Animal vs. Veggies

WHY YOU DON’T ABSORB NUTRIENTS FROM PLANTS AND THAT’S OKAY

You are an animal.

You are a higher order of biology than the plant kingdom. By “order” I mean more metabolically and biochemically complex.

Your body has to do more work to turn plant into animal than it does to turn animal into animal. More complexity for your gastric secretions to dissolve in the acid bath of your stomach. Also consider that there is a distinct difference in biochemistry between nutrients in their plant form and nutrients in their animal form. Take what we refer to as “Vitamin A”, for example. Vitamin A in a plant is often in the form of beta-carotene. Your body has to take these plant compounds (carotenoids in this case) and use energy to convert it into what you use as an animal, which is called retinol or true vitamin A. Whereas if you were to consume animal fat (butter, lard, egg yolk, whole milk), then that Vitamin A (retinol) would go right to where it needs to go in the body without having to be converted.

Like recognizes like. Simple.

In Chinese Medicine we sometimes say – it takes flesh to build flesh; it takes blood to build blood.

Now, this doesn’t mean go overboard with meat. There are oxidative drawbacks to unrestricted protein consumption. In fact, they aren’t just oxidative drawbacks, they are nitrosative drawbacks – simply meaning that there is too much nitrogen from all the amino acids in your system.

Now to enzymes. You are least equipped to digest plants than any other form of food by virtue of the enzymes that are produced by your stomach, pancreas, and salivary glands. You can digest carbohydrate – you produce amylase. You can digest fat – you produce lipase. You can digest protein – you produce protease. Unless you are lactose intolerant (which can be a genetic issue or a functional issue), you even produce lactase for digesting the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products. However, you produce no cellulase whatsoever – the enzyme necessary to break down the cell wall of plants (which are made of cellulose). Most herbivores do not even produce cellulase, much less the omnivorous human. This is why certain herbivores have rumens (meaning they are ruminants) – a specialized second-stomach that is super-hot and full of bacteria for breaking down plant material by fermentation. In the case of cows and other ruminants, they cough up their cud (partially digested grass and plant material) to chew it even more before swallowing it again to be chemically digested by their first stomach. They do this over and over. If that weren’t enough, cows have four stomachs to be double, triple, and quadruple sure that the plant material has been thoroughly broken down and is ready for absorption. They do this in lieu of cooking.

If you are a gorilla or a panda, you spend practically your entire day eating. This is because it’s extremely hard to absorb the amount of nutrients necessary for life on only plant material. If you want to absorb nutrition from plant material, the cell walls of the plant must be broken so the contents of the cells are released. To do this, they must be cooked. Chewing doesn’t even come close and stomach acid doesn’t cut it either – this is evidenced by the fact that when many people eat salad, they end up seeing salad in the toilet. Plant cells are able withstand up to 1,500 pounds per square inch. The human bite maxes out at 120 lb/inĀ², and we don’t usually bite down on our food with all our might. When humans developed the ability to use fire, they became better able to digest and to absorb the nutrients from plants.

Man uses fire to cook his food. This is why we have the most unique diet on Earth.

Many people nowadays are under the assumption that raw food is superior to cooked food because it retains its life force. While this may be true at a certain level, it is not your bodies objective to assimilate the life force from what it eats. It’s job is to make it’s own life force from the building blocks its given. It is a transformative process – not just adding life force to a life force receptacle. When you eat that raw head of broccoli, you are eating something that is still alive. As it goes through your digestive tract it is releasing chemical defense compounds in an attempt to keep from being eaten (see, Living with Phytic Acid). The broccoli does not simply give up. When you throw a raw seed on the ground, it germinates – it’s life force dictates this. When you throw a seed that has been soaked or roasted on the ground, its own internal life force is gone and it’s nutrients are available to the bacteria in the soil around it – it becomes life force for something else.

For many health, ecological, and ethical-minded individuals, eating animal products raises a number of red flags. There is no doubt that the practices of both conventional farming and animal slaughter are horrifying and render unhealthy products. There are a number of documentaries on the atrocities of factory farming which I will not list here.

Do your best to find high quality products. Free-range, grass-fed, humanely slaughtered (Kosher, Halal, etc.), and organic is what you want. Be aware that grass has now been genetically modified and if it’s not organic then “grass-fed” can also mean GMO-fed.

Also, honor that which nourishes you and sustains your life. Be thankful for your food and pray that it serves you to the highest possible degree. Even if your food was not humanely slaughtered, you can take a moment to pray and to transmute the negativity the animal absorbed on its journey to your plate by giving thanks to the life that was given so that you can live. It is never too late to do this.

Now, for the flip side…

WHY PLANTS ARE BAD FOR YOU AND THAT’S A GOOD THING

The above points are really to elucidate the nutritional dangers of a pure vegan, especially raw food vegan, diet in the long run.

This being said, there is a flip-side. Animals and vegetables serve two distinct but equally important functions in the body.

  1. Animals are for nutrition.
  2. Plants are for adaptation.

Animals defend themselves with claws, fangs, and quills. Plants don’t have this luxury. It’s risky business when your bright green solar panels (leaves) are constantly out in the open for any bug to land on and have lunch. So what do plants do? They build their defenses into the solar panels themselves (see Phytic Acids, above). When a bug bites into a leaf, it’s being sprayed in the face with terpenoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, phytic acids, and the like.

Thankfully, you are not a bug. You have a complex digestive system that is capable of dealing with these otherwise stressful molecules. Here’s the kicker – that’s exactly how plants make you healthier. They’re actually bad for you!

(What?)

The same thing goes for exercise; or for the low-level laser therapy I use in my clinic; or for many medicinal herbs. All these things increase reactive oxygen species in your mitochondria. All that means is that you are stressing your mitochondria out and making them work harder.

