So, I get it! With all that’s out there about what’s good and not good for your health, you’re probably pretty lost and confused, as are most of the clients, as to what’s actually accurate and what isn’t. So how do you know what to pay attention to and what to ignore? Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any easy solution.
For example, recently my kids and I watched a documentary on Netflix called “What the Health”. The film was done extremely well. I’m now in my third year of Nutrition training and I must admit that even I sometimes struggle over the question of whether meat and fish are healthy or not. The film — which is basically a very compelling advertisement for the currently growing in popularity vegan movement — did an excellent job of showing just how unhealthy eating meat and pretty much any meat products really is. The film blames meat and meat and dairy-based diets for pretty much the majority of preventable chronic diseases out there, some of which were considered mostly due to genetics: such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Dementia, Obesity… Basically, the documentary’s basic premise is don’t eat meat or meat-based products and you’ll be much healthier. It even showcases many examples of those who are ill and dependant on medication who are miraculously better when they give up meat and dairy. Fish, by the way, is pushed aside by us being reminded of just how polluted the oceans where the fish is coming from are.
While the film does make many valid points, it also suffers from some sever inaccuracies. For instance, dairy products are all lumped into one big box without any distinction made for probiotic yogurts or kefirs, which actually are good for your health. Yogurt is represented by strawberry Yoplait, which is oneo f the poorer examples of its’ kind and, I believe, lacks any cultures (not to mention is full of flavourings and enhancers). Natural probiotic yogurts and kefirs (in particular of the goat variety) are, for most people, an excellent addition to a healthy diet as they provide probiotics which our gut needs for optimal function, as well as protein and some vitamins and minerals.
Another huge fallacy in the film is the line which rightfully has offended many watchers: “eating an egg is equivalent to smoking 5 cigarettes”.
I actually had one of my daughter’s friends say this exact line to me, which is what prompted the watching of the film to begin with. While I understand the necessity of being extreme at times when desiring to advertise one’s point, this couldn’t be more incorrect and, frankly, offensive! To compare eating eggs with smoking is more than just distasteful; it’s just wrong! Eggs are good for you. They are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats and a wonderful way to start a morning to feel full and to help with brain function. The yolk, in particular, is excellent for feeding your brain. Here’s more information for the egg lovers (or haters) out there about the health benefits of eggs: https://www.
healthextremist.com/are-eggs- good-for-you-30-reasons-to- eat-eggs/.
But the most fallacious claim in the documentary yet was that Diabetes is caused by eating meat and not by eating too much sugar or processed carbohydrates. Now that claim just goes against everything out there so far as far as what actually causes Diabetes. The film actually went as far as to claim that Diabetes type 1 is caused by dairy being introduced too early into a baby’s diet. Now, I haven’t researched that to death, and I don’t disagree that milk is unhealthy (think food for a baby cow and not a baby human), so I’m willing to agree that it could potentially be one reason why we have a growing incidence of Diabetes year on year. However, I can say from what I learned in my Nutrition degree that certainly diet is key to what brings about Diabetes type 2 (mainly poor diet full of processed food, too much sugar and low in fibre and plant foods). So I definitely agree that adding more plant-based foods into the diet is key. Eating too much meat, in particular highly processed meat, is certainly not beneficial. However, I would never suggest a client with Diabetes type 2 cut meat but not cut sugars and processed foods (which is kind of what the film seemed to be suggesting).
In conclusion, while I certainly agree that we are all better off with a mostly plant-based, whole food diet, and that cutting meat down significantly is likely healthier, I wouldn’t eliminate it completely (one every other week or once monthly perhaps) and I wouldn’t eliminate fish either despite the fact that yes our oceans definitely have issues (but truthfully so do most our soils these days as well). I certainly wouldn’t eliminate eggs or probiotic yogurts or kefirs for most people either. Again, this is very much dependant on one’s health already. And let’s not forget some of the pitfalls of veganism that this film literally glossed over: that of potential deficiencies in areas such as vitamins B12 and B9, iron, zinc and even protein if the diet is not a good one.
If you’d like to find out more about which way of eating is best for your personal health, book a free 30 minute call with me here: