According to Time magazine, these are the six new food rules. As a nutritionist, do I agree? Let's look at each one. Today, we'll start with "New Food Rule 1."
1. Don't worry so much about protein. Eating fat-free is no longer popular. People are worried about getting enough protein. Consuming large amounts of protein will help you lose weight quickly but is it healthy long-term. According to Time, it is not. High levels of protein are associated with increased risk of disease and cancer. The average American already consumes more protein than is recommended.
I do agree with this rule. The Paleo diet, which centers around high levels of protein, high fat, very low carbs, and no grains is still very popular. This diet is based on how our hunter/gatherer ancestors ate. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors, however, ate the meat of wild caught animal. These animals ate natural foods in their natural environment.
First, the meat was much healthier with much higher amounts of nutrients and omega-3s. Most Americans today eat factory farmed animals. Most of these animals consume GMO corn and soy. Grass, not grains, are a natural food for cattle. Grains cause many health problems in cattle. By the time the cattle go to slaughter, many are very ill. Is it healthy to eat beef from a sick, sad animal?
Second, most animal protein is full of artificial hormones and/or antibiotics. The animals of our ancestors of even 100 years ago lived a more natural life than factory farmed animals of today. Cows used for milk lived 20 years or longer before going to slaughter. Beef cattle lived much longer. Today's dairy cows and beef cattle live only three to four years. Cows and bulls are given artificial hormones to produce more milk and to grow much faster. Combined with eating mostly grains and living in cramped quarters in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), they frequently get ill. So the "farmers" give the animals antibiotics as part of their feed to help prevent illness. Artificial hormones increase risk of certain cancers and overuse of antibiotics is creating antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Third, animal protein is acidic. Cancer thrives on an acidic environment in the body.
What should you do then? Don't worry about how much protein you are getting, unless you are training for a marathon. You are likely getting more than enough. Also, cut down on animal protein, including milk (but not organic eggs) and consume more protein from healthier sources such as beans, nuts, and seeds. Treat animals protein as a special treat, maybe once or twice a week. When you do purchase poultry, pork, or lamb, buy USDA organic. If you must eat meat from a bull, buy USDA organic and grass-fed only. These animals are not treated with artificial hormones or antibiotics and are likely to be treated better than non-organically raised animals. This is not a guarantee, however, so if you are an animal lover, you might want to consider becoming a vegetarian or Vegan. The only problem with the vegan diet is the lack of cholesterol, which is critical for proper brain function. Although, many vegans brag about their low cholesterol numbers, this is not necessarily a good thing. Too high and too low of a cholesterol is attributed to earlier death. Some experts believe that the increase in neurological problems is a result of the significant reduction in dietary cholesterol in the last 50 years. I believe that is definitely a contributing factor, but not the sole reason.
I am what you call a Chegan. That is a Vegan that cheats sometimes. I do consume organic or local eggs for the cholesterol. I never eat beef, fish, or drink milk. I do, on rare occasion consume poultry or cheese. Don't get on my case if you are a vegan about the eggs. I know the issue with eating any eggs. I just haven't found a good alternative for obtaining cholesterol.
Please feel free to comment. "New Food Rule 2" will be discussed tomorrow.
Time, December 28, 2015 - January 4, 2016 issue, p. 146.
Photo credit: “Fresh Raw Beef Cut Ready To Cook” by KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net