Eating to Live Omniverously

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:

Much of the people in the modern world today eat a diet that is poorly designed to maximize human health. In fact, the incidence of heart disease, stroke, and cancer is higher in more developed countries and kills the vast majority of all adults, despite the fact that the nutritional causes of these illnesses have been adequately explained by scientific studies.

Nearly the entire populations in developed countries today suffer from diseases of nutritional extravagance leading to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease and premature death. While Americans jump from one diet craze to another, their waistlines and leading causes of death change little because the popular diets appeal to the most popular way to eat, consuming animal products, oils, and dairy at every meal. The most commercially successful diet books in our country appeal to America's love affair with saturated-fat-rich animal products and still leave the public with a dangerous solution to their growing waistlines. These books encourage a high percentage of animal products in spite of the preponderance of evidence showing the links to heart disease and cancer.

There are three main problems with diets that contain significant amounts of animal products:

  • More than a thousand well-designed studies have led all major health authorities around the world to conclude that saturated fat is a leading contributor to high cholesterol, heart disease, and many cancers.
  • Fat-soluble petrochemicals such as PCBs and dioxin as well as other toxic elements such as mercury, are transferred to humans predominantly via the fatty portions of fish, dairy, meat, poultry, and in that order. Fatty fish that are rich sources of omega-3 fats are also typically heavily contaminated with harmful pollutants. These pollutants are linked neurological problems, immune system dysfunction, and cancer.
  • Animal products contain no fiber, and almost no antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins C, K, E, and folate. They also are lacking in all the anti-cancer phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, lignins, and carotenoids that are so essential to protect us against chronic illnesses, immune system disorders, and a premature death.

With animal products occupying a major caloric percentage of the diet, less the remains for natural, unrefined plant produce. The inclusion of sugar, white flour, oil, and other low-nutrient calories in an omnivorous diet virtually guarantees phytonutrient deficiency and greatly increases the risk of late-life cancer.

The low levels of certain essential nutrients are inevitable unless an omnivorous diet is designed to receive the vast majority of its calories from fruits, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, and seeds to supply crucial food elements necessary for optimal health. The amount of animal products must be held to much lower amounts than are presently consumed, and those animal products chosen must be very low in saturated fat and pollutants. The animal products that are lowest in saturated fat are egg whites, low-fat fish, skinless white meat turkey, and chicken. The highest saturated-fat animal products are butter, cheeses, and red meat.

If you choose to include animal products in your diet and your children's diet, they should be utilized sparingly, as condiments or flavorings for soups and vegetable dishes, not as the main dish. Use one piece of chicken to flavor a vegetable bean soup that will be used for the whole family all week. Use fresh turkey breast sliced very thin in a sandwich with avocado or tomato-based dressing, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. In other words, only use one or two ounces a day per person. A pound of animal product can be used for an entire family of five for a few days, so that the family's diet is comprised of vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts with only a few ounces of animal products every few days. I call this a near-vegetarian diet. It allows for more variety and flavor in cooking and recipes without losing the main health advantages of a plant-based diet.

Because animal products do not contain significant omega-3 fat, and fatty fish are such a polluted food, it is important for those on an omnivorous diet to consume walnuts, flax, hemp and other plant sources of omega-3. The valuable omega-3 fats should not be derived from the regular consumption of fatty fish. Instead, I recommend the lower-fat (less polluted) fish such a flounder, sole, and tilapia. Utilizing plant sources of omega-3 such as flax seeds and walnuts is still important. Because the contamination level in fish is always questionable, even these less polluted fish should be used sparingly, just like other animal products.

A multivitamin and a DHA supplement are still a good idea, for the assurance that optimal levels of these nutrients are met.

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Linda - June 9, 2006 10:05 AM

Does Dr.F. think homemade seitan to be a better choice over what he recommends as the healthier meats? I know it is concentrated and not ideal; but since neither is meat, I wonder if homemade seitan is better, following the same recommendations for consumption of meats?

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