If any of you follow Well and Full on Facebook, you’ll notice that I’ve recently been posting about nutrition – namely, how easy it is to get nutritional misinformation. Here is a formatted version of my original post:
TO MY READERS: As I am progressing in my nutrition studies, I am becoming more aware of how easy it is to be exposed to misinformation regarding nutrition, sometimes dangerously so. Followers of specific diets (i.e. Atkins, Paleo, even Vegan) will ignore scientific studies that don’t conform to their specific biases.
When looking for nutritional information, opt for peer-reviewed scientific studies, or articles that link to them. WebMD and Nutrition Stripped are resources I trust. I would not recommend Authority Nutrition (despite their name), because they make such claims as “red meat is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat”.
If any of my readers ever have any questions about nutrition, I would love to help. I can either answer to the best of my ability, or point you to a resource that would better answer your question.
As a health professional, it is important to admit when you don’t know something, or if one of your preconceived biases is wrong. For example, new studies come out all the time that contradict previously established concepts. Regardless, I promise my readers that I will NEVER mislead them or cherry-pick articles that conform to my personal diet.
However, when making changes to your diet or lifestyle, it is crucial to discuss such changes with your doctor first. They will always be your best resource for medical information.
Now, I want to be clear about Authority Nutrition – I don’t think they are necessarily inaccurate or wrong in all of their writing. However, such a broad statement as “red meat is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat” is very misleading. One of the MOST nutritious foods you can eat? Not only is this statement in contradiction with another one of their articles, but it’s entirely subjective. And I also have serious skepticism for anyone who ends a purportedly science-based article with, “Plus it just tastes really good… a life with meat sure as hell beats a life without it.” What?
However, my MAIN problem with this article by Authority Nutrition is that they ignore study after study after study regarding the benefits of a vegetarian diet. For example, here is a great scholarly article written by three Medical Doctors and one Registered Dietitian, summarizing various studies and research done on plant-based diets. They reference forty-six papers and studies in this article. But what about some actual interventional studies? There’s this one, that noted “an 18-week dietary intervention using a low-fat plant-based diet… improves body weight, plasma lipids, and, in individuals with diabetes, glycemic control.” Here’s another one, that concluded “adopting a very-low-fat vegan diet for at least 1 year increased the intake of several dietary constituents that may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as cancer, CVD (heart disease), diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration.”
I could go on and on with the studies showing the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
HOWEVER, am I saying that red meat has no nutritional value? NO. It is a source of protein, the B vitamins, and other dietary minerals. But to completely ignore the overwhelming multitude of studies done on the benefits of a vegetarian diet and to promote red meat as one of the “most nutritious foods you can eat” is frankly unethical. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. The American Heart Association explicitly says on their website, “Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.” At this point, you need to decide – believe an organization whose literal job it is to promote heart health, or to believe an article written by someone who thinks “a life with meat sure as hell beats life without it.”
Authority Nutrition would argue here that too many observational studies have been done regarding the link between red meat and heart disease, and not enough interventional studies. And they’re right, more interventional studies need to be done to unequivocally prove the link between the two. But when study after study shows correlation between red meat and heart disease, is it smart to say, “Well, interventional studies haven’t really proven anything, so let’s just keep eating tons of red meat!!”? I’ll let you decide.
Friends, what I’ve learned so far in my nutrition studies is that virtually nothing is completely and totally agreed upon in the nutritional world. It’s a cluttered landscape out there and it’s hard to navigate. But I promise you that I will never cherry-pick nutritional studies that only conform to my personal diet. While I personally follow a primarily plant-based diet, I know that many of my readers are omnivores. Although I’ve written about the ethical and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet before, my nutritional stance accepts and promotes all types of whole-food diets.
But, as always, when making any sort of dietary change, please refer to your doctor. I am currently a nutrition student and not yet a licensed health professional. If you have any questions about your nutritional needs, your doctor will be your best resource. However, if you have any questions for ME specifically, I will do my best to answer.
- 2 Slices Whole Grain or Gluten Free Bread
- Your Favorite Vegan Cream Cheese
- 1 Avocado, halved and sliced
- A Sprinkle of Salt
- A Sprinkle of Black Pepper
- A Sprinkle of Chili Powder
- Start by toasting your slices of bread.
- While they're in the toaster, cut the avocado in half. Carefully using a knife, make slices in the avocado while it's still in the skin. Then, use a spoon to scoop it out.
- When the toast is ready, spread a layer of your favorite vegan cream cheese on it (I love chive and onion). Then, layer on the avocado slices. Top with a sprinkling each of salt, pepper, and chili powder.
Quote of the Day:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
– Michael Pollan