Hi Michael and Josh, I know you are engaged in debate at the moment but do either of you know the answer to any of my questions? i.e. how can you live for 30yrs without marine DHA and not be ill?
Thank you, Sandra
Hi Michael and Josh, I know you are engaged in debate at the moment but do either of you know the answer to any of my questions? i.e. how can you live for 30yrs without marine DHA and not be ill?
Thank you, Sandra
Is it safe to take DHA while you're pregnant? I'm not yet but we're trying.
My OBGYN told me to stop taking MSM when I get pregnant. I think she jsut said that because she doesn't really know what it is. I assume she'll have the same response to DHA. The problem with mainstream medicine I guess.
"Destiny, or karma, depends upon what the soul has done about what it has become aware of."
-- Edgar Cayce
DHA is pretty essential before, during and after pregnancy - for yourself EPA is useful too.
Once pregnant you should be more able to produce EPA and DHA from ALA but I always think it's better to be safe than sorry. There is a test you can take to measure your EFA levels.
The guys should avoid coffee and alcohol and take DHA and EPA too as the health of the sperm is very important (it takes two)
plenty have done this for much longer than 30 years! You do it by converting the ALAs. Take a quick look at any of the links I posted.
(To be read to the tune of "I will survive..." )
PS The brackets sound flippant but weren't intended that way. It is of course possible to be "below par" as a result of low DHA levels without actually being ill....
Wow, seems like I missed a lot over night. Ok, so to respond to all of this:
Sandra - Remember, nobody is saying that you are not converting some of the fats you are eating in your current diet (e.g. from nuts, avocados, oils etc) into DHA. We are just saying that the conversion process isn't efficient. So, you are not going to drop dead of a DHA deficiency, the question is only would you be healthier if you had higher levels of DHA? Without a blood test, it is impossible to know your blood levels of DHA. My findings with vegans is that most have lower than optimal levels of DHA. That doesn't mean you need to eat foods from the sea, though, to have any DHA. Is that responsive?
Mike -- I'm glad we are having this discussion, because obviously there is a lot here that is unclear. And I like these friendly discussions as well You have made many posts, so let me try and respond to most of the thoughts you presented.
First, let's be clear on what it seems like we agree on. I believe we now agree that:
(1) Conversion rates from ala to DHA are relatively low, and in some people low to non-existent;
(2) Vegans often have lower levels of DHA in their blood than do meat-eaters.
Where we may still have room for debate then is whether increasing DHA levels would be beneficial and/or necessary, and whether diet is a sufficient source to produce sufficient quanties of DHA for health.
To that end, you pointed out the recent study showing fish oils to be less beneficial than previously thought. One study showed men who consumed over 5 servings of fish a week had a 61 percent increased risk of cardiac arrthymia. Indeed, there are other studies which show increased breast cancer with higher fish consumption. Another recent study in JAMA showed fish oil to increase risk for abnormal heart rhythms.
First, let me say I do not support the eating of fish (or any other animal or animal product for that matter -- I am strictly vegan). This study clearly shows that eating "fish" is not all its cracked up to be. Fish is the second most polluted food in our diet (behind dairy).
Second, fish oil as a routine supplement for the ordinary population seems a bit silly doesn't it? If most meat-eaters already have a relatively high level of DHA in their blood stream, why would taking additional DHA be helpful? Often, studies are designed quite stupidly. Indeed, just because a particular nutrient has been shown to be healthy, it does not mean that everyone should be taking it. It makes far more sense that somebody who is deficient in DHA would be well off to take it. I find you really have to go deeper than the studies findings to understand their importance.
For most people, there are so many nutritional deficiencies and general lack of health that it would be silly to think there is one magic pill -- but that is precisely what people are hoping for with DHA. If somebody is eating mostly meats and refined products (the standard American diet for instance), the increase of DHA which they already have a sufficient amount of should make no difference. However, an increase in healthy nutrients they are deficient in should make a substantial difference. E.g. increasing intake of leafy green veggies, other veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds etc., while decreasing meat, dairy, fish etc.
But on the other end of the spectrum, we have vegans. Even those vegans eating exactly right may develop certain deficiencies. Those would tend to be vitamin d, vitamin b-12, and dha. So, for those people, if they are noticing flaky skin, depression, anemia etc., one would look to balance their diets with those nutrients. Because DHA has been shown to have an immense number of health benefits in most studies, one would presume vegans who have lower blood levels of that essential nutrient would reap the most benefit from supplementing.
