George Eisman warned students about how high protein diets put them at risk for cancer in a lecture on Wednesday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Academic Forum.
Eisman, a registered dietician, author and vegan, explained the benefits and risks of a vegetarian diet as an alternative to a high-protein diet. The lecture focused on how to maintain a healthy vegetarian diet and the evidence that Eisman has found about high protein diets and cancer risks.
Eisman believes that a vegetarian diet is the best thing for cancer prevention and that excessive consumption of animal protein is the reason why more and more Americans are getting diagnosed with cancer every year. He said many people are just starting to realize the benefits of a vegetarian diet and how important it is to eat healthy.
Diets that are high in carbohydrates are better for the body than high fat or high protein diets.
“All you have to do [to get rid of carbohydrates] is breathe and pee,” Eisman said.
He said not to worry about being protein deficient, since enough protein is consumed from bread, vegetables and even fruit. Eisman said to look for food low in fats and animal proteins but high in nutrients, like beans and greens.
Eisman said that diets high in animal protein are the reason why cancer has surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of deaths in the United States since 2005. Most Americans eat high protein diets, mass-produced cheap meat loaded with extra growth hormones that the body cannot always get rid of. Since cancer is an abnormal cell growth disease, Eisman said that it does not make sense for the body to have those foods; it is like expecting a lactose-intolerant person to feel good after they drink a big glass of milk.
“People always ask how we get enough protein in a vegan or vegetarian diet, but it’s easy to get enough protein from other foods. Women only need around 40 grams of protein a day and men only need 50,” said Eisman. “If you eat a can of kidney beans, you’ll have eaten thirty grams of protein already. Add a can of turnip greens you have 12 more grams and you’re already at 42 grams. That’s how overblown the protein issue is.”
Eisman pointed out that the percent of daily value is not included for protein on nutrition labels because the food and nutrition board has a policy that they will not mention meat intake. They do not want to show one serving of meat as 200 percent of your daily value of protein. If people realize that they do not need that much protein, they would not buy as much meat. That is bad for meat corporations who fund the food and nutrition board.
“When asked about it, [the food and nutrition board] said that they don’t think the public is ready to hear about it,” Eisman said.
“The American Cancer Association refuses to recognize a link between dairy consumption and breast cancer because they receive funding from the dairy corporations. They rely on their sponsorship,” Eisman said. As a result, Americans are left without all of the facts.
“Milk is perfect for babies,” Eisman said, “Not for adults.” Babies and children need the natural growth hormone, which is in milk and eggs. But all it does for adults is put us at a higher risk for cancer.
Eisman said that fruits and vegetables with lots of phytonutrients are only going to lower our risk for cancer. He said to pick out lots of bright-colored produce, leafy greens and a variety of fruits when buying groceries.
“Try to eat the rainbow,” he said.
The consumption of leafy greens has been linked to longevity in various studies and most supplements are made from greens.
Eisman said, “Smokers can cut their risk of lung cancer in half just by eating the rainbow.”
For people more concerned with taste than nutrition, Eisman had an answer. He said that it is not hard to make delicious meals with a vegetarian or vegan diet. It will just take an open mind and some practice. Eisman said that the food in a vegetarian diet is healthier, so more of it can be eaten.
To learn more about the coalition for cancer prevention through plant-based eating, visit http://www.coalitionforcancerprevention.org.
By Aubrea Longacre