This post is part of an on-going review of the recommendations of Joseph Mercola,
M.D. D.O. For an overview, see yesterday's post.
On his website, Dr. Joseph Mercola advocates people fill in a detailed questionnaire to help him determine which of three types they fall into. (Of course you must buy this questionnaire from him, a few pages of information at a price of 59 dollars before the software can add up your score, determine how much you love your meat and then he can know the right diet for you.)
This supposedly will help you decide what type of diet is best for your health. Instead of using blood type, eye color, shoe size, or date of birth of your first born, Dr. Mercola has determined a better way. His questions have a lot to do with how you feel when you eat meat. He divides the types into three categories. The indented section below is cut and pasted from Dr. Mercola's website.
PROTEIN TYPES do better on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein and relatively high-fat diet. Depending on your Metabolic Typing profile, these ratios are then perfected to help you make wise food choices.
CARBO TYPES normally feel best when the majority of their food is carbohydrate. Yet, there are major differences between classes of carbs such as vegetables and grains. Learning which types of carbs are best for your unique physiology is just one way in which Metabolic Typing excels.
MIXED TYPES require a combination of foods somewhere between the carbo and protein type groups. This is actually the most challenging type to have and requires a great deal of fine-tuning while "listening" to your own body with the help of Metabolic Typing.
Changing your dietary habits is indeed a good thing, but avoiding meat and animal protein just isn't the healthiest choice for most people, based on their body's unique metabolic type. Each type benefits from varying ratios of macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) to feel great and avoid chronic degenerative diseases, like those associated with obesity.
Dr. Mercola says avoiding meat is not a good idea for most people because their metabolic type indicates that red meat is needed and good for them. He also explains that the Atkins diet is good, because of its critical recognition of the glycemic index of food, but it is not as good as Dr. Mercola's because he (Dr. Mercola) takes into account the metabolic typing of the individual thus adjusts the diet for that person's particular need.
Dr. Mercola's viewpoints on nutrition and health would fail nutrition 101; too much science contradicts him. He may not be as dangerous as Atkins, but he is a very poor choice to be offering nutritional information to the masses because his advice is not just an unscientific gimmick, it can promote an earlier death or a life-ending cardiac event, especially in his high-protein type.
Dr. Mercola does make some good points as do most nutritional gurus, but the problem is the overall advice that may not be lifespan-favorable because of his faulty logic and misinterpretation of the data.
Vegetarian vs. Meat-Eating is Misleading. High Nutrition vs. Low Nutrition is What Counts.
Dr. Mercola correctly points out that most vegetarians may not have excellent health because of their overdependence on grains. I agree. Not that my agreement determines truth, but clearly the literature is abundant with evidence that demonstrate that the foods with the best correlation with longer life and resistance against later life diseases are vegetables, beans, raw seeds, fruit and raw nuts; not grains. Eliminating animal products and continuing the consumption of processed grain foods is not a longevity diet. The bottom line here is most vegetarians are unhealthy for the same reason most non-vegetarians are unhealthy, and that is they eat too much processed foods. Whole grains are not nutrient-rich food and may form a minor part of the diet, but when consumed as baked, fried, toasted and shot out of canons, they are low-nutrient junk foods that are powerfully disease-promoting.
Also there is no disagreement here that some people are not going to get all their nutritional needs met on a vegan diet and will need to add supplements to make the diet complete or add a small amount of animal products. Rather, the most critical disagreements involve two issues. The first issue is that if you add the (large) amount of animal products Dr. Mercola allows or recommends (including red meat and butter) especially the large amounts recommended in his protein-type, you will be powerfully promoting heart disease and cancer.
A Diet Safe for No One.
The scientific literature is clear; there is no genetic type that has immunity from such a disease-causing, high saturated fat diet-style. All Americans, not just some, develop atherosclerosis on a diet so rich in animal products. Over ninety percent of Americans eventually develop atherosclerosis and hypertension from the low intake of unprocessed vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds. Our high intake of animal products AND processed foods and our low intake of unrefined plant food is the dietary pattern undeniably associated with these avoidable illnesses and a premature death from heart attacks or stroke.
And the second issue is that his metabolic typing questionnaire is not an accurate way to determine a person's nutritional needs. When he advises his "protein type" to eat a diet where most calories are supplied by animal products, he is appealing to that person's food preferences and addiction and not only deviating from scientific integrity here, but promoting dietary suicide to his uneducated entourage to make a buck. His opinion is without scientific foundation in both these areas, and unquestionably can lead people to a shorter lifespan.
Dr. Mercola's position on saturated fat (high in cheese, butter and red meat) runs counter to thousands of medical research studies showing that saturated fat is the food factor most promoting high cholesterol levels and heart disease. Though Dr. Mercola (like Atkins) denies the saturated fat--> high cholesterol--> heart disease link. Dr. Mercola's topsy-turvy advice actually promotes the consumption of high saturated fat foods and makes ridiculous health claims for coconut oil (ninety percent saturated fat) including weight loss, detoxification, viral killing, heart disease reversing and other unsubstantiated silliness'. Good health comes from nutritional excellence, not from a jar of oil. See the comments of this post for more of my thoughts on coconut oil.
Nevertheless, filling out a questionnaire that tells you whether you digest meat better or worse or feel better after you eat it, or whether you like dark meat better than light meat is like asking a smoker if they feel better after they smoke to determine whether smoking is healthy or not. In fact, the more you crave something and the worse you feel when you stop consuming it is a good sign that you are addicted to it and it is harming you, not helping. For example, most people with hypoglycemic symptoms feel better when they eat a mostly animal-based diet, yet these same people get completely well once they are off the high-protein diet they have been using to lessen their symptoms. and their body is no longer nitrogen toxic. In other words, they no longer feel ill when their withdrawal symptoms have been allowed to come to completion, and they are off the high nitrogen diet.
For many of you that are familiar with my voice on these issues you will know that I advocate a diet rich in nutrients, especially antioxidants and phytochemicals and the large percentage of everybody's diet must be from unrefined plant foods no matter what your genetic type is. I teach there is not one perfect ratio of fat, carbohydrate and protein that are right, there is a broad range of acceptable intakes here, based on body weight, exercise habits and legitimate medical tests. However, Americans generally eat too much carbohydrate, too much protein and too much fat. We need to eat a diet lower in all three sources of calories and much, much richer in nutrients. In order to do this you must understand the nutrient density of all foods and eat more foods higher on the nutrient density ladder, and less low nutrient foods and this is what my book Eat To Live is about.
Furthermore, of course there are genetic differences, and adjusting nutritional advice to fit individual needs is accurately done with blood work, and other accepted medical tests. For example a heightened intake of Vitamin D or B12 or taurine might be indicated for someone who tests deficient in these substances, and some people might require a higher amount of long-chain omega-3 fats because of lower genetically-mediated conversion, indicating an individual with a more fish-dependent genetics. Nevertheless, these issues are best addressed with blood work (facts) not with some flakey secretive questionnaire that is sold for a high price on a website. Those individuals who may need extra long-chain fatty acids or additional protein should achieve this without a diet rich in red meat and saturated fat.
Luckily nutritional science has advanced to the point where we can chose a diet-style that enables us to dramatically lower our cholesterol, maintain a normal blood pressure into later years and not have heart disease or strokes. I continually inform people of the risks in following bad nutritional advice.
Over the next few days, we will investigate: