When it comes to our health and nutrition, we tend to always worry most about what we’re not getting ENOUGH of when what is killing us is what we’re getting TOO MUCH of.
When it comes to nutrition, and especially when it comes to vegan nutrition, we tend to focus on what we’re not getting enough of and the dire consequences of nutritional deficiencies. What about our protein? Iron? Zinc? B12? Omegas? And on and on. And while these concerns are important, the truth is, at least in America, it’s not what you’re not getting enough of that will kill you, but what you’re getting too much of. [tweet this]
If you’re not familiar with my channel and website, you may not know that I have an entire series covering all the nutrients of greatest concern to new vegans with the incredibly knowledgeable Dr. Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org.
While I had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Greger for that series, we branched off into some other topics, one of which is the state of the field of nutrition and how Dr. Greger believes our focus is completely off. I wanted to share with you his fascinating look at the real nutritional dangers for which we seem to have a collective blind spot.
For his full answer, please be sure to check the video above, but here are some select nuggets:
“There are all sorts of ways your body makes sure you get enough of stuff. There wasn’t even nutritional science for the first couple of millions years of our existence. Our bodies had to figure it out on their own. The foundation of nutrition was based back in the first part of the twentieth century on deficiency diseases. We discovered scurvy, beriberi, pellagra. So the whole mindset of nutrition is deficiency diseases… But when was the last time a friend of yours was diagnosed with pellagra or beriberi or scurvy these deficiency diseases? Okay, have you ever heard of anyone diagnosed with the overnutrition like heart disease or diabetes or high blood pressure?
“These are diseases of over consumption. The overconsumption of saturated fat and cholesterol and sodium, etc. But still the field of nutrition is in this kind of deficiency mindset making sure everybody gets enough, whereas people are dying in the millions, at least in the developed world, not by what they’re not getting enough of but what they are getting way too much of.
“There are a few nutrients that ninety seven percent of Americans don’t get enough of: Fiber. 3% of American get enough fiber. 98% of Americans don’t reach the minimum for potassium right? Where is potassium found? Greens, beans [etc] … [tweet this]
“You want a deficiency disease? [Fiber and potassium are] what you should be going after, but most of the diseases are caused by getting too much of the bad stuff and so that’s really where we need to think. That’s what people are going to die of, that’s what your family is going to die of. [tweet this]
“And of course I’m happy to just talk about and assuage fears about not getting enough of these various… you know, wacky things, but you should kind of have faith that your body has figured it out and that if we eat a variety of whole healthy plant foods we should be fine unless our diets are just packed with empty calories junk.”
I hope you enjoyed this bonus video with Dr. Greger. What are your thoughts on our collective focus on deficiencies while we’re dying of excess? Do you feel the field of dietetics needs a makeover? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! And for any deficiency questions you do have, be sure to check out my nutrition series with Dr. Greger.
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— Emily Moran Barwick