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Who’s Healthier — Vegetarians or Meat Eaters?

Posted Jun 30 2009 5:28pm

In This Issue:

Does Meat Cause Cancer?

By James LaValle, R.Ph, ND, CCN

: healthy food In the United States there is a fairly common belief based on dubious research and media hypethat vegetarian diets are healthier and protective against cancer. I would like to set that myth to rest, because to date, the studies have not been clear on this.

Let’s start with a close look at the popular 2005 book The China Study.

If you have read this book, you know that on the surface it appears to make quite a case against consuming animal protein. It asserts that higher animal protein intakes were clearly associated with increased risk of cancer.

First, it cites animal studies of the book’s author, US researcher Dr. T. Colin Campbell, which found that feeding casein (a protein from milk) to rodents gave them cancer.  The author then reasoned that human research was needed, so he looked to China where he hypothesized that China’s lower rates of cancer could be due to their lower intake of animal protein.

There are a couple of problems with the whole premise. First, while China does have lower rates of some cancers, it has the highest rate of stomach cancer in the world! 1 That fact is never discussed in the book.

Second, when you analyze the studies upon which the book was based, you find that the rates of cancer for meat eaters did increase, but only slightly.  In fact, as one author who analyzed the China study data pointed out, animal protein increased rates of cancer only slightly and smoking did not increase rates of cancer at all. 2

With these results not being definitive, and in some instances so contrary to other research, we need to compare them to the work of other researchers.

In doing so, we find that other studies have not confirmed the China study data.  For instance, a study from 2006 3 found no differences in “cancer rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians.”  This study found that vegetarians did tend to have lower BMIs and lower cholesterol levels than non-vegetarians. They also had 20% fewer deaths from ischemic heart disease.

These findings led many to conclude that vegetarian diets are healthier, but when it comes to overall mortality, there is s no difference in vegetarians versus non-vegetarians.

If you look beyond cancer, is a vegetarian diet any more healthful overall than a diet that includes meat? Again, no — and research proves it.

  • A Dutch review of the issue concluded that a vegetarian diet conferred no more benefit than a diet that included plenty of unrefined plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, but which also included animal protein. On the other hand, according to their literature review, a vegetarian diet does significantly increase one’s risk of certain nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc — especially in vegans. 4
  • Another study found that vegetarian diets were associated with lower vitamin B12 status and therefore to increased levels of artery-clogging homocysteine. 5
  • A Slovakian researcher has stated that the healthiest inhabitants of Northern Europe are from Iceland, Switzerland and Scandinavia, populations that consume high amounts of animal protein. 6

This is the type of balanced reporting that I find to be missing in many discussions of vegetarianism.

I do want to acknowledge that meat consumption is less healthy today than in the past. Fats in meats store pesticides and other toxins that occur in the environment. However, I do not feel a massive shift to vegetarian diets would improve our health statistics, especially in the 25% or so of the population who are insulin resistant.

So, what kind of diet do I recommend? Whole and unprocessed plant foods for their lowered health risks. Eat more vegetables and salads, and some fruit and beans, but limit grains and starchy foods to tolerance.

Unprocessed, organic animal proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish should also be included.  Red meat can be eaten, but limited to no more than once a week.   Grass-fed beef and bison are good red meat choices.

This is the diet we find to be most successful for the majority of people. It provides immediate health benefits like weight and cholesterol lowering, and is still satisfying.  And so far the evidence shows that it will be just as protective against cancer.

The author of the Slovakian study cited above concluded as I do, that it is “ample consumption of fruits and vegetables, not the exclusion of meat,” that makes one healthier.


  3. Proc Nutr Soc. 2006; 65(1):35-41.
  4. Arch Pub Health. 2005, 63:1-16.
  5. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50:485-491.
  6. Ginter E. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2008. 109(10):463-6.

[ Ed. Note: James LaValle is the founding Director of the LaValle Metabolic Institute, one of the largest integrative medicine practices in the country.  Dr. LaValle is the author of The Metabolic Code Diet: Unleashing the Power of Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss and Vitality and the Executive Editor of THB's The Healing Prescription.  To learn more, click here.]

Are YOU Insane?

That’s a pretty offensive question.

Although, I’ll bet there ARE days when you look in the mirror and ask yourself that (exact same) question. One definition of INSANITY is doing the same things over and over again …but expecting (and wanting) different results.

