce surface water and more precious ground water. If farms only had to raise enough to directly feed people, then much less intense methods could be used, and only land best suited to growing grains with the least external inputs of nutrients and water would be needed.




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    3. Tired of the Lies: You have gotten some great responses so far. I’ll add my own two cents which is: You can easily find rebuttal information to the claims made on that page. But how much would such a rebuttal mean to the grandmother you speak of? I’m willing to bet her mind is made up. I think you might do better to start hanging out with people who get it so that posts from that grandmother are not so hurtful. I could make some suggestions for finding such groups if you are interested.
      .
      I am currently part of a vegan group that has several children in it of various ages who have been raised vegan since being weaned, and were breastfed by vegan mamas. These kids are *thriving* and seem way more smart and emotionally stable to me than other kids, but I’m very biased on those subjective points.
      .
      But if you feel a rebuttal is important, you can point out that the ADA has stated that a balanced vegan diet is 100% appropriate for people of all ages, all stages of life. I can probably find the quote for you if you are interested. Also, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has some good handouts on the topic of raising healthy vegan kids that you could link to. And the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) has some good info too. Both of these are groups I have seen Dr. Greger talk positively about. I think you can generally trust this information. Let me know if you want some specific link suggestions. Perhaps some handouts from a whole group of doctors talking about the healthfulness of raising vegan kids would do that grandma some good?
      .
      Good luck. It is bad enough when family is not supportive of yourself. When they criticize your child raising practices, the situation can be down right frustrating. I hope you are able to get past the “Tired” and onto the fun.




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  34. Do you suggest that beans/legumes are not an essential part (protein wise) for a healthy vegan diet?
    of course, you can live on wheat, but it’s PDCAAS is 0.42, so if you weigh 72kg you should get 137 gr protein from weat, which is something like 54 slices of bread or 27 cups of pasta/rice etc., which are equal to 3800kcal more or less.
    about the pool, it comes from somewhere, right? you must get your protein from somewhere in order to have a sufficient pool. so you may not eat a whole protein every day, but you’ll have to get it at some point.




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  35. Amazing video again Dr. Greger. Even if if it’s true about plants generally not being complete proteins, there’s still the absence of “protein deficient” subjects that no one seems to want to explain.




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  36. Hello, I recently adopted a plant based diet and legumes are now the main staple of my diet. I feel great, but according to cronometer I’m getting over 300% of my daily recommended folate intake which is supposedly dangerous. According to WebMD, it can permanently damage the nervous system! I guess India must be suffering from an epidemic of CNS-damage? Please bring me some clarity on this issue. Greeting from Sweden.




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    1. Hello Momos in Sweden – Glad to have you on the site!
      And happy to hear you’re feeling great with legumes are the main staple of your diet!
      Have you seen this video on folic acid vs. folate?
      I think what you are describing – CNS effects with excess folate pertain to the situation in which a person is B12 deficient and excess folate masks B12 deficiency… but B12 is needed for CNS function and folate cannot mask that effect. If you are getting adequate B12 (see videos on this site), this will not be a problem.
      In any case, no need to worry — watch this video titled Increased Lifespan From Beans.
      To health!




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      1. Any of you NF moderator’s willing to take on these questions??

        Dr.Greger,

        Thanks for a great video. As we are on the (big) topic of protein again,
        perhaps you might elaborate on the fact that too much protein of any source is
        problematic, not just of animal origin. The food and supplement industry has
        been on an extra protein formulation binge for a few years now and it is also
        being fed by proponents of high protein for weight loss, both from within the
        medical/ dietician community and outside it. While the China Study does not, as
        far as I recall, go into the issues with high protein from plant sources,
        Campbell’s Cornell online program does. As many don’t seem to realise this and
        readily add pea and bean powders to their meals it might be worth a mention
        here.

        Secondly you have referred to the deleterious consequences of high
        concentrations of sulfur containing amino acids in the gut in previous posts,
        and I am wondering is there research that characterizes the levels of ammonia,
        H2S etc that must be present even from a “normal” WFPB diet microbome
        which is getting fed with plant levels of sulfur containing amino acids. That is,
        at what level does this become a problem.

        Thanks and
        keep up the great work. D. R.




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  37. “Dietary guidelines are political compromises between what science tells
    us about nutrition and what’s good for the food industry.” -Marion Nestle




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  38. This isn’t a great video topic because the fact that the body enhances the chances of survival, by recycling and buffering protein, is not a breakthrough discovery…. it is the norm for all the essential elements; water, minerals, energy (as fats and carbs), protein e.t.c with Oxygen being the notable exception.
    Further than that, to say that we don’t need to be concerned about complementing ‘incomplete’ proteins with ‘complete’ proteins is not true, we just don’t need to be concerned about it in the short term. Eventually, if the buffered pool of resources is depleted, we will enter a state of mal-nourishment. This is true for all regardless of dietary classification.




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  39. Conflating discussion on ‘Animal Rights’, which is a philosophical or ethical issue, with a discussion on nutrition is of no value simply because we can overcome the objection by only sourcing animal products from ethical farmers; or raise our own animals with TLC…. having done that we are left with only the nutritional pros and cons to consider.




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    1. Whos talking about animal rights here? This website focuses on the negative health consequences of meat,eggs and dairy via the latest in nutritional science.




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    2. Thanks for your comment Rada,

      As a Registered Dietitian & and a health professional, like many others, I may disagree with this view since our profession involves respecting a certain standard of ethics, which should also be applied to the ethics and moral consequences of our advice in animals. On the other hand, different opinions on this subject are understandable due to habit and tradition of our eating habits. Furthermore, apart from the nutrition side, we also have to consider environmental impact. It is clear that production of animal products are the leading cause of the destruction of our planet and to this issue, even the British Dietetic Association has encouraged us health professionals to switch a plant based diet and make similar recommendations to the public.




