So I just watched Forks Over Knives
A researcher who has nothing to gain from this outcome, estimates that we could cut 70% of our healthcare costs by eating healthy as a nation. It makes me wonder what it would take to convince people to do that. I'm not eating healthy right now (by my own standards and admission). I'm eating too much prepared food, too much restaurant food, too much candy. Time to go back to mostly whole veggies that I prepare at home. Not as much fun at the food someone else cooks without messing up my kitchen, but I think I'd better.
I know this stuff. But the movie is a good refresher. The filmmakers took a few "normal" Americans...you know: overweight, on diabetes meds, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc...and put them on Dr. Esselstyn's diet. One of the filmmakers decided to go on the diet too. In 12-22 weeks, people reverse most or all of their issues. I need to look up the two main Doctors but they seem pretty honest about presenting their conclusions. One lost money and prestige at his research university by changing his position on the consumption of animal products. I don't think he'd have done that if he didn't think he'd done good research.
Perhaps the bit that will be most controversial is that we're eating too much protein and that leads to cancer, especially liver cancers. And even more especially, liver cancers in kids. Yikes! I've been eating more meat products and eggs. Apparently it doesn't help if the meat/eggs/dairy/fish/etc is organic (though the toxins in industrial versions also cause other problems). Too much animal protein is just a problem no matter what.
Or perhaps the most controversial bit will be that there is no one issue or nutrient or magic bullet. It's a whole system. If you want to lower your cancer risk, then eat a whole food plant based diet. Don't expect tomatoes to be "the answer." Or spinach to be "the answer." The answer is to eat a variety of whole foods...plants. Sort of a no brainer but not a "standard American diet."
I'm better off than many Americans because I don't do dairy. Small favors.
An interesting point was made about the marketing of dairy as a source of calcium. If that worked, there would be no osteoporosis in the U.S. As a nation, we consume enormous amounts of dairy as milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. And yet, osteoporosis is on the rise. My gyno is always telling me to eat dairy. I've given up explaining why I don't and just say "uh huh." It looks like we can get plenty from a veggie based diet and if we get a bit of sun and the vitamins that help us absorb and use the calcium, we don't need the massive doses of dairy or supplements. So there.
As usual, some of the best info is in the extras. The US has (or has had) contracts with fast food establishments like Wendy's and Subway to market cheese! Jesus...or "Cheezuz"! My tax dollars went to subsidize the marketing of the double cheddar bacon burger. I'm not making that up. It also went to put cheese on the two Subway sandwiches that used to come without cheese as a standard ingredient. My taxes also went to making sure that "cheeseburger" is the default burger! I suspect this happened about 2-3 years ago. That was when I started having more trouble with the accidental cheese when I'd ordered a burger. I wonder if this is why there is default cheese on salads now. It used to be that only speciality salads like caesar and chef's that had cheese. Now even when I order a salad with no cheese listed on the menu, it shows up with feta or parmesan on it. I've been thinking the lesson was to specify "no cheese" but perhaps the better lesson is to prepare my own food.
The movie is a tad preachy. That isn't a surprise, but it isn't as entertaining as Supersize Me. It is however more encouraging than that movie. Eating a healthy diet, even after years of a bad diet, can cure diseases and the something-thelial cells in our blood vessels can actually recover pretty quickly IF we stick to a whole foods plant based diet.
Again, this isn't new. As Michael Pollan said, "Eat food, mostly plants." This movie just clarifies that it should be whole foods, not processed foods like veggie burgers or almond-cheese or soy-milk. Eat the veggies, the almonds and the soybeans.
It's thrifty too. It can be flat out cheaper at the grocery store partly because 500 calories of plants will make you feel so full you feel bloated, while 500 calories of fatty food will leave you hungry and you'll eat more. You have to buy that "more" that you are eating. Also because you aren't paying for the processing and often aren't paying for the packaging. That's good.
One participant in the film who was on 9 meds a day, pointed out that he saved 150-200$/month by going off his meds. That's pure profit. You can buy a lot of veggies for that much money.
It was pointed out that poor folks often don't have access to whole foods so the movie is also encouraging for those of us trying to get fresh, whole, fruit and veg into food deserts.
Here's a scary bit from the flick. In WWII Germans occupied Norway and confiscated all livestock and farm animals to feed German troops. From 1939 (when the Germans got there) to 1945, the Norwegian cardiovascular death rate drops 20%. As soon as the war is over, it's right back up again to pre-war rates. Bizarre.
I was ready to revamp my diet anyway. I found that when I eat 2lbs of greens a day, 1lb raw and 1lb cooked, I feel better. Not the first few days because there is quite a colon cleanse at the start, but after that, I feel much better. So I bought lots of greens and veggies at the co-op today. I had bruschetta for supper...a bit heavy on the bread but at least it was fresh baked rustic bread with local wheat flour, salt, yeast and water as the only ingredients. I'm expecting a final CSA delivery this week too. That will be more veg to eat. Now if my officemate would just stop with the chocolate in the office! It is so delicious....and as they explained in the movie, many of us have a low-grade addiction to foods especially sugary-fatty-foods. It's the same brain receptors as opiates. Damn it. Oh well. Avoiding eating too much chocolate is a pretty bourgeois problem.
I'm not sure whether a whole foods plant based diet would cure the world's problems, but I'm positive that if everyone had the option of a healthy diet that was built on whole foods grown in sustainable ways, we'd be way better off than we are now. And I wouldn't have to buy bigger pants.