In terms of price, DHA concentrate from algae is not much more expensive than flax oil, but it is far healthier. As I said earlier, I don't think flax oil is health food. It is too high in calories and too low in nutrients. And the effective conversion rate for that trade off is too low.
I am not a person who advocates taking many supplements. I think herbs are basically watered down medicines that often do more harm than good. The reason they work is because they have medicinal properties that are toxic on some level. I prefer whole food and whole nutrients. For the average vegan who eats well, I believe it is important to take a whole food nutritional supplement to ensure proper levels of all nutrients (parituclarly d and b-12), and likely a dha supplement. I see no harm in the dha supplement, but if a person is really hesitant to spend the extra money, then they should get their blood levels tested. If the blood levels are fine, no reason to take it. But if they are low, why take the risk?
Other than that, I think most supplements are a waste of time and money. In particular, all the single nutrients and foods which are supposed to have miraculous properties -- let me save everyone the time and energy -- they don't. Everything from goji berries, to noni, to coral calcium etc., are all hype. Something like goji berries has healthy properties and benefits, but it is far from a miracle food.
So I am with you in general on supplements, but I am not with you when it comes to a good multi and dha.
Gotta run for now, but I'm sure there is more to discuss.
It sounds as if our positions are in fact actually very close, including on multivitamins (regarding which I'd also add iodine to your list of B12 and D). At the moment, though, I'm not convinced about the DHA (yet! - I may yet be persuaded and am certainly closer to that today than yesterday , though I don't think the low conversion rates are perhaps that significant).
To end with the question: You state that "my findings with vegans" - are you a doctor?
A final question regarding supplements for vegans: have you seen the new product from AOR? http://www.aor.ca/related_research/v...an_booster.php
Monkey60613 -- sorry, I forgot to respond to your inquiry. It is generally well accepted at this point, particularly by doctors, that DHA is critical during pregnancy and breastfeeding -- they have even added the marine algae dha to most formulas for this reason. So not only is it safe to take the vegan derived algae dha while pregnant, I think you are making a big mistake if you don't take it. You can read in some of the links I posted (particularly the one from Dr. Sears who is a noted pediatrician) why it is so important. Here is the link again:
and here is another:
Thank you Michael, I will indeed read the links, but I really don't feel as if I am below par, as it were. Having said that, I'll probably collapse tomorrow, I hope not though!
Once again, thanks,
Thank you too, Josh, I understand what you mean, infact I feel a visit to my doctor coming on!! I really want to have my DHA levels checked now. I haven't been to see him in over a year now, as since being vegan my stomach ulcer and hernia haven't been bothering me. Infact, I've never felt as healthy in my life as I have this past year!
It won't hurt though just to have a check up, I'll ask him to check my iron, B12 etc while I'm at it.
Thanks so much!!!
"Destiny, or karma, depends upon what the soul has done about what it has become aware of."
-- Edgar Cayce
Thank you for the note. I suppose that I should have mentioned that I have sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds mixed in with my flax. Also there is this:whalespace
"Because the body rapidly detoxifies cyanide, an adult human can withstand 50-60 ppm for an hour without serious consequences. However, exposure to concentrations of 200-500 ppm for 30 minutes is usually fatal."
I hope that I did not give the impression that I was eating 20 tbs of flax seed all at once! Certainly not! Of course, I will more likely be taking 4-8 tbs a day 3 hrs apart given that I eat 6 times a day. And then there are the other seeds in the equation.
Looking at these side affects of cyanide poisoning I wonder if that is what I am experiencing rather than wheat allergy/ nut allergy/ "bean allergy" ? My allergies flair up during the month and these foods give me headaches and certain types of nuts swell my throat, then again, that does not include almonds.
Something to think about. I wonder if wheat has cyanide it it?
it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble
Haniska -- I think the ideal level of ground flax is one tablespoon a day -- and more is not necessarily better. So, with the mixture of other seeds you are putting in, it sounds like you may be getting about that amount -- if so good for you. If you are getting more, you may wish to cut back a little.
Monkey 60613 -- You are welcome! Hope the info helps you out!
Sandra -- I'm curious if you get the blood results, how they turn out!
Mike --I'm glad that these discussions are bearing fruit. I will not push this discussion on DHA further for now, as it seems you have looked at a lot of studies, and may have some further digesting to do at what you have looked at.
To answer your question Mike, no I am not a doctor. I do monitor the results of doctors quite closely though. I have spoke to numerous doctors about vegan patients, and their results on DHA blood tests. And, as a general rule, their results are significantly lower than their meat-eating counterparts on this one test. So, these doctors' findings correlate well with the study I showed you. I also keep track of many vegans around my area, and find their results tend to be low as well. Since it is such an easy and no risk supplement, I find it is well worth taking. For the record, most of these people were taking a flax oil supplement or an oil mixture for omega 3's.