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      1. Hi Darchite,
        Nutrition is a vast and complex subject and new information is becoming available at an increasing rate. Studies often conflict and even the experts sometimes disagree.
        Its difficult enough without having to consider the philosophical opinion of every member of the forum let alone every RD or doctor in existence.
        I am not against discussion of ‘animal welfare’ or ‘environmental issues’, I just think people should show consideration to others and have those discussions elsewhere.
        The site is called Nutrition Facts … it is marketed as ‘evidence based nutrition’. Its disappointing to me that it turns out to be a Trojan Horse for Veganism which is a form of dishonest promotion.
        I am interested to discuss a Vegan diet but not the philosophy … as Veganism is currently proselytised by many it is more like a religion than a collective of evidence based behaviour.
        Did you take an oath when you became an RD (if so could you please provide a copy?) or did you mean that you think RD’s should take one? As I understand your comments you are saying that such an oath SHOULD exist and SHOULD contain reference to ethical treatment of animals and the environment, which is just your opinion is it not?
        I haven’t stated my position on ‘animal welfare’ or ‘the environment’ nor what I eat or why I eat it …. please don’t make assumptions either way. Similarly you don’t even know me so what facts are you using to reach the conclusion that I am a person acting out of habits acquired in the past rather than someone who has formulated a set of dietary guidelines based on the best current practise/evidence. Do you seriously think I would be visiting/posting at NF if I was eating the way my forefathers did?
        Please also do not assume that you are THE arbiter of moral standards or that I am morally inferior to you. Take the mote from your own eye first?
        Cheers, and thanks for the stimulating challenge,
        Rada.




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      2. Darchite,

        Re: “even the British Dietetic Association has encouraged us health professionals’ to switch a plant based diet and make similar recommendations to the public.”

        Your link to the BDA is incorrect … it goes to a PubMed article on salt intake.

        Where can I find the authorised statement from the BDA “encouraging health professionals to switch ‘to’ a plant based diet”?

        I searched the site and I can only find a relatively small number of references to a plant based diet:

        – there is one ‘factsheet’ on Vegetarian Diets;

        https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/home

        – and I did find this MOU between the BDA and the Vegan Society however it is not a recommendation but rather an agreement to ensure health professionals are aware that a healthy Vegan diet can be planned and that they should have sufficient knowledge of the same to “give clients seeking Vegan-friendly advice the confidence to trust their Dietician”.

        https://www.vegansociety.com/society/whos-involved/partners/british-dietetic-association

        Once again … that’s not a recommendation.




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        1. Dear Rada, in regards to the link, I attached the wrong one into the comment, I apologise for the confusion. Also, my wording may have not been the best, the BDA encourages “a shift towards a more plant based diet (…) to reduce GHG emissions. Eating more plant based foods can offset some of the additional cost of a smaller, higher quality amount of meat but the additional cost of achieving a healthy, sustainable diet must be recognised.”.

          Therefore, “dietitians should be proactive in influencing policy at a local and national level and implementing practices in their home, workplace and communities to reduce the environmental impact of food whilst promoting optimum nutrition.”




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      3. Darchite,

        You didn’t show sufficient respect to what I said but that is partly my fault because my statement wasn’t precise enough to convey my meaning clearly.

        I have reworded my statement:

        “Conflating discussion on ‘Animal Rights’ or ‘Environmental Issues’, which are philosophical or ethical issues, with a discussion on nutrition is an unnecessary diversion, and in addition adds no value to the sum of our nutritional knowledge, simply because we can overcome the ethical objections to eating animal products by only sourcing them from ethical farmers and/or those who use sustainable farming methods …. having done that we are freed from the attendant nutritional ethical burden and left with only the nutritional pros and cons to consider.”
        Its a powerful statement that takes all of your concerns into consideration plus all of the concerns of the majority of people who are interested in eating less, or no, animal products (dieters, sports people, health conscious people and the ‘reluctant vegetarians’ who are interested because their doctor told them to lower their cholesterol etc).
        What the world needs now (apart from ‘Love Sweet Love’ == Aretha Franklin?) is less talk and more action and more ethical and sustainable farming rather than more Vegans (that way we will reach your goals a lot sooner)…. it’s a philosophy that’s more efficient and more practical and aligned to reality.
        It’s a philosophy that’s more sustainable than yours.




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        1. rada: re: “… because we can overcome the ethical objections to eating animal
          products by only sourcing animal products from ethical farmers…” No you can’t overcome those objections, because here is how most people who have these ethics feel: There is no such thing as “ethical meat” on any practical level. Because humans have better health without any animal products, I don’t know of any way to eat animals ethically unless it is finding a carcass on the forest floor belonging to someone who died of natural causes. Thus, you do not have a way to overcome my ethical objections. What’s more, it’s not just me or a minority of people who completely disagree with you. I don’t personally know of anyone who has seriously dug into the ethical issues who would agree with you.

          re: “…and/or those who use sustainable farming methods…” Since there is no way to farm animals in a sustainable way for the current human population (watch the movie Cowspiracy to understand why), that idea goes out the window too.

          As for whether the discussions about ethics (ie: human and non-human animal suffering and rights and the planet/human future) belong on NutritionFacts or not, you will note that for the most part, NutritionFacts discussions naturally stick to human health topics. I agree that is a good thing and thus can’t figure out why you wanted to start this non-nutrition conversation. However, note that NutritionFacts does sometimes allow other topics to be discussed in the spirit of fostering community and not censoring. Let the monitors worry about which posts are OK.

          If discussions which wander into non-nutrition topics bother you, just ignore those posts/discussions.




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          1. Hi Thea,

            I have 3 children. They are adults now. I don’t know my children as well as a father should, nor am I as close to them as a father should be. Perhaps I can change that before I die.