Look, there’s a doctor in Ohio who has given thousands of people back the health and vitality of their youth – including more energy, a sexy body  they thought they’d NEVER have and a dramatic release of stress – by doing something…well…different.

And it takes just 14 days.

I know that’s a really big promise…but if you’re willing to embrace that just a little change can go a long way…and will keep an open mind when you read this letter – then EVERYTHING - in terms of the drive and motivation you seek, the lean body and peace of mind you desire… may well come  TRUE in the next 14 days!!!

Curing addiction Cutting Edge Fitness:

Exercise: the 13th Step to Beat Addiction!

By Missy Hawthorne, RN, CSCS

Todd Crandell was 20-something and an up and coming hockey player with a promising futurewhen he lost it all to substance abuse. After 13 years of drug and alcohol addiction, Crandell decided to enter recovery the traditional way — detox, support groups, AA meetings, the 12 steps etc. — but he, like many others, felt something was missing.

We are learning that one size does not fit all when it comes to addiction recovery programs. The 12-step programs have and will continue to help millions successfully recover from addictions.  However, many recovery programs are now taking a more holistic approach when treating addictions — not just alcohol and drugs — but other addictions like cigarette smoking and binge eating.

The holistically oriented programs supplement the traditional approach of beating an addiction with lifestyle changes including exercise, nutrition, stress management and optimal rest.  That’s why as a fitness trainer, I am now talking about addictions, because exercise can play a central role.

Exercising every day has been proven to positively impact an addict in many ways. For example, an active addict can lose structure and meaning to his/her day, but exercise immediately provides this. Exercise fills time and keeps the mind busy.  The process of getting fit or actually training for a specific event builds confidence and gives the recovering addict a goal to work toward.

Exercise can also be beneficial in easing symptoms of anxiety and depression, which go hand-in-hand with addiction. An imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain produces the anxiety and depression. Exercise not only impacts endorphins, but also increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, creating more balance.   This produces the famous “runners high,” decreases anxiety, and provides an overall feeling of “calm.”

These were the benefits for Crandell, and they helped him overcome his addiction for good and get his life back on track.  He is now helping others overcome addiction with the organization he founded called Racing for Recovery.

He says the holistic approach to recovery helped him “not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, as well.” 1 In other words, the whole person.  You can learn more about the organization at

Research shows that 75% of Americans know someone who has an addiction. 2 If you are struggling with addiction now, I urge you to seek out programs that encourage exercise.  It has helped many others like Todd Crandell, and it could be just what you need to finally overcome your addiction.


  1. Myers, C. 2009. Exercise and  Addiction.  ACE Certified News. 6-7.
  2. National Survey, 2008; Lake Research Partners for Scientists & Engineers for America. Presented in partnership with

[ Ed. Note: Melissa Hawthorne, RN, BSN, CSCS is the owner of Priority Fitness Personal Training and Wellness.  She is a Master Trainer for the Resist-a-ball Company, ISCA Personal Training, Kick-boxing, and Beamfit.   Melissa serves as a fitness consultant for the LaValle Metabolic Institute.  To learn more, click here.]

Are you ready to transform your life like Melissa?

“I started menopause and had a hysterectomy. Thank God for Jim’s clinic. They saved my life and my husband’s.My sex life wasnon existent…I was moody, had hot flashes, was irritable… then I found Jim.

My moodiness improved, hot flashes in the past… irritability gone… and WOW, sex was awesome! I began to desire my husband again and couldn’t get enough of him!!! LMI changed my life. I just turned 50 and wow…

I have two young daughters ages 13 and 9…their lives are better too. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

M. Misali, Cincinnati, OH

Click here to read more about James Lavalle’s integrative approach
to hormone health

soy Healthy Nutrition:

Soy: Health Food Extraordinaire?

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

Most people today view soybeans as a health food extraordinaire.  But lately you may have seenconflicting opinions as to whether it is healthy or not.  As a common food allergen that is high in goitrogens 1 (substances that interfere with thyroid hormones), there are some valid concerns.

So, should you eat tofu and other soy foods or leave them alone?

Like any food, there are pros and cons, and soy is neither good nor bad. Clearly, Asians have consumed it safely and healthily for centuries, but they also consume a lot of fish and seaweed, foods that are high in iodine and protect the thyroid. When it comes to soy, your individual health situation and other foods consumed in the diet affect how healthy soy will be for you.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of eating soy.

