Dear Dr. Davis

garth
The Discerning Brute is excited to welcome Dr. Garth Davis as our medical expert who can answer some serious questions. Dr. Davis is medical director of the Davis Clinic at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, and starred on the hit TLC show Big Medicine. He is also the author of “Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It

 

Today, a letter came from Alex:

I was wondering if you could help me. I have been vegetarian for close to 11 years, 5 of those vegan. I have huge cravings for red meat. Something that I have never had before in my life ( I never really liked the taste even as an omnivore). I take my b12 and my d as recommended and eat plenty of greens with Vitamin c for iron. I take adequate calories and plenty of all variety of whole foods. I am male. Doctors say my blood work is perfect, but I feel very tired all the time regardless of a pretty low stress life and believe I might have adrenal fatigue. I do not drink coffee or tea. Never liked the taste. Anyway, any help would be appreciated.
-Alex

 

Hey Alex,

Funny thing happens when people go vegan.  They get bombarded with a lot of nonsense that can create a nocebo effect, similar to placebo, but negative.

So, people say to you over and over that being vegan is bad for you and will make you weak, and guess what, you feel weak.  Similarly, people tend to blame every possible symptom on the vegan diet.  I had a patient who was hypothyroid and her doctor said it was because of her vegan diet.  Understand how ludicrous this is.  What does the doctor tell all his meat eating patients who are hypothyroid?  There hypothyroidism’s genetic but the vegan’s is because of diet?  Turns out that actual research shows vegan have much lower rates of hypothyroidism.

That is not to say that you may not be low in certain nutrients.  Certainly you need a B12 test and an MMA test is actually more accurate than a B12.  If you need to supplement B12, it is so easy and cheap.  I would also check vitamin D.  I do supplement my patients with vitamin D to get above 50.  I also highly suggest getting 10-15minutes of sun daily, or as often as possible.

Fruits are often avoided by people for some mistaken brief they can make you fat, which is ridiculous.  Fruits are great source of energy.  Apples have quercitin which is great for energy.  I know many people who swear by adding Macca to there smoothies for energy.

Sleep is another area that you really have to look at.  Circadian rhythm is vital to health and energy.  You may want to be checked for sleep apnea.  Make sure you are following good sleep hygiene, and DO NOT use your phone at night in bed!

Finally,  people are working out too hard.  Over training is a real problem.  People don’t realize that growth happens when the body is allowed to recover.  Make sure you are alternating high intensity days with low intensity days and taking days off when necessary.

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Day in the Life, MLB Grub, Rip Returns & Make You Beg

• Have you guys checked out the incredible athlete video-series by The Discerning Brute contributor and RD Matt Ruscigno called Day in the Life? If not, sit back and prepare to get inspired and charged. Here’s episode 5 featuring ultramarathoner Donovan Jenkins:

• There is a comprehensive new resource for Major League Baseball fans who are looking to get their grub on. The Venue Vegetarian Guide on VeggieHappy.com lists all MLB teams and what their stadiums offer, from veggie dogs and black bean burgers to salads, guacamole and corn on the cob. Also check out Peta’s top-10 veg friendly ballparks!

• Powerhouse authors Rory Freedman  (Skinny Bitch, Skinny Bastard) and Texas firefighter, Rip Esselstyn (Engine 2 Diet) have some new must-read books out. Beg is a battle-cry with a cover to drool over (yes we’re judging) that jujitsu’s the fascination and love we already have for our best-friend cats and dogs to help all animals. My Beef With Meat is an essential read to give to your dad, your brother – and even that obnoxious uncle who’s always poking fun at your kale chips. There’s a firefighter on the cover, ok? Who’s gonna argue with that?

Is Veganism Good Enough For Everyone to Critique?

By now you have probably seen the Nina Planck NYT article questioning the safety of veganism for kids. And you are probably, rightfully, outraged. The author, who supposedly once followed a vegan diet, is now an outspoken critique who regularly (too often, if you ask me!) is given a platform to express her so-called concern. It’s too extreme! It’s not natural! Your baby might die! As a Registered Dietitian and as a vegan of 16 years I was so frustrated I could barely finish reading it. But now that I’ve had more time to think about this, her irrational statements may not be an entirely bad thing. Before you excommunicate me from the vegan world, here’s what I think:

Veganism is insanely popular right now
The premise of Planck’s article is that veganism is extreme and a fringe idea. I hate to say this, but when I first went vegan in the 90’s this was somewhat true. But today we have talk show hosts, mixed martial arts fighters, professional athletes and a host of scientists, doctors and dietitians (see list below) that are vegan. The number of strict vegans may still a small percentage of the population, but is growing unbelievably fast. And the number of people who sometimes eat vegan meals is skyrocketing. Veganism has reached a mainstream audience: we have to expect backlash.

The response was immediate, thorough and successful
My colleague Ginny Messina, aka The Vegan RD, easily tore apart Planck’s scare tactics and pseudo-science as did the Vegetarian Resource Group. The LA Times even did a response article that quotes Messina extensively. The Sistah Vegan Project and the Intellectualyst also responded, just to name a few. I was so thoroughly impressed by the response from the vegan community that I had to change what I was originally going to write about here.

Relying on psuedo-science and out-dated studies to critique veganism is becoming harder to do
Articles like this used to appear regularly! Today they are quite rare, which is why I am shocked that the NY Times actually ran it. Vegans have decades of experience justifying their eating habits and have become rather skilled at using research to make their arguments. Every time I see Jack Norris’ veganhealth.org site linked it reminds that vegans are a smart bunch who will use real science to fight psuedo-science. With vegan Registered Dietitians like Jack Norris, Ginny Messina, Reed Mangels, Julianna Heaver, Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina covering the science behind veganism we have the tools to show not only the adequacy of vegan diets, but the benefits of eating plant-based.

Remember this: veganism is a radical idea to many and a threat to more than a few social and economical systems. But compassion and science are on our side. So next time someone brings up one of Nina Planck’s ridiculous articles or statements, take a deep breath and politely ask where the scientific studies backing her ideas are. Meanwhile you can read the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets that says nothing about having to rely on ‘many synthetic supplements.’