            My wife gave up the best part of her life for our children. She would die for them even today.
            They don’t care for her as much as they should. She wants to see them more but they don’t come. She wants to be in their life more but they won’t let her in.
            She works hard. Her hair is grey. I would like to make life as good for her as I possibly can before she dies.

            Last month my daughter had a hysterectomy.
            I picked her up from the hospital … she was in shock and pain.
            I held her hand and said soothing things to her, like I did when she was a baby.

            This week she invited me to breakfast for my birthday.
            I didn’t want to go because I am busy and its not a vegetarian place.
            I hoped she would forget …..she usually does. When the phone rang this morning I knew it was her.
            At first I told my wife to tell her I couldn’t go but then I changed my mind and said I would. I did it for the sake of the family.

            My daughter bought me coffee, eggs and bacon with scones, jam and cream for dessert.
            I tried to give her some money for it but she wouldn’t take it.
            I enjoyed the breakfast.
            After breakfast I walked over to look at some vintage cars, that were parked nearby, with my new son-in-law.
            I don’t know him that well but he likes cars.

            Was it ethical of me to eat the breakfast?

            I’m not sure … its hard to tell sometimes.

            Rada.




            0
            1. WHY DID I START THIS OFF-TOPIC SUBJECT?

              It’s about the ethics and environment of this discussion board, plus human welfare, rather than ethics and the environment in general or animal welfare.
              I looked around for a link that would allow me to provide feedback to the moderators but I couldn’t find one so I put it here.
              I have noticed that quite a bit of the content of this board is ideologically biased and I am concerned this may harm the more vulnerable members of our community; those who don’t have the capacity to cross reference the material to other sources and opinions.
              I did it to help the group.

              RE: THE PROS AND CONS OF MODERATION
              In a forum it’s always difficult to decide where to balance freedom of speech and participation against quality and relevance.
              I noticed at CureZone, for example, that it has been ruined by network marketeers and sales people pushing their wares (overtly and covertly) plus a lack of strong moderation.
              How-ever that is not my problem and as you say, on the net it is so easy, and standard practise, to flick a post, a person or a website.

              RE: THERE IS NO WAY TO ETHICALLY KILL AN ANIMAL
              I didn’t specify meat but if we include it historically there have been many traditions that sanctify the taking of the animals life, for food e.t.c via ritual or blessing.
              In the modern world some consider that if the animal is raised with kindness and the kill is without fear or suffering i.e. quick and clean, then that is an ethical practise.
              Some spiritual people today believe that as the animal has a group, rather than an individual soul, and that the body is being subsumed by humans that the animal soul has been elevated or honoured.
              RE: THERE IS NO WAY TO SUSTAINABLY FARM ANIMALS/COWS
              I didn’t specify cows.
              You are thinking too conservatively about the species and the methods.
              As previously mentioned in this topic; other cultures eat insects and grubs etc and research is underway in the west to investigate this possibility.
              We also have other species that use less resources to produce meat e.g. the kangaroo which is marketed in Australia as a low fat meat.
              More importantly, if we look at available environments the surface area of water, on the planet, is many times greater than the area of arable land and of course cabe used for fish farming to various deeps, or strata, compared to the land which is generally only farmed on the surface.
              http://chartsbin.com/view/wwu

              For decades now technologists have been aware of more sustainable farming methods but inexplicably they haven’t been taken up.
              The problem is not that we can’t find better ways to do things it’s that we just aren’t doing it for a variety of reasons.

              RE: PEOPLE WHO DON’T EAT MEAT BECAUSE THEY DONT WANT TO TAKE THE LIFE OF AN ANIMAL ARE NOT IN THE MINORITY

              In this 2008 study 0.5% of Americans self-identified as being Vegan.
              Of the larger group, who self-identify as vegetarians approximately half where primarily motivated by Animal Welfare and the the other by the desire to improve health.
              According to the report around 97% of Americans include meat in their diet……. Perhaps we should be thinking about how to connect e=with that group.
              I don’t think environmental or animal welfare issues will motivate them to change their diet.




              0
            2. Pardon me for eavesdropping but this is a public chat room.

              Ethical? Probably not if you want to get real picky… at least not in agreement with how it sounds like you want to live your life. But, it isn’t the end of the world either. It does sound like the people around you have little regard for your desires though.

              My sister and I just got back from Louisiana where she went through an astonishing amount of shrimp, crab, crawfish, oysters, fish while I drank tea and watched (there is literally no way to eat SOS vegan except at salad bars if you can find them.) Nothing says you have to eat ir accept what you don’t want to eat.

              A page I’ve taken out of the Buddhist monks’ playbook… monks spend a good part of their day begging for their food from householders. If a householder puts meat in the bowl of a vegan monk because that’s what the family is eating, the monk can accept it. If the animal was slaughtered specifically for the monk, the monk can’t accept the meat because the monk would be the reason for the killing of the animal. I’ve had friends who didn’t realize I was vegan for years because I didn’t make a scene about what they offered me… my relationship with them was more important to me than whether I had to pick chicken out of an entree.

              At sometime where there isn’t food being served, I’d think it appropriate to have a conversation about how you prefer to eat. Eating SOS free vegan often means I eat before I meet with people, but that’s what comes with the decision that I’ve made to value animals as sentient beings. Watching others eat isn’t the end of the world and sometimes gets noticed as a silent witness that can open minds, ears, and eventually hearts.




