Mercury, Fish and EFA’s? Another Vegan Benefit

Essential fatty acids are an important part of a well balanced diet, especially if you're trying to lose weight. What is surprising is that many people don't know fat is essential to maintaining normal weight as well as many other health benefits. Our country has fallen in love with "low fat"... and in part, it's making many people fat. If your body senses a lack of fat intake, it starts storing it... and surprise, surprise, you stay fat!

Fish is routinely recommended by many as a great source of EFA's although there's one small problem.

"...nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury."
FDA / EPA What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

"Children under age 5, nursing mothers and women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid fish with the highest mercury levels -- tile fish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark. They should also limit their fish intake to no more than 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that contain low levels of mercury, foods such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, canned light tuna and catfish.

Albacore tuna is higher in mercury than canned light tuna, so consumption of albacore tuna should be limited to nor more than six ounces a week, the experts write.

Eating a variety of fish may reduce the potential negative effects of environmental pollutants. Try to avoid farm-raised fish, which tend to have more fat and calories and slightly less protein than wild fish. Farm-fed fish may also contain higher levels of contaminants due to toxins in their feed, according to the experts."
HealthDay

Why is mercury bad? Well, for many reasons, and the report above, directly from the FDA plays down the effects on everyone except for young children, and pregnant and nursing women. Unfortunately it's a little more serious than that:

"Canadian scientists studying the toxic effects of mercury have made a major breakthrough, showing for the first time how the metal that gave rise to the expression 'mad as a hatter' actually debilitates and destroys parts of nerve cells.

The finding, announced yesterday, is likely to raise further controversy over exposure to mercury in dental fillings and food, and provide new clues to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Three scientists at the University of Calgary exposed the brain cells of snails to small amounts of mercury and found the damage caused by the silvery-grey metal was similar to that seen in brains of humans suffering from Alzheimer's.

The protein in snail brain cells is identical to that in the nerves of human and other higher animals.

One of the co-authors of the paper, Dr. Fritz Lorscheider of the university's faculty of medicine, said the research highlights the need to reduce public exposure to mercury. The experiments used mercury levels that are typically found in people who have a large number of amalgam fillings.

"What it really means is that we . . . need to be far more concerned about sources of mercury exposure,' Dr. Lorscheider said.

A paper outlining the findings is being published as the cover story in the April issue of the British journal NeuroReport.

Almost everyone in North America is exposed to trace amounts of mercury. Fillings emit mercury vapour when people chew. Mercury concentrations have been rising in many seafoods, as fish absorb metal dispersed by coal-burning power plants and mining.

Until now, scientists have known that mercury is a potent nerve poison, causing tremors, loss of memory, insomnia, depression and personality changes, but they did not understand how."
Scientists unlock mystery of mercury's harmful effects

I don't know about you, but would you knowingly eat a poison that could cause tremors, loss of memory, depression and countless other effects. Would you feed it to your children? Especially if you had options? Since you can get EFA's from many other sources, why risk your health and the health of your children? Is it worth it?

To me, another reason for the vegan diet... for your health and your life.

Peace.

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Study Finds Raw Food Vegans Healthier

Posted on March 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized by Vegan Raw Diet Advocate Comments Off on Study Finds Raw Food Vegans Healthier

One of the longstanding myths about a diet that avoids dairy foods is that it can lead to osteoperosis. A new study not only proves that this isn't true, it also reports that vegans, specifically those that follow a raw food diet, are overall healthier than the average American, have strong bones, lower BMI, lower markers for disease and have high levels of Vitamin D, which was surprising to researchers since dairy products are normally fortified with Vitamin D.

The interesting part about this study is the expectations the doctors had, particularly that they expected raw food vegans to have low levels of Vitamin D. This shows how flawed the dairy industry is in promoting "milk for strong bones".

Additionally, although the study clearly shows that following a raw, vegan lifestyle is much healthier in all aspects tested (weight, disease prevention, BMI - and by a good margin), the lead doctors don't advocate a vegan, raw food diet.

They do recommend eating more fruits and vegetables, which is a good start, but I think they are missing the point. Fruits and vegetables are only one part of a raw, vegan diet. Adding a variety of legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds is also essential to a well balanced diet. Additionally, if someone eats more fruits and vegetables (and no legumes, whole grains, nuts or seeds) but still eats red meat, a variety of dairy products and processed foods regularly, this will do little to improve their health. Apparently facts don't make enough difference to make a recommended lifestyle change! :)

Read more about the study at: Yahoo! News - Raw Food Vegans Thin But Healthy, Study Finds

To your best health!

Mark
vegandiet.blogspot.com

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Milk; Does a Body No Good?

Posted on March 12th, 2005 in Uncategorized by Vegan Raw Diet Advocate Comments Off on Milk; Does a Body No Good?

Being vegan, many people ask where I get my calcium if I don't eat dairy foods (among other nutrients).

For years, I've studied the available research on milk and other dairy products and have always believed that milk, especially in it's current form, is not an essential part of a healthy diet that I would recommend, and can actually be harmful to your health.

Case in point. Some years ago I was speaking with a mother that complained about how many reoccuring ear infections her daughter had and that she was constantly on antibiotics. She also suffered from colds and was sick more often than what she would consider normal. After asking some questions about the girls diet, I found that she drank milk more than several times a day, and consumed other dairy foods and foods containing dairy by-products. I recommended she cut out all dairy products and substitute unsweetened soy or rice milk, fresh vegetables and when she had a craving for something sweet, a non-dairy frozen dessert (made with soy or rice milk).

