The Big Myth We Still Believe About Vegetarian Protein

“If you eat a dish with black beans, you’re not getting complete protein. You have to add another kind of bean to get the same kind of protein you’d get from meat.” 

This suggestion came from a generally well-informed acquaintance of mine while we were on a long car ride, making me wonder if the fumes had gone to her head.

Simmering with skepticism, I asked, “Adding any kind of beans will make it complete?”

“Yes, any kind of beans,” she replied with supreme confidence. “White beans, kidney beans, lima beans, lentils. When you combine any two beans, it’s just as good as eating animal-based protein.”

My instinct was to tell her she was wrong. But our drive through a countryside without cell towers or access to Google prevented me from doing so with absolute certainty. Now, however, I’m armed and ready to bust this myth.

It turns out my acquaintance was referring to a diet fad called “protein combining” that became popular in the 1970s. It was based on the premise that vegetarian and vegan diets provide insufficient content of essential amino acids, making it necessary to combine plant-based proteins to get the same “complete” protein you’d get from an animal. Protein combining has since been discredited by the medical community, but there are still people out there who adhere to this practice, and even more people who still believe plant-based protein is incomplete.

Concepts like “good fat vs. bad fat” and “good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol” are somewhat well-known these days, but chatter about “incomplete protein vs. complete protein” hasn’t quite made it into the nutritional zeitgeist. You may have heard about complete protein if you’re vegan or vegetarian, but that doesn’t guarantee you fully understand what it is.

Case in point: quinoa. Quinoa is often marketed as one of the only vegetarian sources of complete protein, but that’s a misleading claim because every plant-based protein is complete. There’s no information to support the idea that quinoa is a more complete source of vegetarian protein than other plant-based foods. Nor is meat, for that matter. Let’s get to the bottom of why.

What’s a complete protein, anyway?

Just to be clear, a “complete protein” is a protein that contains all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need to function: tryptophan (the stuff in turkey that supposedly makes us sleepy), threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine+cystine, phenylalinine+tyrosine, valine and histidine. Those amino acids are “essential,” but our bodies can’t make them, so they must be derived from the foods we eat.

Though many vegans and vegetarians worry about getting enough protein, concern about “complete protein” intake has more to do with the quality of our protein than the quantity.

Animal protein is not more complete than plant-based protein.

Dr. Michael Greger explains at his site that all nutrients come from the sun or the soil. Cows, for example, get their nutrients from the sun and from plant-based foods like grass and hay. So if cows eat plants, and plants provide cows with all the nutrients they need, why would we assume steak is a more complete protein than the food that provides the steak with its nutrients? The answer: We shouldn’t.

While it’s true that some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids, our bodies know how to make up for it. 

“It turns out our body is not stupid,” Greger explains. “It maintains pools of free amino acids that can be used to do all the complementing for us. Not to mention the massive protein recycling program our body has. Some 90 grams of protein is dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, whatever we eat.”

Greger told HuffPost that there’s no such thing as incomplete vegetarian protein. The only incomplete protein in the food supply is gelatin, which lacks tryptophan.

So why have we been led to believe that animal protein is more complete than vegetarian protein?

Misleading studies sparked the popularity of a bogus practice called ‘protein combining’ in the 1970s.

In 1909, the biochemist Karl Heinrich Ritthausen formed a theory that vegetarian and vegan diets provide insufficient amounts of essential amino acids, making it necessary to combine plant-based proteins to get the same “complete” protein you’d get from an animal. Another 1914 study out of Yale also suggested that plant-based protein is incomplete ― but this research was conducted on infant rodents and lacked context.

Protein combining gained popularity in 1954 with the publication of Adelle Davis’ book Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit. The concept gained even more steam in 1971, when Frances Lappé published the best-selling book Diet for a Small Planet, which echoed the same idea. Vogue and the American Journal of Nursing even talked about protein combining in 1975. By then, America was on board.

But in 1981, Lappé changed her position on protein combining in a revised edition of her book, in which she backpedaled on the entire theory and apologized for reinforcing a myth.

The biggest pushback to the theory came in 2002, when Dr. John McDougall issued a correction to the American Heart Association for a 2001 publication that questioned the completeness of plant proteins. 

McDougall asserted that earlier research about plant-based protein was misleading. “It is impossible to design an amino acid-deficient diet based on the amounts of unprocessed starches and vegetables sufficient to meet the calorie needs of humans,” he said. “Furthermore, mixing foods to make a complementary amino acid composition is unnecessary.”