This makes for strong, healthy mitochondria!

Every medicinal plant compound that’s ever been found does it’s work in the interstitial membrane outside of your cells. Your body reads these plant compounds as a low-level stressor (a hormetic stress) and increases the production of it’s own, endogenous antioxidants (i.e. glutathione). The silymarins in milk thistle, for instance, aren’t converted into glutathione. They simply tell your body to make more of it. The glutathione then enters into the cell membrane and provides it’s antioxidant magic from the inside – plant compounds don’t do this. Remember, plants and animals are two entirely different… animals? No… plants. No…

Hmm…

The moral of this story is that you need plants to stay healthy just as much as you need animal products. You need choline, zinc, iron, retinol, calcitriol, cobalamin, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients from animals in their animal form so you can absorb and utilize them. You need terpenoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, sterols, and other compounds from plants to help your body adapt to it’s environment and send it the message – “Hey, let’s be healthy.”

All in all, it’s about balance.

Go figure.

CHOLESTEROL: Your Very Own Bob the Builder’s

Cholesterol gets a bad rap.

Many people don’t realize how incredibly important cholesterol actually is. What if I told you: cholesterol is here to heal you?

In order to get a handle on how important it is, let us reverse engineer our understanding of cholesterol by first looking at the side effects of suppressing cholesterol synthesis with a statin drug:

  • Increased risk of developing cancer [1]
  • Increased risk of developing diabetes [2]
  • Increased risk of developing cataracts [3]
  • Increased risk of erectile dysfunction [2]
  • Increased risk of kidney failure [3]
  • Increased risk of liver dysfunction [3]
  • Increased risk of cognitive impairment [4]
  • Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease [5]
  • Increased risk of developing mood disorders, depression, and anxiety [6]
  • Increased risk of developing myopathy/neuropathy [3] (including a nasty-sounding condition called statin-induced nectrotizing autoimmune myopathy [3a])
  • Increased risk of contracting herpes zoster [7] and increased risk of infection after stroke [7a]
  • Increased risk of developing CoQ10 and Vitamin K2 deficiency [8]
  • Increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and aortic calcification (very ironic) [2, 8]

If decreasing the concentration of a single molecule in the body could cause all of these problems, then it must be vital. Indeed, cholesterol is one of the most important molecules in animal biology.

Let us look at some of its functions:

  • Cholesterol is the precursor to all sex hormones. If you want testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, or DHEA – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D. If you want to make Vitamin D from the Sun – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary to make bile salts. If you want to be able to digest fat (or burn fat) and have a healthy gallbladder – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy immune system. You need it to fight infection.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy nervous system. It forms part of the myelin sheath. 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain and half of the brain by weight is pure cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for wound healing and for the body to repair any damage.
  • Cholesterol is embedded in every cell membrane in your body and is required for proper cellular function.
  • Cholesterol is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (it can kill MRSA).

There is a reason why women’s cholesterol can double or sometimes even triple while they are pregnant – cholesterol is a necessary building block of life. If I get a tiny cut on my finger, my cholesterol will go up just a tiny bit. That’s because my body is healing itself.

The more cholesterol you eat, the less your body has to work hard to produce it.” – Dr. Natasha McBride

Your liver makes 2,000 mg of cholesterol per day. Being a compound only found in animal products, when you eat cholesterol (like from an egg or from butter) the cholesterol is absorbed directly and goes exactly where the body needs it. Eating more cholesterol does not cause elevated cholesterol, it simply allows the liver to occupy itself doing all the other things your liver does.

Well then what does cause elevated cholesterol? This is the 40 billion dollar question.

We now know that what causes abnormally high cholesterol is chronic inflammation, chronic infection, and chronic stress. Cholesterol is actually trying to save your life.

When there are glycation end-products (little bits of oxidation) floating around the blood stream, it damages the vessel walls. These bits of oxidation are caused by inflammatory lifestyle, high-carbohydrate diets, and anything that causes cellular damage. Cholesterol, being necessary to repair tissue and for cell-wall integrity, comes to save the day. This is how increased inflammation leads to increased cholesterol. If you have inflammatory markers in your bloodstream, your body will respond by increasing the production of cholesterol.

It is important that we treat elevated cholesterol as a symptom of chronic inflammation rather than a disease in-itself. Once you bring inflammation down, the body’s natural intelligence can regulate cholesterol levels on it’s own – because with less inflammation, excess circulating cholesterol becomes unnecessary.

Elevated cholesterol may also be a sign that you need to get in the Sun! Cholesterol is required for Vitamin D synthesis – one of the (other) most anti-inflammatory substances in your body. Cranking out more cholesterol may literally be the body’s way of reaching for the Sun.

If you have high cholesterol, one of the first lifestyle changes you should make (as we all should) is to reduce oxidative stress on the body. This means, for most people, stopping the consumption of high-carbohydrate and processed foods (especially trans-fats). Certain foods, like nightshades, can also contribute to chronic inflammation. It also means stopping inflammatory habits and lifestyle choices (see my articles on plastics and microwaves). Exercise and movement have been shown to normalize cholesterol levels as well (see Qigong).

Taking a statin, on the other hand, is a bit like discovering that your house is on fire and, rather than running to the fire hydrant, you run to the water main for your house and turn it off. Now, all that’s left is to watch your house burn.

In my practice, I have developed a keen sense for guessing how long a patient has been on a statin by how severe their chronic disease progression is. The more chronic muscle and joint pain, chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, gallbladder disease and diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and other disorders are present, generally, the longer they have been on their statin medication.

Here is a great video that can help carry your understanding further:

I hope this article has been informative and even eye-opening for you. If this information is relevant to you or to someone you know, please share it.