by Dr. David Minkoff June 04, 2019 4 min read
The following is adapted from The Search for the Perfect Protein.
In many ways, diet has become a form of religion in this country. Whether you’re paleo, vegan, Atkins, keto, or something else, you don’t just choose what to eat and not eat. You’re passionate about it, which is great, so long as you tend to your body’s needs.
At the top of that list of needs is protein. I say the following as a doctor and a former vegetarian: vegans and vegetarians who don’t supplement their diets with amino acids are very likely to experience a decline in health—there just isn’t enough protein in fruits and vegetables to maintain cellular health. If you've been a vegetarian for more than six to twelve months, it is very likely that your level of serum essential amino acids are low, which is the prelude to your body moving into a state of breakdown.
I believe humans are best suited to the paleo diet, but if you are a vegetarian or vegan for spiritual reasons, or that's just what you’ve been called to do, more power to you.
Just make sure that you are taking care of your complete nutritional needs. If you're on a high-vegetable starch diet, you have to be aware of your intake of essential Omega-3 fats, iron, and B-12. If you're a vegetarian or a vegan, you should supplement your amino acid intake every day to ensure that your protein nutrition is adequate.
What else does your body need besides protein and how can you get it? Let’s dive into a few more nutritional nuggets everyone needs to know, regardless of their diet.
As important as they are, proteins aren't the only food we need—we need essential fats and oils as well. Animal proteins are good sources for these, along with vitamins and minerals. However, in today's world, most people don’t get the nutrients they need, so supplementation is required to keep our bodies healthy and strong.
When patients come to me needing to get healthy, assuming they don’t have dietary restrictions, here is the six-week course of action I recommend:
The common remark following the diet is: “It took me a week or two to get used to this. I had a bunch of cravings at first, but now I feel better. I have a bowel movement once or twice every day, I've lost eight pounds, my brain feels good, and I sleep better.”
Food choices are probably the most significant factor in health—they can nurture or kill you, so you have a choice to make: will you slowly kill yourself because you want to eat food that tastes good, or will you find other foods to enjoy that won’t harm your body?
In fact, living a life in good health is mostly a matter of choice. You can choose to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep and sunshine, and take nutritional supplements.
Or you can choose to do the opposite. You just might not like where you end up.
We can’t live our lives being affected by everyone and everything, like a tree swaying in the wind. We must take responsibility for our choices and the way we live.
If we don’t take control, our beliefs will be blown every which way, and we will point to everything else as being the cause for our condition. Even if you do nothing at all, that is still is a choice—you always choose, whether or not you think you do.
Recently, a patient told me, “You tell me to do the opposite of everything I want to do. I like to smoke, eat sugary foods, and drink a lot. And I don’t like to exercise.”
I told him it was his decision to choose those things. There is no free lunch, and causes have effects. Heart attacks, cirrhosis, lung cancer, COPD, diabetes, and premature Alzheimer’s are all effects—they are the price we pay when we create the causes.
To truly be healthy in today’s environment does take some work. Finding good food, non- toxic health and dental care, clean water, and a toxin-free work environment may not be easy, and all can be expensive, but you make the choice. No matter what kind of dietary religion you follow, be sure you choose to take care of your body.
For more advice on meeting your body’s nutritional needs, you can find The Search for the Perfect Protein on Amazon.
Dr. David Minkoff is board certified in pediatrics and served as codirector of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Palomar Medical Center in San Diego, California. With his wife, Sue, he cofounded LifeWorks Wellness Center in 1997, and in 2000, he cofounded BodyHealth, a nutrition company that offers a unique range of dietary supplements to the public and medical practitioners. A forty-two-time IRONMAN finisher, Dr. Minkoff is passionate about fitness and continues to train on a regular basis. He and his wife reside in Clearwater, Florida.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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