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The Importance of Plant Based Proteins and Omega 3's to Stay Healthy

Aug 20, 2008
Renegade Water Secrets with Jonny Bowden, is a board certified nutritionist, personal trainer, motivational speaker, and author of: Living the Low-Carb Life: Choosing the Diet that's Right for You, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprisingly Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why and his most recent book is The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth: The Surprising Unbiased Truth about What Treatments Work and Why.

Kevin: We're talking about protein and amino acids right now. So I had one question about a plant-based source of protein. A lot of people who are on this call may or may not be vegan and a lot of them don't necessarily want to eat meat or have that sort of protein. What are your thoughts on plant-based proteins? What do you think are some of the better ones?

Jonny: Well, let me give full disclosure. I'm not a vegan or vegetarian. I find that a very difficult way to live and I am not convinced that that is necessarily the best way for our species to exist. I have all the concerns that many of the people on the call have about the quality of the protein that we eat and about factory farming for animals and the cruelty and not to mention the steroids and antibiotics and growth hormones and all of that other stuff in the milk that I'm eating. I certainly don't recommend not to anyone, but I do think that in the long run the human species does a little bit with some animal products in our diet. Maybe it's once a week. Maybe for some metabolic types or some genetic types it's three times a day. The human species has adapted to many different types of diets, but one diet it has not adapted to is the high processed food, high sugar diet. That's across the board, so you'll see the Bantu of South Africa, who do very well on an 80% carbohydrate diet and you'll see the Inuit, that used to be called the Eskimo in Greenland and in Alaska who eat virtually nothing but whale blubber and seal meat, because vegetables don't even grow up there and they do very, very well. None of them eat sugar and none of them eat stuff with a barcode, so I think that there is a wide range of diets that we can adapt to, but I do think that even the longest lived people the world may eat very little meat, but they eat a little bit of it. It's certainly not the supermarket meat we're talking about. It's usually grass fed or free range or pasture fed and healthy cows and happy cows that live on pasture.

So I'm not someone who has a lot of personal experience with a vegan diet. My metabolic type is not suited for that. I do think we'd all benefit by having more raw foods in our diet. 20% or 50% the exact number, I don't know. It's going to vary for different people, but we all want some raw fruits and vegetables in our diet. No question about it, these kinds of things. I think that even people who are on a high- protein diet, even people who are following Atkins should eat more vegetables. I think across the board we all would benefit from more vegetables in our diet. This is not contradictory to a higher protein, higher fat diet. We need more vegetables in our diet across the board. I would say that that's true.

Now that said, how do we get best quality protein if we don't want to eat any animal or fish-based food and the answer is I don't know. The inconvenient truth, if you will, is that vegetable protein and plant-based protein is not the same quality. It just isn't. You can't get your B12 from plant-based diets. I understand that the vegan and the raw food people believe differently, but that's not just my opinion. It's pretty much been documented. It's in the Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplementation that's put out by a blue ribbon committee. B12 is just not there. It's not absorbable. It's not available, but the iron that's and plant food is not the same quality as in animal foods. Can we manage with a plant-based diet or with an exclusively plant-based diet? We can and sometimes it's a very healthy thing to do as a detox or as a temporary strategy to balance the acid diet that many of us have been on to help cure some diseases. It think it can be very valuable, but in the long range year in year out without any fish in the diet, without any eggs, without any whey protein I think it's very, very tough. Beans have protein in them. Many of the vegetable sources are just lacking in an amino acid or two. Their amino acid profile is just not quite as good. Can we manage? Sure we can.

My recommendation to people who want to follow that kind of diet is you maybe just bend the rules a little bit and have some fish. You're just not going to get omega threes from plant foods and that includes flaxseed and I'm a big supporter of flaxseed. It's not the same. There are two omega threes that are found in fish. The body doesn't convert them very well. You need that EPA and DHA. They're essential for health. They're essential for the brain, for the cardiovascular system. So I think that if there was a way that you could live with some small amount of fish in the diet or some amount of eggs from happy chickens, free range chickens or a little bit of whey protein I think that that would be a very good balance to a vegan diet or to a diet that is largely vegan, if not 100% vegan.

Kevin: Yeah and the omega-3 question was my next one. What is happening with flax oil and why is it not assimilated?

Jonny: Assimilated is fine. Here's the problem. There are three Omega three fatty acids in the world. Three. I'm not going to try to spell them, but they're alpha-linolenic acid, ALA is one. The other two are eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA and the other one is docosahexaenoic acid, DHA. So to call them by their nicknames, it's ALA, DHA and EPA. ALA is found in flaxseed. The other two are found in fish. The body technically can take the ALA found in flaxseed and out of that make the two that are found in fish, the complete form to come out of the box in the fish, but it doesn't do a good job. In fact, it does a lousy job. The most you're going to get is about 10% conversion.

Now, why do we care? Because the real health benefits come from those two that are found pre-made in fish, the EPA and DHA. That's where the real action is. Those are the ones that are found in the developing fetus's brain is DHA. Those are the ones that have been found to improve mood. Those are the ones that are found to lower blood pressure. These are important omega threes. Now, it doesn't mean that the ALA in flaxseed isn't important. It has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties of its own. There are lignins in flax. There are phytochemicals and flax and flax as a food is a fabulous food, not just because of the omega threes, but because it has fiber and it has all kinds of other stuff in it, but if you're hoping to get your EPA and DHA, those other two omega threes, the ones that come out of the box in salmon or sardines, if you're hoping to get that from flax you're going to have to take an awful lot of flaxseed oil, because all you can really count on converting to the EPA and DHA is about 5% to 10% of the amount of flax. Now, if you're having two big tablespoons of flaxseed oil a day, or three, that might be enough. Even 5% or 10% of that converting is going to be fine, but most people aren't doing that, so I really strongly feel that the real action, the real health benefits are in the EPA and DHA and most people would be better off just taking them preformed out of the box either with fish oil, fish oil supplements or fish itself. You just can't count on the body to make them out of the flaxseed will.
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Renegade Roundtable experts just like Jonny Bowden please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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