Thursday, 28 May 2015

Top 5 Raw Vegan Diet Myths

There are many dietary and health myths that are shared around the raw and natural hygiene movements.

Here we are going to dispel a few of the common raw vegan diet myths.

1. Cooked Food Is Unhealthy

 The notion that all cooked food is unhealthy is one of the most common myths that perpetrates the raw food movement.
Brian Clement of Hippocrates Health Institute reported when ‘healthy’ people ate a vegan diet of 75% raw food, their immune systems were not compromised in any significant way. But when these healthy people increased their cooked vegan food intake from 25% to 30% (the % of raw vegans cooked is always measured by weight), these people’s immune systems dropped in functioning by an average of 17% across the board. And when these people increased their cooked food intake from 30% to 35%, about 50% of their immune systems had been compromised. 

Many raw food gurus such as Brian Clement often make bold claims about how unhealthy cooked foods are, but after considerable research no study actually exists from Hippocrates Health Institute or Brian Clement.  In fact despite all these “studies” that Brian Clement claims to have done, after extensive research we couldn’t find a single study published in any journal from HHI or under Brian Clement.

We know that his claims here are inaccurate because there is an absolute mountain of evidence documenting the health benefits of consuming cooked plant foods such as the root vegetables, onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, the dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach, which are all significantly more digestible when lightly cooked.

All of these plant foods have numerous studies on their health benefits, of which include supporting and boosting the immune system, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowered inflammation, supporting intestinal health/gut flora balance, reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer and much more.

Completely fabricated statements such as the above from Brian Clement can be dangerous as we know high plant based diets which include liberal amounts of cooked vegetables are proven to be healthy.

Brian Clement is trying to claim that when people ate 30-35% of their diet from cooked plant foods that their immune system function declined by 50%, which would be completely laughable if so many didn’t buy into his raw food propaganda and out-right lies.

Maybe we can ask Brian, why diets such as the Greek Mediterranean which are majority plant based diets that contain lots of cooked plant foods have been proven time and time again in studies to increase longevity and reduce the risk of developing many degenerative diseases.

Tea(Camellia Sinensis) is another beverage which is typically heated and also has a wealth of research documenting its ability to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Raw foodists tend to get too overly hung up about whether a food is raw or not, but in many cases its completely irrelevant to determining whether a food is healthy or not.

2. Cholesterol As A Cause Of Heart Disease

Another top raw vegan myth is the out-dated notion that cholesterol is the main culprit in the development of heart disease, something that recent research has proven to be incorrect.
Research even shows that over 50% of heart attacks actually occur in individuals with low to normal cholesterol levels.

The root cause of arterial plaque formation and arteriosclerosis is actually arterial inflammation, not cholesterol.  Cholesterol is the vital healing agent that the body pumps out in response to inflammation or injury to speed up the healing process.

There are many causes of arterial inflammation some include high blood pressure, diabetes and one that significantly relates to vegans in particular is high homo-cysteine levels, which research shows to be caused from Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Cholesterol is also a vital pre-cursor to adrenal steroid hormones such as cortisol, put it simply without cholesterol we would be dead.  This is why we often see raw vegans incapable of overcoming burnout and adrenal fatigue or suffering from other hormonal imbalance symptoms such as low libido and sexual dysfunction.

The liver is capable of producing cholesterol, however in times of stress, injury, inflammation or illness, then dietary cholesterol may be essential.

It doesn’t help matters that many doctors completely bought into the out-dated cholesterol as a cause of heart disease myth, in order to push their dangerous cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins.  Research shows statins can significantly increase the risk of heart failure and cause deficiencies of heart health nutrients such as co-enzyme Q10.

Ubiquinol is a reduced form of co-enzyme Q10 and many experts recommend that those on statin medications should supplement to increase levels of Co-Enzyme Q10 and prevent deficiency.

3. Onions & Garlic Are Toxic Foods

Onions and garlic have always been vilified by the raw food and natural hygiene movement, largely due to their intense smell and taste.
The belief that these foods are toxic and unhealthy is based completely on pseudo-science and dogma, rather than scientific research.

In fact there is a mountain of science documenting the potential health benefits of both onions and garlic.

Some of which include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, supporting the immune system, both are high pre-biotic fiber sources which support intestinal health by nourishing the beneficial gut flora, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and anti-biotic properties, lower inflammation and may even protect against the risk of certain types of cancer.

4. Mythical Vitamin B12 Sources

Studies consistently show that vegans score the lowest for Vitamin B12 status and are commonly severely deficient in this essential vitamin.
This is because strict plant based vegan diets cannot reliably provide Vitamin B12 in sufficient quantities.

There is some small research that seaweeds and algaes such as AFA Blue-Green algae may provide Vitamin B12, but there is also often counter-research indicating that these are often not reliable sources to obtain Vitamin B12 or contain pseudo-B12 analogs.  Klamath Lake AFA Blue-Green algae is also proven by multiple studies to contain toxic microcystins and anatoxins, which can cause irreparable liver and nervous system damage.

We hear all sorts of excuses and whacky theories from raw food gurus, about why the vegan diet cannot provide this basic nutrient.  Deficiency of Vitamin B12 is not to be taken lightly and low levels for many years can increase the risk of developing heart disease(through elevated homo-cysteine levels), stroke and even dementia.

One raw vegan guru Doug Graham claims that we can get sufficient Vitamin B12 intake, simply by breathing in the air or by swallowing our mucus.

Doug Graham: “B12 is everywhere. It’s in the air. It’s in the mucus membranes of your nose. Every time you inhale, you’re breathing in B12; every time you swallow your own saliva, you’re swallowing B12.”

To date no air samples have ever detected Vitamin B12, so we know that this claim from Doug is incorrect.  As with all the other theories such as swallowing your mucus, playing with your dog and standing in soil, none of these are proven to be able to maintain healthy Vitamin B12 status.

These statements are very dangerous and is most likely why anecdotally we are seeing a huge number of individuals developing severe Vitamin B12 deficiency on Doug Grahams strict raw vegan 80/10/10 diet.

The intestinal flora generates a very small amount of Vitamin B12 and other B-complex Vitamins, however not in the quantities to be able to waive dietary intake of this essential nutrient.  This is why vegan dieticians recommend Vitamin B12 supplements or to consume fortified foods such as vegan cereals, however often these foods are processed, unhealthy and loaded with refined sugar.

The Vitamin B12 issue alone shows us that there is something not quite right about the vegan diet.  Any healthy diet should be able to provide all the basic essential nutrients in the correct quantities from food sources, not being reliant on supplements like most vegans are.

5. Fats, Nuts & Seeds Are Unhealthy Foods ?

Not all fats are unhealthy or created equal, so we need to get out of this out-dated dogma and stance that all fats are bad for health.

Many fatty acids such as the Omega-3 EPA and DHA have been proven to not only support cardiovascular health, but reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

However the Omega-3s aren’t the only type of fats that research has documented to have heart protective benefits, monounsaturated fatty acids such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocado and olives for example have a library of positive research on their cardiovascular supportive effect.

Saturated fats are also essential for health and proper hormonal function, many vegans are critically low in this type of fat, which is poorly supplied by strict vegan diets, with coconut being one of the few healthy sources.

Many raw vegans also eliminate or severely reduce overt fat sources such as nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado, cacao and olives in the belief that fats are unhealthy.   Reducing or eliminating another food group just tends to increase the risk of developing further nutritional deficiencies.

Extremely low fat diets such as in the case of Doug Grahams 80/10/10 rarely work for most individuals in the long term.

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