Day 2 of the weekend was what got me to signed up in the first place. Billed as the ultimate showdown of plant-based nutrition doctors, the day featured a debate between Dr. McDougall and my guru, Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It turned out that the entire day was amazing and filled with entertaining and insightful presentations.
But first, the food! I’m a big breakfast guy, and I’ve been known to absolutely decimate breakfast buffets while on vacation. So you can imagine how excited I was to have an entire plant-based whole-food breakfast buffet to attack on Saturday Morning. Here’s the menu – again with reference to where the recipes can be found:
- Sliced fresh fruit
- Whole wheat bagels, whole wheat bread, corn tortillas
- soy milk, almond milk, and rice milk
- low sugar cereals – predominantly Barbara’s brand
- Oatmeal with raisins, prunes, cranberries, honey, jams, and jelly
- Nutty French Toast (Quick and Easy Cookbook, page 9) with maple syrup
- East West Breakfast (Newsletter May ’04)
- Salsa, Ketchup and BBQ sauce
After breakfast, we were lucky enough to hear a lecture from Michael Greger, M.D., who you might all know from his excellent website NutritionFacts.org, which compiles the latest in nutritional studies into entertaining videos. He’s also the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society and has written a book called Carbophobia: The Scary Truth Behind America’s Low Carb Craze (available free at AtkinsExposed.org)
If you’ve seen any of his youtube videos, you have an idea of what his presentation was like. Presented almost in a hilarious quiz-show like format, he shared the latest findings in clinical nutrition with us. Here were some interesting facts:
- Antioxidant superstars: On average, animal foods have 64 times fewer antioxidants than plant foods. Even the lowly iceberg lettuce, which is basically water in plant form, beats tuna, salmon and eggs in antioxidant content. Ox liver is one of the highest animal products in antioxidants, but even it can’t beat a candy bar! The #1 animal food? Human breast milk. So drink up.
- The yolk of a large egg has more cholesterol than a Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Thickburger! The only thing higher in cholesterol than an egg is…BRRAAAAAINNNS! So now we know that zombies have abnormally high cholesterol levels. Some doctors have only recommended eggs for people with terminal illnesses, since they have nothing left to use. The egg is definitely incredible – incredibly high in cholesterol. 1 egg’s cholesterol is more than the recommended upper limit for a day’s worth of calories!
- More on those wonderful eggs. You might see eggs touted as having valuable carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. 1 spoonful of spinach (which is tiny, mind you) has more lutein and zeaxanthin than 9 WHOLE EGGS! Eggs have less of these carotenoids than even Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries. Loco.
- For those of you concerned about the penile fortitude of your offspring, studies have shown that high phthalates in pregnant women negatively affect their male offspring’s penis size. The #1 dietary culprit of phthalates? Chicken.
Next up was H. Gilbert Welch again, who talked about misleading statistics in medicine. He spoke about how focusing on relative change can tend to exaggerate effects, so it’s best to focus on findings that show absolute change instead. He also spoke about the misleading findings on cancer survival rates. They ALWAYS rise with cancer screening because the cancer is detected earlier, but that doesn’t mean the person ends up living longer. He said that more and more doctors are becoming aware of these problems, so there is hope that some of this stuff will be corrected.
Dr. McDougall spoke next, laying out his argument for “The Starch Solution,” the title of his upcoming book but also his food philosophy. Here are parts of his arguments:
- Why do we eat, primarily? To get energy. What is the primary source of energy? Sugar, aka carbohydrates. Carbohydrates don’t make you fat and are the key to health, according to McDougall.
- What is starch? Chains of sugar (amylose and amylopectin). Starches are storage organs for energy – potatoes, legumes, grains, etc.
- Humans are designed as seekers of carbohydrates, hence our taste for sweet right on the tip of our tongues.
- Starches are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, don’t grow pathogens such as e. coli and salmonella, don’t store chemicals like DDT and Mercury, contain plenty of protein (6% to 28%), contain an array of vitamins and minerals, and are full of dietary fiber.
- All long-lived peoples have historically obtained the bulk of their calories from starch.
- Archeologists have been finding cooked starch granules in between teeth of recently discovered neanderthals. Recently completed hair analysis of a paleolithic man encased in ice showed that he was primarily vegan and ate a lot of wheat. Gladiator bones discovered in Ephesus were studied, and scientists discovered that they consumed a primarily vegan diet of barley and beans. Take that, Paleo dieters!
- Not to mention, consuming a starch-based diet is easy to stick with. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and grains are comfort foods. Obviously he’s not speaking about fried starches which are 44% fat.
- McDougall certainly recommends eating green and yellow vegetables as well, but has found that a diet based on these foods cause problems with satiety.
Next was lunch, which I’ll talk about in my next post, as well as notes from a cooking demo from the Happy Herbivore, lectures by Dr. Fuhrman and the CEO of Whole Foods, an interview with Kathy Freston, and the ultimate debate between Drs. Mcdougall and Fuhrman! Stay tuned.