I have to say I am curious as to why you believe iodine should be on the list I gave. In my research, I am a firm believer that iodine is something that should not be supplemented in general healthy vegans. In fact, I think negatively of supplements that add extra iodine. Unlike B-12 or D, iodine is plentiful in the vegan diet. Not only is it found in rich amounts in veggies like spinach, carrots etc., but it is loaded in sea veggies like kelp. Because too much iodine can lead to problems with the thyroid, I try and avoid taking in any iodine other than from food sources. Even if a supplement has iodine, I believe it should not have more than about 75mcg (at the high end).
About the supplements you pointed me to. I was unfamiliar with the company, so I had to look through the website. I will say they are actually well-informed on certain issues regarding possible vegan needs that most are unaware of (e.g. taurine). But they also use some gross misinformation for sales purposes, which I never like. For instance, they say Hunzas "are strict vegetarians with a reported lifespan often reaching 100 years." Well, this is simply unsupported. First, Hunzas were not strict vegetarians. They ate meat on occassion (usually a couple times a month), and they similarly ate large amounts of goat milk daily. They even fermented goat milk, made it into cheese, and buried it in the ground and let it ferment for months. Later, they would eat this as a delicacy. Similarly, further investigation of Hunza life span records indicate that the long life spans were likely misreported. It was probably rare that they lived to be over 100. Now, this doesn't mean their supplements are bad, but I hate to see myths perpetuated by people trying to sell products.
I have reviewed the product you pointed out. Overall, I have to say I'm unimpressed. First, I don't like individual synthetic supplements. I'd rather take a balanced multi from whole foods to ensure proper balances of all nutrients. Second, I don't like megadoses of nutrients. They have way too much vitamin B-12 in there -- no real point to that. Also, they use an inferior quality b-12 -- they should use methylcobalamin, not cyanocobalamin. Third, it looks like much of this formula is designed as a homocysteine reducer. Recent studies have pretty much proven that reducing homocysteine through the b-12, folic acid, choline etc. route does not reduce mortality. The studies showed overall such supplementation is not recommended. I also see no point in the additional creatine as a general rule. I think it is interesting they have taurine and l carnitine, though. When vegans have amino acid profiles done, if they are deficient, it is usually in one of these two amino acids. Of course, this is very rare, but this is a little known fact so I actually kind of like they through those in there. Overall, though, I would certainly not recommend this to anyone to take. What are your thoughts on it?
As you may have read in another thread, I have actually created my own nutritional product. I'm not trying to garner sales by mentioning it here, but since we are on the subject, I thought I'd at least mention it to show you what I think of as the ideal nutritional supplement. It is called VITAFORCE (100% vegan) and can be found at http://www.organichealthandbeauty.co..._p_140-81.html
It is the only product out there that actually gives you all your nutrients from whole foods, other than three nutrients we added in for completeness (b-12, d, and folic acid). In my mind, the average vegan should be eating a good diet, taking a product like VITAFORCE, and a vegan DHA supplement. Those things make up for whatever may be missing in a vegan diet. I even toyed with the idea for a while of adding in the taurine and l carnitine for the reasons I mentioned above, but I figured that so few vegans actually needed those additions, that it was unnecessary to add in.
I'd be curious as to your thoughts!
That's the best response ive heard yet josh. i'm impressed
I wonder if the vegans & vegetarians tested had their full diets analysed, including amounts of nuts, seeds and oils at the time. You can have unhealthy vegans who eat little of these things and would most likely be deficient. However, those who include a lot of them may have quite high levels.
I'm really confused now, one study tells you one thing and another something different, who do you believe? I have been taking an iodine tablet supplement from sea kelp as I read there is not much iodine in vegetables. One source said there was only trace amounts in carrots and spinach. I don't trust these various studies anyway as a few months or years down the line the findings change when other studies are done. The way I look at it, my diet is a lot healthier anyway than the majority of omnivores so I'm not going to worry! I will SURVIVE!!
Research can tell you anything. it often depends on who's doing the research and what their agenda's are. It also depends on variables. I think over all diet would need to be considered in the study. I panicked over the link b/n gum disease and heart disease until my dentist/periodontist informed me that all the studies he knew of did not consider if the subjects smoked, drank or were physically and emotionally healthy which would have a huge impact on the result. I think you just need to let common sense prevail and eat a healthy range of foods, good vegan oils etc and exercise and remain as stress free as possible.
