As you, dear reader, might have probably guessed from my past diet mythbusting post, I’m a fan of bacon and butter. So imagine by glee I have when ResearchGate, EurekaAlert, Telegraph, and RT news, all excellent source of credible information mind you, claims on their headline that having a vegetarian diet will cause you to get colon cancer.
After all, the vegans and vegetarians including some respected respected UFC fighters like Nate Diaz and his big brother Nick Diaz has been touting abandoning meat and dairy has help them get stronger. Which is strange since if you think about it, the canine and molar teeth in our jaws proved that we evolved as omnivores.
Of course, sometimes the good things in life must end once you do enough reading on the underlying research. Lets get through them one at a time:
What is PUFA and LCPUFA
Human body needs Long-chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LCPUFA) to function properly from conception to aging. However, LCPUFA are mainly found in fish, along with grass fed mammals and eggs.
What the research actually shows
Based on research done at Cornell University, approximately 70% of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalese), 53% of Africans, 29% East Asians, and 17% Europeans have a very specific genetic variations that could convert plant based Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) into the said essential LCPUFA. There is nothing magical here. Merely the fact that unlike what Paleo nuts insisted, humans do adapt, in this case via genetic mutation, to what they eat. The vegetarians simply become adapted to plant based diet.
So if you are one of these individuals with this genetic variation, you don’t need to eat animal sourced calorie to supply you with LCPUFA.
Where it became a problem
Now what happens in adaptation, borrowing the words of Dr. McGill, is that you usually “rob Peter to pay Paul.” In this case one of the LCPUFA is Omega 6 Fatty Acids is a pro-inflammatory and pro-blood clotting agent that cannot be taken at excessive level and need to be balanced with the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 Fatty acids. Since modern processed sunflower, safflower, corn, soy and peanut oil are especially high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3 (not an issue with traditional sources like virgin coconut oil and nuts and avocado eaten directly), then in this case, the majority of Indians simply became more vulnerable to inflammation when they consume modern diets (think of chicken deep fried with canola oil) because not only are their body also producing sufficient Omega 6 on their own (unlike majority of Europeans), they also need to cope with additional Omega 6 from their food. Hence, chronic low level inflammation that leads to elevated risk of colon cancer, heart disease and a host of other nasty stuff.
Just putting it out there, the brothers I mentioned early in the article actually eats seafood as they definitely have at least partial European ancestry hence they need the aforementioned LCPUFA from their diet. My advice as usual is the same, first try to eat what your ancestors ate, and as a lot of people (including this article writer) have a mix ancestor here and there, try to experiment a little bit and see what works best for you.
If you are an African Massai herdsman or pure blooded Mongolian and you try to be a vegan without taking appropriate supplements, your children will have higher chance of becoming idiots and you will have higher chance of severe dementia in your old age.