Busting Plant-Based Myths with Martica Heaner: PYP 276

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Martica Heaner PhD, is a nutritionist and exercise physiologist and health writer. She is an adjunct associate nutrition professor at Hunter College in NYC and the author of 6 books including Cross-training for Dummies and Lean Mommy. She has been a group fitness instructor for over 30 years and starred in a fitness TV show while living in London in the 90s. She has been a vegan for 5 years (prior to that was vegetarian for 32) and teaches plant-based nutrition in a conventional nutrition 101 class.

Martica and I got on the phone and talked about her childhood, her education, her fitness career, and some of the myths floating around the plant-based world. We discussed:

  • wanting to become a novelist
  • reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair at age 11
  • becoming a vegetarian in her early teens
  • smoking cigarettes (and other substances) and getting drunk in high school – while eating healthy
  • teaching aerobics senior year in high school (big hair and leg warmers)
  • developing the fitness industry in England and Europe
  • “Body Heat” – fitness show on daytime TV (before “Topless Darts”!)
  • becoming fitness director for Fitness magazine in NYC
  • “I always feel like I don't know anything”
  • drifting toward academia with obesity and exercise research
  • going vegan five years ago – after discovering the truth about dairy cows and plant-based diet and asthma
  • eliminating dairy and not using her inhaler for the coming year
  • the Columbia University nutrition curriculum: “olive oil and lean meats are healthy”
  • nutrition textbooks have a mission to promote dairy, even when not relevant
  • it was harder to be a junk-food vegan 10 years ago
  • how much controversy really exists in the scientific literature?
  • exploring Valter Longo's longevity findings
  • “anecdotal evidence is more convincing to people than good science”
  • “everyone thinks they're better than they are… and that holds true for vegans”
  • vegan junk food can crowd out nutrients (the Kind Bar diet)
  • livestock are supplemented with B12 before they're slaughtered
  • signs of protein deficiency in humans
  • getting the quantity of nuts, seeds, and beans
  • “we don't have to work for our food anymore”
  • the Amish pedometer study
  • focusing on the wrong thing: osteopenia isn't as big a problem as sarcopenia
  • “walking is absolutely not enough for health”
  • physical activity is fundamental – a good diet doesn't excuse lack of exertion and movement
  • and much more…

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Amish pedometer study

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