Image Adapted by Tim Rees

Watched the Game Changers? Now you MUST read this.

A look at the evidence PART 3: Unforgivable spin, Seventh Day Adventists and Arnie out of place.

Tim Rees
Tim Rees
Nov 7 · 17 min read

Part 1: ‘Intro & Protein’ can be found here.

Part 2: ‘Anecdotes, theatrics & a health resort’ can be found here.

Enough of the anecdotes

Dotsie Bausch & Derrick Morgen

The Game Changers loves an anecdote and inserts them frequently to sensationalise things and keep people interested. Which they do very well.

However, the common denominator between them all is this,

they removed junk foods.

So, let’s stop pretending that removing the most nutrient dense, easily digested foods available to us -animal produce- is helpful and start being realistic about the fact they removed junk and supplemented like their lives depended on it.

Next.


Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn, JR & Dr. Kim Williams

Dr. Caldwell is a renowned vegan cardiologist selling books about reversing heart disease with a vegan diet. He has a vested interest in more people going vegan.

Dr. Kim Williams is also a cardiologist and the first vegan president of the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Caldwell states,

“In all Western Civilization there is nothing more common than coronary artery disease, and that is because of the foods that most people eat every day.”

I Agree!

Junk foods have taken over!

Nutrient deficient, highly refined grains and vegetable oils that are damaged (oxidised), cause destruction and chronic inflammation within us (R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R).

Sadly, that’s not what he’s talking about.

Dr. Kim Williams adds:

“When you eat animal products you start to form plaques in the coronary arteries.”

This is absolute nonsense. You should know, carnivores do not develop plaques,

“Atherosclerosis affects only herbivores. Dogs, cats, tigers, and lions can be saturated with fat and cholesterol, and atherosclerotic plaques do not develop. The only way to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore is to take out the thyroid gland; then, for some reason, saturated fat and cholesterol have the same effect as in herbivores. (R)

That sounds like a good argument to be a carnivore vs herbivore (vegan) so

blaming animal produce is an absurdity.

In the 20th century when good ol’ Proctor & Gamble discovered how to process oils cheaply from waste products like cotton seeds (R) we saw a sharp increase in cardiovascular disease (association only).

Prior to the 20th century heart disease was an insignificant area of medicine. (R)

Heart disease was an uncommon cause of death in the US at the beginning of the 20th century. By mid-century it had become the commonest cause.. (R)

Soybean oil came a little later:

The estimated per capita consumption of soybean oil increased >1000-fold from 1909 to 1999. (R)

Before the extrusion process became cheap and ubiquitous, 1909, animal fats were used daily in cooking, predominantly lard (R) and cardiovascular disease was rare (R) (R)


Wrong for 50 Years

James tells us:

“For nearly 50 years we were told that the primary cause of heart disease was saturated fat and cholesterol, and that leaner meats, lower-fat dairy products and egg whites were the solution.”

He’s very careful not to tell us the evidence that convicted saturated fats and cholesterol was very poor and saturated fats have since been shown not causative or anything other than weakly associated. (R)(R)(R)(R)(R)(R)

So we got it wrong for 50 years!

But now we’ve got it right, right?

He goes on,

“But the research now shows that the other inflammatory compounds in animal foods like those that can impair athletic recovery also play a significant role in the development of heart disease.”

Jeez. So it’s not one thing it’s another. Of course. Let’s have a look then.

His reference here is Perm J 20 (3) 93–101 which takes me to a table from the ‘Plant-Based Diets: The Physician’s Guide’.

This is not a study and is not proof of anything other than The Game Changers amazing ability to make people think everything they’re saying has proof behind it.

The poisons

Their list of so-called poisons are as follows:

  • Heme iron
  • TMAO
  • Heterocyclic Amines
  • Neu5GC
  • AGEs
  • Endotoxins

The only one they discuss in detail is heme iron.

Heme iron

Firstly, you must know that iron is absolutely essential for life and also happens to be one of the world’s leading nutrient deficiencies (R) that’s frequently overlooked by doctors in the developed world (R).

Heme iron is the kind found in animals and is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron, found in plants (R).

Game Changers are implying that heme iron is toxic fullstop. This is absolutely false.