He went on to say:

The reason it is important to correct this misinformation is that many people are afraid to follow healthful, pure vegetarian diets ― they worry about ‘incomplete proteins’ from plant sources. A vegetarian diet based on any single one or combination of these unprocessed starches (eg, rice, corn, potatoes, beans), with the addition of vegetables and fruits, supplies all the protein, amino acids, essential fats, minerals, and vitamins (with the exception of vitamin B12) necessary for excellent health. To wrongly suggest that people need to eat animal protein for nutrients will encourage them to add foods that are known to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many forms of cancer, to name just a few common problems.

Other doctors supported this hypothesis, including Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and the medical community followed.

So if all protein is complete, is all protein equal?

If protein combining isn’t necessary, is it all the same? Do 10 grams of protein from lentils have the same effect on our bodies as 10 grams of protein from steak?

Though they are both considered complete proteins, Greger told HuffPost there are differences. For example, he said, “lentil protein doesn’t raise IGF-1 levels as much as beef protein, which is one reason beef is a probable human carcinogen and legume consumption is associated with lower cancer risk. The lentils would probably also be better for our kidneys as well as longevity.”

How much protein do we really need, anyway?

Whether we’re vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, protein intake is one of our key daily dietary concerns. But how much do we actually need per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle? According to Greger, it’s not nearly as much as we think.

“As long as we’re eating enough calories of whole plant foods, one shouldn’t have to worry at all,” he said. “We only need 0.8 to 0.9 grams of protein per healthy kilogram of body weight. In other words, one PB&J could get you a third of the way there.”

Now that we can do.

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Trump had a list of compassionate responses while meeting with shooting survivors

President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 21, 2018.
Image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of a school shooting which left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, the White House held a listening session with President Trump and the victims and parents of gun violence in schools on Wednesday.

Apparently, Trump needed some notes on how to sound like a compassionate human. 

While it’s not uncommon for a president to have notes, especially during a sensitive session such as talking to survivors of a deadly mass shooting, Trump accidentally flashed one of the sheets to the room, and it was essentially a list of compassionate responses written by someone other than the president. (Trump reportedly writes in uppercase letters.) Photographer Chip Somodevilla managed to snap part of the list for Getty Images.

Trump was spotted holding a list of compassionate responses while meeting with gun violence survivors at a listening session on Wednesday.

Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Below are three of the notes scribbled on Trump’s list. Trump’s hands are blocking notes numbered three and four. 

1. What would you most want me to know about your experience? 

2. What can we do [to] help you feel [safe]?

5. I hear you. 

Trump faced heavy criticism last week when he posed for smiling photos after meeting with victims and first responders from last week’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. It’s not surprising someone from his team would pass him some notes, especially considering his tendencies to go off script.

President Donald Trump picks up a pile of notes while in a listening session with gun violence survivors.

Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump can be seen picking up the paper, after asking the room if they had any solutions to combat gun violence in school, though it’s unclear if he read any of the responses off the list. 

Regardless, when the photo was revealed, plenty of people on Twitter had some criticisms for the president.

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We Took A Scientific Look At Whether Weed Or Alcohol Is Worse For You – And There Appears To Be A Clear Winner

Which is worse for you: weed or whiskey?

It’s a tough call, but based on the science, there appears to be a clear answer.

Keep in mind that there are dozens of factors to account for, including how the substances affect your heart, brain, and behavior, and how likely you are to get hooked.

Time is important, too — while some effects are noticeable immediately, others only begin to crop up after months or years of use.

The comparison is slightly unfair for another reason: While scientists have been researching the effects of alcohol for decades, the science of cannabis is a lot murkier because of its mostly illegal status.

More than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes in 2014. There have been zero documented deaths from marijuana use alone.

In 2014, 30,722 people died from alcohol-induced causes in the US — and that does not count drinking-related accidents or homicides. If those deaths were included, the number would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, no deaths from marijuana overdoses have been reported, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. A 16-year study of more than 65,000 Americans, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that healthy marijuana users were not more likely to die earlier than healthy people who did not use cannabis.

Marijuana appears to be significantly less addictive than alcohol.

Close to half of all adults have tried marijuana at least once, making it one of the most widely used illegal drugs — yet research suggests that a relatively small percentage of people become addicted.

