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Vegetarianism….to be or not to be?

Posted Feb 19 2009 4:27pm

Greetings!

Clearly something is very wrong! Americans are making much better choices in regards to their health.  People are exercising more, many have stopped smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption has increased and many Americans have reduced their intake of red meats and animal fats. So what is the problem?

Along with the unjustified and unscientific saturated fat and cholesterol scares of the past several decades has come the notion that vegetarianism is a healthier dietary option for people. Although there are benefits to vegetarian diets for certain health conditions and  some people do better on less fat and protein, just like others do better on more carbohydrates than proteins and fats, the fact remains…their are dangerous effects of a diet void of animal fat and protein.
Why is B12 important?

The idea that B12 can be obtained from plant foods is by far the most dangerous of all the myths surrounding vegetarianism. In maintaining a healthy body, B12 is essential and can only be obtained from animal foods!  Vitamin B12 works with folic acid in many body processes including synthesis of DNA, red blood cells, and assists in the production of neurotransmitters.

The B12 found in plant proteins are similar but not exact to the B12 found in animal foods and for that reason are not bioavailable to the human body. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 may occur due to two reasons: the inability to absorb and the inability to consume foods rich in vitamin B12. Although I would like to keep the focus on the later situation there are environmental and lifestyle stressors, including the over abundance  of antibiotics and other medications being prescribed to today leaving any one of us susceptible to a deficiency in B12.

These stressors heavily impact our detoxification, hormonal and visceral systems leading to inflammation in the gut and a depletion of hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes, calcium, pepsin and other enzymes necessary for the absorption of B12. Absorption of B12 is a complex process and a deficiency in any one enzyme required for the liberation and absorption of B12 can lead to a deficiency.

Some common symptoms related to B12 deficiencies include: constipation, memory loss, difficulty walking or moving, anemia, mood disorder, numbness, disorientation, damage to the nerve cells, and dementia.

Do saturated fats and dietary cholesterol cause heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and/or cancer?

This too is another popular argument with vegetarians because it is believed that eating animal proteins and fats will lead to heart disease and cancer. Although saturated fats and cholesterol are believed to be the head honchos in “clogged arteries” many studies by prominent researchers like Enig, Mann and Fred Kummerow and several others have shown that arterial plaque is primarily composed of unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated ones, and not the saturated fat of animals, palm or coconut.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids found in modern day foods such as margarine, vegetable shortening and refined vegetable oils are found by Enig and colleagues to be causative factors in accelerated arteriosclerosis, heart disease cancer and other ailments.Additionally, studies have shown that such diets are associated with depression, cancer, psychological problems, and fatigue.

So many of these diseases mentioned are primarily 20th century occurrences, yet people have been eating animal  meat and fat for several thousands of years. Further,from the research done by Weston A. Price, there were/are several native peoples around the world (the Innuit, Maasai, Swiss, etc.) whose traditional diets were/are very rich in animal products, but who nevertheless did/do not suffer from the above-mentioned maladies.

Saturated fats have many health benefits and are essential in protecting us from hormonal imbalances, immune system weakness, adrenal and thyroid dysfunction as well as heart and cholesterol disease. They are great to cook with because they are chemically stable under high heat, and do not break down, unlike polyunsaturated vegetable oils used in so many of our foods today.

There is one more fact I would like to leave you with….vegetarians are said to have lower rates of Arteriosclerosis than meat eaters, it has been proved in many studies that this is false.  As we had discussed above, in regards to the complexity of B12 absorption, recent research has uncovered another dangerous condition that can result from less severe B12 depletion: elevated homocysteine.

Homocysteine (a nerve and vessel toxin), is produced from methionine in which the body converts back to homocysteine with the help of B12.  If someone is deficient in vitamin B12, homocysteine levels will increase promoting mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, birth defects, recurrent pregnancy loss, and eye disorders.

It should always be remembered that a number of things factor into a person getting heart disease or cancer. Instead of focusing on the phony issues of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and meat-eating, people should pay more attention to other more likely factors.
These would be trans-fatty acids, excessive polyunsaturated fat intake, excessive sugar intake, excessive carbohydrate intake, smoking, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity.

What you can do?
1. Increase your intake of animal foods.

2. If you practice vegetarianism, supplement your diet with healthy fats at every meal and supplement with a quality vitamin B12.

3. Avoid overconsumption of foods that block vitamin B12 intake or increase the body’s need for the vitamin, such as soy foods and spirulina.

4. Avoid antacids and drugs that lower stomach acid levels: acid-suppressing drugs such as Tagamet, Zantac and Losec can lead to serious B12 deficiency.

5. Consume plenty of calcium. Calcium is involved in the absorption of B12 from the lower small intestine. Best sources are raw dairy products and bone broths. (Bone broths also help heal intestinal inflammation that could cause absorption problems.)

6. Take 2-4000mg of cod liver oil to help with any inflammation that may block absorption of any nutrients.

7. Increase use of coconut oil and other natural fats like avocados, butter, olive oil, etc. Consume lacto-fermented foods: these help fight against pathogens such as helicobacter pylori, which is associated with B12 deficiency. Eradication of the organism often clears up B12 deficiency.

Thanks for joining us this month and for your enthusiasm in educating yourself on how to increase your health and vitality.  For more information on the topics today please visit www.westonaprice.org or schedule your FREE consultation.  We are always available to answer any questions you may have.

We also encourage you to visit our website, blog and youtube! Just click on the links below. There is a ton of FREE information that will help put you on the right track towards a better life!

With Qi,

Jeanne Cuevas
EastWest Healing and Performance
www.eastwesthealing.com
Click here for our YouTube page!

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