Dr. Helen Moon

To support this they trot out another vegan doctor -in the interests of objectivity- Dr. Helen Moon who helpfully tells us,

“Heme iron is from animal source right. So, uh, most commonly you think red meat, poultry has it, fish has it. They did a meta-analysis looking over six prospective dietary studies over 130,000 patients and they came to the conclusion that one milligram a day of heme iron is associated with a 27 percent increase in risk of coronary heart disease. To put that in perspective, an average hamburger patty has about 2 to 3 milligrams.” (R)

So, if you eat a decent sized hamburger patty you’re 81% more likely to have CHD. If you have two you’re 162% more likely…

That’s clearly absurd and represents only

association and relative risk.

Yet again we see the vegan position being ‘supported’ by epidemiology and sound bites from relative risks. As discussed in Part 1 these studies do not provide evidence and sensationalise the statistics for their own ends.

By the way, you’re more likely to be deficient in iron if you’re a vegetarian.

Vegetarians also have a higher risk for developing low iron stores, iron depletion, and associated iron deficiency anemia, compared to nonvegetarians. These findings are consistent with a conclusion made by the authors of the Institute of Medicine’s report on iron, who stated, “Serum ferritin concentrations have been observed to be markedly lower in vegetarian men, women, and children than in those consuming a nonvegetarian diet.”(5) It has also been concluded in the past that “iron deficiency anemia appears to be no more prevalent among vegetarian women than among nonvegetarian women.(25)" (R).

What are they talking about?

So, if iron is essential for life, vegetarians are low in it and the best sources are animals what are they talking about?

The problem is an excessive amount of iron causes oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. However, this is regulated very well under normal circumstances.

If the body needs more iron it will attempt to take it from your foods (R), if it can get at it. Bioavailability of non-heme iron is lower than heme iron and may explain why a greater percentage of vegetarians are deficient.

If you’re just eating foods that contain iron it’s very hard to over do it. Exceptions to this are a few genetic issues that can cause hemochromatosis -pathologically high levels (R).

Also it’s been observed that cooking with iron pots everyday can cause this issue (R) and excessive supplementation (R).

Take away

Iron containing animal foods are very unlikely to cause an excess of iron in your body because it’s well regulated unless you have a genetic issue, are supplementing (always have levels tested first) or are boiling all your food in iron pots.

Next.

Animal protein

James goes on to have another pop at animal protein,

“..and it isn’t just the iron in animal foods that can cause problems it’s actually the animal protein itself.”

As he says “animal protein” the camera dramatically zooms into those two words on the study as if that’s supportive.

But the very next words are ‘may be associated’ which he conveniently leaves out because it undermines what he’s saying.

Also, just have a look at the sentence before,

“We observed no association between dietary protein and risk of total IHD [ischemic heart disease] in this group of men aged 40–75 y. However, higher intake of animal protein may be associated with an increased risk of IHD in “healthy” men.” (R)

“no association and may be associated” .

That’s embarrassing. Next!


No discussion at all

The show presents zero evidence for those other so called toxins in foods listed below ‘The Poisons’ header because it’s sketchy to say the least; not that that’s stopped them so far. So, I’ll skip them here too but will dive into them in another blog because there’s so much other stuff to get to here.

Let’s start with this outlandish claim,

“people who get all of their protein from plants reduce their risk of heart disease by 55 percent.” (R)

This is the study used:

Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts (2014) (R)

73% higher risk for urinary tract cancer in vegans not mentioned. Image

Talk about cherry picking

We’ll get to the bias that is the studies ordained by the 7th Day Adventists in a bit but let’s just take it at face value for now.

Here are a few problems,

  • Food frequency questionnaires were used (FFQ). I discussed this almost completely useless self-recording system in Part 1.
  • They admit their evidence is weak,

“Relative small sample size within the vegan groups may limit our conclusions.”

“large randomized dietary intervention trials on vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian patterns are warranted..”

Some interesting points conveniently not presented to us in the show:

No significant risks reduction in cause-specific mortality were found among vegetarians, particularly for cancers of the stomach, colorectal, lung, and prostate.”

“When stratified by gender, no significant differences were observed in the hazard ratio for all-cancer in vegans.”

