The Myth of a High Protein Diet

Research shows that animal protein may significantly increase the risk of premature mortality from all causes, among them cardiovascular diseasecancer and Type 2 diabetes. Heavy consumption of saturated fat and trans fats may double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A study published last March found a 75 percent increase in premature deaths from all causes, and a 400 percent increase in deaths from cancer and Type 2 diabetes, among heavy consumers of animal protein under the age of 65 — those who got 20 percent or more of their calories from animal protein.

Low-carb, high-animal-protein diets promote heart disease via mechanisms other than just their effects on cholesterol levels.

Arterial blockages may be caused by animal-protein-induced elevations in free fatty acids and insulin levels and decreased production of endothelial progenitor cells (which help keep arteries clean). Egg yolks and red meat appear to significantly increase the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer due to increased production of trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO, a metabolite of meat and egg yolks linked to the clogging of arteries. (Egg whites have neither cholesterol nor TMAO.)

Animal protein increases IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, and chronic inflammation, an underlying factor in many chronic diseases. Also, red meat is high in Neu5Gc, a tumor-forming sugar that is linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cancer. A plant-based diet may prolong life by blocking the mTOR protein, which is linked to aging.

When fat calories were carefully controlled, patients lost 67 percent more body fat than when carbohydrates were controlled. An optimal diet for preventing disease is a whole-foods, plant-based diet that is naturally low in animal protein, harmful fats and refined carbohydrates. What that means in practice is little or no red meat; mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and soy products in their natural forms; very few simple and refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour; and sufficient “good fats” such as fish oil or flax oil, seeds and nuts. A healthful diet should be low in “bad fats,” meaning trans fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated fats. Finally, we need more quality and less quantity.

Full article available at www.nytimes.com

Dean Ornish is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute.


Why diet doesn’t cure obesity

This diagram from visualcomplexity.com illustrates the complexity of obesity. Obesity is not simply eating the wrong foods or eating too much and it is not simply fixed by changing diet or taking up exercise. These help, but they are not usually enough. The success rate of diets and exercise are low and there are many factors to why this is so. Obesity is metabolic problem and a psycho-social-economical issue. What our mothers ate when we were in their womb, what we ate as a child alter our metabolism in later life. Our parent attitudes towards food, their income, their social status and cultural background also influence your ideas about food and your eating habits. More recent discoveries of hormones that regulate appetite satiation show how obese and clinically overweight people do not receive the signals in the brain that they are full in the same way slim people do. Overweight people brains do not get the message “you are full”. Antibiotics have also been implicated in causing weight gain obesity. As have sugar free drinks. Clearly obesity is complex and needs us to look many aspects of ourselves, including our personal history, our environment as well as looking deeper into metabolism and hormones , our emotions and our attitudes towards food.

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