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              1. Hi Ralph,
                It was a public post intended to share a small vignette of my experiences with others in a similar position and inviting them to ponder on the core issue; ‘That nutritionally motivated Vegetarians need only consider the health outcomes of what they are eating whereas those motivated by Spirituality, or Philosophy/Ethics, have some very complex knots to unravel’.
                I used a personal narrative to make my point as I think that is an effective way to communicate.
                My concern is that ideological commitment often causes us to close our minds to alternative viewpoints and that in a modern dynamic world it isn’t easy to discern between ethical and unethical behaviour e.g. the Dalai Lama is unquestionably recognised as a SPIRITUAL MAN but when he tours the world how does he get there? Does he fly, or travel by ship e.t.c? Any form of locomotion he chooses will take the life of some sentient beings and do harm to the environment. Presumably he is reverently thankful for modern locomotion that carries him to distant shores and considers it justified on the basis of the ‘greater good’.
                WRT having a talk to my family e.t.c …. ‘What does a child know, or understand, of the thinking of an adult?
                rada




                0
                1. I’ll offer one idea wrt your concern about how difficult it is to live a moral life in this technological age… Perfection is the enemy of the good.

                  I’ll grant you that we are often presented situations that have competing goods or evils. That said, life (my life at least) isn’t a steady stream of “Sophie’s Choices”. For the vast majority of the decisions I face, I simply make the choice that more closely comports to the ethics I strive to embody, and work to mitigate any harm I’m aware that I’ve committed.

                  And, just because some decisions in life can be hard, I chose not to get mired in trying to get it all worked out before I get on with the task of living… midcourse corrections are always an option.

                  Additionally, the choice between nutritional vs ethically motivated veganism doesn’t hafta be ‘either/or’… it can be ‘both-and’. While I have little patience for vegans who critique my ethical motivation to eat vegan (though I then avail myself of scientific research to help me figure out how best to live that way), their more self-centeredly motivated decision to avoid eating flesh and dairy results in the same market pressures. I can live with that.

                  My apologies for failing to discern that you were uninterested in help to better relate with your family. Your last sentence put everything in clear focus.

                  PS: “e.t.c.” s/b “et c.” as etc is an abbreviation of “et cetera”.




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          2. WHY DID I START THIS OFF-TOPIC SUBJECT?

            My post is about the ethics of this discussion board that in some cases concern me.
            I looked around for a link that would allow me to provide feedback to the moderators but I couldn’t find one so I put it here.
            I have noticed that quite a bit of the content of this board is ideologically biased and I am concerned this may harm the more vulnerable members of our community; those who don’t have the capacity to cross reference the material to other sources and opinions.
            I did it to help the group.

            RE: THE PROS AND CONS OF MODERATION
            In a forum it’s always difficult to decide where to balance freedom of speech and participation against quality and relevance.
            I noticed at CureZone, for example, that it has been ruined by network marketeers and sales people pushing their wares (overtly and covertly) plus a lack of strong moderation.
            How-ever that is not my problem and as you say, on the net it is so easy, and standard practise, to flick a post, a person or a website.

            RE: THERE IS NO WAY TO ETHICALLY KILL AN ANIMAL
            I didn’t specify meat but if we include it historically there have been many traditions that sanctify the taking of the animals life, for food e.t.c via ritual or blessing.
            In the modern world some consider that if the animal is raised with kindness and the kill is without fear or suffering i.e. quick and clean, then that is an ethical practise.
            Some spiritual people today believe that as the animal has a group, rather than an individual soul, and that the body is being subsumed by humans that the animal soul has been elevated or honoured.
            RE: THERE IS NO WAY TO SUSTAINABLY FARM ANIMALS/COWS
            I didn’t specify cows.
            You are thinking too conservatively about the species and the methods.
            As previously mentioned in this topic; other cultures eat insects and grubs etc and research is underway in the west to investigate this possibility.
            We also have other species that use less resources to produce meat e.g. the kangaroo which is marketed in Australia as a low fat meat.
            More importantly, if we look at available environments the surface area of water, on the planet, is many times greater than the area of arable land and of course cabe used for fish farming to various deeps, or strata, compared to the land which is generally only farmed on the surface.
            http://chartsbin.com/view/wwu

            For decades now technologists have been aware of more sustainable farming methods but inexplicably they haven’t been taken up.
            The problem is not that we can’t find better ways to do things it’s that we just aren’t doing it for a variety of reasons.

            RE: PEOPLE WHO DON’T EAT MEAT BECAUSE THEY DONT WANT TO TAKE THE LIFE OF AN ANIMAL ARE NOT IN THE MINORITY

            In this 2008 study 0.5% of Americans self-identified as being Vegan.
            Of the larger group, who self-identify as vegetarians approximately half where primarily motivated by Animal Welfare and the the other by the desire to improve health.
            According to the report around 97% of Americans include meat in their diet……. Perhaps we should be thinking about how to connect e=with that group.
            I don’t think environmental or animal welfare issues will motivate them to change their diet.




            0
          3. WRT your statement:” ….there is no way to farm animals in a sustainable way for the current human population (watch the movie Cowspiracy to understand why)”

            I didn’t watch the TV documentary ‘Cowspiracy’ as I find TV docos to be sensationalist, generally lacking in objectivity and with little scientific or factual value. IMO it is better to source our information from credentialed scientists/medicos etc.

            I respect your freedom of choice and you don’t need to justify your decision to be a Vegan, however, if you want to proselytise your ideology then it would be better to base your arguments on facts e.g. here is an article that dropped into my news feed today that reports:

            – prawn farming is 10-15 times more productive per hectare than beef farming;

            – the particular farm referred to in this article uses eco-friendly methods to purify the water that is contaminated with prawn waste.

            http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-23/prawn-farm-boom-forecast-for-north-queensland/7653828?WT.ac=statenews_qld

            The area referred to here is not particularly environmentally valuable and the farm is using such a small area, relative to the total Australian coastline, that expressed as a % the number of zeros after the decimal point wont fit on the line :-)

            I am not sure that turning thousands of hectares into poor quality land in order to force feed production of soya beans is highly efficient or such a great idea for the environment either.

            Cheers.