“24% risks reduction for cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, but not significant for vegans.”

“Vegans experienced 73% higher risk for urinary tract cancer compared to non-vegetarians.”

Neither vegans nor lacto-ovo-vegetarians had significant risks reduction for cancer of the respiratory tract.”

But they cherry picked this:

“Vegan males also had a 55% risk reduction for ischemic heart disease.”

Again,

relative risk not absolute risk and association only.

Poor evidence is the theme of the day. As you may have already learned this is the science vegans consistently hide behind and quite frankly it’s shameful. Any scientist trying to remain objective would simply not accept it as it’s being presented.

But of course this show is far from objective, with zero critical analysis throughout. Even those collecting data have interests of their own.

Please welcome, the 7th Day Adventist Church.


Image

The 7th Day Adventists Church (SDA)

Because when you really want the facts about science, the Church should provide the answers. American friends, this is British for, WTF has the Church got to do with scientific research?

You can’t make this shit up.

“There is more religion in a good loaf of bread than many people think”

(Ellen G White. Co-founder of the 7th Day Adventists. 1827–1915)

Ellen G White Founder of the SDA Church. Image in the public domain.

Ellen G White

Ellen G White was the co-founder of the SDA Church and she believed it was,

‘the duty of the church to actively engage in public-health education to control desires and baser passions’ (R)(R)

She very strongly encouraged the abstinence of alcohol, tobacco, spices, tea, coffee and meat. She told us:

A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activity lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature.” (R)

Basically she believed the more meat you ate, the hornier you were and the more likely to masturbate, have sex and not pray.

In 1864 she had a vision from God and was told meat causes cancer. So far, this evidence is more compelling than those presented by the Game Changers. She was not alone.

John Harvey Kellogg Doctor & nutritionist for the SDA (1852–1943) Image in the public domain.

John Harvey Kellogg

Kellogg, from such breakfast cereals as corn flakes and granola, changed the world’s perception of breakfast forever (R). He was a key figure in the SDA Church for decades until they had a falling out.

He too was anti-sex, choosing to adopt his children rather than having sex with his wife believing it bad for health. He blamed sex and masturbating for acne to urinary disease and everything in between.

He wrote in his book, ‘Plain facts for old and young..’ (R)

“If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin,...self-pollution is a crime doubly abominable…such a victim literally dies by his [or her] own hand” (R)

Uh oh everyone.

Their influence

To be fair, their holistic approach to health included frequent exercise, stress management, enough sunshine, the cessation of smoking and drinking and was well ahead of its time.

Their dedication is admirable and they set in motion a force that is still very much alive and well today influencing nutrition science from behind the scenes via research, education, food production et al.

“The Church also influenced the diet of non-members around the world through its ambitious organizational structure dedicated to education, health care, and the development and mass production of plant-based foods, such as meat analogues, breakfast cereals, and soy milk.” (R)

It’s reach extends across the globe.

Numbers

As of 2017 the Church has:

  • 20,343,814 members across the globe,
  • 101 colleges/universities,
  • 172 hospitals/clinics
  • 753 schools
  • 85,112 Churches
  • ~26 food companies worldwide (p.11)
Phenomenal influence. Image

They also offer 17 different types of nutrition and dietetic qualifications from BSC to PhD.

Make no mistake, they are a major player in the nutrition world.

The SDA Church’s mission is unashamedly to promote a vegetarian diet. To this end they conduct data collection and nutrition research and have enormous global influence. Although this nearly wasn’t the case.

The SDA Church university, Loma Linda, tried to discourage the first vegetarian study because they were worried,

“if you find the diets of vegetarians are deficient, it will embarrass us” (R)

Fortunately for them, the type of research they conduct allows things to remain sufficiently muddy so many decades later we’re still none the wiser and actually seem

more confused about what to eat than ever before.

The Game Changers use their epidemiological papers throughout.

I believe there is an issue with objectivity and this is worth knowing; kind of like the ‘hass-avocados-are-healthy-says-the-hass-avocado-board-study’ featured in Part 2.


Erm, You’re Doing it Again!

James now says something that is unforgivable in my opinion because it’s quite simply untrue.

“..the only diet that has ever shown to reverse heart disease is a plant-based one.”

