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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The One Book For Advice on Eating Raw

Posted on September 17th, 2005 in eating,food,meals,organic,raw diet,recipes,vegan diet,weight loss by Vegan Raw Diet Advocate 1 Comment »

I often get asked what one book I would recommend for advice on eating raw and vegan.

Although there are many excellent resources, there are two I'd recommend today, you can choose the one best for your situation.

The first resource is The Garden Diet by Storm and Jinjee. Storm has been eating raw vegan for most of his life and you can see the benefits by just looking at him. His entire family is an inspiration. He and Jinjee share their research on the benefits of a raw vegan diet, their experiences along with delicious and easy to make recipes. One note, they don't use or recommend a dehydrator (often used by many raw foodists) so their recipes can be made and enjoyed simply and quickly. I would recommend their entire collection of ebooks which includes the Garden Diet, Anti-Aging, Raising Healthy Children, The Orange Juice Diet and several other related titles (ten in all). This collection is all meat, no fluff - direct and to the point. You get to know Storm and Jinjee throughout the books as well as learn about the benefits of a raw vegan lifestyle.

Note, this collection is in online and downloadable format. I would recommend downloading and then printing your copies for reading at your convenience. I've found that printing the recipes, hole punching, slipping them inside plastic sheet protectors and into a 3 ring binder works best for reference when preparing meals in your kitchen. Read more about the Garden Diet.

The second resource I recommend is the The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. Natalia offers a flexible and sensible approach to adding raw food to your diet. The background on the benefits is not extensive, but offers the main one, detoxification, as the primary reason for eating raw. By eliminating the buildup of toxic and unused waste from your system, you regain the balance your body needs. She focuses on elimination, and for good reason. If your system eliminates quickly and easily, there is no ongoing buildup to clog your system and it can deliver and use the nutrition your body needs. Natalia offers different levels of the raw food diet which may be helpful to some. She offers a good set of recipes, and a special section for children and family eating. She is flexible in her approach and offers a plan that most readers can relate to and follow easily. Compared to The Garden Diet, I would describe Natalia's book the "light" and introductory version of learning about how raw foods can benefit your health.

As much as I recommend the book, there are a few issues I don't agree with Natalia on.

First, she recommends the use of Splenda as a sweetner. I don't agree. Splenda (sucralose) is a man-made abomination that has been linked to dozens of health problems including enlarged kidneys and liver, migranes and reduced red blood cell count among others. Read more about the effects at Healthy Living Talk. So skip the Splenda and enjoy the rest of the book!

Second, Natalia doesn't specifically advocate a vegan diet. I believe the benefits outweigh the occassional eating of fish, meat or dairy products and although not for everyone, I highly recommend it. Once you get used to fresh, organic and raw foods, your body no longer craves the processed foods you ate in the past and instead craves more fresh, raw and nutrient dense foods.

This book is a hardback although also available in a download version from Amazon.

Search for The Raw Food Detox Diet at eBay
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May your journey to enjoying fresh, raw foods be filled with health and happiness!

All the best for your health,

Mark

Are You Dressing In Chemicals Today?

Posted on September 13th, 2005 in clothing,organic,toxins by Vegan Raw Diet Advocate Comments Off on Are You Dressing In Chemicals Today?

Along with a diet rich in fresh, organically grown foods, consideration should be given to the clothes you wear as well. Not only for the fact that your skin is in constant contact with your clothing, but also for the way certain fabrics are made and their impact on our environment.