For a 1994 survey, epidemiologists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse asked more than 8,000 people from ages 15 to 64 about their drug use. Of those who had tried marijuana at least once, roughly 9% eventually fit a diagnosis of addiction. For alcohol, the figure was about 15%. To put that in perspective, the addiction rate for cocaine was 17%, while heroin was 23% and nicotine was 32%.


Marijuana may be harder on your heart, while moderate drinking could be beneficial.

Unlike alcohol, which slows your heart rate, marijuana speeds it up, which could negatively affect the heart in the short term. Still, the largest-ever report on cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, released in January, found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis may increase the overall risk of a heart attack.

On the other hand, low to moderate drinking — about one drink a day — has been linked with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared with abstention. James Nicholls, a director at Alcohol Research UK, told The Guardian that those findings should be taken with a grain of salt since “any protective effects tend to be canceled out by even occasional bouts of heavier drinking.”

Alcohol is strongly linked with several types of cancer; marijuana is not.

In November, a group of the nation’s top cancer doctors issued a statement asking people to drink less. They cited strong evidence that drinking alcohol — as little as a glass of wine or beer a day — increases the risk of developing both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.

The US Department of Health lists alcohol as a known human carcinogen. Research highlighted by the National Cancer Institute suggests that the more alcohol you drink — particularly the more you drink regularly — the higher your risk of developing cancer.

For marijuana, some research initially suggested a link between smoking and lung cancer, but that has been debunked. The January report found that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers tied to smoking cigarettes.

Both drugs may be linked with risks while driving, but alcohol is worse.

A research note published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF) found that, when adjusting for other factors, having a detectable amount of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) in your blood did not increase the risk of being involved in a car crash. Having a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.05%, on the other hand, increased that risk by 575%.

Still, combining the two appears to have the worst results.

“The risk from driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis is greater than the risk of driving under the influence of either alone,” the authors of a 2009 review wrote in the American Journal of Addiction.

Unsplash / Michael Discenza

Several studies link alcohol with violence, particularly at home. That has not been found for cannabis.

It’s impossible to say whether drinking alcohol or using marijuana causes violence, but several studies suggest a link between alcohol and violent behavior.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes, and a study of college students found that the rates of mental and physical abuse were higher on days when couples drank.

On the other hand, no such relationship appears to exist for cannabis. A recent study looking at cannabis use and intimate partner violence in the first decade of marriage found that marijuana users were significantly less likely to commit violence against a partner than those who did not use the drug.

Both drugs negatively affect your memory — but in different ways. These effects are the most common in heavy, frequent, or binge users.

Both weed and alcohol temporarily impair memory, and alcohol can cause blackouts by rendering the brain incapable of forming memories. The most severe long-term effects are seen in heavy, chronic, or binge users who begin using in their teens.

Studies have found that these effects can persist for several weeks after stopping marijuana use. There may also be a link between daily weed use and poorer verbal memory in adults who start smoking at a young age.

Chronic drinkers display reductions in memory, attention, and planning, as well as impaired emotional processes and social cognition — and these can persist even after years of abstinence.

Both drugs are linked with an increased risk of psychiatric disease. For weed users, psychosis and schizophrenia are the main concern; with booze, it’s depression and anxiety.

The largest review of marijuana studies found substantial evidence of an increased risk among frequent marijuana users of developing schizophrenia — something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people already at risk.

Weed can also trigger temporary feelings of paranoia and hostility, but it’s not yet clear whether those symptoms are linked with an increased risk of long-term psychosis.

On the other hand, self-harm and suicide are much more common among people who binge drink or drink frequently. But scientists have had a hard time deciphering whether excessive alcohol use causes depression and anxiety or whether people with depression and anxiety drink in an attempt to relieve those symptoms.

Unsplash/Rafael Cerqueira

Alcohol appears to be linked more closely with weight gain, despite weed’s tendency to trigger the munchies.

Weed gives you the munchies. It makes you hungry, reduces the natural signals of fullness, and may even temporarily make food taste better.

But despite eating over 600 extra calories when smoking, marijuana users generally don’t have higher body-mass indexes. In fact, studies suggest that regular smokers have a slightly reduced risk of obesity.

Alcohol, on the other hand, appears to be linked with weight gain. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who drank heavily had a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Plus, alcohol itself is caloric: A can of beer has roughly 150 calories, and a glass of wine has about 120.