The study cited here was performed by Dr. Dean Ornish who has a vested interest in veganism via his books, programmes, health resort etc (R). His approach is very much lifestyle focussed.

Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? (1990) (R)

Have you spotted the giveaway word in the title?

Lifestyle

This is the second time Game Changers tries to suggest the vegetarian diet was the mechanism behind the success of the sweeping lifestyle changes also applied in this study.

Again, this demonstrates the usefulness of distancing themselves from the constrictive ‘vegan’ title.

Here’s what they included,

“Experimental-group patients were prescribed a lifestyle programme that included a low-fat vegetarian [not vegan] diet, moderate aerobic exercise, stress management training, stopping smoking, and group support.” (R)

Stop smoking get well then blame animals. Image

The cessation of smoking is strongly associated, over and above other factors, with the reduction in all cause mortality from CHD in this Cochrane meta-analysis of 20 studies (R).

Not one for double standards, please note the word ‘associated’ there. The problem is it’s not ethical to make people smoke and then see how many die from CHD so strong association is as good as it gets.

Yet again Game Changers hides behind lifestyle studies that do not support their narrative of eating nothing but plants.

Not even close!

Next.


Terminated

I love Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s so famous when you spell his name wrong it’s auto-corrected. Amazing!

His part in this show guts me to be honest. I’m also not so sure why he appears because he’s not vegan. According to his Instagram account he eats ~20% animal products but the show bashes animal produce so much his appearance isn’t really a good fit.

Is 20/80 plant based? Who knows because it’s never been clarified.

Achievements

As if you need reminding, Arnie was a ‘world champion bodybuilder, Hollywood action hero, successful businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist, best-selling author, and California’s 38th Governor.’ (R)

What a legend! And he did it all eating vast amounts of animal produce:

“I ate a lot of meat, I ate 10, 15 eggs a day and you know I had my 250 grams of protein a day”

Erm. This is just anecdotal but doesn’t this weaken their argument?

But it’s Arnie so we love him whatever.

Now, back to our favourite vegetarian lifestyle scientist.

Dr. Dean Ornish

“people who eat a diet that’s high in animal protein have a 75% increased risk of premature death from all causes, and a four to five hundred percent increased risk of death from most forms of cancer, prostate, breast colon cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes.”

Stop the bus!

What? Let’s have a look.

Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer, and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. (2014) (R).

This study used a 24hr dietary recall system for data collection. Now, let’s have some fun; try it yourself!

Write down everything you ate and drank yesterday. You’ve got 5 minutes. I’ve set this time limit because it’s realistic. If something comes through your letterbox you’re not going to spend an hour making sure everything is accurate now are you?

So, you’ve written yesterday’s food down. Now, think about it for another 5 minutes or so, forget anything?

Believe it or not, this system of data collection is considered better than the FFQs I discussed in Part 1. That’s because FFQs are terrible.

Can you guess what I’m going to say next?

This study shows only

association and relative risks.

If you’re still bothered about this, their results flip once you get over 65,

“Conversely, in respondents over age 65, high protein intake was associated with reduced cancer and overall mortality.”

The conclusions being,

“These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate protein consumption in old subjects may optimize healthspan and longevity”

The show’s insistence to take out of context percentages and present them as if they’re a risk to you is shameful and I found this deceitful repetition exhausting.


More Vegan Doctors of Course

Walter Willett

Walter Willett is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

For a full list with references of his conflicts of interest read this pdf (R) but here’s a snippet:

In the last few years of Willett’s directorship of the Harvard T.S. Chan School of Public Health, the school received between $455,000 and $1,500,000 from companies or groups interested in promoting vegetarian products or the vegetarian diet generally. The school also received between $350,000 and $950,000 from pharmaceutical companies, which presumably would not benefit from a nutritional solution to chronic disease…Willett is an Advisor or Scientific Advisor to at least 7 groups/commercial enterprises that promote high-grain, vegetarian diets. (R)

Dr. Willett is a very powerful man in the world of nutrition. That’s why companies throw money at him. What does he tell us in the show,

“The amino acids that come from animal sources tend to make our cells rev up and multiply faster.”

He’s implying they give you cancer.