            0
            1. rada: Cowspiracy is not a TV show, but a movie documentary that played in the theaters. I’m guessing that distinction is irrelevant to your point. I just thought I would mention it. More to the point is: No one is talking about turning any land to “force feed production of soya beans”. That is what I would call a strawman’s argument. To be fair, I would have to explain myself in more detail. But I don’t feel this site is an appropriate place to get into great detail on the topic. One of the reasons I refer people to Cowspiracy is because the movie is like one of Dr. Greger’s summary videos. It puts the whole picture together, with lots of valid, solid information in my opinion. With that movie, anyone who wants to understand why I feel confident making such a statement, can get the background information they need.
              .
              If that source does not interest you, you can find all the source material out there, just like someone can get all the nutrition information directly from the medical journals. You just have to be able to put it all together yourself.
              .
              If you only want to hear from scientific journals and scientists in the field, the next recommendation will not appeal. But if you want to get some of the basic information for free (Cowspiracy is more entertaining, but not free), here is a free talk that begins to get at the issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fws0f9s4Bas Cheers!




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    3. @Rada: There’s no ethical farming. Animals are not here for us, they are here with us. No need to exploit them in any way to survive.




      0
  40. Hi, I would be really grateful for any links to information about hypoglycaemia. I have searched the NF website but haven’t found much. I would love to shift over to a plant-based diet but I have severe problems when I don’t eat animal protein like dizziness, weakness, inability to stay asleep. It’s been going on for years. Doctors have found nothing but a couple of years ago I did have hyperparathyroidism and had to have a parathyroid gland removed. I have no idea if this is connected to my diet. Most of the information on the internet that addresses hypoglycaemia is always about a high protein, low carb diet but I am very concerned about what eating so much animal protein is doing to my body.

    Thank you very much,
    Sophie




    0
    1. “I have severe problems when I don’t eat animal protein”

      This might be your subconscious working against you. I’m guessing that you have such a long standing belief that the body NEEDS animal foods to survive that it can manifest in physical ways like you mentioned. But in reality, it could very well be all in your head like the people who swear off gluten but have no allergy to it. When I went plant-based I was afraid I might be missing “complete” protein and nutrients and felt nervous, it kept me up at night, so I understand your fear. Let me put your mind at ease. I have been on a plant based diet now for 5 years and I can tell you I feel better than I ever have in my whole life. No more health issues, not taking ANY medications any more, all my blood work is in the optimal range, per-diabetes GONE, joint pains GONE, and I sleep like a baby now. Best thing I ever did. If you can commit to it for 1 month, you will know what I’m talking about.

      Best of luck and don’t worry about leaving animal protein behind. It will be the best choice you ever made. Namaste




      0
    2. Sophie: I think you got an excellent reply already from guest. I will offer you one more thought: Some people may actually need to be weaned off meat slowly because their bodies are addicted to it. Dr. Klaper explains his theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tJyb1wTxg4 While not shown on that video clip, the solution is for the person to treat meat as medicinal. Figure out how little you can eat in a day and still be fine. Then after you are stabilized on that amount, see if you can go every other day for a week or two, etc. Keep expanding the time slowly until you find yourself going months at a time without meat/animal protein and realize that you not longer need it at all.

      That’s just another approach. I don’t know anything about hypoglycaemia and how that might play into your situation. So, I’m not commenting on that and don’t know if Dr. Klaper’s advice is good for your particular situation or not. I’m not an expert myself, so take this for what it’s worth. Good luck to you!




      0
      1. That’s really helpful Thea. What you said makes a lot of sense. I tried plant-based food for the last 2 days (eating lots and very well – sweet potatoes, beans, rice, veg, nuts, fruit etc) and was unable to function I was so tired and faint so realise I need to take it slowly. Thank you for your reply and for the link I shall have a look.

        Regards
        Sophie




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  41. Hi, I would be really grateful for any links to information about hypoglycaemia. I have searched the NF website but haven’t found much. I would love to shift over to a plant-based diet but I have severe problems when I don’t eat animal protein like dizziness, weakness, inability to stay asleep. It’s been going on for years. Doctors have found nothing but a couple of years ago I did have hyperparathyroidism and had to have a parathyroid gland removed. I have no idea if this is connected to my diet. Most of the information on the internet that addresses hypoglycaemia is always about a high protein, low carb diet but I am very concerned about what eating so much animal protein is doing to my body.

    Thank you very much,
    Sophie




    0
  42. The myths continue, even within our modern health care system. Today was my 6 month dental cleaning visit. Coincidentally it happens that I am now 5 months a ‘no oils’ vegan. “Have there been any changes in your health since your last visit”? As my hygienist is taking my BP, I explain my decision to go vegan, pointing out that the body of steel she sees before her today was 23 pounds heavier last time. My BP was normal with a resting heart rate of 57 bpm – athletes are lucky to have a resting heart rate that low. As you know, any conversation during a dental cleaning visit is pretty much one sided. My well intentioned, but totally incorrect message was of the importance of combing protein for good health. Trust me, I am anything but malnutrioned and at age 63 my health has never been better. I feel like you can just turn those numbers around to 36. Although I look like I did in high school, I promise not to wear ‘Speedos” to the beaches this summer. This posting is intended for the more senior readers out there to deliver a very correct message that it is never too late to make significant changes to your health with a plant based diet. Be well.




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  43. “Plant Lectins”, Dr William Rawls argues that “anyone with any sort of digestive issue should be paying close attention to lectins since they’re found in so many foods” then he lists the problematic ones to be Grains, Beans/legumes, especially soybeans, kidney beans, black beans, peanuts, Tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios concluding that “Fish, eggs, and poultry don’t contain lectins or other similarly damaging substances, so they’re the best source of protein.”

    Even if he’s right, I’m still not going to eat meat (i.e. on the misery of animals), but I’d be grateful if you can read his article and rebut it (preferably) or confirm it if that is so and recommend the ideal vegan sources of protein.

    He also lists nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers to be culprit.

    Thank you!