All things considered, alcohol’s effects seem markedly more extreme — and riskier — than marijuana’s.

When it comes to addiction profiles and risk of death or overdose combined with ties to cancer, car crashes, violence, and obesity, the research suggests that marijuana may be less of a health risk than alcohol.

Still, because of marijuana’s largely illegal status, long-term studies on all its health effects have been limited — meaning more research is needed.

Unsplash/Mattias Diesel

Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2018.

Read next on Business Insider: The US cannabis industry is growing insanely fast — there are now more legal cannabis workers than dental hygienists

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Decline in krill threatens Antarctic wildlife, from whales to penguins

Climate change and industrial-scale fishing is impacting the krill population with a potentially disastrous impact on larger predators, say scientists

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Climate change and industrial-scale fishing is impacting the krill population with a potentially disastrous impact on larger predators, say scientists

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How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

The Danish capital ranks high on the list of the worlds healthiest and happiest cities. With obesity and depression on the rise worldwide, here are its lessons for how to combat them culturally

How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

The Danish capital ranks high on the list of the worlds healthiest and happiest cities. With obesity and depression on the rise worldwide, here are its lessons for how to combat them culturally

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He found out his son had cancer. His coworkers answered with unbelievable kindness.

Andreas Graff, a single dad based in Hesse, Germany, faced one of the most difficult decisions of his life when his now-4-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia last year.

Graff’s paid time off wasn’t nearly enough to accommodate his son’s needs, and he feared losing his job — which would put his small family in an even tougher position.

Fortunately, his company’s head of human resources worked with senior management and the workers’ union to create a voluntary donation pool of other employees’ overtime pay.

Remarkably, every single employee — more than 700 of them — contributed to the fund, donating nearly 3,300 hours so Graff could care for his son.

“Without this great support, I would be unemployed,” Graff told local German paper Oberhessische Presse.

Photo by Anna Spiess, used with permission.

Family leave laws often can put people in vulnerable positions.

Germany has largely gender neutral laws when it comes to paternity leave. However, those benefits become less clear when a parent needs to take time off to take care of family needs that aren’t directly related to childbirth.

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that some employers allow certain employees to take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period for family and medical emergencies. However, that time off is unpaid.

Qualifying employers can’t fire an employee during this period, but they aren’t required to give them the same position when they return to the job. Some jobs let you combine paid time off (vacation, sick days, etc.) for family emergencies, but employers aren’t required by law to do so.

Some states, like California, provide more generous paid time off laws, but even those are fairly limited.

Management and the workers union came together to find a solution this time — which is all too rare.

The voluntary donation system at Graff’s job may have been the first of its kind. It’s not uncommon for coworkers or communities to raise funds for a friend in need. But the direct pooling and transferring of employee benefits from a group to an individual is newsworthy both for the kindness involved and for the unique approach the company took.

Graff’s personal challenges grew only more complicated after he lost his wife to heart disease in 2017. Compounding his family leave with bereavement time would have made his vulnerable situation all the more perilous. The extra time off donated by his colleagues has allowed him to spend more than a year away knowing he’ll have his full job and benefits once he returns to work.

“The reaction of our employees was incredible,” Seidel human resources head Pia Meier told the paper. “There is no one who has not donated.”

Photo by Anna Spiess.

Graff’s situation shows the generosity of people but also the need for better family leave laws around the world.

The example set by Graff’s coworkers, and his company’s management, shows the best of people coming together to help another person struggling through a crisis.

However, his story is still an exception to the rule that most workplaces are not prepared to respond when someone faces a serious illness or a family emergency at home. Until more sustainable family leave policies become the norm, the responsibility will continue to fall on the generosity and ingenuity of those like Graff’s company and coworkers.

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Tom Brady’s Dangerous Alt-Science Blitz

"What are you willing to do and what are you willing to give up to be the best you can be?" are Tom Brady's first words in the Facebook Watch documentary, Tom vs. Time. The premise of the series is neatly summarized in the title, and put on repeat throughout the premiere of the show: Brady is 40 years old, at an age when he should be retired, yet somehow brought his team back from what seemed like imminent loss in 2017s stunning Super Bowl win against the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday, Bradys New England Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brady, the documentary suggests, is superhuman and on a race against time. And Bradys on a mission to show his secrets, first with last Septembers release of The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance and now with the companion series of episodes profiling Bradys life, directed by Gotham Chopra.