That wasn't true in my case. I ate fresh fruit and vegies every day (some fresh from the garden) and was diagnosed with critical iodine deficiency. There was almost zero in my system. I was tested twice on different days to be certain.Unlike B-12 or D, iodine is plentiful in the vegan diet. Not only is it found in rich amounts in veggies like spinach, carrots etc., but it is loaded in sea veggies like kelp.
I'm not from an area which traditionally lacks iodine. However, I don't eat sea vegetables as they give me stomach cramps (and other issues). Some countries add iodised salt to processed food but Australia doesn't.
My thryoid was really messed up as a result and I may have to get it removed in the near future.
I would encourage vegans to get a urinary iodine test if they don't eat sea vegetables/use iodised salt. Also, feel your neck now and then for lumps.
However, what you said about excess is true. Taking too many kelp tablets can be bad. People sometimes do this to speed up their metabolism but it's a dangerous practice.
Hi, what do you do now for iodine?
yes it was particulary the taurine and carnitine I was curious about. I agree with you about the rest, in particular the preferability of methycobalamin over cyanocobalamin.
Iodine is another matter. To an extent it depends on country. A lot depends not on the vegatable you are eating but where they are grown. The UK soil is very low in iodine due to the effects of the last ice age over here. That said you are quite right that only very small amounts of e.g. kelp are needed to put things right. Iodine has been a problem for several vegans I have known over the past 30 years. The Vegan Society do a cheap supplement containing iodine for precisely that reason.
Sandra, you may find that supplement helpful as an answer to your quesry about iodine, but very small regular amounts of seaweed will aslo do the job. There is no way of being sure about the levels in vegetables - it all depends on where they come from and how they have been grown.
Good basic nutritional information on everything except the DHA supplements thing which is a bit new can be found at either www.vegansociety.com or www.viva.org.uk Yvonne's site also has good info, including on DHA and pregnancy in vegans for Monkey (she has been acclaimed for her work in this area).
Thanks Mike, Now I know this is a really silly question but I don't know where to get seaweed, can you buy it at heath food shops? I have visions of me running along the beach picking up stray pieces of seaweed!!
yes you can get a whole range of seaweed from healthfood shops.
What I'd like to know is - can one set of blood results tell me if my diet is good in all areas, or do I need to request specific tests?
Sandra: yes most healthfood stores and some supermarkets sell seafoods, and you only need to eat a little (which you can add to soups and so on, too). Dulse (dillisk) was eaten quite alot in your neck of the woods and is actually quite nice straight out of the packet, though it doesn;t have the highest of iodine contents. That said you only need around 10 mg or so year (I think - I've got a lousy memory for figures, probably becuase I've been sceptical about supplements). The info's up in the two sites I posted. If you hate seawead or can't find enything or whatever, the vegan Society doa anice cherap suplement containing most things vegans need for just £5 for a three-month supply. Take a lok here: http://www.vegansociety.com/catalog/...roducts_id=239
Fiamma: you should be able to tell your doctor / hospital what you want checked before you give the bood for your test and that way you can be sure they wil have checked it all and give you the printout. They're normally very good about that in Bologna (you are in Bologna aren't you? - I lived there for over 10 years at Porta San Vitale).
Thanks Mike, I'll go along to my nearest health food shop and try some seaweed, and if I don't like it I'll get the vegan society supplements,
All the best,
Mike -- I was going to ask you if you were in England, and if for some reason iodine levels were of particular concern there. What you said is interesting. It certainly makes sense that certain countries' soil would be deficient in iodine while others would not be. Iodine deficiency is something I have never worried about with vegans here in the States. So, you taught me something new Thanks!
Mike and Sandra -- I do believe, as with most things, you get what you pay for. Those supplements from the Vegan Society are very low quality, but in a pinch, I'm sure they will do the trick. First, they have an inferior form of B-12. Second, they have too low of an amount of Vitamin D. All the studies show that if you do have low blood levels of D, you would need at least 20mcg a day to start making a difference in your blood levels (and likely even more D than that). As we discussed in a previous post, the homocysteine lowering effect they are discussing has been disproven in studies as being important. And, all of these nutrients are synthetic, and not balanced by the natural cofactors found in food. As you can tell, I'm very particular when it comes to supplements. The truth is they are pretty much all done badly. This one is no exception to that rule, but at least it is inexpensive.
Sandra -- I'd definitely recommend going to the health food store and getting a shaker of Kelp. You can add a little bit like you would add salt to foods, and you will get more than ample amounts of iodine.
