Meat causes cancer and heart disease! No, it’s the anti-nutrients in plants that are causing your GI problems! We seem to be more polarized than ever when it comes to food. But what is the best diet? Should you be carnivore or vegan? Stay tuned.
People are so confused when it comes to diet. And it’s no wonder. On one hand, you have documentaries like “What the Health” that promotes the vegan diet and tell people that eating eggs is the same as smoking cigarettes. And then on the other, you have physicians like Sean Baker spouting about the benefits of the Carnivore diet, where you literally only eat meat.
That being said I think we can cut through most of the bias and come out the other side with a little more wisdom.
So how are we supposed to know how to eat?
Most people know that diet affects disease risk. We determine this information through epidemiological studies where scientists survey a population and ask them about their eating habits and then follow them to see if they develop certain diseases.
Makes sense, right?
If certain people, eat a certain food, and then they get a specific disease than that food may be bad for us.
It’s studies like this that originally alerted doctors to the dangers of eating red meat and saturated fat. When they looked at populations that ate a lot of red meat they saw things like increases in the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, etc.
On the other side, they saw that those people who ate lots of fruits and veggies had lower risks of those same diseases. This information was prominently showcased in a book called The China Study, which was published in 2003.
In this book, the author T. Colin Campbell discussed the plant-based lifestyle. He stated that people don’t need as much protein as is generally recommended and that protein from animal sources is more likely to promote disease than protein from plant-based sources.
But Correlation does not equal Causation.
Correlation means that two things are related to each other. Causation means that one thing directly impacts the outcome of the other. Just because two things are related does not mean that one caused the other.
Yes, those people who eat lots of fruits and veggies have lower risks of disease, but is it really the foods leading to that effect or is it the fact that people who eat fruits and vegetables are more likely to not smoke cigarettes, drink excessively, and exercise?
This is called the healthy-patient bias and makes these epidemiological studies difficult to interpret.
Now back to the question at hand what is the best diet?
The answer is it depends.
Humans are omnivores meaning we can eat both animals and plants. Plus we have an amazing ability to manipulate our environment giving us even more foods to eat.
On top of that, there is a significant amount of individual variability when it comes to diet. What works great for me might not work for you, and what works for one population of people might not work for another.
Some people may thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Even some athletes find that this way of eating is effective for them and their training goals. Many others need and want to eat meat in order to feel optimal. They operate effectively eating fewer large meals with nutrient-dense foods like steak or chicken.
In my mind, the key is finding what works for you personally and trying not to overly restrict yourself. It is extremely hard to effectively follow the vegan diet in a way that you will not over time become deficient in specific vitamins and minerals.
The same can be said for those following a restrictive ketogenic, or carnivore diet. Eventually, many of these people who are being extremely restrictive with their food choices will likely develop some kind of micronutrient deficiency.
So what is the best diet? The one that you can consistently stick to that allows you to maintain a healthy weight without being unnecessarily restrictive.
I hope that this has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments make sure to leave them below.
Also, make sure to subscribe and follow for more great content. Again this is Floyd Meyer reminding you to Eat Better so you can Do More!