It might not be surprising, then, that the first episode of Tom vs. Time, The Physical Game, features a scene in which Brady goes to his business partner and long-time trainer Alex Guerrero for a pounding, seemingly painful massage he terms pliability training, after he noticed that bumps and bruises hed gotten from football were really starting to take a toll. The segment shows Guerrero examining Bradys heel, rubbing it and commenting, This is better, a vague note that suggests that something about pliability training has somehow improved Bradys heel .

Even Brady notes skepticism when he recalled initially meeting Guerrero. I was like, Yeah, what can he do? What can he do thats been different than what everyone else has done for me, which is just ice your shoulders and take some rest? Brady gazes into the camera and swallows. Boy did I learn a lot.

The next shot illustrates pliability training, what appears to be a really intense Thai massage, as Guerrero (credited as Bradys body coach) swiftly and stringently rubs Bradys legs. He pounds Bradys back so hard that the quarterbacks body bounces up and down, Bradys face crunched in discomfort. He pokes and prods, pushes and pinches Brady all over his body. Prior to the season starting, we really try to get his brain to understand that theres going to be impact, then prepare his body for the impact, to almost feel as if its normal behavior for him.

What Tom vs. Time fails to mention: Guerrero has been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for making unsubstantiated health claims, like promoting a supplement purported to protect athletes from concussions. (The FTC decided not to pursue a full-fledged investigation in exchange for Guerrero refunding customers money and closing shop.)

Over the years, so many muscle contractions or through all the workouts that we do, we shorten our muscles. So if you can get them to lengthen, then when you contract, they can fully contract and relax.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, on pliability training

Speaking of concussions, its troubling that the series makes no mention of them. Brady doesnt address the effects of head impact that a football player experiences, whichas has been widely reportedcan lead to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Pliability training is, by definition, aimed at massaging an athletes muscles, which is well and good, but the vast majority of scientific and medical criticism about football has been around head impact and brain injuries, which are more complex and devastating than muscle tears. But Brady is silent on the fact that his colleagues have suffered some of the most violent traumatic brain injuries a human body can endure, resulting in mental and physical trauma that may have led to death and suicide.

As for pliability training itself, its a fuzzy concept. Brady explains it as such: I see pliability as lengthening and softening muscles to get them back into balance. Over the years, so many muscle contractions or through all the workouts that we do, we shorten our muscles. So if you can get them to lengthen, then when you contract, they can fully contract and relax. Soft muscles, Brady contends, allow a player to get slammed by another body repeatedly; denser, tougher muscles tear and dont bounce back.

On paper, this explanation of how muscles work makes very little sense and is oversimplified. Slow-twitch muscles carry oxygen and are able to sustain energy and function before feeling tired; fast-twitch muscles are key for sprinting and short bursts of strength and speed. The development and usage of these muscles can be sports-specific, so that in football, which is a game that requires both running for a distance and short bursts of speed, these muscles can be individualized for each role. Football is a physiologically intensive sport; for a quarterback like Brady, though, action is often limited to throwing and calling plays, with occasional running of the ball. That means that in both arms and legs, Brady is mostly using short-twitch muscles. Now, according to the Gatorade Sports Science Institutes analysis of the physiological demands of football, most muscle damage is enzymatic and highly conditioned athletes [are] able to withstand the stress of 10 days of two-a-day practice sessions. In fact, the report says, elite players often have muscles desensitized to repeated blows.

The lengthening and softening of muscles to allow them to contract and relax? A massage certainly has beneficial effects for how a body recovers after a stressful event. A stretch feels amazing, and getting a professional to knead sore, tired muscles can be crucial for recovery after any extremely physical event. But Bradys insistence that muscles experience ultimate performance when they are lengthened and softened so that they can fully contract has next to no scientific backupthere are literally zero studies on muscle pliability. As an expert in muscle physiology told The New York Times: Its balderdash.

And thats the crux of the problem with Tom Bradys TB12 method to promote health and wellness: It seems to suggest there is something happening that is good for you, something science doesnt even know or understand.

This line of thinking is always dangerous (see: anti-vaxxers, homeopaths), and its also dangerous for Brady to peddle his alternative therapieswithout any scientific research to back them upas something that should be believed as fact.

It doesnt help that the Tom vs. Time has the sheen of earnestness. Filmed in the type of inspirational montage-style that will become ubiquitous in February with the Olympics, the documentary homes in on Brady. We see shots of him peeling a banana (sans chef) before popping it in a blender and swirling the contents into a purple smoothie. We see him at the gym, sweating through resistance exercises. We see him at home, taking his rings out of a locker and chuckling, I need to shine these.