    Source for the article: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25193/the-plant-based-nutrient-that-could-be-messing-with-your-gut-health.html?utm_content=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=160602&utm_source=mbg




    0
    1. Tashikarate: Lectins are mentioned in the following blog post here on NutritionFacts: http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/23/will-the-real-paleo-diet-please-stand-up/ Note:
      .
      “Grains and legumes are dispensed with, even though these foods have a long and impressive track record as valuable sources of calories and protein for the world’s population. The value of legumes and grains in the human diet is validated by people of the Blue Zones – the longest lived, healthiest populations in the world – all of whom consume legumes and grains as part of their traditional fare. 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.”
      .
      He’s just not right. I recommend reviewing the evidence favoring grains and legumes. You can find summaries here: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/legumes/ and http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/grains/ .
      Hope that helps.




      0
        1. Tashikarate: Thanks for your clarification post. Here’s what your reply sparked in me: I don’t see how someone could acknowledge the benefits of say beans, including say longer life, and still think that beans are bad for digestion. Another point: from what I have seen, most whole plant food based vegans seem to get an improvement in digestion, not the opposite. Dr. Klaper has a couple of talks on the topic of digestion and he helps people improve their digestion with whole plant food diets all the time. So, while the lectin worry sounds like a good theory, I don’t think it is correct in real life. That’s my opinion.
          .
          But I definitely understand the desire to want to see a specific rebuttal. I believe that Dr. Greger tries to keep an eye on requests for topics which are made in this forum, so I’m thinking that your request has been heard and hopefully you will get your rebuttal either in a blog post or video at some point in the future. And since the question comes up often enough for people on this forum, I’d like to see a more detailed rebuttal myself so I can point people like you to it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed with you.




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  44. “Eat your fish and vegetables!” I was told at the dinner table. More true words were never spoken. In nutritional biochemistry, 197x Prof. Kennelly, r.i.p., taught RDA standards and indispensable (essential) amino acid calculations. Accurate analytical techniques for AA analysis were lacking back then and inaccurate values only were available. Nontheless, I wrote an optimization program after having found reasonably accurate published literature. Mind you, absolute values of amino acids can vary by cultivar, NPK ratios, limits and boron, manganese and zinc are important, etc. By careful selection using 199x affinity constants for large, fat soluble amino acids I ran a ratio of tyrosine and tryptophane to leucine and phenylalanine to get foods to deliver W & Y or individually. It worked! My Parkinson’s friend was able to cut his Sinamet (l-DOPA) in half, grow his hair back and live another decade! He was receiving a full complement of antioxidants AND having breakfast. The “fish and vegetable” diet essentially halted the progression of his disease. I have recently discarded Methionine (and Phenyalanine) in my practice for longevity (and otherwise health).




    0
  45. Is the verdict still out on this? Almost everywhere I look online it talks about the importance of combining the right proteins with a plant-based diet. I am currently certifying as a “Fitness Nutrition Specialist” through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and they also talk about the importance of combining the right proteins to make a complete protein (and the course was updated in 2016). I also took a nutrition course in college a couple years ago that also talked about the importance of combining the right proteins. I just heard a Registered Dietician and Doctor talk to someone yesterday about the importance about combining the right proteins. It seems to me that it’s not just that the word hasn’t gotten out to the uneducated, but that leading experts still disagree. Is there evidence to the contrary? (That it is still important to combine proteins?). Confused.




    0
    1. elisavhunter: You are not the first person to report that even today, people talk about the importance of protein combining. But even the person who started this myth took it back many years ago. As much as I love the internet, it can have the bad effect of perpetuating incorrect information to the point that even professionals repeat it.
      .
      As good as the above video is, I wanted to share my favorite protein 101 article that covers this topic an others. It gives good hard data and is in a nice package for consumption. Check it out: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html To whet your appetite, here’s the first part:
      .
      “Common vegetables have much more protein than you need, and contrary to popular myth, they’re complete proteins as well.1 The reason you’ve heard otherwise is that the people spouting protein myths haven’t bothered to look up the actual numbers. (Anyone who thinks that vegetables don’t supply enough protein or that it’s incomplete for human needs should cite bona-fide science that says so.) So let’s look at what the science actually says — as well as what doctors and dietitians who are actually familiar with protein say. …”
      .
      Fun, fun!




      0
    2. I know I am coming in a month after you posted, but you can prove to yourself that there is no need to combine different plant foods in order to get a “complete” protein. All you need to do is use an online tool like cronometer to look at the ratio of percentage of both total protein and the individual essential amino acids to the percent of daily calories in any given whole plant food. If the ratio of protein/EAA to calories is equal to or greater than one, then that food all by itself represents a source of “complete” protein.

      This isn’t the traditional definition of a complete protein, which as you probably already well know, is a protein with an AA profile per gram of protein that exactly matches the profile represented by the RDIs for each of the EAAs. But why does matching some AA profile even matter. The functional bottom line is that by the time you have eaten all of your calories for the day, you have also eaten enough total protein and each of the individual EAAs.

      One example I like to use is carrots, hardly a food most people think of as being a good source of protein, let alone a source of complete protein. If I put 25 medium carrots into cronometer (to reduce round off error) that represents 490 calories or about 24% of my daily calories. These carrots also contain 20% of my total protein for the day, and more importantly 28% or more of all of the EAAs. A little low in total protein, but well within the 100% factor of safety that the USDA added to the protein needed to keep subjects in nitrogen balance during metabolic ward studies. By this definition of a complete protein, Legumes turn out to be “super-complete” Two cups of black beans contains. 22% of my daily calories, but a whopping 59% of my daily protein, with the limiting EAA being methione at 54% of the RDI.

