We’ve all heard some variation of these fear based statements in the food forum of life…
Vitamin D and Calcium are what you need and milk is the only thing that fills that need.
Protein is a necessary building block of life. Meat is protein and the only thing any logical person would eat to achieve healthy sustainable life.
Healthy fats are required for numerous health benefits. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass fed butter…all great sources of much needed fats. Fat free diets aren’t healthy.
Salt is important. It is vital for digestion, insulin sensitivity, hormone regulation and so much more. Adding salt can’t be bad if your body needs it.
Sugar is fine in moderation.
Now, in walks the Nutritarian, the person that claims exceptional health by not eating dairy, meats, fats not straight from their natural plant source, salt or sugar. The diet of this person is usually viewed by what they don’t eat rather than what they do. It is often mistaken as another plant-based lifestyle like vegan or vegetarian.
Nutritarians focus on eating the best possible nutrient dense food first and foremost. The way they eat is a portrait not a pixel. This person is the picture of health. Weight in check, blood pressure and liver enzymes are awesome. All other markers of health are exceptional. But, how? How, if they don’t eat all of these foods that we are fear mongered into believing are our life blood?
And so, the debunking begins in as few words as possible…
Vegetables provide calcium. Yes, it’s true. Cows don’t have that market cornered. It’s just what the dairy industry has thrown in front of a fearful society. The calcium provided by vegetables (leafy greens such as collard greens, bok choy, kale, mustard greens) has the added benefit of loads of amazing micro and phytonutrients.
Milk is just milk. It’s fortified with vitamin D and so are nut milks. Dairy milk also contains unneeded sugars and fats. Even fortified milk won’t supply the average required amount of vitamin D each day. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. *gasp* Yes, get outside. Spend 10 minutes basking in the energy of that bright orb in the sky. No refrigeration, straw, glass or nutrition label required. Another little known source of Vitamin D is mushrooms. Miatake and portobella mushrooms have smokin’ high amounts (up to 6 times that of an equal one cup serving of fortified milk) but chanterelles still contain more per serving than a fortified milk product. Still worried milk was your sunshine savior? After sunning yourself and adding fungi to salads, choose a non dairy fortified option like yogurt or tofu if you’re worried about it or if you live in a place without much sun.
Moving on to the all mighty protein myth. We tire of hearing this one. It actually makes us see masses of people transform into a herd of cattle, munching away on what they’ve been fed. Holding onto it like cud to be chewed and regurgitated over and over.
Meat isn’t the only protein on the planet. In fact, it’s not even the cleanest source of protein. Yeah, all you athletes drinking eggs… Stop slurping and listen up.
We could write pages upon pages about the lies that protein and its muscle bound sources have been built upon. But, for a sleek little write up we’ll stick to this and keep it simple.
Animal protein, when metabolized by humans, contains a higher amount of sulphur containing amino acids than does the metabolization of protein containing plants. This forces the body to try and correct the ph and uses calcium buffers to the detriment of the host. That’s you, the human. A number of diseases have been linked to this struggle of ph as well as the metabolizing of animal fats and other amino acids that aren’t fully synthesized by our bodies. A few of them, we’re sure you’ve heard of; Heart disease, diabetes, cancer… There was even a study (China Study) linking a percentage of animal protein intake with the turning on of our genetic predisposition for cancer. If that’s not enough to drop the knife, I’m not sure what is.
Plants offer far more bang for the buck. The nine essential amino acids we need for life? Those aren’t found in a slab of beef or a wing of a chicken. A few magical plants actually have them all. A complete food. Hemp, chia, buckwheat, soy and quinoa are these titans of the table. No piece of pork belly ever touted that much nutritional splendor. Not even as bacon.
Healthy fats. This is another favorite to completely dismantle. If it has been pressed, extruded, churned, hydrogenated, non-hydrogenated, expeller pressed or even just melted, no, it’s not a healthy fat.
This one is easy. Fat isn’t a single ingredient food. Fat is found in food. Avocados, nuts, bananas, beans and seeds. These are actual nutrient dense amino acid having healthy life giving foods. The bang for your buck is immeasurable when compared to a tablespoon of straight fat. And let’s not even go calorie for calorie as we all know that a mere tablespoon of fat has 100 plus empty calories. How is this healthy? Two tablespoons of hemp seeds contain about 100 calories, 11 gm protein (let’s not forget all nine essential amino acids) as well as a bit of texture, backbone and flavor. We’ll put that on our salads and crunch it.
Moving on briskly to the salt debate. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of sodium of less than 1,500 mg. Most Americans exceed that by more than double. So, the salt thing seems a mute point. Even more so when you learn that you can get nearly all of your recommended daily intake from eating natural foods.
Adding sodium adds flavor and entertainment for our tastebuds and subtracts the actual wholesome enjoyment of using other parts of our tastebud palate to experience food. I think the crux of it happens when we realize that processed foods are what we are avoiding when we’re avoiding salt. We guarantee you, if you’re avoiding sodium, your food will likely need to be washed instead of opened. Your heart will thank you.
Sugar. The sweet and deadly enemy. We are convinced that moderation and sugar are actually antonyms. Don’t believe us, eat one marshmallow. Don’t think about another one. Don’t allow your mouth to salivate. Don’t. Think. About. Sugar.
Sugar is fine when it is in a real food. It’s much like oil and salt and every other thing we extract and expel and condense. It becomes dangerous on its own as a lone compound and additive to chemical concoctions that make us want more.
Craving sugar is natural. It’s a piece of our lineage that has enabled us to survive the years of famine and hardship. See fruit and fat and abundance, eat it. Eat it with abandon. Store it. Now though, there is no famine. There are no food hardships.
The only trouble we have around food is that we sell products made to look like food as food and we run scare campaigns on our society to sell entire industries of foods that should have been relegated to archaic status long ago.
Plants don’t make food or feed our food. Plants are food.