But hold on a second. Didn’t our protagonist, James, tell us in my part 1,

“..when it comes to gaining strength and muscle mass research comparing plant and animal protein has shown that as long as the proper amounts of amino acids are consumed, the source is irrelevant.”

So, are the amino acids different?

You can’t have it both ways.

Either they’re the same or they’re different. One minute the “source is irrelevant”, making them the same, the next they’re different and making the cells “rev up and multiply faster”.

That sounds like they might be better for muscle growth to me. Willett continues,

“For example there is accumulating evidence that high consumption of proteins from dairy sources is related to a higher risk of prostate cancer. That chain of cancer causation actually seems pretty clear”

So clear, in fact, that he’s referenced his own paper from 18 years ago that shows only an association. (R)

This is frustrating but let’s have a look at it.

A prospective study on intake of animal products and risk of prostate cancer. (2001) (R)

Here’s a quote from their paper that would be criminal to leave out.

“Intakes of total meat, red meat, and dairy products were not associated with risk of total or advanced prostate cancer.”

I literally copied and pasted that from the abstract.

Yet again:

  • he’s talking relative risks
  • his paper only shows associations between his groups
  • the data was collected with FFQs

Next.


Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

The Big C

James grabs the baton from Willett and now tries to use it to hit animal foods again. He says,

“Cancer has been linked to animal foods as well. Research funded by the national cancer institute found that vegetarians who added one or more servings per week of white meat like chicken or fish more than triple their risk of colon cancer.”

Dietary Risk Factors for Colon Cancer in a Low-risk Population (1998) (R)

Ok some bullet points to keep this simple:

  • Data from the 7th Day Adventists
  • FFQs
  • Associations only
  • Relative risks used for “triple their risk”

Check this out:

“A complex relation was identified whereby subjects exhibiting a high red meat intake, a low legume intake, and a high body mass experienced a more than threefold elevation in risk relative to all other patterns based on these variables.”

When I read this I couldn’t stop picturing Indiana Jones tiptoeing from one stone letter to another in The Last Crusade’s final few scenes; “But in the Latin alphabet, ‘Jehovah’ begins with an ‘I.’”

That’s what they’ve done here, they’ve tiptoed between data points creating a weak connection,

  • high red meat intake
  • low legume intake
  • high body mass

High body mass!

These 3 things had to be seen together in order to make that ridiculous relative risk claim; I wonder how long it took them to work that out, using data like Mr. Potato Head parts until they got some they liked.

They conclude with,

These associations raise the possibility that the risk due to meat intake is mediated by multiple mechanisms, one of which may involve red meat intake in a constellation of causal factors that produces higher plasma insulin levels.

They go on to say that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia (chronically high levels of insulin) could create “colon carcinogenesis” i.e. cancer in the colon.

You definitely don’t want to be insulin resistant or obese.

Conclusions from Part 3

  • There has been no objectivity throughout, just one vegan doctor after another with vested interests.
  • Blaming ancient animal foods on modern problems like CHD is absurd convincing evidence doesn’t exist.
  • They list what they consider as 5 poisons found in animal produce and then mislead us by implying iron toxicity can happen easily by eating meat. All the while vegetarians are more likely deficient in it.
  • The constantly present relative risk to us without ever giving us context, from studies that show nothing other than associations and where even the data is questionable.
  • The Seventh Day Adventists’ mission is to make the world vegetarian. They’re responsible for research, education and manufacturing of foods so provide us with zero objectivity.
  • In part 1 they tell us the amino acids are no different and now they tell us they are because it suits them.

Next time..

  • It turns out we’ve never eaten that much meat in our evolution and are not well adapted to it.
  • It was carbs all along that gave us big brains — has anyone told fruit eating chimps that??
  • Our teeth are useless for eating meat, just look at this lion’s teeth, see?
  • We don’t need to eat meat for B12 because mud.
  • Animal produce kills testosterone and you’ll never get a hardon again if you’re not careful.
  • More awful quality, old papers which we’ll take out of context.
  • Finish. TFFT.

Thanks for reading.

Tim

Tim Rees

Written by

Tim Rees

Registered nutritionist, writing about health, nutrition and sometimes myself. Passionate about regenerative farming, diet and the environment.

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