Bradys everyman routine is grating, but is instrumental in setting the stage for his second coming, a career that could propel him into the time part of his series: as a health and wellness guru. After all, whats better than a social media-only documentary in promoting Brady as a health expert? Chopra has seemingly obtained countless clips of commentators and coaches and even Brady himself robotically repeating ad nauseum the fact that Brady is 40 and far older than most athletes. Its impossible to ignore Bradys attempt to be the male Goop, a sort of Gwyneth Paltrow for men.

And while that might seem like an odd place to be for an all-American icon like Brady, its a savvy move. Brady is heralded by a significant portion of this country as an American hero, and in a land where football is second to church in godliness on autumn Sundays, Bradys is a presence that marks him as a prime individual for being able to kickstart a health and wellness revolution among men.

Thats huge, given the sorry statistics that surround mens health in this country: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.8 percent of men in America are in poor health; nearly half of American men dont meet federal guidance on physical activity; 17.8 percent of men smoke cigarettes; 34.5 percent were obese; mortality was overwhelmingly higher than those of their female counterparts, particularly due to cancer, heart disease, and accidentsthe first two of which are preventable with diet and exercise. For whatever reason, men dont take care of their health as much as they should.

But Brady, the quintessential American man, does, and how. Indeed, the series highlights very few of Bradys health practices that have been widely covered, analyzed, and often scorned: His refusal to eat nightshade vegetables to avoid inflammation, his misguided logic that drinking water will prevent sunburn.

Its impossible to ignore Bradys attempt to be the male Goop, a sort of Gwyneth Paltrow for men.

But could it be that Brady is actually doing good? Hes promoting health and wellness for a segment of the population that probably wont go see a doctor or eat some greens without someone they look up to promoting that lifestyle. Brady is, after all, just a normal, average American: a 9-to-5 man with a family, a job he works hard at, hitting the gym and hanging with his buddies (never mind that he's got a personal chef, an exercise routine that involves specialists, and moneylots of it).

In fact, thats a huge part of the problem in Bradys proselytizing about health and wellness: It requires a certain income and class. The nutrition manual alone that comes with Bradys recent book rings in at a hefty $200. Bradys diet is primarily vegan and local, which is arguably expensive for an average American man. He dumps electrolytes into everything he drinks along with specially-selected, top of the line supplements. His vegetables are most often raw and organic. The vegetables he has are limited to those that are alkalizing. Its not feasible for a middle- or lower-income American to go against time in the way Tom Brady does.

To be fair, Brady's diet falls into the nutritionally-lauded Michael Pollan philosophy: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. But it doesnt erase the fact that it takes money to follow the TB12 Method, it takes money to be able to eat well in America, and it takes money to be able to have vitamins and minerals splunked into every single drink you drinkmoney that many Americans just cant afford to spend on designer meals.

Whats even sadder, and more terrifying, about the series is the fact that Sundays Super Bowl offers Brady essentially free advertising for his "method." Regardless of if the Patriots win or lose, Brady will have won more exposure. Never mind that his physique and health have been honed after years of training, genetics, and professional investmenthes brought his scientific flim-flam to the biggest stage American television affords. And by doing so, by showcasing himself as proof of a wellness initiative founded on body coaches and questionable advice like not eating tomatoes and strawberries or shrugging off sunscreen off as unnecessary, Brady is able to establish legitimacy.

Bradys TB12 method is reflective of a wider debate in American culture about the perception of medicine and science and the rising distrust of those fields in favor of alternative theories that often dont have any basis in fact. Anti-vaxxers who want to protect their children from autism, women sticking jade eggs up their steamed vaginas in hopes to improve their sexual health and the burgeoning (vastly unregulated) wellness industrypeople are so afraid and distrustful of science that they are willing to seek out snake oil in a desperate effort to feel better about themselves and their health. While Bradys TB12 method certainly has some harmless aspects to itthe core of what he preaches is to eat well and to work out regularlythat he pits himself against time and offers some sort of miracle solution to aging if you just sign up makes for a worrisome precedent.

Never mind that his physique and health have been honed after years of training, genetics, and professional investmenthes brought his scientific flim-flam to the biggest stage American television affords.

