WHAT THE HEALTH
I’ve recommended the eye-opening 2017 documentary “What the Health” to most of my clients. I’ve also recommended that they watch it with caution. Although it uncovers a tremendous amount of untold truth about our government, the medical industry, and our food supply, it does not tell the entire story. There’s some truth, but it’s not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The documentary definitely has an aggressive pro-vegan stance, and I think that’s where it becomes a little misleading. Are we to believe that meat, dairy, and eggs are the main cause of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease? Or (in my opinion) is it the declining QUALITY of our entire food supply that is making us so unhealthy? When the interviewed doctors talk about the health risks of meat, are they talking about a Big Mac, a $4 steak from Walmart, or grass-fed organic beef from a local, responsible, sustainable farm? There’s a huge difference between those three. They tout a plant based diet as the best prevention for these diseases, but they leave the viewer hanging with regard to exactly what to eat. My fear is that most viewers will be scared into veganism and turn to a diet based on pasta, bread, and sugar.
Let’s sift through some major points of the documentary, and you can use your own brain to draw conclusions.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT:
The most important message of the documentary is that the food we put into our body is directly related to our health. I couldn’t agree with this more. We literally are what we eat. The food that we consume becomes the cells in our body. If we eat a sick chicken that’s been pumped with antibiotics and hormones, and fed GMO corn, sawdust, plastic, cement dust, and other dead animal parts (all of which are allowed by the USDA), how healthy can we expect to be? What kind of cells, muscles, organs, blood, and bone can we make from toxic food? If our immune system is already overworked from battling toxic food, how well can it defend us from disease? “What the Health” consistently and accurately reports the untold story of what these poor animals go through on CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), which is where most of our meat, dairy and eggs come from. But it doesn’t tell the story of organic, sustainable farms that raise and treat their animals responsibly. Granted, most Americans don’t get their food from these farms, but they can…and should. These animals live a healthy life, free to roam and eat the food that nature designed for them. They are not toxic themselves, and thus not toxic to us. That part of the story is missing. The documentary “Food Inc.”, which i highly recommend, documents CAFO’s even further.
The idea that humans are not designed to eat meat is flawed. We would have never survived as a species without meat. From the beginning of mankind until recent refrigeration and transportation technology, what did we eat in the winter when all of the vegetation froze?….Meat.
DOES MEAT CAUSE CANCER, HEART DISEASE, AND DIABETES?
If meat, eggs and dairy are the cause of Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Disease, and we’ve been eating animal products since day one, why have these three diseases only become an issue in the last 100 years? The bogus excuse that we didn’t live long enough back then to contract, or diagnose these diseases is B.S. All three of these diseases were documented by Ancient Egyptians. Hippocrates coined the name for cancer around 370 B.C. Leonardo Da’Vinci studied coronary artery disease in the 1400’s.
It’s stated that the life expectancy in 1900 was 47, but that number is skewed by the amount of infant and child deaths from infectious disease. Throwing a bunch of zeroes and ones into that average will dramatically lower the outcome. A better way of looking at it is that in 1900, 20% of the population was age 50 or over. That’s prime time for all of these diseases. In 1900, the incidence of diabetes was <1% of the population. Today it’s closing in on 30%. In 1900, there were less than 1,000 deaths per year from Heart Disease. Today it’s 600,000 per year. In 1900 Cancer prevalence was 1/100, today it’s 1/3 and closing in on 1/2.
It’s obvious to see that all three of these diseases have erupted in the last 100 years. The question is, what has changed in the last hundred years as well? We’ve moved further and further away from our food sources. Small family farms have been squeezed out by CAFO’s. Animal welfare has taken a backseat to quick, profitable, large scale food production. Packaged, processed, and fast foods have become the norm. This doesn’t just apply to meat and dairy. Produce has also become denatured during this time as well. A vegan diet based on conventionally farmed foods that are grown out of dead soil and treated with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides will never lead us to optimal health.
“What the Health” tells the story of Jane Chapman. 61 years old. Diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Scheduled for two surgeries. Forced to use a walker to get around. Taking a multitude of prescription medications. However, after switching to a plant based diet for two weeks, she’s able to walk perfectly fine, feels vibrant, and has given up all of her medications. It’s a great story about how the body can heal itself when nourished correctly. It’s a story the medical and pharmaceutical industries don’t want to be told. The part that’s missing for me is, what exactly was she eating before? What was the quality of her meat? Was she eating fast food everyday? Was she eating deli sandwiches filled with nitrates? Was there any fresh, organic food in her diet at all? I don’t doubt that the vegan diet helped her. My question is, would a diet that included high quality, responsibly farmed, organic meat have helped her just as much, if not more?
The documentary sites a study where Dr. Neal Bernard “…sent researchers into fast food and family restaurants and found carcinogens in every restaurant and every single chicken sample we took”. I’m sure that scares most people. But should we be surprised that fast food and family restaurants don’t use the best possible ingredients? How many carcinogens were found in the vegan salad at McDonalds or the vegan bean burrito at Chilli”s? Why didn’t they send researchers into a farm to table restaurant and test their meat?
“What the Health” also spends a decent amount of time detailing how humans are not anatomically designed to eat meat. Research points to the fact that our teeth are not pointy enough to tear away animal flesh. They also explain how, genetically, we are the most similar to monkeys, which are herbivores. However they leave out some very important anatomical facts. Our brains are far more analytically advanced than monkeys when it comes to tactically hunting our prey. And, most importantly, we have far more dexterity with our hands. Combine that with superior brain power, and this gives humans the ability to develop tools to hunt with, and tools to cut meat with so we don’t have to chew as much. We can also make fire which tenderizes and softens food for consumption. Minor details, right?
