Eat Vegetarian diet to live longer


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi


(Bihar Times)Dr Joel Fuhrman is the author of the bestselling book Eat to Live. I have been reading his second book The End of Dieting and I would like to share some of his research with you.

As a race, we are now fatter, sicker and hungrier than ever. People who can afford it are trapped in a cycle of food addiction, overeating and short term diets. A friend of mine who has eaten nothing but meat and grain for sixty years has recently had bariatric surgery – his stomach shortened surgically in Delhi and the doctor who did it said that he had done 14,000 people before him! Most of these people have put on weight again because, after a while, they eat the same things.
The doctor says that three habits are necessary for health: eating food that are rich in nutrients and low in calories, exercising as part of a daily routine – even if its 3-5 minutes several times a day and being with people who support your health rather than those who want to make you as sick as them with the excuse of “have a good time”. The more you eat healthy, the more the body detoxifies itself and the cravings for unhealthy food get less and less.

The first thing the doctor speaks about is meat. Most popular diets encourage you to eat meat as your source of protein. “All animal products including meat, fish and dairy, are rich in substances associated with cancer and heart disease: saturated fat, cholesterol and arachidonic acid. Animal protein stimulates the rise of cancer promoting hormones within the body especially insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). When we consume animal protein the body increases its production of IGF-1. Though IGF-1 is one of the body’s most important growth promoters during infancy and childhood, it accelerates the ageing process, promoting the growth, proliferation and spread of cancer cells later in life. Colon, breast and prostate cancer have been linked to elevated IGF-1 levels. Reduced IGF-1 levels in adulthood, on the other hand, are associated with reduced oxidative stress, decreased inflammation, enhanced insulin sensitivity and longer lifespan.”

“Protein rich plant foods such as seeds, beans and greens don’t raise IGF-1 levels, don’t contain pro-inflammatory substances, are rich in anti –inflammatory and life extending phytochemicals. The secret to long life and successful weight loss is to get your protein from natural plant sources and less from animal products.”

Lots of diet doctors will try and convince you that this applies only to “red” meat and not to “white” or fish. Every study done so far in every country has implicated all meats – whether “grass fed” “corn fed” or “grain fed.”

A study called “A multi-country Ecological Study of Cancer Incidence Rates in 2008 with Respect to Various Risk Modifying Factors” was published in the journal Nutrients in 2014. It compared the amount of animal products eaten in 157 countries with disease occurrence data and noted that cancer rates were highest (with a 15-25 year lag time) in populations consuming the most animal products and lowest in those consuming the least. The former includes vegetarians who consume vast quantities of milk and milk products.

Though some people experience moderate short term weight loss by reducing carbohydrates and increasing calories from poultry and fish, there are dramatically dangerous health results in the long term. A Swedish study of 40,000 women between the ages of 30-49, who had been followed for 15 years each, found that women with a diet low in carbohydrates and high in animal protein had significantly more heart disease. Researchers found that for every increase of 5 gms of animal protein and decrease of 20 gms of carbohydrates a day, the risk of cardiovascular disease increased by 5%. The increased consumption of meat has been associated with Type-2 diabetes as well - even half a serving of meat a day increases the risk by 48% - according to a study done on 150,000 individuals published in JAMA Intern Med in 2013.
The EPIC-PANACEA study published in 2010 is the largest weight evaluation studies in history. It found that meat and poultry intake was responsible for the highest amount of body fat. What this means is “a person who eats meat will weigh more and have more body fat than someone whose source of calories is predominantly from plants, even though the number of calories is EXACTLY the same.”

The nest question is then what amounts of animal products are safe and which types are best. Many people believe that sea food is best for diets. According to the scientists “the less animal products we consume, the lower the risk of disease - even when the product is clean and natural because the concentration of animal protein is the main thing that promotes abnormal cell growth and disease.”

he Adventist Health Study is considered the benchmark for all studies on diet. It compared vegans with flexitarians – people who eat meat only a few times a week. It found that even if the meat was only 5% of his/her total calories, it still reduced life span.  If the diet was 10% which should be the upper limit, it still added 200 calories from animal products and 30 gms of animal protein – enough to push IGF–1 levels beyond what the body can bear.

The doctor is equally dismissive of the Mediterranean diet which he says is better than the high protein meat diet but only because it uses a lot of vegetables specially beans and tomatoes, fruits and nuts. What is wrong with them is the white flour pasta which is as bad as bread. White flour – what we call maida - is also linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. White flour (and all the white starches - white bread, white rice, white pasta and even white potato) makes your blood sugar levels rise as much as plain sugar and this overworks the pancreas causing havoc to the cells. One study shows a 200% increase in the risk of breast cancer in those women whose diets are more than half refined carbohydrates. The other problem is olive oil. Every tablespoon is 120 empty nutrition deficient calories of rapidly absorbed fat. Instead he recommends nuts and seeds which, though high in fats and calories, actually help lose weight. A recent study on 7,216 people over 4 years which compared a “Mediterranean diet” with oil shows that it has no effect in reducing fat or heart disease or increasing longevity. One that substitutes nuts for oil has an immediate effect on all three.

What I have quoted is simply chapter one. Get the book. It might save your life. In the meantime stop the meat and the maida.


To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in



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