Optimal Diet: Just Give It to Me Straight, Doc

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Optimal Diet: Just Give It to Me Straight, Doc

Why is there a reticence to provide the public with guidelines that will spare them from preventable disease and premature death?

Transcript

Why is there reticence to provide the public with guidelines that will spare them heart disease or its progression? The National Research Council position was that a dietary fat recommendation lower than 30% would be too frustrating for those attempting to achieve a significant reduction. Although it is uncertain to what extent people will adopt the advice, it is nevertheless scientifically and ethically imperative to inform the public what constitutes an optimal diet. We must tell the public the truth about what is best for their health, and let them decide their degree of compliance.

When a panel of experts was challenged to answer the question, “What do you tell the patient who says, ‘I’ll do anything, but I never want to have heart disease,’ or, ‘I’ve had a heart attack, and I never want another. Period.’?” Answers ranged from “Have them eat beans, beans, and more beans,” to it is “time for the public to embrace a plant-based diet.”

This is not vegetarianism. Vegetarians often consume all sorts of junk. Vegans too, for that matter. This new paradigm is exclusively plant-based nutrition. Whole plant foods. Why exclusively? Because, as reported in the Cornell China Study, there does not appear to be a threshold beyond which further benefits did not accrue with increasing proportions of plant-based foods in the diet. It appears the more plant-based foods and the fewer animal-based foods, the better.

Now, Esselstyn is acutely aware of the castigation that accompanies recommending a plant-based diet—namely that the recommendation will be met with skepticism and hostility on the part of the general public, though less so these days as millions jump on the plant-based wagon. But that hostility is peculiar, because many cultures sustain themselves with such a diet, enjoying its taste, texture, and variety, as well as its health-promoting qualities. However, dietary preference is deeply personal, and one can easily be offended. Nevertheless, the public has a right to know the truth as understood by experts in nutritive biology about what constitutes the safest and healthiest diet. Some criticize this exclusively plant-based diet as extreme, or draconian. Webster’s dictionary defines draconian as “inhumanly cruel.” A closer look reveals that “extreme” or “inhumanly cruel” describes not plant-based nutrition, but the consequences of our present Western diet. Having a breastbone sawed in half for bypass surgery, or a stroke that renders one an invalid unable to speak, can be construed as extreme, and having a breast, prostate, colon, or rectum removed to treat cancer may seem inhumanly cruel. That’s extreme. Eating a bean burrito is easy.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Acknowledgements

Images thanks to Jeff Eaton via Flickr

Why is there reticence to provide the public with guidelines that will spare them heart disease or its progression? The National Research Council position was that a dietary fat recommendation lower than 30% would be too frustrating for those attempting to achieve a significant reduction. Although it is uncertain to what extent people will adopt the advice, it is nevertheless scientifically and ethically imperative to inform the public what constitutes an optimal diet. We must tell the public the truth about what is best for their health, and let them decide their degree of compliance.

When a panel of experts was challenged to answer the question, “What do you tell the patient who says, ‘I’ll do anything, but I never want to have heart disease,’ or, ‘I’ve had a heart attack, and I never want another. Period.’?” Answers ranged from “Have them eat beans, beans, and more beans,” to it is “time for the public to embrace a plant-based diet.”

This is not vegetarianism. Vegetarians often consume all sorts of junk. Vegans too, for that matter. This new paradigm is exclusively plant-based nutrition. Whole plant foods. Why exclusively? Because, as reported in the Cornell China Study, there does not appear to be a threshold beyond which further benefits did not accrue with increasing proportions of plant-based foods in the diet. It appears the more plant-based foods and the fewer animal-based foods, the better.

Now, Esselstyn is acutely aware of the castigation that accompanies recommending a plant-based diet—namely that the recommendation will be met with skepticism and hostility on the part of the general public, though less so these days as millions jump on the plant-based wagon. But that hostility is peculiar, because many cultures sustain themselves with such a diet, enjoying its taste, texture, and variety, as well as its health-promoting qualities. However, dietary preference is deeply personal, and one can easily be offended. Nevertheless, the public has a right to know the truth as understood by experts in nutritive biology about what constitutes the safest and healthiest diet. Some criticize this exclusively plant-based diet as extreme, or draconian. Webster’s dictionary defines draconian as “inhumanly cruel.” A closer look reveals that “extreme” or “inhumanly cruel” describes not plant-based nutrition, but the consequences of our present Western diet. Having a breastbone sawed in half for bypass surgery, or a stroke that renders one an invalid unable to speak, can be construed as extreme, and having a breast, prostate, colon, or rectum removed to treat cancer may seem inhumanly cruel. That’s extreme. Eating a bean burrito is easy.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

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