FALSE PROCLAMATIONS: “Sugar is NOT Bad For You”
Some blatantly false statements made during the documentary made me fall off my couch. The first of which was “sugar is not bad for you”. WOW!!! Let’s be clear. Sugar is addictive. Sugar causes disease. For those two reasons, many researchers and doctors agree that it should be classified as a Type 1 drug. Eventually it will be. If your child was in charge of their own diet, what would they throw into your shopping cart at the supermarket? Cocoa puffs? Marshmallows? Lollipops? Cake frosting? It’s equally yummy, addictive, and toxic. To be fair, healthy foods like apples and peaches contain sugar too, but the documentary once again fails to specify what foods they are referencing.
Dr. Garth Davis, a Bariatric Surgeon in the documentary stated that “Sugar can’t make you fat. Either you use it or store it as glycogen.” This is both incorrect and misleading. Our fuel for daily activities comes from fat. It’s not until our activity increases in intensity that we require carbs for fuel. We make the shift toward burning carbs and sugar when we hit the gym, play a sport, or perform sustained manual labor. In other words, the typical sedentary American doesn’t burn many carbs for fuel on a regular basis. Unused sugar can be stored as glycogen, but there’s a limit to the amount that can be stored. Depending on the person, about 400g of glycogen can be stored in muscles, and only about 100g can be stored in the liver. This number does not daily reset back to zero when the clock strikes midnight. We carry this stored glycogen over every day. If your intake exceeds the amount that you can store, your liver will convert the excess carbohydrates into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. At this point, insulin released from the pancreas will signal to your fat cells to take up the excess glucose and store it for future use. So….sugar can, and does, make us fat.
The documentary also stated that sugar doesn’t cause inflammation int he body. This is false as well. Do the research yourself. Sugar, especially refined sugar products, causes inflammation in the body. Also, refined sugars have been shown to increase levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
The worst part about sugar is that it is the food of choice for cancer. Cancer tumor cells rely almost exclusively on glucose for their survival and growth. When PET scans are performed to detect cancer, they use radioactively labeled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumor cells. The best holistic way to treat or prevent cancer is to cut out all sugar and refined grains.
FALSE PROCLAMATIONS: The Meat Industry
“What the Health” describes how powerful the meat industry is in this country, and the influence that it has on dictating what we eat. I agree. The meat industry is powerful, evil, and corrupt. However, the sugar, corn, and grain industries are far more powerful with more wealth to back them up. If you have some free time, look into the Monsanto Company, and the influence that they have on most of the food you find in grocery stores. Plus, when you watch tv, do you see many meat products being pushed, or is it Pepsi, Doritos, and Honey Nut Cheerios? A commercial for McDonalds isn’t a commercial for meat. They sell A LOT of “vegan” french fries. It’s not meat and dairy that’s being pushed, it’s low quality, cheap, addictive foods that are being pushed. That’s what is making us unhealthy. That’s what’s giving us cancer.
DO VEGANS INDIRECTLY SUPPORT KILLING ANIMALS?
Lastly, many vegans choose their way of life because of health concerns. Some choose veganism because of animal welfare issues. However, if your concern as a vegan is animal welfare, I would hope that your diet is 100% organic. If it’s not, then you’re supporting Industrial Monoculture Farming—the practice of growing single crops intensively on a very large scale. Corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, and many vegetables are all commonly grown this way in the United States. These foods are the backbone of a vegan diet.
Monoculture farming relies heavily on chemical agents such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Fertilizers are necessary because growing the same plant in the same place year after year quickly depletes the nutrients that the plant relies on. Pesticides are necessary because monoculture fields are highly attractive to certain weeds and insect pests. Monoculture farming damages the quality of surrounding soil, water, and air as well. This has been proven to kill off wildlife, birds, and insects in and around these areas. So, eating industry farmed vegan foods kills animals, including birds and insects. Not eating meat is murder too!
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
As I’ve stated throughout this article, my takeaway from “What the Health” is that we need to concentrate on eating high quality, organic, sustainably farmed foods. Whether it’s a piece of meat or an apple, you should know that it comes from a reliable source. Our food should nourish us and give us energy. Listen to your body. If you feel like garbage after eating a meal, it’s probably low quality, or you have a food allergy. Try to be in tune with your body after a meal. If you’re burping, farting, and lethargic after eating a particular food, it’s probably not right for you. Experiment with food elimination diets, especially with dairy, gluten, soy, nuts, and meats. You might be surprised with what you discover. We are all different, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Don’t put yourself into a box without doing the proper research and experimentation on your own body first.
When in doubt, start by just eating REAL food. If you could find it in nature 500 years ago, it’s probably safe to eat. Everything was organic 500 years ago, even 100 years ago. Nothing was processed. Nothing was refined. Eggs and pineapples were around, but chicken fingers and doritos weren’t. Don’t worry about vegan or non-vegan right away. Don’t worry about carbs and fats right away either. Switching to a whole food diet will eliminate one of the biggest variables that can sabotage your diet and health…toxins. Once toxins are eliminated, then you can start to decipher which whole foods work the best for your health and vitality. It’s all about food QUALITY.
For more information on which foods are the best for you as a specific individual, please contact Mind Body Fit at 631-827-2845 or email@example.com.
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