"I could beI should be perfect," Brady says in a closing scene of the first episode, pulling into practice with an audio array of commentators wondering (for the umpteenth time) if Brady can continue to perform in his 40s. What Brady has achieved as a 40-year-old athlete is astounding. The fact that he's able to run, throw, tackle, and be tackled at the highest, arguably most brutal intensities, makes the fact that Brady has emerged time and again victorious remarkable. He's in peak health and capable of doing far more physically than the vast majority of his peers.

But while Brady might want to attribute this to his TB12 system, the fact is that what he's promoting has never been evaluated by factual, evidence-based science. And while it's important to question the status quo, to test what we believe is true, the pseudoscience Brady is peddling has the power to affect men who arent in a position to rigorously verify his claims.

Youve got to play harder, tougher, play for everything! Brady yells at his team in the lows of the Super Bowl last year. Modern-day Brady voices over: Being mentally tough is putting all that bullshit aside … all the noise, all the hype, and just focusing on what you've got to do.

The problem is, much of what Brady is promoting seems to be noise and hype itself.

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Is it time to ditch the Fitbit?

I have been pushing myself to hit 10,000 steps a day. But a new study shows I have probably been wasting my time

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I have been pushing myself to hit 10,000 steps a day. But a new study shows I have probably been wasting my time

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‘Fox And Friends’ Host Goes Anti-Vaxxer Amid Deadly Flu Epidemic

“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade is spreading misinformation about vaccines as this year’s particularly deadly flu epidemic spreads across the United States.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a practicing internist and Fox News contributor, joined Monday’s show to explain why this flu season is especially dangerous, and to encourage viewers to get flu shots.

“The flu shot, which I still say everybody out there should get, is about 30-percent effective, but it actually decreases spread around the household, it decreases severity, and it’s very smart to get it,” Siegel said during the show. “Of the children that have died, 80 percent of them in the past hadn’t gotten a flu shot.”

But Kilmeade dismissed the medical professional’s advice, instead echoing a debunked talking point of conspiracy theorists known as anti-vaxxers.

Here’s how it went down: As the segment wrapped up, Siegel asked the show’s hosts if they’ve had their annual flu shots. Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt confirmed they did. But their colleague, on the other hand …

Kilmeade: No, I have not gotten one.

Earhardt: He doesn’t get them.

Siegel: I’m going to try to give Brian one off the air.

Earhardt: He won’t do it.

Kilmeade: Only 30 percent, people are saying ―

Siegel: You have to protect your girls.

Kilmeade: Right. Alright, but they’ve got to build up their immunity, too.

Kilmeade essentially told the show’s viewers ― of which there are an average 1.6 million, according to Nielsen ― that opting not to get a flu shot is a better way for people to “build up their immunity.” That’s just false, and spreading that type of misinformation to an audience that large is irresponsible and dangerous.

Vaccines boost your immune system ― not weaken it. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, vaccines help your immune system fight infections “faster and more effectively.” They also often provide “long-lasting immunity to serious diseases without the risk of serious illness,” the HHS website reports. So it’s important to get a flu shot every year. 

By one Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculation, flu kills an average of 6,309 to 23,607 people each year. This can vary substantially. For example, from the 2010 to 2014 seasons, the yearly flu death count varied from 12,000 one year to 56,000 the next. This year’s flu season started earlier and peaked earlier than usual, and the most prevalent form of the virus is particularly nasty. 

According to the CDC, it’s safer to get vaccinated than to risk illness in an effort to “obtain immune protection” by getting the flu.

“Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes,” the CDC says on its website. “Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults.”

It’s especially problematic for Kilmeade to imply that his teenage daughters aren’t getting vaccinations so they can “boost their immunity.” Children are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to the flu. The CDC reports 37 children have died from flu-related illness this season, compared with eight from the same time period last year.

Kilmeade also seemed to point out that this year’s vaccine is only 30-percent effective against H3N2 ― this year’s most prevalent flu strain. But it’s still important to get the vaccine because it can reduce some of the most severe outcomes of the illness, according to a 2017 report from the CDC.

“Studies have shown that vaccines prevent against serious illness and death,” Dr. Deborah Lehman, an infectious diseases specialist and a professor of clinical pediatrics in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told Medical Express. “Even if it doesn’t provide full protection, the vaccine may provide some partial protection.”

A representative for Fox News did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

This article has been updated to include additional information from the Department of Health and Human Services and CDC.

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