Fianna - By the way, it is different in different countries. But in US, there are many bogus blood nutrient tests. Make sure you do your research in your own country to get legitmate tests. So many practitioners will sell you on any test if you let them. There are people here who do hair analysis for mineral content -- this is a totally unscientific and bogus practice. Many others do other sorts of blood tests which sound good, but don't give accurate or meaningful results. It is best to ask your doctor for which tests are appropriate -- he/she may not think them necessary, but in the end they should tell you which ones to take. Usually for vegans, the important ones to take if you are feeling less than optimal are B-12, D, (apparently iodine outside of US), dha levels, and amino acid profile (you could be low in taurine or l-carnitine).
Treehugga - I'm glad you found the post interesting. Actually, most of the people I know who were vegans were taking in sufficient amounts of nuts and seeds as well as flax oil. The conversion rate is just low. I never had mine tested, and I always felt great on a vegan diet, so who knows, my levels may have been fine. But, I just take the DHA supplement to be sure.
Insubordination -- Again, it is interesting that in a different country you are having issues we don't hear about in the states. Sorry to hear about your issue, and I hope you the best. Getting the international perspective is very interesting. From all studies done here in the US, supplemental iodine is totally unnecessary. But, that again does not mean it holds true everywhere. I appreciate the important info.
That's impressive Josh! That's obvious proof that DHA supplements are working for you. I'm going to run out and buy some now.First, Hunzas were not strict vegetarians. They ate meat on occassion (usually a couple times a month), and they similarly ate large amounts of goat milk daily. They even fermented goat milk, made it into cheese, and buried it in the ground and let it ferment for months. Later, they would eat this as a delicacy.
"Hey everybody, I made some Gazpacho"- Lisa Simpson
"Go back to Russia"- Barney Gumble:D
thanks so much for all the info you've provided - I really appreciate it. My doctor here in Italy is a nutritionist so I hope he can point me in the right direction. I get the feeling my diet is not as good as it could be - I feel very tired a lot of the time. I find it really hard to consume all the servings of grains I should be eating - perhaps it would be worth getting some food allergy testsd one. Thanks again for all your advice.
Michael - yes I am in Italy and have had very positive experiences with the health service. I'll certainly be getting some tests done. Thanks for your advice.
Hi fiamma, I don't know if you are the same but I find all this a bit overwhelming! I feel as if I am taking more tablets than I am food! I don't eat very much at the best of times, but now by the time I've taking my daily supplements I feel full up! Do you take any supplements or do you just rely on your diet?
Hi Sandra, I know what you mean! I don't really take supplements though, just B12 for the time being. This whole DHA business has been on my mind for some time now, after reading "Becoming Vegan" by Vesanto Melina - she mentions it as being an area which requires supplementation. I think I will order the supplements that Josh has been talking about. And try to up my intake of seaweeds, grains and green veggies - maybe I'm lacking iron. Though I don't menstruate so I don't lose blood that way - maybe I am less at risk than other women for iron deficiency? (Perhaps I am kidding myself ) It is all very confusing, especially when studies give conflicting results. I guess we just have to use common sense and see what works for us. I do believe as well though that vegans are much healthier than other sectors of the population, simply because we have a much higher awareness of what a healthy diet should consist of. Although we should not let ourselves become complacent.
Hi fiamma, I think I'll go to my doctor and just ask about this DHA thing, although I can imagine what his response will be! Are you going to have your blood checked just to make sure your iron levels are ok?
Sometimes I feel tired for no reason, and I can go through the day with a feeling of complete apathy. I think I was like this even before I was vegan though, I can't really remember [that's not a good sign, ha ha].
Let me know how you get on won't you?
I use iodised salt (SAXA) and live in Australia, it's from the supermarket. I also use sea salt, but not sure how much if any iodine it would contain. I've read that a lot of soils are very iodine difficient, so anything grown in them is also. I've also read this about manganese. I just make sure my multivitamin has iodine in it as well. I have an aunty who had most of her thyroide removed and came from a coastal town in Britain called Staithes and ate largely fish in her diet, so you just never know.insubordination
P.S my good fat levels are EXCELLENT and neva eaten a fish in my life
Hi treehugga, that's interesting about Saxa salt having added iodine, I use Saxa salt but I will have to contact them to find out if they add iodine in salt over here. What do you make of the DHA thing?
