Last summer I read the China Study and tried the recommended no animal protein diet for a month. As a 28-day vegan my HDL and LDL both dropped considerably, but my body didn’t feel good. I was bloated and uncomfortable the whole month. I don’t think veganism was meant for me, but I like the idea of eating and incorporating more whole foods into my diet. And I like that someone was doing research that empowered people and provided a potential choice over some medications for certain problems. Can diet really cure our health problems in this country? The answer isn’t easy. It depends on the problem and the person.
I think generally each person has to find a diet and lifestyle that works for them. Obviously if you have health issues you may need to make more ardent changes, but if you are healthy you can sometime get away with a little more flexibility. Some people might do very well on a vegan diet, and I wouldn’t tell them they should be eating meat, although I have to wonder what our incisors are for if we aren’t supposed or at least capable of processing at least a little meat.
I spent five years of my life as a vegetarian. I felt lighter most of the time, but one of the reasons that I started eating meat again was that I started craving meat, particularly red, meat which I’d never really eaten much. Sometimes it’s important to listen and trust your body.
Forks Over Knives is a documentary highly based on the China Study with additional doctors looking into similar issues and working with patients on diet. There wasn’t a lot of new information as compared to the book in the movie, and it makes you feel very nervous about everything you eat. That isn’t altogether a bad thing. Sometimes I think that helps keep us on the straight and narrow, at least for a time.
What the documentary reminded me more than anything is how little we still know about food and the body. We are still discovering things about what minerals are good for us. And what the movie doesn’t go into is that we are still learning that certain combinations of foods make it easier for our bodies to absorb the nutrients. We are also learning about bacteria in the gut and how that might make food requirements vary from person to person.
What I liked about the movie is that it reminded us to consider governmental food recommendations. Many lobbyists have the ability to sway the government. Some of that is corruption, some of that is that we are still learning more, but it is a good reminder to remember that ultimately your health is in your hands. You need to do your own research and talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your family. Just because a magazine, the government, or even sometimes a doctor tells you something is good, doesn’t always mean it is. Ask around and get as much information as you can. Then make the best educated decision you can.
I still generally stand by moderation and if your grandma would recognize the food, it’s probably okay. Forks Over Knives is worth the watch if you’re interested. And you can get it streaming on Netflix.