In less than a month, the mother reported that her daughter hadn't been sick at all during that time, and over the next two years, she had only been sick once or twice with a minor cough or cold. This was a major relief for the mother and a blessing for the girl since she not only felt better, but felt good not having to take medicine all the time.

Now comes evidence that the calcium benefit the dairy industry claims is vital to growing children... well, really isn't. In one of the most comprehensive review of over 27 studies looking into the benefits of calcium from milk sources found that only three out of the 27 studies found any benefit, and very little benefit at that. Read an article detailing the studies here.

Some of the existing research notes that fruit and vegetable sources of calcium are better absorped by our bodies, and that after milk is pasturized and fortified, the calcium is no longer in a form that is easy for us to assimilate and thus not much of a benefit. Studies note that getting out, staying active and exercising will do more for strong bones than drinking milk, a powerful statement that the dairy industry doesn't want you to hear.

Dairy products have been know to cause excess mucus, carry growth hormones (in almost all non-organic milk and dairy products) and cause allergic reactions to a large portion of humans that can't digest or are in some way allergic to dairy products (dairy allergies are one of the top allergies we may have - but most don't know it).

The way I look at it, why go through all the problems associated with dairy products when you can get plentiful calcium in other fruits and vegetables, bio-available vitamin supplements and get stronger bones by exercising and staying active?

Peace.

Mark
http://vegandiet.blogspot.com

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Vegan Nutrition, Can You Get Everything Your Body Needs?

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Uncategorized by Vegan Raw Diet Advocate Comments Off on Vegan Nutrition, Can You Get Everything Your Body Needs?

Where do you get your protein? Are you sure you're getting enough vitamins and other nutrients? These are questions I've been asked hundreds of times since becoming vegan, and the answers are quite simple. Yes! The vegan diet is not only nutritionally sound, but provides more health benefits that most other diets. Protein is plentiful and in almost every food we eat.

Here's a great introduction to vegan nutrition from the folks at Viva!. Read the entire article for all the details. Note, they are very passionate about the ethical treatment of animals and don't let that overshadow this important nutritional information. Enjoy!


VEGAN NUTRITION: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE

Many people are concerned that giving up dairy products and eggs will make it much more difficult for them to obtain all the nutrients they need. The good everything the body requires can be found in a vegan diet - from Vitamin A to Zinc, from iron to Vitamin B12. The American Dietetic Association recently reviewed the available literature on vegetarianism and veganism and concluded that a vegan diet is both nutritionally-adequate and can even provide health benefits.

The basic human nutritional requirements are protein, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals. A vegan diet will provide them all.

Continue reading the article at Viva!

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Compelling Reasons To Avoid Meat

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Uncategorized by Vegan Raw Diet Advocate Comments Off on Compelling Reasons To Avoid Meat

The reasons for avoiding meat in your diet are quite straightforward... most have to do with better health, easy weight maintenance, lower occurance of disease, better nutrition, more energy and feeling better. Some of the lesser know reasons are even more surprising... and interesting, especially the amount of resources necessary to feed and care for animals. More reasons to consider a vegan diet.

Source: Urban75 and Viva

  • Antioxidants protect against more than 60 diseases. Found mostly in fruit and vegetables. They destroy 'free radicals'.
  • A vegetarian diet can reduce cholesterol levels. (Cholesterol is linked to heart disease – fruit and vegetables contain none.) BMA
  • Vegetarians and vegans have higher intakes of folic acid than omnivores. BMA
  • A vegetarian diet meets all the nutritional needs of infants and adolescents. ADA/BMA
  • Vegetarians are no more likely to suffer anaemia than meat eaters. ADA/BMA
  • On irrigated land, 1lb of vegetables uses 25 gallons. 1lb of beef uses 5,214 gallons. University of California
  • More than 90 per cent of all agricultural land in Britain is used to feed animals
  • If Britain went vegetarian, less than half the farm land would be needed – vegan, less than a quarter! Reading University
  • Vegetarians often live longer and suffer less from several chronic diseases. ADA
  • Vegetarians have a much lower incidence of caesarean section. PCRM
  • Vegetarians are less likely to suffer strokes caused by coronary artery disease. BMA
  • Vegetarian diets have been successful in arresting and reversing severe coronary artery disease. ADA
  • Vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel disorders, cancers and gallstones. BMA
  • Vegetarian diets offer disease protection because of lower saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein and higher folates, antioxidant vitamins and plant nutrients. ADA
  • 95 per cent of all food poisoning comes from meat and animal products.
  • Cancer rates among vegetarians are 25-50 per cent less than non-vegetarians. PCRM
  • Vegetarians have half to three-quarters the risk of dying of heart disease compared to non-vegetarians. PCRM
  • Nearly all 650 million UK chickens are fed antibiotics daily. 72 million die from disease.
  • The world's 17 major fisheries are on the point of environmental collapse because of over-fishing.
  • It takes about 10kg of good quality plant protein – such as wheat and soya – to produce 1kg of meat protein.
  • 35 per cent of the world’s people can be fed on a meat-based diet. A plant diet could feed everyone – then plus some. Sir Crispin Tickell

The medical sources quoted are from some of the most prestigious in the world: BMA (British Medical Association); ADA (American Dietetic Association); WHO (World Health Organisation); PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine).


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