Eating Plant-Based: The Facts vs. The Fiction!
SOME COMMON MYTHS ABOUT EATING PLANT-BASED:
1. You can’t get enough protein eating plants.
* Myth busted: It is very easy to get adequate protein on a plant-based diet by eating an array of vegetables (all vegetables have some amount of protein), nuts, seeds, tofu, soy milk, grains, tempeh, beans, lentils, etc. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD advises that we need only about 10-15% of our calories from protein.1
2. You can’t get enough Omega 3 fatty acids if you don’t eat fish or take fish oil supplements and Omega 3 supplementation is necessary for good health.
* Myth busted: Fish get their Omega 3s by eating algae so if you are going to supplement, take a plant-based supplement. The human body can produce all but two fatty acids (Linoleic acid and Alpha-linoleic Acid), of which the body can convert a percentage to EPA and DHA (the Omega 3s). Dr. Michael Greger, MD recommends 250 mg of EPA-DHA for brain health. Supplementing with high doses of fish oil supplements is controversial in the scientific data and not necessarily good for health.2
3. You have to take a lot of supplements to fill in the gaps.
* Myth busted: Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD, calls it a “reductionist paradigm,” to supplement or eat for certain nutrients.3 The supplement industry is a huge money maker and has greatly encouraged this thinking. I follow Dr. Michael Greger, MD’s recommendation of supplementing only with B12, Vit. D, and low dose Omega 3 from algae as he believes, and some of the evidence supports, supplementing with these nutrients can be beneficial (www.nutritionfacts.org).
4. You must be hungry all the time!
* Myth busted: When you eat a lot of plants, which are accompanied by a lot of fiber and water, it is very satiating. Once you adapt to this way of eating (experts say it takes about three weeks to change a habit and for our taste buds to adapt), unhealthy food cravings go away as well.
5. SOY can cause breast cancer and “man boobs.”
* Myth busted: Soy contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) called isoflavones. which are said to be weak estrogens, but it’s more complicated than that. In Asian countries where soy is a staple food, breast cancer rates are much lower than those in US. This launched numerous studies and, a result, no studies have suggested an increase in breast cancer risk and most actually show a decrease. Therefore, soy can actually be protective against breast cancer.4
* Myth busted: Regarding the previously mentioned “man condition,” a meta-analysis evaluated the data from 15 different placebo-controlled trials of soy foods measuring several indicators of testosterone levels and found there were no significant effects in these studies on men's testosterone levels, estrogen levels, or sperm quality.5
I invite questions, comments, and thoughts anytime!
In good health,
1. Campbell, T.C., MD. (2017, December). On-line lecture: Center For Nutrition Studies 601
Nutrition and Society – Module 5: Macronutrients.
2. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/should-vegans-take-dha-to-preserve-brain-function/, retrieved February 2019.
3. https://nutritionstudies.org/reductionist-paradigm-cause-nutrition-confusion/, retrieved February 2019.
4. https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/eat-to-live-blog/137/dont-fall-for-the-myths-about-soy, retrieved february 2019.
5. Hamilton-Reeves JM, Vazquez G, Duval SJ, et al. Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or Isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertility and Sterility. 2010, 94:997-1007.