Sandra -- You definitely sound overwhelmed by all this info -- and understandably so. Would you mind posting what supplements you are currently taking (I don't know why you are taking as many as you seem to be saying you are taking), and what an average daily eating plan looks like. Maybe we can go through it together and simplify things. Only if you want to of course
Fiamma -- Interesting that you say you have trouble eating all the grains you "should" be eating. How many servings of grains do you try and eat in a day? I actually try to avoid grains. I try to eat a diet based on nutrient density. In other words, I focus on the foods that have the most nutrients per calorie. This assures you don't eat excess useless calories that prematurely age you. So if you look at foods in the order of their nutrient per calorie, from the highest to the lowest it is:
(1) Green Leafy Veggies (Excluding iceberg lettuce)
(2) Green Veggies
(3) Other raw veggies
(6) Cooked Starchy veggies
(8) Nuts and seeds (should eat one to two ounces a day if inactive, or more if active)
(8) Below this come animal products
So you can see from this perspective, eating too many grains is a waste of your precious calories. They are filling, and have some nutrients, but overall I believe it is a nutritional mistake to eat too many starches. Because I am very active and lift weights and am at my optimal weight, I allow myself one serving of grains a day. IF I was more sedentary or needed to lose weight, I would allow myself only a couple of servings of grains per week.
Instead, I focus my diet on as much as I can on the other higher nutrient foods (particularly green leafy veggies, veggies and fruits).
Hope this is helpful. If I eat too many grains, I get very lethargic. I don't have any allergies, it's just they sit heavier in my stomach than anything else I eat.
when I say "should", I'm referring to the Vegan Food Pyramid, which recommends 6-11 servings of grains a day. Normally I have between 30-60g of a high fibre cereal with soymilk in the morning (1-2 servings I think). If I have pasta at midday I have trouble eating more than 50g, or if I have a legume or pulse based soup I probably won't have bread or any substitutes with it because it makes me feel too weighed down. My evening meal is more protein based (tofu or a chick pea or lentil curry, something similar) but again I have trouble eating grains along with that (combining to get complete proteins) - I just feel too full. As i mentioned before, my preoccupation with not eating enough carbs is because I feel very tired and am trying to examine various potential problems before going to my doc. It's interesting that you talk about green veggies - I know i don't eat enough of them but there never seems to be a great selection here and I never know how to cook them. Any advice? Thanks so much.
Josh, I'm just mulling over what you've written and apart from the green veggies, this is definitely the eating pattern I'm more attracted to, tending to steer clear of starches. Excluding any possible allergies, do you think the body "knows" instinctively what it needs?
Fiamma -- While the food pyramid may be more healthy than what some people eat, it comes far from representing an ideal diet. I think you may be tired from eating too many grains and starches, not the other way around. The single most cancer preventing food you can eat is raw veggies (requires no recipe). Remember too that with combining proteins, it matters what you eat over the span of a 24 hour period, not what you eat in one meal. By eating a healthy assortment of natural vegan foods (e.g. veggies, fruits, beans, seeds and nuts), you do not have to concern yourself with protein combinations or amounts of protein. You will be getting plenty! This is true even if you wish to get muscular.
The key is not to worry too much about macronutrients (e.g. fat, carbs, protein). Instead, focus on getting sufficient quantities of the healthiest foods, and the rest will fall into place.
You are doing yourself a great health disservice if you are not consuming large quanties of green veggies every day. Try making a big salad everyday with a mix of other raw veggies, some avocado, some legumes, and a low fat, low salt dressing (I like using just balsamic vinegar, or another good flavored vinegar -- I also mix fresh fruits in a blender with avocado for a dressing).
You can steam greens also (in addition to your salad), and blend up a yummy nut based sauce (e.g. handful of raw cashews, little soy milk to liquefy, onion powder, garlic powder, salt substitute). Put this over kale, brocolli, chard, brussels sprouts etc.
MAke sure you are having 5 juicy fruits a day.
Try and make the base of breakfast be fruit. The base of lunch and dinner should be veggies. Then, add in a cup of legumes a day.
Just thoughts. You might go through a bit of a detox eating this way for a week or two, but then energy levels should go way up!
If you want to know what I eat for breakfast every morning -- it's a blended salad/fruit smoothie. The recipe goes something like this (although I try and change it a little everfda7)
I put these all in my vitamix blender (Which blends it to baby smooth consistency) -- one organic orange, one bag frozen mixed organic berries, four ounces of organic baby spinach, two ounces organic swiss chard, one ounce of organic, sunflower seeds, one tablespoon of ground flax seed and one ounce of pomagranate juice. In addition, I put in 200 mg of DHA from marine algae, and one scoop of VITAFORCE (my wholefood vitamin and mineral supplement).
It is delicious, filling, I get all my nutrients for the day. IT gives me energy, and limits cravings during the day.
