As you may be aware, I was a vegetarian for approximately 30 years. During that 30 years, I consumed some dairy and eggs which is a typical ovo-lacto vegetarian lifestyle. Over those 30 years my health was excellent, body weight/body fat was very low (6-8%) and my energy levels remained hyper/jet fuel like high. Approximately 1 1/2 years ago, for some reason that I needed to change this diet and consume meat primarily chicken, fish and turkey.
During that 1 1/2 years on a scale 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, I felt around a 7-8 and my lifestyle did change slightly. I didn’t eat as many meals as I did feel full for most of the time. But my energy level was not what it used to be (4 gear instead of 5th) and I did sleep about 1/2 hour longer than I typically do. Which I usually get up at 3:45 in the morning and I was getting up around 4:15-4:30 am. I slowly gained about 5 extra pounds (156) during that time. My system did feel sluggish/digestion was less efficent but I did feel much stronger than I had previously.
I decided through some additional research to go back to some degree of being a vegetarian and consume some fish products which is what they call a Pescetarian. I do find it difficult but planning and preparing meals allows me to maintain a high level of health and fitness in my active lifestyle. This preparation does require cooking proteins that are still vegetarian several times a week to maintain muscle tone, recovery and strength without the consumption of meat.
I do believe that it is essential for humans to consume EFA’s and DHA for proper brain function, cholesterol, blood vessel integrity and optimize cognitive function over the lifetime. This cannot occur unless DHA and essential fatty acids are consumed through marine or fishlike products. Over the last 35 years I have seen many vegetarians who were Ovo-lacto and or Vegan. They just didn’t seem as healthy as they could be with a little added fish products in their diet. Well I do put some flaxseed oil on my cereal in the morning…but the body cannot convert high levels ALA that’s found in plants to the DHA that’s found in marine oils. There is some conversion and it’s less than 1 to 3% which is not nearly enough for the brain to function at its optimum level. I do believe that Chia seeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and plant-based ALA products are essential for a good diet they still don’t give you the DHA which is important for health healthy neurologic function in adults and especially children.
I consider myself one of the longest vegetarians around Clermont County except for my little venture on the dark side as my father always said (when he finally excepted me back into the Italian and German family;)). But there are many vegetarians, I know that don’t last very long due to the complexity of eating properly, social issues and ill health but they eventually go back to eating meat style carnivore diet. So Dr. Joe…you are a Pescetarian. I do look forward to regular consumption of tuna and COD liver oil and a little bit of fish about once a week. I know this will/has drastically improved my energy level, my sleep quality and BMI and my future optimized cognitive function. I look forward to our next Italian family gathering.