      Looking at the raw amount of protein and EAA amounts in the food doesn’t take into account the degree to which the proteins in the food are broken down and all AAs subsequently absorbed into the blood before reaching the illium. I have read the definition of PDCAAS, but it includes how closely the EAA profile in a given protein source matches the ideal, which I don’t see has anything to do whether or not eating a given food contributes a greater or lesser percentage of daily protein and EAAs than calories or not. Biological Value would seem to be a better estimate to use, but it has the problem in that the test subjects are fed a single protein in amounts carefully calibrated so that no excess protein is consumed that would then be used for energy rather than used to make new proteins. Thus the BV score doesn’t reflect the actual total amount of protein in a given amount of a plant food and whether the whole food eaten to provide all calories wouldn’t provide excess total protein and thus provide more mg of the limiting EAA than you would get from the BV method. Black beans are a great example. The BV for beans are generally around 0.6, except soy. But the BV is determined when total protein is very low (~5% of calories). 26% of the calories in black bean comes from protein, so when consumed as food for its calorie content, black beans provide far more protein than is used to determine the BV value. Thus the deficit in methionine seen when bean protein is only at 5% disappears at 26%.

      But of course none of this matter, what matters is the totality of the protein consumed through out the day. So the next experiment is to input the foods and amounts that an average person might reasonably consume (without any thought to protein combining) for three meals and snacks as well that total up to around the standard 2000 calories into cronometer and see what the protein picture looks like.

      Here is what I ate on Monday of this week. For dinner, 3 cups of ww pasta with a mushroom tomato sauce for dinner with a large 5 cup romaine lettuce salad with my home-made silken tofu with Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar dressing, an ounce of toasted almonds and 1/2 cup of broccoli sprouts; for lunch a 16 ounce bowl of 15 bean soup, a slice of Ezekiel bread, 8 ounces of carrots and a large apple for lunch; and for breakfast a banana, blueberry, strawberry smoothie made with soy milk and ground flax seed along with a 2 cups of steel cut oatmeal cooked in water with an ounce of raisins and a tablespoon of brown sugar.

      Cronometer says I ate 2300 calories (111% of my calorie needs). The above supplied me with 90.5 grams of protein (162% of RDI) with the amount of every EAA exceeding the RDI, with lysine and methionine being the limiting AAs with each at 122% of the RDI. The above day of eating also supplied 100% of every vitamin and minerals save calcium, which was slightly “low” at 890 mg. And on the plus side it supplied 75 grams of fiber!




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          1. Jim Felder: Maaaaaybe. ;-)
            .
            Sometimes long posts are exactly what is called for. Sometimes a long post gets in the way of the message. This is something that I struggle with myself. You are in good (or long winded?) company. ;-)




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            1. A particularly appropriate quote often attributed to Mark Twain, but also said by many others going back to Cicero. Here it is from Blase Pascal. “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.“. In English, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.“.

              This is of course made worse by the fact that I am a touch typist and can compose at around 60-70 wpm. My wife, the English Major, tells me to not try to be so complete, but instead leave them wanting more. If they are interested and have a question, they will ask a follow-up. Sound advice that I struggle to implement every day.




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  46. Are there any studies into the mass balance of protein extracted from animal Vs. plant after consumption. I am willing to bet that the human body extracts more protein from plant material Vs animal.




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  47. I am a bodybuilder and always held the belief that I need to ingest protein in order to rebuild muscle after I tear it apart in weightlifting workouts, which along with sleep and rest will make me bigger and stronger. Is this a myth? Can muscles that are worked to exhaustion recover adeptly with the daily dozen diet, or is some special modification needed?

    Thank you!




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  48. I wasn’t sure where to ask this question. Today I read about a study where gelatin was given with Vitamin C before intermittent activity to augment collagen synthesis and reduce injury rates. I’m just wondering if you think it was a well designed study? And also, is it possible that it was the increased intake of Vitamin C which may have caused the increased collagen synthesis? Thanks!!




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  49. Hi, I am a dietetics student and I am working on a persuasive argument presentation to prove that plant based proteins are better (or at least no different) than animal based protein in muscle building. I am looking for scientific arguments to prove my point. There is a lot of this information on the internet, but I don’t seem to find references from scientific studies. If anyone has something, I will really appreciate it. Thank You!!




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    1. Hello! My name is Megan, I’m a moderator for NF. I am a dietetics student as well and would love to help you out with this – we are definitely in the minority! I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but with each video posted on this website, there is a “Sources Cited” button with links to the studies that support the findings discussed in each video. If you click on the titles, it should take you to the abstracts and you will be able to access the full text. This page also can take you to more videos and information about plant protein: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/plant-protein/. I hope this helps you out!




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  50. I noticed there was little to no debate in the opposition of this subject I have to disagree with the theory that vegetarianism is an ideal diet for the human body, mainly for the fact that is not how humanoids have evolved for thousands of years. Simply look at our physical traits. I invite anyone to review the website below that challenges the no meat theory. Also I welcome any debate to this topic or constructive criticism. Thank you.
    https://breakingmuscle.com/fuel/why-all-humans-need-to-eat-meat-for-health




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    1. Chris: I took a look at the article/page you linked to. The page is full of so much misinformation, I can’t respond to it fully in a post. However, here are some thoughts to get you started in being able to see through an article like that:

      1) Anatomy: Looking at anatomy is definitely a place to start when figuring out what diet is healthy for humans. However, the evidence shows that the bulk of our anatomy is geared toward eating plants. The following page compares human anatomy to the anatomy of carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. I recommend reading the whole article, not just looking at the chart: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html
      .
      .
      2) Evolution: While it is true that most ancient human populations ate some animal products, it is a myth that eating a primarily plant based diet is an invention of modern agriculture that only goes back 10,000 years. You might start by looking at the following NutritionFacts article which compares historical paleo diets to the modern paleo diet to a whole food plant based diet: http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/23/will-the-real-paleo-diet-please-stand-up/