Sorry, I was in the middle of writing that long message, so did not see your second response yet.
The answer to your question of whether the body "instinctively" knows what it wants is both yes and no.
Generally speaking, the answer for most people is no. That is because most people eat so unnaturally, the body has no way of knowing what it needs and what it doesn't. I hear so many people say I'm craving a hamburger so it means I am craving iron or protein. The truth is, that's garbage. Their body is so out of touch, it has no idea what it needs and what it doesn't to get back to being healthy. For instance, when most people get overhungry, they get a headache, or a stomache ache, or sweaty or weak. This is what people think of as signs of hunger. IT isn't hunger. It's detox. The body's blood sugar drops and detox starts to happen. Many people call this hypoglycemia and assume it is the low blood sugar levels causing these problems. But it isn't the low blood sugar. A healthy person can have low blood sugar and experience none of these symptoms.
So most people will eat when these detox symptoms occur, and because the blood sugar raises when you eat, the detox stops and you feel better. But this doesn't make you healthier.
But when people are truly healthy, and eat naturally, these detox symptoms subside relatively quickly (depending on state of health). Then they get back in touch with what true hunger feels like. True hunger is a pleasant sensation in the back of the throat, and when you are truly hungry, food tastes much better. You should not feel sensations anywhere but in the back of the throat. When people get to this level of health, then yes the body instinctively knows what it wants. It no longer craves the sugars, salts, refined foods, and other foods that cause hormone imbalances and huge sugar swings. IT will tell you when you are hungry, and when you are satiated.
Long answer, but hope it is helpful.
Josh - thanks for your responses. It's interesting what you say about avoiding starches - the exact opposite of what we've been brought up on! (speaking personally anyway). I'll certainly give what you've said a try. Thanks so much, and I hope your climate in LA is kinder than here in Bologna. At least you have the ocean....
Well, it's been over a hundred most of the last few weeks here. Too hot for me. How is it over there?
Urrrrr, that sounds hot - what's that in Centigrade? Here it's around 30°C. But then I'm from Scotland - can't bear the heat! Anything over 25°C and I start getting ratty I think I might flee the Padania Plain next summer for cooler climes...
I just checked in a conversion calculator, and 100 F is 37.8 celsius. But, it is dry heat. Maybe yours is humid which makes it much worse.
It IS humid, disgustingly so. Must find myself a cute little house on the beach in San Diego, now that would be nice.
Sorry, but to get back to what we were saying earlier about carbs, surely they provide fuel for the body and the brain? Why do you advise against a high carb intake? I agree with you about cancer-preventing foods, but that's not my main preoccupation here. After all, current thinking places a great importance on a high carbohydrate intake, and you seem to be going against that. Can you enlighten me?
Actually, I'm not at all against carbs. There are plenty of carbs in fruits, veggies, legumes and starchy veggies. I just don't think carbs from grains are necessary. By eating the way I suggested, you will get ample quantities of all your macronutrients (fats, carbs and proteins). If you need to lose weight, you eat less of the seeds and nuts, because your body will be burning it's own fat stores (so in a way, you would already be on a high fat diet from burning your own fat). As you no longer need to lose weight, you up the nut and seed intake.
To be clear, I am definitely not anti-carb. I love carbs and eat plenty of them. It's just that grains are nutritionally inferior foods per calorie to other carb sources. But I absolutely agree with general thinking that carbs are necessary for energy reserves, is ideal fuel for the brain etc.
Hi Josh, I would love to post my daily eating plan and what supplements I am taking but I will leave it until tomorrow as I have had a few glasses of wine and would probably forget what I have eaten today. Although, it probably won't amount to much as I don't eat that much, I start off well but after 2 or 3 mouthfuls I start to think, 'I've had enough of this'. Anyway, will be in touch tomorrow and maybe you can give me some advice as to where I'm going wrong.
Bye for now, Sandra.
Have you ever read any of Paul Bragg's books? The diet he recommends is exactly what you are talking about, though he's been preaching his healthy lifestyle since the 1930's. He apparantly got Jack LaLane into the healthy lifestyle. He also recommends fasting once a week. He lived a very active and healthy life until he died when he was 95 from a surfing accident. Anyway, although his books and preachings aren't really backed by hard science or studies, he never mentions taking supplements and in fact was a believer in not needing them if you followed a healthy vegan diet such as the one you mentioned. These are the type of people that confuse me when the whole issue of "supplements" comes up. People like Paul Bragg, Sandra, and Treehugga who live nearly there entire lives eating well and feeling good without taking supplements. I eat well and feel good and only found out about DHA because I like to read about nutrition. So now I'm thinking, "well I better get some of that." But I wonder if it will really make a difference, or am I just wasting money? Paul Bragg didn't buy DHA supplements and probably didn't know what they were most , if not all of his life. Perhaps the walnuts and flax oil were enough to get the conversion he needs, but if you read some studies, they would say no to that. It's all very confusing.
