I recently met with a renowned nutritionist, Dr. Glenn Luepnitz, who specializes in cancer and longevity. After a two-hour conversation, I am excited to share some of what I learned.
I was surprised to know that he adamantly opposes The China Study, the book that changed the way I eat. Although he agrees that we should be eating more vegetables and less cow dairy, he believes the tests conducted in the famous study aren't telling the whole story. For instance, in one of the China Study experiments, the scientists fed one group of mice a typical Western diet consisting of a high percentage of animal protein. The other group of mice were given a mostly vegetarian diet. Almost all of the mice given the high protein diet developed cancer and died while none of the vegetarian mice developed diseases. Their conclusion? We should eat mostly vegan diets with little animal protein and no dairy.
What Dr. Luepnitz argues is that mice are primarily vegetarians and any species will suffer disease and death if they are fed a diet their bodies weren't meant to eat. Of course the vegetarian mice lived longer...they were eating exactly what their systems were intended to digest. If we, as humans, consume a diet our bodies weren't intended to consume, we too will develop disease...and we do.
So what are we supposed to eat? According to Luepnitz, we need to focus on three things: eat clean, eat colorful and eat complex. Clean means knowing where you food came from and eating the best you can afford. Organic veggies and fruit (unless they have a thick skin that you peel), organic grass-fed beef, organic free-range chicken (preferably from a local source), and minimal processed foods. Colorful simply means eating veggies and fruits of all kinds and colors. Complex means complex carbohydrates (not white floured products, white rice, white potatoes, high glycemic index foods such as ripe bananas).
He said we should picture our diets as a circle. Half the circle should be vegetables with 1/3 of that half being completely raw vegetables (think raw carrots, radishes, etc.). The remaining 2/3 of the veggie half should be manipulated, as in cooked, smoothied, chopped or otherwise broken up to ease digestion. The other half of the circle should be divided in half with 1/4 being protein (vegetarian or animal) and the other 1/4 complex carbohydrates (whole grains).
More than once, Luepnitz stressed the importance of not being held hostage by our diet. Food is only a small part of our lives and shouldn't dominate our thoughts or cause us to feel guilty if we go out to dinner with friends. Do the best you can-when you can-and allow yourself to veer from that from time to time.
He also disagreed with the macrobiotic idea of soaking rice before you cook it. The phytic acid that macrobiotics believe should be soaked off of the rice is exactly what oncologist WANT their cancer patients eating as it has been found to block cancer cells from returning. Phytic acid prevents blood vessels from attaching themselves to the cancer cells, thereby cutting off their oxygen and food supply. Concentrated forms of phytic acid are currently given to cancer patients.
When I asked him how I was supposed to know what grains to soak or not, he said, "If it comes out of your bottom the way it went into your mouth, it needs to be soaked, roasted or ground to break it down for better digestion." This includes just about all grains EXCEPT for rice. Seeds, such as sesame and flax, need to be ground, beans need to be soaked and corn? Chew well.
I was curious about animal protein, particularly cow dairy. He agreed that you should know where your meat came from and eat animals that were fed what their bodies were intended to eat. Cows weren't meant to eat corn (that's how eColi developed) so eat beef from grass fed cows only. Don't eat chickens that were packed into chicken factories and ate each other's feces. He is not a fan of cow dairy, either. For the same reasons I stated in my previous blog about dairy, he says cow dairy is not ideal for humans and is hard on digestion. Goat dairy, however, is much more compatible with our bodies.and easily digestable, even by people with cow dairy allergies. Goat cheeses, yogurt and milk is a much better option.
There was so much more we discussed, but the above is a good start. Although he disagreed with some of my research, we both stood firm on the importance of eating a whole foods, clean diet made up of primarily vegetables, and animal protein from quality sources. Check out my Recipes page to find some great veggie recipes!