Why Soy Can Cause Serious Health Problems
We had a patient at LMI who was a breast cancer survivor.  Thinking it was better for her health, she had become vegetarian and was eating a lot of soy.  But despite that, she was overweight and her energy was poor.  In addition, she had developed severe arthritis, and was moving toward needing knee replacements.

After a thorough workup, we found that she had low thyroid and had developed an allergy to soy, as well as to wheat and cow’s milk.  After eliminating these foods and working to restore her gut integrity, she was eventually able to eat small amounts of wheat or dairy, but not soy — even eating a small amount would cause severe pain.  The allergy alone meant she should avoid soy, but given her low thyroid, soy would also interfere with her thyroid hormones.

This patient exemplifies the two conditions in which soy is contraindicated and would not be healthy.  Simple testing will tell you if you have either of these issues, and if you do, you should avoid soy foods.

Why Soy Can Be Health Protective
Soy isoflavones are weakly estrogenic, which means they bind to your estrogen receptors and in so doing, they may protect you from strongly estrogenic substances like xenoestrogens (chemicals in the environment that promote breast and prostate cancer).

For example, one study which surveyed breast cancer survivors found that those who consumed soy isoflavones in the diet had lower levels of cancer recurrence compared to those who did not consume them. 2 Reduced risk of breast cancer was found when soy isoflavones were consumed at levels comparable to those in Asian populations.

A similar trend has also been observed with men and prostate cancer. 3 One study found that the highest intake of soy foods reduced the risk of prostate cancer in men by 40%. 4

What Can We Conclude About Soy?
For people with an underactive thyroid or soy allergy, soy is not at all a healthy food.  But if there are no contraindications, soy foods can be eaten moderately and will probably provide health benefits.  To get the most out of soy, it’s a good idea to make sure you get enough iodine from fish and kelp and supplement with probiotics.


  2. Guha N, Kwan ML et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Feb 17.
  3. Park SY, Wilkens LR et al. Br J Cancer. 2009 Jun 16;16(6).
  4. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers and Prev. 2007. 16(3): 538-45.

[ Ed. Note: Laura B. LaValle, RD, LD is presently the director of dietetics nutrition at LaValle Metabolic Institute.   Laura and her husband, Jim LaValle, R.Ph, CCN, ND have developed the powerful and life-changing Metabolic Code Diet containing step-by-step, easy to follow recommendations for harnessing optimal metabolic energy and turning your body's chemical make up into a fat-burning furnace.  To learn more click here now.]

broccoli salad Healthy Recipes:

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

This salad is perfect for a summer picnic or pot-luck and a delicious way to get cruciferousvegetables into your diet.  For variety, add another favorite vegetable to this salad.  Grape tomatoes and chopped red onions add a nice twist.

Serves: 6
Time to Table: 45 minutes

Healing Nutrient Spotlight
Excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C
Good source of riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, selenium

3 cup broccoli florets, loosely packed
3 cup cauliflower florets, loosely packed
2 cups hard-cooked eggs, diced
2 oz. Vegan Gourmet soy cheese cheddar flavored, shredded (or other cheese of your choice)
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 T. agave nectar
1 to 2 T. white vinegar, to taste

*Use organic ingredients for optimal nutrition.

Blanch broccoli and cauliflower by cooking in boiling water for 1 minute.  Drain in a colander and run them under very cold water.  Drain in colander again and then place vegetables in a single layer on several sheets of paper towels. Pat dry with additional paper towels. In a large salad bowl, layer the broccoli, cauliflower, eggs, cheese and bacon. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, agave nectar and vinegar. Pour dressing over top and chill for at least 30 minutes.

234 calories, 7 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 5 g monounsaturated fat, 7 g polyunsaturated fat, 88 mg cholesterol, 7 g sugars, 1 g fiber, 1168 IU vitamin A, .12 mg thiamin, .18 mg riboflavin, 1.1 mg niacin, .84 mg pantothenic acid, .21 mg vitamin B-6, 61 mcg folate, .33 mcg vitamin B-12, 56 mg vitamin C, 51 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 20 mg magnesium, .17 mg manganese, 329 mg potassium, 9 mcg selenium, 477 mg sodium, .73 mg zinc

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