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Why All the Nutritional Confusion?!

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Lately I been trying to nail a good vegan meal plan out for myself. I hoped coming to this site would be of use, but it seems that every time I find myself on the verge of drawing something up some user or "expert" pops up and calls my basic nutritional assumptions into question.


Ever since I started on this journey I've been hearing all sorts of conflicting advice:


-Humans have been cooking food forever and cooking is essential to eating certain types of beneficial foods!

-If it can't be eaten raw, it isn't meant for human consumption. Cooking decreases nutritional value and increases carcinogens!


-Humans have not evolved to eat a plant-based diet and require meat to be healthy, as is evidenced from their inability to extract B12 from plant sources.

-Humans only ate meat because of survival necessity and not because it was healthy for them.


-Whole grains are heart healthy and should be a staple food.

-Humans are not equipped to properly consume many grains and legumes. It is the consumption of grains that causes and exacerbates modern illnesses.

-Grains aren't bad for you as long as you eat only certain grains and don't make them a major portion of your diet.

-Eating grains is ok as long as it is in its whole form. Avoid processed flours.



-Nuts are an essential source of fat for vegans.

-Nuts and grains contain toxins and you should always avoid them.


-Vitamin B12 can be derived from plant sources.

-No, it can't.

-Supplementing B12 is required for vegans.

-Vitamin B12 supplements are not bio-available to humans. Eating animals sources is the only sure way to ingest the proper amount.


-Eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight a day to see gains. Any less and you're wasting your time.

-Protein isn't that important, but you should eat supplements if you want to get strong.


-You should only be eating organic food. Everything else is full of toxins.

-Organic food has not been shown to be any more nutritionally beneficial or better-tasting.


-You're slowly killing yourself every time you eat sugar! It's not natural!

-Fruit juices are just as unnatural as sugar cane. Don't drink them!

-Sugar and fruit juices are ok in moderation.

-Sugar is ok as long as it is consumed in its raw state.


-Soy milk will negatively affect your testosterone levels. It's like eating estrogen!

-Soy is good for men in moderation.


On and on this stuff goes. The fervor and smugness some people use to defend their claims is just nuts. It's really no wonder that Americans have such poor diets. I'm trying to delve into basic nutrition and I'm getting my head spun around by conflicting advice with everyone claiming to have an expert/doctor/nutritionist/evolutionary biologist on their side. Human nutrition is starting to sound like witchcraft or voodoo and less of a science.


I was eating a bowl of rice and tofu when I started to read the anti-grain blogs and now I can't finish my "healthy" meal. This stuff is making me neurotic.


Can someone give me some clarity here. Who the hell am I supposed to believe? Perhaps some of the moderators would like to chime in?

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just find and eat what works for YOU, only YOU can decide and discover this through experimentation. vegan is the best, maybe higher fat vegan will work for you, maybe lower fat higher carb would be better. the only way you will know is by trying, and seeing how you feel and how you look. you can find arguments for and against everything if you look for it, breatharians will tell you food is bad, paleo gurus will tell you fruit is bad, atkins says eat bacon and eggs everyday for weight loss and health. but no one else knows how YOU feel. people tell me i eat too much sugar, but i feel great and have lost over 45lbs by eating as much of it as i like and my blood tests are all spot on. some people this will not work for. you will never find the perfect answer from someone else. use other peoples information to HELP find your own answers.

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Can someone give me some clarity here. Who the hell am I supposed to believe? Perhaps some of the moderators would like to chime in?

Like mrbear said, don't believe in anyone. Trust on your body to give good responses to the food you are eating. If needed test yourself periodically through your blood and urine, it isn't dead expensive and it will give you comfort. Test your testosterone levels and be amazed that they won't drop eating soy =)


pretty much agreeing with mrbears

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The answer is pretty simple, yet complex. Basically we all just think we know everything but there is not one person on planet earth that knows everything(or nearly as much as they think they know). Often times even scientific studies can give conflicting information. I've read ALA to DHA conversion can be anywhere from 5 pct to .1 pct for omega 3's.


If you have ever played a game of Telephone http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Telephone+(game) you would understand how information changes every time it passes from one person to another. This is from direct contact and instant transmission of the message. Normally when information is passed on a month or 2+ (maybe years) has already passed and the story changes entirely. Something that they heard started with, soy has estrogen mimicing compounds. Then the next person hears it as soy has estrogen in it. The next person hears it as soy reduces your testosterone. The next person hears it as your testes shrink and you grow boobs. AFAIK that can only happen if you take extremely large doses. http://www.jissn.com/content/4/1/4


We are not all scientists and we don't often fact check information. We just hear things and take it as fact (often times, not everyone). The whole gluten scare came from people having Celiac Disease. Gluten somehow harms their small intestines and prevents them from absorbing food. Some people also have similar symptoms to celiacs but not the actual disease or as extreme. Perhaps just mild indigestion. Really the only people who shouldn't eat gluten are those that actually are affected by it. Everyone else can eat it.