      Following is a quote and references from Tom Goff, one of our very knowledgeable forum participants: “…we know that humans have been processing and consuming grains for at least 100,000 years. That is long before the Neolithic. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091217141312.htm And our pre-human ancestors were consuming grains some three and a half million years ago. So we have had the necessary enzymes for a very long time indeed. Claiming they only evolved in the Neolithic is not correct……………….. “these recent studies show that grasses and grains have been part of the human diet for millions of years.”
      http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2013/06/03/even-our-ancestors-never-really-ate-the-paleo-diet/#.Vxteifl97IU

      I got the following from Darryl, another knowledgeable commentor: “…evidence of hominin grass seed consumption from the Bromideae or Triticeae tribe (related to domesticated wheat, barley, and rye) 1.2 million years ago… http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00114-016-1420-x

      And here’s one more thought: The problem with using history as your guide to what you think humans should be eating is that humans are not natural creatures. What I mean is that humans do lots of things, including eating, based on custom and availability, not biology. Then add in that we have so many years worth of history over such a wide variety of geographies and thus availability of food, that you have to be very careful about what lessons you take from looking as specific populations that lived a long time ago. It’s not that you can’t learn any lessons. But it does mean that you can’t conclude much with the simple idea that humans have been eating say eggs for a long time. So? Humans in some populations have been dying of heart disease and cancer for a long time too (while other populations avoid these diseases by eating extremely small amounts of eggs and other animal products). What humans have been doing for a time in and of itself is not a selling point for a diet.
      .
      .
      3) Nutrient Deficiencies: The article you referenced makes the claim that eating a whole food plant based diet is super tricky and if not done oh so carefully, then the person is doomed to end up with nutrient deficiencies. This is pure fantasy. A healthy diet can be as simple as the following (as long as it contains a B12 supplement): http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/images/health/pplate/PowerPlategraphichirez.JPG and is far less likely to result in nutrient deficiencies than what the public generally thinks is a healthy diet.

      People on the typical American diet have more deficiencies than the average vegan: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/omnivore-vs-vegan-nutrient-deficiencies-2/ And vegans as a group are not even all that health conscious.

      Finally, I would suggest spending more time here on NutritionFacts. You will start to see how much nutrition is in plants as a group compared to how little is in animal products. Further more, the body of scientific evidence shows that eating animal products is disease promoting and eating whole plant foods is generally health promoting. One good place to start to absorb this information is the following summary talk: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die You might also check out the videos on this site which expose the ways in which pro-animal studies are faulty/set up to mislead. I can give you a few examples if you need help finding them.
      .
      .
      4) Food Is A Package Deal: While animal foods are certainly disease promoting in general, you can always find some study to show that X in an animal product is good for you. However, you don’t just get X when you eat an animal product. You get all the bad stuff too. As Dr. Greger points out in one his videos: “…we can’t get the iron in beef without the saturated fat, the protein in pork without lard, the calcium in dairy without hormones;…” Food is a package deal.

      If you take the time to absorb the information on this site, you will get a good idea of what the package deal contains when you eat animal products verses eating whole plant foods.

      If you spend some time looking at these resources and then decide you want to transition to a healthy diet, let me know. I can point you to some easy resources both here on NutritionFacts and other sites that are consistent with the diet recommended here.




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      1. Chris: As a follow up to my post above, I thought I would share a post from “Jasmine” which just came in a few minutes ago:

        “I was severely anemic on a meat and dairy diet. I ate many varieties of fish, beef, ground turkey, and occasionally ribs and was still severely anemic. I’ve always eaten enough, to a fault also so amount wasn’t an issue. After changing to a vegan diet, my respiratory problems have all but ceased and I am no longer anemic! Quite remarkable actually. I even got blood tests done and I am proficient in every vitamin now!” from: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-are-the-healthiest-foods/comment-page-2/#comment-249184

        Of course, this is just an anecdote, but sometimes stories like these help communicate the statistics better than just quoting statistics alone. This story helps to illustrate the nutritional adequacy of a plant based diet as well as it’s power to not only sustain humans, but to help us thrive. There are no guarantees, but a diet of whole plant foods maximizes our chances of healthy outcomes.




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  51. How can someone on a plant based diet be protein and fiber sufficient when you say 97% of Americans meet protein requirements but 97% of Americans don’t meet fiber requirements. Seems a bit contradictory.




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  52. Is it not true that IGF-1 is triggered by the type of amino acids (for instance Arginine, Leucine or Tryptophan) [1]? If this is the case then is there a difference between amino acids obtained through animal protein vs. amino acids obtained through plant sources (e.g. hemp, rice, pea protein?)

    If reducing IGF-1 and mTor may help improve longevity (and reduce risk of cancer among other things) then is the solution mainly to focus on green leafy vegetables and maybe some nuts [2]? What if you just ate most calories from nuts only (i.e. 400 grams a day of walnuts, almonds, etc) – would the excess fat wreak havoc on your liver or intestines?

    Would much appreciate any thoughts.

    [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967014/
    https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-8-41

    [2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acel.12338/full




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    1. Hey DA, thanks for writing! The issue is really not just IGF-1 production per se; the issue if more related to the concept of IGF-1 SIGNALLING. A constant influx of animal protein (breakfast, lunch, dinner) on a Western diet causes a state where IGF-1 is pumped up all the time (except overnight) which can cause an imbalance in a number of body systems – i.e., too much IGF-1 availability, which tells cells to grow when they should not. Eating a plant-based diet allows for a LOWER (but not non-existent) amount of IGF-1 signalling, and increases the production of IGF binding proteins (IGFBP1, 2, and 3) that inhibit the effect of IGF-1 and balance things out more nicely. While including green leafys and nuts are a good strategy, we need starch as our main macronutrient, both to fill us up and to give us the energy we need.




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  53. Oh great…Latvia is pretty damn behind in nutrition considering that in our biology books it still says that plants have ”incomplete protein” -.-




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