What’s the Best Diet for Me?
This is definitely a “heated” topic, with countless theoretical arguments on both sides, and lots of conflicting evidence. My answer, based on my years as a nutritional researcher and consultant is this: I know of ‘meat eaters’ who display robust health and I know of ‘vegetarians’ or ‘vegans’ who are sick and tired. BUT, and this is a BIG BUT….I also know of meat eaters who are sick and tired and a few vegetarians and vegans who are full of life and vigor!
As you may have noticed, we are all unique. There is no one else exactly like you! Not only do we look, act and think differently, our dietary needs are also different. We all come from a variety of ethnic heritages, live and work in different climates all throughout the world and have our own unique constitutions, food sensitivities and allergies. There is no such thing as the ‘Perfect Diet’ for all of us to follow. What works for you, may or may not work for your neighbor or friend.
Human beings are omnivores – a species that can digest foods from both plant and animal sources. When it comes to eating a vegetarian, vegan or an animal sourced diet – Which is the Best Diet for you? You decide! BUT (this is the second BUT)…. if you are drawn to the vegetarian or vegan way of eating, due to ethical reasons or simply because you do not like meat, then make sure you follow the 4 Must Do’s of Vegetarian or Vegan Eating (see below). Alternatively, if you like to eat meat, then make sure you follow the 4 Must Do’s of an Animal Sourced Diet (see below).
4 Must Do’s of Vegetarian or Vegan Eating:
1) Practice proper food combining. Plant protein sources are not as concentrated as animal sources and need to be combined, in order to yield the high quality protein your body requires every day. Beans, for example, must be combined in two ways: with nuts or seeds or with whole grains at every meal, otherwise they act primarily as simple carbohydrates and not as complete, concentrated proteins.
Examples of complete protein combinations using plant sources:
- Dried beans + rice
- Lentils + rice
- Tempeh + noodles
- Split pea + barley soup
- Almond butter + spelt bread
- Chickpea + sesame seeds
- Beans + tortilla wraps
2) Get enough minerals. Vegetarian and vegan diets often lack the fat-soluble catalysts (fat soluble Vitamin A and D found in animal sourced foods) needed for mineral absorption. Non-strict vegetarians would do well to consume some dairy (e.g. eggs, butter, cheese, raw milk – all sourced from pasture fed animals) and/or fish. Strict vegetarians and vegans need to take an additional mineral supplement that is carefully formulated for proper absorption. These can be found at your better health food stores.
3) Soak your grains. This is important! Grains naturally contain phytates, substances that block absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Even minor mineral deficiencies make the difference between having energy or not! Properly preparing your grains can neutralize harmful phytates and enzyme inhibitors.
To learn how to properly prepare your grains, look under ‘Nutritional Tools’.
4) Get enough B12. Usable vitamin B12 occurs only from animal sources. Research to this date indicates that fermented soy foods and spirulina do not give us absorbable B12 because neither one is picked up by intrinsic factor, a specialized protein secreted in the stomach which is directly involved in B12 absorption. This means that non-strict vegetarians need to consume either some dairy (e.g. eggs, butter, cheese, raw milk – all sourced from pasture fed animals) and/or fish; strict vegetarians and vegans need to take an additional B12 supplement that is carefully formulated for proper absorption.
In summary: Those who are adverse to eating meats can still look to plant sources for proper protein combinations, although it is well advised to add either some dairy (e.g. eggs, butter, cheese, raw milk – all sourced from pasture fed animals) and/or fish or poultry to your diet to get the essential amino acids needed for strength, energy and tissue repair.
4 Must Do’s of an Animal Sourced Diet:
1) Eat protein rich foods of high quality. These foods are more easily assimilated by your body providing a better source of nutrition. Sources of concentrated, high-quality protein include:
- grass finished beef
- organic, free range or omega-3 eggs
- wild bison and game
- cold-water (oily) fish and seafood
- organic and free range chicken
- raw whole milk, cheese (preferably made from “raw milk”) and plain yoghurt (preferably, non-homogenized) produced from pasture-fed cows, goats or sheep
2) Avoid burnt meat. Cut away any part of the meat that is burnt. When meat proteins are burned, they become carcinogens (potential cancer causing agents).
3) Avoid processed meats. Look for “ nitrate free” meats when choosing sausage, luncheon meats or bacon. The nitrates are common meat preservatives that can be potent carcinogens (potential cancer causing agents).
4) Consider that you may have low hydrochloric acid (HCL) levels. You may know this if you feel uncomfortable after eating meat. In other words, there are times when the meat that you have just eaten, feels like it just sits in your stomach. If this is you, then following these recommendations below may help bring back balance to your system and the pleasure of eating meat again.
Here are 5 changes you can make to restore HCL levels:
- Eat one protein source per meal (e.g. have the prawns or the steak)
- Do not combine any sugars, including fruits, with any meats. (e.g. eggs and orange juice)
- Consume your beverages at room temperature (e.g. drink room temperature water)
- Relax, slow down and enjoy your food! (e.g. chew, chew, chew!)
- Supplement with a digestive enzyme that contains HCL (ideally, one that contains bile as well), unless you have an active ulcer.
Please note: Do not take HCL if you have an active ulcer. An ulcer feels like a burning sensation behind your breast bone. If you have an active ulcer, take a digestive aid without HCL. Once the ulcer is healed, then begin taking an enzyme with HCL. If you happen to take a digestive aid with HCL and you have an undiagnosed stomach ulcer, simply take a little baking soda to neutralize the acid and have the ulcer treated.
In summary: Be confident in the knowledge that animal sourced foods are completely natural and healthy! Our ancient ancestors ate a diet composed largely of wild animal and fish, supplemented with vegetables, whole fruits, nuts and seeds. Many experts such as Kevin Spelman 1. agree that 99.99% of our genetic map was written before the advent of agriculture. Research has revealed that our genetic makeup is virtually identical to that of ancient people. Not only that, the historical record shows agriculture is a relatively new activity for the human family. Consider this, we have been agrarian for less than 0.5 percent of the time we have been on this planet. So eat your meat, be healthy and enjoy it!
Want to learn more about how you can get fit and healthy? Check out Michale Hartte’s, BASc (Nutr), NNCP new book, “The Fit n Healthy Plan – The healthy diet & lifestyle plan made easy!”. Click under “Products and Services” for more information.
1. Spelman, Kevin. Cardiovascular Disease: A Single Drug Condition. Unified Health, A Clinicians Forum. V4, 10, Winter 2008, 23
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