Another huge problem can be bloggers. People take their word as fact when in fact they are often just clot poles who spread around misinformation and myths. There is no prerequisite to starting a blog. No formal education whatsoever. Not trying to be pretentious or anything because some of them are often useful or informative.


I am wrong a lot myself. I know for sure there is a lot of bad information swimming around in my head. I try to learn a little bit more every day provided it is something I am interested in. My whole post could be entirely wrong. It's just part of being human. Sometimes something sounds right in your head and looks decent on paper but it ends up being completely wrong.

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I was raised vegetarian, and have been my whole life. I have tried being fruitarian (1 year), and also vegan (3years)..

I'm vegan currently while I try to remove unwanted foods (gluten and legumes), as those I have found effect my body negatively (and could have been doing so for over 11 years, and prior to the symptoms). Anyways.. what I'm getting at is that you may not know something is bad for you until further down the line. It sucks, but you just have to listen to your body and be willing to change things you thought were right if things aren't going your way. A lot of my upbringing taught me wrong ways of eating as a vegetarian, so even the right things can turn out wrong regardless of the source you get them from. So for me, I don't listen to my family anymore. So that leaves me with having to listen to myself because that is the closest thing I have to the truth.

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I'm vegan currently while I try to remove unwanted foods (gluten and legumes), as those I have found effect my body negatively (and could have been doing so for over 11 years, and prior to the symptoms). Anyways.. what I'm getting at is that you may not know something is bad for you until further down the line.


How did you find out that these foods were affecting your body negatively? I'm hearing from the grain-haters that a lot of people "don't know they're sick" or that people who have issues with grain have "adapted" to their illness. The question then becomes: If you don't know when you're sick, how can you know when you are truly well?


I wish there was some systematic way of knowing what you're body is ok with. I suppose allergy tests are one way, since they can just poke you in certain areas with an allergen and see if that area is showing symptoms. Not really much guesswork there.


Is it possible to just go to a doctor and ask for bloodwork to see if you're deficient in anything? I'm thinking that might be the way to start. Not too long ago my sister found out that she's allergic to a bunch of random stuff and now I'm wondering I should get tested.


A lot of my upbringing taught me wrong ways of eating as a vegetarian, so even the right things can turn out wrong regardless of the source you get them from.


What were some of the "wrong ways" that you learned? Maybe I'm making some mistakes myself.

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I just called my local clinic and they told me that a doctor has to order any bloodwork done on me. The receptionist who picked up didn't seem to understand my confusion. I don't see the need to talk to a doctor and pay inordinate amounts of money to simply have someone take my blood and send it off to a lab to see if it looked ok.


Do I need to talk to a mechanic before I get my oil levels checked? Ridiculous.

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I think I've read that every facility that does bloodwork and such has their own standards so something you may be subjected to according to one doctor, might not be a problem in the eyes of another. You'd have to research this to be sure if it's true.

As far as negative practices in my vegetarianism, these are my own opinions:

being fed a lot of processed foods (my mom never cooked from scratch). So everything was from cans,bags,boxes,jars, etc.. And when you study how much gluten is in processed foods (practically all of it).. I had thought that it could be part of the problem when I heard of it this year.

Also, all through school as a child I was fed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on bread (everyday).. which probably isn't good, but that's what I was fed and I didn't question it.

Anyways.. I decided a couple months ago to cut all gluten and legumes out. I started with gluten. I seemed to notice an immediate change. I also introduced flaxseed oil (because I suspected I needed more omega 3s).. My skin became drier (as opposed to oily due to acne)..and my acne began to clear up. My skin got better and then it kind of leveled out a bit and I wondered what else I could be eating that could be the problem, and I eliminated legumes.. that seemed to help and my skin has began to get smooth. Occasionally I would slip up and accidentally consume gluten, in which case my skin would break out badly with deep acne (only a small bit was digested from a spice mix I bought- it had wheat which contains gluten).. I eliminated that and my skin has improved again..

Some products you may not realize have gluten because of cross-contamination due to the manufacturing process, so if stuff is manufactured on equipment that deals with wheat or other gluten sources, then I won't buy it.

Anyways.. I'm noticing changes, and it's still a work in progress. I suspect that the body gives clues to a lot of issues and maybe some things we don't second guess, like feeling tired after eating something, etc.. It's important to listen to your body.

I may try to reintroduce lentils at a later period in small amounts if I get my acne completely cleared. I have suspicion that there may be something else I can do better, so I'm still figuring things out.

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