To Veggie or Not to Veggie?

To veggie or not to veggie? That is the question.

No one argues to eat LESS vegetables. And with a Paleo diet, the recommendation is usually the same. Eat all the veggies you want – no weighing, counting or measuring. (Note: corn is NOT a vegetable. This also does not include potatoes, as they make up the starch category).

Well… not exactly. I wish I could tell you a simple succinct statement about the benefits of vegetables and be through with it. Life isn’t that simple.

The truth is that the veggie argument is not so crystal clear, black and white. There is evidence that both supports vegetable eating and rejects vegetables. The purpose of this article is to propose some truths that guide you in your decision-making process.

Benefits of scrumptious vegetables

In simple a+b=c formula, the 101 benefits of veggies are amazing! They are chock full of vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need for metabolism, development and maintenance of life. Here is a list of common vitamins and minerals found in vegetables:

  • vitamin C
  • folic acid
  • potassium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • fiber*

What’s not to love? The formula goes something like this:

vitamins/minerals in veggies + me eating veggies = vitamins/minerals in me (a.k.a healthy Gerilyn)

That seems straightforward. If our bodies worked this simply, everything would be great. It doesn’t.

Oversimplification = biohazard

I have a HUGE problem with the government (a.k.a. politics) and public health getting involved in nutrition. They simplify dietary recommendations to one statement that do not take into account the controversies in research. Because there is not a unifying theory on nutrition, there is no consensus. Mass generalizations have the potential to turn a country upside down.

The United States is a case in point. 30 years ago, a man named Ancel Keys decided saturated fat was a work of the devil that caused heart disease. It made no difference that people have been consuming saturated fat for thousands of years with NO deleterious effects. Because saturated fat raises blood cholesterol slightly and people with heart disease have high cholesterol, saturated fat MUST cause heart disease. This is the same a+b=c formula from above. Does anyone besides me see a problem with that statement?

The results of the our government getting involved are as follows – the U.S. publicly recommended a LOW dietary fat intake (<30%) and HIGH carbohydrate intake (around 60%). And all recommendations since the 70s stem from this original statement.

Look at the state of our country’s health. This is no accident. And it’s NOT because people failed to follow government recommendations. They have. Americans have decreased fat consumption to 30% and increased their carbohydrate consumption to above 50% of total calories, per government recommendations.

NHANES

This is where vegetables come in. Vegetables are mostly carbohydrate and indigestible carbohydrate, better known as fiber. Vitamins, minerals and FIBER. What’s NOT to love, right??? The conflict arises when you realize WHY it is recommended that we eat fiber. Again, an a+b=c argument.

We can all agree that our public officials believe fat is bad, right? Because fat is bad, carbohydrates are good, but people still get sick. Yet, they eat a lot of refined carbohydrates devoid of, here’s our word, fiber. Therefore, it must be an absence of fiber that causes constipation, diverticulitis and colon cancer.

Faulty logic is faulty logic, no matter who is doing the thinking. Fat is also decreased on such a diet, but we already know that fat is bad, so there is no way that these problems could be caused by a decreased fat intake OR general carbohydrate load. The truth is that no other possibility was ever considered… which is a mistake.

Increased fat consumption increases bowel transit time. In other words, relieves constipation. And there is growing evidence that it is grains and grain-products CAUSE constipation instead of relieve it. You may be thinking, that’s when I get IBS… after I eat lots of grains, breads, cereals, etc. and you are right. However, getting off the crack (grains) for about a month not only relieves IBS and diverticulitis, but cures constipation too.

In my own personal experience, ONLY when I COMPLETELY REMOVED GLUTEN – that means ALL cookies, ALL soy sauce, ALL cookie dough, ALL bread, ALL pasta from my diet, my constipation problems mysteriously disappeared. Yes, this took about a month to take effect, but take effect it did. You cannot expect change to happen overnight, not in life and NOT in your body.

Another “benefit” of fiber is that it is indigestible and takes up space, so it MUST make you feel full and help you eat LESS (i.e. less calories). You’ve heard this, right? This is another a+b=c argument that supports the calories in=calories out logic. There’s just much more going on than this simplistic model.

One very interesting rat study showed that the body likes balance, irrespective of the amount of food consumed (quantity). Rats were divided into four different groups and given varying amounts of food ad libitum, soup (1/2 the amount of food), clay+soup, and 1/2 soup (1/4 the amount of food).

According to calories in=calories out, the group that ate clay + soup (i.e. fiber + soup, a large quantity of food) would be full from the fiber and NOT eat as much, right? WRONG. The ‘clay+soup’ group ate twice as much food, equaling the ‘food’ group that ate as much as it wanted. And the ‘1/2 soup’ group ate three times as much, to also equal the ‘food’ group.

This seems to suggest that no matter how much fiber we eat, our bodies will KEEP telling us to eat (i.e. make us hungry) until it satisfies its daily requirement.


A Crumbling Foundation

Other studies seem to suggest that vegetables and fruits DAMAGE our DNA. Wait… the USDA has never mentioned that part? What gives?

Damaged DNA can lead to all sorts of premature aging, disease and cancer. I don’t want damaged DNA. Do you???

So, What Should You Do?

I didn’t write this article to scare you, but to inform you that anything to do with our human bodies is never as simple as the media and public health make it to be. Sure, you can get some simple, biased advice from Dr. Oz, OR you can read a few articles for yourself, do some research and make YOUR OWN decision about what you put in your bodies.

Personally, I choose to eat veggies seasonally, meaning I eat lots in the summer and not so many in the winter months. You, however, will have to decide for yourself. I think veggies are great, but if some people do not like them, it doesn’t worry me. They can still eat a clean Paleo diet without so many veggies. That is the point.

The Best Way to Eat Veggies

Some veggies have more nutrients raw, like green peppers, while others are better for you cooked, like sweet potatoes, carrots and broccoli. This is because some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they can ONLY be absorbed in the presence of fat. Here are some simple guidelines:

  1. Cook your veggies in lots of fat, like tallow, bacon grease, butter, or lard, to ensure that you make the fat-soluble vitamins available for absorption in your intestines.
  2. If you steam broccoli or carrots, do it quickly (2-3 min.). The vitamins leach out and end up in the water instead of your stomach. Drink the broth if you like.
  3. Make a stock with lots of veggies, strain, and throw the veggies away if you do not like them. You still get the vitamins without the rest!

CSA’s are GREAT!

I am super-excited about our CSA box from Avalon Acres! And it’s NOT too late to sign up if you’re in the west or middle Tennessee area! Click on the link to check out their website AND you can sign up right there online! Super easy, super delicious, super worth it! 🙂

 

Bok Choy rocks my world!

The rest of our box - broccoli, butter leaf lettuce, spinach, green onions, herbs, cage-free eggs, pastured raw milk, strawberries... YUM!

Last but not least... DINNER! ground beef + bok choy cooked in pastured tallow. Delicious!

 

 

What do YOU think about all of this? Do you veggie? Or not so much???

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field