Self-Discipline and Diet


Simon D. Murray, MD: I read your blog, and you mentioned the Impossible Burger. I read what you wrote about it, and I tend to agree. I can’t imagine it’s healthy for you, but tell us about that. What is the Impossible Burger?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: As people are moving to a plant-based diet, there can be some pitfalls. I think the Impossible Burger leans toward that, in that it’s using soy. It’s soy based, which I have nothing against, but if it’s genetically modified soy, and it’s very processed soy, then I don’t think that’s very healthy for you. It’s more of a very processed product. It is not really using good, whole foods. So it’s not necessarily going to be much better for you.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yeah, it’s highly processed. It’s fake in some ways.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Right. So you have to be educated about, “OK, what am I turning to?” I’m going to be having less meat. Let’s make sure that the alternative is going to be something better.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yeah. Tell me if I’m wrong about this, but I’ve always advocated that people buy regular yogurt rather than low-fat yogurt that has had sugar added to it.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Right.

Simon D. Murray, MD: I would recommend eating real foods over fake foods, in general.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Absolutely. Yes, there’s no question. The diet foods are mostly more processed, so you’re much better off avoiding all kinds of artificial sweeteners. Some of the label companies or food manufacturing companies are so sneaky in what they’re allowed to get away with. A label might look beautiful and wholesome in terms of less fat and less sugar, but they might be using artificial sweeteners and food dyes and other things in there that are not going to benefit your health. You have to read the ingredient list to be more savvy.

Simon D. Murray, MD: You could argue, what’s the harm of artificial sweeteners? What’s the harm of dyes? We’ve been eating that stuff for years, so what’s the problem?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Well, there’s a lot of research showing that there are downsides, and lots of people do have [adverse] effects. One of the strongest things that’s going on now is how it affects the microbiome.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yes.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: It’s interfering with beneficial bacteria, which you don’t want to be messing with. We are 10 times more bacteria than human. They are profoundly influential, not only on our gut health but on our brains and our bones and our immune system and our moods. We want to be taking care of our gut bacteria.

Simon D. Murray, MD: What do you mean: “We are 10 times more bacteria than human?” Do you mean there are more organisms?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Cells. Yes.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Actually, about 9% of our genome has been incorporated by bacteria, genetics, genes. That’s a whole other subject.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yeah.

Simon D. Murray, MD: And that’s very complicated, but I think there’s a lot to be learned there. I think as time goes on, we’ll know a lot more about that.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yes. What we do know, and I’ll just mention this, is that fiber feeds good bacteria. That’s why you want to be getting plenty of good plant-based fiber. That’s really the only place you’re going to get it, from plant foods, so you can feed your good bacteria.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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