"Hey everybody, I made some Gazpacho"- Lisa Simpson
"Go back to Russia"- Barney Gumble:D
Sandra -- I'll look forward to your post
Vagetarian -- You ask a great question. It can be confusing, but let me try and see if I can help put some clarity into it. First, some people live to be healthy and live exceedingly long lives despite doing just about everything wrong from a health perspective. How can this be? Well, some people are blessed with extraordinary genes that transcend day to day unhealthy habits. For instance, my wife's grandmother just turned 92. She has not exercised a day in her life, and eats all the wrong things. But, she is one of the lucky ones when it comes to genes.
For people like this, perhaps eating right and being fit would prolong their lives some, and might even make those last few years livelier. But, they have it pretty good anyway. Perhaps Bragg was one of those. But, I am familiar with his writings, and based upon how he ate and lived, I am guessing that even if he had those wonderful genes, he lived a long, healthy life because he worked hard at doing the right things.
But the question is, do you wish to play the genetic lottery? Meaning, do you want to do everything wrong and hope you are one of the rare ones who is blessed with great genes. The vast majority of people who play this genetic lottery lose, and some lose at a very early age. I know you don't wish to play this, which is why you are doing your research now.
So, then, if Bragg could live such a long life without supplements, should we all try for it? My answer is no. I don't know why for sure he never developed a B-12 deficiency. I know he didn't get a vitamin D deficiency because he lived in sunny weather and was out in the outdoors often. Perhaps he never developed a B-12 deficiency because he was not a strict vegan. He did not believe in cutting out fish or other animal products entirely (according to his book Miracle of Fasting.) So perhaps he got enough by adding in some animal products -- I'm not sure. Some people never develop b-12 deficiency because they produce enough in their own guts to supply their needs. Again, though, do you want to take the risk that you don't produce enough to sustain you when B-12 supplements are generally considered non-toxic, particularly in small quantities?
As for the rest of his nutrients, he was very nutritionally savvy, and was careful to make sure he ate a very balanced, and natural diet. Plus, it seems he did not eat a high amount of calories which would slow the aging process and slow free radical damage. And with staying fit, you have a healthy recipe for longevity.
Of course, because he occasionally ate fish, maybe that helped him with his DHA levels. OR maybe he was very efficient at converting the vegetarian omega 3's to DHA.
Ultimately, the point I am getting around to making is that none of us know what our genetics hold in store for us. I for one, have no interest in finding out if my genetics are good or bad. Studies have proven that most genetic predispositions towards heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes etc. need never come to fruition. Diet and lifestyle can prevent these predispositions from ever taking place.
So for my part, I want to eat as well as possible to ensure I live a nice, healthy, disease-free, long, and productive life. To that end, I take the necessary precuations, which focuses on eating right and staying fit. To assure that I do not unnecessarily shorten my lifespan or hinder my health with nutritional deficiencies, I take certain supplements. I do not like the idea of playing the genetic lottery. So, I take a top of the line multivitamin supplement, and I take vegan DHA. Because I am healthy and have no special needs, those are the only supplements I take.
By doing these things, I take myself out of the genetic lottery. This almost gets rid of the risk that any genetic predispositions toward disease will rear their ugly head.
Another thing about nutritional deficiencies is you may not notice them until they have done serious damage. For instance, a B-12 deficiency doesn't happen for years and years because your body uses up its stores of B-12, but once it happens, you can have serious health consequences quickly. Other times, like with DHA, you may not recognize the deficiency for what it is. But just because you don't feel badly, doesn't mean you are not at higher risk for heart problems. People don't always know that they are deficient in something.
I hope this answer clarifies some of the confusion.
I believe we need complex carbs for energy, but I don't think we need simple sugars, white bread etc.
I think you can take it all too seriously until you completely do your head in.
Enjoy life. My motto is eat well 80% of the time and reserve 20% just in case you want to stuff up a bit.
If you want to worry about something it should probably be obesity.
I consider some of the healthier asian countries who consume loads of rice etc and I don't have a problem with carbs. Mine burn off at the gym anyway.
As for omega 3's I just eat a variety of sources and enjoy them and I will just die when my time is up probably from something simple like crossing the road!