Disease Proof

Can An Omnivorous Diet Be Safe For Children?

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:

Clearly the omnivorous diet most children consume today is particularly dangerous to their future health. They eat a diet that receives most of its calories from flour, cheese, oil, and sugar, with negligible fruit and vegetables.

Many American children develop autoimmune illnesses as young adults before heart disease and cancer strike at a later age. Diseases of nutritional ignorance flourish, but they have not been connected to their cause—childhood diets—until now. The amount of animal products consumed and the type of animal products consumed by people including children is a major contributor to the health tragedies that occur later in life. An omnivorous diet with the typical consumption of dairy or meat at every meal is simply foolish.

High dairy fat and animal food consumption in childhood assures unnaturally high levels of hormone promoters that raise our children’s blood level of estrogen and testosterone, induce an earlier maturity, and initiate changes that promote adult cancers. One could make an omnivorous diet safer if dairy fat were removed, if one avoided the potential pollutants in fish, if processed food were significantly limited, and if an abundance of produce were consumed.

If you choose a limited amount of animal products to be included in your family’s diet, I favor eggs over fish or dairy, because of the potential for transmission of chemicals, mercury, and PCBs in the fish and dairy. Eggs, because they are virtually pollution-free, would be favored choice over other animal products to add to an otherwise vegan diet.

Therefore, I encourage consumption of a carefully planned vegetarian diet or a carefully planned diet that includes a very small amount of animal products, perhaps 10 percent of total calories or less, rather than the 40 to 60 percent that children eat today. An animal-product-rich-omnivorous diet cannot be called healthful.

If one is to utilize animal products in their family’s diet they should only choose low-fat or nonfat varieties of dairy products, if they are included in the diet at all. I recommend substituting nuts, seeds, and avocados as the major sources of fat in the diet, instead of dairy fat, oils, and meat.

Fruits, vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds, beans/legumes, and whole grains are the optimal foods for children. Here are some of the long-term of plant-based diets:
  • Vegetarian diets prevent and reduce high blood pressure.1
  • Cholesterol levels are much lower in vegetarians.2
  • Cancer rates are much lower in vegetarians.3
  • Vegetarians are leaner and have less obesity in adulthood.4
  • Plant-based diets encourage a later menarche, which has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of prostate and breast cancer.5
Both omnivorous and vegetarian diets can be made healthful or harmful, depending on food choices, wise supplementation, and nutritional sophistication. Inclusion of high-nutrient produce, including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and beans are an essential part of every healthy diet.
1. Ophir O, Peer G, Gilad J, et al. Low blood pressure in vegetarians: the possible role of potassium. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;37:755-62. Melby CL, Hyner GC, Zoog B. Blood pressure in vegetarians and non-vegetarians: a cross-sectional analysis. Nutr Res 1985;5;1077-82. Melby CL, Goldflies DG, Hyner GC, Lyle RM. Relation between vegetarian/nonvegetarian diets and blood pressure in black and white adults. Am J Publ Health 1989;79:1283-8. Rouse IL, Armstrong Bk, Beilin LJ, Vandongen R. Blood-pressure-lowering effect of a vegetarian diet: controlled tril in normotensive subjects. Lancet 1983-:1:5-10. Rouse Il, Belin LJ, Mahoney DP, et al. Nutrient intake, blood pressure, serum and urinary prostaglandins and serum thromboxane B2 in a controlled trial with a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. J Hypertension 1986;4;241-50. Margetts BM, Beilin LJ, Armstrong BK, Vandongen R. A randomized controlled trial of a vegetarian diet in the treatment of mild hypertension. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 1985;12:263-6. Margetts BM, Beilin LJ, Vandongen R, Armstrong BK. Vegetarian diet in mild hypertension: a randomized controlled trial. Br Med J 1986;293:1468-71. Lindahl O, Lindwall L, Spangberg A, et al. A vegan regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of hypertension. Br J Nutr 1984;52:11-20.

2. West RO, Hayes OB. Diet and serum cholesterol levels: a comparison between vegetarians and nonvegetarians in a Seventh-day Adventists group. Am J Clin Nutr 1968:21:853-62. Sacks FM, Ornish D, Rosner B, et al. Plasma lipoprotein levels in vegetarians: the effect of ingestion of fats from dairy products. JAMA 1985;254:1337-41. Fisher M, Levine PH, Weiner B, et al. The effect of vegetarian diets on plasma lipid and platelet levels. Arch Inter Med 1986;146;1193-7. Burslem J, Schonfeld, G, Howald M, et al. Plasma apoprotein and lipoprotein lipid levels in vegetarians. Metabolism 978;27:711-9. Cooper RS, Goldberg RB, Trevisan M, et al. The selective lowering effect of vegetarianism on low density lipoproteins in a cross-over experiment. Atherosclerosis 1982;44:293-205.

3. Change-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R, Eilber U. Mortality pattern of German vegetarians after 11 years of follow-up. Epidemiology 1992;2;395-401. Thorogood M, Mann J, Appleby P, McPherson K. Risk death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. Brit Med J 1994;308:1667-70. Block G. Epidemiologic evidence regarding vitamin C and cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;54:1310S-4S.

4. Pixley F, Wilson D, McPherson K, Mann J. Effect of vegetarianism on development of gallstones in women. Br Med J 1985;291:11-2. Frentzel-Beyme R, Claude J, Eilber U. Mortality among German vegetarians: first results after five years of follow-up. Nutr Cancer 1988;11:117-26. Burr ML, Batese J, Fehily Am, Leger AS. Plasma cholesterol and blood pressure in vegetarians. J Human Nutr 1981;35:437-41. Rouse IL, Armstrong BK, Beilin LJ, Vandongen R. Vegetarian diet, blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. Aust NZ J Med 1984;14:439-43.

5. de Ridder Cm, Thijssen JHH, Vant Veer P, et al. Dietary habits, sexual maturation, and plasma hormones in pubertal girls: a longitudinal study. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;54:805-13. Beaton GH, Bengoa JM. WHO monograph. 1976;62:500-19.
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