Thursday, August 6, 2009

reassessing my veg diet

Yesterday I attended a lunch-and-learn seminar with a local chiropractor, Dr. Joshua Sokolowski. He talked about ergonomics and, somewhat surprisingly, nutrition. He said that the majority of the cases he sees are caused by poor nutrition over time, and that many people do know what good nutrition is. I learned:

While many people know that Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil, walnuts, etc.) are good for you, many don't know that Omega-6 fatty acids (found in factory-farmed meats, farm-raised seafood, dairy, legumes, and grains), when eaten out of proportion with Omega-3 fatty acids, can contribute to long-term diseases like heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, and depression. According to this website, "A healthy diet should consist of roughly 2 - 4 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, and many researchers believe this imbalance is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States."

Grains? Really? Even whole grains? Yep. Dr. Sokolowski said that many people eat way too many grains, and that can actually cause more harm than good.

He also talked a lot about how dairy is just about one of the worst things for us. He explained that humans are not meant to drink breast milk from other animals (something any vegan knows full well), and rattled off a long list of research that proves that dairy essentially wreaks havoc on the health of humans. Here's a site that has research on how dairy is linked to 19 different illnesses, including heart disease and breast cancer. During the seminar, I added my own thoughts that in addition to the illnesses dairy causes, it's just gross to drink breast milk from animals!

The doctor suggested the following diet to help ward off inflammatory diseases and other long-term diseases:
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose grass-fed meat and free-range chicken over factory-farmed meat.
  • Choose wild-caught seafood over farm-raised seafood.
  • Limit or eliminate grains and dairy.
It gave me a lot to think about. I'm not vegan. I eat cheese. But my diet is heavily based on grains and legumes like lentils. When I joked that I would have to go home and completely reassess my diet, he said that while it's obviously a personal choice, he strongly suggests that vegetarians incorporate seafood into their diets, which is healthier than grains and legumes.

I've decided to definitely try to eliminate dairy as much as possible. In addition to these health reasons, dairy cows and their offspring have a terrible, awful life; I think even worse than meat cows. My goal is to eat vegan one day a week, then work my way up to two days, and so on until I've significantly limited dairy, if not eliminated it completely.

But eating seafood? And giving up grains and legumes? Each would be very tough, for different reasons. But I'm thinking about it...I'd love to know how other vegetarians feel about this?